At the Library: Ward off winter chill with comforting cookbooks

I’m not a meteorologist or anything, but I’m pretty sure that winter has decided to make an early and, in my case, decidedly unwelcome appearance.

My friends and I braved the Central Washington State Fair on Saturday, and spent the majority of our time darting from one building to the next to avoid the ice-cold drizzle and the even-colder 150 mph winds.

OK, so maybe it was only 10 mph, but it still felt like being inside a Siberian wind tunnel.

The point is, there was a moment when we were reluctantly leaving the Modern Living Building when we all paused in the doorway to watch tree branches shuddering in the wind and rain.

I immediately backed away from the open door, telling my friends, “I think this is one of those situations when we’re supposed to shelter in place!”

A stranger who was walking behind me laughed.

But I was serious.

Had it been an option, I would have repurposed one of the quilt displays, made a brightly colored cocoon in a corner, and waited for rescue.

Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of winter? I hate being cold; it’s a dislike that comes in at a close second to my bone-deep aversion to shoveling snow.

Honestly, I’m even a bit apprehensive about mentioning snow because, what if Mother Nature hears me and decides we need some frozen sky water?

I’m not ready for that.

Heck, just today I made the horribly miscalculated decision to head to work without a coat, and I’m already eyeing the space underneath my desk like, “If I bend my knees, I wonder if I could create a sleeping nook and just … stay here until spring?”

I’m only half kidding.

Still, I guess, like taxes and the reality that there will probably always be a “new James Patterson novel,” I have to accept the inevitable: Winter is coming.

So, aside from investing in a battery-powered electric blanket and wearing it like a toga until mid-April, I guess this means it’s time for me to go on the offensive and dig out my winter survival kit.

What’s in that kit, you ask?

A mini-heater that lives under my desk, a lap blanket (also for the inclement temperatures typical of the office environment), faux-fur lined boots (a Christmas gift from my parents), a giant mug perfect for

containing a wide variety of warm beverages, and, of course, cookbooks.

Because the one silver lining on the rain cloud that is wintertime is warm, hearty comfort food and the cookbooks dedicated to them.

Here are two I’m reading to get me through the prologue to winter:

“Essential Slow-Cooker Recipes: 103 Fuss-Free Slow Cooker Meals Everyone Will Love,” by Addie Gundry

Gundry, winner of the Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” offers up a cookbook full of family-favorite comfort foods that can be prepared in your slow cooker — think basics like meatloaf, stuffed peppers and meatballs, and elevated recipes for

chicken cordon bleu and homey French onion soup.

“Ramen Otaku: Mastering Ramen at Home,” by Sarah Gavigan with Ann Volkwein

Loosely translated, otaku is a Japanese term for someone who has an obsessive interest in something. Gavigan is otaku for ramen, meaning she geeks out on the robust, versatile and inarguable deliciousness of this traditional Japanese dish.

If you’ve never had true ramen, complete with rich broth, fresh noodles and toppings like sliced pork, nori and scallions, my best advice is, “Get thee to a ramen shop!” But if that’s not an option and you’re an adventurous do-it-yourselfer, check out “Ramen Otaku” to discover — and make — delicious ramen at home.

• Krystal Corbray is programming and marketing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. Learn more at

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