Between the ages of 8 and 18 I was a voracious reader of all fiction. I was introduced to John Irving at a young age and read his books with the same intensity I read R.L. Stine, Lois Lowry and Gary Paulsen. It was a funny mix I embraced at a young age. Then from 18 to 22, as an English major, I hit the literature hard. I had stacks of medieval literature next to 18th century British lit, with children’s literature and art history books thrown into the mix. I’d read each day starting with my internship at the literary journal, then in class, on benches in the union between classes and once I got back to my apartment. After class each night I’d fall asleep with my face in a book as I studied. It was a rare occasion when I actually turned off the lights and went to bed. More often than not sleep snuck up on me while I had a book near my face.
After college I took a breather from reading. With all the assigned text over the previous four years, reading had turned into a tedious task and not an activity I looked forward to. The hiatus only lasted a year. Then I was back at it, tearing into books at an eager pace. Now on top of my love for fiction, my appreciation of great literature, a pile of non-fiction always at my side, I’ve rounded out my reading-obsession with cook books. Years ago I would have never envisioned myself curled up with a blanket, a cup of hot tea and a cook book in my lap. But now it’s one of my favorite ways to relax and enjoy a weekend afternoon.
It’s funny how our routines change and evolve until we ultimately settle into what is right for us.
While I’m constantly checking out new recipe books from the library and plucking out the tastiest recipes, the cooking and baking literary staples in our home are Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking, Skye Gyngell’s My Favorite Ingredients and subscriptions to Cook’s Illustrated and Remedy Quarterly.
Heidi’s and Skye’s insights provide a basis for our simple dinners made from fresh ingredients. Cook’s Illustrated, with each new issue, continues to teach us how to fix everything just right so that those simple ingredients need nothing more than to be fresh and well-prepared, and Remedy Quarterly allows me to peak inside other people’s relationships with food, which to me is the best part of eating. It’s not just the ingredients or the process, it’s the way food allows us to relate with people, memories and the world around us.