Comfort me with cookery

In some libraries of yore, the cookbook (or “cooking” as it appears in our collection) section was known as “cookery.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a variant of this term first appeared in 1393; followed by another reference from 1450, “Here Beginnethe a Boke of Kokery,” a reference from “Two 15th-century Cookery-books” by T. Austin (1888). One of the definitions is: “The skill or activity of preparing and cooking food; cooking.” The library shelves are full of delectable offerings, especially in the cooking neighborhood. What better time to become acquainted with this collection than the present, when morning temperatures are hovering in the 30s, and there are cookery books like, “Milk Street Noodles,” and “Love is a Pink Cake,”  sitting on our shelves, waiting to be checked out?

We have no doubt that you will find a title you’ll be inspired to check out. The pages of “Homage: Recipes & Stories from an Amish Soul Food Kitchen” by Chris Scott, for instance, are filled with comforting recipes, as well as old snapshots of family photos and recipes, charting the story of the author’s family over seven generations — “from his enslaved ancestors to his great-grandfather, who migrated to Pennsylvania after the Emancipation Proclamation, to his own childhood in Amish country, and, ultimately, his successful restaurant career in Philadelphia and New York City.” There’s a wide variety of fare, including easy-to-follow recipes like Johnnycakes with Apple Butter, Chicken and Dumplings, and Nana Browne’s Fried Potatoes and Onions.

If shortcuts are your thing, maybe “The Instant Kitchen Cookbook: Fast and Easy Family Meals Using Your Instant Pot and Air Fryer” by Coco Morante is more your speed. Although, if you do own both of these products, you very well know that electric pressure cookers may not be as fast as you might expect. True to the title, though, each recipe features how long it will take for prep and cook time. Let’s be honest, a three-ingredient recipe for making parmesan and rosemary crisps that takes five minutes to cook is something that could become prized knowledge.

Author Bee Wilson was trying to figure out how to not make cooking feel rushed and part of a never ending “to-do” list. In the midst of this exploration, her husband of 23 years left her for another woman. For the next year, she was drowning in a sea of emotions, when she realized that spending time in her kitchen was something that brought her some peace. “Before there were cookbooks, there were things called “Books of Secrets.” From late medieval times onward, these esoteric volumes became widespread across Europe … By the 16th century, a typical book of secrets might offer the reader a mix of practical cooking tips and weird potions with impossible claims …” Beginning with the introduction, reading through the pages of “The Secret of Cooking: Recipes for an Easier Life in the Kitchen” makes you feel as though you’re spending time with a wise, witty, no-nonsense friend, who is willing to share all of the shortcuts and solutions that make good cooking achievable, with nary an impossible claim in sight. One of the chapters is titled, “Cooking is mostly about washing dishes.” Speak it, sister! Pick up this book and you’ll meet a new friend and find fuss-free recipes to bookmark and use repeatedly.

Whatever kind of cook you are, we’ve got something to whet your appetite.

Scroll to Top