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Posts Tagged ‘cookbooks’

In Search of the Best Paleo Cookbooks

by Heidi Kuchta on October 21st, 2015

As I have perused the masses of so-called Paleo (read: veggie and meat based, no-to-little grain and dairy) cookbooks here at ICPL, I have had to be brutally honest with myself. Am I really going to use a mandoline slicer (which I don’t own) to cut zucchini into long, thin slices that can be used like noodles? No. Might I benefit from a new coleslaw recipe or two (or three?) Heck yes. Might I substitute mashed sweet potatoes for the less nutritious white potatoes in a shepherd’s pie? Sure. Does a grain-free coconut-based “oatmeal” sound like an amazing make ahead breakfast? Yeah! OK – onward.

One thing I have learned and had to accept is that most paleo cookbook authors have differing opinions on certain foods. Some people swear that white potatoes are fine – “nutrient rich” even, others claim that they’re trash. Eggs and so-called “nightshade vegetables” like tomatoes and peppers are ingredients that some laud and others eschew. At the end of the day, it’s a lot for me to just give up grains, so I have welcomed cookbooks with strict and less strict sensibilities alike.

So, here’s my fave paleo cookbPaleo Lunchesooks (so far)

1. I have used this cookbook the longest and can vouch for the deliciousness of many recipes herein! I love the egg muffin recipe for making ahead for quick breakfasts. My favorite salad recipe in this book is the Wild Tuna, Orange, and Parsley Salad. Runner up favorite recipe is the simple and amazing Chicken, Celeriac, and Mustard Salad Wrap. I had never previously eaten celeriac (celery root), and now I consider it my favorite slaw veggie! The coconut crepe recipe in the cookbook is an amazing Naan substitute for Indian food or a good wrHomegrown Paleoap-maker.

Also check out Diana Rodgers’ most recent collection of recipes, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook!


2. TheZenbelly Cookbook Zenbelly Cookbook By Simone Miller is so much fun to read, and the recipes are mostly pretty simple. I’ve never cooked a whole chicken or made my own broth: after reading this book I now feel confident enough to do both. Also, the photography is a visual gift: Before each recipe is a photo of all the ingredients needed to make it. This visual guide is so helpful to figuring out at a glance whether I have what I need for a recipe or not. Recipe highlights include Pork Chops with Stone Fruit Slaw, Jicama Slaw (because I am slaw-obsessed), Cauliflower ‘Rice’, Sesame Shitake Broccoli, and Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie.

3. One-Pot Paleo by Jenny Castaneda: One Pot PaleoYES! The concept of this cookbook is perfect for me, a woman sans dishwasher. It is also full of flavorful and fun ideas: Plantain Chilaquiles, Loaded Spanish Tortillas, Brussels Sprouts Favorite, Honey Dijon Salmon Steaks and many other good-looking seafood recipes.

4. Nourish by Rachael Bryant is another visually pleasing cookbook, like Zenbelly. I enjoyed its recipe for Coconut Oatmeal IMNourishMENSELY. Other good recipes from here include Butternut Squash Skillet with Leeks and Spinach, Pork Belly Carnitas (cuz duh, Carnitas), and Bison Chili.

I’m heading back to school.

by Candice Smith on October 9th, 2015

pieblogPie School, that is.

Several years ago, a friend of mine confided in me that she was really nervous to bake a pie that she would be sharing with other, more accomplished pie bakers. She was, in particular, worried about the crust–she’d heard rumors that one of these other pie bakers could make the perfect crust. Now, I know from experience (okay, experiences…) that my friend is no slouch in terms of baking–or cooking in general, for that matter–so I was perplexed and dismissive of her worry. I didn’t get why she would be concerned about it when, in the end, we all knew the pie would be good enough.

After baking my first two pies, I get it.

With me, it’s not so much worry, since I’m sharing the baked goods with a captive audience who is 1) fond of dessert, 2) often hungry, and 3) legally bound by marriage to me and therefore must eat what I bake (it was in the vows). It’s more of a strong desire to keep making pies–better pies–and that means better crusts. I’m finding it’s not so simple as I previously thought; there are any number of pie crust recipes, using mostly the same ingredients but with small differences in the amounts, some additions, some substitutions. All of those little differences make for crusts that have varying characteristics. Theoretically, these recipes should make for pie crusts that are perfectly good. It’s not just the recipe you have to worry about, though, it’s how you put the ingredients together. How cold is your water, and how do you add it to the dry mix? Mixing by hand, or in a mixer? How are you adding your butter into the mix–literally, how are you rubbing the butter and dry ingredients together, and for how long? Chilling the dough, rolling the dough–there are so many variations on this process and the techniques. Yes, most of these crusts will taste good. BUT–will they be perfectly browned, with the right amount of bite? Will they have tender layers and not crumble apart, but still have nice flakiness?

I’m just a newbie at this. First crust was a bust, second was much better (not beautiful, but tasty). Both have been apple. I’m going to do a couple more tries on a basic crust and fruit pie, then maybe move on to something slightly more adventurous…I’m thinking the gouda and pear pie in Kate Lebo’s Pie School. If you want your own piece of the action, head to the 641.8652s, find a book, and get in the kitchen.

