Not Your Momma's Cookbooks (Part 1)

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For someone who doesn't like to cook (and who rarely cooks), I sure own a lot of cookbooks; I love seeing all the different foods that can be made. In my ventures through the cookbook aisles, I've noticed some with less-than-typical main ingredients, cooking methods, and themes. This weekend, I'm sharing with you a sampling of the most unusual—in one way or another—cookbooks out there.

Tonight: strange ingredients, unusual cooking methods, and unlikely author-chefs.

Strange Ingredients

Twinkies
Everyone's favorite little Hostess treats have an official cookbook all their own, filled with recipes sent in by devoted fans. You might have tried deep-fried Twinkies before, but did you ever think to make Twinkie sushi?

Poison
Prof. Ebenezer Murgatroyd's 1951 tome, Cooking to Kill! The Poison Cook-book, includes comic illustrations by Herb Roth alongside recipes intended for "the Ghoul, Cannibal, Witch, and Murderer."

Creepy Crawlies
According to the authors of these cookbooks, bugs are healthy for you because they're full of protein. And you save money because you can find the ingredients for free in your backyard! 1998 must have been the pinnacle of the bug-dining trend, because both The Eat a Bug Cookbook and Creepy Crawly Cuisine came out that year.

Other "Exotic" Ingredients
If you're intrigued by the thought of eating bizarre ingredients but don't want to limit yourself to just bugs, check out Christa Weil's Fierce Food, which includes boiled sheep's head, dried clay, and embryonic duck eggs in addition to your run-of-the-mill insects.

Roadkill
You'd think roadkill wouldn't be a very popular main ingredient, but there are several guides to cooking with animals found by the wayside. B.R. "Buck" Peterson's The Original Road Kill Cookbook is, well, the original.

Unusual Methods

Sans Electricity
Whether your power has gone out due to a hurricane or because it's the apocalypse, you'll still need to eat. Both The Storm Gourmet and Apocalypse Chow! instruct you in the fine art of cooking and dining with no electricity.

On Your Car Engine
Manifold Destiny was first published in 1989 by a photographer and a travel writer. The cult classic, re-released in 1998, tells you how to cook on the go by placing food on your engine block. Diesel Dining was written by a truck driver, who teaches his fellow long-haul truckers how they can still have hot and healthy food without taking long breaks from their routes.

In the Nude
Debbie and Stephen Cornwell have released a whole series of "Cooking in the Nude" books, starting with Playful Gourmets and even including one For Golf Lovers. The cook-in-the-buff recipes, which fall under categories such as "Appeteasers," are "intended for lovers and potential lovers. Excessive use of this book may result in loss of sleep." You won't find many desserts included, though, as the authors expect you'll be too busy with other, ahem, pursuits.

Unlikely Author-Chefs

Coolio
Cookin' with Coolio, which promises "5 Star meals at a 1 Star Price," includes "Ghetto Gourmet" gems such as "Bro-Ghetti" and "Chicken Lettuce Blunts" along with a healthy serving of slang and a side of expletives.

A Serial Killer
Dorothea Puente was charged with killing 9 men in the 1980s, though she was only convicted of killing 3. (She always maintained the men, tenants at her boarding house, died of natural causes.) Shane Bugbee's 2004 cookbook, Cooking with a Serial Killer includes an interview and Puente's prison artwork alongside some 50 recipes.

Heavy Metal Musicians
In 2009, Annick "Morbid Chef" Giroux published Hellbent for Cooking; a year later, Steve Seabury's Mosh Potatoes landed on bookshelves. Both feature recipes by the heavyweights of heavy metal, with backstage stories and liner notes mixed in throughout Mosh Potatoes.

Come back tomorrow evening for part two, featuring cookbooks with special themes and science-y goodness, and Sunday evening, for unique layouts and design.

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September 16, 2011 - 2:30pm
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