Cookbooks to Whet Reading

— by Hannah Lee

My younger child was a reluctant reader, so I tried different strategies to get her to read.  Her sister was willing to read anything I put in front of her, but she was choosy.  I got a boxful of books from the library each week but they were not engaging her.  However, she did gravitate towards my cookbook collection, especially the ones written for children and the themed ones based on beloved children’s books, such as Babe, Little House on the Prairie, and the Boxcar Children.  So, I started with cookbooks and expanded to books about geography, culture, and religion.

More after the jump.
According to Jill Ross, proprietor of The Cookbook Stall at the Reading Terminal Market, children’s cookbooks have become more popular than ever and there is now a boom in cookbooks marketed to teens.  She recommends the series by Meghan and Jill Carle, sisters who wrote their first cookbook when they were still in high school.  Readers followed them through college and their newest title is The First Real Kitchen Cookbook: 100 Recipes and Tips for New Cooks.  Another author she recommends for teens is Rozanne Gold, an award-winning chef who made her reputation with the general public with her pioneering three-ingredient cookbooks.  Her teen title, Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs was given a rave review by the New York Times when it was published in 2009.

I’ve mourned daily the closure of Borders, as there is not another general-interest bookstore in my neighborhood.  Ross, however, says that her direct competitor is not Borders, but Amazon, when people come to browse in her stop but then order through the Internet instead.

The trend in cookbook sales, according to Ross, is the farm-to-table concept.  People are more interested in where their food comes from.  Local produce is the new catchword.  Some of her customers are members of a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture)  and they want to learn  how to prepare the unusual vegetables they receive through their share.

Ross’s personal favorite titles are books by Heidi Swanson (whose newest title is: Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen) because she’s a vegetarian.  However, she also loves the River Cottage cookbooks by the British chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, because they’re so lovingly written and they’ve helped her learn how to prepare meat for others.  She also adores the reference books by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, whose newest title is The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine.

The Cookbook Stall is open at the Reading Terminal Market from Monday to Saturday from 10 – 5 and Sundays from 11 – 3.  If you have a particular title in mind, you may contact the proprietor at [email protected] or 215-923-3170.  Discounted parking is available for up to 2 hours for just $4.00 in the 12th & Filbert Street garage.

Winter Markets

— by Hannah Lee

Do you miss the farmers’ market in winter?

If you’re like me, it’s a let-down to buy produce flown or trucked in from California, which is what are available these days in the supermarkets, even in Whole Foods, which may have the biggest selection of organic produce around. Some farmers’ markets are open on Saturdays, but if you keep Shabbat, your best option is the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. It’s open seven days a week, and it’s indoors, so you (and the vendors) do not have to freeze in the open air.  

When was the last time you’ve visited this market? You’ll be surprised and delighted by the lively changes there. Check out the Reading Terminal Market website for fun events, including the Valentine Day’s wedding of four couples in the center court at noon.

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Among my favorite vendors is Steve Bowes of Bowes Family Farm. Stop by for a chat and a lesson about biodynamic and organic farming. He’s at the market on Thursdays to Saturdays from 8 to 6 and Sundays from 9 to 5.

The Fair Food Farmstand, run by the Fair Food Philly, offers organic eggs, dairy, and meats as well as seasonal produce and artisanal foods. They’re open every day.

I always stop by Iovine Brothers Produce to gaze at their lovely display of fruits, vegetables, and specialty produce. It’s where I can get fresh mushrooms not found elsewhere such as King trumpets and hen of the woods as well as the gourmet favorites: chanterelles, enokis, morels, and porcinis.  

The Cookbook Stall is also fun, with a diverse selection of books that cannot be found in a general bookstore. Its hours are: Mondays to Saturdays from 10-5 and Sundays from 11-3.  If you have a particular title in mind, you may call to check on its availability at:  215-923-3170.

Every Wednesday & Saturday, you could learn the story behind cheese steaks, hoagies, pretzels and other Philly food favorites, and the 116-year history of the vibrant Reading Terminal Market where they’re sold, during a 75-minute tour led by Carolyn Wyman, food historian, author, and journalist.  

Discounted parking at 12th and Filbert is available for two hours and at least $10 in purchases.