Did you know October is National Cookbook Month? Recipes are always a click away these days, but online searches can lead to endless scrolling and a bombardment of advertising just to get to the ingredient list. Clicking and tapping will never be as satisfying as flipping the pages of a well-organized and beautifully photographed cookbook. October is the perfect time to take it old school and open up a new (or new to you) book of recipes. Home chefs of all experience levels can benefit from using a cookbook and here are a few reasons why.
Cookbooks help us save money and eat healthier. You can cook based on your budget and control the ingredients to suit your health goals and preferences. Break Bread on A Budget by MasterChef competitor Lexy Rogers is written from her own experience cooking for her family with limited means. This is an accessible collection of basics for beginners, busy parents and anyone looking to stretch their grocery dollars.
Cookbooks open doors to other cultures and new flavors. Even the most experienced home chefs can learn new techniques through browsing the library's cookbook collection. Budmo! proves that there is much more to Ukrainian cuisine than borscht. The photos are vibrant and mouthwatering. Christine Sahadi Whelan's Flavors of the Sun takes us on a journey through Middle Eastern ingredients. You bought a jar of harissa for just one recipe - now what? Sahadi Whelan offers not just Middle Eastern recipes, but ideas for using these unique spices in a wide variety of ways (Harissa tacos! Sumac margaritas!).
Fall means cozy dishes, family gatherings and holiday baking. Perhaps a new recipe can inspire a new family tradition? Snow Food by chef and skier Lindor Wink offers mountain-inspired recipes to warm your stomach as the days get colder. Most Chicagoans spend more time shoveling snow than skiing, but the desire for hearty food is the same. In her latest book, Everyday Grand, Jocelyn Delk Adams moves beyond her famous Grandbaby Cakes and offers rich, southern-inspired savory dishes along with her delectable desserts. She's designed these recipes for celebrations big and small.
Modern cookbooks have become more personal, combining step by step recipes with memoir. These cookbooks are a reader's delight. Recipe for Disaster compiles anecdotes from a wide range of creatives discussing a low point in their lives and the food memory that goes along with it. Readers will laugh out loud at Samantha Irby's "Rejection Chicken" and shed a tear for a loved one lost in Simon Doonan's recipe for miso soup. In Frankie Gaw's First Generation, Gaw presents heartfelt reflections on growing up Asian American in the Midwest alongside recipes that blend his appreciation of the food made by his Taiwanese family and the American junk food favorites of his childhood.
In honor of National Cookbook Month, challenge yourself to try a new recipe from one of the delicious books above. If you've got a go-to cookbook to recommend, please share it in the comments! For even more inspiration, check out what else is new in cooking at CPL.