Posts for cookbooks

No Need to Feel Left Out If You’re Not Irish Year-Round

Beverages, Cookbooks - Jennifer - March 7, 2011

I know St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until next week, but I’ve been helping put together a big party for this weekend, so I’m in the spirit already.  Or should I say I’m in the “spirits” already, having participated in a marathon jello-shot-making afternoon (we made over 700 shots in 8 varieties)!  So I dug out my old Clancy Brothers/Tommy Makem cassette tapes (recorded off of the LPs of my childhood), dusted off the old boom box, and started surfing the Kobo site for further inspiration.  There I found The Best Irish Drinks by Ray Foley, publisher of Bartender magazine.  Who would know the best Irish drinks better than an Irish bartender?

Typically, I’m a beer girl, and my favorite variety is stout, the darker the better.  But with over 300 Irish cocktail recipes at my fingertips, I’m ready to branch out.  The book features entire chapters devoted to Irish whiskey, Irish creams, beers, cocktails, and Irish coffees.  And once you’ve mastered the libations, there’s a chapter on toasts and wisdoms to round out your education.  I like this one: 

Always remember to forget
The troubles that passed away.
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day.

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig!

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Pizza, How Do I Love Thee? For Breakfast, Lunch AND Dinner!

Cookbooks, Dinner, Pizza, Tasty Travels - Jennifer - March 1, 2011

Just the other day, I said to my husband that I thought I could eat pizza for three meals a day and be perfectly happy.  Then we inherited a ton of leftovers from a pizza party, and I’ve had the opportunity to put that theory to the test.  And the result is, yes, yes I can eat pizza for three meals a day and enjoy it!  But eating the same pizza over and over is getting a little tiresome, so I thought I’d look for some ideas to add some variety to my “dream” diet.

American Pie:  My Search for the Perfect Pizza by Peter Reinhart is more than just a pizza cookbook.  Sure, there are recipes aplenty, but the book is also a comprehensive travelogue, as master breadmaker Reinhart visits influential pizza meccas in Italy and the US, including Florence, Rome, Naples, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, among others.  He discovers pizza’s roots and delves into its evolution, compares the different styles of pizzamaking, and develops his own.  Now if we can just finish all those leftovers, I’ll be ready to start tossing dough!

Also grabbing my attention by Peter Reinhart is Artisan Breads Every Day:  Fast and Easy Recipes for World-Class Breads.  Bread making is something I haven’t attempted beyond throwing the ingredients in the automatic breakmaker and letting it do the rest.  I’m thinking this could be our next rainy day project.  Thanks, Peter!

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Sexy Food to Put You in the Mood on Valentine’s or Any Day

Uncategorized - Jennifer - February 14, 2011

Just for the heck of it on this romantic holiday, I went to the Kobo site today and did a “refined” search. I started with the word “romance,” and then whittled down the titles by filtering them through the “Food and Drink” category, and I’ve been laughing about what I came up with ever since.

Cook to Bang:  The Lay Cook’s Guide to Getting Laid by Spencer Walker is not what I would traditionally classify as “romantic.”  What it is though, besides being hilarious and supremely irreverent, is a genuine cookbook, with easy to follow, step-by-step recipes and accompanying photos.  The chapters, narrative, descriptions, even the recipe names never break character with this “ladies’ man” chef, and the book is a pure delight to use.  Even if you have no intention of enticing anyone to, ahem, “bang,” you’ll get a kick out of this one and find some great recipes along the way!

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FlyLady Saved My Sanity; Now Leanne Saves Dinner

Cookbooks - Jennifer - February 8, 2011

Six years ago when we decided it was time to move, I had three little boys, ages 4, 2 and 9 months. As you know, babies require tons of equipment. Plus, my husband and I had each owned our own homes before we were married, so we brought many possessions to the union (well, at least I did!), and we had a LOT of stuff crammed into our little place. The prospect of going through all of that stuff, packing it up, and unpacking it at the new house was so daunting, I didn’t know where to start.

