Cozy up to some new cookbooks

A wooden cutting board holds chopped green herbs, a stainless steel knife, and a small metal bowl with grated cheese. Nested colanders sit next to the board.

by Holly L

With temperatures falling outside, there is no better time to get cozy inside with some comfort food cooking. If you’re looking for inspiration, consider one of these new or new-to-our-collection cookbooks to liven up your repertoire.

In Tasty Total Comfort: Cozy Recipes with a Modern Touch, the minds behind the food site Tasty.co present a whimsical collection of comfort food from around the world. With 75 easy-to-follow recipes, this vibrantly photographed cookbook has you covered from breakfast to midnight snacks and all the little (or not so little) meals in between. The tone is approachable and playful (tater tot casserole on the cover) and, in addition to providing the reader with such tempting recipes as Korean Hot Dogs, Fried Chicken Adobo, and Spumoni Sundae Brownies, it gives reassurance that cooking, like eating, should be fun.

With Natural Flava, brothers Craig and Shaun McAnuff showcase the vibrant vegan Ital cuisine of Jamaica’s Rastafarians. According to the publisher’s website, “Ital means clean, natural, and unprocessed as much as possible. Rastafari is an expression of unity with all things, and the Ital diet reflects that through a sense of peace and togetherness with the natural world.”
Although Caribbean cuisine may be famous for meat-centric dishes such as jerk chicken, the region is abundant with fresh fruits and vegetables such as plantains, yams, jackfruit, and guava that lend themselves to many tasty plant-based recipes. From coconut pancakes with warm blueberries to potato and chickpea curry with roti, the McAnuff brothers share a bounty of quick and delicious recipes that highlight the rich culture of their Jamaican heritage.

For me, nothing says comfort food like dumplings. And I think Top Chef alum Lee Anne Wong, author of the cheekily-titled Dumplings All Day Wong, might agree. Like a proper dumpling, this 2014 cookbook is stuffed with tasty goodness, featuring recipes for such tempting bites as Kimchi Mandu and Miso Short Rib Dumplings. Wong begins the book by covering the basics, in this case, dumpling wrappers, and provides suggestions for both store-bought and homemade. From there, she describes various dumpling folds and offers several recipes for each dumpling type as determined by fold/shape. Now that you’ve read the word “dumpling” eight times, don’t you want to try to make and eat your own? With Chef Lee Anne at your side, you can’t go wrong, (but you might go Wong)!

In the follow-up to his acclaimed 2020 celebration of Mexican-American cooking, Chicano Eats, Edwin Castillo shows us his sweeter side. In Chicano Bakes, southern California-based Castillo shares recipes that featured in his childhood in Orange County: pan dulce, tres leches cake, and panque de nuez (sweet pecan loaf), as well as creative twists on Mexican classics such as red velvet chocoflan. Through the 80 recipes and vivid color photos featured in this book, Castillo opens a window onto the delicious, vibrant world of his life, family, and Mexican-American culture.

Whatever region of the world or section of the Dewey Decimal system your appetite takes you to, come browse our cookbook collection for a read that’s sure to bring you warm, delicious comfort.

Holly is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys knitting, preferably with a strong cup of tea and Downton Abbey in the queue.

Cover image by Roy Stephen from Pixabay.

Cooking for the New Year

The cover photograph shows a turquoise pot with a wooden spoon, filled with pasta, basil, and tomatoes in a creamy sauce. The pot sits on a wooden cutting board next to basil leaves and a white dish of red pepper flakes.

by Sahana C.

Try new recipes, new techniques, and new cookbooks in the New Year! 

The New Year brings new resolutions, fresh starts, and the perfect time to try new things. This year, while you are still getting into a brand new routine, here are a few cookbooks to use as inspiration. 

The book cover is a stylized line drawing of a wok in gold, with five red flames underneath and three white lines representing steam rising above it, all against a black background.

