This time of year is associated with family and food, and the more family and food the better!

I love to bake, and I am always looking for something new to try.

The Pocahontas County Library system is a great resource for browsing new recipe ideas. In this article, I highlight several cookbooks from around the county – cookbooks you can check out from your local library. Please stop in and let me know what you find.

I’ll start with the McClintic Library, where I found a book that, I admit, I judged by its cover. It is called The Artful Pie: Unforgettable Recipes for Creative Cooks by Lisa Cherkasky and Renee Comet.

The recipes are simple, with easy-to-find ingredients, but unique – such as Lemon-Lime slice pie and the backyard green tomato pie. Personally, I think the peppery sweet potato pie, made with cayenne pepper, would be fun to try.

Next, I move on to the Linwood Library, and to Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

I love this book, partially because there is a photograph for almost every recipe. I made the chocolate-glazed gingerbread cakes last Christmas. They turned out well, although they were not exactly “easy.” The tiny cakes are baked in muffin cups and then flipped upside down and topped with a chocolate ganache and slices of crystalized ginger. Made with molasses, dark-brown sugar, fresh ginger and a multitude of other spices – they are deliciously rich and flavorful.

At the Green Bank Library I found a copy of The Way to Cook by Julia Child. Ms. Child states that, “[Your dessert] should look sumptuous even though it is easy to make.”

So true, Ms. Child, but many of the recipes in the book are beyond my talent level, although there is a recipe for an apple pizza that could be adapted to the beginning baker. A pastry dough recipe for the crust, spread with applesauce, then topped with apples.

From the Durbin Library I found a recipe for strawberry cream cake from a book titled, Favorite Family Meals by Annabel Karmel. This recipe claims to be simple, quick and a crowd pleaser. It is strawberries and homemade whipped cream, in between cake layers and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar. This sounds like a winner for the Fourth of July when strawberries are fresh and in season, but great for Christmas, as well.

The Hillsboro Library has a book titled BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking by Shirley Corriher. There is a lesson in each recipe, teaching a skill that is transferable to becoming a better baker. I would like to try the recipe for cherry pie with streusel topping. This recipe uses dried cherries, sour cherries and dark sweet cherries, with a cream cheese crust. This sounds amazing and may be the recipe I try this year.

It is difficult to decide on just one dessert for this year’s experiment, there are too many options! But that is a good problem to have.

Check out these cookbooks and more.

Happy baking!

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