Jalapenos @ the IC Farmer’s Market

by Kara Logsden on August 18th, 2015

Jalapeno Poppers are a family favorite and the Iowa City Farmer’s Market is the best place to purchase fresh jalapenos this time of year. Often these morsels serve as a meal at our house. Baked Poppers can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple days (although they rarely last that long at our house) and are delicious cold as well as reheated.

Jalapeno Peppers from the Iowa City Farmer's Market

Jalapeno Peppers from the Iowa City Farmer’s Market

We have many variations of our Jalapeno Popper recipe and often the final product is contingent on what’s in the refrigerator. Crumbled crispy bacon, goat cheese, and artichoke dip can all be substituted into the basic recipe for delicious results.

One word of caution: Make sure you remove all the seeds from the jalapenos. In general, Jalapeno Poppers are only a bit “warm” – especially with the delicious cheese to cool down the palate. Forgotten seeds can surprise the person eating the popper, though, so caution is needed if consumers are wary of hot food.

Here’s our basic recipe:

Logsden Jalapeno Poppers

Select fresh, large Jalapenos.

Cut off the top and split in half lengthwise.

Remove all seeds.

Fill with cream cheese.

Wrap with Prosciutto (we prefer Iowa-made La Quercia)

Logsden Jalapeno Poppers

Logsden Jalapeno Poppers

Arrange on cooking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Check after 15.

If you are looking for summer recipe inspiration, browse our catalog or check out the many awesome books at the Library. 641 is the call number to get you started.

Let us know which delicious dishes you are creating from the fresh ingredients you find at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market.

See you at the Market!


Mystery at the Farmer’s Market

by Heidi Lauritzen on August 4th, 2015
Mystery at the Farmer’s Market Cover Image

I have been enjoying a new cookbook from the Library’s collection, and when I finally settled on a recipe to try, a trip to the Iowa City Farmer’s Market was in order.

The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook features recipes contributed by more than one hundred mystery authors.  Some of my favorites are included–Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Louise Penny–and you will recognize so many others:  Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins, Sue Grafton, Scott Turow, and James Patterson to name a few.  In addition to the authors’ introductions to their recipes, the editor has added several other short essays, one of which answers the question “What exactly is a red herring?”

Many of the recipes are for foods served in the mysteries.  I chose Louise Penny’s “Madame Benoit’s Tourtiere,” a dish mentioned inLois Pavelka photo A Fatal Grace.  Penny’s mysteries are set in Quebec, and tourtiere is a regional dish from that province.  It is essentially a meat pie, with onion and garlic, and it provided me with a chance to visit with Lois Pavelka of Pavelka’s Point Meats to get some ground pork and beef.  Lois and her husband raise livestock on their farm north of Solon, and she is a regular at the Market with all kinds of delicious choices for pork, beef and lamb.  Their picnic bacon is especially good!

Grinnell farmer photogreen beansNext, I went to Grinnell Heritage Farm’s table to get some fresh garlic, and decided that potatoes and green beans would be good side dishes to the meat pie.

The resulting savory pie was a tasty example of comfort food, and would be a good dish to bring to a potluck or family gathering.  In her introduction to the recipe, Penny says that tourtiere can be eaten all year long, but is particularly associated with Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve celebrations.Pie photo



eBook cookbooks? So convenient!

by Melody Dworak on July 20th, 2015
eBook cookbooks? So convenient! Cover Image

Recently I wanted to take a new cookbook home with me, but I was on my bike and didn’t want the extra weight. The answer to my woes? Finding an e-book cookbook!

I wound up checking out the Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker and found an excellent (and easy!) recipe for slow cooker risotto. And I am excited for leftovers tonight.

Here’s how to browse what cookbooks we have available through Digital Johnson County on OverDrive.  Read the rest of this entry »

Teachable moments @ the IC Farmer’s Market

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 15th, 2015

Now that my kids are teenagers (insert clichéd “Where did the time go?” mental photo montage here), I don’t experience as many teachable moments as I did when they were little. Don’t get me wrong, we still have teachable moments, but now they are more “OK, time to practice parallel parking” and “No one knows how to fold fitted sheets; you’re fine” instead of “What color is the apple?”

Visiting the Iowa City Farmer’s Market is a great activity for families because the place is filled with teachable moments. Preschoolers can show off their color knowledge, older students can practice their math skills, and babies can take in the scenery and, hopefully, be so exhausted by the time they get home, they take a long nap.

But what about teens? What teachable moments can they have at the farmer’s market?Farm to table pic1

A lot, actually.

My daughter accompanied me to the market last fall as part of her social studies’ world hunger unit. She had a BINGO card of activities she needed to complete and one was to go to a local farmer’s market and interview a vendor. She had to ask about what they sold, how they grew and/or made it, how far they traveled to get to the market, etc.

It was fun to watch her approach a vendor, explain the purpose of her assignment and go through her list of questions. Not only did she learn something new, she was able to practice her interview and note-taking skills, and patience, as their conversation was interrupted several times so the vendor could help a customer.

