Saturday, December 15, 2012

Eating Suburbia Spawns a Cookbook


Three years ago, Brilliant Daughter and I embarked on a journey to document all of our favorite recipes and publish a cookbook. Hence Eat Drink Merry was born. That volume contained many of the recipes on this blog. Some were handed down from my grandmothers or shared by my mother-in-law, others came from food blogging friends or published sources, and then there were the creations of our own design. We were touched by the immense response and gratitude from those we gifted with a printed copy. So, we decided to do it all over again, just for them.

This time around we wanted to personalize the book in a different way, a way that would be recognizable to the wonderful people who have sat down to a meal with us, cooked in our kitchen, and shared our lives.  They all know that for us, as it is for many families, the center of our household is the kitchen. Whether scrambling eggs for a simple family breakfast or serving Christmas Eve tamales to 50 guests, we naturally gravitate to this space on a daily basis. For fifteen years, the focus of our kitchen was a 4x6-foot standard schoolroom chalkboard. Our “communications center,” this utilitarian wall d├ęcor served us well, keeping track of shopping lists, phone messages, chore duty, family contact information, and, during holidays, became an oversized greeting card for our guests. And although it was retired when we remodeled, the fond memories linger and became the inspiration for the cover of our new cookbook, which we named after this blog.

The blog, born in 2006, has always been a labor of love, a way for me to share not only great recipes with friends and family, but to allow a glimpse into our personal—and fairly typical—suburban life.  I firmly believe that those of us in suburbia need to break out of the roast chicken, barbequed ribs, pork chop mentality and spice up our kitchens with the food of the world. We need to leave the canned veggies, packaged cookies, and oversweet jams on the shelves, and dig into the garden and flour bag and treat our families and ourselves to something better. Hence the blog and these cookbooks, which keep me happily covered in flour and bacon grease much of the time!

Perusing through my posts, I find that my cooking style and habits have evolved over the years. I now experiment with higher-end ingredients, adapt recipes to suit what comes out of my garden rather than the store, and I no longer have the pressing need—due to school and athletic activities—to prepare the majority of our food in advance or in a rush. Our lives have slowed down a bit, as I now work from home, and I relish the time I can spend in my renovated kitchen, in the large suburban garden that my son helped build, and take the time to share new recipes with my family during our weekly Sunday dinners.

I am aware that not everyone has such luxuries; life, children, work get in the way and minimize the amount of time in the kitchen.  To that end, the cookbook still contains quick and easy-to-fix recipes, and we’ve found new tricks to make life a bit easier when time is short. For time-crunched cooks, whole roasted chickens and conveniently chopped vegetables are available at almost every grocery store and can be used in several of the recipes.

New this year is a section of appetizers—tried and true recipes–like our holiday ceviche, quick caprese skewers, and our new favorite gazpacho shooters (first served this summer at our son’s engagement party). Ten lunch items also grace these pages; several tasty sandwiches and salads, as well as a really simple Asian Noodle dish with a Thai flair.

But we haven’t forgotten the basics: Breakfast, Dinner, Sides and Sweets, not to mention our free-for-all miscellaneous section—titled Other Flavors this time around—that contains the best 5-minute artisan bread that will ever come out of your kitchen. (No kidding!) We’ve tried to cover a lot of bases and provide you with some lip-smacking ideas.

For a limited time, you can download an e-version of the new cookbook free. Just click here. In late January, the book will be available on Amazon in both hard copy and e-version for $14.95. 

So delve in, try a few things, and let us know what you think. We’re not above criticism or praise and we appreciate the feedback.

—Mrs B and Brilliant Daughter

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