At the time, I belonged to a moms’ group, and a couple of the other girls had discovered the home organization system put forth by FlyLady Marla Cilley in her book, Sink Reflections. The FlyLady overcame her own domestic disorganization by taking “babysteps,” adopting routines, and loving herself unconditionally.  I read the book, and I was hooked.  I signed up for daily missions, knowing that I could accomplish anything if I just worked at it 15 minutes at a time.  I “27 Fling-Boogied” my way toward getting out from under.  I released the things that were no longer blessing me, so that they could go bless someone else.  And I moved us from one house to another, minus a ton of the clutter that was bringing me down!

Along the way, I came to know FlyLady’s partner in crime, Leanne Ely, author of the Saving Dinner series of cookbooks.  Together with FlyLady, Leanne reached out to those challenged homemakers who also had trouble in the kitchen.  Her book, Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table, fits perfectly with FlyLady’s philosophy of planning and routine.  The book is divided by season, and each season is broken down by week, with the titular menus, recipes and shopping lists included for each.  Look at that; no thinking involved at all!  Just a simple roadmap, and a weekly shopping trip.  I think now would be a good time for me to delve into some of Ely’s other books, particularly Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way.  Her additional titles include Saving Dinner the Vegetarian Way, Saving Dinner Basics: How to Cook Even if You Don’t Know How, and Saving Dinner for the Holidays.

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Beverages, Cookbooks, Desserts, Recipes - Jennifer - January 31, 2011

With the very real threat of nearly two feet of snow being dumped on my community over the next two days, I’m settling in for the duration.  The kids will likely be home from school, and they can play in the snow all they want.  We have a huge yard, and I have a great view from the kitchen patio door.  I will happily make hot cocoa for them, but I’m planning something a bit more interesting for myself!  This could be a lengthy hibernation, so I’ve armed myself with two books of warm deliciousness by renowned chef and cookbook author Rick Rodgers: Tea And Cookies: Enjoy The Perfect Cup Of Tea–With Dozens Of Delectable Recipes For Teatime Treats and Coffee And Cake: Enjoy The Perfect Cup Of Coffee–With Dozens Of Delectable Recipes For Cafe Treats.

Tea And Cookies features 13 teas and 9 cookie recipes, while Coffee And Cake offers up 11 coffees and 10 cakes, so we’ll have no shortage of combinations to try while riding out the storm.  And when the snow stops flying, I can look ahead with Rodgers’ Spring Gatherings: Casual Food To Enjoy With Family And Friends!

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Who’s the Boss? You or the Cake?

Cookbooks, Desserts - Jennifer - January 26, 2011

I have a fondness for fun cakes.  I tried to do something special for each of my kids’ first birthdays, even though I sometimes took the easy way out, skipping the baking step and using frozen pound cakes for my medium.  But I have a genuine appreciation for fun, pretty, or inventive cakes, which is why I enjoy TLC’s Cake Boss  so much.  Here are some of my own attempts:

 

Pound cake regatta

 

Pound cake fire engine

 

Sheet cake Larry the Cucumber (Veggie Tales)

Sheetcake graveyard with the Scooby Gang

They’re not perfect, but the kids completely loved them, and that’s what is important to me.  Ever striving to improve my techniques, I thought I’d turn to the Master Baker himself, Buddy Valastro, so I consulted his book  Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia for inspiration.  And inspiration is what I found!  A fourth-generation baker, Valastro tells his tale by way of his parents’ stories and the traditions passed down to him, literally and lovingly, by “hand.”  He rounds out his narrative with plenty of recipes and photos.  I know I’ll never achieve Cake Boss perfection, but it sure is fun to try!

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Superfoods for Super People

Cookbooks - Jennifer - January 17, 2011

A very dear friend of mine had cancer long before I ever knew her.  She had a complete hysterectomy at 35 and some kind of recurrence in her 50s.  I can see that it pains her to remember, so I’ve never asked for specifics.  But one subject on which she speaks freely and with great enthusiasm is the diet that she feels has kept her healthy ever since.  She cut out all meat and processed foods, and very rarely indulges in the wonderful baked goods that she still regularly turns out for family and friends.  She also looks for ways to incorporate superfoods into her everyday routine, and drinks some of the vilest looking concoctions I’ve ever seen.  So when I stumbled across SuperFoods Rx by Steven G. Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews, I couldn’t help but take a look to see what they have to offer on the subject.

