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Cooking the Books 

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A couple of interesting cookbooks by local authors have been released recently, and both are well worth picking up. Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings, by Michelle Anna Jordan, takes on the deceptively difficult task of making one's own salad-topping potions. (If I'm going to eat a salad, it better have a damn good dressing; I don't want any of that squeeze-bottle crap.) Especially tempting is a dressing called Mina's Tears, an absinthe, honeydew and cucumber dressing.

Snacks, by Marcy Smothers (yes, Tommy's wife), offers a peek into a cooking enthusiast's—not a professional's—thoughts on food. What makes this work is the rapport immediately established with the reader. Smothers, who once hosted a cooking talk show on KSRO, is a home cook, and she correctly assumes the reader is, too. The result is a practical book of tips and easy recipes that don't talk down to home cooks but do bring fun tidbits and trivia. "What can a camel teach you about grilled cheese?" asks one of the chapters. The answer is a type of mnemonic device; camels live in the desert, and grilled cheese should be kept dry, with butter spread on the bread instead of melted in the pan. See? Cooking is fun.

Jordan appears on Saturday, June 15, at the Petaluma Library (100 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma; 11am; free; 707.763.9801) while Smothers appears Wednesday, June 12, at Copperfield's Books (775 Village Court, Santa Rosa; 7pm; free; 707.578.8938).

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