Sometimes I felt like this day would never arrive. After a few years of collecting recipe ideas, the summer of 2015 spent recipe testing, months of writing,...Read More
Danielle Walker’s Celebrations Cookbook
I’m all about Well Fed Weeknights right now, but this is the season when everyone releases their new books, so I’m going to highlight some of the awesome new options in the paleo world. Today, I’m sharing a look inside Danielle Walker’s new holiday-themed cookbook Celebrations.
This pretty, hard cover, coffee table book is the opposite of Well Fed Weeknights—in a good way. My book is your friendly, everyday companion, helping you get food on the table after a long day of being awesome you. Celebrations is your more glam friend who’s here to make sure your special occasions are, well… special.
Arranged by holiday, Celebrations provides full menus and cocktails (!) for occasions including Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and Halloween, as well as the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s Eve trifecta you’d expect in a holiday book. The order of the chapters cleverly follows the calendar, so you start with New Year’s Eve, travel through time to the Fourth of July, and wrap it up with Christmas.
Because this a special occasion cookbook, some of the recipes do include a fair amount of sugar, some alcohol, and goat cheese. If you’re doing a Whole30, there are recipes that will work for you, but the emphasis of this book is celebration, not elimination. Having said that, many recipes are very “clean” or can easily be modified. For example, you could enjoy a bounteous Thanksgiving dinner with the roasted garlic mash cauliflower, green bean casserole with crispy shallots, roasted brussels sprouts with bacon jam, and brined and roasted turkey, even if you follow a stricter approach. My only complaint about the recipes is that they don’t include estimates for prep and cooking time (but maybe that’s because I’ve been a crazy-person, racing against the clock for the last two years, testing recipes for Well Fed Weeknights.)
But Danielle includes other tips and tricks that make the book super helpful when you’re staring down the hosting duties of a festive occasion. The beginning of the book includes handy entertainment tips that make hosting more manageable. Many recipes indicate elements that can be made ahead of time which helps to minimize panic on party day, and Danielle’s “tidbits” are handy variations and substitutions you can make to the recipes.
The book is a visual treat, specially if you like pics of adorable kids in holiday outfits. It’s packed with inviting, full-page photos so you can visualize your perfect holiday table. I can imagine that flipping through this book leading up to any holiday would really put you in the mood.
Everyone knows, however, that the real proof of a cookbook is in its recipes. And since we’ve been eating mostly Whole30-style throughout the production of Well Fed Weeknights, we opted to test a treat from Celebrations: Sunbutter Buckeyes from the Christmas chapter.
I couldn’t resist them for two reasons: (1) Sunbutter; and (2) Roller Derby.
When I went on my book tour for Rollergirl: Totally True Tales From The Track in 2007, Dave and I traveled through the mid-west, visiting rollergirls in their natural habitat of dive bars and roller skating rinks. At our stop in Cleveland, Ohio (Hello, Burning River Roller Derby!), one of the girls gifted us a tin of homemade buckeyes. I have a vivid sense memory of the way we had to wiggle the the tin lid just so to remove it. And then the crinkle of the wax paper inside. Crinkly wax paper is almost always the harbinger of delicious homemade treats! When we opened the folds of paper, the most luscious aromas of chocolate and peanut butter wafted out. And, as Dave pointed out as we were recently reminisced about those buckeyes, there’s nothing like a smoky bar, badass babes, and the gift of homemade candy to make a memory!
These Sunbutter buckeyes are also super delicious. No smoky bar or elbow pads required.
I opted for the simple variation of using melted dark chocolate (Green & Black’s 85% dark chocolate) instead of homemade, and they were a snap to make. I just mixed Sunbutter with a few other pantry ingredients, dunked the balls in melted chocolate, chilled them in the fridge, and popped one in my mouth.
Actually for what it’s worth, Dave and I each ate two with dinner, then shared the rest with neighbors. Treats always taste best when you share them with people you like.