Dinner in One: Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals, for example, is great for folks who are trying to keep things simple but aren’t willing to sacrifice on flavor. Melissa Clark makes sure most, if not all, are ready within the hour. For those who are into the chemistry of cooking, J. Kenji López-Alt has come out with one of the most comprehensive texts on using woks in your kitchen. The lessons in The Wok: Recipes and Techniques extend beyond just the wok, with tips and tricks for knife skills and how to brighten up any dinner.  

The cover photograph shows an assortment of fresh brown loaves of baked artisan bread atop a counter.

For those who have decided to take up home-made bread-making and baking as their resolution this year, The Best of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Favorite Recipes from Bread In 5 keeps things both exciting and reasonable in the midst of everyone’s busy lives. This book has been touted as the “only one a baker needs,” and it’s still the best place to start for novices looking to get their foot in the door.

The book cover is a photograph of a charcuterie board, with assorted vegetables including tomatoes, pepper strips, cucumber slices, broccoli florets, and halved radishes. There are also three small white bowls of assorted dips.

While last year was big for board-style meals and decoration (with charcuterie, butter boards, and hummus boards trending on social media), America’s Test Kitchen provided a perfect introduction and inspiration for making boards at home. Boards: Stylish Spreads for Casual Gatherings is incredible inspiration for grazing tables and an easy way to feed guests when hosting, while keeping the actual work of preparing food to a minimum.  

In the spirit of including new recipes in your repertoire, we invite you to join us on February 22 at the Savage Branch for the first of our Recipe Exchanges! We discuss our favorites, learn and borrow from others in the community, and then look specifically at the evolution of African American cuisine and soul food.  

Cookbook Corner
Wed, Jan 18; 7 – 8 pm
HCLS East Columbia Branch 
For adults. Register here.
Explore various culinary cuisines/chefs of the world. A new cuisine/chef every month.

Recipe Exchange: Black Chefs and African American Cuisine
Wed, Feb 22; 7 – 8 pm
HCLS Savage Branch
For adults.
Do you want to learn more about Black chefs and the history of African American cuisine to find out where your favorite soul food dish originated? Indulge your culinary curiosity at the first of our recipe exchanges. See our events calendar for more information.

At the Table Together

by Brandon B.

The book cover is a photograph of a roasted turkey on a white china platter, with silverware in front and garnished with greens.

The Thanksgiving holiday is an opportunity for families to gather at the dinner table, express their love, enjoy each other’s company, and give thanks for what life has to offer. On Thanksgiving Day, people watch the parade in New York, the national dog show, and football games, but the holiday feast is the main event. Many families showcase a variety of food choices from their respective regions or countries.

Some families could decide to have mashed potatoes with their turkey instead of macaroni and cheese. Many people prefer collard greens to green bean casserole, or sweet potato pie over pumpkin pie. Apple, cherry, and blueberry pies might also make an appearance. Even though turkey, ham, and other meats can be served during Thanksgiving, plenty of plant-based or meatless options are now available for vegans and vegetarians. Many pescatarians will have seafood as one of their main entrees for their feast.

The book cover depicts an illustration of a live male turkey at the top, superimposed above a maize-colored arrow that points to a roasted turkey on a platter at the bottom.

We can help you plan for Turkey Day with a wide variety of cookbooks from our collection. Fine Cooking Thanksgiving Cookbook: Recipes for Turkey and All of the Trimmings, from the editors of Fine Cooking magazine, will help prepare your holiday feast. With Rick Rodgers’ Thanksgiving 101: Celebrate America’s Favorite Holiday with America’s Thanksgiving Expert, you can explore timeless dishes and helpful holiday tips. Preparing for a plant-based meal presents certain challenges; Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe offers celebratory menus and recipes from New York’s premier plant-based restaurants.

The book cover depicts a variety of fruits and vegetables, vegan cheese and crackers, and three cocktails on a platter, all resting on a white table.

