Happy June-uary! (Actually, I don’t mind the return of the Seattle rain so much…it’s good for my vegetable garden! And more sunny is right around the corner.) For this month’s cookbook challenge I decided to go with local cookbook authors. That’s mostly because I knew right off what my first pick would be, and I had to form a theme around him, naturally.

Back in April, as part of the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference, I participated in a daylong workshop sponsored by the Washington State Dairy Council. It started with a fabulous tour of Cherry Valley Dairy in Duvall and ended with an an afternoon of cheese tasting and learning to make ricotta with Chef Jamie Callison at 21 Acres in Woodinville. (We also had a salad and crostini making contest and, not to brag, but Chef Callison judged my crostini topping flavor combinations the best.)

Not being able to help myself, I promptly ordered Callison’s cookbook, The Crimson Spoon: Plating Regional Cuisine on the Palouse. (Seriously, I ordered it from my iPhone while sitting on the tour bus.) Callison is Executive Chef and culinary instructor at the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management, which is located in a part of eastern Washington known as the Palouse (in case you didn’t know that). Callison is not only a skilled chef, but he is a nice man and knows his way around making preserves. His student helpers were fantastic, too, which is a testament to both the WSU program and to Callison himself.

Next up is a book that I have already cooked from (the Perfect Roast Chicken recipe is foolproof), but haven’t cooked from enough, Amy Pennington’s Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable and Seasonal Kitchen. There are plenty of simple and tasty-looking recipes in this slim volume, and I hope to test my way through several of them. I had the opportunity to meet Pennington at a food event last fall, and this is a woman who deeply cares about food.

Finally, I selected Greg Atkinson’s West Coast Cooking. I had a fair selection of local cookbooks to choose from, but I distinctly remember the day I was browsing through this cookbook in the bookstore and thought, “I want to make this…and this…and this!” Yet so far I have cooked nothing from it. What is wrong with me? What ever it is, I am to fix the problem this month.

And…a gratuitous calf photo from Cherry Valley Dairy. Yes, that is a calf licking my calf: