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Naked: A cookbook

I was excited to find this book on my doorstop and couldn’t wait to read through this book and find recipes to cook.  I was honestly surprised when I found that I did not like the cookbook.  For all of the recipes, I found only two or three that I was interested in making – I didn’t even use my accounting flags to mark the pages.  Recipes for broth, stock, and juices are recipes that, it seems, every cookbook has within their pages….so nothing new here. Other recipes were not exciting to me; perhaps because I do not overly like fish, beets, or dairy products.

What I did like about the book was the artistic nature of the book….the binding, the feel of the pages, and the quality of the pictures.

Unfortunately based on my initial thoughts and my perspectives being a small-town Southern girl, I would not recommend this book.


Food with Friends

This is a perfect little book for those times when you (or your husband) has invited friends over before you all are heading to dinner.  Or heck, invited friends over to dinner.  This is for those last minute times, such as when you were at your niece's dance recital all afternoon and had maybe thirty minutes before your friends arrived for nibbles.  Yes, take it from my experience.  I needed this book; I didn't have it that afternoon so I spent $53 at a pricey little French cafe on nibbles.  (However, I cannot complain about the salted caramel brownies I purchased - they were heavenly).

This book has recipes that combine ingredients that are already in your pantry and fridge.  This book gives you the nudge of the 'why didn't I think of that????'  Food with Friends has a taken a place of honor on my shelf of books - it is at the top of the heap and has loads of little sticky flags attached to its pages.  This is a book that will stand the test of time.....many friends, many recipes.


Home Cooked

This cookbook spoke to me and I read it like a novel.  Several years ago I became concerned with what the hubby and I put in our mouths.  I started my own small garden (organic) in the urban oasis of Charlotte.  And, I started visiting the regional farmers market on a weekly basis.  My momma taught me to can veggies using a hot-water bath and then pressure canning and then came buying an upright freezer so that I could freeze certain jams and veggies.

Heaving home boxes of tomatoes allowed me to can tomatoes, Sunday gravy (pasta sauce), and Mexican salsa.  I canned green beans and froze corn taken off the cob.  I’ve made strawberry jam that my niece loves, fig preserves, and make many iterations of pickles, including some with the hundreds of little Super Sweet 100 tomatoes that I picked off of one plant.

So when I saw Home Cooked by Anya Fernald, I knew I had to have it.  Anya’s recipes are home-made and she proves that a little prep ahead makes cooking dinner on those dreaded weeknights easier and tastier.  I love the recipe for the sofritto.  Why I never thought of making it ahead of time (other than making it to put it into the pasta sauce that I pressure-canned) and freezing it into ice-cube trays and then popping it out and putting in freezer bags, I’ll never know.  But this is now on my agenda this week….I just need to pop over to Target and buy a couple of ice-cube trays.  The sofritto will make beans pop!  Eggs pop! Weeknight pasta sauce pop!  I could go on and on and on and on….well, you get the picture. 

Anya’s book harks back to my grandmother’s time when real whole-food cooking was the way of the norm.  She has recipes for making lard; the good fat to cook with.  People, there is nothing wrong in cooking with good fats and eating good fats.  I know someone that eats low fat aaaaalllllllllll the time.  I have tried again and again to explain how unhealthy that is for her, that the body needs fat to survive and that low fat foods are pumped full of sugar and chemicals to make the food taste good and stabilize.  She’ll never learn but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us cannot enjoy great cooking and healthy cooking.   

Stepping off of my soap box now….

A couple (well, more than a couple) of Anya’s recipes that I’m flagging include bone broth, salsa verde, rough chimichurri (you know how I feel about chimichurri), barbadian hot sauce, pickled grapes (yum), chickpea torte, frittatina D’erbe, maltagliati (handmade pasta), tallowed fries, cracked crabs with lemon-chile vinaigrette (heck, I may make this vinaigrette for my salads..mmmm….this vinaigrette would be delicious on heirloom tomatoes), honey nougat, and panforte.  Just to name a few…..


Lemon-Chile Vinaigrette from Home Cooked by Anya Fernald

½ cup EVOO

½ cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

8 cloves garlic, smashed to a coarse paste

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Cracked black pepper

2 cups fresh parsley leaves

In a bowl, whisk EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Season to taste with the salt and pepper.  Stir in the parsley leaves.  Gorgeous!


