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Archive for November, 2012

This week we’d like to give thanks not only for family and friends, feasting and forks but also for the spate of wonderful cookbooks that were published by talented chefs in 2012.

The inspired collections reviewed below, informed by cuisines from around the world, will both guide you towards making a delectable Roast Turkey in Andean Pepper and Pisco Sauce with Roast Plantains and Sweet Potatoes on Thanksgiving day (“Gran Cocina Latina”) and help you afterwards in your use of leftovers with a recipe for Turkey and Zuchinni Burgers with Green Onions and Cumin (“Jerusalem”).

But these books also go oh so much further than turkey. There is an infinite list of creative vegetable and grain options in each title we selected, a criteria for making it onto this list. All of these authors cook modern, they cook fresh and they cook healthy. They are accessible to the beginner as well as to the experienced chef; it is their unique flavor combinations and not level of difficulty that set them all apart.

We encourage you to let Thanksgiving and the days following be a time of feasting and possibility, an opportunity for new food traditions to make their way onto your tables. These books will set – or should we say “saute – you on your way.

Oh, and if our husbands happen to be reading along, please consider these titles as topping our holiday wish lists!

Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan (2012). If you, like me, have been questing for a more vegetable-based Spaghetti Carbonara recipe, then look no further, this book has it: Spaghetti Carbonara with Parsnips, Pancetta, and Pears. This is just one of the many, modern, fresh and healthy takes on root vegetables in Morgan’s lovely book. Simply put,  Roots is one of THE cookbooks of the year, boasting gorgeous photographs of these underground veggies in all their splendor with creative takes on how to coax out their full flavor. Celery Root Gratin, Carrot Ribbons with Sorrel Pesto and Crumbled Goat Cheese (wow – this recipe makes you wonder why you never thought of this before), Raw Beet Slaw with Fennel, Tart Apple and Parsley, Roasted Turnip Ghanoush (a twist on eggplant based Baba Ghanoush, who knew!). Thoughts on availability, storage, history and lore are included but most of all it’s the RECIPES that mesmerize. Perfect for the long, root-cellared winter ahead. ~Lisa Cadow

Gran Cocina Latina by Marciel E. Presilla (2012). O-freaking-le! This is part textbook, part tome, part history lesson, part treatise. Before she was a chef and restaurant owner, author Presilla was a historian and her scholarly talents show through. Her new book, which is more traditional in its flavors than the others on this list, contains over 500 recipes from Latin America’s Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries including beloved tamales, sofritos, adobos. It is evident that this comprehensive undertaking will stand the test of time and not gather dust on your shelf – even though it would take you a culinary lifetime to work through it. So, if you have a hankering to make authentic Paraguayan Cornbread or Central American Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Stew, Puerto Rican Rice and Green Pigeon Peas or a Simple Venezuelan Chunky Avocado Sauce, then this libro de cucina is for you. ~Lisa Cadow

Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson (2012). Lisa Cadow has been a fan of Heidi Swanson’s blog “101 Cookbooks” for years, so it is nice to see another one of her quietly brilliant cookbooks spring to life from the web.  Wild Rice Casserole makes you want to walk into your kitchen, take down the ball jar of rice and set it bubbling on the stove, grate some gruyere  and start chopping the tarragon. Swanson is a designer and her photographs, composition and layout are almost as delicious as her healthy, “super natural” ingredients. Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Chives, Little Quinoa Patties with Parmesan and Herbs, White Bean Spread with Rosemary and Toasted Almonds will set you on your way to a flavorful and healthful new year. ~Lisa Cadow

The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods by Sara and Hugh Forte (2012). This husband and wife blogging team are relatively new to the food  scene but they have a lot of talent and fresh flavors to offer home cooks. Their site was such a success that a book deal came relatively quickly. Coconut Loaf, Buckwheat Harvest Tart, Roasted Cauliflower Cappelini, and Grape Salsas – among other innovations – fill the pages of this whole foods oriented cookbook. They offer another fresh and creative take on how it can be easy to use the seasonal vegetables all around us at farmers markets and yet somehow fancy enough for company  – like Roasted Acorn Squash with Hazelnuts and Balsamic Reduction. You’ll have to excuse me now, for some reason I’m feeling the need to get myself into the kitchen! ~Lisa Cadow

