5 Recipes That Are Keepers

2 home cooks share their secrets to success and happiness in the kitchen
Christopher Testani

'Keepers' offers recipes and cooking advice that you'll want to keep for life.

People share their coveted recipes all of the time. Your colleague might have a great casserole recipe that they found in Cooking Light magazine years ago, and your next door neighbor will tell you that she swears by her mother-in-law’s tomato sauce. One of the greatest things about cooking is how it not only brings you pleasure because of the food you eat and the people you feed, but it can also be satisfying when you share some of your best cooking secrets, too.

Click here to see 5 Recipes That Are Keepers (Slideshow)

Two food writers and home cooks know of this satisfaction, but also felt like something was missing in that community of cooks exchanging advice and recipes. After parting ways as colleagues at Saveur magazine in New York City and moving to the suburbs, Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion found that there was a huge disconnect between the buzzy culinary culture that was a part of their daily lives and deskside conversations and the real world.

"It became more apparent how few people are cooking," said Brennan after they moved from an urban area to their current hometowns, and they wondered why there wasn’t more of a connection between the cooking cultures they came from and the one they moved to.

Keepers, released late last month, is their solution to the problem, where they give "deceptively simple [pieces of advice]," says Campion, to encourage more people to get into the kitchen and start cooking home-cooked meals. The recipes and tips that they share aren’t just their best secrets, but they’re ones that put the end user’s life in context, too. Kids’ busy schedules, husbands coming home late from work, or a practically never stocked pantry stand in the way of getting people to turn on the stove, and Campion and Brennan hope that this book changes all of that.

Along with pantry-stocking tips, weekly meal-planning guides, and essential tool checklists, they share recipes, which are, with no surprise because of the title of the book, keepers. These recipes are trusted family and personal recipes, infused with years of experience working in the culinary industry — and later the motherhood industry, too. They’re not just delicious, but they’re also tested and proved to be easy and indispensable dishes for you to add to your recipe box, making them perfect for a weeknight meal. From "a-ha recipes," which Campion uses to describe the fish fingers because it got her kids to finally eat seafood, to ones that demonstrate how easy international cuisine can be, like Brennan’s mother’s Japanese Meat and Potatoes, these recipes give you confidence when stepping into the kitchen.

The best part of their collection of recipes became apparent when talking to Campion and Brennan about how they went about creating the book. They’re not just telling you that they’re mothers and cooks so you can trust their practical advice — they actually did the leg work. They crowd-sourced close friends and family about what kinds of recipes they’d like to see, and exchanged each other’s recipes to test, ensuring that this book comes without all of the fluff that many cookbooks can have. "You don’t put pepper in your pesto?" was something Brennan asked Campion during testing, which only demonstrates that just because your neighbor is willing to give you her mother-in-law’s tomato sauce recipe, doesn’t mean it’s a keeper, because simple steps like seasoning pesto with pepper come as second nature to that cook, and they might not think to include it in the recipe (Campion's pesto recipe does have pepper in it, and it can be found in the book).

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This collection of recipes and fruitful cooking advice is a keeper, and you’ll be happy that Brennan and Campion shared some of their coveted secrets with you.