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Cookbooks perfect for summertime available at library

Summer is the season for barbecues, cookouts, reunion potlucks and church picnics — which are great opportunities for chatting with friends old and new on a relaxing afternoon — but they can also be stressful for someone with food allergies or special dietary needs.  

Are there pecans lurking in that wild rice hot dish? How much sugar is in the dressing for the potato salad? And if you’re gluten intolerant, forget it! Why not bring something everyone will enjoy, while insuring that you and your family members have something that suits your needs, by checking out the newest specialty cookbooks available at the library.

If you are looking for a cookbook with great ideas for fresh, healthy fare using ingredients from your garden or the local farmer’s market, take a look at “Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen” by Heidi Swanson. Luscious photographs accompany each recipe, and the author gives hints on additions and substitutions for special diets, and all of the recipes are vegetarian. I immediately wanted to try most of the dishes the moment I had this book in my hands.

“The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook: Vegetarian Recipes Carnivores Will Devour” by Kim O’Donnel is a good bet if all your family members want to do is grill steaks for dinner every night, and you’d like to introduce some variety. Familiar ingredients are used in creative ways to make hearty meals without meat (and the cholesterol that goes with it).

 Whether you’ve had diabetes for decades or have been recently diagnosed, new recipe ideas are always welcome. Antony Worral Thompson puts a new spin on things with “The Essential Diabetes Cookbook: Good Healthy Eating from Around the World.” Thompson takes naturally healthy dishes from all over the globe and makes them accessible to the American home cook. There are no unfamiliar ingredients to identify, no elaborate cooking methods, just simple combinations of delicious flavors.

The American Heart Association has released a fourth edition of their popular “Low-salt Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Reducing Sodium and Fat in Your Diet” just in time for the latest warnings from the Food and Drug Administration about excess salt in the American diet. According to the FDA, most of the salt we consume comes from processed foods, so if we take a little extra time to prepare meals from scratch we’re already better off. Get an extra leg up with this new book full of recipes and tips.

Gluten-free cooking is a fad these days, but for those with gluten intolerance it’s serious business. For solutions for every course, try “Free for All Cooking: 150 Easy Gluten-free, Allergy-friendly Recipes the Whole Family Can Enjoy” by Jules E. Dowler Shepard. This book’s front portion contains a very helpful guide to naturally gluten-free ingredients, grains to avoid, and egg, dairy, nut, and soy substitutes. If it’s the sweet stuff you’re after, check out “Gluten-free Baking” by Phil Vickery. Hint: It’s the one with the to-die-for slice of chocolate cake on the cover. This volume covers everything from cakes and pies to pancakes and strudel.

Would you rather read about food than cook it? No problem! The genre of food-related mysteries is ever-expanding, including books by JoAnne Fluke, (the new “Devil’s Food Cake Murder,”) Diane Mott Davidson, Miranda Bliss, Julie Hyzy (the White House Chef mysteries) and Nancy Fairbanks’ culinary mysteries. If you’re just looking for a recommendation for a great beach read, ask one of our librarians; we’re happy to help!

Our summer reading program is running on all cylinders now, but if you know a young person who has yet to sign up, there is still time for them to earn great prizes and participate in any of the great activities for all ages. If you’re looking for something inexpensive to do with the kids on a rainy Saturday this summer, join us for a free movie on the big screen at 1 p.m. in the large meeting room. Call the library to find out which family-friendly movie we’re playing that week, and other upcoming events!

The Brown Bag Lunch Authors’ Series continues through July, with Wendy Webb, Monica Ferris and Laurie Hertzel visiting the library on Mondays from noon to 1 p.m. Bring your own lunch to enjoy while listening to these fantastic authors. Wendy Webb has earned glowing reviews for her debut novel, “The Tale of Halcyon Crane,” a suspenseful mystery set on a fictional island in the Great Lakes, with a little romance woven in for good measure.  She will be discussing her book this Monday, June 27th.  

Monica Ferris will join us on July 11th to talk about her latest cozy mystery, “Buttons and Bones,” in which the heroine begins a north woods cabin renovation, only to find something hidden under the floorboards: the skeleton of a Nazi.

In Laurie Hertzel’s memoir, “News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist,” the author recounts her rise from teen newsroom gofer to full-time reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. She will tell us about some of those adventures on July 18th.

Don’t forget to fit the library into your summer adventures!

Laurel Hall is the senior outreach coordinator for Kitchigami Regional Library System.