Things to Read - Two (Fantastic) New Cookbooks

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Isn't it odd/interesting to think about the parenting habits you've adopted from your own parents? How some of their behaviors/guidance you've thrown out the window, while in other ways you mimic mom and dad wholeheartedly? (Similar to my own children, my childhood was spent exploring museum after museum.)

And then there are the adult behaviors subconsciously adopted from your own parents with no real thought involved. For example, my mother has always collected cookbooks - her house in Chicago must contain hundreds (there's a whole corner of bookcases shelving them all (or should I say "attempting" to shelve them all). Every year my mom weeds some out, but new cookbooks always appear.

As a young child, I thought all mothers acted like this, but somewhere along the way I realized that not all moms read cookbooks as a hobby. Further, most families don't have a completely new set of recipes rotate through the house every few months (I once asked my mom about a casserole she made during my teen years, she replied "oh, Darcy, who can remember? there were just so many along the way.").

And now here I am, 38 years old and surrounded by cookbooks of my own choosing. After my husband declared our kitchen "out of bookshelf space", I started checking them out from the library. At any given moment, I'll have at least 5 newly released cookbooks in the house. It's almost an addiction.

Of course, as any regular cookbook reader will tell you, the discrepancies rest in the ingredients and the work involved. Take for example, Jerusalem, which experts hailed as last year's tour de force in the realm of cookbooks. It is pretty. And I'm sure the recipes are quite tasty - but it took a two day scavenger hunt to find several of the ingredients and then, when I finally decided to cook them, there were so many steps that I think we ended up ordering pizza [disclaimer - it really is an amazing cookbook, and some of the recipes are quite easy, but the easy ones make up the minority].

Anyways, last week I stumbled upon (wait, this is not true, I'm often on month long waiting lists for the current "in" cookbooks) two real winners. Diverse. Interesting. Full of recipes/combinations I've never thought of before. And for the most part - easy (or at least "not too hard").

1. The Great American Slow Cooker Book - This book is amazing. For years, my slow cooking bible has been Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook , and we had a good thing, while it lasted. But eventually, I needed more. I needed the ring. I needed to learn how to cook fish in foil in a slow cooker. I needed three-chile mole chili and chicken tikka masala. It's all here - easy and hard. So much information (on prep times, whether the meal "keeps on warm", testers' notes, shortcuts, and "ingredients explained"). All with pretty fonts.

2. The Chew, What's For Dinner? - So this choice was more random. I've never seen the Chew (though I love Carla Hall) and, truthfully, I didn't expect much. But potato chip chocolate cookies (recipe coming next week). Microwave cake. Homemade twinkies. Spicy lamb meatballs with cucumber dip. Heirloom tomato and ricotta tart. I'm slowly working my way through it all. But wow, talk about diverse, creative, and (for the most part) EASY.

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