Being thankful for the time that you spend with your family and friends is vital. Our society has had its recent share of trials and tribulations, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic. We as a nation have a lot to be thankful for. So please, cherish the people you love and the time you have to celebrate together during this holiday season.

Brandon is a Customer Service Specialist at HCLS Central Branch who loves reading, football, and taking nice long walks around his neighborhood.

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan

Image of a woman in a red shirt, red lipstick, and a white apron holding a cookbook across her chest. Red gingham boarder

by Kristen B.

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan could be easily categorized (and perhaps dismissed) as “women’s fiction” since it offers a solid look at four women’s lives in 1942 Britain. I rather despair of idea that novels about women and their daily travails are some how less weighty or less literary than more masculine options. This book is a highly readable reminder that not all the wartime effort took place on the continent and upon the seas, amid spies and battles. The first page provides a list of what a week’s worth of rations were for an adult – and let me tell you, it wasn’t much! Rationing continued in the UK for more than a decade after the end of the war, and I have wondered if we could have sustained that kind of national effort. We tend to look back at the 1950s of a time of growth and prosperity in the US (although not for all demographics), but it was a very different prospect for our allies.

World War II poster featuring a woman in gloves and hat talking to a grocer that read: Help Win the War on the Kitchen Front.

It naturally fell to women to figure out how to make rations stretch to feed their families. In the days before packaged or frozen foods, everything was local and homemade, and the reality was that nobody got enough to eat by modern standards. Gardens (along with pigs, chickens, and bees) were a survival strategy, not just patriotic palaver. The BBC really did host a show called The Kitchen Front, which included ideas and recipes to make rations work and stretch – whether it was tinned sardines, Spam, or some other unfamiliar type of protein, like whale meat. This book starts with that show and adds a fictional local contest to find a relatable female host.

Of the four main characters and contestants in the book, Audrey spends her entire waking life working to feed her family and maintain their house. Her husband was an early RAF casualty, and she has three growing, hungry boys. Her husband was also an artist who mortgaged their home to the rafters, and she is left baking pies and cakes to try to make ends meet. Her home and garden become the center of the story in crucial ways.

The other three main characters each have their own private battles to fight. Gwendoline is Audrey’s sister, though she married up with the local fat-cat businessman and landowner. While a social success, the marriage and the man have proven to be unhappy decisions. The kitchen maid and apprentice cook at Gwendoline’s manor house, Nell, needs a little confidence in her own skills. She provides a young, hopeful perspective. The final woman, Zelda DuPont, worked as a French-trained chef in fancy London hotels before the war brought her to head the canteen at Gwendoline’s husband’s pie making factory. Zelda has fought tooth and nail to succeed in a man’s world before an unscrupulous, handsome cad leaves her heading to the country, an unmarried mother to be.

The convenient machinations of the contest and various plot lines bring all four women together, with Gwendoline having a connection to each of the women but Audrey operating as the beating heart of the story. The plot is mostly predictable, but I didn’t mind that at all. The characters are so wonderful, each in her own way, that I loved spending time with them. Not only did I need to know who wins the BBC contest, I enjoyed their unique points of view and individual struggles. Is it better to marry for love or money and position? Is it better to have a career or raise a family? It is better to be in service or more independent? There are no right answers, but women still struggle with these questions and the myth of “doing it all.” But when we support each other and do it together, everyone wins.

The Kitchen Front is available in print, large print, ebook, and eaudiobook.

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to read, stitch, dance, and watch baseball (but not all at the same time).

Help with Your Hobbies

A yellow cover features a photo of a bright scarlet tanager, with its black wings. The title is in dark red lettering above the photograph.

by Emily B.

May is Older Americans Month and is the perfect time to start a new hobby with a little help from HCLS! Check out these great resources you can access for free with your library card.

Looking to get artsy? We’ve got some great DVD series to help you start. Craftsy offers hands-on lessons in creative mediums such as knitting, watercolors, crochet, and sewing. Interested in painting? Follow along with Bob Ross as he guides you every step of the way toward creating your own masterpiece in his art video series.

