Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Tastee-Reads: Magnolia Table, Hot Mess Kitchen, Bon Appetit's Food Lover's Cleanse

I've been vocal about my love of cookbooks on this platform before: they're a uniquely clear and distinct aesthetic package of good food, good photography, and oftentimes, really good storytelling. The narrative might not be linear, and the characters involved are a little more on the not-so-imaginary side, but cookbooks are yet another means of translating culture and personality to eager readers, alongside all of the culinary skills and interesting ingredients.

The best part about this kind of recreational reading is, you can bring its contents right off the pages, with some basic kitchen abilities and a decent budget for grocery shopping! No matter how magical the Harry Potter series is, even it can't promise you that.

Here are a few cookbooks that have caught my eye recently, and along with how well they'd fit in with my own collection.

magnolia table: a collection of recipes for gathering, joanna gaines 

Image result for magnolia table goodreadsAs with millions of Fixer Upper fans the whole world 'round, when Joanna Gaines released the news that she would be publishing a cookbook, I waited with bated breath. When my mom - another Magnolia fan - surprised me with a copy only a couple of days after it came out, I positively squealed!

And this cookbook is well worth the squeal. Soon after I posted a picture of it on my Instagram Story, questions came pouring in from friends, as to whether the somewhat-hefty price tag that comes with a cookbook was worth it. Here's what I told them:

The book is one hundred percent a product of Mrs. Gaines. If you're a reader of the couple's Magnolia Journal quarterly magazine, then this cookbook will look faintly familiar to you, because the entire thing is done with Joanna's signature shiplap-and-rustic-ivory eye for style completely throughout. If the sheer fact that this is a gorgeous cookbook to look at wasn't enough to sell you, then the recipes inside will.

With relatively straightforward and low-cost ingredients lists, and steps that are easy to understand, the food inside this book is delicious and accessible. The first recipe in the whole cookbook is for Joanna's signature biscuits, and the rest of them follow in similar suit: homey, comfort food fit for feeding a family.

If you do decide to purchase one of these - something I would recommend for longtime fans of the show - then definitely go for the Target version: not only is it cheaper than what you might find in other stores as a recent release, but due to the retailer's exclusive deals on the Hearth + Hand collection, there are even extra recipes included at the back of the book specifically for Target shoppers.

hot mess kitchen: recipes for your delicious and disastrous life, gabi moskowitz and miranda berman 

Image result for hot mess kitchen goodreadsOne of the first things I do when I read a new cookbook, is look at the author's page, and check out their credentials. What I found was a happy surprise: Gabby Moskowitz, half of the writing team, is the blogger for BrokeAss Gourmet... as well as the inspiration for the show Young and Hungry on Freeform, which is based off of her life and writing!

This explains the clever and clearly accessible recipes found throughout the cookbook, all whimsically named for the various states of panic/ frustration/ inability that various young people might find themselves in when encountering a kitchen, a cutting board, and a state of hunger. For instance, "Someday I'll Be Rich Rice and Beans" kicks off the book, while "All My Friends are Married Mud Pie," brings forward one of the many quick and simple desserts tucked inside. "Mercury is in Retrograde Mango Smoothie" is for days when you want to eat a little cleaner, while my personal favorite recipe in the book - "Just Put it in a Bowl," literally just a list of snacks you can put in a collection of bowls to make it seem like you prepared for any party - makes entertaining a breeze.

But despite my enjoyment of the author, my appreciation for the funny writing, and even the forward - courtesy of Mindy Kaling, for crying out loud! - I really couldn't get into this cookbook. Maybe it's because I left this kind of frantic, novice-style cooking behind a while ago, before I made it my purpose in high school to learn my way around the kitchen, or perhaps because I think the styling choices and photography of the cookbook leave a lot to be desired. Overall, I wasn't entirely impressed.

A fun, funny cookbook written for seriously entry-level wannabe-chefs, this might be a cute selection for a novelty graduation present, or the gift of a gentle ribbing for the friend who could burn ice.

bon appetit's the food lover's cleanse, sara dickerman 

Image result for bon appetit food lover's cleanse goodreads
Bon Appetit has been a trusted culinary resource to me, for as long as I've been alive: I would ruthlessly tear through copies my mom got as a subscription when I was a kid, pasting recipes I thought were pretty into an unkempt, scrapbook-y "Recipe Collection," and I recently became obsessed with the publication anew after the discovery of its enrapturing and informational YouTube channel (check out the "It's Alive!" series with Brad Leone, or space out for a few minutes to the enthralling butchery videos they put out with industry talents). So, when The Food Lovers' Cleanse showed up on foodie lists back in January on how to start your year off right, I put a hold on it at the library as soon as I could.

The book is divided seasonally - as you find produce is at its best and most nutritious when it is harvested in season, thereby offering the best quality to you, the distinguished Bon Appetit consumer - and includes two weeks of meal planning for each season, based off of the recipe contents of that specific section of the cookbook.

The recipes are beautiful, captivatingly captured through tell-tale editorial photography fit for the magazine, and offer goods that are just as high-end as they look. From what I could discern, the offerings are primarily paleo-influenced, and offer plenty of options for customization to fit alternative diets, like for vegetarians (unless, of course, that diet is primarily baked-goods oriented, in which case, you are out of luck here).

However, while they add a few curves to conform to your individual dietary needs, hopefully that doesn't include a low bank account balance, because Bon Appetit definitely caters to those holding a certain amount of cha-ching. From meat options that include Lamb, Albacore Tuna and Buffalo, to the call for flavorings that range from za'atar to harissa paste to preserved lemons, this cookbook was created to cleanse a certain clientele... I guess being a "food lover," like the title suggests, comes with a price tag.

For the discerning and high brow foodie - or just those who love expert food styling - this cookbook offers plenty of interesting and inventive recipes to break you out of your dieting rut.

Have you read any good cookbooks recently? Would you be interested in reading any of the ones on this list? Let me know, in the comments below! 

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