Food & Drink

Our Favorite New Spring Food Books

A chaotic cook, the Herbfarm, food, and feminism

By Naomi Tomky April 17, 2024

Our Favorite New Spring Food Books_16x9

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2024 issue of Seattle magazine.

Spring is the new holiday season, at least when it comes to local authors releasing new food-centric books and cookbooks. This season, they’re raining down on us like cherry blossoms in the UW quad and sprouting up faster than Yakima asparagus. These four were the ones that had us beelining to Book Larder like we were fighting for a picnic table at Golden Gardens on the first sunny Saturday of May.


"Rooted Kitchen" by Ashley Rodriguez


Rooted Kitchen: Seasonal Recipes, Stories, and Ways to Connect with the Natural World

The boundless excitement that author Ashley Rodriguez has for, well, just about everything, ends up as charming as her book is beautiful, even for the most cynical among us (it’s me). Maybe it’s knowing that we still have to survive June gloom to get to summer that makes the multiple odes to peas seem reasonable. Or it’s the boldly colorful, stunning photographs that run with each recipe. Sometimes, you just have to let the woo and optimism wash over you and agree that maple blossoms do arrive just as the music starts to crescendo in the chorus of spring awakening.


Book title: If You Can't Take the Heat" by Geraldine DeRuiter


If You Can’t Take the Heat: Tales of Food, Feminism, and Fury

The second chapter of author Geraldine DeRuiter’s book presents an ode to Red Lobster, tinged with sadness for the lack of them in Seattle. In the 14th chapter, she captures an even bigger hole in the city: “I do not make it to Café Presse before its final service,” she writes. “It felt too painful.” The book is a memoir masquerading as an essay collection. DeRuiter catapulted to internet fame as a blogger, and her best chapters are those that stay true to the genre, taking on serious issues through quippy, self-deprecating, and ultimately very fun personal anecdotes.


Book Title "modern asian kitchen" by Kat Lieu


Modern Asian Kitchen: Essential and Easy Recipes for Ramen, Dumplings, Dim sum, Stir-Fries, Rice Bowls, Pho, Bibimbaps, and More

In the introduction to her second book, Kat Lieu calls herself a chaotic cook, and it is much of what makes her recipes and writing so charming and enticing. A non-chaotic cook wouldn’t have left their job as a doctor of physical therapy to make viral food videos, and they certainly wouldn’t have thought to make pumpkin spice miso udon. The book is entertaining, crosses between cultures (Cantonese, Vietnamese, TikTok) with fluency, and thorough — Lieu doesn’t let cooks get lost as they wrap dumplings for dim sum or build a colorful mountain of halo-halo.


"The spirit of the herbfarm restaurant" by Ron Zimmerman


The Spirit of the Herbfarm Restaurant: A Cookbook and Memoir

This book offers a look inside the mind of a truly innovative local food personality and catalogue of one of Seattle’s most legendary restaurants. When Ron Zimmerman and wife Carrie Van Dyke started the Herbfarm in 1986, farm-to-table was not yet a thing. They built a corner of property in Woodinville into a legendary restaurant through a commitment to local ingredients, traditional techniques, and forward-thinking service. Before his death in 2023, Zimmerman was in the process of collecting the stories and recipes from the restaurant into a book. Van Dyke picked up where he left off. 


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