COOKBOOK REVIEW: Great meals, with psychosocial benefits

"Steamed: A Catharsis Cookbook for Getting Your Feelings on the Table" by Rachel Levin and Tara Duggan (Running Press, $20)
"Steamed: A Catharsis Cookbook for Getting Your Feelings on the Table" by Rachel Levin and Tara Duggan (Running Press, $20)

“Steamed: A Catharsis Cookbook for Getting Dinner and Your Feelings on the Table” by Rachel Levin and Tara Duggan (Running Press, $20)

Those of us who love to cook often think of the kitchen as our happy place.

We also know it as a safe place for expressing other emotions apart from the judgment of others: frustration, existential crisis, rage, despair. Food journalists Rachel Levin and Tara Duggan can relate. “As Corona Quarantine taught us all too well, (the kitchen) is where we find ourselves, even at our worst,” they write in the introduction to “Steamed: A Catharsis Cookbook for Getting Dinner and Your Feelings on the Table” (Running Press, $20).

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They’ve pooled their wit, wisdom and culinary skills to come up with 50 simple and appealing recipes for this entertaining little antidote for what ails you “dedicated to everyone who cooked their way through 2020 — and beyond.”

Part 1 focuses on anger management, with recipes that employ “handy kitchen weapons” such as a mallet (Pummeled Pork Tonkatsu), kitchen shears (Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken), and skewers (Speared Swordfish with Vegetable Kebabs).

Part 2 assures you that it’s all right to cry, with concoctions heavy on tear-inducing ingredients like onions (Cry-it-Out Alsatian Tart), horseradish (Wailing Wasabi Tuna Bowls), and chiles (Red-Eyed Jalapeno Pickled-Topped Steak Tacos).

Part 3 poses culinary alternatives to spa treatments. Stir your way into “a state of Marianne Williamson calm” with Peace Out Pot O’ Pintos, explore the meditative powers of twirling dough with Pulled Margherita Pizza, or bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies with cannabis butter.

If none of these options offer quite the form of escape you’re after, just read about them and give yourself a chuckle. Laughter’s supposed to be pretty good medicine, too.

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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