baconEven as pork prices rise and the economy fluctuates, consumption of bacon remains steady. The American Meat Institute reports that bacon has an almost cult-like following; the Facebook page About Bacon has more than 10 million Likes. Its sublime savory taste has been endorsed by scientists as well: bacon boasts umami, the seductive “fifth taste” that heightens and rises beyond sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Bacon isn’t just an infatuation–it’s a way of life.

In Bacon 24/7, author Theresa Gilliam and photographer E Jane Armstrong have teamed up to create a fun and current cookbook to feed the need for bacon. They include recipes for every hour, from dawn through dark, as well as info on topics such as how to cure and smoke your own bacon. Drool-worthy photographs highlight dishes such as Pasta Carbonara, Pork Belly Hash with Kale and Sweet Potatoes, and Apple Pie with Bacon Strudel.

Any evening that begins with a Bacon-Infused Manhattan holds the promise of being an unforgettable night. (description from publisher)

year of holidaysRee Drummond—accidental country girl, award-winning blogger, Food Network personality, and #1New York Times bestselling author—presents The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays, a fantastic collection of recipes, photos, and homespun humor to help you celebrate all through the year.

Ree shows you how to ring in your favorite holidays with inspired menus for breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, parties, deliveries, and feasts, accompanied by fun instructions and hundreds of her signature step-by-step photos. Filled with creative and flavorful ideas for intimate dinners, group gatherings, and family meals, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays includes dozens of mouthwatering dishes (with nineteen recipes for Thanksgiving alone!), helping home cooks create a variety of delights.

Whip up a Resolution Smoothie on New Year’s Day; Whiskey BBQ Sliders and Dr Pepper Cupcakes for The Big Game; Glazed Ham for Easter; Watermelon Sangria for a sizzling Fourth of July cookout; and perfect Popcorn Balls on Halloween. For Christmas, Ree includes special homemade treats, including Caramel Apple Rolls, Christmas Rum Cake, and a selection of smile-inducing cookies, perfect for Christmas deliveries to family and friends.

Enjoy holidays all year ’round…Pioneer Woman style! (description from publisher)

meltA cookbook that reinvents the American classic, macaroni and cheese, with gourmet ingredients and unique flavor combinations, Melt, the Art of Macaroni and Cheese is the first book to marry the American standard, with handcrafted artisan cheeses and a wide array of pastas, producing dishes that are both classic and chic.

Home cooks of all levels will be encouraged to incorporate fresh, simple ingredients into the everyday comfort food they know and love. Featuring such unexpected and delicious combinations as Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar with Avocado, Lime, and Shell Pasta; Drunken Goat, Fennel, Edamame, Mint, and Rotini; and Pumpkin Stuffed with Fontina, Italian Sausage, and Macaroni, Melt takes mac and cheese out of the box and elevates it to a level that will delight even the most sophisticated palates. With gorgeous color photography throughout, Melt is a compendium of inventive recipes that will add a fresh twist to the family dinner or play a starring role at your next dinner party. (description from publisher)

indexA James Beard Award-winning writer captures life under the Red socialist banner in Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking in a wildly inventive, tragicomic memoir of feasts, famines, and three generations.

With startling beauty and sardonic wit, Anya von Bremzen tells an intimate yet epic story of life in that vanished empire known as the USSR–a place where every edible morsel was packed with emotional and political meaning. Born in 1963, in an era of bread shortages, Anya grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen. She sang odes to Lenin, black-marketeered Juicy Fruit gum at school, watched her father brew moonshine, and, like most Soviet citizens, longed for a taste of the mythical West. It was a life by turns absurd, drab, naively joyous, melancholy–and ultimately intolerable to her anti-Soviet mother, Larisa. When Anya was ten, she and Larisa fled the political repression of Brezhnev-era Russia, arriving in Philadelphia with no winter coats and no right of return. Now Anya occupies two parallel food universes: one where she writes about four-star restaurants, the other where a taste of humble kolbasa transports her back to her scarlet-blazed socialist past.

To bring that past to life, in its full flavor, both bitter and sweet, Anya and Larisa, embark on a journey unlike any other: they decide to eat and cook their way through every decade of the Soviet experience–turning Larisa’s kitchen into a “time machine and an incubator of memories.” Together, mother and daughter re-create meals both modest and sumptuous, featuring a decadent fish pie from the pages of Chekhov, chanakhi (Stalin’s favorite Georgian stew), blini, and more. Through these meals, Anya tells the gripping story of three Soviet generations– masterfully capturing the strange mix of idealism, cynicism, longing, and terror that defined Soviet life. We meet her grandfather Naum, a glamorous intelligence chief under Stalin, and her grandmother Liza, who made a perilous odyssey to icy, blockaded Leningrad to find Naum during World War II. We meet Anya’s hard-drinking, sarcastic father, Sergei, who cruelly abandons his family shortly after Anya is born; and we are captivated by Larisa, the romantic dreamer who grew up dreading the black public loudspeakers trumpeting the glories of the Five-Year Plan. Their stories unfold against the vast panorama of Soviet history: Lenin’s bloody grain requisitioning, World War II hunger and survival, Stalin’s table manners, Khrushchev’s kitchen debates, Gorbachev’s disastrous anti-alcohol policies. And, ultimately, the collapse of the USSR. And all of it is bound together by Anya’s passionate nostalgia, sly humor, and piercing observations.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is that rare book that stirs our souls and our senses. (description from publisher)

giadas feel good foodFood Network’s star Giada De Laurentis reveals her secrets for staying fit and feeling great in Giada’s Feel Good Food, a gorgeous, practical book with healthy recipes including nutritional information, and personal lifestyle and beauty tips.

