Everything is reserved: what’s cooking, beautiful?


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Hello, book lover! It’s been a long time. My partner in this newsletter, Caitlin Fitch, has been reading avidly for the past few months. She always has new and interesting books and thoughts to share with all of you. Unfortunately, I’m reading a bit out of my mind. It’s been a struggle for me to pick up a book or even play a few audiobooks, and even when I do, I do it about 20 minutes before my mind wanders, and I realize I have to restart. It happens to me about once every two years or so. I’ve learned to accept it as a phase, and the sooner I embrace the reading crisis and pause reading, the sooner it’s over.

While I don’t read traditional or non-fiction novels, I dove head first into my collection of cookbooks. Not only do I read my cookbooks, but I cook from them too – something my husband is very grateful for. Due to my recent change in my reading habits and because the holiday season is quickly approaching, I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

Credit: Courtesy

I received the one from Suzanne Lenzer Graze as a Christmas present from my brother a few years ago, and it’s quite possibly my favorite cookbook in my collection. This is my main source of inspiration when entertaining girls or for a more casual dinner. All recipes are ‘inspiration for small plates and curvy meals’. Perfect for long summer nights lounging in the garden, a holiday cocktail or even a picnic at the rose garden. Lenzer divides the book into three main sections: Mainly Chopping, A Little Cooking, and Worth It, so you can decide how much time and preparation you want to spend. It also lists sample menus such as “A French Affair for Many” and “Fall Supper by the Fire”. If you’re new to cooking and hosting, this book is the perfect place to start.

Credit: Courtesy

Now for those looking for a challenge look no further than Gjelina by Travis Lett. Lett is the chef of the popular Venice restaurant Gjelina. I have had the pleasure of dining there several times and both experiences were extremely memorable. You know a restaurant is good when its dishes appear in your dreams. Hope to go back soon, but until I do, I can bring some Gjelina magic to my own home with their cookbook.

Filled with stunning photography, cooking stories, and an emphasis on quality ingredients, Lett reminds you of his chef spirit. There is a wide variety of recipes in this book. Some take a few minutes to build, while others can take days. But when you love to cook, is there anything more fun than planning and cooking all week for dinner? I swear it’s better.


This edition of All Booked was originally emailed to subscribers on October 26, 2021. To receive Emily Cosentino Lee and Caitlin Fitch’s literary newsletter delivered to your inbox, subscribe to Independent.com/newsletters.


Credit: Courtesy

I’m not a vegan by any means, but I happen to own quite a few vegan cookbooks – six, to be precise. I bought them all for different reasons but have to say my favorite of the bunch is Mississippi Vegan by Timothée Pakron. This cookbook is thick and packed with recipes showcasing the beauty of vegetables, grains, and plant protein. Before all the non-vegan readers crinkle your nose, I challenge you to rethink your relationship with ‘vegan food’. There is so much beauty to be found in ingredients that are often overlooked. Pakron does an impeccable job of showcasing the abundance and delight that vegetables can offer.

If you want to taste these types of recipes, Pakron has a Instagram and one Blog where he publishes additional recipes. Pakron is also just a very good human who enjoys gardening, cooking and photographing his creations. I have been following him for years and when he published this cookbook I knew I needed it in my collection. I cried as I read the acknowledgments.

Reply to this email and let me know some of your must-have cookbooks. I’m always looking to expand my collection with quality recipes that offer either challenge or inspiration, or at the best of times, both.

Good food !

Your loving bookworm, Emily

If you are a local author, organize literary events in the Santa Barbara area, or have any other fun bookish tips for us, please send your recommendations for review to [email protected]


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