Howdy cookbook fans!
I hope that this newsletter finds you in good health and good spirits, or at least as good as can be expected. I have just learned a #fact, which is: Betty Crocker turns (“turns”) 100 this year! This news brought to me by several libraries across the country planning talks on Betty, but I am sure we can expect plenty more content on America’s favorite fictional cookbook author. As for me, I reviewed the original Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook years ago, which you can read over on Epicurious. Happy birthday, Betty. May we some day revive home economics in your honor.
Over here at SPN HQ, I have been cooking up a storm. For Christmas, we reserved a Flæskesteg from our local butcher kind of on a whim, but it led to a whole Danish-themed Christmas Eve. Almost all recipes for that (sugar-glazed potatoes, red cabbage, I forget what else) were sourced from Magnus Nilsson’s The Nordic Cookbook, which I have said before and will say again is remarkably approachable and well-written for a book by a fancy tasting menu chef type. (He also shot some of the photos!) I found a few packets of the chile oil from my NYC fave Xi’an Famous Foods in my stocking, so made the famous cumin lamb noodles from their new cookbook. (Definitely cried a little, and not from the spice.) I made my Instant Pot black eyed peas for New Years, because this year we need all the luck we can get.
And with the SPN book club just launched yesterday, tonight I am making the spinach and chickpea gratin from Richard Olney’s Simple French Food. If you’d like to join us, become a paid subscriber—annual memberships are still on sale through January 15:
And finally, the garden is doing a whole lot of nothing right now, although I am thrilled to report that my kale did NOT die off (entirely) in the big freeze last month. Collards and lettuce are happy, fava beans a mixed bag. I just ordered my seeds for spring. This year is the year I go ALL IN on trying to make tomatoes happen. Enough to can. Fingers crossed. We can do it. (Also trying purple hull peas for the first time after the snap peas die off.) Spring! It will come, promise.
Now, on to the news.
Food Network Previews Joanna Gaines Cooking Show
Capitalizing on the success of her two bestselling cookbooks—and, you know, a massively successful home remodeling show, home goods line at Target, magazine, and silo-themed tourism empire in Waco, Texas—the queen of shiplap Joanna Gaines is launching a cooking show. (And an entire television network, but we have to stay on topic.) Over the weekend, the Food Network previewed a behind-the-scenes special and the first two episodes of Magnolia Table, the rest of which will air on Gaines’ television network. The first episode focused on dishes from her Lebanese background and the second was Friendsgiving-themed.
Her cookbooks haven’t quite received glowing reviews, and Gaines has always struck me as a little…uncomfortable in the kitchen. But she has an entire network’s worth of television to produce content for, and given her focus on domestic interiors, adding cooking (and, I would guess, gardening, entertaining, and more later on) makes sense. And as her earlier April Food Network special “netted the single highest-rated weekend daytime telecast in Food Network history,” Gaines seems to know what she’s doing as far as pivots are concerned.
Last summer, as I reflected on how unconscious bias can creep into the kitchen, I realized that I should start cooking by considering what the recipe creator is offering — not by imposing myself on the recipe. By inserting my known likes and dislikes, I miss the opportunity to get to know another person, to see (and taste) her history and culture through her perspective. I want to experience a dish through the person most intimate with it.
—Genevieve Ko’s resolution for 2021 is to cook recipes exactly as written. [NYT]
Is Rihanna Writing a Cookbook? Part 2
Rumors I explored back in August popped up in the news again over the holidays, with many outlets saying Rihanna has “confirmed” to UK tabloid Closer that she is working on a cookbook full of Caribbean recipes. I’m not sure that’s quite what happened—the phrasing in Closer is “it has been revealed that the singer is planning her own cookbook, full of her favourite Caribbean recipes.” Which doesn’t really sound like new news, but does sound like it could reference the original news item in the Sun from this summer. Rihanna did give Closer a bunch of quotes along the lines of “if I want a cheeseburger, then I am going to have one.” Which, same.
All of that said, when I first dug into this I did find Rihanna’s company Roraj Trade LLC has trademarked the term “Sorry, I’m Booked” for a host of usages, including cookbooks. So it might happen! We just don’t have additional details as yet. DON’T WORRY I am on the case. (And if you know more, email me!)
If you, like me, have yet to take down your Christmas tree, a new cookbook suggests you… eat it? [Smithsonian]
A profile of the Mexican Cookbook Collection at UT San Antonio. [San Antonio Monthly]
Guess the year: “Timeless recipes shared from **** 13abc cookbook as good today as back then” [13abc]
That’s all for today! I am starting to line up spring recipes, so if you’ve got a cookbook coming out between now and Memorial Day, email me! Take care, and see Friday people Friday.