July’s Jam

July was jamming. Guess what! I ran a few times this month. Even participated in a charity run for an aunt-in-law (is that a thing?). I am feeling much, much better! And. And! And, I was able to read a ton:

Fiction:

  • Jackie by Josie by Caroline Preston – in honor of Jacqueline O. Kennedy’s birth month.
  • Cop Hater by Ed McBain – in memory of McBain’s passing in the month of July.
  • Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait – in honor of Lizzie Borden’s birth month.
  • Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken – in honor of July being Kids Month.
  • Gardens of Kyoko by Kate Walbert – in honor of Japan’s Tanabata Festival.
  • Animals by Alice Mattison – in honor of Mattison’s birth month.

Nonfiction:

  • The Coldest Day: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam – in honor of July being the month the Korean War ended.
  • The Book of Mediterranean Cooking by Elizabeth David – in honor of July being picnic month.
  • Den of Thieves by James Stewart – in honor of July being Job Fair month (odd choice, I know).

Series Continuation:

  • The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason – to continue the series started in June.
  • Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell – to continue the series started in April.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival by Tristam Koten.

 


Book of Mediterranean Cooking

David, Elizabeth. The Book of Mediterranean Cooking. London: Penguin Books, 1955.

Reason read: July is picnic month. Picnics = food. Food = Elizabeth David. Need I say anymore? If you know Elizabeth David you know I don’t.

Confessional #1: When I first picked up Mediterranean Cooking I was trying to decide if Elizabeth David truly expected the everyday housewife to cook from this book. The magic of her writing is that her methods as far as cooking is concerned are unconventional and languid. Who else measures their olive oil by the wineglass? Even if you don’t consider yourself a gourmet cook, The Book of Mediterranean Cooking is a sophisticated book to have on your shelf. It just looks impressive. It’s one of those cookbooks you can pull down to read on a snowy New England night and dream of a mile-long Tuscan table laden with meats and cheeses and fruits, jugs of green olive oil, freshly pressed while a handsome someone in a long white apron pours you ruby red wine by the barrel.

Confessional #2: When I finally closed the book I had only one thought. There were many recipes I couldn’t even entertain the thought of trying. So, in the end, I answered my own question.

Author fact: David wrote cookbooks covering French, Italian, and Mediterranean food (to name a few). I am reading seven such books by Elizabeth David.

Book trivia: Book of Mediterranean Cooking is full of illustrations and quotations. Both are gorgeous.

Nancy said: Nancy called David’s writing evocative saying, “you can smell and taste the ingredients as she describes them” (Book Lust, p 91).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Food for Thought (p 91).


July’s Pages Upon Pages

I have a prediction for July. I will read a crap load of books. Actually, I am cheating. It’s not a prediction because I already know I will. Case in point – yesterday my husband and I spent seven hours on the water. He fished. I read. Yesterday was July 1st so I was already knee-deep in the July Challenge list and thanks to an iPad I had five books with me. I made a decent dent in the “Boat” books:

Fiction:

  • Jackie by Josie by Caroline Preston – in honor of Jacqueline O. Kennedy’s birth month.

Nonfiction:

  • The Coldest Day: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam – in honor of July being the month the Korean War ended.
  • The Book of Mediterranean Cooking by Elizabeth David – in honor of July being picnic month.

Series Continuation:

  • The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason – to continue the series started in June.
  • Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell – to continue the series started in April.

Others on the list:

Fiction:

  • Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken – in honor of July being Kids Month.

Nonfiction:

  • Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart – in honor of July being Job Fair month (odd choice, I know).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival by Tristam Koten.

If there is time:

  • Gardens of Kyoko by Kate Walbert – in honor of Japan’s Tanabata Festival.
  • Animals by Alice Mattison – in honor of Mattison’s birth month.
  • Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait – in honor of Lizzie Borden’s birth month.
  • Cop Hater by Ed McBain – to honor McBain’s passing in the month of July.

 

 


Feed Zone

Thomas, Biju and Allen Lim. The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes. Boulder: Velo, 2011.

Confessional: I bought this book sight unseen because I had the credit with Amazon. I don’t regret it!

