Happy Vegetarian

Still Life with Menu Cookbook: Over 200 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes with Original Art by Mollie Katzen

This vegetarian cookbook is one of my standards. And the cool thing is that it includes recipes for full menus, so I can make sure I’m preparing a salad that goes well with the main course and a dessert that complements the dinner. The other thing I love is that it offers a timeline to help you prepare the meals in advance. For example, 2 days ahead, you can roast and peel the peppers and prepare the cookie dough. One day ahead, cut the vegetables and cook the soup. It revolutionized the way I approach other recipes, since now I have discovered the shocking concept that I can break the preparation down into steps to do in advance. Embarrassing that it took a book to alert me to this, but there it is. My favorites from this cookbook: Lentil Chili, Autumn Vegetable Soup, Sweet and Sour Soup with Pineapple and Basil, Spinach Roll-Ups with Lime Chutney, Applesauce-Cocoa Cake, and Chocolate Chip-Mint Cookies.

Eating Cookies in the White House

Presidential Cookies: Cookie Recipes of the Presidents of the United States by Bev Young

Recently, in honor of the Iowa Caucuses, I busted out my cool Christmas gift, Presidential Cookies. The neat things about this cookbook are that it includes a cookie recipe associated with each president from Washington to Bush 43 – and that it includes a description of each president’s White House entertaining style and, in some cases, cool little anecdotes related to the cookies. (For example, the time Bess Truman beckoned a reporter into the Trumans’ Independence, Missouri, home, for cookies and to say hello to the president, when the reporter had been hovering outside in the cold during the Christmas holidays.) The first recipe I tried was for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Original Chocolate Chip Cookies, which I selected because she’s the only person in the book who’s also running for president at the moment. Great cookies! Plus, they were convenient to make: I already had all the ingredients in my pantry. In the name of partisan balance, next up were the Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies. One note: for these cookies, I had to go shopping for some of the ingredients – and paid $4 for the pecans alone! Yikes. However, the cookies were amazing, and I am going to say they’re worth it. Another thing to love about this book: it’s fun to browse, so much so that I almost could call it a “look book” (a picture-filled book that is wonderfully browseable). There are pictures of all the presidents and for most, if not all, of the cookies! Excellent feature in a cookbook.