Finally answering the question her fans ask most often, “How do you stay so trim?,” Giada De Laurentiis shares the delicious easy recipes and tips she uses to maximize energy and remain fit. Here are 120 recipes for breakfasts, juices, lunches, snacks, dinners, and desserts that can be combined into a month of delicious feel-good meals. So that everyone can enjoy these dishes, many are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan, with helpful icons to call them out – and, for the very first time, each recipe includes a calorie count and nutritional analysis. Special sections delve into Giada’s everyday life, including her beauty and exercise routines, how she satisfies sugar fixes, what’s always in her bag, and her ordering tips for eating in restaurants.

With 100 color photographs, Giada’s Feel Good Food is a beautiful guide to staying on track while still eating everything and enjoying life to its fullest. (description from publisher)

weeknight wondersFood Network host and registered dietician Ellie Krieger makes frequent appearances on national morning shows as one of America’s leading nutrition experts. Ellie has long been loved for her no-nonsense (yet delicious) approach to healthy eating. She is the first to recognize that people won’t succeed at eating right if they feel that they’re being deprived. That’s why Ellie’s recipes often start with favorite foods and familiar recipes, and then she works her magic to remake them without all the fat and cholesterol. Weeknight Wonders is no exception, including 150 recipes like Parmesan Chicken Breasts and Goat Cheese Frittata (plus no-guilt desserts), that can be prepared any day of the week, even after a long day at work.

As always with Ellie’s recipes, there will be minimal fuss about cooking techniques or hard-to-find ingredients, so people can stay focused on eating well. (description from publisher)

can't cook bookAre you smart enough to dodge a telemarketer yet clueless as to how to chop a clove of garlic? Are you clever enough to forward an e-mail but don’t know the difference between broiling and baking? Ingenious enough to operate a blow-dryer but not sure how to use your blender? If you are basically competent, then Jessica Seinfeld’s The Can’t Cook Book is for you.

If you find cooking scary or stressful or just boring, Jessica has a calm, confidence building approach to cooking, even for those who’ve never followed a recipe or used an oven. Jessica shows you how to prepare deliciously simple food – from Caesar salad, rice pilaf, and roasted asparagus to lemon salmon, roast chicken, and flourless fudge cake. At the beginning of each dish, she explains up front what the challenge will be, and then shows you exactly how to overcome any hurdles in easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions.

Designed to put the nervous cook at ease, “The Can’t Cook Book” is perfect for anyone who wants to gain confidence in the kitchen – and, who knows, maybe even master a meal or two. (description from publisher)

everyday thai cookingI’m an adventurous eater, but I’m an easily intimidated cook.  I grew up making things out of boxes, so I tend to go with what is simple or familiar now that I cook mostly from scratch.  I figured out how to make a basic red chicken curry, and that has become my go-to (only) Thai recipe for years, despite Thai being one of my favorite cuisines.  That is, until I found Katie Chin’s Everyday Thai Cooking.

Everyday Thai Cooking is smart and accessible, and features easy-to-follow recipes, appetizing photographs, and informative tips and alternatives.  Most of the recipes clock in around 30 minutes or less, and the substitutions are especially helpful.  From Thai staples like Pad Thai and Spring Rolls to new favorites like Crispy Mango Chicken, the book has recipes for inexperienced and experienced cooks alike.

Lifestyle blogs are the ‘thing’ right now.  Young House Love, Perfectly Imperfect, Smitten Kitchen, and Pioneer Woman are all written by bloggers who are getting famous simply for letting readers into their homes  (I like to think of them as still life reality stars.)  The best bloggers combine a sharp wit, unique voice, beautiful photos, a glimpse at the personal, and easy to follow how-tos.  Many of these bloggers have published books that you can check out from the Davenport Public Library, so stop by and check them out!

Young House Love by Sherry & John Petersik
Apartment Therapy Presents by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte
Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson
The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman
The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

fried walleyeWith its corn by the acre, beef on the hoof, Quaker Oats, and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, the Midwest eats pretty well and feeds the nation on the side. But there’s more to the Midwestern kitchen and palate than the farm food and sizable portions the region is best known for beyond its borders. It is to these heartland specialties, from the heartwarming to the downright weird, that Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie invites the reader.

The volume brings to the table an illustrious gathering of thirty Midwestern writers with something to say about the gustatory pleasures and peculiarities of the region. In a meditation on comfort food, Elizabeth Berg recalls her aunt’s meatloaf. Stuart Dybek takes us on a school field trip to a slaughtering house, while Peter Sagal grapples with the ethics of paté. Parsing Cincinnati five-way chili, Robert Olmstead digresses into questions of Aztec culture. Harry Mark Petrakis reflects on owning a South Side Chicago lunchroom, while Bonnie Jo Campbell nurses a sweet tooth through a fudge recipe in the Joy of Cooking and Lorna Landvik nibbles her way through the Minnesota State Fair.

These are just a sampling of what makes Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie – with its generous helpings of laughter, culinary confession, and information – an irresistible literary feast. (description from publisher)