When situations become overwhelming and stressful, many of us turn to food. Food brings us together. Food stirs up good memories. Food comforts us.
Cooking activates the senses, and it can also have health benefits. Not only do you control the ingredients that go into a dish but the cooking technique that is used as well (baked; grilled; fried; etc.). There's no better feeling than cooking at home, plating a meal and delivering it to the kitchen table. Savor in that experience. It's a true accomplishment and can really boost your spirits.
If you're looking to expand your taste buds, try utilizing these books, audiobooks and app, which Richland Library staff has suggested. They were recently featured in The State newspaper, and you can connect to them through the provided links.
Comfort Food Fix: Feel-Good Favorites Made Healthy by Ellie Krieger
Available in Overdrive
Recommended by Jenny Dilworth
Do you love classic comfort food but worry about too much fat, sugar and calories? Check out this cookbook by former Food Network star Ellie Krieger. With more folks staying in and cooking at home lately, you may find yourself yearning for some old-school favorites and needing a little inspiration in the kitchen. This collection is chock full of yummy, mouth-watering favorites that will have you checking your pantry and pulling out ingredients – but not feeling too guilty after you indulge. Finding comfort in food is natural, and it doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. Using easy-to-follow, simple techniques, Krieger presents many nutritious recipes that are sure to please the crowd at your house. Use "The Fifteen Fix Factors" that she provides to lighten up recipes you crave; these are easy ‘swap-outs’ that make popular foods a little friendlier to the waistband. Apple and carrot purees can make lighter muffins that still satisfy, honey and maple syrup can be used in place of refined sugar to sweeten dishes, and reduced fat yogurts and milk products still produce a creamy effect in sauces. Before and after nutritional values accompany each recipe and make it easy to see the results of making a quick substitution. All the breakfast, lunch and dinner favorites are here at your fingertips.
Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat
Available in Overdrive
Recommended by Sara Shiver McBride
If you’ve enjoyed the Netflix series where Samin Nosrat travels the world to see people who make and use essential flavoring ingredients of good food – things like olive oil, miso, and bitter oranges – you’ll love the book that inspired the show. If you haven’t, you’ll enjoy both! This isn’t a cookbook; it’s a book about cooking. Nosrat discusses each of the titular aspects of food and explains how to use them to make your own cooking shine, using a conversational style and charming watercolor illustrations by illustrator Wendy MacNaughton. The book does include some recipes, but it should ideally be used to understand what makes a recipe work in the first place. Beginning and advanced cooks alike will enjoy.
Thank You, Omu! Written and illustrated by Oge Mora
Recommended by Heather McCue
Comfort food fills both your belly and heart. The best books tell a great story, but they also give you that something extra. "Thank You, Omu!" by Oge Mora is one of those best books. Our story begins with Omu cooking a thick red stew for dinner when she hears a knock at the door. A little boy has smelled the stew and asks for a bowl, but he is just the beginning. More and more knocks come to Omu’s doo,r and more and more bowls of stew leave. Finally, the stew pot is empty. What will Omu do? On hard days, it helps to see the good - neighbors helping neighbors, organizations ensuring that our seniors have delicious meals and teachers checking in on their students. Omu’s spirit of generosity is definitely alive and well in our own community. Read this book together and consider how you can help fill someone’s bowl with your ‘own thick red stew’ by mailing a card to a friend, leaving a sidewalk chalk message or sharing a meal over Zoom. As for Omu, that night’s dinner was "the best she had ever had."
In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis
Available in hoopla
Recommended by Lisa Gieskes
Internationally-renowned chef and journalist Susan Herrmann Loomis knows food offers "warmth in a cold world." She is a food expert and teacher, and her audiobook, "In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France," which she smoothly narrates, is designed to teach you how the French make comfort food. Listening to a cookbook/memoir may seem counterintuitive, but rest assured, it is a perfect way to approach a cuisine that may seem overly complicated. Loomis inspires you to cook with confidence. She expertly describes recipes, step-by-step, along with wine pairings. Her dishes are influenced by her many French friends, most of whom attribute their recipes to the ever-honorable French Mamie, the adored grandmother. Recipes cover everything from breakfast to after-dinner desserts. Favorites include Pot au Feu, potage and chocolate tarts. This audiobook is meant for anyone who has a passion for eating and knows that food is one of life’s true pleasures. Decadence needn’t be complicated.
SuperCook App by Ingredient
Recommended by Heather McCue
The SuperCook App was made for getting the most out of your pantry. Last week, I looked in my vegetable drawers to discover turnips, beets and a red cabbage. These vegetables are not my strong suit, but I have been determined to reduce food waste in our house. Enter SuperCook. SuperCook is a free app that allows you to input ingredients from your pantry and connects you with recipes featuring those items. If you select a recipe, SuperCook will tell you what ingredients you’re missing. You can also indicate your preference for entrée, side, dessert, etc. You can create shopping lists, using the app, and also customize your recipes for a variety of dietary needs. I love that you can store favorite recipes since I can’t always locate "that great recipe I found online that one time." Cut to - red cabbage. I found an easy pickled cabbage recipe that made for a great addition to the many salads that I’m eating these days. In this time of limited grocery store trips, SuperCook is a great tool for discovering new recipes and maximizing your ingredients.