Interested in building a family tree and learning about your family’s history? Check out, via our online research tools, Ancestry Library Edition (only available in library branches), HeritageQuest, and MyHeritage Library Edition for access to billions of records from all around the world – including census records, immigration records, and beyond!

Budding photographers can head over to LinkedIn Learning for comprehensive video tutorials on topics like mobile photography, taking portraits, photo composition, photo editing, and more! Simply login with your library card and pin number to begin.

Take a hike! Check out Hike Maryland: A Guide to the Scenic Trails of the Free State for some scenic walks to take as the weather warms. See any birds on your hike? Check out Birds of Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. to learn more about the birds you encounter.

Expand your linguistic horizons and study a new language. For those who prefer to learn in quick, fun, daily lessons, Mango is a great option. Just download the free mobile app, select the language you want to learn, and start learning! For more immersive learning, Rosetta Stone offers structured lessons in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

A white cover features white flat soup spoons, each filled with a different color spice.

Hoping to introduce some new recipes into your repertoire? Check out the Great Courses’ Everyday Gourmet DVD series. With courses on outdoor cooking, Mediterranean cooking, and cooking with vegetables, there’s something for every palate!

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor.

A Conversation & Cooking Demo with Author Laila El-Haddad

The cover of The Gaza Kitchen is a full cover photograph of a wide variety of food, including a whole fish, rice, and hummus.

by Kristen B.

Author and Journalist Laila El-Haddad discusses the history of spices and cuisine from the Middle East and demonstrates some of her recipes in this special virtual event on January 20.

Her book is extraordinary, clearly a labor of love. She talks about living and political conditions in Gaza, while also providing recipes for standard and special dishes of the region. She explains the regional pantry of ingredients and various techniques. I learned that the flavors that separate Gazan cuisine from other Palestinian cooking are hot chilies and dill. I can’t wait to try a couple of recipes (although my family has a notoriously low tolerance for heat), especially for various kebabs.

My favorite parts, though, are the abundance of photography and the personal interviews. This book is simply stuffed full of pictures: food and preparation steps, sure, but also portraits and places. It’s like taking a tour! And El-Haddad included these wonderful side-bar individual interviews, mostly with women and some local farmers. They give such a revealing glimpse into the lives of ordinary Gazan people. My favorite was with one woman, Um Sultan, who was less than happy that her routine, easy kufta recipe was to be included. Who wants to be to be singled out for their good, plain cooking as opposed to something more complicated and impressive? I learned a lot, but mostly was reminded of the power of food to cross barriers and bring people together to enjoy a good meal.

The Fertile Crescent region—the swath of land comprising a vast portion of today’s Middle East—has long been regarded as pivotal to the rise of civilization. Alongside the story of human development, innovation, and progress, there is a culinary tradition of equal richness and importance. The book includes a quote from Anthony Bourdain on the cover:

“An important book on an egregiously underappreciated, under-reported area of gastronomy. This is old school in the best possible meaning of the word.”

Laila El-Haddad is an award-winning Palestinian-American author and journalist.  She frequently speaks on the situation in Gaza, the intersection of food and politics, and contemporary Islam.  She has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the Guardian and the International Herald Tribune and has appeared on many international broadcasting networks, including NPR, CNN, Al Jazeera, and CCTV.

She is the author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between and, co-author of the critically acclaimed The Gaza Kitchen: A Palestinian Culinary Journey, which was the recipient of the ‘Best Arab Cuisine Book’ award from Gourmand magazine, and a finalist at the 2013 MEMO Palestine Book Awards.  She is also the co-editor of the anthology Gaza Unsilenced and contributor to The Immigrant Cookbook: Recipes that Make America Great.  Her forthcoming book, Halal Tayyib: A Muslim American Culinary Journey, explores the history of Islam in America as told through food.  An avid gardener and outdoor enthusiast, she makes her home in Howard County, MD with her husband and their four children.

