Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cookish Book: Bourbon & Bacon

I received a copy of Southern Living's Bourbon & Bacon: The Ultimate Guide to the South's Favorite Food Groups thanks to a giveaway on For the Love of the South. (Thanks, Amber!) I was surprised by this book in a few ways. It's a nice hardcover (no dust jacket) with lots of color photos, but it's a really handy size (about the size of a large-format paperback book). As soon as I got my hands on it, I thought what a great gift it would make. I several men in my life that I think are difficult to shop for, but this would easily please them, and with the holiday season approaching, I think you should give it a look for the bourbon-lovers in your life. It's really nice to flip through (I've left it on my coffee table since I got it because I really love the book design and I think others would enjoy flipping through it). I'm not a big drinker, but you can't go wrong with bacon, and there are several recipes I want to try: Sticky Bourvbon Toffee Pudding, Turtle Bourbon Pecan Tart, Bacon Popcorn, etc, I think this one might help you check off your gift list!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bookish Review: An Everlasting Meal

An Everlasting Meal  is part cookbook, part cooking philosophy, with a sprinkle of memoir. Tamar Adler firmly believes that cook good, nourishing food need not be difficult, and doesn't need explicit recipes so much as mastery of a few techniques. This book should be encouraging to anyone who is unsure in the kitchen or thinks cooking is difficult or just doesn't know where to start. Allen encourages repurposing leftovers, and using every bit of a meal, from the beet tops that might be discarded to the pasta water that might be poured down the drain. It is a wonderful way to think about food--honoring ingredients and not being wasteful. It's also thrifty and smart. This was a really enjoyable and empowering read--I recommend it to anyone who could use a little confidence in the kitchen.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Slices of Life is taken from the author's newspaper columns. Some cover life with her husband or her kids, or stories from her own childhood. Each is accompanied by a recipe. This is a good book to pick up occassionally and read a passage or two and then move on. I couoldn't get in to reading it cover-to-cover because the columns didn't seem to be arranged in a cohesive way. However, many of the recipes looked good, and the columns can be entertaining--it's just better as a book you read while you're waiting in line, reading a column or two at a time, rather than a real page-turner.

I was provided an advanced e-copy of this title though NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Receiving a copy did not affect my review. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bookish Review: Biting through the Skin

I really enjoyed Biting Through the Skin. I, for one, have a hard time imagining what it would have been like to be a blond-haired, blue-eyed American growing up in India--nor could I imagine growing up in America's heartland as an Indian girl from Bengal, but now that I have read Biting Through the Skin, I have a better idea of what that must have been like. Nina Mukergee was a girl caught between two cultures, longing to better understand her Indian roots. She paints lovely pictures with words and makes you yearn for the exotic smells and spices of her kitchen, while at the same time really feeling for her as she describes how she often felt out of place in both worlds--American and Indian. Her prose is lovely, and I always find reading about a different culture to be exciting and interesting, even when plopped within my own American context. This book is mostly memoir, but a little beit cookbook, too, and can take you on a journey to a new place. Recommended.

I was provided an advanced e-copy of this title though NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Receiving a copy did not affect my review. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bookish Review: Phoenix Island

Phoenix Island was a good read--I think pre-teen boys would probably find it to be a page-turner. Carl, a fighter and down-on-his-luck kid with noble intentions, gets sent to a sort of isolated juvie. He plans to keep his head down til he gets out but notices more and more strange things happening, possible medical experiments on the inmates, and sadistic drill-sargeant-like leaders. Carl is respected for his fighting skills and gets selected for an elite group within the camp, but when he figures out what's really going on, he must find a way to escape--and to save the friends he's made along the way.

This one seems ripe for a sequel, so keep an eye out!

I was provided an advanced e-copy of this title though NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Receiving a copy did not affect my review. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cook Bookish Review: My Paris Kitchen

I was very excited to read this book because I am a big fan of David Lebovitz's blog, and I downloaded his Paris Pastry app when I was heading to Europe for my honeymoon (I recommend it if you are a chocolate and pastry freak like I am and you are heading to Paris--it was great!) I read this book before heading off on that trip, to prepare me, and it was great inspiration (and also lead me to visit Bernachon in Lyon, which I am dying to go back to). I imagine that over the years I will turn back to this book to remind me of our honeymoon trip. I already whipped it out for advice on re-creating the delicious crepes you find all over Paris. This one is a great cookbook to read as well as to cook from. If you've ever dreamed of visiting France, I think you'll really enjoy it.

I was provided an advanced e-copy of this title though NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Receiving a copy did not affect my review. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cookish: What's for breakfast?

English Muffin Bread!

