Books to Keep You Cookin’ and Cool This Summer

Ah, summertime and the living is … um, warm. As a kid I always looked forward to summer because summer meant vacation from school. Summer meant sleeping-in, playing with friends, consuming slushies and trying to figure out why my parents lacked my passion for summer and the freedoms and opportunities that summer offered. Curmudgeons! Now that I am a card-carrying member of the local Curmudgeons of America, I have to remind myself that despite lawn work, house work, work-work and other worky things — summer is still cool (or was it hot?) It takes a little more effort, but I can still have fun. And although I might not be as cool as I think I am (my kids are good at reminding me of this), I am very resourceful. I have books and I know how to use them! Foody Books Okay, so let’s have fun; better yet, let’s eat (eating is both fun and tasty). A couple of cookish-type books that have caught my attention: Cookouts Veggie Style!: 225 Backyard Favorites – Full of Flavor, Free of Meat ($17.95) by Jolinda Hackett (a vegan blogger for and The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook ($14.95) by Judi Gillies. Cookouts Veggie Style is hot-off-the press and is perfect for tasty, healthy and satisfying summer cookouts. Some of the featured recipes: Grilled Seitan with Apple Salsa, Grilled Eggplant Panini, Halloumi Skewers with Parsley & Lemon Salsa and Barley Burgers on Rye Bread. The Jumbo Vegetarian Cookbook, is a kids’ cookbook and was written by a couple of moms whose kids decided to become vegetarian. After a modest amount of research, the moms realized that this was not only doable, but was also relatively simple. There are many recipes that kids can follow. Mashed potatoes, garlic bread, tempeh kabobs… yum! Everybody Cooks Rice ($6.95) by Norah Dooley is a wonderful book for younger kids (targets ages 5 – 7). This is a story about a little girl named Carrie who is asked to find her little brother for dinner. At each of the neighbors’ houses, Carrie, discovers that all of the neighbors have prepared ethnic dishes featuring rice! By the time Anthony is recovered, Carrie has enjoyed foods from Haiti, Vietnam, China, Italy, Barbados, Puerto Rico and India. Recipes are included. Okay, I know that no one in mid-Michigan drinks, but should you be entertaining perhaps a friend or relative from out of state, it would be quite rude to dishonor their tradition of imbibing by not offering them a libation (or two). So, out of respect, you might want to try The Best Summer Drinks: 500 Incredible Cocktail and Appetizer Recipes ($4.99) by Ray Foley. For a penny a recipe, you’ll have enough money left for a bottle of generic aspirin! If it isn’t enough to just cook or grill, and you want to actually grow your own food, check out (or better yet: buy) a copy of Guide to Michigan Vegetable Gardening ($12.95) by James A. Fizzell. The guide, which also includes fruit growing information, is a comprehensive and user-friendly book that starts from the ground and works up (and down too, for that matter). An acquaintance writes, “This is the ultimate guide to vegetable gardening in Michigan and includes just about everything you could ever want to know about growing your own food here in Michigan. In addition to full sections on virtually all the vegetables you might want to grow, this book also includes up-to-date county extension information, a hardiness zone map and freeze, frost and precipitation details. Definitely recommended for local gardeners at all levels of experience.” Let’s Play Books Just because I’m feeling whimsical and nostalgic, let’s start with Kite Flying ($6.99), by Grace Lin. Although the book is intended for kids from preschool through third grade, it can be enjoyed by older kids and non-kids. Kite Flying is a story about a Chinese family working cooperatively to create a nifty dragon-kite. One sister is responsible for the whiskers, another makes the mouth. The illustrations are gorgeous and the finished product is inspired. Cultural and historical notes follow the tale and help youngsters (and me too, I suppose) appreciate the meaning and tradition of kite-making. Wanna’ show your kids what you used to do (or at least what you THINK you used to do) when you were a kid? The Kids’ Summer Fun Book: Great Games, Activities, and Adventures for the Entire Family ($12.99) by Claire Gillman should do just that for you. Ideas include summer beach parties with a sand castle building theme, hiking and camping trips in the great outdoors, kite-flying, snorkeling and even croquet in the backyard on stay-at-home leisure days. Yeah, just like we used to do… Okay, now finish reading the Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine (on the hammock, if you can) and go out and have fun!

Tags: book review, cook books


Scott Harris

Liberal, Jewish and vegan. Scott has six kitties, a dog, four kids and a wife who saves peoples' lives. He operates EVERYbody Reads bookstore, 2019 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.

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