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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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10 10, 2012

Review: The Frugal Cook by Fiona Beckett

By | October 10th, 2012|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction|Tags: |4 Comments

Rating:

Reviewed by Christen Krumm

“Buy cleverly. Waste less. Eat Well.” Fiona Beckett’s The Frugal Cook is not just another cookbook. Throughout its beautifully illustrated pages, Beckett gives suggestions and advice to save not only money but food as well. Beckett offers tips on changing the way you think about food, ways to cut your food bill, using leftovers (not in a scary way), stretching your food, storing your food, and where to shop for the best frugal deals.

My favorite section of the book is where Beckett talks about what to do with the food waste – the food that cannot be used in leftovers – like egg shells and banana peels. After reading about the benefits of a wormery (and the fact that it just sounds cool) I feel like I must find one of these amazing composting contraptions (which upon

27 07, 2012

Review: For the Love of Food by Denis Cotter

By | July 27th, 2012|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, Diet & Weight Loss, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Health, Mind, & Body, Nonfiction|Tags: , , |3 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

It is immediately apparent that this cookbook is aptly named. Denis Cotter has a genuine love for putting ingredients together to create phenomenal dishes. This is one of very few vegetarian books I have read that is truly inspiring. He has a way of writing recipes that make the finished products seem so much more than the sum of their parts. It is no exaggeration to say that the way he views food and ingredients makes me reset my focus.

I adore his written introduction and think it sets a great tone for the book. Instead of writing a cookbook based on themes, he started jotting down the dishes he was preparing on a daily basis. The result was “a book of nice things to eat that would be of more use than an addition to the growing list of serious food tomes.”  He could have also added that the end result was a pure joy to read.

Recipes are divided into nine slightly unusual categories: Breakfast, Salad, Risotto, Soup, Mash, All wrapped

14 11, 2011

Review: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese

By | November 14th, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , , , |8 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

A few years ago, Jennifer Reese wrote an article that analyzed the cost effectiveness of making six different pantry staples versus buying them. I loved that she tried her hand at making cream cheese and wrote an honest account, thereby saving me the trouble. I thought her comparison idea was a really great one, and so thrilled to find that she expounded on that idea and wrote an entire book devoted to the premise. Which foods should you cook from scratch, and which are you better off buying? Thanks to this exhaustive research project – we can make our own informed decisions with fewer headaches.

Frequently, I buy a convenience food or pantry staple, and think to myself “It would be so much cheaper and healthier if I would just make this at home.” Exactly how

14 08, 2011

Review: Complete Book of Knife Skills by Jeffrey Elliot & James DeWan

By | August 14th, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , |7 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

I have always considered myself to be fairly competent with my knives in the kitchen. At least, that’s what I thought, until I was faced with exactly how little I actually know about knives and kitchen techniques. The Complete Book of Knife Skills is a compilation of a truly amazing amount of information. This is an excellent guide that really will help you become more knowledgeable and skilled with your knives.

The first chapter, titled “Everything You Need to Know About Knives” is a basic primer that I found invaluable. Here, you will learn how knives are put together, differentiate the different parts of a knife, understand the various blade styles and their intended use. Best of all is the section on types of knives, which includes a photo of each type and a detailed explanation. I have always

21 07, 2011

Review: Bread Making by Lauren Chattman

By | July 21st, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , , , |10 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

For people who are interested in learning to bake bread, trying to learn directly from a book can be intimidating. The intricate directions and multiple steps in some of the artisan bread books are enough to make my head spin. This book is designed with the beginning breadmaker in mind. Lauren Chattman breaks down the process to remove doubts and firmly squash all fear, so you’ll get the perfect loaf every time. 

