Friday, August 27, 2010

i think i was born a couple decades too late

Sometimes I think I was born a couple decades too late. Either that or I was an old French lady in a former life. I love antiques, old movies, the domestic arts, vintage, etc. I also have a fondness for oldies music, everything from the 40's to the 70's. I would even venture to say I enjoy oldies more than I enjoy current music. Here are some of my current favorite songs:

She's Not There - The Zombies
Landslide - Fleetwood Mac
Where Do You Do To My Lovely - Peter Sarstedt
The Wind - Cat Stevens
If You Wanna Be Happy - Jimmy Soul
La Vie En Rose - Edith Piaff
Something - The Beatles
In The Still Of The Night - The Five Satins
I Am A Rock - Simon & Garfunkel
Oh Yoko - John Lennon
Play With Fire - The Rolling Stones
A Day In The Life - The Beatles
Don't Sleep In The Subway - Petula Clark
A Summer Song - Chad & Jeremy
Que Sera Sera - Doris Day
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy - The Andrews Sisters
Everyday - Buddy Holly
Maybellene - Chuck Berry
Fever - Peggy Lee
All Shook Up - Elvis Presley


Friday, August 20, 2010

misadventures in online dating

I've decided to wound my pride by sharing with everyone my misadventures in online dating. The idea of finding a partner online and forming a relationship over AIM seems so common place now. I always thought it was a morbidly desperate attempt at finding a soul mate. But somewhere along the way, I decided to give it a go.

One day about a year or so ago, I sat down at my laptop and logged into a popular free dating site. This is normal, I told myself. Everyone is doing it. I convinced myself that baring my soul to internet strangers and "selling" myself like a cow at a stock yard (I'm young, love nature, have a little meat on my bones...) was better than being alone. Plus, I was getting real sick of relatives asking me where Mr. Right was.

I answered dozens of stupid questions about myself and tried to describe my aspirations, interests, and personality. I discovered it's nearly impossible to do this without sounding like a narcissistic twit. But I did it. I sat and waited for my matches, for my future Mr. Darcy to sweep me off my cyber feet.

Things started to look really dismal from the beginning. My first match was a former co-worker--we'll call him Bob. Bob is partially blind, about 600 pounds, and tried to kill every customer at my concessions job by spraying the soft pretzels with Windex instead of water. I was mortified. What could possibly be in my profile that would suggest a guy like that would be a good match for me?

But I didn't lose heart. Surely, there was someone out there.

The next day I received a message from a friend from high school. "Hey, saw you on here! Isn't it a small world?" Great. Just great.

Months later and my matches didn't get any better: a post-doc that worked for my step-mom, a body builder that looked like he was sprinkling steroids on his Wheaties, a John Wayne Gacy lookalike (a la clown make-up), countless baby daddies with names like Cletus or Elmer, a 50-year-old married man, a guy named Dark Silencer who probably slept in a coffin, and a LARPer. I only wish I was exaggerating.

Sometime later, my good friend Canyon Girl met a seemingly normal guy on the same dating site, renewing my interest in finding someone that at least had all their teeth. I made a resolution to not be so picky. Surely that was my problem. Surely there were lots of women out there interested in Cletus.

I received a message from a fellow student at Penn State expressing interest in getting to know me better. He was an engineering student, read Stephen King novels, and yes, had all his teeth. At least the ones I could see anyway. What did I have to lose?

We began to talk over the private messaging program. He was nice enough at first, though a little boring. Things took a more interesting turn when he started talking about naps. He told me how much he loved taking naps, and how taking a nap together would be a great first date. Date? Did I say anything about a date? The conversation grew progressively worse as he told me he was a virgin and insinuated that I was a scarlet woman for wanting to take a nap with him. Did I say I wanted to take a nap with him? I don't believe I did. I cut off the conversation when he started asking my bra size and what type of underwear I wore.

After this, I decided I was done with online dating. No more. But the saga wasn't finished yet. Mr. Naps-a-lot apparently had great interest in stalking, in addition to those Stephen King novels. He found me on Facebook and found my cell phone number.

For a few days, I received texts like, "Hey, we gonna take that nap? Wink, wink." I finally texted him back that my name was Tiffany and he had the wrong number. Naps-a-lot proceeded to hit on "Tiffany" via text.

