Now that spring has finally – sort of – arrived, my mind is turning to farmers markets and my gardening skills, which are pretty much limited to growing ridiculous amounts of basil, along with less ridiculous amounts of parsley, mint, chives, oregano and lavender. I love fresh, local produce, so my cookbook addiction has again reared its hungry head as I seek new culinary inspiration. Lately I’ve been savoring volumes from my own collection, as well as new titles the Joplin Public Library has recently added to its own. A handful of them are represented below.

Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

Bastianich is a long-time restaurateur, cookbook author and PBS cooking show host. Here, her focus is not just on recipes, but on education. The photographs are gorgeous — colorful, glossy, hunger-inducing — and the recipes varied and accessible. But the family stories and helpful hints, from how to choose the right tomatoes for a salad, to which sauces go best with which pastas, make this cookbook an enjoyable experience for novice cooks and more experienced ones alike.

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