Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Remarkably Average Parenting

I've got a nice relationship with the folks at General Foods Cereals. They sometime send me fun stuff. Well, cereal, usually, but then there's usually something else, often from small independent folks, like when they sent me a personalized bowl.

This time, they sent me some Corn Chex cereal and a book.

I'm not sure what the cereal had to do with the book, but I like Chex. The book was about parenting and I have a friend who is about to become a parent, so I figured I'd pass the book along.

But first, I read it.  The Mommy Shorts Guide to Remarkably Average Parenting by Ilana Wiles isn't a how-to book. It's more of a humor book with some suggestions here and there.

Even though I'm not a parent, I thought it was well written and pleasant to read. I mean, I read the whole darned thing. So it must have been okay, right? And the photos are cute.

The book would be a great present for parents-to-be or new parents. And the photos are a hoot.

Thanks to General Foods for the crunchy stuff and the book!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Liberation Soup

When I opened Liberation Soup, the first thing I saw was a recipe for Cow Skin. Um ... I'm pretty sure I've never seen that at my local grocery store. I was a bit worried that I had a book in my hands that I wouldn 't be able to cook from.

I thought, well, okay, maybe the stories are good. The book is from The Whole Planet Foundation and the recipes are from families being helped by the foundation's microfinance program.

Each recipe is paired with information about the people being helped by the loans and what they do with the money. It's pretty interesting what a very small loan can do to help people in developing countries, and it makes my life look crazy luxurious in comparison.

After paging through the book, I realized that there were a lot of recipes I could make pretty much as-is, and there were more that would be easy enough to make with some substitutions.

The ones I had on my short list were a spiced chicken stew, a chickpea stew, and a rice and beans.

I'll be honest and say that it's pretty obvious that some recipes were written by people who never wrote a recipe before. The stuffed zucchini, for example, listed ingredients, but no amounts. And the instructions simply said to "cook the mixture" for the filling but didn't have any more details. But, let's be serious. Anyone making the recipe could probably work it out for themselves and make it to their own taste.

Most of the recipes are more detailed. No worse than a community cookbook in the US.

Overall, it's a nice book. Probably not what I'd suggest for a new cook, but definitely nice for people who love cookbooks.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The London Cookbook

When I first get a cookbook, I browse through it to bookmark recipes I want to make. Later, I browse through those to see which ones I want to make right away. Usually, those are the ones I have ingredients for, or that don't need anything that will be hard to find.

When I got The London Cookbook by Akessandra Crapanzano, I bookmarked a LOT of pages. The short list included a risotto with bell peppers, chicken scallopine with mushrooms and marsala, Iberian rib stew, and incredibly decadent-looking chocolate cake, a custard that used muscovado sugar, a crazy-looking tart with several layers, and an apple and calvados cake.

Oh, heck, how do I choose from those? What should I make first?

While some of those recipes might not sound particularly British, the book isn't necessarily about British food - these are all taken from restaurants in London. Which is why it's The London Cookbook. So, needless to say, you'll find a variety of recipes.

Some are more complicated than others, some are more fancy while others are more homey. But, for American cooks, you'll be happy to know that the recipes use US measurements, so you won't need to figure out whether a liter is smaller or larger than a quart.

I finally decided on the Chicken Scaloppine with Mushrooms and Marsala. It was a simple recipe - the sort you could make on any weeknight, which is great. And it tasted soooooo good. Normally, I would think a scalloppine would pair with pasta, but I ended up serving it over rice, and it was amazing.

I'll definitely be making a lot more recipes from this book. A lot.

I might be publishing this recipe on my blog ... or I might find another one. There are so many great options in the book!

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

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Rainbow of Smoothie Bowls

I like learning new things. That's one thing my dad impressed upon me - that you're never too old to learn new things.

I particularly like learning things about myself. Which doesn't often happen with a cookbook. But it did with this one.

As I was browsing through A Rainbow of Smoothie Bowls by Leigh Weingus, I realized that not only do I like vegetables more than fruits, but I also am more picky about fruit combinations than I am about vegetable combinations.

I am a weirdo. I admit it.

So, as I was going through the book, I realized that while I probably would have eaten pretty much any recipe in the book if someone served it to me, I'd be unlikely to want to make them.

Aside from strawberries (which are totally not in season now) I prefer most berries cooked or dried. So the recipes with fresh berries on top weren't all that appealing to me because I didn't want to buy all those berries and have them hanging around.

And then ... I have a love-hate relationship with mangoes. Sometimes I like them (the small champagne mangoes are my fave, but I don't see them very often) but I've gotten a whole lot of bad mangoes that were mealy or otherwise weird. So, the chance of me buying mangoes ... not so good.

I like bananas and I probably buy more of them than any other fruit. I love peaches and nectarines and plums, but they're not in season. Grapes are great, too. But not in season. So my fruit choices were kind of limited.

I found one recipe that I was going to make (and I might still make it; just not for this review) but I don't know if it's a great representation of this book. The "bowl" part of it had a frozen banana, almond milk, hazelnuts, and cocoa powder all blended together. That sounded awesome. And then it was topped with chocolate chips and hazelnuts.

Oh heck to the yum.

But it was much less fruit-laden than typical recipes.

Another that looked interesting had frozen cherries, banana, almond milk, and almond butter blended up for the bowl and then blueberries, almonds, and honey on top. But cherries aren't in season, and I'm not inclined to buy a bag of frozen ones for a single recipe.

But, you know, that's just me. I'm sure other people would go crazy about these recipes.

So anyway, I guess I should explain smoothie bowls. They're kind of like regular smoothies but served in a bowl with a bunch of chunky toppings, so you'd eat them with a spoon. That would make them more like food than like a drink, right? There was even a Halloween-themed bowl with candy on top. So it's not like these are all super-green and chewy, although there are some with spinach or oats or goji berries.

If you're a big fan of smoothies to begin with, you're going to love this book. Me, it's making me think about my fruit eating habits. And when strawberries come back in season, I'm going to try a bunch of these. Maybe with some little adjustments.

I received this book at no cost from the publisher.