Category Archives: Cook by the Book at Osborne Library

Stress-less Cooking

cookbythebookWhat will we do when we find ourselves, stumble over ourselves, encounter ourselves, once again, in the kitchen?”   Dana Velden

Eating is something we all have to do, but in order to eat, we must cook – or get take out! But really, who can afford that everyday? Everyone’s lives are so busy these days, and cooking often becomes a tedious and stressful activity. If you’re feeling uninspired in the kitchen, check out Dana Velden’s book, Finding Yourself in the Kitchen; Kitchen meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook. The author recounts her time living in a Buddhist monastery and working in their Zen kitchen, where she re-discovered the simple joy of being in the kitchen, creating a meal. If that doesn’t work, have a look at the Cook by the Book’s latest cookbook reviews!

Harriet Chicken dishHarriet liked the straight forward and easy approach of Easy Culinary Science for Better Cooking by Jessica Gavin. Harriet Buttermilk biscuits #2The book provides the science behind slow cooking which was helpful in making the Honey Hoisin Garlic Chicken. The Flaky Buttermilk biscuits turned out really well and were very tasty.


kerry2Kerry discovered that deep frying a Reuben sandwich is a terrible idea! The Spicy Hot Russian dip that accompaniedKerry1 the sandwich was really good, though, and so was the Tangy Lemon Chicken from Bruce Weinstein’s The Kitchen Shortcut Bible.

Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Quick & Easy Food cookbook has lots of pictures of all the ingredients you need, which Sandra really liked. She tried the Lemony Zucchini Linguine recipe, which was so easy to make and delicious!

Jackie kungpaoEasy Chicken Dishes by Addie Gundry uses a lot of prepared foods and dairy and very little seasoning, which Jackie didn’t like. Jackie lemonThe Kung Pao Chicken was easy, but required a lot of chopping and could have been spicier, although the heat did build when it was sampled the next day. Unfortunately, they couldn’t taste the lemon in the Lemon Chicken.

Anita pastaAnita loved the gorgeous pictures in Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry and appreciated the simple recipes that all take under 20 minutes to prepare. This book is all about comfort food and the Rigatoni Pasta was the BEST THING EVER!


The New Easy by Donna HayPrasanna pork contains a lot of unusual ingredients, but Prasanna would recommend this cookbook. She liked that the author shows how one recipe can be revamped and used for other occasions. The Sticky Korean pork with apple and cucumber pickle took 20 minutes to put together and was really good.

Shirley scallopsShirley enjoyed the little jokes that The Best of Bridge are known for in their latest Weekday Suppers cookbook. With new writers on board, you’ll find this cookbook is more adventurous than their previous books. The Thai Scallops Stir Fry turned out very well.


Tatiana dipTatiana drinkAlton Brown’s Everydaycook features what the chef likes to cook for himself. Tatiana tried the Sardine dip and the Barley Water, which is purported to be very good for you. She didn’t like that you discard the barley at the end, which seemed a bit of a waste.

Joanne lasagnaJoanne loved Uncomplicated by Claire Tansey and would gladly pay full price for it! It contains the best Bran muffin recipe she has ever had, as well as this delicious Ravioli Lasagne, with a tasty tomato sauce.


Cathi2Cathi dessertAll New Fresh Food Fast has beautiful pictures, but called for a lot of ingredients Cathi didn’t have on hand. She tried several recipes, including the Steamed Halibut with Leeks (fabulous!) and the Peanut Butter Truffles with Ritz Crackers (not so fabulous!)

Sherri turkey soupSherri tomato soupThe Turkey Spaetzle Soup and Fire Roasted Tomato Soup from Fast From Scratch Meals by Betty Crocker, were simple to follow, with ingredients on hand and they were both delicious. The cookbook has tasty recipes that are simple to follow.  It’s a great cookbook for preparing after work meals with fresh ingredients and kitchen staples. Sherri also tried the Greek burgers, which were a big hit with her family.

Lynda Tofu Bahn Mi cutLynda Fideos with Chickpeas2The recipes in Dinner Illustrated from America’s Test Kitchen all take 1 hour or less to prepare and were really easy to make. Lynda and Maureen pickled their own vegies for the Tofu Ban Mi and declared the recipe a keeper. For the Fideos with Chickpeas they toasted the pasta first, giving it a nutty flavour. This recipe is a close cousin to Paella.