This is a gorgeous cookbook. I like its unique shape (8″x 6.5″) and feel (nubbly hardcover without a dust jacket). The photography is sublime and speaking of “lime,” the lime green ribbon bookmark is cool, too. But, these are all superficial reasons to love a cookbook. Let’s get to the meat of the matter (pun totally intended).
Even though the title insists this is food for “athletes” there is a little bias towards cycling. No. There is a large bias towards cycling. The language is more about riding and less about generic non-specific-sport tough workouts. Never mind that. The fact it is geared towards riding is a small detail that only I would harp on or maybe even notice. I just happen to like books that refer and cater to runners…
In truth, the recipes translate for any individual participating in an activity that burns many, many calories. And speaking of calories, this is not a weight-loss, get-thin cookbook. Calories are communicated as “energy units” and are unapologetically abundant. They didn’t skimp on the fat or carbs in an effort to slim an athlete down but instead, calories are pumped up to keep an athlete active & to avoid the bonk. Even in cycling there is the dreaded bonk. And – just in case you start to gain weight using this cookbook and get all upset there is a disclaimer right up front that states portion sizes are larger than normal. You’ve been warned.
Another truth to be prepared for is the tendency towards rice-based dishes. Born in the Philipines, Allan Lim honors his culture with many rice-cooker dishes. Most of the hand-held recipes have a sushi rice base. My advice is to experiment with different varieties of rice if a specific kind isn’t necessary. For many of the dishes a sticky rice is called for to hold the finished product together.

In truth, I have barely started to cook from this cookbook. I might have to write another review after I’ve cooked my way through it.


Banana Berry Smoothies

Larrew, Brekka Hervey. Banana Berry Smoothies and Other Breakfast Recipes (fun foods for cool cooks). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2008.

Reason read: always, always on the hunt for ways to make me & myself eat breakfast.

So. This turned out to be a cookbook for young adults. I say young “adult” because there are sharp knives, frying oil and a hot stove involved. Kids definitely need to be supervised while following the recipes if they are under the age of 8 or 9 years old. True to its title, the first recipe is a banana berry smoothie. It then moves on to other typical treats like muffins and pancakes. I thought the entire was well laid out and incredibly cute. It even had a little index. I liked the photographs of the tools needed for each recipe and the trivia facts were fun, too. Did you know Pancake Day is on Shrove Tuesday?

Author fact: Brekka is a stay-at-home mom.

Book trivia: even adults can use these recipes if they are anything like me and have trouble being inspired to eat breakfast!


A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband

Weaver, Louise Bennett and Helen Cowles LeCron. A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina’s Best Recipes: a Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping. New York: A L Burt Company, 1917.

How to describe this book? I want to avoid calling it a how-to for newly married women who want to keep their husbands satisfied because, given the date of publication, this would not fly in the 21st century. Hell, it shouldn’t have flown in any century, but there’s no getting around historical inequality!

But, anyway…in this book you will find there is only one way to please a husband – through his stomach. Bettina is a newlywed, eager to feed her husband, Bob. Every chapter focuses on an opportunity for Betty to take care of Bob and it usually includes food and the preparation there of. The recipes and preparation instructions are included in detail. But, to be fair, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband… isn’t just about feeding hubby Bob. Bettina is teaching the local neighborhood wives how to feed their men and keep house as well. It could be a luncheon where Betty teaches the attending ladies how to prepare the meal and how to serve it properly as well. Betty is very proud of her meal plans (and seems to have an obsession with white sauce). She also likes to display her frugality and creativity. She is forever mentioning how she had to plan a meal with very little funds or advanced notice. Each chapter is a variation of the same theme of showcasing Betty’s ingenuity so, be prepared, it gets a little repetitious. Even though housekeeping is in the title, there is very little said about cleaning, doing laundry, or the like at 1107 Carberry Avenue. Bettina does mention getting out a stain or two.
Please note this book was published in 1917 and everything about it screams turn of the century. Even some of the ingredients are head scratchers (Like, what is a chocolate cream? One recipe calls for a dozen of them). What’s funny is that I read a review somewhere describing this book as “creepy and kitschy.” I would have to agree. Some of the language is a little strange. I was taken aback when Betty tells her husband and his adult male friend to “run and play” while she prepares the picnic. At one point her friends made reference to a man as a well known “woman-hater.” Come again?

I keep thinking about how interesting this book  could have been. Take Bob, for example. At Christmas he struggles over what kind of gift to get for Betty. He decides on giving her a kitten but the actual delivery is skipped over entirely. One minute Bob is discussing picking up the kitten and the next minute “Fluff” is quietly sleeping in an armchair. The reader never gets to see Betty’s reaction to the gift. This is just one example of where the plot could have been developed more.

