I have a weakness for cookbooks.

The colorful pictures, recipes and reliance on fresh ingredients call to me, so much so that nearly every evening you will find me in the kitchen making dinner from scratch. A vegetarian for 19 years, I want to know what’s in my food, and to be able to pronounce its ingredients.

Although I am fond of my own cookbooks, the Joplin Public Library offers an excellent and diverse collection that encompasses multiple cuisines, techniques and special diets. The new cookbooks I’ve highlighted below are just a few of the many you will find on our shelves.

“Easy Chinese Recipes: Family Favorites from Dim Sum to Kung Pao” by Bee Linn Low

“Easy Chinese Recipes” is basic and approachable Ñ perhaps too much so for me. I was hoping to find inspiration within its pages, but I’m afraid that wasn’t the case.

In an attempt to make the recipes simple, I fear the author dumbed them down to the point that more serious cooks won’t bother. It seemed almost everything was made with oyster sauce, soy sauce and chicken bouillon.

What about black bean paste, hoisin sauce and garlic chili paste? These ingredients add depth of flavor, and are available in most stores.  

However, “Easy Chinese Recipes” offers variety for people new to Chinese cooking, from restaurant favorites such as sweet and sour pork to the more exotic salt and pepper squid. And the photos adequately demonstrate the steps required for more labor-intensive dishes like pot stickers or green onion pancakes.

I’m sure many people will get something from this book. It just wasn’t for me.

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