Cathy udonCathy shrimpCathy liked that The Smart Dinner by Betty Crocker used ingredients she already had at home and gave lots of substitutions. The Udon Noodle Bowl was a little too spicy for her taste, but the Spicy Chili Garlic Shrimp Pasta was excellent.

carole turkeyThe Eggplant and Turkey Stir fry from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy was full of flavour and is definitely a dish I would make again. The cookbook is a typical celebrity cookbook with lots of pictures of Gwyneth and her family, but I have to say I liked all of the recipes I tried.

Happy cooking!



Cookbooks still #1!


Do you love browsing through cookbooks? You’re not alone! Cookbooks are consistently in the top ten subjects that are checked out at Winnipeg Public Library and are usually in the number one spot. Cookbooks currently make up 11% of Winnipeg Public Library’s non-fiction circulation – more than Psychology at 6% and Diet and Fitness at 4%. Fortunately, there are  a lot of new cookbooks being published and the Cookbook clubs couldn’t be happier! Here’s  a look at some of the new titles available at Winnipeg Public Library.

Cheryl made the Breakfast Crepes and Wonton soup from Cheryl pancakesGwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy. Both of the recipes were simple to make and delicious. cheryl soupThis book would make a great coffee table book, as it contains a lot of beautiful pictures of Gwyneth and her family, as well as the food. (A trend we’re noticing with more of the celebrity cookbooks.)

Shirley already owns all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks, so she had to purchase her latest, Cooking For Jeffrey. Rosie also decided to review this cookbook and made Rosie appthe Camembert and Prosciutto Tartines, using tortillas instead of crusty bread – delicious! She also had a look at Alton Brown’s Everdaycook – a really fun book to read. It reads just like Alton talks on his popular TV shows. The Cucumber Lime Yogurt Pops call for 1 tsp. chile powder, but Rosie cut that in half and they still had a nice kick to them.

Star Chef Recipes features several celebrity chefs, with nice pictures and simple, easy to follow recipes. Jackie Chorizo MeatballsJackie made the Chorizo Meatballs, Jackie Stuffed Mushroomswhich can be served as a main course or as an appetizer. The stuffed mushrooms were easy and delicious, but could use a little less Herb d’Provence in them.

The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz tries to do it all – Japanese, Italian, Nadene soupGluten Free – all with a healthy twist. Oz uses a lot of fresh ingredients and offers good substitution options. Nadene made this really quick Kale, Sausage and White Bean soup for her family.


Ed would recommend you check Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook out of the library instead of buying it. Ed chiliThe traditional Texas Chili contains no beans or tomatoes and involves making your own chile powder by re-hydrating dry chiles. It was ok, but Ed prefers the Home Sick Texan’s recipe.

Linda ThaiLynda and Maureen loved Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings. “All of the recipes we tried turned out fantastic and tasty. Chrissy has a refreshingly irreverent writing style with humorous, interesting comments about each recipe. Linda saladShe may be a supermodel but she’s got the appetite of a lumberjack, apparently.” They tried several recipes, including Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp Summer Rolls, Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice and the butter Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese and Cayenne Candied Walnuts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow To Bake Everything by Mark Bittman is true to it’s title, providing lots of information and 2000 recipes! Dianne tried the Cornbread with Cheddar Cheese and Jalapenos and liked all of the different variations Bittman gives for his recipes. She also reviewed Oprah Winfrey’s latest book, Food, Health and Happiness and made the Turkey Burgers, which were well received.

The Happy Cookbook by Marg 1Lola Berry offers a whole foods approach to cooking, with gluten-free recipes, minimal dairy and no refined sugars. Margaret tried the stuffed mushroom caps, which tasted really good…with the addition of some bread crumbs.

After borrowing Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook from the Library last year, I ended up buying it, so I wasn’t surprised that I Carole macaroonshad to buy her second book – Oh She Glows Every day! Liddon provides excellent plant based recipes that have become staples in our house. I recommend the Fusilli Lentil Mushroom Bolognese, with roasted red peppers, mushrooms and Tahini, which adds a nice creaminess and flavour. We’ve also made the Shepherd’s Pie several times and my new favourite – Vanilla Bean Coconut Macaroons.

