Happiness is a new cookbook

… or three.


Today, after 11 days of contemplating my culinary goals for 2014, I picked up Better Homes and Gardens’ Ultimate Soups and Stews Book. More details on my resolutions are coming soon, but one — as you may have guessed — is to make more soup. This decision may have been slightly influenced by the Polar Vortex.

For Christmas, my mom and dad gifted me cookbook No. 2, Stephanie Izard’s Girl in the Kitchenwhich had been on my Amazon wish list for two years. I’m a huge fan of her Chicago restaurant, Girl & the Goat, so am really looking forward to cracking this one open.

The third cookbook is Grilling, from the Williams-Sonoma Collection. Now technically, this cookbook isn’t mine. I gave it to Mike as a Christmas present, since he mans the grill in our house. (Not that he needs a cookbook — he has a sixth sense about spices and grilling that drives my OCD, meat thermometer-wielding self crazy.) Whether Mike ever peruses its pages or not, we now have a grilling cookbook on our bookshelf. And that ain’t a bad thing.


Cookbook love: ‘Mickey Mouse Cookbook’

My first cookbook came into my life on the day of my first holy Communion. Walt Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Cookbook” was the perfect present Mickey Mouse Cookbookfor the kid who was always “helping” in the kitchen. Truly, some of my earliest memories are of me standing on a chair pushed up to the counter, watching my mom make pie crust and emulating her with my own miniature rolling pin and small ball of dough.

I fell hard for this cookbook. Not that I was the hugest Mickey Mouse fan, but it was a cookbook, it was hardcover, and it was mine. You can still see the dots I penciled next to the ingredients of Mickey Mouse’s Sugar Cookies. Once, my mom came home from work to find me at the stove, making Winnie-the-Pooh’s Baked Custard — incorrectly, with all of the ingredients tossed together in the pot at once. I obviously didn’t read the recipe all the way through before diving in, as Jiminy Cricket clearly advised in the front-of-the-book Kitchen Rules.

My junior year at Michigan State, when I moved into a house off campus with seven friends, these “favorite recipes from Mickey and his friends” came along. Oh, did my roommates mock me. They simply couldn’t see past the Pinocchio’s Pea Soup with Cheese Cracker recipe, which calls for just a can of condensed green pea soup and a cup of cheese crackers. If only they’d dwelled instead on those Kitchen Rules, specifically No. 10: “and remember to clean up when you’re finished in the kitchen if you want to be welcome there again!”

I’ve weeded my cookbooks many times over the years, but the “Mickey Mouse Cookbook” remains — even though I haven’t cooked out of it since grade school. But thumbing through it today, I suddenly have a hankering for some sugar cookies. À la Mickey, of course.

Cookbook love: ‘Clean Eating 2’


If you want to know more about the concept of “clean eating,” the editors of Clean Eating magazine are the folks to see.

I subscribe to their magazine on my iPad, and own all three of their “The Best of Clean Eating” cookbooks. But “The Best of Clean Eating 2” takes first prize, hands down. I cook from it more than any other cookbook in my collection, clean or otherwise, and have made quite a few recipes more than once.

Our favorites: Curried Chicken with Peas, New Potato and Turkey Skillet Supper, and Thai Chili (with bulgar in lieu of meat, and sweet potatoes!).

You can also find clean recipes — for free — on the Clean Eating website.