Nourished left me flat

nourished

Foodie type memoirs are one of my favorites so I was very interested to read about Huber’s travels and recipes. Sadly this book left me a little flat. The recipes weren’t especially inspiring rather simple efforts that I toss together. Okay, I will say the gnocchi with mushrooms and lobster wasn’t pedestrian but overall…(shrugs shoulders) Meh.

I want to say something positive that I liked about this book and that’s the beginning when she adds squash to the soup when in Guatemala.  The old women saw her preparing it and said the “kids won’t like the vegetables.”  But they do, they whoop and fist pump the air and say squash is delicious!

Perhaps an unfair comparison but Anthony Bourdain and Bill Buford wrote very engaging foodie books and I thought this may be along the same lines, therefore I requested it from the Blogging for Books program.  I’m happy I didn’t pay for it.

The underlying hype near the end of the book was to check out her website and that was a bit of a turnoff.

I’m not certain how the author has the financial wherewithal to up and chase dreams in other countries until she gets bored but I think most of us would like to have a shot at that dream.  Thing is I would stay a while and experience the culture instead of rocketing off to another part of the globe.

Author Bio

*I received this book from the Blogging for Books program and was not compensated in any form for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂

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The Cottage Kitchen: Cozy Cooking in the English Countryside

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This is a lovely book, filled with homemade recipes and arranged by season. The introduction reads as a letter, very personal and warm. Each section, separated by the four seasons, has a forward where the author explains her feelings, her homesickness and insecurities about starting a life in England and the comfort foods she prepares. She’s Swedish and while she’s traveled the world for business, settling down where she’s without family or friends left her feeling adrift.

You will find good recipes in this book, many of those from her mother, and advice from her mother as well. The photography is outstanding. I absolutely love her dog and all the photos he appears in. Mr. Whiskey is rescue dog and he certainly brings personality to Marte’s life as well as the photos.

I took a few liberties with the potato soup recipe and can highly recommend making it. I even made homemade croutons! This is a hearty, rich and filling soup. Perfect for a cold day.  Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.

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*I received a copy of this cookbook from the Blogging for Books program. All opinions and comments are my own and I was not compensated.

Adding my review to Goodreads and linking with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series and Joy’s British Isles Friday.
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Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson

devil Once again we have two separate murder investigations going on here. In my opinion, his writing gets better with each book. So far there are currently 23 DCI Banks books out and I’m on a mission to catch up with the series. Then I can eagerly await publication of the newest book in the future.

This book, Friend of the Devil, is number 17 in the series.

DI Annie Cabbot has been loaned out to neighboring police force but she is in touch with Eastvale Police as the two investigations appear to relate to one another.

Alan Banks is paired with obnoxious DS Kevin Templeton and one of my new favorite characters, Winsome Jackman. Winsome is a 6 foot black female detective hailing from Jamaica. You can imagine the stir she causes in the quiet Yorkshire dales since they’ve never had any ethnicity in the police force before.

In Banks’ investigation we have a collage-aged drunken female who was found raped and murdered in The Maze. There are many suspects but the murderer wasn’t who I thought it would be. Great job of keeping that a mystery up until the end. I wish he had written about the murdered girl’s family again though, see them have closure.

Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot’s investigation involves a wheel-chair bound woman who had her throat slit. Why would anyone want to harm a paraplegic? That is revealed, as well as a blast-from-the-past from a previous book, when they discover the murderer  in this case.

At the 60% mark there was a huge twist and surprise!  As always what I love about Alan Banks is the dedication to the job as well as his personal life interests of literature, music and food. Reading some reviews there are folks who only want the murder investigation and have zero interest in the personal life and loves of our detectives. I like the balance of knowing who these people are when they aren’t working. It makes them more rounded characters for me.

There was quite a bit of food mentioned in this book as many discussions take place in a pub. At one point Banks meet someone in a wine bar and enjoyed a good wine and baked brie with toasted baguette. Yorkshire puddings, sausages, vegetarian meals, Black Sheep ales and more.

Again I honor Annie by preparing a Hearty Rice Vegetable skillet. The recipe didn’t call for adding avocado but since I had some sliced on the table, I thought, why not. It was wonderful! Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.

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Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday
The British Book Challenge at The Overflowing Library.

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A Good Food Day by Marco Canora

goodfood The beginning of a new year always brings on promises and goals to eat better and get more exercise.

Let’s face it, many of my fellow Americans are not in the best shape. Yes, there are many who care about their weight, health and appearance but a stroll around your local shopping center reveals many obese and well…unflattering figures.

In a society where you can grab a full “meal” at McDonalds (insert the name of any fast food joint) for only $5 an argument has been made that “we can eat cheaper this way instead of spending lots of money on fresh foods and healthier fare.” This statement has been has been repeated to me a few times and usually from individuals who are flat broke. It’s true, fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive than these “meal deals” or prepackaged convenience foods. In the long run your health (and waistline) suffers with too much processed foods.

Stepping off my soap box now to talk to you about a new cookbook: A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great by Marco Canora

As I mentioned earlier, many of us plan to eat better, start educating ourselves and persevere with quality meal plans. This is a book where Canora relays his story and how he transformed his meal plans and habits to lead a heathier life. He eats waaaay better than we do, what I mean is he is more dedicated to a completely natural regime of meal plans and foods and sticks with it. I admire that and will be incorporating many of his recipes into our meal rotations.