Bread Making is divided into nine chapters in two manageable parts. Part One is Getting Started and Part Two is Techniques and Recipes. Seems pretty simple, right? Take your time learning Ingredients, Equipment, and The Basic Steps (chapters 1 -3) in Part One and you will have absorbed everything you need to know to tackle the recipes. One thing that sets this book apart from others

7 07, 2011

Review: The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook

By | July 7th, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

King Arthur Flour is well known in the world of baking for their specialty flours and grains, but I love them just as much for their fabulous cookbooks. This special commemorative edition celebrates the company’s 200th anniversary as “purveyors of the finest flour in the world” and gives a nod to all of us who appreciate those products. I think the inscription on the first page “Dedicated to the Pure Joy of Baking for 200 Years” shows that this company really understands the heart of a baker. I love that!

This definitely is not a fancy, high-end cookbook. There are not glossy photos of finished products, but rather hand drawn illustrations scattered about on the pages. Although I do love the slick cookbooks, there’s plenty to love here too. The writing is so down to earth

2 07, 2011

Review: 500 Mediterranean Dishes by Valentia Sforza

By | July 2nd, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , , , |4 Comments

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Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

500 Mediterranean Dishes, a chunky half book, is no slouch. If the readers are unfamiliar with Mediterranean food, they will be encouraged to try some of these recipes at the first opportunity. The Lebanese Red Lentil Soup or the Gazpacho are amazingly simple dishes that anyone can try with ease.

The foods of the region are full of flavor with simple spices such as onion and cumin, or fresh herbs such as cilantro and fennel. There are easy recipes, with full color photos of finished dishes throughout. For example, the Baked Stuffed Baby Squid on a bed of fennel is made with some unfamiliar ingredients (chorizo) and some familiar ingredients (fennel bulbs, feta or goat cheese) for an amazing combination. Each recipe is described in easy to read language, with suggested side dishes and possible variations on the

26 06, 2011

Review: Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni

By | June 26th, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , , |5 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

I can vouch for the accuracy of the title. These doughnuts are simple to make at home and quite delicious. Don’t let the slim volume fool you, there are a surprising number of recipes tucked inside. Worried about deep frying? Try the baked recipe. Afraid of using yeast? Plenty of non-raising varieties to choose from. Not a chocolate fan? Opt for Carrot Cake, Red Velvet, or Chai. Recipes are even provided for vegan and gluten-free diets. There are doughnuts for everyone’s taste here!

The first chapter is split into two parts: dough and glazes. Select your dough recipe and then decide which sweet concoction will be gracing the top. I am of the opinion that an occasional deep fried food never hurt anyone, and seeing that Basic Raised was the first recipe of the book, it seemed only

21 05, 2011

Review: The Entrees by Gail Monaghan

By | May 21st, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Gourmet, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , , , |13 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

The Entrees is a very sophisticated cookbook. It’s quite a bit more upscale than my cooking, but I couldn’t bear to give it a poor review just because it’s over my culinary head. In the foreword, it is referred to as a “magnificent tome” which struck me as the perfect description. The Entrees is a collection of recipes from legendary chefs and restaurants, when food was served with a flourish, and calorie count was not a concern. To borrow a phrase from the book: this is the essences of old time gastronomy. These are definitely dishes that take a bit of planning and time, but would yield impressive results and certainly be worth your efforts.

Although I will probably not make many dishes from The Entrees, I still admire the book as a whole. It

14 04, 2011

Review: Sarabeth’s Bakery by Sarabeth Levine

By | April 14th, 2011|Categories: Cooking, Food, Wine, For the Cook, Gift Ideas, Gourmet, Nonfiction|Tags: , , , , , , , |8 Comments

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Reviewed by Jen Kulman

Swoon. That’s how you’ll feel holding Sarabeth’s Bakery in your hands. My gosh, there isn’t one aspect of this book that isn’t stunning. The size (lovely ten inch square pages) and heft (four pounds) of the book alone whisper that this one is special. Reading the introduction is like beginning a novel you just know will be riveting, after only digesting the first two paragraphs. The photographs are nothing short of perfection, and the directions are incredibly detailed. But the very best of all, in my opinion, is the writing that prefaces each chapter and accompanies the recipes. Yes, the secrets to some of the most amazing baked goods and techniques are being passed from her hands to ours, but the writing feels as though it is straight from her heart.

My first choice was Apple Cinnamon