When I was back at school unpacking after Fall break during my senior year of college, my best friend Beth came in our room gleefully clutching this old-school marriage book she'd unearthed in her parents' house. It was formidably, amusingly titled Cana Is Forever (or maybe it's just amusing to me, since I have so many fond memories of it). Along with your standard Catholic marriage prep topics like prayer, children, and money, this little gem also included words of wisdom like "cook him a real he-man meal (don't make him diet because you are on one)," "don't kiss him when you have on fresh makeup," and "never say her hat is crazy; praise her for her unusual headgear." I'm making fun of it, but there really was some solid, holy advice there beneath the 50s housewife trappings. If you're interested, I found a copy here in EWTN's online library!
But Cana Is Forever is not the book I want to tell you about this week. Instead, I want to share my very favorite cookbook with you! Even if you don't need to take a bath and put makeup on before your husband gets home from work anymore, for practical reasons alone it's nice to prepare yourself culinarily for marriage. I love to cook and have had so much fun making meals for Andrew in the last year or so, even when he fake-complains (okay, real-complains) about eating things like kale.
Anyway, Mad Hungry is, to me, the perfect book for beginners as well as more experienced cooks. Lucinda Scala Quinn's approach to meals is yummy and simple: fresh, whole ingredients used to make everything from scratch in an uncomplicated way. In her eyes, feeding your family is an act of love, a way to create so many special memories around the table, and an opportunity to teach them how satisfying cooking can be. She practices awesome thrift (she suggests only buying whole chickens, for instance, and cutting them into pieces yourself, then using the bones for stock, which saves money and doesn't let anything go to waste). She includes both basics (cornbread, marinara sauce, blueberry muffins) and more adventurous worldly fare (Malysian noodle bowls, chili made with real chile peppers, Mediterranean tabbouleh salad). And, she really shows that meals from scratch are healthier and hardly more difficult to make than their processed equivalents. I'm so in love. What's more, the book includes a super helpful list of good-to-have kitchen supplies, which is far shorter than what registry people in department stores would have you believe, and is sprinkled with little tips about getting the most out of specific ingredients and engaging your family as you prepare meals. The recipes are written like a conversation rather than a science experiment, which makes them so easy to follow, and the killer stories introducing each one are the icing on the cake. I think it's the perfect gift for brides-to-be!
Now. Since I love reading cookbooks so much (I seriously sit and read my cookbooks sometimes!), tell me: which ones are your favorites?