Themed Cooking

Check out this letter from Librarian Kate! This week she is writing about cooking with a theme! 

Many people agree that one of the hard parts of cooking is deciding what to make.

One of the ways our household streamlines the meal prep is to pick a theme and choose a few new recipes for a rotation, which we plan a couple weeks at a time. Sometimes the theme is “What’s buried at the back of the freezer or on the bottom shelf of the pantry?” Other times I flip through my notebook of favorites and my recipe box and remind myself of some of the food I haven’t made in a while. Occasionally, we pick a cookbook or selection of a couple books and experiment with the contents.

The experimental approach influenced my family’s meals the last couple of weeks as we ate from two pop-culture-themed cookbooks. Shortly before social distancing went into high gear, we had brought home Firefly: The Big D— Cookbook, by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, and The Minecrafter’s Cookbook by Tara Theoharis. (Our family contains fans of both franchises.) We had flipped through the books and found several ideas that appealed and accommodated ingredients we usually stock. To be frank, I didn’t expect much from the recipes, though the books seemed like fun browses.

The Firefly cookbook was assembled as though written by the characters, and includes photos of scenes from the series. It is a fun read, and included delicious recipes like “Shepherd Chicken Soup,” which may be a new family favorite. It’s a lot like chicken noodle soup, but couscous instead of traditional noodles and the addition of turmeric gave it a new sophistication. We also enjoyed new twists on recipes for ribs and potatoes. The book is organized according to where in the ‘verse the recipes would be prevalent, which makes finding particular recipes a little more challenging than a more traditional classification by ingredients or meal type. On the other hand, it has both a table of contents and a rudimentary index, so those can help with pinpointing a location.

The (unauthorized) Minecraft cookbook is clearly prepared and marketed for children, which keeps its recipes simple, tasty, and easy for kids to participate. It includes plenty of snacks and desserts, like Arctic Biome Snowball Cookies and Marshmallow Ghasts, but we’ve also enjoyed dishes like Beetroot Soup, which adds a can of beets to homemade tomato soup, enhancing both color and flavor. The cookbook also includes helpful hints for game play and results that look or sound like aspects of the game. These factors excite my kids to be part of both preparation and eating of the food.

After recent efforts, I am less likely to dismiss series and movie tie-in cookbooks as just a gimmick, and more likely to look over a new cookbook with an eye to incorporating the fun into my kitchen. Hopefully you are also having success in any kitchen experimentation happening at your house.

Need a new cookbook or some ideas for themes? Then check out a cookbook electronically in Overdrive!

Happy cooking! -Kate

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