On the daily: In the a.m., leave the computer and phone off and go outside for a walk or run before I do anything else. At the end of the day, I geek out on my “Sleep Ritual.” I turn off my computer and phone and leave them both downstairs so I’m not tempted to scroll through Instagram in bed. I have an electronic pillar candle that I turn on around 9–9:30pm and carry that baby to the bathroom where I have an epsom salt soak. Then I climb in bed and read by “candlelight” for 20–30 minutes, then I’m out. Honoring this time has changed everything for me. My sweetie jokes with me and calls it “Frontier Time,” but I wake up rested and energized, and my mind is ready to take on work with a clarity that motivates me to Sleep-Ritual for life!
Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees (Wiley). Baking Unplugged is the hands down winner in my spot recipe testing. The recipes are good, easy, and practical. The simple philosophy behind the book is that you can make great desserts without any electrical equipment (except an oven, of course). The preliminary chapters at the beginning review tools, ingredients, methods, and how to read a recipe. The books chapters are then divided into types of baked goods, with no dearth of explanation of technique. The book is clear and concise, easy to understand. I wish I had had this book when I started out baking. This is a book for anyone who wants to get back to basics in the kitchen, someone who has a small kitchen with only a few tools, someone who is lazy and doesn’t feel like plugging in the equipment. It’s a perfect book for beginners– I am a firm believer in the ‘learn in the manual way’ in order to excel in the automated world. I really really like this book. One last important note– there are no photos at all in the book. But please don’t let this discourage you.
Spending my time with someone who works in cookbook writing and testing has made me look at books in a whole new way. My own experience with books made me appreciate the hard work that goes into the organization, but to see first-hand how much testing and skill goes into each recipe makes me have a whole new level of respect for cookbook authors. We’ve been so fortunate to see some gorgeous books come across our desk at work lately, so I thought I’d share some of my personal favorites that I plan to be cooking from over the holiday break. I tend to lean heavily on sweets, so many of these are dessert books (not sure if I should apologize or celebrate that fact) which I hope will still work for everyone. If not, we’ve got an in-depth post coming up tomorrow about a great new recipe book that celebrates the savory as much as the sweet. Happy cooking!