This whole online dating thing has left a bad taste in my mouth. What happened to those days where you met people in person? Have meet-cutes progressed to smiley faces and winks behind a computer screen? It's hard enough to really know and trust someone when you form an in-the-flesh relationship, but when you can hide behind the internet how can you know that your Brad Pitt lookalike isn't really Jason Voorhees 2.0? At least if you meet in person you can ponder why your date is wearing a ski mask and has a fondness for chain saws.

I don't mean to knock online dating, especially when I know of many people who successfully met their spouse on Match.Com or eHarmony. Online dating just isn't for me. In a world of technology, I don't want to lose something as intimate as dating. I can wait for now. I'm young and careless and happy. When the time is right, I'm sure a Mr. Darcy will come my way. I'll even settle for a Mr. Bingley.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

baked chickpeas

I love beans, every and all types. Pintos, lentils, black beans, black eyed peas, and of course chickpeas (or garbanzos). This recipe is a great family favorite. It's vegan and rich in protein. I found the recipe in my favorite cookbook, The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook. The dish is a traditional Greek Lenten meal, and it's full of warmth and flavor. It's very filling, great served alongside a salad and some bread.

Baked Chickpeas & Tomatoes
adapted from the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

3 15.5 ounce cans chickpeas, reserve the liquid
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 green bell peppers, sliced lengthwise
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1.5 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Gently saute the onions, peppers, and jalepeno in oil over medium heat until the vegetables are soft--about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and mix well, then stir in tomatoes, parsley, oregano, and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until thickened.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Drain the chickpeas (reserving the liquid) and add to the tomato sauce. Transfer mixture to a large casserole. Add 1/2 cup (355 ml) or more of the chickpea liquid, just enough to cover the peas with liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until beans are very tender. Add some of the chickpea liquid from time to time if sauce starts to reduce too much. The chickpeas and vegetables should always be just covered with liquid.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

scarf #2 is finished!

I finally finished my second scarf and it looks SO much better than my last one. The stitches are even and snug. There are no holes or really big lumps! Both ends are equal in width.

The yarn I used was another Plymouth Encore Colorspun acrylic/wool blend. The color is 7137 and it makes me think of chili peppers or Mexico!

So, I started my third project, another scarf, using another skein of Encore Colorspun (color 7515). This is a really interesting yarn and I'm anxious to see how it turns out. Instead of casting on 25 stitches, I cast on 20 stitches to make a slightly skinnier scarf.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

chicago in photographs

Back to Chicago. I wanted to share some of my vacation photos. I wish I could have had more time to see the sights.

Our first day in the city, we walked up to the Navy Pier and took an architecture cruise on the Chicago River. I snapped this picture before we boarded the boat.

This was my favorite skyscraper I saw on the cruise. There are two identical buildings and they're called Marina City. It reminds me of the Jetsons. I think it's really cool because each building has condos, plus parking, a grocery store, bars, dry cleaners, restaurants, and even a bowling alley. It's really a mini city.

After the river cruise, we walked up Navy Pier and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant right by the Ferris Wheel. I really enjoyed the pier, even if it was a bit kitchsy.

This is the new Trump tower, right near our hotel. It is really a sight to see.

We of course went to the Art Institute and I was very excited to see Grant Wood's American Gothic.

We also saw Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

I love Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and this is one of my favorites of his, Au Moulin Rouge. It's a self-portrait of him at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. I love the lighting on the dancer's face.

I accidentally set off the alarm trying to get a picture of this, Vincent Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles.

And of course I saw Georges Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. It is very striking in person and absolutely enormous.

It was very foggy and cloudy when we drove out of Chicago. All the skyscrapers were completely covered!

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

cookbook stash: the complete book of greek cooking

I love Greek food. There is so much flavor, warmth, and spice. But it's often also refreshing and light. While I love a good moussaka, I also love sliced cucumbers and tomatoes topped with tzatziki. In my town, unfortunately, there is no Greek restaurant. There's a Greek pizza place, which isn't bad, but no restaurant serving authentic dishes.

I decided I would make my own Greek food and picked up The Complete Book of Greek Cooking. This great cookbook was compiled and written by the Recipe Club of Saint Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Hempstead, NY. It's over 300 pages long with a yellow and blue soft cover. It's arranged into 11 chapters by the type of dish (i.e. meats, desserts, breads) and very easy to navigate.

The book not only has some delicious recipes, but some great features as well. There's a map of Greece along with information on religious customs in the Orthodox church. The Orthodox fast during Lent, giving up fish, meat, alcohol, oils, and dairy until Easter. The recipes appropriate for a Lenten fast are marked, which is convenient for my family since my brother is Orthodox.