I’m teaching my children how to cook this summer. Correction. I’m teaching them how to cook something besides toast and hot dogs. They recently visited the Library’s cookbook collection (check out our Farm to Table cookbook display on the second floor), found recipes they want to try, and then went to the farmer’s market to buy their ingredients.

I took photos. I was told not to put them on Facebook. When I said it was for work, I got the look. If you have (or had) teens, you know what look I’m talking about.

Here’s a teachable moment for parents: pick your battles.

My post-vacation reading list

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on June 29th, 2015

A week ago at this time, I was … I’m not quite sure where I was. I know was somewhere on the East Coast, but after two weeks on the road, the days and states start to blend together.schulz

Vermont played the biggest role in my summer vacation. My family and I spent six days in White River Junction so our two teens could attend a week-long Create Comics summer workshop at the Center for Cartoon Studies.

(It was strange to wave goodbye to the kids as they left the hotel for class every morning while my husband and I got to explore. We tried to make up for it by bringing them back trinkets from our day trips, but our daughter has yet to forgive us going on the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour without her.)

We used travel guides when planning our trip, but the quest for knowledge doesn’t end simply because the suitcases are unpacked. Now I’m browsing the Library’s collection for books to supplement the vacation experience, beginning with our graphic novel collection.

schulz2The Center for Cartoon Studies is home to the Schulz Library. Named after Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, the library is home to more than 9,000 zines, graphic novels, cartoon collections, etc. My kids visited the library to make lists of graphic novels they want to read, many of which can be found at ICPL. We also have several books in our collection by CCS alums, including Adventures in Cartooning by James Strum, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost; Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert; and French Milk by Lucy Knisley.

The tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury left me with new-found appreciation for the company that started with a home study ice cream course. Ben & Jerry’s Double-Dip: Lead with Your Values and Make Money, Too by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield is now on my reading list. As you might expect, we bought a lot of maple syrup, so The Maple Syrup Book by Janet Eagleson and Rosemary Hasner will come in handy, too.

What books have you picked up after traveling?

Trying New Ingredients

by Anne Mangano on May 26th, 2015
Trying New Ingredients Cover Image

I always found spring the hardest season for cooking. Fall has an abundance of squash and sweet potatoes. You can do so much with summer tomatoes and eggplant. But spring, there are lots and lots of greens. And asparagus. You eventually grow tired of both. However, one of my favorite things about the Farmers Market is exploring new ingredients, which matches nicely with one of my favorite things about the library’s cookbook collection: finding new recipes. And through both of these Iowa City institutions, I’ve learned that I am wrong about spring. There are many ingredients available and dishes to make with them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Smoke & Spice Updated

by Kara Logsden on May 16th, 2015
Smoke & Spice Updated Cover Image

We have a new smoker/grill at our house, just in time for summer. Our challenge now is to learn how to use it. Have no fear, the Library is here! We’ve had some delicious meals including Slaw Burgers (a family favorite of smoked pork on a bun with traditional cole slaw), marinated smoked vegetables and some great salmon. Now we’re ready to try some new meals.

A quick search of the Library’s catalog shows there are many books to help learn how to use a smoker. Subject headings of “Barbequing” and “Smoked Foods” were most helpful. I found a new book, Smoke and Spice 3rd Edition, that had some great recipes. Two recipes looked especially good – Peabody-Style Stuffed Onions and Deep-Dish Smoked Mozzarella Pizza. Yummy!

If you are ready to relax and enjoy some great summer food, but need some culinary inspiration, give us a call or stop by. The call numbers 641.5784 and 641.61 are a great place to start.

Breakfast @ the IC Farmer’s Market

by Kara Logsden on May 12th, 2015

Breakfast at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market

I love the Iowa City Farmer’s Market. I grew up in Iowa City, so I have happy memories of going to the Market when I was young. My children have also grown up going to the Farmer’s Market and one of their favorite Saturday morning activities is breakfast at the Market.

We typically bring our coffee cups and stop at Cafe del Sol for a refill, and then take in the Market. Once we’ve checked out all the booths we wander over to Washington Street and scope out all the different choices for breakfast food.

Our final decision for what to order is typically based on what looks good and where the shortest lines are. My personal favorite is the breakfast burritos while my kids like the breakfast sandwiches that use pancakes as the outer layer and yummy eggs and other fillings in the middle.

Once we have our food, we typically pull up a seat on the curb and people watch. We always see lots of friends so it turns into a social occasion too.


Poppyseed Kolache from the Iowa City Farmer’s Market

A trip to the Market would also not be complete without our beloved kolaches. I grew up with a Czech grandmother who made the best kolaches in the world, so finding a good kolache is a real treat. My favorites are poppy seed while my family prefers apricot, cherry, and peach. We all agree the prune kolaches are to be avoided.

Writing this blog post inspired me to investigate the books about Czech cooking at the Library. I found many awesome selections at the call number 641.59437. One book has recipes for poppy seed and cheese filling as well as the dreaded prune filling.

It’s so exciting to welcome the Iowa City Farmer’s Markets back into our weekly routine. I look forward to the food, fun and meeting friends. See you at the Market!