Friday, February 20, 2015


One of my goals for this year is to take some me-time on weekends, and just relax. Step away from the Internet and the computer and the ... everything else that seems like work. I was hoping to read a book every weekend, but Scratched by J.J. Partridge took me a little longer than one weekend.

Not because I was slacking off on my relaxing. And not because it's an overly-long or difficult book. Possibly because there was so much going on, that I needed to really pay attention. And sometimes go back a few pages to make sure I followed all of the threads correctly.

This is the first J.J. Partridge book I've read, but apparently this author likes writing mysteries involving pool. Earlier books are Carom Shot and Straight Pool.

The book starts with a murder. Or I guess, more accurately, it's the discovery of the dead body. From there, several threads emerge. The whodunnit about the murder is primary. But there's also a pool tournament that's the biggest thing in the city, a conflict over Columbus Day, and a financial scandal. Meanwhile, the main character, Algy Temple, is preparing for his wedding.

At first, all the threads seem separate, but then things begin to intertwine in interesting ways. And then it's all one well-woven story.

One of the best things about this book was that although the ending made complete sense, I didn't see it coming. There's nothing worse than knowing the ending before the characters do.

I'll definitely be looking for more books by this author.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Melissa's DYPs: The Perfect Everyday Potato Cookbook

Okay, I'll admit it. When I found out that I was getting a cookbook that was all about potatoes, I was kind of excited. I like potatoes. And I'll admit it - I'm not always creative with them.

But Melissa's DYPs: The Perfect Everyday Potato Cookbook isn't about potatoes in general - it actually focuses on one specific type of potato - the Dutch Yellow Potato, a waxy yellow-fleshed potato.

That doesn't mean you can't use the book if you don't happen to have those particular potatoes on hand. I'm a big fan of substituting ingredients to use what I have, rather than abandoning a recipe - or a cookbook - completely. And then I go hunt down the actual ingredient for another recipe.

While this book is all about potatoes, it's not all potatoes all the time. Of course there are potato-centric recipes like grilled fries, chips, and potato leek soup. But there are also a lot of recipes where potatoes are a component of the dish while not being the star of the dish, like chicken pot pie, gorditas, and red bell pepper soup.

To be honest, I was a tiny bit relieved to see that much variety.

Compared to some of the stunningly beautiful cookbooks that are being produced these days, this one is a little less flashy. If you're looking for food art or a coffee table book this probably isn't what you're looking for.

On the other hand, if you want a cookbook that'll give you a lot of ideas on how to use potatoes, then this one's got you covered.

I received this book from the publisher at no cost to me.'

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Soup Club Cookbook

The history of the Soup Club Cookbook is interesting. Four women decided that it would be fun to start a soup club where once a month each one would make a mammoth batch of soup and deliver their soup to the three others.


So, once a month, an individual would cook a huge batch of soup and deliver it to the other three families. The other three weeks of the month, that person would get home-made soup delivered to them, since the other three members were assigned to those weeks.

Get it?

The soups would be packed in jars, and any sides and add-ins would be included, like grated cheese, fresh herbs, croutons, or anything else essential to serving the soups. Serving instructions are also included, so everyone knows how it's intended to be served.

It sounds like fun, as long as your tastes are similar to those of your friends or you're willing to accommodate. If one cook is a heat freak while others aren't, it would be simple to leave the spice as an add-in instead of having it mixed into the soup.

And they note that the receivers can certainly embellish the soups as they please - adding leftover vegetables or bulking up the soups with rice or noodles or croutons.

The recipes in the book came from the soup club, and make sufficiently large batches - 8 quarts. So - you have choices. Follow the recipes as-is and share with friends or freeze portions for later. Or, cut the recipes into portions that make sense for your family.

Fortunately, soup recipes tend to be forgiving, so if you can't cut an ingredient quantity precisely into thirds or quarters or whatever you need, you can estimate or go by your personal taste, and it will be fine.

As far as the recipes, I have to say that I make a lot of soups and I improvise a lot, but there were enough twists and turns and interesting ingredients to intrigue me. And, it's not all soups. There are (of course) recipes for garnishes, but there are also recipes for salads, vegetable side dishes, breads, pastas, appetizers, and even a few entrees. I've got a zucchini lasagna bookmarked for summer when the ingredients are in season, but there's a good chance I'll make it as soon as I see zucchini on sale.

I have a number of other recipes that I'll be making sooner.

If you're thinking about starting a meal-sharing club or you have a ginormous family or you want to cook in quantity and freeze for later, you'll love this book. If you've got no trouble dividing recipes to make smaller portions, you'll be happy with this book. If you need to follow recipes exactly and you're cooking for two ... well, you'd better like soup an awful lot.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook: Made with Love

I have in my hands an advance copy of Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love by Cheryl and Griffith Day.
Or, really, I've got an eBook on my reader device.

Since it's an early review copy of the book, I can't share a recipe or quote anything, since text might change before final publication, but I can give you my impressions of the book.

I think the best way I can describe it is to compare it to the first book The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook that I wrote about on Cookistry. That first book had good, solid recipes that were more fundamental than flashy. I've made a few of those recipes and bookmarked a whole lot more for later.

The recipes in this new book look just as solidly constructed, but they're a little less standard, like the chocolate bubble loaf, sweet potato has hand pies, Mexican spice cake with chocolate glaze, clementine pound cake with chocolate honey glaze, double chocolate mint chess pie, and key lime shortbread cookies.

Of course, there are standards as well, like angelfood cake, old fashioned buttermilk biscuits, sugar cookies, pineapple upside-down cake, and spoon bread. It's a good mix of the usual and the unusual. And, as one would expect in cookbooks these days, the photos are lovely.

Besides recipes there are also a few food-related craft projects. I'm very unlikely to attempt those, but they're amusing.

And the recipes aren't all baking - there are jams and spreads deviled eggs, pickles, syrups, and sauces as well.

While the less-usual recipes aren't just your basic chocolate and vanilla, they also won't leave you scrambling to find ingredients that don't exist at normal grocery stores. Some are seasonal, but all are very doable.

Overall, I like this book as much as the original, and when it's published (March, 2015), I'll probably pick up a hard copy, since I prefer solid books over the digital kind.

I was provided with a digital copy of the book at not cost to me for the purpose of a review.