 Jerusalem: A cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (2012) – Yes, I know the other Lisa normally reviews all the cookbooks for this blog, but this book has a travel log aspect to it and hits my sweet spot.  So, I decided to chime in with a cookbook review for this post.  I don’t feel too badly about butting in; it is because of the other Lisa I feel secure adding this book to our recommendations — Yotam Ottolenghi is a favorite of hers.  And, since I so absolutely trust her cooking instincts, I trust this book.  And now, the review — The introduction and periodic pages throughout provide insight into Jerusalem and its history of both people and food.  Since I have yet to make it to Israel, this only serves to reinforce my desire to travel there.  The pictures of the recipes and the people and places in Jerusalem are gorgeous and lush. The recipes make your mouth water just reading them, and to be honest the squishy cover is so fun to hold that you just have to pick it up.  Buy this, and then cook from it, use it as a travel guide, or merely display it for friends and family to see.   ~ Lisa Christie

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As part of our mission to promote authors, the joy of reading, and to better understand the craft of writing, we’ve paired with the The Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vermont to present an ongoing series entitled “3 Questions”.  In it, we pose three questions to authors with upcoming visits to the bookstore. Their responses are posted on The Book Jam in the week leading up to their engagement. Our hope is that this exchange will offer insight into their work and will encourage readers to attend these special author events.

Sarah Stewart Taylor

We are excited to welcome author Sarah Stewart Taylor and her first children’s novel – The Expeditioners.  This novel has garnered great advance press with an outstanding Kirkus review  – “Full of kid power, clues, codes and maps, this will appeal to sophisticated readers who appreciate their adventure served with heaping helpings of cleverness.” It also received an independent booksellers designation for recommended children’s books.

Ms. Taylor will launch her new adventure novel for readers aged eight and up – The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon – on Saturday, November 17 from 2-4 pm at The Norwich Bookstore. The event includes exciting activities and snacks for attendees.  While the book is geared for middle grade readers, all ages are welcome during this event.  And, this time, no reservations are required though you can call (802) 649-1114 to pre-order your signed copy of The Expeditioners.

Without further ado, Sarah’s answers to our three questions:

1. What three books have helped shape you into the author you are today, and why?

 West with the Night, by Beryl Markham. The adventure! the romance! the writing! Every time I see it, that green cover sends me right back to the first time I read it, a 13-year-old in the suburbs, curled up with a book that transported her halfway around the world.

 

 

Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. Because after West with the Night, I read The Flame Trees of Thika, by Elspeth Huxley, and then Hemingway and Isak Dinesen, and Chinua Achebe made me ask necessary questions about those books that I loved.

 

Possession, by A.S. Byatt. I still remember the thrill of reading it the first time, my utter involvement with the parallel narratives. It was romance, adventure, mystery — all in one, and all about books!

 

2.What author (living or dead) would you most like to have a cup of coffee with and why?

Roald Dahl. I just think it would be fun. Although it would have been more fun to meet him when I was a child. I have the feeling he didn’t like adults much.

3. What books are currently on your bedside table? 

 Lemony Snicket’s new book – Who Could That Be At This Hour?, Howard’s End (which I re-read once a year, right about now), Hilary Mantel’s Bringing up the Bodies, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt, and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

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Q: What did one book say to the other?

A: I just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page!

Here at the The Book Jam we are seriously on the same page of laughing and literature since for the past few weeks both Lisas have been helping to coordinate Laughing Matters: A Celebration of Books and Humor, a series of events benefitting our stellar local library. We are proud and energized  to be a part of Laughing Matters because literature, laughing, and libraries are all high on the list of things that matter to us MOST.

In honor of this theme we’ve chosen to highlight some of our favorite, recently published laugh-out-loud books and some others that just make us feel better and smile. Many were discussed last night during a Laughing Matters event featuring one of the funniest people we know – local comedian Cindy Pierce (if you don’t know who she is yet, you will!). An amazing storyteller, college speaker, and educator for women – and men – on issues of sexuality, she had the crowd rolling as she delivered a “book report” of sorts riffing on some of her favorite humor titles  such as , How to Be a Woman, Bossypants and Sleepwalk with Me, all of which are reviewed below.