Well, are you anxious to get cooking? Borrowing cookbooks from the library is an excellent way to try before you buy. Happy cooking everyone!










Cook by the Book: Canada – From Coast to Coast

Vegetables and cheese


What do you think of as “Canadian” food? Do bacon and maple syrup top your list? How about bannock, poutine, butter tarts or Nanaimo bars? Our country is very diverse, so it’s hard to come up with one food that is quintessentially Canadian. We’re also very fortunate to have access to pretty much any food we want, any time of the year, from West coast salmon to East coast potatoes.

Here are the results of our culinary journey across Canada:

cherylfishAnita Stewart’s Canada contains great stories aboutCheryl cheesecake Canada and would be a wonderful book for new cooks or newlyweds. Cheryl made several recipes, including a salmon dish and this decadent cheesecake, full of eggs, sour cream and orange and lemon zest, which was amazing.


Dianne thought Homegrown by Marilyn Smith was an excellent cookbook. The Cranberry Maple Butter tarts were delicious, especially while still warm. They were a little on the sweet side, so she would use less sugar, next time.


Lynda and Maureen had fun with You Gotta Eat Here, Too! They’ve eaten at Lynda burritoseveral of the restaurants that have been featured on the show, including The Fiesta Mexicana Lynda pizzaRestaurante y Cantina, which is famous for their giant Burrito Guadalajara –  the pico de gallo really makes this dish.  The Mango Tango Chicken Pizza from Mickey’s Dragon Pizza was fantastic.

carole tart1I chose John Catucci’s first book,  You Gotta Eat Here!  and tried Dottie’s Delicious lemon tart.  The filling is a lemon curd with a hint of basil. I used a gluten-free coconut crust, from Canadian Living Magazine,  instead of the usual pastry crust. This TV show has been very successful and it’s great to be able to re-create some of these restaurant favourites in your own kitchen.

Jackie thought The Dietician’s of Canada Cook Jackie Greek Chickenwould be perfect for a beginner cook, as it contains a lot of general information. The Greek Chicken was a tasty, easy dish, that she would make again. The Turkey and wild rice soup was a good, hearty soup that calls for ground turkey, but Jackie Turkey Wild Rice Soupmight be better with shredded turkey.


Grandma’s Kitchen reminded Iris of her own mother’s recipes and uses ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard.

Ed Michae_smith 003Ed was very happy with Michael Smith’s Back to Basics and his “pan-rushed” cooking method – a restaurant technique for getting food out fast. It involves searing the meat, making a sauce, then putting the meat back in the sauce to simmer.


 Winnipeg Cooks is a wonderful new cookbook Rossita saladshowcasing our own city’s talented  chefs. Rossita made this colourful Roasted Beet Salad.


Sharla made the French Onion soup from The Soup Sisters, not realizing you Sharla onionneed to cook the onions for 40 minutes. The end result was worth it and the cheese toast was also a big hit, so she made it again to go with the Hamburger Soup. Sharla tomatoThe tomatoes were a little over-powering in this recipe, but nothing a little milk and hot sauce couldn’t fix.


Next month we’ll be hosting the “Bean Team” of the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers and learning about nutrition and the delicious possibilities of how to cook with pulses, for International Year of the Pulse. Please contact the Osborne Library at 204-986-4775 for more information.





Cook By the Book: Super Salads

“My salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood…”         (Shakespeare – Cleopatra, in Antony & Cleopatra)

This quote would probably be more appropriate for our first cookbook club meeting, back in 2013. We’ve had twenty-two meetings and we’ve reviewed a lot of cookbooks since then, covering everything from soups to salads. At our last meeting we were talking about how much we have grown from that initial meeting. We don’t want gimmicky cookbooks or pretty cookbooks with bad recipes. Don’t get me wrong, we still like pictures in our cookbooks, but we now realize pictures definitely don’t make the cookbook. We’re not afraid to change a recipe to suit our needs and quite often we think we know better than the cookbook author what a recipe needs to make it better. All of this comes with experience and practice. So, even though the cookbook club is taking a break for the summer, we’ll be busy trying out new recipes from all those cookbooks available at the library! Here’s a sample of some of the salad recipes we tried out in June:

Shelley peachShelley QuinoaThe Prosciutto Peach and Sweet Lettuce Salad, from Cooking Light’s Big Book of Salads, was Shelley’s favourite,  she will definitely add it to her cooking repertoire. The other recipes she tried were really good, but anti-climatic after trying this recipe. The flavours in the Quinoa Salad with artichokes and parsley were much better on the second night.

