Let’s cook

Princeton is a town of foodies.The evidence is in the recent explosion of unique and upscale restaurants downtown and the multitude of specialty food shops in the area catering to those who like to explore the culinary arts in their own kitchens. Cookbooks remain perennial favorite items to check out at the library or purchase at the Friends Used Book Store, even with dozens of places online to explore and save a vast array of recipes.

Our cooking collection at the library is always in high demand with new titles being added monthly. In 2015, to date, the library has checked out over 5,300 cooking books, and the busy food preparation month of December is still unfolding. Our records show “Barefoot Contessa Family Style” by Ina Garten circulating 181 times and “Chez Panisse Caf Cookbook” by Alice Waters circulating 133 times since being added to the library’s collection.

With all of this in mind, we invite you to join us on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. for “Crazy for Cookbooks: Meet the Cookbook Connoisseurs,” featuring six local foodies who are also cookbook collectors. Panelists include Faith Bahadurian, Packet Group food columnist and NJ Spice blogger; Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, co-founders/creators of “Canal House Cooking” and the daily blog, “Canal House Cooks Lunch”; Alex Levine, chef at Princeton’s Whole Earth Center and bibliophile; and Pat Tanner, longtime food writer, restaurant critic and blogger.

Born from an idea brought to us by Faith Bahadurian, the program will feature each panelist discussing their favorite cooking books and highlighting recently published ones, perfect for gift giving or experimenting with new recipes and techniques. The future of cookbooks will also be a topic of conversation. We want to know your own favorites, so be ready with suggestions.

Want recommendations now? This list of staff-curated titles in our collection is a great place to start preparing for your next gathering.

Keep an eye out for our next foodie fix, in time for Valentine’s Day, on Feb. 10. 2016:  “Holiday Cook, Book, and Blog.” We’ll be asking you to select a dessert recipe to make and bring from either The Pioneer Woman blog or “The Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays:140 Step-by-step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations” by Ree Drummond. Liz Ferry will lead a discussion on how blogs have changed the world of cooking and baking while we sample your culinary creations.

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