Oct 072017
Can you spot Cooper, the elusive Golden Retriever?

Can you spot Cooper, the elusive Golden Retriever?

It’s October 7, but the temperature has climbed to 80 degrees again. A perfect day for having a big glass of iced tea. I, like probably many of you, grew up drinking sun tea. In the summers when I was a kid there would often be a big glass jar of tea sitting on the picnic table in my backyard. Now, I make my iced tea differently. I use a cold brew method. No sunshine needed.

For every four cups (quart) of water I add either two teabags or two teaspoons of loose leaf tea. Combine the water and tea in a pitcher. Put in the refrigerator and let it sit overnight. Remove the tea bags or strain. Enjoy!

 October 7, 2017  Posted by  Food, Recipe Tags: ,  4 Responses »
Jul 252017

One Pan & DoneOne Pan & Done
By Molly Gilbert
Published by Potter

This cookbook is a continuation of the sheet pan meal concept that Ms. Gilbert wrote about in Sheet Pan Suppers. In One Pan & Done all of the recipes are once again cooked in a single pan, but this time it can be anything from a baking dish to a Dutch oven or even a muffin tin.

The single pan concept is appealing to me and probably many other cooks. Who hasn’t cooked a meal then been faced by a mountain of pots and pans leftover from the preparation? It’s so nice to have a single pan in the oven or on the stovetop.

Basically, it’s all about timing. To get everything perfectly cooked in a single pan it’s often necessary to add ingredients at different times. Really, that’s no different than many recipes, like adding fresh spinach at the end when making soup or topping a casserole with cheese for the last ten minutes of baking time. This cookbook just finely tunes the timing of when things should be added for many of the recipes.

The recipes cover every part of a meal, from appetizers to dessert, breakfast to dinner. Some are simple in that everything cooks at the same time, such as cakes or muffins, while others need the ingredients added in stages. There is a variety of styles of recipes too, from kid-friendly to dishes that would work well at a dinner party. Personally, I really loved the Thai Turkey with Carrot “Noodles”. Thai-flavored ground turkey with strips of carrots instead of noodles. Very tasty, fun, and low carb. Another thing that I really liked is the recipes for DIY doughs, like biscuit and bread, so you can use the convenient store-bought options or make your own. Each chapter begins by categorizing the recipes by what pans they use. Very handy if you happen to not own one of the pans or want to use one in particular.

I really like this book and have been enjoying trying the different recipes and techniques. Definitely a “keeper” on my bookshelf because it is both convenient and full of really tasty recipes. The added bonus is having fewer dishes to wash.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 July 25, 2017  Posted by  Food, Review Tags:  1 Response »
Dec 172015


Since my new book is Fudge Brownies & Murder, I figured brownies would be the perfect thing to giveaway to celebrate the release. And these aren’t just any kind of brownies. No, they’re made in a miniature cast iron skillet that you can use over and over to make ooey, gooey brownies for two (or one). Use the Rafflecopter below to enter for your chance to win. I’ll choose a winner after Christmas. Good luck!

U.S. entrants only, please.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 032015

My PantryMy Pantry
By Alice Waters with Fanny Singer
Published by Pam Krauss Books

This is a lovely, in so many ways, little book about some of the staples in chef Alice Waters’ pantry. While my pantry has far less sophisticated ingredients, I can’t wait to add more gourmet fare using this cookbook. Recipes range from spice blends to homemade cheese. Some recipes, such as the Espelette Hot Sauce, add to your pantry stash. Others, like Lebanese-inspired lentil soup and whole-wheat flatbreads, use ingredients from the pantry. I have a feeling the multigrain porridge, containing brown rice, millet and quinoa, will be a mainstay breakfast for me this winter. For adventurous cooks there are instruction for accomplishing tasks such as making wine vinegar in oak casks, salt-preserving kumquats, and curing gravlax.

This book is like a cookbook jewel. Small in size. Charming illustrations, the full-page pantry drawing before the Table of Contents is wonderful, all drawn by Waters’ daughter – Fanny Singer. Many of the recipes have variations, which I greatly appreciate. Everything is woven together with Alice’s thorough instructions. It’s a book that would be right at home on a pantry shelf, next to the vinegars and flours, to be called on like a trusted friend.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


 December 3, 2015  Posted by  Food, Review Tags: ,  2 Responses »
Nov 082015

The Homemade KitchenThe Homemade Kitchen
By Alana Chernila
Published by Potter

The subtitle of this cookbook is: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure. There are recipes that will be pleasurable for both novice and experienced cooks to try their hand at. Beyond that readers can find chapters on everything from cooking for one to making meals for a crowd. There are basics, like how to cook a variety of vegetables or turn fruit into jam. For more adventurous cooks there is a chapter on cultured foods and recipes for making classic, usually store-bought snacks like cheesy fish or animal crackers.