Good + Simple

That is exactly what I need right now.  I ssssooooooo need that.  After spending last week in Los Angeles and eating (and drinking) my way through trendy restaurants, all I want right now is a cookbook that tells me (so I don't have to think about it) how I should eat....until my next excursion.

So.  LA.

Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica, Sur in West Hollywood, Industrial in Downtown LA, and Bottega Louie in Downtown LA.  And that is just the dinner spots.  I ate so much food that I don't know where to begin. Rustic Canyon and Bottega Louie were by far the favorites of the trip.  I had a Black & Blue somewhere - I think Bottega Louie, that I paired with a Carbonara that was out of this world.  No dessert for me there; the Carbonara was way too rich.  Rustic Canyon is a great little place probably only five minutes from the Santa Monica pier.  The memorable moments of the night was this scoop of the most heavenly honeycomb ice-cream.  It was seriously some of the best ice-cream that I have ever had.  I only wish that I had had more than one scoop (who gives you one scoop anyways???)  Oh Yeah, and Liam Helmsworth sat at the next table.  I would glance, he would see me glace and so we both glanced all night at each other with our eyes meeting through the dim of the restaurant.  He is actually way more cute in person.  Sur had me snaping me pictures of a co-worker and Paul...or is it Peter?  I think it's Peter....I don't watch the Housewives of Beverly Hills so I don't know, but he was a cutie.  And what can I say about Bottega Louie????  I love this place; I am there everytime that I am in LA.  The front of the house is French with its fabulous maccaroons and napoleons and the back is an ideal Italian with its wood-fire pizzas and freshly made pastas.  Don't even get me started on the cocktails - I don't know what I had, all I know is that they were tasty...delish really.  

So after not caring about what I ate except for caring that I enjoyed myself, this week is all about getting me back to my normal way of eating.  Jasmine Hemsley's and Melissa Hemsley's new 'Good + Simple' book will help with the task!  The chapters begin with breakfast, work their way through dinner, and end with desserts and drinks.  Did I really just go there?

One of the things that I really like about this book is that it gives you a kick-start by listing the Hemsleys' principles of eating well and spring-boards into a full weeks worth of what to eat.  The recipes are straight-forward and don't have a lot of crazy ingredients.  Now that I'm thinking about it, another thing that I reaallly like about this book is that it provides various options of fixing recipes....think...pancakes 3 ways.  And I love making salads or soups or soup-like thingees in mason jars - this book tells you how and gives you some healthy recipe options.  AND, this book even includes recipes for the new craze....spiralizing!  I am a happy camper with this book.  I think I'll go sit on my front porch with my handy-dandy accountant yellow sticky flags and I shall flag recipes for this week.  The drinks, uh I mean the juices and smoothies are looking pretty good right now!


Around the Fire 

This new nugget of a cookbook is from the genius minds of Greg and Gabrielle Denton.  This book has been sitting on my coffee table for several weeks now...with travel for work (NYC and DC), I have only had the odd-chance to read.  When I find myself with a few minutes, I grab this book.  What a book feel!  I know that I have talked about my love of the feel of books before but, really, there is nothing like the feel of brushing my hands across the pages of a book printed on thick-stock paper - love it!!!


The content of the book is rich with distinct recipes.  This is not your every-day grilling cookbook.  Here is just a sample of the recipes that I am looking forward to making (once the monsoon has past my house...yes, I'm exaggerating a bit but it is raining really hard):  grilled artichokes with espelette mayo, dungeness crab bruschetta (yum), grilled beef skirt steak with onion marinade, ash-seared lamb loin with celery, cilantro, orange, and cumin-chile oil (OMG), and grilled butterflied whole chicken with gilled figs, manouri cheese, and lentil chimichurri (y'all know how much I LOVE chimichurri!!!). There are too many grilled veggie options to list - just know that the book has soooo many yellow accounting flags marking recipes that I'm looking forward to (and the desserts look as if they are to-die-for).

Not every recipe has a picture and I can understand that....the book would probably be exorbitantly expensive if each recipe had its own picture....but the pictures that are in the book portray the delicacy that one will experience when one purchases this book and then proceeds to make these recipes.  I am so glad that I have this book.  It is a keeper!! 

Now, I am going to go curl up on my sofa, listen to the rain pound my roof, and use my yellow accounting flags on more pages of this book.