Weekend Reading: Illustrations as Recipes, Homemade English Muffins, and More

A look at what we're reading, cooking, and clicking this week

• Browsing NPR’s website, I stumbled across a post about Picture Cook, a new illustrated cookbook in which the drawings themselves are the recipes [pictured]. Author Katie Shelly explains how the book began: In the mood for Eggplant Parmesan, she called a friend to get the recipe. As her friend dictated, Shelly drew out the steps and ingredients, and later found it far easier to cook from her illustration than a written recipe. Other visual learners may find the same thing. —Cory Baldwin

• In this week’s New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan offers a fascinating look at what scientists are beginning to discover about the ecosystem in our guts—how our diet affects the trillions of microbes that make their home there, and how in turn, those microbes affect our health, appetite, digestion, and possibly even our temperament. —Laura Sant

• I love a good eggs Benedict, but I never would have thought to make my own English muffins until reading Sarah Karnasiewicz’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal “Off Duty” section. Her fear of baking resonated with me (I’m averse to any recipe that requires rising) so her victorious foray into breakfast breads made me feel like I too could become a weekend brunch hero.—Felicia Campbell

• For anyone who has yet to watch Anthony Bourdain’s spectacular new CNN series “Parts Unknown,” spend some time this Sunday watching the first few episodes On Demand. While focused on the same anthropological investigations of the way we eat that made Bourdain’s previous show, the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations,” so wonderful, the new show boasts far higher production values and access to archival news footage that make for an even more engaging program. This review of the show from the Onion’s AV Club nails the beauty of what is surly CNN’s greatest programming decision in quite some time. —Keith Pandolfi

• I was fascinated to learn about how one supermarket chain on the west coast, Ralphs, is combatting the dual problems of America’s food waste and energy overconsumption with a one-two punch: They feed leftover food through an “anaerobic digester” that chews it up and spits out power. The L.A. Times reports on the new path to alternative energy, citing a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council that 40% of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. —Sophie Brickman

• For the past few nights, I’ve been attending a conference hosted by Ballymaloe, a country estate-turned hotel, restaurant, and cooking school in Shannangery, Ireland. The food has been beautiful: fresh ingredients, pulled from the garden or sourced from local producers, that arrive on the plate with unbelievably pure flavors. In 2007, Saveur’s then editor-in-chief Coleman Andres wrote about this place in a profile of Myrtle Allen, the founder of the Ballymoe, which perfectly frames the importance—and energy—of this place. (I saw Myrtle yesterday. She’s nearly 90, and still stirring the pots at Ballymaloe.) —Karen Shimizu