two cookbooks to beat the January cooking blues

It happens each January, I get bored with everything in my cooking repertoire and I start looking for something new to shake things up. While there are a vast amount of recipes available at my fingertips, I enjoy flipping through cookbooks. Two that I recently found at my public library attempt to solve that common weekday cooking challenge: after a full day of work, you want a tasty, healthy, and easy-to-cook meal.

A Modern Way to Cook: 150+ vegetarian recipes for quick, flavor-packed, meals

by Anna Jones

I love the premise, in as quick as 10 minutes you can put quite an array of delicious and healthy meals on the table without sacrificing flavour. I think it must go without saying that the photographs are divine, I loved most the plates that looked partially finished (either in preparation or in enjoyment). The care taken in layout and styling comes through.

However, despite years of cooking experience, and dutifully following the reminder to mise en place, I felt that the time estimates are not accurate, or at least don’t take into account the prep work. I also wish there was some indication of the number of pots and dishes required, several dishes were definitely fussier than I expected when I first read through them.

However, the flavours! I’ve spent most of the past two weeks cooking an array of dishes from this book and definitely enjoyed the taste of every single one. I’m not sure if I can identify one great recipe though I think the flavours of the tomato, miso, and sesame soup were just right after the gazpachos of this summer and my standard tomato soup felt lacking. Even with my frustrations as to time estimates and fussiness, I could see this quickly becoming a well used book in my year-round rotation.

Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours

Simple by Diana Henryby Diana Henry

This title follows a similar premise to Jones’, simple and flavourful dishes. Organized traditionally by dish type: eggs, salads, pulses, etc, know that this is a book for omnivores! Pork and shellfish are featured along with many other ingredients. Beware some hidden fussiness, the dishes will be worth it, but read through carefully before you make an assumption on how long it will take, there aren’t useful time estimates. The dishes are strong on sophistication, and flavour. My recipe review has focused on the pulses, while I’ve made many of these dishes in some variation before, there’s sometimes something about seeing it in a new format that makes it something different. The red lentil & pumpkin dal was easy and the house smelled amazing and definitely hit the spot. The photos are beautiful and I get hungry reading through it.

Is there a new cookbook that excites you? Please let me know!

recipe ideas at season change

It’s been happening lately each time the season jumps, I fall into a cooking rut. Either I make the same handful of dishes we like, or I don’t want to make anything. It’s frustrating because I’d make the week’s meal plan, then attempt to ignore it. How? I’d make rice every night, or fail to do the prep work so we’d either eat very late or I’d need to make something quick (generally pasta).

One day a friend posted a cold soup on instagram, it looked delicious and she shared her source, BBC Good Food. I was shocked, I thought I knew most things BBC.

It’s been amazing at helping me find quick and healthy meals with flavour combinations I wouldn’t otherwise. You may need to convert measurements depending on how you cook, as they are in metric. Many recipes are vegan or vegetarian. Others are healthy options for the carnivores in your life.

So far we’ve been very pleased with everything I’ve made. It’s nice to have some new dishes to add into my beloved Moosewood recipe rotation.

Quinoa, lentil & feta salad

Quinoa, lentil & feta salad

tried and true

I’ve made all of the following dishes.

I highly recommend you check out the goodfood resources and recipes.

soup season

Winter is soup season. While I would enjoy a soup, stew, or porridge at almost every meal year round, E prefers more variety. Last week I was craving something different to fill my weekly soup meal slot and this vegetable wonton miso soup recipe caught my eye. I’ve not made wontons in many years, so I knew it would be different.

What I didn’t expect was how amazing it would taste.


I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, my wontons were filled with tofu, bok choy, carrot, ginger, all mixed with a bit of soy sauce. E helped me finish making them and reminded me that they didn’t have to be folded and sealed to a traditional perfection, they’d still taste great. He made various shapes from envelopes to x-wings and I forget all he made. And yes, they were all great.

