geeky recipe image.

This post began at bedtime. My husband and I do the NYTs mini crossword together every night before sleep. I didn’t have an electronic device handy so instead, we wrote a list of our favorite food books, documentaries, anything that came to mind. My intention was simply to share that list.

Today, as I wrote these descriptions, I realized that every one of these inclusions changed my life. These writers have transformed the way I view the world and more essentially, what I choose to eat. I can’t express how valuable that transformation has been. Instead, I encourage you to invite them work their magic.

RECIPES

THE FOOD LAB BY J. KENJI LOPEZ-ALT My husband and I are Kenji fanbois. Kenji’s an ubergeek about cooking (based on his choice to attend MIT, I’m guessing he’s an ubergeek about many things.) We debate his approaches like they are philosophical missives.

HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING BY MARK BITTMAN Mark Bittman’s work is a national treasure. We’ve just begun working through is new book Dinner for Everyone and so far, the vegan stroganoff is my favorite.

THE NEW LAUREL’S KITCHEN BY LAUREL ROBERTSON I’ve worn out this book and rebought it three times, even though I can’t eat gluten and some of the best recipes are bread. Recommended: All of the soups and the apple crisp.

THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK BY SHEILA LUKINS AND JULEE ROSSO This is another cookbook that I’ve worn out and replaced. My current copy is broken into pieces. Their background in catering gave rise to a collection of recipes I trust whenever I am cooking for company. Standards: Guacamole, artichoke heart fritters and for meat eaters, the roasted chicken.

NARRATIVE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA BY MICHAEL POLLAN This book is on my top five favorite of all time list. Reading it transformed the way I shop for food. It took me ten years to fully live Pollan’s advice “if it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” His clear and thoughtful narratives created the sturdy foundation on which I built a joyful and satisfying food life.

AN EVERLASTING MEAL BY TAMAA ADLER I had never roasted vegetables. Now, I roast them everyday. This book revealed how simple food is delicious food.

ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, MIRACLE BY BARBARA KINGSOLVER NOTE: Include link to our garden This book encouraged our backyard vegetable garden, hand-built basement pantry, grocery shopping at farmer’s markets and joining a CSA. Next year, we might raise chickens.

FAST FOOD NATION BY ERIC SCHLOSSER When my son was a 18 months old, I did not take him to fast food restaurants. He was a baby. A well-meaning friend said that not taking him to McDonalds was “a form of child abuse”. This book helped me to understand how that false and harmful idea was created. (I still never eat fast food. My son, now grown, makes up his own mind.)

LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE BY LAURA ESQUIVEL A delicious novel.

BLOOD, BONES AND BUTTER BY GABRIELLE HAMILTON To be honest, I’d never thought about what it took to become a chef. This memoir shows that, like all creative endeavors, there’s very little glamour and much growing up involved.

VIDEO SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT ON NETFLIX Watching Samin Nosrat interacting with people, places and food concepts brought the experiences to life for me. I now have many questions about her relationship with her mother.

SUPERSIZE ME Morgan Sprulock’s month-long experiment changed my relationship to food. Before watching it, I’d been arguing with medical people about the connection between food and my symptoms for years. The shocked and panicked look on his doctor’s face as his health deteriorated encouraged me to trust my judgement. I’ve been free of chronic health issues ever since.

OTHER FORKS OVER KNIVES APP My husband and I preferred a plant-based diet, especially after watching the Forks Over Knives documentary. But when we cooked, it always felt like being on a too-strict, often boring diet. Enter this menu planning feature. We’ve loved many of the recipes and the shopping list feature saves us valuable time. Our transition to mostly-vegan has been mostly painless and extremely enjoyable.