Nadene1The Potato Salad from For the Love of Salad  had a very nice flavour, but wouldn’t pair well with anything too strong-tasting.  It wouldn’t be able to hold it’s own.  Overall, Nadene loved the cookbook and would consider buying it.

The Thai Beef Salad from Edible Garden Cookbook: Fresh, Healthy Cooking From the Garden was really good and makes a very generous portion.

Craig grilled lambNew Flavors for Salads: [Classic Recipes Redefined] covers all the classic salads, with new twists. Craig learned an important lesson while making the Grilled Lamb and Pineapple Salad  – always read the entire recipe first! You have to make the sauce first, which is on a different page. There are also how to instructions for cutting the pineapple and preparing the grill on separate pages.

Elaine 1Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for all Seasons contains easy to make recipes with wonderful quotes throughout the book. It’s a great book to browse through and Elaine didn’t want to return it. The Royal Fruit Salad was very yummy, with lots of fresh fruit and orange mint.

Lynda celeryLynda tried several recipes from Salad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season, none of which were memorable. The tone of the author is a little too “hoity-toity.” Lynda preferred her own recipes for Caesar and Greek salads, but she did enjoy the Celery, Green Olive and Anchovy Salad, since it was something different.

Ed- SpinachThe Joy of Cooking’s All about Salads and Dressings has all the classic salads, as well as every dressing you could possibly think of and a lot of great “how to” information. Ed made the Spinach salad with loads of bacon and eggs.

Jackie warm cabbageJackielentilSalad for Dinner: Simple Recipes for Salads that Make a Meal  has good instructions and suggestions, such as mashing your garlic and putting it in vinegar to let the flavours bind before making your dressing. The Warm Cabbage Salad and the Lentil Salad were both delicious.

Carole - Vietnamese saladThe Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Shrimp, from Salad Makes the Meal : 150 Simple and Inspired Salad Recipes Everyone Will Love was ok, after a few adjustments – rice noodles instead of angel hair pasta, green onion instead of white onion, and the addition of chiles and mint. It made a huge bowl  and was sort of like eating a giant salad roll without the wrapper.

The Cookbook clubs will start again in the fall, including a new club at Millennium Library, so be sure to check out the September/October issue of At the Library for information about registration.


Cook by the Book: Soup’s On!

Vegetables and cheese“To feel safe and warm on a cold, wet night, all you really need is soup.”
Laurie Colwin

Soup: the ultimate comfort food. It warms you up on a cold winter night and even has the power to fight the common cold. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like and it’s very adaptable. You can also throw it in the slow cooker or let it simmer on the stove all afternoon, while you attend to more important things – like that book you just picked up from the library.

Some very creative people have come up with great ways to share their love of soup – from Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers, providing care and comfort with hot bowls of soup to women and children in shelters, to “Soup Nights” popping up in neighborhoods across the country. Soup Night is all about building community, through soup. Once a month, one house on the street hosts a soup night, making large quantities of soup. The neighbors provide the salad, bread and dessert and also their own bowls and spoons. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbours and helps people feel less isolated: “Soup night has become a way for people to come together when it’s cold outside, and it’s created a community on this block in ways that no one could have anticipated.” (Jessie Mindlin, Portland).

There’s also the Soup Peddler, David Ansel, from Austin, Texas, who started delivering soup on his bicycle and became so popular that he had to hire a whole fleet of bicycle peddlers to keep up with demand.