There is a really great appendix in the back of the cookbook listing helpful information and history on Greek cooking. You'll find pages on Greek tea and coffee. There are tips for working with common ingredients, like phyllo. A glossary with ingredients and terms is included. Best of all, there is a section about Greek cheese and wine.

This is a great primer for those eager to dive into the world of Greek cooking. One thing I like is that each recipe has both the Greek name for the dish and the English translation. The recipes are authentic and family-oriented. It's a church cookbook, but in a more professional format.

A lot of the recipes are simple, but I would probably recommend this for someone who knows their way around the kitchen. A novice cook might have a little trouble. I like having cookbooks on my favorite cuisine, so this is the perfect addition to my stash.

Best features: appendix, Lenten dishes
Recipes worth trying: Marinated Cocktail Meatballs, Eggplant Spread, Meatless Stuffed Grape Leaves, Chicken Souvlakia, Moussaka, Hot Potato Salad, Spinach Phyllo Pie, Almond Cookies, Baklava
Yay or Nay? Yay! Great overview on Greek cooking for those interested in trying the cuisine.
Purchase here: I recommend purchasing from the cathedral directly, but you can also find it on Amazon: The Complete Book of Greek Cooking

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

emilio's tapas, part two

We couldn't resist going to Emilio's for dinner a second night in Chicago. This time we ordered four different tapas to share, and dessert. We also got a bottle of white wine, but I skipped the sangria this time.

The first tapas we tried was a daily special and I wasn't able to find it on their website. It was mussels cooked in a white wine broth with garlic and herbs. It's very similar to the moules mariniere
I fell in love with in Belgium. The mussels were cooked perfectly and the broth was delicious soaked up with bread.

After the mussels, we had another daily special, a salad of romaine hearts with smoked salmon, capers, and a creamy dill dressing. It was very good, but probably my least favorite dish of the night. My dad attacked it before I got a chance to get a good picture.

The third tapas was Canelon frio de atun. This was a cold tapas--cannelloni stuffed with tuna, asparagus, and tomatoes with a creamy vinaigrette and crumbled eggs on top. It was like a very flavorful tuna salad, and was my favorite dish of the night.

Our last tapas was another special. Similar to the tuna cannelloni, this was a hot cannelloni filled with spinach, bacon, and cheese. It came with a rich tomato sauce. Once again, a very good dish. My dad really likes bacon, so I didn't get very much of it.

To end dinner, I ordered profiteroles stuffed with vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate sauce. Yum!

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Monday, August 9, 2010

cookbook stash: the mediterranean diet cookbook

I'm going to share the most beloved cookbook in my collection. The one that has been used and adored above all others. The one that actually belongs to my mother but very conveniently found its way into my bookcase.

The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins is a hefty tome (500+ pages) chock full of fresh and flavorful dishes from the Mediterranean region. You'll find food from Greece, Italy, France, Tukey, Tunisia, Israel, and more. All the recipes are authentic and are accompanied by detailed information on the history and ingredients.

I have a hardcover edition that once wore a dust jacket, but now sits naked on my bookshelf. The pages are thick and sturdy, but there are no photographs of the food. Each recipe lists nutritional information per serving, which is convenient for those who are trying to lose weight.

The author is well-informed and cites nutritional information from reputable sources to back up her claims of the healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet. There is also a introduction written by two doctors and professors, one from Athens, the other from Harvard. This lends credence to the lifestyle, and I think it's a beneficial asset that my other cookbooks lack.

The recipes are arranged in nine chapters, but they make sense and are easy to navigate. In the back there is a useful section on cooking/preparation methods, materials, and ingredients. After this you can find a resources section, with information on where to purchase necessary ingredients and kitchen tools. One of my favorite features is a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid from the Harvard School of Public Health. You'll also find extensive explanations accompanying the pyramid. Anyone armed with this cookbook and information can make a switch to a healthy, rewarding lifestyle.

This is a great choice in cookbook for anyone looking to get healthy. I would also recommend it for people who just love the flavors of the Mediterranean. It would be a good choice for vegetarians, as well. Though a lot of dishes contain meat, there are a lot that don't. Some of my very favorite recipes come from this book. It has great techniques for pizzas, stocks, Greek pies, sauces, and more.

The cookbook is a bit on the pricey side at $35, but I consider it a good investment for such a useful book. The book was first published in 1994 (this is the edition I own), but a new edition was published in 2008. Another downfall for this book is that some of the dishes might be challenging for a novice cook, but there are simple recipes as well. A lot of the dishes take a long time, so it might not be compatible for those with an "on-the-go" lifestyle.

Best features: knowledge and resources on lifestyle, nutritional facts for recipes
Recipes worth trying: Hummus Bi Tahini, Tzatziki, Tabbouleh, Grape Leaves Stuffed with Meat and Rice, Pasta Salad from Capri, Provencal Chick-Pea Soup, "Armenian" Bread from Cyprus, Baked Chick Peas in Tomato Sauce, Kourabiedes
Yay or Nay? Yay! This would be a beneficial cookbook for just about anybody!
Purchase here: The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: A Delicious Alternative for Lifelong Health

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

yum, brussels sprouts!

I know a lot of people don't like Brussels sprouts. Heck, I didn't like them either for a very long time. I was so used to those mushy things that were frozen, then nuked. Yuck. The best way to cook them is to start with the fresh ones! Forget about steaming or boiling, you need to roast them for the best flavor and texture.

My mom started making this recipe for Brussels sprouts several years ago for every Thanksgiving. Delicious!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
from Wegmans Menu magazine

6 slices thick bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 lbs fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed, quartered
3 Tbsp basting oil or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup peeled chestnuts, halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat large ovenproof skillet on medium-high. Add bacon; cook, turning occasionally, until crisp. Remove from pan; set aside. Toss Brussels sprouts with oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. Add to pan; roast in oven about 30 min. Remove from oven; stir in chestnuts and cooked bacon. Return to oven about 10 min to heat.

 I like to use Applewood smoked bacon, but any bacon will do--even turkey bacon if you're trying to eat a bit healthier. If you are unable to find chestnuts, you can omit them or just use a different type of nut. They can be a bit hard to find outside of the holiday months. Slivered almonds or chopped hazelnuts are a delicious alternative.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

cookbook stash: cook yourself thin

After my dismal review of the Hungry Girl cookbook, I thought I would share a better and healthier alternative.

I was browsing the book section at Wal-Mart a year ago looking for some of my guilty pleasure Charlaine Harris novels. I didn't find any I hadn't read, but found this treat of a cookbook instead: Cook Yourself Thin by Harry Eastwood, Candice Kumai, and Allison Fishman. Learning from my past mistakes, I skimmed the book and found most of the ingredients were fresh and lacking in preservatives. Seemed good to me. I bought the book and read it in its entirety when I got home.

The Cook Yourself Thin philosophy focuses on reducing your calorie intake while making fresh, colorful, and real food. The only low-fat items you find will be low-fat dairy, and they favor the use of natural sweeteners, like honey. This lifestyle is about adapting and discovering, not restricting.

There are over 200 pages of helpful information and recipes. Not every dish has a photograph, but it seems like roughly half of them do. Photos in cookbooks aren't a necessity for me, but it's always nice when they are included. The recipes are arranged very simply: breakfasts, main dishes, and sweets.

This book has some great features. It is lacking in the benefit of a professional opinion from a dietitian or nutritionist, but the three authors are all chefs and seem to be well-informed about basic nutrition. At the beginning there is a quiz to determine your "dieting downfalls". It's not meant to be anything scientific, but it can pinpoint some of your concerns. There is a section about calories: what they are, how many you should eat, and how many are in some common foods. I appreciate that they warn against those "lite" and "sugar-free" products that Hungry Girl basks in.

There is also information on kitchen equipment, swapping high caloric foods for a healthier alternative, and even a section on exercise. The focus in this book is on monitoring your calorie intake, so you won't find a long list of nutritional information. There is simply a calorie-per-serving for each recipe.

This is a great book for a beginner cook who is looking to eat a healthier, fresher diet. You won't find any Splenda or non-dairy creamer in these recipes!

Best features: information on calories, food swaps
Recipes worth trying: Stuffed French Toast Sundaes, Portobello Mushroom Benedict, Homemade Granola, Penne alla "Not-ka", Healthy Potato Skins, Easy Herb Roasted Chicken, Peanut Butter Dream Bars, Roasted Peach Crisp
Yay or Nay? Yay! Great recipes for the health conscious.
Purchase here: Cook Yourself Thin: Skinny Meals You Can Make in Minutes

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Friday, August 6, 2010

emilio's tapas

To take a break from the cookbook posts, we'll head back to Chicago, to a great restaurant: Emilio's. On our way to the Navy Pier, we stumbled upon this Spanish tapas restaurant. My dad decided he was hungry, so we took a seat and ordered.

