Cookbook season returns

Baking season is closer than it seems. I know this because I have already received reminders about annual Christmas cookie or cheesecake baking. But I don’t mind. I love puttering around in the kitchen, and sharing recipes and techniques with others. Just today, a reporter was talking to me about expanding his grocery shopping — mangoes, asparagus, artichokes, quinoa, star fruit … it wasn’t your standard bread and milk.

When I asked him whether he had any idea how to prepare some of those foods, he admitted he did not. So I gave him a quick rundown, because I really enjoy helping people learn how to explore new foods, or find new ways to prepare old favorites.

That might be why I like cookbook season so much. (And yes, cookbook season is as real around here as football season). It is a lot of fun to see what is happening in the kitchens around the Mid-Ohio Valley and pick up new ideas.

I have to say, though, cookbook season is a little slower than we’d like, so far. It worries us to consider not having enough entries in a category to award all our prizes.

My reporter, as he was discussing grocery story adventures, also noted his daughter has been experimenting a lot in the kitchen lately. Do the rest of you have sons and daughters who are quickly becoming accomplished in the kitchen? Encourage them to send in recipes. I would love to see men and women of all ages participating and knocking our socks off this year. (Not that I don’t look forward each year to all of our regulars. Some of those women could give the Food Network crew a run for their money.)

Dig through your recipe books — everyone — and find a few treasures to share with us. The deadline is Monday, Sept. 11; don’t wait!

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Once we’ve collected all the recipes and sorted out those to be included in our annual tasting party, the real fun begins (for us, anyway). This year, we have switched locations for the tasting party, and I have to thank Tall Oaks Event Center for hosting us. I am very much looking forward to sampling all the recipes in that gorgeous space. The event coordinator teased us that we would be blown away by her decorating of the place, as Halloween is her favorite time of year, and the tasting party will be Oct. 25. I can’t wait. She sounded as excited as we are.

It’s a bit of a relief to be able to focus on the food.

There are other new twists this year, including a chance for category winners to have their dishes presented onstage by Chef Chad Winebrenner during the newspaper’s Taste of the Valley event, later in the fall.

If the tasting party is our version of the playoffs, then Taste of the Valley is going to be our Super Bowl. I can’t wait.

Get cooking, folks. Get the next generation involved, share your masterpieces and get excited about the great food and ideas we will bring to you this fall. It’s going to be delicious.

Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at cmyer@newsandsentinel.com

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