Cooking through cookbooks is the ideal way to expand your repertoire of recipes and explore new cuisines. Cookbooks are both a practical and educational resource to help you explore how food connects with specific cultures. I’ve enjoyed expanding my collection of celebrated Mediterranean cookbooks as a way to learn more about the Mediterranean way of eating and living. Cooking from healthy cookbooks and using whole foods is a surefire way to keep me on a path of healthy eating.
Last summer I discovered a Facebook group called The Cookbook Junkies- a wonderful community of cookbook lovers. This is a perfect place to commune and connect with others over food, which is one of my greatest joys. Mediterranean Living’s mission to build community around food is closely aligned with the goals of the Cookbook Junkies. The group is extremely welcoming, with members from across the world eager to answer your questions about cookbooks and other food topics. The ‘event’ feature on Facebook is frequently used by the Cookbook Junkies as a way for people to join a conversation about specific food topics and to share photos of dishes they’ve prepared.
It’s been a pleasure to meet, learn and be inspired by this group. I found that my knowledge of cooking has expanded much more quickly as a result of being engaged with other home cooks. And, as you might expect, my collection of cookbooks has certainly grown!
Cookbook Junkies often meet up in their travels. I enjoyed a leisurely Vietnamese lunch with a couple of members in Philadelphia last fall, and I’m looking forward to meeting more Cookbook Junkies in person in the future! Many other members have shared helpful insight into places to go when traveling or where to find the best Mediterranean markets. The group has also introduced me to plenty of other useful resources for home cooks.
I’ve been equally impressed by Jenny Hartin, the group administrator. She created and ensures the perfect atmosphere for sharing and seeking advice from other members. We talked recently about why she started the group and about what’s in store for the future of The Cookbook Junkies.
Christine: How did you get the idea to create a Cookbook Junkies Facebook group?
Jenny: I had a baby, and he couldn’t tolerate many social activities. You can imagine how isolating that can become. I started The Cookbook Junkies as a social outlet to meet others who are passionate about cookbooks and cooking. It was a good social opportunity and escape for me as a mother of a child with autism.
Christine: What most inspires you about this quickly growing Facebook group?
Jenny: I’m inspired by members helping each other to find an unusual ingredient or choose the perfect cookbook. It’s great to see members post photos of their creations and have others comment about what a wonderful job they did. As you know, everyone enjoys a pat on the back once in awhile. It’s been great for me too. I love that I am cooking through my books more. I try ten to twenty new dishes a month now depending on what cookbook I have discovered.
Christine: How do you make time to cook for your family and enjoy meals together?
Jenny: I am fortunate to be a stay at home mom. I bring Andrew home every day for lunch and medication. I usually have time to plan and prep meals. Andrew loves trying new recipes and watching cooking shows with me. We try to eat dinner together as a family every night. When Andrew can’t wait for his father to arrive, I sit with him while he eats. When Jim arrives, Andrew can have a small treat while we eat.
Christine: What cookbooks do you recommend for healthy eating?
Jenny: Years ago, I wasn’t interested in healthy eating. But lately I have been enjoying cookbooks focused on healthy eating. Some of my favorites are: Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Mark Scarborough and Bruce Weinstein, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook by Michele Scicolone, Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi and anything by Yotam Ottolenghi. I just received A Year in the Whole Food Kitchen, which I am looking forward to reading and cooking from as well.
Christine: What are your favorite Mediterranean cookbooks?
Jenny: Aglaia Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts and Ikaria are two of my favorites. Bill Bradley’s Foods of Crete looks wonderful and I would love to get my hands on New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian.
Christine: I understand you have a new website that you just launched. What is available on the site for your readership?
Jenny: The Cookbook Junkies website offers cookbook reviews, giveaways, recipes, and a forum for interacting. In the near future, we will have a Cookbook Junkies cookbook and other merchandise. We also may have a conference in 2017. The Cookbook Junkies is a community-oriented space where we share new experiences. Our number one rule is to be kind, which creates an inviting atmosphere.
Thank you, Christine for this wonderful opportunity to talk about The Cookbook Junkies.
Here are some testimonials from members of the Cookbook Junkies:
I love The Cookbook Junkies and the kindness, generosity and knowledge I have gained since joining the group. Jenny has an abundance of energy and wisdom that keeps the group going. My husband has been diagnosed with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fortunately, I have been able to glean a wealth of information on cooking Mediterranean from the group and have ordered Mediterranean cookbooks. The “Share Your Creations” event page is an inspiration, with many healthy and delicious dishes, from grains to vegetables.
-Judy Pike Proud Krist
I’m truly inspired by The Cookbook Junkies community of like-minded folks that are equally passionate about food and cookbooks. It’s a forum for food lovers as well as a place to form friendships. Jenny Hartin is the heart and soul of this group and creates a welcoming community. I enjoy sharing what I’ve made with the other members and also seeing what they’ve produced in their kitchens. I’ve learned a lot from members that cook healthy and vegetarian meals. I enjoy sharing my creations and seeing how much happiness food can provide.
-Laurel Hamilton Eden
I’m a junkie for The Cookbook Junkies! It’s an excellent community to learn new things and create connections around food. I became good friends with the founder, Jenny Hartin. We live 20 minutes apart and I enjoy spending time with Jenny cookbook shopping, going to breakfast or having her family over for a visit. I come from a catering background and have always cooked with fresh ingredients. I like engaging with the other members dedicated to healthy eating. Many of my favorite foods are Mediterranean: tomatoes, onion, garlic, feta, eggplant, olives, seafood and fish. I particularly love Spanish and Mexican foods. Delicious Mediterranean recipes motivate me to eat foods that are heart-healthy, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and that might help avert cancers and some chronic diseases.
–Kathleen Combs Leverett
Stop by The Cookbook Junkies’ website to enjoy the forum, cookbook giveaways and more!
If you love cookbooks and cooking, you’ll want to join The Cookbook Junkies here.