Review: The Mac + Cheese Cookbook by Allison Arevalo & Erin Wade

The Mac + Cheese Cookbook: 50 Simple Recipes from Homeroom, America’s Favorite Mac and Cheese Restaurant
by Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade
Date read: 9/6/2013

I want every recipe in this book. Right now. Tonight! Lovely photography, clear and delicious-sounding recipes. There’s something for every kind of mac + cheese lover here. I think this one needs to go into the permanent collection, destined to be in high rotation.

Review: Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child
by Jessie Hartland
Rating: ****
Read 8/20/2013

Arrrrgh, present tense! There’s no need for it here, and it kept taking me out of the book. The story is done well, with all sorts of kid-friendly facts. The illustrations are stellar, a little rough, a little giddy, and just perfect for Julia Child. Very enjoyable, indeed. This would be a fun read-aloud with a slightly older child, one who can be trusted with a sharp knife. From this book straight into the kitchen.

Review: Nine Lives: A Chef’s Journey from Chaos to Control by Brandon Baltzley

Nine Lives: A Chef’s Journey from Chaos to Control
by Brandon Baltzley
Rating: ***
Read 8/3/2013
An interesting, if incomplete, autobiography. Incomplete because the author isn’t even 30 yet, and one hopes he will be cooking for a good long time yet. He’s had quite a struggle with crack cocaine, and though he details various of his binges and rehabs, he never talks much about the mental state he’s in at any given time. I would have liked better more interior detail and less exterior. He gets fired a lot, but one never really gets that he cares, or how he feels. He falls in and out of love a lot, but again, there’s no real insight into his feelings. And he’s kind of a know-it-all. But again, a very talented, relatively young man, which in my experience anyway, is another way of saying “kind of a know-it-all”.

It sounds like I didn’t much like the book, but I did. I really enjoyed the brief tours of many famous kitchens. I especially liked Baltzley’s way of talking about food. I never had any question how he felt about THAT, which is probably why I wanted more feelings about things other than food.

Review: Honey Crafting: From Delicious Honey Butter to Healing Salves by Leeann Coleman & Jayne Barnes

Honey Crafting: From Delicious Honey Butter to Healing Salves, Projects for Your Home Straight from the Hive
by Leeann Coleman & Jayne Barnes
Rating: ***
Read 8/1/2013

I really enjoyed this book, which covers a lot of different crafts. Lip balm? Yes. Gelato? Sure! I loved the gelato/ice cream recipes and will be trying them at my first opportunity. Some of the more esoteric stuff (making your own wax sheets, f’rinstance) I will never get around to. But I liked reading about it. Recommended for all of my crafty, honey-loving friends, especially Judy!

Review: The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi & Hailey Beaune

The Naked Pint
by Perozzi & Beaune
Rating ***
Read 7/31/2013

7/2013 Picked this up since my true love has begun brewing his own beer, and I wanted to refresh my memories of this helpful book.

3/2010 Fun, breezy, informative and entirely irreverent. I learned a great deal about different kinds of beer. I’m also relieved to learn that I’m not crazy to think that really hoppy beer smells like skunky marijuana. Apparently that’s a good thing in the hop-head world. There’s beer made like Champagne, beer which is supposed to be aged in cellars… like any topic, the deeper one delves, the more the topic broadens out and becomes more complex, arcane, and delightful. Recommended.

Review: The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman

The Making of a Chef
by Michael Ruhlman
Rating ***
Read 7/27/2013

Interesting though not riveting tale of a writer who goes to school at the CIA. I liked learning how Ruhlman made the transition in his head from “writer” to “cook” and I enjoyed the descriptions of the classes and the outsized personalities of the instructors. The narrator said ri-CO-tah instead of RI-CAH-teh, which bid fair to make me crazy every time. Yes, yes, I know it’s a perfectly acceptable alternate pronunciation. But it’s wrong to my ear.

Review: Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink edited by David Remnick

Secret Ingredients
Edited by David Remnick
Rating: ***
Read 7/17/2013
Loved the essays, almost without exception. The fiction was iffier for me, but then, fiction almost always is. The MFK Fisher pieces were lovely. She’s always worth revisiting. Joseph Mitchell is fun to read. McPhee’s piece on Gibbons was a hoot. I loved Seabrook’s Fruit Detective. The long and short of it is that this collection is well worth dipping into, if not reading straight through. Oh! The Calvin Trillin pieces were pretty fun, too. And the cartoons are always fun.

Review: The Mighty Gastropolis by Karen Brooks

The Mighty Gastropolis: How Portland’s Rule-Bending Chefs Crafted The New Urban Cuisine
by Karen Brooks
Rating: ***
Read 7/17/2013

Interesting and topical. I think my problem is that I live here, and if you live here and read the papers and the blogs and the Yelp reviews, quite a bit of the information presented here is stuff at least vaguely familiar. Brooks did get some fabulous recipes out of some of the chefs, which is a big win. Lovely photographs, too. Except for the pigeon feet. I’m about over seeing Le Pigeon’s signature pigeon feet because they make me think of dirty sidewalks. And I don’t want dirty sidewalk germs on my plate, no matter how cutting-edge that makes the presentation.

Review: 150 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson

150 Best Cupcake Recipes
by Julie Hasson
Rating: ***
Read 7/7/2013

I grabbed this from the new book shelf at the library. When I got it home and cracked it open, I was heartened to find chocolate smears on some of the pages, and some pages stuck together! This always bodes well for a recipe book. There are many recipes in here that sound pretty good. I’m far less likely to follow Hasson’s instructions on filling cupcakes, though. She instructs one to cut the cupcake in half, scoop out a divot, fill the divot and spread the filling to the edge of the bottom half, then replace the top. I just put my filling in a pastry bag with a long skinny tip, jam it in the center of the cupcake and squeeze till the top of the cupcake rises a bit. Includes 25 vegan cupcake recipes, for those so inclined.

Review: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

The Drunken Botanist
by Amy Stewart
Rating: ***
Read 06/25/2013
My free review copy came from ALA Midwinter. I was much more impressed with this than with Stewart’s earlier work. The bad part of reading the ARC was that there was no index (this is of course corrected in the published version) and I wanted to flip back and forth more. Lots of fascinating plant trivia here! Worth a look.