So, on today of all days: Go forth, read, laugh, frequent your local library, and VOTE!

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed (2012) – First, Lisa Christie: I have not yet read WILD, but it is now on the top of my list due to this gem of a book.  This collection of essays of questions and answers from Ms. Strayed’s Dear Sugar internet advice column is lovely.  You will tear up, laugh, smile a lot and feel better knowing someone like this exists in the world.  Bonus – you might pick up some great advice for your own life (basically it all boils down to the words — to do better, you are going to have to try (p 146)).

And, Lisa Cadow chiming in at this point in the review to give a double plug for this wise, thoughtful, deep, moving, surprising, hopeful, and -yes- funny book. Who knew advice columnists could write like this? And these aren’t just your one paragraph “Dear Annie” responses to life’s difficult questions. These are roadmaps, gems of responses considered from every angle and reflected back with grace and beauty. This book took my breath away and then gave me enough back to laugh and cry. You will want to keep a copy of this book on your bedside table to help you navigate life a little better. ~Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow

Bossypants by Tina Fey (2011)- I usually avoid books by celebrities (one exception being listening to and enjoying Michael J. Fox read his first book – Lucky Man). So, it took awhile to read this one, and I am glad I finally did.  While enjoying her amazing humor and self-deprecating outline of her life to date, I irritated my poor husband by laughing out loud when he was trying to sleep.  Turn about is fair play however — I fell asleep with this book on my chest and woke to him having stolen it and waking me with his laughter.  This exchange among spouses offers conclusive proof females can be funny (a theme from the book) and that this book is good no matter what your gender.  Pick it up, read and laugh. ~ Lisa Christie

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran (2012). Don’t let the cover of this masterpiece put you off (I don’t know, for me I felt a little like I might be setting out to read the memoirs of Cruella Deville – not that that would be a bad thing but not necessarily what I was looking for). Every sentence in this book has exquisite insight and side-splitting humor to offer about subjects such as women’s shoes, Germaine Greer, strident feminism, motherhood, handbags, hair styles, pornography, surviving puberty, and making it through dating with your self-worth intact — in sum, how to be a woman. Except Moran, in addition to adding her raucous, offbeat sense of British humor to the whole affair, is also generously sharing with readers the story of her life, which certainly wasn’t a walk in Hyde Park. Growing up in a family of eight with a small income, an even smaller house, and struggling with issues of obesity, puberty  was challenging for Moran. She is a wise woman, though, as becomes clear through her deft telling of this story. She also has much to offer women as they reflect on their own journeys, and those of their daughters. You may not agree with everything she says but boy – I mean, girl! – does she have a lot to say and say it well she does.   One of my favorite humor books and memoirs of the 2012. ~Lisa Cadow

 Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia (2010) –  Just out in paperback, this memoir chronicles what it takes for one man to become a successful stand up comedian (This American Life, Thurber Prize for American Humor). In Mr. Birbiglia’s case, his path to stardom includes unique make out sessions as a teen, parents he loves but does not understand, avoidance of drugs, and a tendency to sleepwalk which lands him in unusual spaces. Read this to remember (or discover) what growing up in the 80s and 90s really meant, and how to be funny in the midst of poverty and often while in pain. One other note, a neighboring teen found this insightful as he navigates his life’s choices as well. So, the appeal of this book is multi-generational. ~ Lisa Christie

And some more don’t miss humor writers:

Bill Bryson – Only Bill Bryson can make boy scouts being eaten by bears funny.  Some of our favorite titles are:  A Walk in the Woods – about walking the AT, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself – about being in the US after 20 years abroad. ~ Lisa Cadow and Lisa Christie

Listening to ANYTHING by David Sedaris  – for example, Me Talk Pretty One Day, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Holidays on Ice. His delivery is impeccible, his voice is so individual, and at times, his material makes you stop breathing you are laughing so hard. ~ Lisa Christie

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