For the soup, I followed instructions and ingredients more than not. It is a different method than how I normally make miso, and I’ll probably continue to follow in the future as it led to a rich and flavorful broth. In a splash of seasame oil I briefly sauteed the rest of the carrot, white parts of the bok choy, and some more ginger. To that I added 2 TBS of miso paste which I dissolved by slowly stirring in 2 TBS of soy sauce and a box of No-Chicken Broth (I need to replenish my stock of homemade stock in the freezer).

We made 24 wontons with the expectation that we’d eat a few and I’d eat the rest for lunch later in the week, however that didn’t happen. We ate everything! I can’t think of any better compliment to a meal.

salad season

Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special: More Than 250 Recipes for Soups, Stews, Salads & ExtrasIt seems that we have now charged straight into Summer; I’m thankful I had already decided it was time to jump into the salads of Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special: More Than 250 Recipes for Soups, Stews, Salads & Extras. I purchased this cookbook at a library book sale last year, but hadn’t yet made many of its salads.

I began by replenishing the stock in our freezer, this time I made garlic stock; to be more friendly to my work schedule, I made it in the slow cooker. The simmered vegetables became a delightful light lunch with bread.

The biggest change I made to all of the salads was not bothering to chill things. I make dinner on a tight schedule and we’re hungry!

Sunday evening after we returned from visiting my mum, was the (slightly) spicy pineapple tofu salad that completely won us over for ease of making and wonderful mingling of flavours. I replaced the chile with a pinch of red pepper flakes and it was perfect. I think next time I’ll mix the pineapple with the tofu and bake them together. I love grilled pineapple so I think it will add a je ne sais quoi to an already spectacular dish.

spicy pineapple tofu salad

On Monday I was a bit over ambitious as to all the things I could accomplish, but I did make Creamy Herbed Potato Soup (not photogenic with my skills but incredibly tasty) and Andean Quinoa & Corn Salad. I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today. Yum!


Yesterday was Thai Noodle Salad, which uses of all things tricolour spiral pasta! It also surprised us and we found we took seconds … and thirds. I ran out of lime juice so used a bit than is called for, but it was still wonderful. Next time I will buy an extra lime just in-case.


Tonight’s meal was Lentil, Rice, & Fruit Salad. I made the rice in the rice cooker of course, and the cats and I were crawling the walls with hunger shortly after the timer kicked in and it started its making. Something about brown rice with garlic, a bay leaf, and thyme just makes me really hungry. This dish also has a wonderful balance of flavour and texture.


I will definitely make all of these salads again. This coming week’s menu features two more recipes from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special: More Than 250 Recipes for Soups, Stews, Salads & Extras: Balinese Rice Salad (to use the baby corn left extra from Monday) and a Three Bean Pasta Salad.


Do you have a favourite Moosewood recipe? Please share!

with olive trees and honey

Over the years I’ve fine tuned my permanent cookbook collection, a very select few gain space on the shelf. Most of the cookbooks I page through for inspiration are ebooks borrowed from the library. When I find myself checking the same book out every few weeks for several months, it likely deserves a place on my shelf. When it’s a book that is considered a classic and includes fascinating historical research in addition to a collection of yummy recipes, that book goes on the list.

Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
ISBN13: 9780764544132

Olive Trees and Honey is one of those books that I was surprised to discover I didn’t own, and over the past few months I’d been checking it out frequently, and just enjoying reading it. It recently became part of my collection and when I have time to browse it at leisure and actually make more of the recipes, I expect I’ll write more about it soon.

Yesterday I made shlishkes, Hungarian potato dumplings. I’ve made other potato dumplings over the years, my family recipe is different.

They were amazing. As my oven was already on for other items I was making, I chose to toss them in butter, paprika, and matzoh meal and bake them.

I’m saddened to note that Mr Marks passed away earlier this month due to lung cancer (he was not a smoker). May his memory be a blessing.