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Thursday
Feb042016

The Bee-Friendly Garden

Such a thoughtful book!  I have enjoyed reading this book over the past several nights and have gone to bed dreaming of brightly-colored flowers adorning my garden.  Alas, the current plants that I have are not bee friendly.  I’m not overly fond of these plants and they were already in the ground when I moved into my home.  So, the big question is….”do I rip them out?”  They are, after all, hiding my hydrangeas, which are bee friendly.  I just might.  I have thought about it so so many times but this book gives me the reason to rip!  I like the sounds of bees buzzing around – it sounds like summer to me.  I believe  there is nothing better than stretching out on my front porch swing, lazily swinging to and fro, while sipping an iced-tea (sweetened – this is the South) and listening to the sounds of summer.

The Bee-Friendly Garden provided me insight on those that are the optimal flowers to plant…the ones that will make all of the bees happy.  The book also taught me a lot about the many types of bees, their happiness, the need for bees, and the need for us to be friendly to bees.  The book is a great little bit, so insightful and will make you wonderlust for beautiful plush gardens right outside of your door.

Sunday
Jan172016

Yummy Green Smoothies

This book is a must have for anyone interested in fresh and healthy juices and smoothies.  This book uses a concept that I have wished other books would use but never have.  Every (and I mean every) juice and smoothie shows the reader exactly what the ingredients look like, what they are, and what the finished product should look like.  The book also lets us know a couple of reasons why we should be drinking this juice/smoothie.  I have other juice/smoothie books that I use ever-so-often and sometimes I just make up concoctions.  This book is a great reference guide; it even provides you with an easy seven-day cleanse should you so desire….and it is not a crazy make ten different juices/smoothies for one day and oh, by the way, you have to do this for seven or ten days.  The tasks are simple and the juices/smoothies look delish and easy to prepare.

Why couldn’t this book have come into my life sooner???  I have so many pages flagged with my little auditor flags.  My juicer is on stand-by.  My grocery list has been made.  I’ve even thought about including a beet and/or a green pepper on that list.  Ugh.  To both.  But, this book is reeeeaaaallllly making me want to drink the juices made with those dirt-tasty beets or the what-I-think-is-nasty green peppers.  That should tell anyone that this.book.is.a.winner.

Saturday
Nov212015

Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees...a Chinese tutorial

Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees is a tutorial; a tomb of knowledge.  Recipes for cooking up some delish Chinese fare do not truly begin until page 100.  Page 100 people!  So, the first 99 pages are devoted to teaching us the what, why, and how of Chinese cooking.  Personally, I find this enticing and exciting….it allows me to explore why I enjoy Chinese food and it gives me the essential tools that I need to be successful in the kitchen.  The chapters within the first 99 pages include the essence of Chinese food, the Chinese kitchen and pantry, basic ingredient preparation (key) and Chinese stocks.  Each chapter that includes recipes also include further knowledge to ensure that we (I) are successful with the Chinese cooking technique being taught within that chapter.  There are even detailed descriptions and pictures on how to create certain iconic dishes.  Moo Goo Gai Pan, anyone?  How about Salt Baked Chicken, no?  I know you want to make Peking Duck!!!  There are 14….count them 14….pictures that show you (me) step-by-step how to make this dish! There are even tutorials…pictorials…on how to clean a whole fish.  To be honest with you and truthfully myself, I sincerely doubt that I will ever do this (I won’t say never because you know what they say about saying never).  Even with that, I like the fact that I will be able to say that I, technically speaking, ‘know how to clean and filet a whole fish’. 

This book is more than a cookbook to me; it is one that is currently in my bedroom.  I find myself dragging it with me from den to bedroom.  I am enjoying reading it as I would a novel.  There is such a depth of information in this book.  This book will help me be successful with my other Asian-style cookbooks (or cookery bookery as Julia would say).

The photos beautifully capture the recipes.  They will call out to you…make me, you must make me….  The book cover photo is of Stir-fried Ho Fan.  Like the photo said….I gotta make it.

P.S.  I love General Tso’s Chicken.  I admit this is one of the dishes that I always order at PF Chang’s.  In the book is an authentic recipe, along with how-to pictures.  I will be making this dish. 

P.S.S.  This book is a keeper.

 

Saturday
Nov072015

Lucky Peach

I received Lucky Peach's 101 Easy Asian Recipes in the mail this week.  I think it came on Thursday. I wasn't expecting it to arrive so soon and when I saw the box on my front doorstep, I gotta tell you, I was excited! The book is a nice hardbook, easy to hold even with 272 pages.  The pictures included in the book are of a cheeky manner.  And I love the text...kind of tongue-in-check with a little smart-ass thrown in.  My kind of book!

It's raining today (again) so I'm starting my grocery list using this book.  The recipes DO seem easy and DO seem like the ones I will want to make, the one's that I like from the local Asian places.  I recently tried making Pad Thai from a Thailand cookbook...mistake.  But the mistake was on my part, somehow the noodles that I used became extremely gummy and left a thick coating in the mouth.  Can you say 'nasty'??? I'm going to try to make it again, using the noodle recommendation from this book.  (One thing that I really love in this book and one of the reasons that I ordered this book was the fact that it has pages upon pages of pictures of the ingredients that I will need to become a master of the easy Asian recipes, and then, a description of those ingredients!  Take a picture of the page; you (I) don't really want to drag a hard-back book to the grocery store. So, what I'm thinking is starting with the novice recipes and working my up....slowly but confidently.  I can do it!

What I really was giddy about was that the book contains recipes that I enjoy eating.  I am starting with Soy 'n' Sugar cucumber pickles and maybe Chineasy cucumber salad (yes, I like this one!...there is a version of this at my local burger-sushi place and this dish is so addictive for me...I now will know how to make it!!!!) and maybe RAMEN (YES!!!) and even maybe chicken adobo and YES!!  Mall Chicken!!! (hahahahaha).  Oh my gosh, it even has a recipe for lacquered roast chicken.  I am a happy girl right now!

This book has become a favorite before I've even had a chance to cook from it.  I cannot wait.  I was so excited that I had to share the news as soon as I opened the pages!  Happy Cooking!

Saturday
Oct312015

This is Camino

What a great cookbook...I really love a cookbook that I can sit in bed and read like a novel.  This is one of those books!  And, one that I will read, and cook from, over and over.....

I hadn't really heard of this restuarant; wait that's not true....I hadn't heard of this restaurant until I started seeing the cookbook and then it was as if my conscienciousness awoke and now I hear of Camino all the time! Next time that I am traveling for work and I happen to be in the same zip code, I will have a reservation at this gem! These guys (Russ and his wife Allison) primarily cook with an open flame.  I can only imagine the wonderful tastes that they are able to create!  The cookbook does have a section to teach how to cook with fire but the cookbook recognizes that home cooks do not have the tools (read a fireplace in the kitchen) that the restuarant does and so the cookbook gives you instructions on how to use your kitchen. 

The photos are sumptuous and yes, they make me want to build an outdoor spot to cook my hanging leg of lamb. Not sure what my HOA would say about that one! (but they might be enticed by aroma to a) join the party and b) let me keep my fire hole.  I know I'm dreaming on that one.

Seriously, though.  This cookbook is divided into various chapters:  veggies, fish, chicken & egg, duck, lamb, port, dessert, and cocktail!  All you need to have a fabulous feast!  As a little extra, the authors even threw in a chapter on 'a week at camino' so all of us wannabes can pretend we are a little part of Camino for a bit.

This is a book to have many splatters!