When the cookbook Ripe arrived on our doorstep a few weeks ago for us to review, it was, of course, automatically endeared to us because its author, Cheryl Sternman Rule, has been a contributing member of the TasteSpotting community for years with her blog 5SecondRule…
And once we opened Ripe, we fell in love, of course, with the format. The book is organized, not by course, not by season, but in a way that someone with an eye for aesthetics might layout a book, by color.
Is that something new in cookbooks? Innovative? Not necessarily, because we have seen a few books (and even our own Eating Rainbow series?!) focused on color, but from a very narrow, “colorful fruits and vegetables are healthy!” viewpoint. Ripe doesn’t do that — sure the message of health and nutrition is implicit there — the book just honors the delicious beauty of fruits and vegetables through their colors.
But perhaps the “thing” that really put us over for this cookbook is not one of the things that people usually fall all over themselves for. Paulette’s photos are bright. Cheryl’s words, true to her style, are gentle, funny, poetic. The recipes, one recipe per fruit or vegetable, are interesting and not-too-complicated. No, the “thing” that we have attached ourselves to is the small list at the beginning of each recipe of “Simple Uses for …” ; each fruit or vegetable combined with nothing more than a three or four other ingredients.
Red raspberries with vinegar, olive oil and shallots for a dressing. Orange carrots with butter, maple syrup and coriander for a simple sauté. Yellow corn, roasted, with jack cheese, red pepper, salsa, and tortillas for a quesadilla.
And a suggestion we more than considered today, green avocado with olive oil, lime juice and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.
As we sat at the table scooping out the avocado straight from its peel with a small spoon, I flipped through the pages of Ripe for like, the 100th time. And then I realized, even with full recipes for thing like Chocolate-flecked Banana Pancakes, Warm Fava Couscous, and Wine Braised Artichokes with Feta and Orecchiette Pasta, Ripe is not really a cookbook. (I mean, it is, but…)
It is an inspirationbook. A foodbook. An eatbook.