Quotes to make you think, “Love at first sight? Bob introduced us…and I thought – well – I thought Harry was the most disagreeably serious man I’d ever had the misfortune to meet! And he thought me the most disagreeably frivolous girl he has ever seen. So our feud began, and of course we had to see each other to fight it out” (p 195), “Feeling, it must be admitted, a little out of harmony with a world that allowed weary and hungry husbands to come home to dark and empty houses when the clock said plainly that it was a quarter after six, Bob made his way to the kitchen” (p 238) and “Goodness gracious sakes alive, but thinking is hot work” (p 296).

Reason read: Oddly enough, I thought this would be a great book to read in honor of my tenth wedding anniversary on September 18th. I am happy to say my husband comes home each night and not just because of a home cooked meal! *wink*wink*

Author(s) fact: Weaver and LeCron have also written other “Bettina books” such as Bettina’s Best Salads, Bettina’s Best Desserts, and even When Sue Began to Cook with Bettina’s Best Recipes.

Book trivia: Charming illustrations (or decorations as they were called back then) were done by Elizabeth Colbourne. Another detail – this book is available as an E-book through the Gutenberg Project (Release date: 6/4/13 EBook #42865).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 600s” (p 73).


Joy of Cooking

Rombauer, Irma and Marion Rombauer Becker. Joy of Cooking. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1964.

This red and white thick-bound book was a staple of my mother’s kitchen when I was growing up. It sat on a kitchen shelf in my childhood home. It sits there still. It is even more grease stained, dog-eared and much worse for wear (I think I started the degradation when I took a crayon to it when I was two); yet my mother would never dream of getting rid of it or updating it for a newer, shinier or cleaner edition. Her reason? This is the ultimate cookbook for every occasion, every season and every reason. The dirtier the page, the more well-loved the recipe. With Rombauer and Becker you simply can’t go wrong. On ever page there is a wealth of information from entertaining to grilling. From setting the table to eating lobster. Soup to nuts as they would say. Even though the methods are a little dated and the illustrations are a little cheesy it’s a classic. I love the extensive knowledge about the foods we eat, the foods we heat, the foods we keep…My favorite has always been the place setting illustrations.

Reason read: My birthday (last Saturday) always brings about a sort of reminiscing about childhood and this was definitely something that tugged at the heartstrings of my childhood.

Author fact: Marion Rombauer Becker no longer had her mother by her side when she revised and reorganized the 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking.

Book trivia: Originally copyrighted in 1931 Joy of Cooking saw at least 35 reprintings. Couldn’t they have figured out after the, say, twentieth reprint that the thing was a hit and that they should reprint a whole mess of them all at once? Surely there could have been an exception to the rule!

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 600s” (p). Interestingly enough Nancy Pearl made a point to say she wasn’t talking about the most recent edition of Joy of Cooking but doesn’t explain why. She does make special note of the recipes for oatmeal cookies with orange peel and baked macaroni and cheese.


Clean Food

Walters, Terry. Clean Food: a Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source With More than 200 Recipes For a Healthy and Sustainable You. New York: Sterling, 2009.

A friend gave me a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Happy birthday to me! Except I have a weird relationship with B&N. On the one hand, I’m a librarian through and through. I borrow my books. Sending them back is in my blood because I really don’t have the space for keepers. Wait. Let me rephrase. I am picky about my keepers because my space is limited. There. That’s more honest. Quite simply, I do not have the luxury of holding on to every book. When I was a child my father and I belonged to a mail-away book club. Every month we would pour over the selections, pick out a few we thought we could read in 30 days and then wait anxiously for their arrival. The package would come, heavy with books, complete with a postage-paid return label as well as a crisp, new padded envelope to send everything back in. Even in high school I couldn’t keep my books. I had to pass them onto my younger sister in an effort to save the family some money. In college I returned my textbooks to pay the phone bill. You could say I’ve never been comfortable with book ownership.

But! But. But, when it comes to gift certificates to book stores I make exceptions. I make exceptions, but there are rules. I can keep books I will use over and over again (like cookbooks). I can keep books I consider educational, something I can learn from each and every time I pick it up (think reference).

The book I purchased with my gift certificate exemplifies both attributes of my exceptions: Clean Food is a cookbook and a reference book. It goes beyond vegetarian eating. Probably the best thing about Clean Food is that it will put an end to struggling to use all the produce we get from the farm share. Every year it’s the same thing – what do you do with 15lbs of bok choy? There’s only so much stir fry one can eat!


