Adventures in Cookbooks: Whole Food Cooking

If you've ever browsed the cookbooks in our adult non-fiction collection, you'll know they are many. As someone who loves books and cooking, I could spend hours in this section. They're so colorful and varied! Plus, cookbooks are pretty pricey so it's helpful to check one out before investing in a personal copy I can freely spill on.

Did you know that in the Dewey Decimal Classification system, the 600s are classed as "Technology?" That encompasses everything from Agriculture to Accounting to Cooking. What we generally think of as cookbooks fall under 641 (food and drink), but within that number, things get pretty wild. To be more precise, I'll quote Cataloging Assistant Mary Leibold, who catalogs the library's adult cookbooks: "The cookbook numbers are vast and can get really specific." This is no joke! 

To help demystify these distinctions and highlight some cookbooks in our collection, I'll be selecting books with different Dewey numbers within 641, making a recipe featured in the book, and asking a coworker to taste and rate the recipe. Let it be said that the catalogers are the true Dewey experts and I will not attempt to break down the meaning of each individual decimal number. But I will highlight a few sections within the cookbooks and a book within those sections. With that, I hope you'll join me on this cookbook, learning adventure!

For my first selection, I chose Whole Food Cooking Every Day, opens a new window by Amy Chaplin because it had a pretty cover. I am who I am.

The bulk of the cookbooks start with 641.5 (cooking), but this one's Dewey number is 641.302, denoting that it's about health foods. All of the recipes in it are vegan and avoid flour, though it does feature recipes using a variety of whole grains. Based on the table of contents, it's a good book for simple, healthy meals that you can adapt and add to as you like. Chaplin covers a lot of basics when it comes to technique but also suggests ways to mix and match the recipes and tailor dishes to individual tastes.

I opted for a zucchini soup recipe with cilantro and jalapeño. For starters, I love soup! Secondly, I'd never made a zucchini soup before. Lastly, its ingredient list was minimal and affordable. I bought all the ingredients for less than $10 and it made enough for at least 6 people. I was also drawn to this recipe because it calls for cilantro stems as well as leaves. Using underutilized bits of things makes me feel like a better person.

Normally when I make soup I'm using butter and topping it with a generous grating of parmesan cheese. I was skeptical of a soup containing neither, especially one featuring a vegetable I don't consider full of flavor. My first bite was underwhelming, but after adding a squeeze of lemon and more salt, things changed. It was bright, clean, and satisfying. I kept going back for "one more bite." It's a very green and healthy-feeling soup, but it was also creamier in texture than I'd expected. 

It reminded me of a soup my sister used to make on our Alias, opens a new window nights that called for chayote squash, avocado, and cilantro. That soup was deceptively good, which also how I feel about this zucchini soup (and the television show Alias).

My coworker, friend, and LPL Information Services Assistant Theresa Bird kindly agreed to try the soup and give it a rating. I'll let the photo speak for itself.

Stay tuned for more cookbooks, Dewey Decimals, and recipes!

-Terese is an Information Services Librarian at Lawrence Public Library.