bbqJust in time for warmer temps (really, one of these days – it’s going to get warm, maybe even hot) the month of May is a great time to plan your barbecue strategy. There are lots of big reasons to fire up the grill this summer – Father’s Day, 4th of July, family reunions, graduations – but you don’t really need an excuse to get cooking. If you’re looking for tips or fresh ideas, stop by the library – we have more barbecue/grilling/outdoor cooking books than you can shake a barbecue brush at.

Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking by Adam Perry Lang

Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book by Chris Lilly

Wood-fired Cooking: Techniques and Recipes for the Grill, Backyard Oven, Fireplace and Campfire by Mary Karlin

500 Barbecue Dishes: the Only Barbecue Compendium You’ll Ever Need by Paul Kirk

Bobby Flay’s Grill It by Bobby Flay

Jerk from Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style by Helen Willinsky

Barbecue Nation: 350 Hot-off-the-Grill, Tried-and-True Recipes from America’s Backyard by Fred Thompson

cooking-greenWe’ve all become very aware of our environment, it’s perilous condition and how we impact it every day. Many of us have taken steps to reduce this “carbon footprint” by recycling, using less energy, cutting back where we can. But have you considered your “cookprint”?

In Cooking Green Kate Heyhoe explains that your cookprint is the environmental impact produced by your kitchen, then clearly advises you on how to reduce yours. A lot of her ideas are common sense – buying Energy Star appliances for instance – but some are techniques you may not be familiar with. For instance, she advocates passive cooking which takes advantage of residual heat – start your lasagna in a cold oven, then turn it off 15 minutes early leaving the oven door closed till finished. You’re still cooking the foods you want, just doing it smarter.

Heyhoe looks at each zone in the kitchen (cooking, cleaning, refrigerating) and discusses the best green alternatives. She also talks about the food itself – buy local as much as possible, consider the impact of production and transportation of other foods, eat more plants than animals. She explores the higher environmental costs of meat and seafood, but offers smart, simple ways to reduce their negative impact.

Of course, who would go green in the kitchen if there wasn’t anything good to eat? Heyhoe addresses that too, including 50 delicious recipes, from main course to vegetables to desert, with tips and ideas on the best way to prepare them. Each recipe has a “green meter” which tells you exactly what you’re saving (in energy, time and money) The dishes are simple and practical and would be a great way to help you take advantage of seasonal foods from the farmer’s markets.

This fun and fascinating book will entertain and educate the cook and non-cook alike.

bobby-flayHungry for a good old-fashioned American meal? It’s hard to beat the classic triumvirate of hamburger, French fries and a milkshake. Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes shows how to take these favorites and kick them up a notch.

Flay starts with advice on finding and using the best ingredients and preferred cooking methods. Next he shows you variations on the classics – Greek burgers with feta cheese and Greek yogurt, fries made with sweet potatoes and condiments ranging from chipotle ketchup to red chili mustard. Milkshakes get special attention too – what about blackberry cheesecake or or peanut butter-banana-marshmallow? Intrigued yet?

You’ll find all of this and more, beautifully illustrated and clearly described – plenty of inspiration for creating your own version of an American classic.