Alana writes the blog, EatingFromTheGroundUp.com. This cookbook carries on the style of her popular blog. It is beautiful with matte pages, gorgeous photos and charming hand drawn accents, like a page of her favorite inspiring sayings. As I read the introduction I instantly knew I would love this book.

I cook because feeding myself is the one basic, essential, daily requirement that I can do entirely in my own way.

-Alana Chernilla, The Homemade Kitchen

The philosophy of the book is to find pleasure in cooking, doing the best that you can with your ingredients and skills. So you can try your hand at a roasting a chicken or be a bit adventurous and make your own tofu or chevre cheese. There is even a chapter called “Use Your Scraps” with recipes to help reduce the waste in your kitchen.

My favorite chapter was “Feed Yourself”. It’s all about meals for one, a type of cooking I often find myself doing since I work from home. I can’t wait to try the single-serving Shakshuka (eggs in tomato sauce) and The Arlesienne (a French salad with potatoes, tuna, and chickpeas) for lunch. With winter coming I’m looking forward to making the Miso Soup, loaded with tofu and veggies, and Congee with Chicken and Greens, a savory rice porridge. The focus is on good food with a mix of recipes representing countries from around the world. It’s a bit eclectic, but that makes it all the more appealing. The range of recipes completely fits into the idea of creative, nourishing cooking.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 November 8, 2015  Posted by  Food, Review Tags:  1 Response »
Mar 112015

Supermarket Healthy: Recipes & Know-How for Eating Well Without Spending A Lot
By Melissa D’Arabian
Published by Potter

Now that the weather is finally getting warmer my thoughts are turning toward eating healthier. This cookbook is full of healthy recipes that use ingredients that can be found at most supermarkets. There are recipes that cover every meal of the day, from Cinnamon Popovers with Cream Cheese Glaze to sides for dinner like Rosemary Sweet Potatoes with Almond Butter.

While Ms. D’Arabian is known for her Food Network show about cooking inexpensive meals with this book she has shifted her focus a bit and amped up the healthiness of her budget-friendly meals. There are tips throughout the book for supermarket, kitchen and entertainment strategies to help readers stretch their budget while still eating healthy, tasty food. I love the recipe “blueprints” that are also included. These recipes are actually step-by-step directions on how to make everything from frittata to meatballs with numerous options for cooks to personalize the recipe’s formula. A great resource for cooks like me who like to tailor recipes to suit my family’s tastes.

I found the recipes to be simple to make yet very flavorful. There is a pantry list for the cookbook that, once stocked, will make many of the recipes even easier to make without an expensive trip to the supermarket to buy new ingredients for every meal. The pantry items are used in multiple recipes so money isn’t wasted on ingredients that will be partially used then left to sit in refrigerators and cupboards. This is a gem of a book for people looking to eat healthier, but don’t want to spend a fortune doing so.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

This post is part of Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads

 March 11, 2015  Posted by  Food, Review Tags:  6 Responses »
Feb 222015

Winter has been brutal here in Michigan with record-breaking low temperatures and wind chills. Very much like the weather that is hitting the fictional town of Kellerton, Michigan in Chicken Soup & Homicide. To celebrate the book’s release and give one lucky winner a fun way to chase away the winter doldrums I’m giving away a cupcake party. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

One lucky winner will receive everything in the picture above:

  • a fox-themed set of napkins/cupcake liners/cupcake toppers
  • 4 acrylic purple polka dot glasses
  • 4 aqua-colored plastic bowls
  • double-chocolate cupcake mix and chocolate icing

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Winner will be announced on this post and contacted via email after the contest is over. If the winner doesn’t respond within 48 hours another winner will be chosen.

Feb 032015

Okay…some mistakes are awesome. That ex-boyfriend that seemed awesome in college was still a mistake that should’ve been avoided. But sometimes things that seem like mistakes are really more like your subconscious telling you what you need before you know you need it.

See that package above? You may have seen it before in the picture from my post about going to several ethnic grocery stores. I bought the bag of cream of wheat because I thought I had seen a recipe for flatbread that used it. I was wrong. The recipe used chickpea flour instead. So I bought the wrong ingredient. An inexpensive, the bag cost around $2, mistake. No big deal, but not awesome. Yet.