March ’11 was…

What can I say about March? The snow is (finally, finally) beginning to melt and kisa and I are starting to think spring even though it’s still cold, cold, cold and more snow is expected for tomorrow. We made some pretty sobering decisions. No huge projects for Hilltop and no expensive vacations. We’re taking a year off from spending. It’s a good choice, I think, given all the work drama we both have been through recently. Family life is starting to even out. For awhile I wasn’t feeling the proverbial pressures, but then again I had been shutting my phone off at night! March was also a Natalie night with the best company a girl could ever have.  Here’s the list for March books:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ~ in honor of Book Month. I had forgotten about all the sighing and sobbing! *sigh*
  • Blind Descent by Nevada Barr ~ in honor of Barr’s birth month. I will never look at cave exploring the same way again!
  • Flint by Paul Eddy ~ in honor of Eddy’s birth month.
  • The Bold Vegetarian: 150 Innovative International Recipes by Bharti Kirchner ~ in honor of March being “noodle month.” I kid you not.
  • Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings ~ in honor of Florida becoming a state. This was made into a movie…interesting.
  • God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane~ in honor of African American Writers Month.
  • Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks ~ in honor of March being family month. This was a behemoth to read – over 700 pages!
  • Raising Holy Hell by Bruce Olds ~ in honor of family month (read with Cloudsplitter because they were on the same topic).
  • Cosi fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin ~ in honor of March being Dibdin’s birth month.

Confessional: I skipped Famished Road by Ben Okri and added God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane instead. Somehow I had forgotten that I had already tried that book a few years ago. It just wasn’t my thing. However, I did write a review for LibraryThing. I just wish I had remembered that before ordering it a second time. I hate making more work for librarians! Here’s what I said for LT:
The Famished Road by Ben Okri is all about spirits. Azaro is a child in Africa struggling between two worlds: that of the spiritual and that of the Earthly. His parents on Earth are well meaning, but poverty driven, people. the basic theme of Famished Road is the definitive difference and ultimate struggle between good and evil. Azaro’s personal struggle is with spirits that can only exist if Azaro is dead. Azaro’s father struggles with abuse and power. Starting as a boxer he soon delves into the world of politics to gain power. Madam Kato is a simple bartender who begins her part of the story by wanting more profit but as a result of greed, sinks lower and lower. Along with the ever-entwining magical realism is the drifting of morality.

Other books I read in March not on the BookLust list: Miss Timmins School  for Girls: a novel by Nayana Churrimbhoy ~ an Early Review book for LibraryThing. This was great! Definitely one of my favorite reads of the month. I also started reading Clean Food by Terry Walters and Now Eat This by Rocco Dispirito (reviews coming soon).


Bold Vegetarian

Kirchner, Bharti. The Bold Vegetarian: 150 Inspired International Recipes. New York: HarperPerennial, 1995.

A cookbook chock full of information beyond ho hum vegetarian recipes. Eggplant is listed in the index but you won’t find a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. Special recognition must be made to the word “international” in the subtitle because The Bold Vegetarian takes you on a culinary adventure around the world. Oh, the places you will go! In no particular order:

  • China
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • India (this is a given because Kirchner is a renowned author of Indian cookbooks).
  • Korea
  • France
  • Japan
  • Caribbean
  • Africa
  • Thailand
  • Greece
  • Middle East
  • Germany
  • Mexico
  • United States, and because food is subject to the literal and cultural melting pot,
  • International (in other words, who knows where it originated!)

In addition to great recipes that sound different and exciting, Kirchner adds serving suggestions to create entire menus. She offers variations to make a dish vegan instead of vegetarian. She includes anecdotes, illustrations, and trivia to spice up the pages (pun intended). There are even a few notes for the Grow It At Home gardener. All recipes are simple to follow. Cooking directions are aided by a glossary of terms (just in case someone doesn’t know how to blanch, grill or simmer) and a “pantry” list although the term pantry is misleading because I would never consider storing ghee or feta in a traditional pantry. To say these are ingredients to have on hand would be a better way to phrase it. One other small detractor – no nutritional information. In this health-aware age knowing what you eat is all the rage, especially when it comes to foreign foods made from scratch.

