Summer Reading Reviews, Week 6

Can’t get enough food recommendations after Jenni’s first Kitchen Experiments post?  Take a look at what is being read by our adult Summer Reading participants!

Behind the Kitchen DoorBehind the Kitchen Door
By Sarumanthi Jayaraman
Bellingham is a community that talks a lot about sustainability in terms of organic food and buying local but as Eric Scholosser writes, “You would think that, at very least, the people who feed us deserve as much attention and compassion as what we’re being fed.” This look at the lives of and conditions faced by restaurant workers reveals an often ignored part of the sustainability discussion. This book will challenges us to develop a broader view of those concepts, one that includes the poorest among us.


Preserving: Putting Up the Season’s Bounty Perserving book cover
By The Culinary Institute of America
I have fond memories of eating preserved fruit growing up whether it was Great Grandma’s Canned Peaches, Mom’s Sweet Pickles, homemade fruit leather, dehydrated apple slices or just a pear from the cold storage under the house, with the exception of the pears I remember eating all of these several months to years after they had been canned and was expecting to learn techniques with similar shelf lives but was disappointed to see only recipes for products with much shorter shelf lives. It could be that they used techniques only touched on briefly like using a pressure cooker or maybe my relatives were just a bit more adventurous eaters.  I also wish they’d included more info on how to build your own solar dryer/dehydrator.

We would like to thank all of our Summer Reading Reviewers for all of their wonderful submissions.  They were a joy to read.  Our Summer Reading program officially ends tomorrow, Saturday, August 31, but we will continue to feature our favorite reviews throughout September.


Kitchen Experiments: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

he Smitten Kitchen Cookbook coverI was unaware of author Deb Perelman’s popular blog,, when I recently picked up a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. The gorgeous cover photo of a savory tomato shortcake, topped with whipped goat cheese and scallions, was what seduced me into taking this book home. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (say that one ten times fast!), published in 2012, is jam-packed with beautiful, drool-inducing photographs and recipes – each one accompanied by a blurb from Ms. Perelman, whose writing style is casual, familial, and witty.

The beauty of the recipes in this cookbook is the simplicity and down-hominess of them. This is GOOD food, folks, and it won’t break the bank or reduce you to tears with the fancy equipment and oddball ingredients required to make it. Knowing that the author has  taken  the time to test each recipe repeatedly, until reaching the perfect combination of flavor and texture and satisfaction, means that all you have to do is follow her direction and you will be happily rewarded.

For a work lunch one day, I made the Avocado Tartine w/ Cucumber and Sesame Seeds. An uncomplicated riff on a standard veggie sushi roll – it makes for one of the most satisfying open-faced sandwiches I’ve ever had. It was so tasty I made it again for dinner a few days later, for my ten year old son and I to share. Only this time I added chopped green onion and tiny pink cocktail shrimp and sprinkled the whole shebang with soy sauce – and it thrilled and filled us both.

Recently, I whipped up a batch of Deb’s Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats for the annual Staff Picnic at work. The author revised the standard crispy treat recipe  we’re all familiar with, when she was looking for something simple  to throw together to take to a friend’s Halloween party shortly after the birth of her son.

As Deb says, “If you’re like most people – including me, before that evening  – you probably don’t think that things as exquisite as Rice Krispies Treats need reinventing. They were never broken, after all, not for a single day since Mildred Day of the home-economics department at the Kellogg Company thought to apply marshmallows and melted butter to the puffed rice cereal in 1939”.

She’s right, of course, Rice Krispie Treats are delightful – but increase the butter, brown it, throw in a little flaked sea salt (I cheated and used table salt and it worked just fine), and you’ve got KILLER crispy treats. I actually kind of wish I didn’t know about this recipe, or how delicious and simple it is, because it would be so easy to make a batch of these every day, and I can guarantee, they’d get eaten!

Most cookbooks I browse contain a few recipes I’d like to try and am confident I can pull off, but The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is filled with them. I stopped bookmarking pages after the first section, when I realized I’d only passed over one recipe. As much as I love getting my books free from the library, this is one I think I’m gonna have to buy.  I propose we all get our hands on a copy and then throw a great big old potluck!

Kitchen Experiments is quarterly feature by the fabulous Jenni who should bring those brown butter treats to work every week.

July Staff Picks

All month the librarians at Bellingham Public Library share with each other what they are reading, watching, and enjoying.  Here’s our staff pick round-up for July.

Dark Places

Blonde Bombshell book cover


She Left Me the Gun book cover

Rainbow Troops book cover





She Left me the Gun by Emma Brockes
After her mother’s death, a daughter researches the secrets from her mom’s childhood.
– Beth

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Horror/fantasy, a very personal story of a character remembering a long forgotten adventure from childhood. (For the full review, click here.) – Katie

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
A dark story that follows a young woman after her mother and siblings are murdered.
– Madeline

Winger by A Smith
A teen rugby player at a boarding school in Oregon must grapple with some frightening dorm-mates. – Jennifer

Blonde Bombshell by Tom Holt
A funny and clever science fiction novel. – Deborah

Misfortune by Wesley Stace
A wealthy young man finds an abandoned baby in a rubbish heap.  He believes his long dead sister has been replaced only to discover years later that the child is actually a boy. – Judy

Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata
Biographical novel about a class of misfits in the poorest village school on Belitong, an island in Indonesia. – Diane

Fire and Ice: Summer Treats

Summer is finally starting to heat up!  These books will help you make the most of your summer months and all the great, fresh food we have in Bellingham.

The Gardener & the Grill book coverThe Gardener and the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill
By Karen Adler





Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home book coverJeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
By Jeni Bauer







Home Made Summer book coverHome Made Summer
By Yvette van Boven






Ice Pop Joy book coverIce Pop Joy: Organic, Healthy, Fresh, Delicious
By Anni Daulter






The Deen Bros. Get Fired up book coverThe Deen Bros. Get Fired Up: Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More
By Jamie Deen






Ice Cream Sandwiches book coverIce Cream Sandwiches: 65 Recipes for Incredibly Cool Treats
By Donna Egan






Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction book coverBobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction
By Bobby Flay






Green smoothies and protein drinks book coverGreen Smoothies and Protein Drinks
By Jason Manheim






Make your own soda book coverMake Your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails and More
By Anton Nocito






The Book of Burger book coverThe Book of Burger
By Rachael Ray






Grilling Vegan Style book coverGrilling Vegan Style: 125 Fired-Up Recipes to Turn Every Bite into a Backyard Barbecue
By John Schlimm





Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook book coverEverything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook
By Susan Whetzel





Grill This, Not that! Backyard Survival Guide book coverGrill This, Not that! Backyard Survival Guide
By David Zinczenko






Looking for books? You can always find this list and many others at our online catalog under Staff Picks!

Check-Out: Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman

Smitten Kitchen is my favorite cooking blog.  Deb Perelman’s recipes are fun, delicious, and very easy to make.  And now her recipes are in a handy book format!

The Hairpin has an excellent interview with Deb that is well worth reading: