I am obsessed with cookbooks. I own at least of them and have only cooked from one so far (Isa Does It, if you’re wondering), yet I keep buying them because they’re so inspiring and pretty, and I suppose they’re often quite personal and informative too.
In my daily perusing of cookbook news this morning, I stumbled across Food52’s 2015 Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks. Much like March Madness, the Piglet Tournament features 16 notable picks (cookbooks, not basketball teams, so more my speed) and puts them in a bracket system to face off and be judged by famous foodies, restaurateurs, and chefs until the end, when one emerges as the best cookbook of the year.
This tournament has been a thing since 2010, so I’m kind of embarrassed that I only found out about the Piglet today, which is incidentally the kickoff day to the 2015 tournament. In honor of my discovery of this new bracket obsession I’ll have for the next 3 weeks, I decided to take it upon myself to nominate one of my favorite cookbooks I have in possession: The Nancy Drew Cookbook. Had the Piglet been a thing in 1973, I’m sure it would have been a shoe-in for the prize.
The Nancy Drew Cookbook is quite a cookbook to add to any personal cookbook collection. As is the case with the rest of the nearly-century-old book series, author Carolyn Keene has crafted a sleuth-themed masterpiece sure to delight Nancy Drew fans—okay, at least the prepubescent ones. “Keene” grouped all the recipes for easy reference, from breakfast to lunch to dinner, and even featuring holiday and international dishes. The book provides a full education of such cooking terms as bake, combine, and the elusive simmer.
Not only that, but it also serves as an ode to the classic Nancy Drew mysteries, featuring recipes with titles like “99 Steps French Toast” and “Hidden Staircase Biscuits.” Just as many cookbooks have the power to transport the reader to another place or pace of life, The Nancy Drew Cookbook indulges the reader in his or her own fantasy of being a fabulous solver of mysteries like Ms. Drew herself, providing tips under the guise of “Clue to Extra Goodness,” “A Mystery Taste,” and more. This cookbook also transports readers back to the good old 1970s, when margarine was all the rage and pre-packaged and canned ingredients were convenient staples in all kitchens. (Canned salmon? You best believe.)
Inspired by the mysteries lurking at the heart of good home cooking, The Nancy Drew Cookbook is a treasure for all—and not just because I literally dug my copy out of a pile of books at the secondhand bookstore down the street a few months ago. Much like Nancy Drew’s timeless, heartwarming, and inspiring mystery books, this cookbook is a veritable relic of the past, empowering readers young and old to cook at home and to invite their loved ones for special dinners of things like “Black Key Mystery Patties.”
The Nancy Drew Cookbook teaches us that we don’t need to be gourmet chefs with complete spice racks and a 12-piece cutlery set to get the job done. With as few as three ingredients, it is possible to use the book’s clues and put together the pieces of the puzzle of good cooking. Nancy Drew and friends, we salute you.
Happy Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks season!