One of our own Cookbook Club members has been working on soup recipes for two years, with her sister. They want to create a compilation of 52 soups – a different soup to try each week for a year. Here is Tanise’s favourite French Onion soup recipe:

FRENCH ONION SOUP – makes 6 servings

1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 ½ lbs. onions, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. sugar
6 ¼ cups beef stock
1 ½ tbsp. all purpose flour
2/3 cup sherry
Salt & Pepper
Gruyere cheese, shredded
Day old bread slices or sliced baguette (optional)


  1. Melt butter with oil in a large pot. Add onions and stir to coat them.  Cook over medium heat until onions begin to soften (20 or more minutes depending on the size of the pot).
  2. Stir in thyme. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook the onions for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and golden yellow.
  3. Uncover pot, increase the heat slightly and stir in the sugar. Cook until the onions start to brown (15 to 20 minutes).
  4. Increase heat slightly, stirring frequently, until onions turn a deep, golden brown (30 minutes).
  5. Bring stock to boil in another pot. Stir the flour into the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the hot stock and sherry. Season soup. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. For those who like the bread slice in their soup, put a piece of day old bread or baguette slice into the individual onion soup bowl. Cover with the soup and top with shredded gruyere cheese. Put under broil and broil until cheese is bubbling and melted.

Additional Comments:

  • This soup yields a thick soup. Those preferring more broth in their onion soup are advised to use 7 cups of broth.
  • A large soup or stockpot is needed for this recipe.  Vegetarians can replace the beef stock with a hearty vegetable stock that has a deep flavour (attained through somewhat caramelizing the vegetables before adding the water).

If you’re interested in the history of soup, check out An Exaltation of Soups by Patricia Solley. It has soup recipes for just about every occasion you can think of – from celebrating marriage to honoring the dead, and is also full of interesting stories, poetry and quotes.

Here’s the rest of the cookbooks that Cook by the Book tried for Soup’s On night, with our photos of the finished product. Mmmmm!

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And the links:


Cook by the Book: Southern Cooking

Vegetables and cheese

“Southerners can’t stand to eat alone. If we’re going to cook a mess of greens we want to eat them with a mess of people.” – Julia Reed

After watching Top Chef New Orleans this winter, I thought it would be fun to explore the world of Southern Cooking. The Southern States are well known for their fried chicken, BBQ, buttermilk biscuits, collard greens, gumbo, grits and of course, bourbon!

1 Mary -Paula DeenSince travelling to Cuba, Mary has been searching for a good beans and rice recipe and she finally found it in Paula Deen’s southern cooking bible: the classic guide to delicious dishes with more than 300 recipes.  “We really enjoyed all these dishes. The beans and rice were very similar to what we enjoyed every day in Cuba.  At first I thought I’d need a lot of bacon and cream of mushroom soup, but I was really impressed with these dishes.”

2 virginia - LooneyspoonsVirginia decided to use an old Southern cookbook she had at home, Delicious Heritage. “The recipe book is easy to follow – very down home, but I had trouble justifying some of the recipes as they were not what I’d call ‘healthy.’ Too many processed ingredients and fried stuff.” She decided to use the always reliable  Looneyspoons : low-fat food made fun cookbook for her Jambalaya recipe.

3 Nadene-Lee Bros. simpleNadene wasn’t very excited about The Lee Bros. simple fresh southern : knockout dishes with down-home flavor cookbook, but was planning on making the strawberry wine coolers on the May long weekend. Unfortunately, the cabbage and lime salad she made was inedible and had to be thrown out – too much salt!

4 Ed -Smoke and picklesEd was born in Texas, so he knows a thing or two about Southern cooking. He decided to try out Smoke & pickles : recipes and stories from a new southern kitchen and discovered a lot of similarities between Korean and Southern cooking, such as BBQ and pickled foods. Ed made a Bacon Kimchi and brought a sample for everyone to try – very interesting flavours and it had a real kick to it!

5 Jackie -Slim downThe slim down south cookbook features recipes for “eating healthy in the land of biscuits and bacon.” The authors suggest you can still eat Southern style once a week, then eat lots of fruits and vegetables for the rest of the week. Jackie made the Bourbon Balls, which were a big hit at our meeting.

6 elaine Southern PlateElaine came across a White BBQ Sauce made with mayonnaise in Southern plate : classic comfort food that makes everyone feel like family. This cookbook has interesting stories and would appeal to bakers, since desserts comprise about 8o% of the recipes.

7 Florence- Home cookingFlorence found Home cooking with Trisha Yearwood : stories & recipes to share with family & friends to be a bit boring, but did enjoy making the raisin bread. “It was fun to cook one of the loaves in a baked bean tin and I think the shape is beautiful.”