I was under the misconception that super foods were hard to find, exotic produce that could only be purchased in specialty stores or sent away for from faraway lands.  So I was very happy to find that Dr. Pratt’s list includes many foods I already eat and actually enjoy:  apples, avocados, beans, blueberries, broccoli, cinnamon, dark chocolate (yay!), dried super fruits, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, honey, kiwi, low-fat yogurt, oats, onions, oranges, pomegranates, pumpkin, soy, spinich, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, and wild salmon.  

SuperFoods Rx  examines how each of the superfoods acts as a “nutritional powerhouse” to help reduce your chances of developing certain common ailments, letting you know what to eat to prevent such things as osteoporosis, cardiac ailments, obesity, high cholesterol, and cataracts, among others.  The book also includes superfoods recipes created by Chef Michel Stroot of the Golden Door Spa.  I’m currently checking out one that will make my friend’s Superfood Smoothies more palatable (or at least not so gray/green and chunky looking!).

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Kobo eReader Solves Kitchen Storage Woes!

Desserts, Dinner, Recipes, Tips & Tricks - Jennifer - December 26, 2010

When we first moved into our little 1920s Craftsman bungalow, I thought the teeny-tiny kitchen was quaint and cozy. I soon discovered that it was also short on storage, shorter on counter space, and generally a nightmare in which to work. My supremely talented husband has tried hard to eke out some extra storage in that space, even creating a cabinet in the soffet above the pantry so that I would have somewhere to stash my cookbooks. The problem? I had to stand on a chair and still reach over my head to get at them, so I wasn’t using them at all anymore. Then we added some shelves to the end of a lower cabinet, and I was able to move a few of my most-used books there, where they would be more accessible.

We’ve been in our home more than five years now, and my dreams of blowing out the back of the house to create a dream kitchen and master suite have been stored practically away in the “20-years-from-now” file. But when I recently started working for shesconnected on a Kobo project, my foray into ereading unexpectedly led me to a workable solution for one of my kitchen storage issues.  There are over 500 cookbooks available to download onto my Kobo eReader, where I can read them, store them, access and search them, anytime I want!  Some of them are even free, and none of them will take up any additional space in my kitchen, thank goodness.

Now, for the fun part:  shopping!  I have some good, comprehensive cookbooks that handle the basics, so I thought I’d look for something a little more fun, maybe even quirky.  And I found all that and more when I purchased  The Cooking Club Cookbook: Six Friends Show You How to Bake, Broil and Bond.  Having lived most of my life in the suburbs, I never imagined how metropolitan living can make it so impractical for many city dwellers to cook (efficiency kitchens, hauling groceries up flights of stairs, inconveniently located produce, etc.).  The authors of The CCC are six city-living friends who decided to make cooking fun by getting together for once per month theme dinners.  The book’s sections are broken down by theme, some ethnic (Spanish, Mediterranean, Asian), some fun (Comfort, Spa, Sexy), some practical (Grill, Quick, Brunch).  Each part features an explanation of how the Cooking Club arrived at their choices for the evening, and includes all the recipes that comprised the theme, appetizers, main course, sides and dessert.

One of my favorites, and the one I’m certain to most often revisit since my kids will love it, is the comfort food chapter, “Stealing Home.”  On the menu:  Mini-Me Mac and Cheese; OoohBaby, It’s Chili Outside; Batter-Fried Chicken Bites; Beaten-to-Within-an-Inch-of-It’s-Life Sweet Potatoes; Penny’s Broccoli Casserole; and Cinnamon Raisin Bread Puddin’.  Curiosity piqued?  The Cooking Club Cookbook is available in paperback by fine booksellers, and as an ebook from kobobooks.com and Borders.com.

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