Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and while we’re looking forward to this cherished time of gathering with family and friends, many of us are already focused on the menu. Hosting the meal or even preparing a dish or two can be stressful, especially if there are food restrictions or picky eaters involved. When Aunt Betty is vegan, Grandpa’s gone keto, and little Sally won’t eat anything but pasta, it can be hard to figure out what to cook. There’s no need to panic, however. No matter the diet or type of cuisine, there’s a cookbook for you at the Botetourt County Libraries.
There are several qualities that I look for when browsing for the ideal cookbook – it should not be heavy or cumbersome, it should contain full-color photographs of as many dishes as possible, and it should include fairly simple recipes for food that I actually want to eat.
My favorite recipes are those that require only one vessel for preparation. No more specialty cookware or having to wash a bunch of pots and pans. That’s why I can’t say enough great things about 9×13: The Pan That Can. This book contains many great recipes for foods that can be prepared in a single baking dish. For Thanksgiving, I’d recommend the cherry-stuffed ham or rosemary roasted vegetables. Other “one-pot” books I enjoy are The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook(try the pies!) and Southern Living’s Dinner in a Dish, which includes several recipes that would make great Thanksgiving side dishes.
If you’re cooking for people with a special diet, it can be hard to know where to start. There are so many different ways of eating, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Some of the current most popular diets are keto, Mediterranean, and paleo. Keto Friendly Recipes: Easy Keto for Busy Peopleby Jennifer Garza is a great resource and the best keto cookbook I’ve experimented with in a while. It has easy recipes with glossy photos that make eating healthy look delicious. My absolute favorite cookbooks are those published by America’s Test Kitchen, and their The Complete Mediterranean Cookbookis no exception. It contains over 500 flavorful recipes for eating well every day, even Thanksgiving. For a guide to cooking the way our ancestors did, I recommend The Paleo Primer, which has multiple recipes that cut carbs by replacing starchy ingredients with cauliflower.
It’s important to use extra caution when cooking for those with a food allergy or intolerance, but library staff can help you find cookbooks with recipes that are gluten-, dairy-, and/or egg-free. Famous TV chef Emeril’s daughters, the Lagasse Girls, feature a wonderfully creamy baked macaroni and cheese in their book, The Gluten Free Table. It is also important to be mindful of the eating habits of vegetarians and vegans. Rawsomely Veganby Mike Snyder is the ultimate raw vegan recipe book, filled with dishes that would make quick, convenient appetizers.
Whether you’re cooking for two or a crowd, for those who’ll eat anything or for the most discriminating palates, we can find the right books to help you prepare your perfect Thanksgiving meal.