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I finally got around to starting my summer reading list. Two Idaho books that I’ve really been looking forward to diving into both involve interactive cooking elements. If you’ve been meaning to shake up your menu, these are two books to check out.

The Chef Within: Breakfast Edition

“The Chef Within: Breakfast Edition” covers, unsurprisingly, breakfast food. The book is separated into easy to use sections: eggs, pancakes & waffles, french toast and crepes, pastries, hot cereals and side dishes. The format is approachable and reader-friendly.

“The Chef Within” was written by Joyce Doughty. Doughty was the chef/owner of Doughty’s Bistro in downtown Boise as well as the host of “Food for Thought” on Boise State Public Radio. She compiled years of experience into this cookbook.

Doughty encourages the reader to not rely too much on her recipes, with a wide margin for notes on the side of each page. The notes section might be my favorite part of the book. I was thrilled at the prospect of making the book and the recipes my own. “The Chef Within: Breakfast Edition” doesn’t seem like the final stage for cooking. Rather, it’s the launch pad. It aims for the reader to experiment with recipes and finds what works for them.

Master chefs probably don’t have a lot to gain from this book. This book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to improve in the kitchen.

You can pick up the book up

Foraging Idaho

My knowledge of plants is elementary at best.

Luckily, “Foraging Idaho” is here to awaken the inner botanist in me — and you too.

“Foraging Idaho” covers plants that can be used primarily for food and are common in Idaho. Don’t expect to find any plants that can easily be confused with something poisonous or any endangered plants in here. The books main goal is to help readers find, identify and prepare edible wild foods.

The book covers every region of Idaho, from the Panhandle region in the north to the Magic Valley region in the south. There is a handy map in the front of the book.

Christopher Nyerges is the writer of “Foraging Idaho.” Nyerges has authored “Foraging Washington,” “Foraging Oregon” and “Foraging California.” He is the co-founder of the School of Self-Reliance an organization, dedicated to bringing people back to their roots and going back to nature.

“Foraging Idaho” is nearly 300 pages of pictures and descriptions of plants. Each plant gets an in-depth guide detailing the best time of year to find the plants, how common they are and more.

The book has helpful tools throughout, like a five-inch ruler on the back, some recipes and a nutritional composition chart that keeps track of the calories, protein and sodium in each of the wild foods.

My biggest complaint with “Foraging Idaho” is some vagueness with where the plants are. In the front of the book, there is a map of Idaho with each region labeled. Using that map with each plant would’ve helped with readers understand better where to find the plants.

It goes without saying that if you aren’t interested in searching for wild vegetables and fruits, this book isn’t for you. The subject is niche and if you aren’t going to pursue looking for the wild foods listed, there is no need to pick it up. But if you are the adventurous type and have been looking for a creative way to make a meal, this book is worth perusing. If nothing else, it’s an excellent excuse to explore more of Idaho.

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