Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Review: The Newlywed Cookbook

Sarah Copeland has given readers, beginner cooks and sous chefs alike, another delicious treat. Her first book, The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas & Modern Recipes for Cooking with and for Each Other, is a wide blend of homemade and heirloom dishes. She is motivated by the advice of her grandmother, Virginia Edwards Copeland, to "learn to make his favorite things."

From an aesthetic view, the book is divine. Gorgeous photography by Sara Remington is paired with a charming lay-out. Her sister, Jenny Goddard, designed the "Sips" tag on the iced tea in the "Embellishments: Snacks, Sauces & Sips to Enlighten the Table" section. Sarah's knowledge on seasonable fruits and vegetables, organics, picking out meat, how to stock one's kitchen, what kind of tools to have on hand, and all questions in-between are abundantly given.

Sarah introduces herself as much as her book in her writing. She tells us,
"There's a moment in a marriage, whether two days or two hundred and twenty-two into it, where you're standing side by side in the morning barefoot on the cool kitchen floor. Everything is quiet but the hum of him making you coffee just the way you like it, with all that frothy milk and sugar. You're stirring his favorite pancakes, sprinkling a few blueberries in the batter, and then it hits you: these simple moments are somehow the best in life. This could happen over a fork fight for the last peach in the jar, or playing rock-paper-scissors for whose turn it is to do dishes. It can happen, and will happen over and over again if you let it. That is the essence of this book."
Sarah is a self-described "writer, urban gardener, passionate cook and curator of good living. She is a six year veteran of the Food Network and co-founder (and former spokesperson) for their charitable initiative, Good Food Gardens. She thrives on "homegrown veggies, stinky cheeses, chocolate cake" and her little family, made up of her husband Andras and their baby, Greta."

As a bride-to-be myself, and one who does not cook often (or ever), I found myself time and time again with this cookbook, pouring over it with fascination and hope. Sarah inspired me to cook for my fiance B. and his parents, and I don't take that impulse lightly. Before fixing Shrimp Saganaki for them, I had cooked for B. exactly once.

On a page labeled "Strategies," Sarah confesses that, though there may be dozens of rules to good cooking, she's probably broken most of them. She gives "ten strategies to make your kitchen the spirited and well-seasoned center of your nest." I took numbers 1, 4, 6 and 8 ("Get Smart, Get Fresh," "Learn the Art of Reading Recipes," "Be Flexible," "Don't Panic") especially to heart.

Sarah gives just enough instruction (though I would have preferred more in a few cases, as a novice), as well as insight into fresher ingredients, preparation advice and alternations for individual recipes. For meals, she makes specific suggestions of what to serve the dish with, be it the wine, bread, or greens.

I fixed the Shrimp Saganaki, which turned out so well that I decided to try another recipe. In this instance, Sarah and I are a culinary match: we both eat carrot cake every year on our birthday. This birthday, I made my own cake, as well as the cream cheese frosting. It was delicious, and only got better over the few days it lasted.

This book is wonderful, warm, and inviting. It reads like a good conversation and gives encouragement through Sarah's perpetual optimism and care toward both cooking and life. 

Originally published in The Key.

Book published by Chronicle Books,

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a keeper! Not in any way a newlywed :) i'd still love to check it out for myself... since cooking day in and out can get lackluster after a while. My first go-to cookbook when I was younger was Campbell's cooking for two, based on just a few inexpensive ingredients and lots of pantry staples. Luckily, my m-i-l is a terrible cook :) So anything I tried was a step in the right direction.