Undoubtedly, 2020 has been the year of the home cook. This year was still an exception to my norm. Home cooking was more than a personal passion this year. Cooking became a medium of caring and relief. And cookbooks were an escape away from the fear and sadness to adventure and imaginary travel.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I made a wise impulse purchase of an Instant Pot. I quickly became obsessed and learned all the tricks to quick Smokey Chicken Barbecue, easy Pasta Puttanesca and all kinds of speedy rice and beans using Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant and Christopher Kimball’s Fast and Slow.
Rebekah Peppler and David Lebovitz’s cocktail books inspired many of happy hours through the seasons. Classic martinis, gimlets, Negronis and Boulevardier cocktails turned boring afternoons into sleek happy hours on our front stoop.
Dinner in French, Indian-ish and Eating Out Loud turned Saturday night dinners into much needed mental vacations. Cooking from these books (and others) inspired me to purchase new spices and try new techniques. Bhindi (charred spiced okra), raita and Roasted Aloo Gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower) livened our tastebuds (Indian-ish). Shrimp and Mushrooms with Garlicky Herb Butter and Campari Olive Oil Cake (Dinner in French) turned an average at-home date night into a mini Parisian staycation. Roasted Cauliflower with Date-Parsley Gremolata and Nan-e Barbari (Persian Flatbread) brought us across the world while indulging by our home fireplace (Eating Out Loud).
I found comfort in uncovering truth, traditions and stories in Jubilee by Toni Tipton-Martin (Augustus Jackson’s eggless ice cream!). I baked way too many treats for ourselves and neighbors from Joys of Baking and Dorie’s Cookies. I’ll never forget nervously baking Banana Bread Scones (Joys of Baking) and watching the early morning news on November 6th while nervously waiting for Georgia to pull through for Biden-Harris. Or making Dorie’s World Peace cookies this Christmas in hopes they would actually spread world peace (maybe they did?).
There is something sacred and safe about our kitchens – havens from pandemics. When the pandemic hit, they quickly became lonely gathering places… missing friends, scattered cocktail napkins and late night messes. Yet (like us), they were resilient… adapting into Zoom rooms, home offices and virtual classrooms. My cookbooks helped me navigate beyond the digital vortex.
Here is a list of cookbooks I purchased during the pandemic and particularly enjoyed. Cheers to looking ahead and bookmarking our newfound recipes for in-person celebrations soon.
Cecelia’s 2020 Cookbook List:
- Eating Out Loud, Eden Grinshpan
- Falastin, Sam Tamimi & Tara Wigley
- Sababa, Adeena Sussman
- Bottom of the Pot, Naz Deravian
- Dinner in French, Melissa Clark
- Dinner in an Instant, Melissa Clark
- Milk Street Fast & Slow, Christopher Kimball
- Drinking in French, David Lebovitz
- Aperitif, Rebekah Peppler
- Indian-ish, Priya Krishma
- Joys of Baking, Samantha Seneviratne
- Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan
- Jubilee, Toni Tipton-Martin