I’m a library book sale junky. This past Saturday was my local library’s yearly book sale - my favorite day of the year. Really, it is. It’s like going to Disney Land for a bibliophile. Booklovers get there a half hour early and line up around the yellow tape that keeps us out of the books and strain to see the signs on the tables to figure out where we’ll go first. When we’re finally allowed in, it’s a mad rush to get what you want before someone else snaps it up.
This year, I went to the cookbooks first. What I love about the cookbooks at a sale like this is that you’ll find ones that you probably would never notice at a regular bookstore. When you go to the bookstore, the best sellers are prominently displayed next to the celebrity chef cookbooks, but it’s difficult to find real gems. At library book sales (or flea markets or yard sales), gems just pop out at you.
I got a few gems this year, but the one that I’m most excited about is Your Organic Kitchen: The Essential Guide to Selecting and Cooking Organic Foods. by Jesse Ziff Cool. It was published in 2000 (on recycled paper) before the USDA organic standards were set, and it’s interesting to read the opening pages that tell you to look for a state or private organization seal to make sure food is really organic.
The introduction to the book has lots of information on why organics are important for your health and for the environment. It even has an early version of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen (although it was just a list of ten foods back then). Although some of the information could use a little updating, it is by no means obsolete.
And, of course, the recipes will never be obsolete. The recipes are divided into seasons. I like that in a cookbook. Your Organic Kitchen doesn’t stick with just the four seasons – it divides the harvest into eight seasons: First of Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Midsummer, Indian Summer, Autumn Harvest, Early Winter, and Deep of Winter.
I like this because while I’ve been looking at some fall recipes lately, it’s not really fall yet. The recipes found in the Indian Summer section of the book are perfect for right now. Recipes like Snap Bean, Tomato and Corn Salad or Lolly Font’s Roasted Red Pepper Bruschetta make use of summer’s last crops, and recipes like Pork ‘n’ Pumpkin Noodes make use of what is just starting to be plentiful in the garden.
Jesse Ziff Cool published another organic cookbook in 2008, Simply Organic that includes what the publisher describes as “indespensible elements of her earlier cookbook, Your Organic Kitchen” but it doesn’t seem to be exactly the same.
If you’d like to hit a library book sale in your area, you can find when and where they will be held at booksalefinder.com.