I used to think I loved baking, but that I wasn’t that into cooking. A gorgeously decorated cake piled high with fresh buttercream, or a pie with the most perfect flaky crust—those were the bakes I dreamt of making. I didn’t think cooking was awful—I just didn’t crave it the way I did baking. Every single episode of The Great British Baking Show has made me cry, and not just because it’s the most wholesome competition show ever. I’m just really invested in how a bake turns out.
But a girl can’t survive on baking alone. Cooking is a necessity. And after a few years of doing it grudgingly, I decided I needed to get excited about making dinner. So, I put Chrissy Teigen’s first cookbook on my wedding registry, and someone bought it for me. I wanted it because, based on her social media persona, I thought it might make cooking a little more fun. I made a few recipes, I realized I wasn’t dreading making dinner anymore. Then I made a few more. After a few months of this, I was expanding into other cookbooks. I was actually getting really excited to make dinner and try out a new recipe.
I think it was a combination of using celebrity cookbooks, realizing a cookbook is just another book but about food, and that there are some tricks to cooking that make it more fun, that helped me find a new love in cooking. And now, I don’t even need to hear a celebrity endorsement to want a cookbook! Here are just some of the celebrity cookbooks that used their famous faces to make me love cooking.
The one that started it all. Teigen is funny and relatable, despite her fame. And these recipes are seriously good. I’ve liked every one I’ve tried, which is a pretty good track record. And if you don’t trust my opinions, trust the fact that it’s got 4.7 stars on Amazon. Recipes to try: the cheesy jalapeño bacon cornbread is the perfect side for any chili recipe, and the sweet potato gnocchi is life-changing.
This might be the only cookbook I’ve ever preordered. As soon as I learned Antoni was publishing a cookbook, I hit purchase. On TV, he’s got such a laid-back approach to food, making it accessible and fun for people who’ve never cooked for themselves. Eating shouldn’t be stressful, even if you’re making something new and complex. Food should be enjoyed, and it should be enjoyed with those you love. Recipe to try: there’s a pasta recipe with lemon, fennel, and sausage in here that made my husband propose to me again.
Let’s be realistic. We all sort of wish we were Joanna Gaines. The woman has made a career out of having great taste and working hard, and I think that’s something we can all aspire to. Her cookbook is filled with really well-done basics, and some fun recipes with more complexity. But all of them are sure to fill your belly and make you happy. Recipes to try: her biscuits are perfectly buttery and delicious, and her white cheddar bisque is like eating fondue but in soup form.
She’s back! With another incredible cookbook, Chrissy Teigen has really made her mark on the world of food. I can’t choose a favorite between her two cookbooks, because both are filled with all kinds of interesting and delicious foods. Recipe to try: The blueberry pancakes in this book have cream cheese bombs in them, which make them well worth waking up early for.
Bonus tip: If you prep every single possible ingredient before starting the actual cooking process, your feelings about cooking might change. Except when making pasta. Start the pasta cooking first, always. But seriously, put all your spices into little bowls, chop the herbs, measure out the broths and stocks. It makes everything go smoothly, and you’ll feel like you have your own cooking show.
Not all apples are the same.
Some are red, some are green, some are yellow, and some have multiple colors. Some are sweet, some are tart, some are juicy, some are snappy. Some are best for baking, others for juicing, and still others for salads or snacking. Different varieties bloom at different points in the year, and apples come in all sizes. It would be ridiculous to say that an apple is defective or abnormal just because it isn’t a Granny Smith; not all apples are the same.
And not all brains are the same.
We view the world from different points of view, influenced by our genetics and our environment. Some of the differences in human brains have special names like autism and dyslexia. But these differences aren’t abnormalities or defects. They’re simply variations of the human brain; not all brains are the same.
Representation in literature helps readers feel valued and appreciated in their community. It’s especially critical that we help our children learn this concept and embrace everyone. Below is a list of books that were written recently by or about neurodiverse individuals, with a special emphasis given to children’s literature.
This post is the third installment of Diverse Reads, a series that gathers books with diverse characters or authors: people who are LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diverse, people with disabilities, or ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities. I hope that these books help open a window for you into other worldviews.
Henry appreciates people who are quiet, share his sense of orderliness, and won’t invade his personal space. He would like to find a friend at school, but making friends can be difficult. Despite his efforts that are sometimes misinterpreted, Henry keeps trying and finds a friend he can play with.
Eleven-year-old Willa tries to keep her sensory processing disorder hidden from her friends at school. With her large network of adult support, she gradually gains the confidences to be unapologetically herself.
Mason, a seventh-grade boy with severe dyslexia, survives bullying and finds a way to finally reveal the truth about what happened the day his best friend died.
Grace, a 15-year-old with Asperger’s, does her best to avoid attention of any kind. But when Gabe kisses her at a party, nothing is quite the same. Grace honestly articulates her meltdowns and gaffes in this first-person narrative.
