Notes from the Farmers’ Market Chef

by Barbara Cornell

I’m back at the “New” book shelves at my Glenwood Branch of the Howard County Library System, and I have found several very different books on healthy eating I want to share with you.

The first is Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite, 1012.  Emily Quah is given credit for the “text,” but Ramsay is clearly the executive chef here.  The food is lovingly styled and photographed which makes me want to buy it if not bake it.  This was first published in Ramsay’s native London in 2008.  I don’t know how much translation was required to Americanize the text and ingredients, but I needed Wikipedia to find out what quark is and I’ve never seen chickory or woodcocks in my grocery store.  That said, Ramsay says: “Healthy eating is a topic close to my heart” (he is dedicated to running 10 marathons before he turns 45), and he promises to deliver healthy food without jeopardizing taste and flavor.  His recipes are well illustrated with very clear instructions even if some of his ingredients are a little exotic (no, I am not going to try the squid, thank you).  The tone of his book is evidently a huge departure from Chef Ramsay’s on-screen persona.  I’ve not had the pleasure of watching his Hell’s Kitchen or Kitchen Nightmares episodes, but my friends assure me he’s “very intense” and his temper is as fiery as his grill.  No expletives made it into his book, however, so enjoy.

My next “healthy eating” book is very different from your usual cookbook.  Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family, 2012, is written by young Marshall Reid and his mom, Alexandra.  When he was 10, Marshall asked his mom if his family could “do the opposite of the Super Size Me documentary and be healthy for a month.”  He had had enough of his classmates making fun of him and was worried he would always feel unhappy.  The month of healthy eating led to a series of videos, which you can see online at, and to this book for which Marshall and his family went on a 9000-mile book tour.  Marshall even got to visit with his heroes Jamie Oliver and Nate Berkus on Nate’s TV show.  The book is written in a mash-up style aimed at appealing to 12 year-old kids with messages from Marshall with a “hey, look what I found!” tone, and lots of sidebars and recipes and notes pointing the reader to the website.  This would be a good book for a family to own, especially because of the day-to-day diary for the month with weekly “track your progress” pages.  If your family sticks with it, you will need more than the library’s 3-week loan period!

My third is The I love Trader Joe’s College Cookbook: 150 Cheap and Easy Gourmet Recipes, by Andrea Lynn, 2011.  Good style, good variety of recipes, adventurous for the actual “cook,” but every recipe cites Trader Joe’s ingredients, which I found just a little tedious.  Tuck this one into your college student’s luggage—especially if there is a Trader Joe’s near campus.

We have one more “Farmers’ Market Chef” class at the Glenwood Branch before our winter hiatus.  We’ll be discussing “What can you do with a squash” Saturday, 9/22, 10-11:30am.  Hope you can come.  We always have more fun when there are more people to share their ideas.  We’ll continue to share books and other ideas here at Well & Wise!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch.

Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.


1 Comment

  1. Lucie Pettis

    Interesting article with good recommendations! I’ll read Gordon Ramsay’s book because I watch Hell’s Kitchen. He is brutal on TV, so it would be nice to learn from this brilliant chef in a stress-free way. Thanks, Barbara!