Cookin’ with Cookbooks
By Sue Frause

I admit to Googling recipes when I’m in a rush and have no time to peruse my cookbook library. Granted, it’s not quite as extensive and impressive as the collection of my chef friend Marty Fernandez, who has more than 400 old and new titles. But the four open shelves in our kitchen, jammed with colorful books in all shapes and sizes, is somehow comforting. Plus, when that novel proves to be a no-reader, I can always grab a cookbook for some gastronomic relief.

According to the Joy of Baking website,, the first cookbooks were written by chefs for chefs (and recipes were once known as receipts). I have a number of chef’s titles: The Escoffier Cookbook; Cooking with Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey; John Sarich’s Food & Wine of the Pacific Northwest; Beard on Pasta; Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook; Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking; Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen; Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques; and Rover’s: Recipes from Seattle’s Chef in the Hat.

My husband, who is the main cook in our house, has mastered many of the recipes including Bourdain’s Les Halles Fries and Boeuf Bourguignon. One of my favorite recipes is John Sarich’s Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauvignon and Juniper Berry Sauce.

It’s a growing trend for restaurants and inns to publish cookbooks. Two of my restaurant cookbooks hail from Washington state’s Long Beach Peninsula: Shoalwater Restaurant and The Ark. Sadly, both restaurants are now closed, but their cuisine lives on through their recipes. One of my favorite cookbooks is from a bakery in Washington’s San Juan Islands, With Love & Butter: Favorite Recipes from Holly B’s Bakery on Lopez Island. Both a cookbook and memoir, with linoleum-block prints throughout, it includes recipes from the bakery along with other tasty treats.

Three members of the Top Table Restaurant Group in British Columbia have come out with cookbooks: Vancouver’s Blue Water Cafe and West, along with Araxi in Whistler. Araxi: Seasonal Recipes from the Celebrated Whistler Restaurant was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award in the From a Professional Point of View category. Momofuku, by David Chang and Peter Meehan and The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute with Judith Choate were also nominated. The FCI took home the award.

Inns are also sharing their recipes with their guests and food lovers. Some 20 years ago I received one of the popular books in Karen Brown’s Country Inn Series from a friend: European Country Cuisine-Romantic Inns & Recipes. Although I’ve never made anything from it, I use it for a resource of places to stay across the pond. One of the most spattered and stained books in my collection is the Alice Bay Cookbook,  from Alice Bay Bed & Breakfast, located on Samish Island in Washington’s Skagit Valley ( With blackberries coming on strong on our Whidbey Island mini-farm, I’ll soon be making Julie Wilkinson Rousseau’s Blackberry Cobbler. I also enjoy her breakfast treats, soups and cookies (many with a Scandinavian flair).

Donna Leahy, an accomplished chef and friend, authored Recipe for a Country Inn: Fine Food from the Inn at Twin Linden. Donna and her husband Bob are the former owners and innkeepers of the luxurious Lancaster County, Pennsylvania B&B. And yet another friend, Sylvia Main of Victoria, BC’s, Fairholme Manor on Vancouver Island, enlisted me to edit her cookbook ( Now in its second printing, Fabulous Fairholme: Breakfasts & Brunches is my go-to breaky and brunch cookbook. The Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Fairholme’s Berry Muffins are two of my favorites.

So, no surprise that the cookbook bug has recently bitten me. Each Sunday in my Whidbey Island Life blog,, I post a recipe in a series titled Cookin’ With Farmer Bob.  One of these years I’ll compile them and put them into a book.

Bon Appetit