Khai Diep processes emotions differently because of his autism. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
My family had an eclectic collection of pets growing up: birds, horses, bunnies, dogs, lizards, cats, you name it. Granted, we didn’t have them all at once, but we did go through many different species. One pet that belonged to my brother was a fat rat. He was loved and well fed.
I’ve recently noticed more and more rodent protagonists popping up in children’s literature. This development made me think of my brother as a little boy and how he would have loved more picture books featuring the underrepresented population of rodents. So, this post is dedicated to those rodent loving kids out there.
Featured Rodent: Beaver
Little Beaver doesn’t want to build his dam. That’s too much of a chore. He would much rather go out and play with the other animals. Will he ever finish building his dam so that he can play?
Featured Rodent(s): Squirrel and Rat
Cyril is the only squirrel at the park. That is, until Cyril meets Pat! They do everything best friends do. Eat, play games, skateboard, but then Cyril finds out that Pat isn’t a squirrel. Will their friendship survive?
Featured Rodent: Chinchilla
When Snickerdoodle wakes up, he’s excited to find a cake on the table. However, there is also a note that says, “Do Not Touch.” Will Snickerdoodle be able to withstand the temptation? Or will he find a way to bend the rules?
Featured Rodent: Mouse
Tall Man and the Small Mouse both live in the same tall house. However, Tall Man has never seen Small Mouse and Small Mouse has never seen Tall Man. They go about their separate lives until they unexpectedly meet. Can Tall Man and Small Mouse live together now that they know about each other?
Featured Rodent: Naked Mole Rat
Sweety is a unique Naked Mole Rat. She likes collecting fungi, interpretive dance, and much more. Others think she’s a little strange, and it can be hard for Sweety to make friends. But a visit from her aunt helps her see that it’s ok to be different.
There are two kinds of bookish people in the world. Those who read a novel and think “Hey, I should write my own novel!” and those who finish a book and think “wow, I am so glad that someone else wrote that book for me to read!”
Those in the first camp look forward to NaNoWriMo every year, or National Novel Writing Month which challenges authors to write an entire novel during the month of November. For those of you trying to complete your own NaNoWriMo this year, our adult reference librarians have planned virtual write-ins throughout the month to help get your word count up and keep you on track. Meanwhile, for those of us more interested in reading finished products while we watch authors hard-at-work – here are some of the best novels that started as WriMo projects.
Cath is starting college on un-easy footing. Her twin sister, Wren, has decided they need to live in separate dorms, leaving Cath trapped with only an exceptionally acerbic roommate and the comfort of her favorite book series (and the hugely popular fanfic site she runs) to keep her company. And then of course there’s her roommate’s ex – the floppy-haired Levi, who insists on pushing Cath out of her comfort zone. If 2020 has you wanting to read something light, I cannot recommend FANGIRL enough. This is rom-com turned coming-of-age story with chapters of Cath’s fanfic scattered throughout. This is one of those books that sounds like it won’t work, but all the different elements come together beautifully.
In a 20th-century circus, which mysteriously arrives and disappears by night, a girl named Celia, the magician’s daughter, is caught in a magical battle against the apprentice of a rival magician. As Celia and the boy, Marco, sharpen their magical skills over the years, they are propelled towards two inevitable results – their epic battle of magic will kill one of them, and they will surely fall in love. As a reader who is usually adverse to fantasy, I was caught up in the world of this novel from the very first page. THE NIGHT CIRCUS is an enchanting and rapture-filled historical setting for a dramatic fantasy to take place. Perhaps one of the most famous NaNoWriMo books, THE NIGHT CIRCUS is an obvious first-read for someone wanting to get caught up in a dramatic setting.
Were you, like so many, disappointed by EMILY IN PARIS? The remedy comes in the form of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. 17-year-old Anna Oliphant has big plans for her senior year until her romance novelist father ships her off to boarding school in Paris, France. Though she is at first unhappy about spending her senior year abroad, she quickly becomes enchanted with Parisienne life and with a boy named St. Clair – the only problem? St. Clair has a girlfriend. This is a perfect escapist novel for when you want some romance, a happy ending, and a reminder that home is people, not a place.
Emoni Santiago has a lot on her plate. She’s a senior in high school, a single mother to a two-year-old daughter, works part-time, and still manages to carve out time to do what she loves most – making near-magical dishes in the kitchen that transport her diners. With high school drawing to a close, Emoni signs up for an elective culinary arts class her senior year that will bring her one step closer to the path she wants to be on, but makes her uncertain how she will continue to care for her daughter. This is an introspective and touching novel from an author who won a Printz medal and National Book Award for her debut novel. Though this book is anything but light reading, it is a stunning and steadfast look at growing up and figuring out life.