Not So Much for Cooking

Publishers throw a lot of cookbooks against the wall in the hope that some will stick. A lot of unsticky ones arrive in the CHOW mailbox. They’re still interesting, though—not because they’ve got recipes we actually want to cook, but because they’re a peek into what marketers and publishers think the world wants to read. Here is the food zeitgeist, according to the book-publishing world.

1. Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific Freezer Friendly Meals: Quick and Healthy Recipes You Can Make in Advance (Running Press, 2006). A slice of pound cake that has only 172 calories might be the eighth wonder of the world.

2. Nathalie Dupree’s Shrimp & Grits Cookbook, by Nathalie Dupree with Marion Sullivan (Wyrick & Company, 2006). What’s not to like about shrimp and grits? Therefore, what’s not to like about 126 variations on shrimp and grits?

3. JoAnna M. Lund’s Cooking for Two (Perigee Trade, 2006) is product placement at its clumsiest (though it gets points for lack of camouflage): sweet cherry dessert with Diet Mountain Dew, chicken BLT sandwich with Hormel real bacon bits, carrot-pineapple salad sweetened with Splenda granular.

4. Finally a book that justifies why you would ever buy your groceries in industrial-sized containers: Big Food: Amazing Ways to Cook, Store, Freeze, and Serve Everything You Buy in Bulk, by Elissa Altman (Rodale Books, 2005) . Your five-pound block of cheddar will never again go to waste; it gets grated, chopped, and sliced into recipes for quesadillas, mac ‘n’ cheese, Mexican tortilla pie, and stuffed tomatoes.

5. Spooning: A Novel, by Darri Stephens and Megan DeSales (Broadway, 2006). It’s fiction, but it includes recipes, so it makes the list. It is a tale of a young woman, a group of her sorority sisters, and their quest to see if the path to a man’s heart is really through his stomach. Plus: Follow along at home with recipes like Sage’s Skinny Soup, Sweet Cinnamon Buns with Tongue-Tickling Icing, and Give-It-To-Me Guacamole.

6. You may save time in the kitchen by following the meal plans in Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day: Make-Ahead Meals That Transform Your Suppertime Circus into Relaxing Family Time, by Theresa Albert (Marlowe & Company, 2005), but you’ll need it to try to figure out how to read the darned thing. There are enough charts and graphs in this book to make you feel you are reading a college stats textbook.

7. Bless This Food: Four Seasons of Menus, Recipes and Table Graces, by Julia M. Pitkin, Karen B. Grant, and George Grant (Cumberland House, 2005), will tell you the ins and outs of how to praise God as you chew. Comes complete with Bible verses for every occasion, from Cinco de Mayo to a birthday celebration.

8. From the publishing company that brought you Spooning: A Novel come some great holiday classics from our most famous Appalachian Americans. A Country Music Christmas: Songs, Memories, Family Photographs and Recipes from America’s Favorite Country and Gospel Stars, by Edie Hand and Buddy Killen (Broadway, 2006), is full of recipes such as Cow Patty’s Cherry Salad and Redneck Paw Paw’s Pecan Pie.

9. As if the rather unappetizing title and cover photo weren’t enough, Johnsonville Big Taste of Sausage Cookbook: More Than 125 Recipes for On and Off the Grill from America’s #1 Sausage Maker, by Shelly Stayer and Shannon Kring Biro (Broadway, 2006), adds insult to inedible by suggesting that adding Johnsonville hot Italian links to any dish will make it all taste better.

10. And finally, the book we hate to admit we actually like, Munchies: Cook What You Want, Eat What You Like. Finally, a Cookbook Even You Will Use, by Kevin Telles Roberts (Storey Publishing, 2004). At first glance, this book went into the junk pile, but at second look, some of these recipes seem pretty appetizing. Eggo Ice Cream Sandwiches and Baked Bird with Goldfish Crust sound like junk-food heaven.