The menu consists of cold tapas, hot tapas, paellas, soups, and desserts. We each ordered a tapas that caught our eye and shared them over Spanish wine and sangria.

We started with the Garbanzos a la castillana. It was a cold garbanzo bean spread with garlic, radishes, and roasted red peppers. It was topped with a cool dill sauce and served with toasted bread. It was heavenly, much like hummus (which I love), but better.

Next we had Queso de cabra al horno, which was a baked tomato sauce with goat cheese and olives, served with toasted bread. It was my favorite of the three we had. It was rich and warm, with the slight flavor of nutmeg. Oh man, I wish I could replicate this!

Our last tapas was Carne asada a la parrilla, which is a grilled skirt steak with peppers, onions, and mushrooms, topped with a cilantro wine sauce. The meat was tender, juicy, and full of the flavors of the vegetables. It was very good, but my dad ate most of it.

All the food was delicious: fresh, colorful, and flavorful. The service was very good and the restaurant was clean and well-decorated, though we ate outside. We actually ended up dining a second time at Emilio's and trying another round of tapas. I'll share that meal in another post. If you find yourself in the Chicago area, I recommend a trip here. There are tapas for every palate!

You can check out their website here: Emilio's Tapas - Sol y Nieve

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

cookbook stash: hungry girl

I can imagine Hungry Girl (a.k.a. Lisa Lillien) would make Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain crap their pants. The Hungry Girl strategy of eating is to turn fattening fast food favorites into guilt-free meals using mainly processed food. It's a strategy that goes against two of my idols' very way of life. This is not a lifestyle for foodies.

I bought the Hungry Girl cookbook a couple years ago when I was in one of my "get fit" stages. The book is arranged somewhat strangely into 14 chapters that I won't even begin to list. This makes the cookbook irritating to navigate. There is a photo insert that shows a couple dozen of the many, many recipes. This wouldn't be a good book for family cooks; the recipes are all single servings. Most of the recipes in the book use fat-free, low-fat, and sugar-free shelf stable food products. These things can be fine once in awhile, but I would boldly consider it unhealthy to create an entire lifestyle around them. But then again, I've probably got a few pounds on Hungry Girl.

Also, there is no input from a doctor, nutritionist, or registered dietitian. I think when it comes to weight loss, it's important to have a professional opinion.

The recipes are easy enough to make and a lot of them utilize the microwave, making it convenient for on-the-go types or beginner cooks. Some of the recipes are a waste, like the "Big Bopper Burger Stopper", which is just assembling a Boca burger. That's another thing: the recipes have cringe-worthy cheesy names. You know when you're at a restaurant and some genius names half the dishes with dorky names? Don't you always feel like an idiot asking for something like "Caribbean Rockin' Reggae Ribs"? That is a real dish at T.G.I. Friday's, by the way.

There are a few good little nuggets in this cookbook, though. There are good tips about calories and fat in popular restaurant dishes. There are good tips for cutting calories in healthy ways. Cleverly, some of the recipes use Fiber One bran crumbs as a breading to replace fatty batters.

I've tried a few different recipes. Most are kind of bland and don't have a lot of flavor, which I think is very important in the quest to lose weight. Your food should have MORE flavor, not less. But there are some good things to try. The chapter on soup has the best dishes.

Best feature: Nutritional information listed for each recipe, food survival guides in the back
Recipes worth trying: V10 Soup, Citrus-y Stir-Fry Shrimp (without the Splenda), Bake-tastic Butternut Squash Fries, Dan Good Chili, Dreamy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge
Yay or Nay? Nay. Google the recipes I listed and check out the Hungry-Girl website for the helpful tips and survival guides.
Purchase here: Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

cookbook stash: the pioneer woman cooks

A few years ago, I discovered the most wonderful food blog, full of beautiful step-by-step photographs and stick-to-your-ribs food. By now, it seems like the whole world is acquainted with The Pioneer Woman. With a cookbook under her belt, she will continue to entertain us all with a published tell-all and movie.

When her cookbook was announced, I quickly pre-ordered a copy on Amazon and waited impatiently for its arrival in the fall. It arrived, just as spectacular as I had hoped and filled with tasty recipes.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond is a hard cover cookbook with a colorful dust jacket. It has almost 250 glossy pages filled with bright photographs. Each recipe has step-by-step instructions with accompanying photos, and a large photo showcasing the final dish. Woven throughout the book are photographs taken by the author documenting her family life on an Oklahoma cattle ranch.