8 Marcella -Cooking with loveMarcella and Patricia made a salad from Cooking with love : comfort food that hugs you.  “The book has some interesting recipes. We would like to see more photos of the recipes. The instruction on how to make the pecans was confusing. The salad was not what we expected.”

9 Nicole- CalliesAfter reading Callie’s biscuits and Southern traditions : heirloom recipes from our family kitchen Nicole would like to make a cookbook about her own family recipes. The author has her own business, with several different varieties of biscuits, all based on her Mom’s recipes. Nicole wins the prize for most recipes tried this month – grits, biscuits, coffee, shrimp, pulled pork and pudding! “I really liked the personal stories behind the recipes in this book, not all of the recipes are keepers, but I certainly enjoyed the ones that I tried.”

10 Lise -Southern livingLise tried several recipes from Southern living complete quick and easy cookbook, including a Tomato Basil Bisque: “Very easy soup to make that tasted as if it had simmered all day. You would not believe the base was simply canned soup. There were a few more recipes that I will make, such as Southwestern Tabbouleh Salad and the Best- Ever Buttermilk Biscuits. This book was well presented with many illustrations and easy and quick recipes.”

11 Tanise-Essentials ofTanise made the Asparagus and Leek Soup from Essentials of Southern cooking : techniques and flavors of a classic American cuisine and said it was “absolutely wonderful.” Instead of throwing out the tough ends from the asparagus, you make a stock out of them which adds incredible flavour to the soup. The book contains great cooking tips, such as placing fried chicken on a rack, so it will stay crispy until serving time.

12 Carole- Down HomeI made the Crab Cakes with Lime Mayo from Down home with the Neelys : a Southern family cookbook and although they didn’t stay together very well, they tasted great, especially with the flavored mayo. I couldn’t find any “zatarain’s crab boil” spices for their pickled shrimp recipe, so I made my own from one I found on-line. They weren’t as tasty as I had hoped, but they sure looked good in the jar!

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Cook By the Book: Budget-Friendly Cooking

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”
– Calvin Trillin

The New Year is always a good time to try to get our budgets back in-line, especially after all of the heavy spending (and eating) of the holidays. Food costs seem to be constantly rising, so I think we could all use a little help in cutting our grocery bills. We’re also still in the dark days of winter and, if you’re like me, you’re looking for a little comfort in the foods that you’re preparing

$10 Dinners: 140 recipes and tips to elevate simple, fresh meals any night of the week $10 Dollar Dinners claims you can make a 3-course meal for four, for $10. This book contains good, basic ideas like “clear the pantry week” or freezing squeezed lemon halves to zest at another time. The Kale chips are simple and surprisingly addictive and the Corn and Black Pico was pretty good, with the addition of some jalapeno and garlic.

KeepersShelley spent a Sunday making several recipes from Keepers and then freezing individual dishes for lunches. “It was a lot of fun and I found a few ‘keepers’ and I have a few more I intend to make this month.” She now finds she’s craving the flavours in the Japanese Style Meat and Potatoes.

The $5 Dinner Mom

Elaine found The $5 Dinner Mom title to be misleading – it should probably be the $10 Dinner Mom. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very exciting book. She was also disappointed in the lack of vegetables in the recipes. The Pizza Penne Bake was a success – “Both my husband and I enjoyed this recipe. I could see it being a hit with kids as it had pepperoni mixed with pasta – both items kids usually like.”

EatingWell On a Budget: 140 delicious, healthy, affordable recipes : amazing meals for less than $3 a serving Ed enjoyed leafing through Eating Well on a Budget, which has a list of all the recipes at the beginning of each section – an excellent feature in any cookbook. It makes it much easier to sit and browse through and decide which recipes you want to try next. The soups he tried were perfect for a cold winter’s night.

The Affordable Feasts CollectionThe usually dependable Canadian Living cookbooks, turned out to be a disappointment to Tanise. She chose The Affordable Feasts Collection and made the meatloaf. “I would never serve this to anyone – I’ve never had mushy meatloaf and needed a glass of wine (filled to the brim) to make me forget just how awful it was.”

Poor Girl Gourmet: eat in style on a bare-bones budget Anda chose The Poor Girl Gourmet because she liked the title, and she tried a couple of the recipes that were fairly easy. The author also has an interesting blog with more recipes.

