Recommended Reading

Like so many others, I draw inspiration for dishes from all over the place- fun dishes at new restaurants, fresh produce at the market, films… I could go on and on.  I very much want you to be inspired by things around you as well.  Right here, I’ve gathered some of the written sources that inspire me.  I frequently utilize these sources for base recipes for adaptations, as well as ideas for intriguing flavor combinations.  I encourage you to take a look at them, too, and go get inspired!

Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

If you do not already own this little gem, I must encourage you to go out and get a copy.  It doesn’t really matter which edition you get (we’ve got two at our house, one about twenty years older than the other), because it’s almost guaranteed to have nearly the same classic and foolproof recipes as every other edition.  Now, I don’t mean to speak in unnecessary hyperbole, but this is basically my culinary bible: there is nary a recipe one could ever want, desire, or inquire about that isn’t included in this book.  It’s an outstanding starting point for any number of fanciful dishes and dinner party mainstays.  Should you not have a hard copy of the book, most, if not all, of the recipes can be found for free at the Better Homes and Gardens website.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Did you have to read Gatsby when you were in high school, too?  Did you SparkNote it, or did you actually read it?  Were you subjected to the film version, the one that starred Robert Redford as Gatsby and that guy from the original Law & Order as Nick?  Are you stoked to see the new film with Leonardo DiCaprio?  Am I going to commence writing a paragraph full of questions?  No. It would be terribly uncouth of me to do so.  Whether you truly enjoyed the book or skimped by on what little information you were able to glean from your friend’s synopsis and Wikipedia, The Great Gatsby really is a terrific (and mercifully quick) read.  Its relation to this blog is that it has some fantastic fancy inspirations.  As a literature lover, though, I suggest that anyone and everyone read this book at least once in his or her lifetime.  It’s a staple of twentieth century American literature with subject matters that are largely relevant nearly a century after its original publication.  At the very least, it can serve as a smart conversation-starter next time you find yourself in an awkward pinch at a swanky cocktail party.  Appropriate, no?

Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes by Joy Wilson

Joy’s blog, also titled Joy the Baker, always has fun dishes, many of them erring on the sweet side, and Joy’s commentary is fantastic.  Her writing attitude is lighthearted and optimistic, and, if nothing else, it really makes you want to scurry into the kitchen to whip up whatever dish she’s prepared!  It’s great stuff!

Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman

Smitten Kitchen is a marvelously inventive cooking/baking blog, and soon to be cookbook, which never fails to impress.  The recipes are top-knotch, and the photographs are fantastic (no Instagram here, and all the better for it).  I’ve been following this blog for over a year, though it was originally started in 2006 if I’m not mistaken.  Deb’s narrative about her life coincides wonderfully with whatever dish she is preparing at the time, and I can never wait to find out what she’ll whip up next.

Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster

This book doesn’t really have anything to do with cooking, though there is the occasional mention of drinking.  More than anything, it’s a fantastically witty narrative and a reminder that you really do have to work hard to achieve goals that you really want.  I recommend all of Jen Lancaster’s memoirs, and I admire her hilariously unapologetic approach to storytelling.  If you’re feeling a bit downtrodden and think that your work ethic could use an inspirational kick in the pants, I encourage you to pick up Such a Pretty Fat.  It’ll have you giggling again in no time.  Warning: this is one of those books that will have you laughing in public and will likely spark “is she crazy?” looks from passersby.

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