I love autumn. It’s my favorite time of the year. The changing leaves, the crisper air, the magical anticipation of all the upcoming holidays—I love it all (except for all the Pumpkin Spice everything, that’s gotten a bit too much). One of my favorite parts of fall is how nice it is to spend a weekend or an evening in a warm kitchen (particularly in my large, older Portland home, which can get kind of chilly when the temperature outside drops). Between my baking projects, dinner parties, and my propensity for comfort food, my kitchen is probably my most used room in the house during the colder months.
One of the most notable things about my kitchen, beside the slight farmhouse feel of the wall color, is my collection of cookbooks. I love to read cookbooks (the cooking section of Powell’s Books is one of my happy places). I shove them onto random shelved and counter spaces, between plates and cook wear. I have a wide selection of cookbooks spread throughout my kitchen and at the ready for my next cooking adventure. In the dorkiest of fashions, I’ll actually read a cookbook cover to cover when I buy it. I initially got drawn into cookbooks by the photography. I seem to have a particular weakness for beautiful food photography. But I quickly got interesting in reading about all the different recipes and cooking techniques. I like to read the forwards and love when a cook includes a section of what they consider to be their “pantry staples”. I also have a habit of day dreaming about what recipes I’ll make and add Post-It notes to pages, either reminding myself of a recipe I want to try or and idea for what to serve with it.
If you’ve been following along with my blog this year, you’ll know I’m attempting the 50 Book challenge. So how am I doing? I’m currently on book 36, which means I have about 3 months to finish 15 books, which isn’t the worse but also just enough books that I’m not confident I’ll be able to complete my 50th book on time. After much debate, I’ve decided to count all the cooking books I’ve read to my list of completed books (which I’ll be publishing at the end of the year) and for one good reason: I really do read the entire book. I read though all the forwards and all the recipes. I’ll even take a cookbook to bed with me as a little “light” reading before falling asleep. So instead of just sneaking in all my cookbooks onto my reading list, under-the-table style, I thought I’d talk about the ones I particularly like for my Fall ’18 Reading Picks.
First We Eat by Eva Kosmas Flores. I follow Eva’s blog and Instagram pretty religiously. I love her photography and find her social media pages to be particularly inspiring. (She also runs online and in-person workshops for anyone looking to up their photography game, improve their social media presence, or write their own cookbook. Check out her website here.) Eva is also a Portland local and her recipes center around food from the Pacific Northwest. Here cookbook is definitely worth picking up.
Half Baked Harvest by Tieghan Gerard. I’ve been follow Tieghan’s blog religiously for years so when she released her own cookbook, it immediately went onto my wish list. Based in Colorado, Tieghan does a variety of types of foods but many of her recipes have a very western, American feel to them. It should go without saying that the photography in this book is beautiful and will absolutely inspire you to get cooking. Recipe I highly recommend: Pumpkin Beer Pretzels.
Polska: New Polish Cooking by Zuza Zak. I picked up this book on afternoon after wandering around Powell’s Books for a couple hours. I got turned out to Polish food after attending a Polish Festival a few years ago and I absolutely love a lot of the recipes in this book. My favorite section is the dumplings. I have a week spot for a good perogies and find them to be an amazing meal for meal planning. I often make a huge batch on a Sunday night and then freeze most of them to be cooked later in the week or throughout the month.
Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion by Shelly Westerhausen. If you love to host dinner parties have as much of a love affair with cheese boards as I do, you’ll love this book. It’s full of recipes for little bits and snacks. It also is very useful and inspirational for putting together your own beautiful spread. I love putting together a beautiful platter of food even if I’m just eating a lazy dinner in front of my TV (some nights, a cheese board makes the perfect dinner).
Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables by Matt Wilkinson. I’ve talked about this book before. I still love it. I try to eat a pretty vegetable heavy diet so I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to cook up veggies. This cookbook is one of my favorites for when I need to swap up and doing something more interested with my vegetables. Perfect for vegetarians or people who think they “don’t like vegetables.” (Give it a try, you might really love it.)
The New Nordic: Recipes from a Scandinavian Kitchen by Simon Bajada. I have a soft spot for Scandinavian cooking (it might have grown out of my pension for Ikea). This is the first official Scandinavian cookbook I ended up buying (I’ve flipped through loads of them), and it’s now my go to for some of my staple recipes. Start with the Swedish Meatballs and work your way up to the fish section of the book.
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.