More Make it Fast, Cook it SlowLynda used her much-loved crock pot to make several recipes from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, which turned out to be a gluten-free cookbook. Lynda received her crock pot as a wedding gift, over 30 years ago and it’s still going strong! Her favourite dish was the Asian Shredded Beef. (not pictured)

$20, 20 minute mealsVirginia wasn’t impressed with $20 Meals in 20 Minutes so she decided to do what her Mom would have done. She bought a BBQ chicken from the store for $8.99 and turned it into several meals:  one dinner, a couple of sandwiches, pot pies, Chicken Fried Rice and chicken broth to use for soups, gravies and bases. Very economical!

Save with JamieJamie Oliver’s latest cookbook, Save with Jamie, uses this same idea of cooking one “mothership” meal a week, then using the leftovers for the rest of the week. Mary tried the Sunday Brisket and her family thought it was wonderful. She did think the book could use some dessert recipes – what’s more budget friendly than home-made pie?

Quick Cook Budget MealsThe Quick Cook Budget Meals cookbook gives the reader three different versions of the recipes, depending on how much time you have – 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Nicole found the times weren’t very accurate, but she did like the codes, provided on each page, for their website, so you can have a recipe card or shopping list e-mailed to your phone.

Easy One Pot: Frugal Recipes for Busy Cooks Jackie thought  Easy One Pot: Frugal Recipes for Busy Cooks was “a very interesting cookbook with a diverse collection of recipes. I thought this book would be more about crock pot cooking with everyday items found in your cupboard. I do not think duck, lamb, saffron threads, baby leeks fall under the heading of frugal ingredients.”  Despite this, Jackie did like the cookbook and was planning on trying more of the recipes.

Eat Cheap, But Eat WellAudrey liked that Eat Cheap, But Eat Well did use ingredients that you would have in your home or would be easy to find at a grocery store. The recipes were also basic and easy to prepare.

We all enjoyed the challenge of cooking on a budget in January and are looking forward to a bit of indulgence for our February meeting – chocolate!

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Cook By the Book: My Berlin Kitchen

Vegetables and cheese

“Distance means nothing when your kitchen smells like home”

This month we decided to take inspiration from Luisa Weiss’ My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story (with Recipes). Weiss is the creator of the Wednesday Chef blog, based on her experience cooking her way through her large collection of recipes clipped from the newspaper. As a child, Weiss spent the school year with her father in Boston and summer vacations with her mother in Berlin, always missing the other parent. As an adult she lived in Paris and New York until she finally settled in Berlin. Through cooking, Weiss found she was able to close the distance between her family and friends. By re-creating her father’s “Depression stew” or her Italian Uncle’s pizza, she was able to connect to her memories of home, wherever she might be. The book is full of simple, heart warming food that will make you think of your own cherished family recipes.

All of our chosen cookbooks are connected to My Berlin Kitchen in some way. The selection focused on Italian, German and French cooking, as well as chefs mentioned in the book. One good book often leads to another! Madeleine and Audrey chose French cookbooks and made classic dishes, such as crepes and Salad Niçoise. Lynda has been a long time fan of Valerie Bertinelli, so she selected her Italian cookbook and found it was a very fun book to read. Elaine also went with an Italian cookbook and had mixed results with her dishes. The soup was a success, but the gnocchi was not worth the amount of work and dirty dishes required. Jackie and Tanise went with the German theme, making hearty dishes like red cabbage and a traditional Raspberry jam roll. Shelley will never buy canned black beans again after trying Deb Perelman’s recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bean Ragout. Virginia made the beautiful lemon preserves for her Spicy Potato Tagine and declared the recipes are “keepers.” Jacques Pepin’s massive collection of his 700 favourite recipes was compared to The Joy of Cooking, by Ed, who focused on a poached trout dish. If you’re planning any weekends in the Hamptons, Mary has the perfect cookbook for you, The New York Times Country Weekend Cookbook.  It features New York Times food writers and their favourite dishes to make, while relaxing at their second homes.

I really enjoyed Melissa Clark’s stories that accompany each of her recipes and I think it’s the first time I’ve liked a cookbook without pictures. Clark claims that Kate’s Impossibly Fudgy Brownies with chili and sea salt will change your life. I’m not so sure about that, but they are definitely one of the best brownies I’ve ever made and have already become one of my family favourites.

