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Bloggers make sweet solutions out of cooking conundrums

By Kaylene Morrill Wheeler

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 2 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

Two newly released cookbooks have one very unique thing in common: They were never intended to be cookbooks at all.

“Favorite Family Recipes” (Covenant Communications, $25.99) created by four sisters, Erica Walker, Emily Walker, Elise Donovan and Echo Blickenstaff, and “Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites” (Deseret Book, $27.99) by Sara Wells and Kate Jones both started out as food blogs intended for sharing recipes with family and friends. The support and interest others found for their blogs, however, fueled the publication of these cookbooks.

While “Favorite Family Recipes” is made by four members of the same family, all four sisters have different tastes and styles of cooking, so the cookbook contains a wide variety of recipes. Additionally, the book includes a section for “restaurant recipes at home” with versions of recipes from Café Rio, Rumbi Island Grill and other restaurants.

“Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites” is Wells and Jones’ second cookbook. The recipes are organized by season and the book includes tutorials and “Crafty in the Kitchen” sections scattered throughout its pages.

Each of these authors has a family of their own and has found solutions for common cooking conundrums. Meal planning can be a daunting task and these cooking gurus have some tips to help control the planning process without letting it control you.

Before going shopping, Jones recommends looking at what’s on sale and what ingredients are already on hand.

“I think going to the store and just going crazy, that’s a great way to spend a lot of money and not use your ingredients,” Jones said. “But if you have a plan, and if you stick to it, I think it’s really easy to get out of the grocery store not spending a ton of money.”

Emily Walker had similar sentiments in regard to using leftover ingredients.

“When you’re menu planning, try and make things that are going to use a lot of the same ingredients so that those ingredients aren’t going to waste,” Walker said. “That way, you don’t have to go to the grocery store and get 50 different ingredients for all the different types of dishes you’re making that week. If you can get ingredients that are going to go across several dishes, it kind of cuts down what you need to buy.”

This idea is featured in “Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites” in the “rollover index.” The section helps readers find other recipes that use unusual or perishable leftover ingredients so they don’t go to waste.

Another fun feature in the book can be found on the dividers for each season; these pages list the produce that are in season during that particular time of year. Many of the recipes in each section include the ingredients that are in season as well.

“One of the most economical ways to cook is using things that are fresh and in season because they’re going to be available, they’re going to taste the best and they’re going to be cheaper,” Wells said.

Still, maybe the Achilles’ heel isn’t meal planning, but rather getting the kids to eat things that smell funny, look weird or simply are on their plates. These ladies have advice for that, too.

Emily Walker hated onions as a child and still does not like them to this day. Grateful that her mom was very understanding of her great dislike for onions, she has learned ways to be accommodating for her children, as well.

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