Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Have you joined the adult coloring book craze yet?

It's fun. It's very relaxing and meditative when coloring sections. It can be a little challenging when picking the next color, if you want it to be. There's a little precision required when coloring small areas. And you can get creative by shading colors rather then keeping one solid color per section.

When a was offered a butterfly color-by-numbers book to try, I figured I might as well give it a go. I wondered whether I'd like that much instruction. But then I remember the paint-by-numbers pictures I did when I was a kid. Those were good.

Butterflies are a colorful subject, so that's good. And they don't need to be super-realistic to be pretty, so that's good too. I dove right in, using both pencils and gel pens.

The book is great for beginners. It explains the different types of media - pencils, gel pens, etc., and what sorts of results you can get, and what kinds of techniques can be used.

And of course you can use different colors than the ones suggested in the book - either completely different palettes, or swapping a few colors. I mean, it's a coloring book, so it's supposed to be fun an relaxing and not something to stress about not having the exact shade of blue required.

In the beginning of the book the pictures are mostly numbered. Here's one that I colored. There were just a few sections that didn't have numbers to follow.

In the middle of the book, the pictures have some numbers to follow, and you get to choose the rest of the colors. Here's what I colored according to the book's suggestions.

And here it is, finished.

At the end of the book, there are no numbers, so you choose whatever colors you like.

The one slight problem I had was matching the pens and pencils I had to the colors suggested in book, even though I have a couple sets of pencils and pens. But I wasn't too worried about it. I got close enough, and if my shade of green was a little too light or dark, I don't think the butterflies cared all that much.

The one thing that would have made this book a little easier to use would have been to have a color key on each page. Of course, that would have meant printing color on each page, which would have added to the cost of the book. So it's understandable they didn't do it.

This would be a good book for beginners who want a little instruction on materials and techniques, and who want a little guidance on colors Or anyone who's a big fan of butterflies. There are other color-by-numbers books as well as other art books available from the same publisher, if you're looking for a different subject, too.

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Let's Cook French: A family cookbook

Okay, so this is the post where you start to imagine that holiday stress or perhaps turkey poisoning has started to addle my brain.

You see, I'm sure I wrote this book review ... months ago. 

I even remember some of what I said. How Jacques Pepin did the illustrations for this book, Let's Cook French, that was written by his daughter, Claudine Pepin.

How the recipes are in English on the left-hand side of the book and in French on the right-hand side, so you and your kids can learn a little French while you're making Cauliflower Soufflé (Soufflé au chou-fleur) or Poulet à la crème (Chicken with cream sauce).

I looked through this blog and my recipe blog, and it's nowhere to be found. No review, no photo, no recipe, no nothing.

When the review disappeared, you also didn't get a chance to know that while the book is aimed at getting kids into the kitchen to cook, it's not childish. Sure, there's a recipe for melted cheese - okay, it's actually a cheese fondue - but there's also a recipe for spinach. And lamb chops. And creme brulee.

I'm not saying kids would dislike any of those recipes, but this is not a book about 101 ways to eat chicken nuggets. It's real food. Which I whole-heartedly endorse.

So, now you know what you missed. Me, I'm just looking for my mind. It's got to be around here somewhere.

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Anna Mae's Mac n Cheese

Are you a mac and cheese freak?

Are you looking for new and different recipes to spice up your mac and cheese experience?

Then Anna Mae's Mac n Cheese by Anna Clark and Tony Solomon might be the perfect little stuffer for your stocking. It's not a tiny book, by any means, but it's a tad smaller that some. But it's loaded with cheesiness, that for sure. And mac.

The book is written by the owners of a British mac and cheese food truck, so there are plenty of Britishisms. Like calling ground beef "mince" or asking for American mustard or burger cheese or mature Cheddar. There are also a few oddities, like asking for "a jar" of red jalapeno chilies, but never specificing the size of that jar.

But the book points out that its perfectly acceptable to swap cheeses to use what you have on hand or what you like, and that it's also fun to mess with the flavors. So if you're not sure what burger cheese is, just use whatever it is you'd put on a burger, I guess.

There are recipes here for different types of mac and cheese, but then it gets really crazy, using mac and cheese in nachos; using mac and cheese in a breakfast dish that includes sausage, hash browns, and eggs; making a mac and cheese ... creation ... that tastes like a Big Mac; or making mac and cheese fries.

There are also recipes for things that go with mac and cheese, like guacamole, hot sauce, quick kimchi, and desserts.

It's a fun little book.

My ONE quibble is the font used. It looks like a typewriter and it reminded me of old-school community cookbooks, which at first make me think the book was going to be cheap or not well-written. Once I got over my initial dislike of the font, though, I started liking the book a lot.

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

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Modern Salad

I love salad.

Yup. Love it. I'm perfectly happy with a big bowl of lettuce and other things, dressed wit something flavorful. Sometimes I eat salad as a snack.

So when I got The Modern Salad by Elizabeth Howes, you'd think that I'd run to the kitchen and start tormenting vegetables, right?


Although I liked quite a few of the recipes, the idea of following a recipe to make a salad seemed sort of ... too much work ... for me. Which is totally weird, but that's how I felt about it.

But ... I took a lot of the ideas from the book. The Charcuterie Board Chopped Salad reminded me that I should put some salami on my salads once in a while. The Shaved Asparagus Salad reminded me to put asparagus on salads once in a while. The French Lentil and Poach Eggs Salad reminded me to add beans to salads now and then. And it also made me think fondly of poaching or soft-boiling an egg rather than used hard-boiled eggs when I'm in and eggy mood. The Romaine on Romaine salad made me think about adding seafood to salads. That one has shrimp, but other seafood could work really well.

So, even though I didn't make any single recipe in the book as-is, it still motivated me to change up my usual fare.

Does everyone need a salad cookbook? Good question. If your salads are just some lettuce and tomato, maybe it's time to up your game, right?

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