Perfect your cooking with individual ingredients courtesy of Adventure Publications

I see it all the time with different cooking groups I belong to on social media: somebody is gifted a huge quantity of a certain ingredient — maybe zucchinis or apples. Besides the most basic of preparations, what to do? Or someone gets married and moves to a different part of the country. They may never have seen things like rhubarb or a turban squash. How to cook them? What do they taste like? Many people are only familiar with fake syrups and have never sampled pure maple syrup in its many varieties. How to best use the precious product?

Adventure Publications has published a series of cookbooks by Julia Rutland (Apples, Squash, Blueberries, see below) and Corrine Koziak (Rhubarb, Maple Syrup, see below) each devoted to a single ingredient. I was happy to be hosted to experience them!

I say “cookbooks”, but really, they’re so much more. The paperbacks discuss the history of human use of the ingredient, tips for growing, main agricultural varieties, suggested techniques for selecting, storing and cooking.

Squash – 50 Tried & True Recipes goes into the differing methods of cooking summer and winter squash, how to deal with those big monster squashes, even pumpkins.

There are recipes for appetizers, salads, soups, entrees and even desserts. None of the items are super complicated to make, but where the difference lies is the number of ingredients involved.

There are choices for any kind of diet, such as low-carb, vegan, kosher, so the books are indispensable for entertaining.

Some of the especially tempting recipes include Summer Squash Pickles, Pumpkin Hummus, Chilled Curry Zucchini Soup, Double Chocolate Squash Cake.

Apples – 50 Tried & True Recipes really expands your horizons as to how you can use apples. First, you should be bringing the book along with you while grocery shopping, because there are pictures and flavors of the major commercially available varieties in the US (did you know there are probably 7,500 different kinds of apples worldwide?). I know I’m weird in this way — my favorite apple is a very difficult to obtain variety that’s both hard and tart: Black Arkansas. I don’t like apples that are mealy and too sweet, like some sort of apple-sugar water-Cream of Wheat mix.

Besides all the beloved, classic apple dishes and desserts, there are fresh ideas like Apple Cheddar Biscuits, Roasted Apple-Parsnip Soup, Apple Butter Meatballs and Apple Butter Baked Beans.

Maple Syrup – 40 Tried & True Recipes has some real bistro-style ideas, including Maple Syrup-Glazed Bacon garnishing maple-sweetened Bloody Marys, Maple-Soy Glazed Salmon, Cowboy Caviar.

Did you know that maple syrup has always been considered the most “moral” sweetener? It’s vegan and not sugar or molasses, which were associated with the slave trade.

Blueberries – 50 Tried & True Recipes lets you know when it’s best to use fresh, frozen or dried blueberries.

It begins with several jam and marmalade recipes, which will thrill those of you who are into canning. If you find that concept a little scary, there are lots of other ideas, including easy to make cocktails, keto muffins, a couple of recipes mixing blueberry with white chocolate — so that’s a heads-up for a winning combo, a couple of blueberry and soft cheese recipes, plus one that’s on my to-do list for summer: Blueberry, Lobster & Corn Salad!

Rhubarb – 50 Tried & True Recipes piqued my interest as a city girl: I think people in rural areas are more familiar with the stalk that’s a fruit. Did you know rhubarb is the only fruit that grows in the Faroe Islands? Well, they have climate, daylight and soil depth issues.

Besides lots of crumbles, crisps, pies and fruit breads, there’s Rhubarb Ketchup, Rhubarb Meat Pie and a recipe for Rhubarb Daiquiri!

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