While trying to stave off the malaise of boredom that comes from being in quarantine, I find myself delving back into cooking as a way to reconnect with ordinary life and give myself an activity that helps me feel useful. While there are numerous websites dedicated to cooking and a near-infinite number of recipes posted online, I wanted to see what kinds of cookbooks are available on the Omaha Public Library’s OverDrive eBook collection.
Surprisingly, I found a lot of cookbooks that focus on healthy eating, Keto, Instant Pot, and seasonal cookbooks. These are all great, but maybe not right now as I have limited access to fresh ingredients on a week-by-week basis and I don’t have an Instant Pot. There are over 400 cooking and food related books in OPL's online collection, so sifting through all of that can feel overwhelming. My focus for this blog post is on cookbooks that have simple recipes that can be easily recreated using a mixture of pantry items and easy-to-obtain ingredients from the grocery store. Thankfully, many of those kinds of cookbooks also happen to focus on cooking with kids, so maybe this will be an inspiration to cook more with the whole family.
The first title I found with simple recipes that lean heavily on pantry items is “$5 A Meal College Cookbook” by Rhonda Lauret Parkinson. What appeals to me about this book is that all of the recipes assume that you are working with a limited number of ingredients and don’t have a lot of experience cooking; therefore, the recipes are quick, easy, and can often be made on a hot plate or the microwave. While these are definitely not the healthiest recipes, they are easy to work with.
Next, we have what might be one of my favorite cookbooks of all time due to the absolute absurdity of it: “Mac 'n Cheese to the Rescue” by Kristen Kuchar. Every single recipe in this cookbook features boxed macaroni and cheese in some way, shape, or form. Sometimes this means using “deluxe” mac ‘n cheese with the sauce packet and sometimes it’s the old tried-and-true blue box with powder. What's great about this book is sometimes you just add a cup of leftover mac and cheese to something and call it done, and then sometimes the recipe is an elaborate frittata that requires some out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. This is a fun recipe book that can help you make the tenth serving of easy mac a little more palatable.
My final selection is “Cooking Class” by Deanna F. Cook. “Cooking Class” focuses on, as you might guess, instructing kids how to cook simple meals with easy to understand explanations for common cooking techniques, processes, and a good list of needed kitchen tools/implements to get the job done. What appeals most to me about this book is that the recipes inside sound genuinely good and appetizing, while remaining easy to read and understand. After sifting through a few cookbooks for kids, I found that some include recipes that quite frankly sound unappetizing.
Have you been cooking up a storm while staying safe inside? Please let us know in the comments below and check out OPL's cookbook eBook selection at overdrive.omaha.com.