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5 Reasons to Dig into Cookbooks at Your Local Library

Oct 29, 2020 | Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen

Welcome to our first guest blog post, featuring food writer Ashley Covelli! Ashley is a food writer, recipe developer, and cooking class instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people gain confidence in the kitchen and encouraging them to get excited about cooking for themselves and their loved ones. Ashley offers virtual cooking classes for kids, teens, and adults where they can explore techniques, ingredients, and recipes from all over the world. You can find Ashley’s recipes online at Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen.

October is National Cookbook Month, and while the month may be almost over, there’s always time to check out cookbooks at the Ossining Public Library.

5 Reasons you should check out the cookbook section of the library:

1. You can try before you buy.

A cookbook habit can get expensive rather quickly. And there’s nothing more disappointing than finding out that a cookbook that you spent your hard-earned money on just isn’t a good fit.

If you come across a cookbook that piques your interest, checking it out from the library gives you the chance to take the recipes for a test drive before you commit to making a purchase.

Whether it’s just perusing the book in person or actually testing out a few of the recipes at home, trying a cookbook out by checking it out from the library first can be a game-changer!

I personally have done this with many books that I later ended up purchasing, including Raghavan Iyer’s 660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking, Christopher Styler’s Mom’s Secret Recipe File: More Than 125 Treasured Recipes from the Mothers of Our Great Chefs, and Tyler Florence’s Inside the Test Kitchen: 120 New Recipes, Perfected.

2. You can explore the culinary world without leaving your house!

One of my very favorite ways to discover new recipes is by heading over to the library and walking through the cookbook section. If you’ve never been there, it’s in the back righthand corner on the second floor, just past the Teen Room. The cookbooks are near the gardening books, generally around Dewey Decimal Code 641.5.

There are some handy dividers to showcase different sections for a variety of cuisines within the cookbook area. It can be fun to search in sections such as Middle Eastern, Indian, vegetarian, desserts, and more.

You can also find lots of books by celebrity chefs and TV personalities. I happen to know that there’s a great selection of cookbooks by Lidia Bastianich that are fabulous for brushing up on your Italian cooking skills.

Not in the mood to actually cook? You’ll also find memoirs written by people in the food industry, such as Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Jacques Pépin’s The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, or David Chang’s Eat a Peach.

3. You can try new things!

Cookbooks are a great way to step out of your comfort zone in the kitchen. There are cookbooks on a vast array of topics, just waiting for you to dig in!

New to breadmaking? Check out Bread Baking for Beginners: The Essential Guide to Baking Kneaded Breads, No-Knead Breads, and Enriched Breads by Bonnie Ohara.

Want to find ways to be more creative in the kitchen? The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs by Andrew Dornenburg will walk you through how to get there based on tried and true techniques from culinary experts. You can also check out The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.

Interested in craft cocktails? Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails by David Kaplan and Nick Fauchald will take your happy hour to the next level! Another suggestion from Nick Fauchald is Cocktail Codex: Fundamentals, Formulas, Evolutions with co-author Alex Day.

Want to gain confidence in the kitchen and learn how to create your own recipes? Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking is an excellent resource.

4. You can learn a new technique.

Have you ever wanted to brew your own kombucha? Take a look at The Big Book of Kombucha: Brewing, Flavoring, and Enjoying the Health Benefits of Fermented Tea by Hannah Crum.

Intimidated by sourdough? Alaska Sourdough by Ruth Allman is wonderful and will give you lots of ideas for using up all that sourdough starter you have hanging out at home.

Looking to learn about growing your own nutritious sprouts? Take a peek at by Doug Evans’ The Sprout Book: Tap into the Power of the Planet’s Most Nutritious Food.

Interested in cheese? (I mean, really, who isn’t?!) I’m excited to look into Gianaclis Caldwell’s Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking: The Ultimate Guide for Home-Scale and Market Producers.

5. You can check out cookbooks even when the library is closed!

Have you ever been scrolling on Instagram in the middle of the night and suddenly found a food photo that made you hungry?

Maybe a photo of some steak fajitas suddenly gets you in the mood for Mexican food. You can go right to the library’s website to peruse their collection of Mexican cookbooks.

Boom. Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless is right there waiting for you.

You can create a list of cookbooks that you’re interested in from there, or you can go ahead and place a hold on one (or more!) to be held for you right at OPL.

Or, if you want instant gratification, head over to Overdrive or Libby and login with your library card account to peruse the availability of cookbooks in e-book, Kindle, or even audiobook format!

There no shortage of inspiration when it comes to the culinary world, and the library is a fabulous resource for exploring.

I hope this post has inspired you to head over to the library, either in person or virtually, to get some kitchen inspiration!

What are your favorite cookbooks? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!