2019 Printz Winner for The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo’s much anticipated sophomore novel With the Fire On High, is a book about embracing your passions, and charting your future. Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Boricua high school senior has had a gift for cooking since she was young. She and her toddler daughter live with her supportive grandmother, but Emoni needs to decide where she wants to go to school and what she wants to do after graduation. When her school offers a new class, “Culinary Arts: Spain Immersion,” Emoni has a chance to immerse herself in cooking in a way that she can start to see what is possible with her gift.
Foodie readers will swoon over Acevedo’s writing on food and cooking, and it will leave them hungering for more. Here are a few delicious titles about food and cooking to pair With the Fire On High:
Sadly, I think the idea of the “lazy days of summer” is now pretty outdated, but many of us still see summer as the season to tackle projects we don’t have time for the rest of the year. For anyone who likes to take on cooking projects, the public library has a veritable treasure trove of books that can help you on your way.
The Project: Brush Up Basic Cooking Skills
A summer cooking project can be as simple as wanting to learn how to make a few simple meals from start to finish. In that case, here are some great all-purpose cookbooks:
How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. A modern “how to,” that can both help you find something tasty for dinner and answer the question “what do I do with this?” for unfamiliar items in the CSA (community supported agriculture) box.
The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. The classic American cookbook. I used to avoid it, thinking the recipes were too complex, but for many basic dishes, the techniques are surprisingly simple.
The Real Girl’s Kitchen by Haylie Duff. Based on her food blog, the actress introduces recipes for a variety of meal and snack options. Her gushing about kale might also make this a good choice for the next project on our list!
The Project: Try a New Diet
I’m not a fan of “dieting,” but I do sometimes explore ways to cook food that fit certain dietary choices or lifestyles. My favorite story about this is that I realized I needed to learn a couple vegan dishes when I had a vegetarian friend and a lactose-free friend over for the same meal. All my vegetarian dishes at that point involved cheese! If you are trying to change eating habits for health reasons, or just looking to expand your repertoire, here are some fun specialized cookbooks:
The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by the America’s Test Kitchen editors. For those who need or want to be gluten free, but miss old favorites, the America’s Test kitchen team takes on the task of figuring out how to make them. America’s Test Kitchen is famous for making a dish dozens of times until they get it just right, so you can be sure these have been well-rehearsed.
Teen Cuisine: New Vegetarian by Matthew Locricchio. Aimed at teens who are new to vegetarianism, this option includes vegetarian versions of traditional “meat” dishes, like BLTS, nuggets, and sloppy joes, and also has a good selection of vegan recipes.