Thursday, January 20 at 7 pm, online. Please register here.

Sponsored by Muslim Family Center – Howard County, MD and RIVUS Consulting, Howard County, MD

Eat Your Veggies! Cookbooks and a Class.

A pile of bell peppers from the Farmers Market, in greens, yellows, and purples.
Produce from weekly farmers market at HCLS Miller Branch.

By Holly L.

Low-Fat. Mediterranean. Atkins. Whole 30. Keto. Paleo. Vegan. Pegan. Pegan? (That’s paleo meets vegan.) While there is little consensus as to which diet is the best, there is near universal agreement that a healthy diet includes abundant produce – fruits and, especially, vegetables. But most of us still aren’t getting enough. According to the USDA’s most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 90 percent of the US population does not get its daily recommendation of vegetables.

Whether you are already getting your five servings a day, we have a cornucopia of titles in our cookbook collection to help you incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet.

Meera Sodha’s East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing is an inspired collection of vibrant recipes, many originally published in her Guardian food column,”The New Vegan.” In her introduction, Sodha recalls when she first agreed to write the column that not only was she not vegan, she was in the middle of a major life change, having recently given birth to her first child. Excited by the writing challenge when she was seeing the world anew through her daughter’s eyes, she embarked on a journey to discover vegan recipes that would satisfy not just vegans but meat-eaters like herself. With a culinary background (and two prior cookbooks) rooted in her Indian heritage, Sodha broadens her horizons in East, with vegetarian and vegan recipes inspired by her travels in East and South Asia. The book is divided into chapters such as Snacks & Small Things, Curries, Flour and Eggs, Legumes, and Sweets. A few pages of “alternative contents” are also helpful, with categories such as Quick Dinners and From the Pantry, in addition to seasonal categories for those who like to cook by the calendar. This fall, I am tempted by Autumn Pilau with squash, lacinato kale, and smoked garlic, perhaps followed by some Pineapple Love Cake or Salted miso brownies.

The title Mostly Plants echoes a line from author-journalist Michael Pollan’s 2008 book In Defense of Food: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” While recognizing the nutritional and cultural value of meat, he champions a diet of moderation composed mostly of whole foods, with meat being demoted from star to supporting player. In Mostly Plants: 101 Delicious Flexitarian Recipes from the Pollan Family, Michael Pollan’s mother, Corky, and sisters Tracy, Dana, and Lori have created a cookbook full of healthy, flavorful recipes designed to be on the table in 35 minutes or less. Each Pollan has her own dietary preference, some eating meat and others not. Their goal with the book is not to promote one particular diet but rather to shift “the ratio from animals to plants.” Each recipe features easy-to-read icons indicating if it is vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and/or fast, as well as helpful hints for adaptations (to make a vegetarian recipe vegan, for example). Beautiful photos fill the pages, highlighting such recipes as Mesclun greens with persimmons and Manchego cheese and Udon Noodle Soup with miso-glazed vegetables and chicken. The book finishes with a chapter devoted to sweets, the Apple Galette Rustique with apricot glaze sounding to me like a perfect fall dessert.

Fans of chef-activist Bryant Terry may know him as the author of the celebrated 2014 cookbook Afro-Vegan: Farm-fresh African, Caribbean and Southern Flavors Remixed. In his more recent book Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes, Terry explores the realm of vegetables in all their glorious parts, from seeds to roots. In his introduction, subtitled “Fennel for Zenzi,” Terry credits his two daughters as his inspiration. “I wrote this book to make a diversity of foods from the plant kingdom irresistible to them, to inspire their curiosity.” Even the structure of the book, with recipes sorted into chapters based on which part of the plant is used (flower, bulb, etc.) came from his older daughter Mila’s gardening class assignment. The recipes exhibit a further geographical reach than his previous books, with influences from East and Southeast Asia, reflective of his wife’s heritage. The book offers a feast for the senses, not just for the eyes and the palate, but for the ears, too. Terry includes a song pairing for each recipe. Before I prepare Dirty Cauliflower with tempeh, mushrooms, scallions, and parsley, I will be sure to queue up the suggested track, “Flat of the Blade” by Massive Attack. Terry does not include a chapter on sweets, but I imagine that he would approve of my default easy dessert—a few squares of dark chocolate which is, of course, vegan.

