Spoons, Spatulas and Self-Care
Can I tell you a secret? Lean in, really close. Ready?
I love to cook.
As a person with Type II Diabetes, I've had to relearn how to cook for myself and my loved ones in a way that won't throw off my body's balance. I love cooking and I love learning, so I consider it a joy when I can spend a while in my kitchen, baking or cooking. Especially right now, in the season of constant information overload about "New Year's resolutions," "losing holiday weight" or anything along those lines, it's more important than ever to practice body positivity and loving self-care. In the spirit of the season, here are some of my favorite books for practicing new recipes and treating my taste buds right.
Gordon Ramsay's Home Cooking by Gordon Ramsay
First of all, Ramsay is the man. He truly takes his craft seriously, and it comes through in these pages. It's accessible and easy to pick up with a wide range of cuisines. If you have picky eaters in your life, these pages will give you new spins on things they love. Ramsay also gives you equipment and method tips to improve your kitchen technique. If you want a little extra help, he has a YouTube series that demonstrates some of the techniques he talks about too. Recipes like his Beef Wellingtons or (my favorite) the Bacon, Pea and Goat Cheese Frittata will prepare easily and finish beautifully.
Baking With Mary Berry by Mary Berry
A classic from the Queen—of British baking, at least—Baking is a great read, especially if you love sweets the way I do. A lot of the recipes in the book lend themselves easily to minor tweaks for your taste, too. My life means I alter recipes with my favorite sugar substitute, but believe me when I say it makes very little difference in deliciousness. Out of this book, my favorite recipe has to be the Swiss Roll. It doesn't look as tricky as it is, but once you have the method down you can customize it any way you want. For a fun twist, try some of her recipes while watching her seasons of The Great British Bake Off. She'll frequently talk about little tips and tricks that will take your bake to the next level.
This selection is a little different from the other cookbooks on this list. True to its name, The Six O'Clock Scramble Meal Planner is a book with meal plans for every week of the year complete with attached shopping lists. With the American Diabetes Association stamp of approval, the recipes in this book are good, balanced choices for your evening meals. Chapter divisions in Planner are by season, but many of the recipes are good for any time and will leave you with plenty of leftovers. There's also a little something for everyone—plenty of meals are varied in flavor profiles and poultry-only, seafood-only or meatless. For me, Winter's Week 8 menu is next on my list to prepare.
If you're looking to try something new, I definitely recommend Terry's cookbook. The flavor profiles you know and love from the cuisines in the title are all present, now in a plant-based way. Following the lines of his other cookbooks, the recipes you know and love are reimagined to be exquisitely meatless. Believe me when I say that you won't mind. In particular I really like how accessible the recipes are; instead of trying to trick you into thinking you're eating meat or dairy, this book focuses on the beauty of the veggies and spices on their own. In particular, my absolute favorite from this book is his Mustard Green Harissa. Much like the ubiquitous Frank's Red Hot, I put that Harissa on everything.
A lot of cookbooks will tell you that they are for diabetics, but what better source for diabetic cooking than the American Diabetes Association? The recipes in this book fit a need as well by being vegetarian. Much like Afro-Vegan mentioned above, the recipes in this book focus on the beauty of the ingredients themselves. It covers a different range of flavor profiles and cuisines, so even the least-adventurous eater in your life will find something they like. The recipes are all accompanied by nutrition and diabetic exchange knowledge as well, so if you need that information like I do, you don't have to fuss with an online nutrition calculator. One of my new favorite recipes out of this book is the Sweet Potato and Apple Latkes. I can't eat them very often, but they are really something special.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
Here's a classic to wrap up today's rundown. Child's first book, written with friends of similar taste in the 1950s, details classical cookery with updates added for new (read: 1970s) technology. As a modern cook/baker it's fascinating to read about hand methods for techniques for which we now have innumerable gadgets. The recipes in this book aren't necessarily for the faint of heart, as many of them will take a while to prepare for and clean up after. That said, if you have the time, try it out. At the very least, learning to make a hollandaise sauce by hand or properly clarify butter can improve other areas of your kitchen life. Personally, I'm looking forward to making one of her classical quiches one of these weekends.