The recipes are arranged by course: appetizers, breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. It's a convenient set-up for a family cookbook. There are cute icons designating dishes for "cowboys" and "cowgirls". I would say this is a book for the home cook, the family warrior. The meals are hearty and not fussy. They are full of flavor and substance. The unique step-by-step format is great for cooks who are unsure of their skill. A new cook could even breeze their way through most of the recipes.

I think the thing I like most about Pioneer Woman's blog and cookbook is the intimacy. It feels like you're flipping through the family recipe box. You feel like each dish is one of those "secret family recipes". I also like the humor and tell-all tone that the book has. Even if you don't cook a thing, it's an entertaining read.

Every dish I have tried has been replicated with success...and everyone loves them. The cookbook retails for $27.50, but can be found a little cheaper on Amazon. If your wallet is a little bare for now, a lot of the recipes can be found on the Pioneer Woman blog.

Best features: step-by-step photography, lots of color
Recipes worth trying: Guacamole, Cinnamon Rolls, Beans and Cornbread, Potato-Leek Pizza, Simple Perfect Enchiladas, Lasagna, Oatmeal Crispies
Yay or Nay? Yay! As long as you don't mind butter.
Purchase here: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

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Monday, August 2, 2010

cookbook stash: cook with jamie

My first cookbook I would like to share is one of my favorites of my collection: Jamie Oliver's Cook With Jamie. I received this cookbook two years ago as a Christmas gift and it has since been well-used.

The book is a nice hardcover edition with gold lettering and a ribbon bookmark. The nearly 450 pages are thick and sturdy, and each recipe has its own color photograph. The book does retail for the hefty price of $37.50, but for such a high quality product, I don't find this excessive. If you are still unconvinced, all the proceeds from the book are donated to Jamie's Fifteen Foundation, which trains young adults from tough backgrounds in the culinary arts.

The idea of the book is to teach its readers how to be a better cook. I think it's a good book for someone with basic cooking experience, but looking to branch out to more complicated techniques and dishes. There are six chapters of recipes (salads, pasta, meat, fish, vegetables, and desserts). Jamie gives advice on pairing alcohol with food, basic kitchen tools, how to shop for meats and fish, food safety, and techniques like cutting and freezing your food.

Jamie has a great command on flavors and what ingredients pair well together. He teaches you how to make your own pasta and salad dressing. He is extremely knowledgeable on the ingredients he uses and gives expert advice on preparing everything from squid to lamb shanks. There are recipes for everyone, foodies and homebodies alike. Jamie may be arrogant and unabashed, but he knows his stuff. How can you hate a guy who preaches the importance of eating fresh and local?

Cook With Jamie has become an indispensable volume in my collection. I consult it for just about all my cooking needs and have made recipes with great success. Anybody who wants to be more comfortable in the kitchen should add this to their own stash.

Best features: beautiful color photographs and detailed instructions
Recipes worth trying: Jools' favorite Saturday afternoon pasta, Mushroom risotto, Dinner-lady carrots, Creamy butternut squash, Rhubarb and custard
Yay or Nay? Yay! Great cookbook for anyone who loves to cook.
Purchase here: Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

cookbook stash

For the next few days, I'll be sharing some of my favorite cookbooks from my arsenal. I have some great volumes, but I'm dying for some of those classics that make up my mom's collection. I really need a nice copy of Joy Of Cooking.

I wanted to share my cookbooks with everyone while giving honest reviews. You might even find a cookbook to add to your own collection.

Here are the current books that make up my stash:

  1. Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Julia Child
  2. The Complete Book Of Greek Cooking by The Recipe Club of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Cathedral
  3. Cook Yourself Thin
  4. The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
  5. Cook With Jamie by Jamie Oliver
  6. The Accidental Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer
  7. Noodles by Beverly Le Blanc
  8. Cold Pasta by James McNair
  9. I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence by Amy Sedaris
  10. Food Network Kitchens Cookbook
  11. Hungry Girl by Lisa Lillien
  12. Christmas With Southern Living 2010
  13. Pasta Cookbook by Bridget Jones
  14. Veggie Chic by Rose Elliot
  15. The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins
  16. Frida's Fiestas by Guadalupe Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle
I have quite a few more than I realized, and I don't know if I'll actually share them all on my blog, but we'll see. If this interests you, stay tuned for the next few days, and if not,'s a cute picture of Chihuahuas to make up for it:

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