Meals I am most looking forward to making:

  • Curry Gyozas (p 38),
  • Chipotle Chickpeas (p 150),
  • Plum Kuchen (p 254)

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fiction for Foodies” (p 88). Even though this is a straight up cookbook Pearl mentioned it because the author, Bharti Kirchner, also wrote a fiction called Pastries: a Novel of Desserts and Discoveries (to be read later).


September ’10 was…

Sorry – forgot to post this!
September. As the song goes, “wake me when September ends” (thanks, Green Day). I got married in September just so I would have one happy memory (my wedding was freakin’ awesome). It is the one good thing to look forward to celebrating each year. Except this year. Considering how bad this September has been I am amazed I even remembered I got married in this damned month. Between Indiana being sick dying (on our anniversary no less), the anniversary of my father’s passing (18 years), my grandfather still being in hospice and my other insane family issues I can’t sleep straight. I don’t know when I’ll find mind rest again. But, here are the books that kept me somewhat sane:

  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre ~ I feel bad not being able to finish (or even like) this book. For years I’ve wondered about it.
  • Moo by Jane Smiley ~ was this ever a movie? I still can’t get over how caustic it was!
  • Wild Life by Molly Gloss ~ this should have been a movie, too!
  • Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott ~ just told my mom about this book last night. Something I would reread if I had children.
  • Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide by Robert Michael Pyle ~ this had me believing…for a minute.
  • The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty ~ my biggest head-scratcher this month. Seems like I have read this before somewhere.
  • The Clock Winder by Anne Tyler ~ it is interesting the way people have influence over others without wanting (or even trying). I read this in four days time.
  • The Heartbreak Hotel by Anne Rivers Siddon ~ a little redundant but I read this in honor of back to school month and because I had it ready on a shelf.
  • Report From Ground Zero by Dennis Smith ~ because I haven’t been sad enough

For LibraryThing’s Early Review Program:

  • Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine by George Dohrmann ~ this was intense!

I was supposed to get another book but I haven’t seen it yet. I am not going to even mention the title in case it never arrives. Even if it does comes I won’t be reading it in September.

For fun (started):

  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver ~ my husband bought this for me as an anniversary present because he knows I love, love, love Ms. Kingsolver’s work. And to think I didn’t get him anything. I did end up making one of this favorite meals for the very first time, chicken pot pie.

South Wind Through the Kitchen

David, Elizabeth. South Wind Through the Kitchen. New York: North Point Press, 1998.

The cover of South Wind Through the Kitchen has Elizabeth David posing with a glass of wine in her hand. You can tell the shot is 1950’s staged. Elizabeth is supposed to be lounging with a glass of wine in her kitchen. Instead, she is delicately leaning against a counter, one foot angled just so from her body. She looks away from the camera with only a hint of expression on her face. She does not look comfortable and yet pulls off a sophisticated housewife glamor.

South Wind Through the Kitchen is a collection of Elizabeth David’s best everything – best recipes, best essays, best foot forward (as the cover photograph implies) compiled by friends and family. It is a multi-personality publication, part cookbook, part leisure reading, part reference. Any one person can pick it up for a multitude of reasons, whether to graze lightly through its pages or gorge on them entirely. It’s a great sampling of Elizabeth David’s writing throughout her career.
As for my reading pleasure, I found myself grazing lightly for in the Book Lust challenge I will be reading French Provincial Cooking, Italian Food, A Book of Mediterranean Food, and English Bread and Yeast Cookery. I felt that it was only fair that I skip those excerpts (since I’ll be reading them again in their entirety at some point) and concentrate on the commentary and the excerpts from the books I won’t be reading: French Country Cooking, Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen, Harvest of the Cold Months, and French Country Cooking.

My favorite part of South Wind Through the Kitchen was the praise for Elizabeth David not only as a cook, but as an accomplished writer. For example, one favorite line illustrates that praise, “I remember marveling at the quality of the writing, sitting entranced on a radiator…and quite forgetting to poach the eggs at all. A constant danger with E.D. is being distracted from the actual cooking. -Prue Leith” (p 61).

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called, “Food for Thought” (p 91).


