Saturday, October 5, 2013

Welcome our special Saturday guest, Christine Myskowski from Salt & Pepper Books

Please welcome our special Saturday guest, Christine Myskowski. She is the owner and manager of Salt and Pepper Books in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. [Note: name has an ampersand, but blogger doesn't like that symbol for some odd reason!]


It’s been almost seven years, but I still sometimes stop and think, “I own a cookbook store… how did this happen?”  The short version is that after leaving a career in the financial industry, I decided to turn my hobby of collecting cookbooks into a business.  The learning curve was steep because I had no small business, retail, or bookstore experience.  The money was an issue because I had only a very tiny budget.  And the progress was slow because the store opened a month before the recession began.
Salt and Pepper Books' new location

But there were angels along the way (they know who they are) and a steady stream of loyal and supportive customers, many of whom have become good friends.  I was also lucky to have opened in the quaint town of Occoquan, Virginia. 

View of the Potomac River from our front door
It was the ideal place for a small bookstore and the town welcomed it with open arms.  This summer, however, we said goodbye to Occoquan after a bittersweet decision to accept an invitation from the National Harbor.

We now have three times the square footage as the original space, including room to build a kitchen for the cooking classes I’ve been talking about for the past four years.  Thanks to an amazing staff and an army of family and friends, we were able to set up the new space quickly.  I can’t wait to finish the kitchen so that we can start scheduling the classes!

In the meantime, we have a makeshift break room kitchen where I test the recipes for our newsletter.  The “kitchen” includes only a small refrigerator, toaster oven, microwave, blender, and a slow cooker.  The only “counter” space is a small round kitchen table so prep work can sometimes be a challenge.  A couple of weeks ago though, my cooking options were greatly expanded thanks to a gift of an electric wok (which works for way more than just stir-fry dishes).  Simply plug in and go!  I normally make this soup at home in a Dutch oven, but the wok worked just as well.

Curried Carrot Soup

3 tablespoons Canola oil
1 tablespoon Curry powder
2 teaspoons Tumeric
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
2 pounds Carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
6 stalks Celery, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 medium Onion, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
6 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
6 cups Vegetable stock
Juice of 1 small Lemon
1 to 2 cups Water, if necessary

Combine oil, curry powder, turmeric and salt in a Dutch oven over medium high heat and cook for 1 minute. 

Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and toss to coat evenly with the flavored oil.

 Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.  Stir in the vegetable broth and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  (You can test this by mashing a piece of carrot with a fork.)

Reduce heat to low and use a stick blender to puree soup.  Alternatively you can puree the soup in small batches in a blender (return soup to pot and heat through afterwards).  Stir in the lemon juice and water, if necessary.

Serves 6.

Salt and Pepper Books (it uses an ampersand...but blogger doesn't like that symbol) is an independent bookstore in beautiful National Harbor, Maryland.  We love all things food and cooking!  We have a large selection of cookbooks, including books on kitchen basics, baking, soups, vegetarian meals, gluten-free recipes, international cuisines, and more.  We also carry many food writing titles and a growing inventory of culinary mysteries.  The store also features an ever-changing variety of kitchen gifts from aprons to recipe cards to pepper mills.  Please stop in and take a look where there's a book for every cook!

Salt and Pepper Books
171 American Way
National Harbor, MD 20745
(301) 839-1849


  1. So glad to have you here Christine--can't wait to visit the new store!

  2. Thank you for the soup recipe. So glad I found your blog.

  3. What a beautifully presented and delicious-looking recipe! Thanks for that, Christine. I loved visiting Salt and Pepper and really look forward to seeing the new location.

    So glad you could visit us here at MLK!

    MJ (aka Victoria Abbott)

  4. Welcome, Christine! And thank you for feeding my cookbook habit over the past few years, and for all the fun cookware toys and gadgets too. I can't wait to see your new place!

    This recipe sounds perfect for chilly fall-winter days.

  5. Christine, you know how much we love your store! Thrilled for your new success and can't wait to visit you in April! PS Love the soup recipe. I adore curry!

    Daryl / Avery

  6. You're welcome Sarah! So glad you like the recipe!

  7. Christine MyskowskiOctober 5, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Ladies - we can't wait to see you in April! Thank you for having me as a guest today!

  8. This recipe looks so yummy! As soon as we get out of the upper 80's, I'm going to give it a try.

  9. Welcome to the Kitchen, Christine! What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing the story of your brave start and happy success; it's truly inspiring. We're entering the perfect season for soup recipes and yours is a winner. I'm looking forward to whipping up your recipe--and shopping at your gorgeous store (what a great addition to offer cooking classes, too). Cheers and have a delicious weekend...

    ~ Cleo

  10. Christine MyskowskiOctober 5, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    It really is a bit ridiculous how hot it is this week!

  11. Christine MyskowskiOctober 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Thanks Cleo!

  12. Hi Christine! I'm so thrilled that you could join us today. Your bookstore is definitely my favorite. I could spend hours there going through all the cookbooks. And you carry so many other clever items, too! Can't wait to see you and your new location for our signing in May.

    People are always asking me for vegetarian ideas for the holidays. This would be a great soup for Thanksgiving dinner. Or just by the fire with a loaf of bread when it gets colder outside. Yum!


  13. Hi Christine, it was so nice meeting you in April! I'm looking forward to the temperature dropping here in Michigan (tomorrow--normally it would be waaay colder by now!) to make this yummy sounding soup! Thanks for joining us today.

  14. Thank you to all of our author friends for your kind and generous comments! We can't wait to see you in the Spring!

  15. Looks delicious . Thank you for the recipe. I'm going to try this recipe tonight.