If you are interesting in healthy plant-based cooking, consider joining HCLS Elkridge Branch for Plant-Based Nutrition: Everything You Want to Know and More! on Thursday, October 7 at 6:30 pm. University of Maryland Extension teaches participants about plant-based nutrition, the benefits of a plant-based diet, and how to shop and plan meals using plant-based foods.

Holly L. is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys knitting and appreciates an audiobook with a good narrator.

잘 먹었습니다

Book cover for Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking, which shows her in a black shirt with bright pink lipstick, holding a white bowl of Korean fried chicken garnished with sesame seeds and parsley.

by Peter N.

If you’re familiar with Korean cooking and YouTube, chances are you’ve heard of Maangchi. Originally born and raised in Korea, she now lives in New York City and has been uploading Korean cooking videos to YouTube since 2007. Always cheerful and armed with her trusty knives, she’s taught her 5.5 million subscribers the ins and outs of Korean cooking and the recipes she grew up on. And she is just fun to watch. Even if I’m not cooking, I will watch her videos just because she is a breath of sunshine; by the end, I always want her as my Korean auntie.

I work at the Miller Branch of HCLS which is in Ellicott City and home to Route 40, or Korean Way as it is designated by the state. Here, there is no shortage of great establishments that serve the most delicious cuisine that Korea has to offer, but if you’ve ever wanted to cook Korean food at home, I wholeheartedly recommend watching Maangchi’s recipe videos or checking out her books: Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking or Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking. Through these books I have learned just how EASY it is to cook many of the staples I’ve had in Korean restaurants over the years. Bulgogi, kimchi, numerous jjigaes or stews, bibimbap, you name it; she has taught me all. Her recipes are so simple and so easy to make that you’ll be hosting your next get-together with her recipes and wowing everyone with your cooking prowess. I can personally attest to that. I recently hosted a small Korean BBQ party (where everyone had been fully vaccinated) and everyone was so impressed and so full by the end.

  • The photograph of place settings and table service shows plates, glasses, a smokeless grill with tongs, chopsticks, and a variety of meats and vegetables for grilling, all against a bright tablecloth in summer colors.
  • The photograph is of bibimbap on a white plate containing bean sprouts, spinach, pickled carrots, cucumbers, pickled radish, mushrooms, and red pepper sauce on a bed of white rice.
  • The photograph of budae jjiajae shows a pan of kimchi-based stew with spam, vegetarian dumplings, tofu, and fish cakes in a spicy red pepper sauce.
  • The photograph of potato pancakes shows pancakes on two white plates with forks, with a fried egg on top and served with a bowl of soy dipping sauce with onions and peppers and a broccoli garnish.

Both of her books are available to check out or reserve through the Howard County Library System. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.

See you next time! Bye!

Maangchi at the end of every video

Peter is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and just loves to eat.

Cooking with Ottolenghi

Table covered in plates and bowls filled with colorful foods.

by Kristen B.

Something kind of funny happened at the holidays: every member of my family was gifted a cookbook. I’m not sure if this is in recognition that we all like to play in the kitchen or the need to find some new recipes as we have grown seriously bored with our old usuals. Both?

Last year in a gift exchange, a colleague presented me with Plenty by Yotam Ottalenghi. I was only vaguely familiar with the author’s name but was no particular fan. He’s an Israeli-English chef, restauranteur, and cookbook author. He owns several delis and restaurants in London and specializes in Middle Eastern flavors and cuisines. I was immediately intrigued by the beautiful photography and the series of recipes that concentrate on types of foods. Vegetables, grains, and other plants are often side dishes on my table, and this book shows how to make them the stars. While some of the recipes required ingredients I don’t always keep on hand and the time to think my way through a new process, the couple I have tried have been wonderful. The green couscous, overflowing with fresh herbs and scallions, was a lovely addition to summertime meals.

For Christmas, my son gave me Ottolenghi Simple by the same chef author, having noticed my enjoyment of the previous book. As the name suggests, this book contains simpler recipes. SIMPLE is an acronym for recipes that stands for: Short on time, Ingredients ten or fewer, Make ahead, Pantry-led, Lazy-day dishes, and Easier than you think. Not every recipe partakes of all the categories, but it offers a nice shorthand at the top of the page. Ottolenghi’s pantry differs significantly from mine, but shopping provides part of the fun of new recipes. Discovering different tastes and textures is the main reason I like to check out cookbooks and get busy in the kitchen. I have tried one recipe from this book already: Baked rice with confit of tomatoes and garlic. Baked rice was easy and turned out perfectly. Next time, though, I will halve the recipe because we ended up eating it all week. I posted a picture of my newfound deliciousness on Facebook (like you do) and promptly recommended this book to a friend who wanted the recipe.

The library owns a wide array of cookbooks for you to borrow, from celebrity chefs such as Ottolenghi to cooking with certain kitchen appliances (Do you have an Instapot or slow cooker?) or even for specific dietary needs. Celebrity chefs is one of the current topics for Bundle Bags, where staff will browse the shelves for you. Or, you can always chat with us about what you’re looking for. I wish you happy cooking!

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to spend winter reading, baking, and waiting for baseball to return.

Bon Appetit

The DVD cover for the movie with Meryl Streep as Julia Child at the top in a green kitchen and Amy Adams licking her finger and holding a fork at the bottom.

By Peter N.

2020 was a difficult year, and we all know it. In difficult times, we often turn to things that bring us comfort such as books, music, movies, or food, and oftentimes our favorites are the ones we turn to many times over and never get tired of. What brings me comfort? The movie Julie & Julia. This 2009 film is based on Julie Powell’s 2005 book and intertwines the story of Julia Child as she grows into a chef extraordinaire with the life of government worker Julie Powell as she cooks her way through all of the recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is a favorite film of mine for many reasons: Meryl Streep as Julia Child, Stanley Tucci, comedy, and last but not least…FOOD. Seriously, I could watch this movie once a week for forever.

As a child we didn’t have cable so I had to rely on watching whatever our TV antenna was able to pick up and most often it was PBS. I remember seeing Julia Child and Jacques Pépin cook dish after dish, and they (along with many other PBS cooking shows) are one of the reasons I became the foodie I am today.

But back to Julie & Julia: as I mentioned before, there are many reasons why I love this movie, but what I didn’t mention was that it has one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. It’s…relaxing, for lack of a better term. When I turn on this movie, it is often just in the background as I cook, clean, or when I just want to free my mind of all the clutter. Don’t believe me? Well, check it out – it is available to stream and download from Freegal through Howard County Library System. All you’ll need is your library card number and PIN. It’s that easy!

Meryl Streep shines as Julia Child accompanied by Stanley Tucci as her husband Paul. Their onscreen chemistry makes you believe in love and triumph through hard work and determination, and I love every single scene with them. Amy Adams, however, is no slouch, and her portrayal of Julie Powell perfectly conveys how arduous the task was to cook more than 500 of Julia Child’s recipes, all while enjoying most of it, despite a few burnouts and tantrums along the way. When she describes her childhood memory of the magic of Julia’s bœuf bourguignon I am sorely tempted to make the recipe myself (but would end up eating by myself thanks to my vegetarian partner).

I leave you with a quote from Julia Child:

People who love to eat are always the best people.

Peter is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch where he is one of the nerdiest people you could meet.