Last week I ended up catching the cold that was making the rounds in my family. Nothing terrible, but still annoying and uncomfortable. Just what I needed since I was very close to completing the first draft of my next book.  I wanted to finish the first draft by the end of January. Not so easy to keep writing every day when what I really wanted to do was just lay on the couch all day and watch TV. I needed comfort food. Something warm for my stuffy nose. Something soothing for my sore throat. And something filling for my finicky appetite. Guess what was the perfect remedy. Cream of wheat. Yup. The mistake.

Cooked on the stove with a mixture of water and milk for the liquid. Always a sprinkling of nutmeg. Sometimes a splash of vanilla extract. Sweetened with brown sugar and rounded out with a pat of butter. Constantly whisking the porridge as it cooked provided a nice little Zen-like break. The grocery mistake was exactly what I needed to combat the cold so I could keep writing. And the final bit of serendipity…I finished the bag of cream of wheat and the novel on the same day.

Jan 272015

The Moosewood Cookbook 40th Anniversary Edition
By Mollie Katzen
Published by Ten Speed Press

There are some cookbooks that stand the test of time. After being welcomed into countless kitchens they become one of the go-to books for many cooks. The Moosewood Cookbook is one of those books. It features vegetarian recipes that were developed in the author’s restaurant in the 1970s. Hearty, healthy dishes that will often appeal to non-vegetarians too. In this edition some of the recipes have been updated a bit, but the book still holds the charm of the original.

The entire book is handwritten and illustrated with line drawings – some simple, some more complicated, all delightful. It makes the reader feel like she is flipping through Ms. Katzen’s recipe files, which is exactly what the original version of this book was. After receiving many requests for recipes from the restaurant, she sat down, wrote out many of them, then had them copied and bound at a local bookstore. A very humble beginning for a beloved-by-many book.

With the popularity of global cuisine now, the ethnic recipes aren’t as exotic as they probably seemed forty years ago. But that certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty! I made the apple crisp. It was hearty with plenty of oats and not syrupy sweet like some recipes for the same dish that I’ve tried. Some of the recipes were revamped from the original photocopied version, lightened up or revised to improve flavor and texture in the mid-1980s. Twenty five recipes were also added at that time. The 40th Anniversary Edition is a clothbound hardcover with gold-toned fabric and blue embossed images of fruit, vegetables and leaves. Between the rather coarse fabric cover and the absence of a dust jacket, to me it feels like a book that is meant to be used, not placed on a shelf because it is too precious to risk staining the pages with beet juice or olive oil.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


 January 27, 2015  Posted by  Food, Review Tags:  3 Responses »
Jan 162015

Since before Christmas I have been asking my husband to go with me to an Asian market in a nearby city. I had never been there, but heard that it had a wonderful selection. Since I have an ever-expanding collection of cookbooks that call for ingredients that definitely aren’t available at my local grocery store, trips to ethic grocery stores (or mail order) is the only way I can make many of the recipes whose descriptions make my mouth water.

Two days ago my husband was working from home and surprised me by saying he’d go to the market. When we got there I got another surprise. The market is in a strip mall that sits behind a row of businesses. One of the places you have to pull into the parking lot to actually see the businesses because they aren’t visible from the road. Oooh boy! Not only was there the Asian market I intended to go to, there were also a second Asian grocer AND and Indian market. Foodie heaven in a strip mall.

As I walked around the small stores, looking at packages, I was searching my mind for what exotic ingredients I needed for recipes that had caught my eye in the past. I got everything from green cardamom pods, dried woodear fungus that states “genuine fungus” on the package, a big jar of kimchi turned a vibrant red from the ground chili pepper paste in it to a package of dried tofu sticks. My I-don’t-know-what-it-is-but-I’ll-try-it item was a jar labeled bean sauce.

My favorite dish from my local Chinese restaurant is black bean chicken. Sauteed chicken and veggies with pungent, uber-umami bits of flavor courtesy of whole, fermented black beans. I figured the sauce I bought was just those beans ground up into a sauce. Close, but not quite. I did a little research and found it is made with different kinds of beans and is essentially the Chinese version of Japanese miso. Score! I love miso. I can’t wait to try it this weekend.

My husband dutifully followed me around. He long ago got accustomed to my obsession with odd or exotic food. He doesn’t understand it sometimes, like my excitement to discover packages of dried shrimp because now I can try cooking Burmese food, but he puts up with it. This week he even picked out a few things for himself from the snack food aisles. So does anybody else go to grocery stores and buy unfamiliar foods? “Ooh, that’s looks interesting. I have no idea what it is, but I’ll try it.”

This post is part of Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads


 January 16, 2015  Posted by  Food Tags:  7 Responses »