I was setting up our new streaming TV and movie viewing gadget with all our favorite “apps” – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon – and all voice-activated. “Doctor Who, Season Ten” I spoke in the vicinity of the remote control and voila! We have the Doctor in full HD glory. JimmyChiv is not the biggest technophile in the world and often calls on me to figure that stuff out. As we basked in the glory of this new amazing convenience and all the viewing possibilities at our fingertips and voice command, I said, “What did you do before we found each other again four years ago?” Read books?! We laughed all day about that one.

We do read a lot, too, though, which is why I like to present my Annual Summer Reading Picks for Food and Drink Fans sometime after Memorial Day so you can sit in the backyard or at the beach and enjoy. Some are cookbooks for your summer entertaining. Be sure to go to your local bookshop like Water Street Bookstore in Exeter or RiverRun in Portsmouth to buy them. If they don’t have it, they can order it.

Home cooking

“Pitmaster: Recipes,Techniques and Barbeque Wisdom” by Andy Husbands (Fair Winds Press, March 15, 2017)

This is the BBQ book of the summer. Chef Andy Husbands of the Smoke Shop in Boston gives us tips on smoking, backyard basics and more. Chapters have a guest pitmaster and he even tells us how to smoke a whole hog.

“Black Trumpet: A Chef’s Journey Through Eight New England Seasons” by chef Evan Mallett (Chelsea Green Publishing, October 12, 2016). Four seasons? No, Evan gives us eight so get busy cooking two summers’ worth of delicious food inspired by the farmers, foragers, fishermen and more all over the Seacoast. Then look forward to autumn.

“On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen” by Jeremy Fox (Phaidon Press, April 17, 2017)

Many of you are already vegetarians, but some of us have made dramatic changes in diet recently, me because I married into vegetarianism. While I’m still an omnivore, I’m always looking for ways to make delicious vegetable dishes at home and this book is just the thing. Chef Jeremy Fox uses creative methods to make the most of the textures, flavors and colors of seasonal vegetables.

“Acorns and Cattails: A Modern Foraging Cookbook of Forest, Farm and Field” by Rob Connoley (Skyhorse Publishing, Sept. 20, 2016)

The woods and meadows all over the Seacoast are a bountiful source of delicious food. This book by acclaimed chef Rob Connoley gives us more than 100 recipes using ingredients we can forage, hunt, or grow in the back yard. DIY heaven.

“Shake Shack: Recipes and Stories” by Randy Garutti Clarkson Potter (May 16, 2017)

If you’ve ever been to a Shake Shack, you might have thought, “How can I make this burger at home?!” Well, now you can. Learn the Shake Shack story and get recipes for ShackBurgers, crinkle-cut fries, and their frozen custard shakes to make at home.

“The Egg Shop Cookbook” by Nick Korbee (William Morrow Cookbooks, March 21, 2017)

I was eating an egg salad sandwich last week and JimmyChiv asked what it was. “You mean you just whipped up egg salad, just like that?” Um, yes. We go through about two dozen eggs a week, even more if I’m bringing my famous deviled eggs to a party. This book is a wonder! Demetri Makoulis, Sarah Schneider and chef/partner Nick Korbee opened the Egg Shop in NYC with dishes like crab toast Benedict, yolk and herb fries, and artichoke pesto-deviled eggs. Here, they give us more than 100 of their favorite recipes including their green eggs and ham sandwich with double cream ricotta, Genovese pesto and egg salad.

Summer drinks

“The Poptail Manual: Over 90 Delicious Frozen Cocktails” by Kathie Kordalis (Hardie Grant, May 2, 2017)

Perhaps you’ve noticed that booze is now a big part of things we usually consume as food like ice cream and popsicles. Of course, Jello shots have been around for decades and remember making that watermelon a vodka-laden party fruit? This book has some great recipes for “poptails” which can also be low-test.

“Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki” by Martin and Rebecca Cate (Ten Speed Press, June 7, 2016)

It’s Tiki Time! We have a bar in our back yard we call The Jollity Pavilion, which is decorated with bamboo and wooden tiki figurines. Rum drinks are a big part of our cocktail repertoire and this book has been quite helpful. Martin and Rebecca Cate are the founders and owners of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco, one of the greatest tiki bars in the country. Read about the lore of tiki drinks as well as learn to make tiki and Polynesian cocktails. They even help you stock your liquor cabinet and make your own tiki bar.


“Out of Line: A Life of Playing with Fire” by Barbara Lynch (Atria Books, April 11, 2017)

You wouldn’t know it from her more refined restaurants, No. 9 Park and Menton in Boston, but chef Barbara Lynch grew up in Southie in a tough, poor environment. She never even graduated high school. This memoir tells that story and is an inspiration to all of us as a story of how you can overcome adversity and rise to the top.

“Give a Girl A Knife: A Memoir” by Amy Thielen (Clarkson Potter, May 16, 2017)

Amy Thielen worked with many of the best in NYC – chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, to name a few. In this memoir, she talks a bit about that, but also about how her upbringing in rural Minnesota shaped her culinary talent and approach and what happened when she went back. She now writes about home cooking for radio and magazines, including Saveur, where she’s a contributing editor.

“Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body” by Roxane Gay (Harper, June 13, 2017

This poignant memoir explores issues of emotional eating and overcoming tragedy and trauma while learning to take care of yourself. Feeding hungers for delicious food while eating safely and loving your body are other themes. It’s quite moving.

“The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South” by Michael Twitty (Amistad, Aug. 1, 2017)

This book will be released on Aug. 1 and I’ll write about it more, but I had the great fortune to sit next to Michael Twitty on a plane and we had a fascinating talk. This culinary and cultural historian is the creator of www.Afroculinaria.com, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacy.

In this book, he ”offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry — both black and white — through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.” I can’t wait to get my copy!

— Rachel Forrest is a former restaurant owner who lives in Exeter (and Austin, Texas). She can be reached by email at rachel.forrest@localmediagroupinc.com. Read more of her Dining Out reviews online.