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.