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Ralph’s Reads: Cookbooks for the Age of Social Distancing

Ralph Stayer mixes it up from the standard rotation of fiction and nonfiction recommendations to offer three virtually foolproof cookbooks.

BY April 2, 2020
Photo By Brian Tietz

Just yesterday, the Florida governor told us we’d have to stay at home for the next 30 days, in a stricter attempt to flatten the curve on this coronavirus pandemic. The order states that we should only leave the house for essentials, like stocking up on supplies or getting medical attention.

Though we can still order takeout from our favorite restaurants (and we definitely should do so to ensure our local businesses health), we know we’ll also be having to do a lot more cooking at home. That’s not easy for those of us who are used to going out to eat on the daily. So, this week, instead of providing uplifting books like he did in weeks one and two, our resident book guru, Ralph Stayer, decided to recommend cookbooks for the kitchen-challenged: “If you are an excellent cook making and eating almost every meal at home, these suggestions are not for you. These are for the vast majority of us who can use whatever help we can get in the kitchen. Here are three books that will help you on your journey to your social distancing 15 (extra pounds).”

“The Can’t Cook Book” by Jessica Seinfeld: “This book is filled with easy meals that anyone can make. It is simple food but very tasty. Each recipe tells exactly how long it will take to prepare.  The ingredients for most recipes are things that you probably have in your kitchen already or are easy to get at any store.  Try it.  You may like it and even cook more often after this pandemic is over.” Photo courtesy Simon & Schuster

“The Food Truck Cookbook” by John T. Edge: “I miss food trucks. My son, Jon, operated four different ones in Dallas until he sold them several years ago. The creativity of the cuisine on food trucks is outstanding. We have a food truck park on Bayshore here in Naples that we loved but it is closed until restaurants reopen. If you miss them as much as we do, you will want to get ‘The Food Truck Cookbook’ by John T. Edge. It’s chock-full of interesting eating ideas from food trucks around the country.” Photo courtesy Workman Publishing Company

“The Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes” by Betty Crocker Kitchens: “Is a bit of nostalgia welling up within you as you wander around your home day after day? We find ourselves talking about fond memories far more often than we had been. We are hearing from friends that they are baking bread for the first time in years or perhaps the first time ever. I can’t think of a better way to conjure up happy thoughts than making cupcakes. The Betty Crocker Big Book of Cupcakes has over 175 recipes that will warm your heart and your taste buds.” Photo courtesy Betty Crocker


Have comments on these titles or ideas for anything else he should read? Email Ralph at

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