We all know Sarah Michelle Gellar for her empowering performance as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Gellar even contributed to early 2000s teen flicks in “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and probably peaked in cinema as Kathryn Marteuil in “Cruel Intentions.” But what happens when you put this prolific badass in the kitchen, and she writes a cookbook? Pure magic.
From a young age, I have been obsessed with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” The title heroine was everything I could’ve asked for: fierce, independent and, most importantly, human. The show doesn’t hide the fact that Buffy is a teenager — a teenager with very real problems. Now our heroine has a family, and her issues have evolved from the undead to the uncooked. As a mother, Gellar continues to slay recipes as well as she did vampires.
A slayer turned mother, Gellar has found the importance of family in cooking and sharing meals, putting together a collection of over 115 recipes titled “Stirring Up Fun with Food.” Gellar wrote in the introduction, “Mealtimes have always been when I ‘unplug’ for a bit and engage in real, honest connections. Once I had kids, this experience became even more important.” She sets the book in the context of involving her kids in cooking, using creative methods to make the process fun and inviting for them. In describing her creativity in the kitchen Gellar asks, “Isn’t it more fun to eat food out of a jar?” The answer is a resounding yes, for kids and pseudo-adults (college-aged people) alike.
To test out how college-budget and kitchen-friendly her recipes were, I attempted the Truffle Parmesan Risotto and Asparagus Fries with fellow Buffy fanatics and editors Madeleine Gaudin and Carly Snider. This was my first undertaking of any type of risotto or baked vegetable — and possibly Carly’s first time in a kitchen — and the outcome was more than affordable, manageable and satisfactory.
Total prep and cook time was approximately 45 minutes, which was perfectly reasonable for the busy college student. And the result was simply delicious. The asparagus fries were crunchy, tasty and guilt-free; the risotto turned out creamy and satisfactory and could’ve only been improved with the addition of some grilled chicken.
Better yet, the ingredients list wasn’t overly complicated. Having had most of the necessary ingredients, we only had to purchase the asparagus, rice, buttermilk and cheese. It also made a hefty portion of food, completely feeding four college students and leaving plenty as leftovers. The most important takeaway from our time in the kitchen is that kid-friendly recipes also equal college-friendly recipes — apparently, our parents were right about us still being kids all along.
The book is cleverly sectioned into the months of the year, with recipes suited for seasonal tastes. The beginning of each section features a couple paragraphs about the month and Gellar’s personal culinary highlights that directly address the time of year. She writes that June is “time to loosen up, relax, kick off your shoes, and get a little sand between your toes. Eating outdoors is the rule rather than the exception, and every meal feels like a celebration of the season’s bounty.” She does a fantastic job contextualizing her recipes, adding a personal touch that goes a long way with motivating the reader to replicate her craft.
Even more exciting is her inclusion of “Star Wars Day” (May 4th) and Shark Week recipes in their respective months, making fun treats with creative presentations. Gellar notes that the recipes are personally connected to her family: “What other kids can say their mom and dad were voices in a ‘Star Wars’ series?” From Chewbacca-shaped cookies to “Shark Fin Parfaits,” Gellar’s creativity shines brightly in these subtle inclusions. She doesn’t stop there, including a section for school nights in her September chapter and the summer solstice in June, appealing to parents who might want fun culinary ideas for any holiday or time of the year.
By including a wide array of manageable recipes, Gellar has produced a cookbook not only appealing to actual kids, but also to college-aged kids on a budget. Equally as adept at slaying vampires as she is producing delicious meals in the kitchen, Gellar’s “Stirring Up Fun with Food” makes a fantastic addition to any home.