April ’10 Is…

April is all about getting the garage ready for gardening. April is the confidence to pack winter clothes and get the snow tires off the car. April is leaving the heat off and taking off the sweater; driving with the windows down. The birds are getting louder and the mornings are coming earlier. I’m hoping to spend some time outside reading. Here are the books I hope to conquer:

  • Affliction by Russell Banks~ In honor of two different times: March (Banks’s birth month) and April (National Sibling Week is in April).
  • Truth and Bright Water by Thomas King ~ In honor of National Dog Month
  • Downcanyon: a Naturalist Explores the Colorado River Through the Grand Canyon by Ann Haymond Zwinger ~ in honor of Earth Day and nature writing
  • Belshazzar’s Daughter by Barbara Nadel ~ April (believe or not) is the best time to visit Turkey (weather-wise, political ramifications aside).
  • South Wind Through the Kitchen by Elizabeth David ~ April is National Food Month

If there is time:

  • Last Amateurs: Playing for Glory by John Feinstein ~ April is Youth Sports Safety Month

And of course, April is National Poetry Month so as usual I am trying to read as much poetry during this time frame as I can. I can’t go without saying Natalie Merchant is releasing “Leave Your Sleep” this month – a collection of poetry centered around children and childhood. Natalie once said it was poetry written for, about, and by children. I guess that sums it up nicely. One poem she included on her album was one I already read for the Book Lust Challenge: “Spring and Fall: To a Young Child” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

For LibraryThing and the Early Review Program I have an interesting (and well-timed) nonfiction: Fundamental Weight Training by David Sandler. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m hoping it will be user-friendly and very informative.


November 09 was…

November was a very up and down, all over the place month. I started the month of November by worrying about breast exams and pap smears and ended it stressing about unanswered tests. I started the month worrying about Thanksgiving and ended it by wishing time with family would never end. In between I gave up my sirsy plate, rewrote an entire assessment plan, made a new friend, walked away from heartache, closed the door on an old chapter, and discovered a guilty pleasure. Speaking of guilty pleasures. For books it was:

  • Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling ~ childrens book. I read the stories about the alphabet and the first letter. Very cute.
  • Dingley Falls by Michael Malone ~ 560 pages of sexy, funny, soap-opera-like, over the top fun!
  • An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey ~ a great reference tool for those who like Indian cuisine (yum!)
  • Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill – Visions of Glory 1874 – 1932 by William Manchester ~ 900+ page biography on part of Winston Churchill’s life.
  • The Plague by Albert Camus ~ in honor of Camus’s birth month (& a reread).
  • Last Best Place: a Montana Anthology edited by William Kittredge and Annick Smith ~ just exactly what it sounds like, an anthology about Montana.

For the fun of it I banged out Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink in one night, thanks to a Phish show. If Kipling’s book is for children I would call Brink’s book for grade schoolers…

For LibraryThing & the Early Review program I finished Ostrich Feathers by Miriam Romm. There was a lot of heart and soul poured into the writing of this book! I also read and reviewed Penelope Holt’s The Apple. While both Early Review books covered the Holocaust (one nonfiction, one fiction) their styles were incredibly different. I found The Apple to be more soul-piercing, if that makes sense.

Note: Barbara Kingsolver came out with a new book on November 3rd. It has been torture not to run out and buy a copy for myself!


Invitation to Indian Cooking

Jaffrey, Madhur. An Invitation to Indian Cooking. New Jersey: Ecco Press, 1999.

I have to start off by saying I love Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbooks. I own several and all of them are well-organized and beautifully illustrated (or have gorgeous photographs).

An Invitation to Indian Cooking might have been a more accurate title had it included the subtitle Getting to Know Indian Cuisines and Ingredients because Jaffrey not only invites you into the world of Indian cuisine she also includes history lessons and ingredient explanations in addition to recipes. While her tone is conversational I found it to be a little didactic at times. Her claims that Americans, on the whole, don’t know what well-prepared rice tastes like is one such example. Another drawback to An Invitation to Indian Cooking is its out-of-date information. Basmati rice, Jaffrey recommends, is readily available at specialty stores. That may have been true in 1973 when her first cookbook was published, but I expected the reprint to have some updated information. I also find it hard to believe that out of 50 states only 12 have stores that carry authentic Indian ingredients.
But, having said all that, I love the recipes Jaffrey includes in her first cookbook. I like her attention to detail and her comparisons between American and Indian products. For example, Jaffrey points out that American chicken is more tender than chicken purchased in India, therefore traditional Indian cooking techniques would not work well on an American-raised bird.

“The chicken available in American markets is so tender that it begins to fall apart well before it can go through the several stages required in most Indian recipes” (p 86).

If you are ambitious enough to make several Indian recipes at the same time Jaffrey includes a series of different menus to try.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust  in the chapter called, “India: a Reader’s Itinerary” (p 125).