Cook by the Book: Local Summer Fruit

With summer approaching and a bounty of fresh, local fruit to look forward to, we invited Getty Stewart to speak at our Cookbook Club. Getty is the energetic founder of the Fruit Share program in Winnipeg and the author of the Prairie Fruit Cookbook. Fruit Share harvests and shares surplus fruit, with one third going to the homeowner, one third to the volunteers and one third to Community Groups.


Getty’s love of fruit led her to start the Fruit Share program in 2010. That year, with just 10 volunteers, they harvested 1,694 lbs of fruit. Last year they were able to harvest 10,108 lbs with 240 volunteers and they have expanded to Brandon and Steinbach. Getty is very active in her community and has received several awards for her work including the Oxfam Female Food Hero award and The Golden Carrot Award for Media Community Food Champion. Her cookbook was voted #1 on CBC’s Cross Country Cookbook Shelf, and it was also listed on McNally Robinson’s Best of the West Non-Fiction for 2012.

Getty never set out to write a cookbook… it started out as a simple handout with a few recipes using local fruit. After many hours of research and recipe testing on family and friends, it grew into a 226 page cookbook featuring 11 different prairie fruits. It’s a wonderful cookbook that provides useful information on harvesting, storing, preserving and cooking local fruits. All of the recipes use ingredients that most cooks will already have in their pantry. Everyone was really pleased with the recipes they tried, especially the Chocolate Pear Tart in a Chocolate Almond Crust. Here are just a few of the recipes that we tried:

If you’ve never tried canning or preserving, why not make this the year you do! The Library has a great collection of books on the subject, including Getty’s, so drop by your local branch and have a look.

Cook by the Book is a book club for foodies! Based on the monthly theme, members choose a cookbook available at the library and then make one or two recipes at home. We all take pictures of our culinary creations and then get together to share our experience – good or bad – with the group. Registration is full for this session, but we’ll start up again in the Fall. Watch for details in the September issue of @ the Library.

Cook by the Book: CAKES!

“A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life.” – from Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray

Eat CakeLike Ruth in Eat Cake, I love to bake. Measuring ingredients, mixing them up and creating a delicious treat for others can be very satisfying. May’s cake theme led to some interesting discussions about the differences between cake flour and regular flour. (Cake flour has less protein, so it absorbs less moisture, resulting in lighter cakes). We also learned that animal bone char is sometimes used in the processing of sugar, a fact that was confirmed on the Rogers Sugar website.

Fortunately, the beet sugar available in Manitoba appears to come from their Alberta plant, so it is free of bone char.

If you’re a novice baker, you might want to try Piece of Cake by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Judy served three cakes to guests and their favourite one was the Five Spice Mandarin cake. Robin also chose a cookbook by Saulsbury and was similarly pleased. The Pumpkin Pound cake was so good, she and her husband managed to eat half of it in one sitting – no icing necessary. If you are an icing lover, try the easy icing for the Lazy Daisy Sheet cake. It’s a yummy combination of coconut, whipping cream, and pecans.

For Vegans, try the silken tofu icing from Have Your Cake and Vegan too by Kris Holechek.  And if you’re not ready to give up your dairy products try the Mojito Pound Cake – it has one pound of butter in the icing! Lynda really liked the flavours in this rum and mint infused cake. Mary enjoyed the old time recipes from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson and shared her lemon streamliner cake with the group – delicious!

Baking gluten free can often be a challenge, as Tanise discovered. She wasn’t impressed with the coconut cupcakes from Gluten Free Cupcakes by Elana Amsterdam. She even made them twice, thinking maybe she had made a mistake the first time, but they still didn’t turn out. Ingrid also went gluten free, adapting her recipe with quinoa flour. Step-by-Step Cakes by Caroline Bretherton has great pictures and easy to follow instructions, but Elaine found the British measurements a little frustrating to use and also noted that British cakes tend to be denser and sweeter than we’re used to.

Ready to get out your mixing bowls? Drop by your local branch to check out any of these titles.

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Cook by the Book is a book club for foodies! Based on the monthly theme, members choose a cookbook available at the library and then make one or two recipes at home. We all take pictures of our culinary creations and then get together to share our experience – good or bad – with the group. Registration is full for this session, but we’ll start up again in the Fall. Watch for details in the September issue of @ the Library.