For several months now, we've been eager to share impressions of books we've enjoyed of late, but we keep getting distracted by other topics. As more time has passed, the list has kept growing. So here with are with a near-epic round-up of recent and notable books that we recommend checking out.
Let's get right into it, starting with cookbooks.
Our favorite cookbook that we've encountered so far this year is A Southerly Course: Recipes & Stories From Close to Home by Martha Hall Foose. Foose is referenced a lot right now in various publications because she happens to also be the food stylist for the film adaptation of The Help, which hits theaters next month. (If you haven't read that book, get on it! We loved it.)
Perhaps it's because we're both Southern, but Foose's cookbook just grabbed us in a way that others haven't recently.
We were absolutely enamored with tales of Pickled Crawfish Tails, Dandelion Cracklings, and Ricotta Dumplings with a Blackberry Compote. Yuuuuuuum.
But maybe we also enjoyed the book so much because it's just the kind of book we would like to write someday: straightforward recipes and stories that put an interesting spin on ingredients.
It's an achingly fantastic cookbook, and such a great read that even if you curl up with it on the couch -- with no intention of entering the kitchen -- you'll still love it.
We're similarly smitten with North Carolina Chef Andrea Reusing's Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes.
As the subtitle suggests, the book is divided into seasons, which we really enjoyed. Here are our favorite recipes from each: Spring -- Fresh Peas with Lettuce and Green Garlic; Summer -- Chilled Berry Pudding with Cream; Fall -- Macaroni with Beans, Roasted Pumpkin, and Ham Hocks; Winter -- Kale Paninis.
If you run across it, take a few minutes to flip through it. We think you'll want to take a copy home.
Cooking Through the Seasons (with Fish!)
We were dying to see Barton Seaver's For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking, not just because it's written by Seaver, a DC chef whose restaurants we've enjoyed on occasion.
Rather, we were so eager to see it because our wedding photographer, Ms. Katie Stoops, shot all the photos! The book is a deep dive into Seaver's specialty -- sustainable seafood -- and similar to Reusing's Cooking in the Moment it divides them by season.
If you're interested in learning how to properly cook fish -- and it seems that just about every kind of fish is included -- this is the book for you.
The photos, naturally, are absolutely lovely.
Stick 'Em Up
Just last week, we received a copy of Matt Armendariz's On a Stick! Matt is the blogger behind MattBites.com and he has written a super fun cookbook featuring all kinds of great party recipes that are exclusively served on a stick.
Reading the book, we learned about several dishes for the first time, like molotes, which are a Oaxacan street food, and suppli, an Italian cheesy risotto dish. Of course, if you want to learn to serve Deep Fried Mac 'n' Cheese or Spaghetti and Meatballs on a stick, he has that, too.
We mentioned last week that we're now the proud owners of a pressure cooker, so we've sought out a few books to help guide us through these early days of using it.
The best we've found so far is Lorna Sass's Pressure Perfect. Sass (what a great name!) seems to be the go-to pressure cooker cookbook author.
Her book is instructive and filled with great tips we haven't read elsewhere, like the fact that the flavor of fresh herbs often gets obliterated in a pressure cooker, so you should add much of the seasoning after cooking.
Using the basics in her book, we made chicken salad earlier this week. The chicken cooked for 4 minutes and then sat in the cooker for another 4 and it was perfectly done. We thought it was a miracle!
It should be no surprise that we're food photography geeks, and we were thrilled when Clay received a copy of Food Styling: The Art of Preparing Food for the Camera by Delores Custer as a birthday gift from Zach's dad.
Custer is an accomplished food stylist, and her book is a definitive tome on food styling as a career. If you want to break into the food styling biz or just want to learn more about how to make food look good on camera, this is a must read.
And When We're Not Reading Food Books...
Outside of food books, we've also both just read Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad, which we very much enjoyed. It's a novel structured like a series of short stories, with rotating by related characters.
What about you? Reading anything of note this summer? We're always looking for suggestions.