Cooking With Books – Written On Martha’s Vineyard, Inspiring Home Cooks World Wide

I know I keep saying this but Martha’s Vineyard is bursting at the seams with amazing, talented people. Marnely Rodriguez-Murray has definitely made the list.

I have been following her food blog, Cooking with Books, for quite some time now.

One of her latest recipes, Blackberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich was the last straw. I had to meet and write about this woman. You can only imagine how such a sandwich would taste.

I didn’t even know it was National Grilled Cheese Month — an official reason to celebrate and partake in yummy modified grilled cheese sandwiches. Thank you for that knowledge Marnely!

Marnely has always loved baking and food. The smell of it, the various tastes, the way it feels, how you can combine it, everything. While working on her degree in Hotel Management in the Dominican Republic, she decided she need to change her profession and be surrounded by food.

She decided to go to one of the best schools in the world, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), to become a Pastry Chef.

The CIA was like heaven for Marnely. To be surround by all things food was just amazing. People were always talking about food, thinking about what they were going to eat or make next and how could it be improved. Food, food and more food. She could not have been more happy.

Upon graduating from the CIA, she was at a job fair in 2011 where she met Chef Mark Chaput from the Vineyard Golf Club. He was looking for a cook who could do a little baking. Marnely could bake with a little cooking.

The idea of working on Martha’s Vineyard was very intriguing for Marnely, especially for a summer gig.

She did not get the job at that time. However, this professed lover of snail mail sent a thank you note to Chef Chaput for his time. Charmed by this kind gesture, Chef offered Marnely the job, and Marnely had the summer of her life.

Fast forward a bit. Marnely met her now husband at the Vineyard Golf Club, and they both still work there. However, Marnely has another passion, her blog Cooking with Books.

A Dedication to Food

Cooking with Books was started in 2011. Marnely had a bunch of food photos — which are pretty much, well the only photos she likes to take — from a trip to Las Vegas she had taken.

What was she going to do with all the pictures? Well, she decided to start a food blog of course. Most of us would throw a couple pics on Facebook and call it a day.

Cooking with Books in the beginning was a bit of a food diary for Marnely. All happening very organically, and she still does not have her life dictated by the blog.

How does she do it? She posts about three times a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which is a lot.

For her, it starts with what ingredients she has on hand. So, her recipes cover a broad range of ingredients. For example, she had plantains — why not write about the perfect fried plantains, something that’s a part of her childhood growing up in the Dominican Republic.

Also, she’ll go to the grocery store, typically Stop & Shop in Edgartown because she doesn’t drive, and whatever catches her interest will make it into her carriage and most likely into one of her blogs that week.

Like the piece of aloe plant she bought to use as for a hair treatment will also be used for a recipe on how to make aloe water (stay tuned for that blog). Inspiration is everywhere, and those ideas that happen organically are usually the best.

When I was at Marnely’s house to talk with her for this On Point Blog post, she asked if she could work on one of her recipes for Cooking With Books, and of course I said yes, and was honored to bare witness.

She was making a white Spring Sangria. She gathered her ingredients, soda water, citrus fruits, strawberries, Pinot Grigio and cardamon syrup, and away she mixed.

It was fun watching her work, adding certain amounts to get the right flavor, like a true mixologist. Oh yes, I did say cardamon syrup which is usually used as a spice in Indian food, but a pro can think to add it to Sangria.

The Sangria was light and fresh and cardamon made it a little different, unexpected. Marnely proceeded to jot down the recipe she created so she could blog about it. It was such an organic process  from beginning to end. She just did it and it worked.

We then proceeded to take pictures of the drink for Cooking with Books. I even got to hold the drink for the pictures. So, those hands you will see holding Sangria are mine which is kind of cool.  Thank goodness I painted my nails the night before.

Marnely’s pictures are gorgeous, and have been getting better and better. She’s taking classes with Island photographer, Eli Dagostino, and she has gotten good!

What a fun experience it was  to see a food blogger in action. To watch her as she created something delicious that will soon be available to the thousands of fans of Cooking with Books.

A Recipe for Success

Little did Marnely know that her love of food and her blog would turn into a business. It turns out that she loves social media, especially Twitter. She loves sharing her stuff and other people’s stuff all across the cyber universe. Her handle on twitter is @nella22

She got pretty good at getting her blog out there into the world. She picked up more and more followers and it turns out that some major brands reached out to her to feature their products. She is sent products and if she likes them they make it into a recipe featured on Cooking with Books.

When Marnely goes to the Mailroom at Edgartown to get her mail, she never knows what to expect. Sometimes it’s sea bass that’s been overnighted, sometimes it’s spiced chic peas or a Starbuck’s coffee maker.  It’s always an adventure.

If Marnely likes the product and is excited about it, a recipe is sure to follow on her blog, but she definitely has to like it to use it.

Marnely is also a “brand ambassador” for a couple of major food brands like Smithfield and Sabra. How cool is that! She is paid by these brands to be a part of her blog. In a market flooded with thousands of food blogs, that’s a big deal.

Marnely’s Book Work

She also gets cook books from publishers to see if she likes them, so they can featured by Marnely too. Marnely has quite the impressive collection of books.

Her two current favs are Haute Dogs, by Russell Van Kraayenburg which features the most amazing collection of hot dog recipes ever. The Forrest Feast by Erin Gleeson which happens to be one of the most visually stunning cook books I’ve ever seen, and of course Island author, Susie Middleton’s new book, Fresh From the Farm, a Year of Recipes and Stories is a fav too.

I could go on and on about Marnley and Cooking with Books. I love meeting people who live on Martha’s Vineyard and are doing what they love. It’s so inspiring to this simple home cook. It makes me want to branch out and try new recipes.

This summer Marnely is going to try to break away from the kitchen at work a bit more, so look for more Vineyard inspired recipes featured on Cooking with Books.

Author’s side note: Marnely always orders soup at a restaurant. Soup is something that takes time and attention. If the soup is good, the meal will most likely be good. Food for thought.

Thanks for reading the On Point Blog. You can learn more about Cooking with Books on Facebook and you can check out the Cooking with Books website. Also, And speaking of social media, don’t forget to  “Like” us on Facebook, and follow us on TwitterLinked InPinterest and YouTube.

As you may know, the annual Best of the Vineyard online voting is underway, and we’d be honored if you voted for Best Real Estate Company in the Service section, and Best Charity Event the Teddy Bear Suite in the Events and Entertainment section. Voting wraps up in early April, and by the way, there are a lot of categories to vote in but no minimum that needs to be selected.

6 thoughts on “Cooking With Books – Written On Martha’s Vineyard, Inspiring Home Cooks World Wide”

  1. What a thoughtful post!
    I’ve been following Cooking with Books blog for a few years and you’re right… she is amazing at growing her “brand” and is amazing when it comes to developing recipes! Lucky you, getting to see Marnely in action 🙂
    I’m looking forward to more of Marnely’s cooking and traveling adventures!

    1. Thank you Patti. I am so glad you enjoyed the blog about Marnely. She is amazing in the kitchen and is an even more amazing person.

  2. Thanks SO much for this awesome post – it was great spending the morning with you chatting and making sangria!

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