This bread really does have the bubbled texture of an English muffin and toasts up deliciously without your having to try to shape individual English muffins at home. The rise is not terribly long, so it really is possible to make the same day for breakfast (if you're like me, anyway, and have a husband who sleeps in much later than you do on the weekends!)

Recipe from Cook's Country (episodes of the Cook's Country TV show are now available on Amazon Prime!)

2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsps yeast
1/2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups milk, heated to 120 degrees.

Whisk all dry ingredients together, then stir in the milk. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap. Let it rise 30 minutes. Stir the dough and put it in a pan that has been greased and coated with cornmeal. Cover it again with greased plastic and let rise for another 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, rotating halfway.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bookish Review: Unbroken

My book club selected this book, and I am so glad they dad. Louis Zamperini, the protagonist of this amazing true story, just passed away yesterday at the age of 97, and as it is July 4th, I think sharing the story of an American hero is very appropriate. Unbroken is Zamperini's life story, including his misspent youth, his rise as a track star, and his service in the Pacific theater during WWII. Most of my knowledge of WWII is focused on what happened in Europe, plus Pearl Harbor, and the atomic bombings, of course. I really didn't know that much about the Pacific theater otherwise, so beyond Zamperini's incredible story of survival, I found the book very interesting for the history lesson alone. Frankly, what happened to Zamperini and others in the war reads like fiction--how could these men have survived? It's very inspirational, and Zamperini's struggles after the war give some insight into PTSD for soldiers. The book is long and meticulously researched, but it's definitely a page turner. Read it before the movie comes out!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bookish Review: Mistakes I Made at Work

As a professor of Organizational Behavior at a university, I thought this book was a fantastic collection of true stories from women's careers. My undergraduate students (particularly the women, but probably the men as well) could really learn a few things from this book. I feel like most young people have to figure things out for themselves and have no idea of the workplace dynamics that they are getting themselves into. This book could constitute a "realistic career preview" to let young women (and men) that they will make some mistakes but can still be very successful. They'll also read stories about not letting others stand in their way or make career choices for them. I think this could be beneficial for older readers as well as these lessons are not easy to learn and these inspirational stories can help encourage people in their career dreams.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through the First to Read program, which did not affect the content of this review

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bookish Review: One Thousand White Women

Although fictional, the book is written as if a descendant found the actual journals of his great great grandmother. The author takes actual historical events and weaves a fictional narrative. A Cheyenne chief requests 1000 white women as wives for his men. In truth, this request was never fulfilled, but in this book, Fergus imagines what might have happened if it was. I came to really care about the characters, and as Fergus weaves in actual historical events (like the slaughter of Indians as more white settlers want to come look for gold in the Black Hills), the book will leave you in tears. A great read.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cookish: What's for breakfast?

Homemade Granola
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups almonds (I used roasted and salted because that was what I had)
1 cup coconut (optional)
2 cups dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 325. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper

Whisk together first 4 ingredients, then add oil. Fold in oats, almonds, and coconut.

Press oat mixture into baking sheet until compacted. Bake 20 minutes, rotate, and bake 20-25 more, or until lightly browned. It will not seem completely set when you take it out, but after cooling on a rack for an hour, you will be able to break into chunks of desired size. Mix in fruit and chocolate when completely cool.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cookish: Something Sweet

My fiancé and I did a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking ( fun! I thought I would share one of the recipes for you, since we actually do use it at home. Prior to this class, my fiancé had claimed he didn't like pralines. Turns out, he didn't know what they were! Now he knows they are delicious.

Pralines (makes up to 50, depending on size)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbs butter
1 1/2 cups of pecans, roasted
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients and bring to the "soft ball" stage (238-240 degrees--a candy thermometer helps!), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and continue to stir til the mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy. You can actually hear the difference once the sugar starts to recrystallize and your spoon has to scrape through. Spoon onto buttered wax paper, foil, or parchment. Allow to cool and try not to eat them all yourself!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bookish Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

I think the cat's out of the bag and we all know this book was really written by J.K. Rowling. I have to say, I vastly preferred this one to her other post-Potter tome, A Casual Vacancy. I have to wonder if she used the pseudonym on this one because she thought it would sell anyway, and she thought the other one wouldn't. At any rate, I found this to be a very enjoyable read, and I hope it is the start to a series--I really liked the characters and it was a solid mystery that kept me guessing. I would not have guessed Rowling wrote it, I don't think, but it is certainly well-written and I am glad she decided to step into this genre. I happen to enjoy the down-and-out-PI-just-needs-one-big-case kind of mystery, especially with his surprisingly clever temp/sidekick. Really good, and I hope there is a "next one" soon.