Most of the ingredients are easy to find, lots that are already in my pantry already, but there are some which you’ll need to go to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Earthfare. The section for snack foods is very useful to me as I get hungry during my day at work. It’s so easy to get the munchies so having a heathy alternative saves me from the usual array of sweets people tend to bring in. My will power can only hold out so long!

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Not everyone is a fan of popcorn but if you are, the Cacio E Pepe Popcorn is excellent. A bit of oil, pecorino cheese (I used Parmesan) and fresh black pepper.

The braised chicken thighs with garlic, lemon and olives is a winner with me. I added cherry tomatoes for color.

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More info on this book below:

Author’s website
Random House Publishing
Hardcover: 272 pages with great quality and nice photos.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂

Adding my review to Goodreads and Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Big Flavor with SkinnyTaste Cookbook

1SKINNY I guess I am one of the few people who had not heard of the Skinnytaste website. Looking over this new cookbook I see I’ve been missing out on a number of good recipes.

{Bookmarking Gina’s website now.}

Beautiful book – I am loving the gorgeous photos and easy to follow directions. Look at the cover – those mouth-watering shrimp and grits. I know I will be trying that out soon.

The division of recipes is similar to most cookbooks. Breakfast meals, soups and stews, sandwiches, dips and appies, main salads, meat, fish and vegetarian fare and let’s not forget dessert!

Some recipes require a bit of prep but overall they look like a breeze to make. If you like heathy fare you won’t be disappointed in this book. You don’t give up good flavor and lovely presentations just to eat a healthy meal.

There are labels for the recipes indicating which are gluten-free, quick, vegetarian , etc. Super helpful.

There are so many I have tagged to make and want to share with you but I had to share the easiest dessert ever. It’s a take on Bananas Foster and soooo easy.

Santa Fe Chicken in the slow cooker is coming up next. I will just update my review and add the photos once that dish is done.

Ok, Baked Bananas Foster.

Heat your oven to 400 F. Cut a banana or two in half lengthwise OR slice 2 bananas into rounds. Sprinkle bananas with ½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 1/12 TB light brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Place in foil and seal, bake for 10 or 15 minutes. Add a small scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt and you’ll experience a fabulous taste combo.

I used honey instead of brown sugar and probably too much cinnamon. Nah, you can’t have too much cinnamon!

More on this author:
Buy the book!
Author bio
Gina’s website Skinnytaste

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own 🙂

A welcome addition to any bookshelf: One Pot by Martha Stewart

1POT This is cookbook I know I will be pulling off the shelf on a regular basis. I like the way the recipes are separated by the type of “pot” you need for cooking. By that I mean the recipes are divided by slow cooker, roasting pan, Dutch oven, pressure cooker and stock pot rather than the traditional layout of appetizers, meat, sides, etc.

If I am in the mood to use the slow cooker then I can turn to that section and find a recipe. There is a description of all the baking pots, pans, anything you may need to complete a meal from this book.

An added bonus is each section has a One Pot Four Ways recipe. For a roasted chicken there are four different ways to prepare it. Each “pot” has one of those type recipes.

We like Arroz con Pollo quite a bit and I happened to have a bag of Valencia rice in the pantry so this is the first recipe I tried.

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This recipe was spot on in ease and the estimated time to prepare. Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor. There are many recipes I plan to make from this book. I can recommend this cookbook without reservations – great addition to my bookshelf!

More info HERE about the publisher and other Martha Stewart books.

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

Three Cheers for Eat by Nigel Slater

EAT I don’t know if this will be one of my favorite Nigel Slater books yet as I haven’t had time to delve into the entire volume. I do know I’m loving it so far.

It’s rather hard to beat The Kitchen Diaries, for me anyway, but this book Eat will give it a run for it’s money.

How wonderful it would be to follow Nigel around for a few months and learn some of his methods. Gardening is the challenge for me and he has such lovely gardens, but I digress. If you are looking for a cookbook with a traditional format then this may not be for you. He writes in a smooth flow embedding recipes into the conversation. For me, I love it as I am a fan of Nigel’s writing.

What I liked

Well, just about everything ! The writing style, the simplicity of the recipes, his focus on nutrition and the variations you can try with each recipe.

The cloth cover is lovely but I will worry about stains. The size is compact enough to be tossed into a bag when we travel so I’ll have a reference book for my temporary kitchen.

What I didn’t like

It’s a conundrum when addressing the cloth cover of this book. It reminds me of cookbooks from 40+ years ago I would find in my grandmother’s home. As I mentioned above, my concern is when I am cooking my hands get oily or stained with juices. I don’t want to mar this gorgeous book but it is bound to happen sooner or later.

This (below) looks like the European version. I like that cover better:

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So many recipes to try but I was lucky enough to have a friend who lives in England share a few from her copy. Eat wasn’t available in the US until very recently.

I have made Marmalade Chicken and Pork and Figs so far. Next up will be a pasta dish with cream, mushrooms and bacon – Yum!

More Info
Author Bio

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

This is part of the British Books Challenge hosted at Feeling Fictional.