Two Wonderful Cookbooks

Hi Cooking Friends– I’m guessing that’s most of you.  For my birthday this week two friends gave me cookbooks– and they are the best!  I’ve already made the Moroccan Chicken from one of them and it was so good!  Thought you’d like to see them.

Checked this book out from the New Book shelf at the library.  I started to dog-ear pages (I know– in a library book??!!) of recipes I wanted to try and it was half the book!  So when Jenon dropped it off as a gift I was jumping up and down! Everything is so so beautiful and just unique enough.  Amazing photography and little garnishing touches.

 

And this book I browsed through at a store on vacation– but being the cheapskate (frugal??) person that I am, couldn’t bare to buy it on first acquaintance.  But after I described it to my friend Joy, she scooped it up for me!  Everything in the book is a big board or platter full of ingredients– S’mores Platter, Beach Board, Mediterranean Board…   And I have the Big Board from breakfast a few weeks back to fill up with all these yummy recipes!  Such fun ideas more than recipes!  I think you’d love it!

Books & Breakfast –Morning with Friends

Hi all– This isn’t really a recipe, but an idea that was so much fun, I thought you’d like to know about it.  Saturday morning a tableful of friends came in the door for breakfast and a favorite books “show and tell.”

We started off with a breakfast board down the middle of the table– sort of a help yourself to whatever looks good kind of meal.  Drank mugs of tea and laughed and talked over the week…

Then we all pulled out a short stack of what we’ve been reading lately to recommend to each other.  I typed up the list of books with small descriptions and emailed off the recommendations for everyone to use for future book possibilities.  So fun!  (we all had things to say about each other’s books–adding on movie and podcast ideas).

So here’s the Breakfast Board list –just in case you want to throw one together–
(sort of like a cheese board, but with breakfasty things thrown in!)
Brie
Smoked Gouda
Sliced ham
Rye bread
Baguette
Cranberry walnut bread
Mini blueberry muffins
Hard boiled eggs (salt & pepper)
Pears, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe
Berry jam & orange marmalade, honey
Yogurt
Granola
Almonds
Seedy mustard
(throw on a few flowers for the pretty part)

I got the long board (4′ by 12″) at Home Depot for $8.  Larry sanded and oiled it to make a breakfast worthy serving board.

       
And here’s a handful of the books we talked about:
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
Hearing God by Dallas Willard
Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah
A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Here’s to friends who read and love noisy talks over breakfast!!  Can’t wait to do it again!

Kicking Back with a Couple Good Books

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Hello there Reading Friends–  Sometimes
you just want a good story, something to kick back and escape everything around you.  Sort of Netflix binging for readers.  I’m thinking these two books would fit nicely into that category.  Enjoyed them both.

Seven Days of Us — by Francesca Hornak
When Olivia Birch returns at Christmas from treating an epidemic abroad, the whole Birch family is quarantined for a week in their country house.  So many twists an turns as an unknown family member arrives, a mother guards her secret, sisters clash and a father sees things in a new light.  Couldn’t put it down– sad and endearing and heart warming all the way to the end.

How To Stop Time — by Matt Haig
Tom Hazard looks like an ordinary 41 year old, but actually he was born in the 1500’s.  He’s known, Shakespeare, Captain Cook, F. Scott Fitzgerald…  And he’s been recruited by the Albatross Society, made of people with his same rare condition–and whose motto is “Never Fall in Love” –hold people at arm’s length.   The book skips between the 1500’s and current London, amid Tom’s struggles to find the “normal” life he wants while stuck in fears from the past.  Strong characters and it all wraps up with an exciting ending.

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P.S. Graphic- La Lecture – from parfumdeviolette.centerblog.net

Recent Reading

Hello Reading Friends–  Down with the flu the last couple weeks. Ugh!  So plenty of reading time– silver lining!  Here’s three books I would pass along, an old friend and a couple new ones…

Sourdough, written by Robin Sloan (author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore) is another quirky, but endearing book.  Lois has moved to San Francisco to take a tech job, coding all day and in the evenings sitting home alone, ordering take out from the shop downstairs owned by two unusual brothers.  When the guys lose their visa status, they gift their exceptional sourdough starter to Lois before they leave the country.  Lois, not a baker, delves into the complexities of sourdough baking and discovers a close knit, mysterious association of food experts that draw her in to a gastronomic world of technology and food.  Sourdough is a quick, enjoyable book if you love to cook (or eat!).

This unlikely story about a research botanist reads more like fiction than actual memoir.  Lab Girl is the story of the author, Hope Jahren, from her girlhood days in Minnesota in her father’s science classroom through her various stops at university labs across the country.  Her sidekick is her eccentric lab manager Bill, who practically takes a vow of poverty to live this life of science and discovery and who also keeps life in the sciences a little crazy.  And laced through the books are tiny chapters describing the wonders of leaves and seeds and trees…  It’s an amazing book and a look into the science life that was all new to me.  A worthwhile look at an fascinating life.

I read The Joy Luck Club when it first came out many years ago, but eagerly picked it up recently for a reread.  It’s the story of 4 women, immigrated to San Francisco from China carrying with them incredible stories of loss and struggle.  They meet to eat and talk and play mahjong and call themselves The Joy Luck Club. The chapters alternate between their recounting of their amazing stories and the lives of their 4 American born daughters.  Mothers steeped in the traditions of China, daughters raised in a fast moving affluent culture make for clashes and tender moments as their lives unfold.   Loved it.  And it was more interesting to me now that we have Brian from Hong Kong and Jodi from Hunan province in our family and many of the settings are places I now know well.  And– P.S. I checked out the movie of the book from the library this week– It’s beautiful and fascinating as well.

P.S. Painting above by Henry Lamb (Australian, British 1883-1960) Portrait of his wife.

Favorite Christmas Books

Hi friends–  When we drag out the Christmas decorations around here, I also climb up onto a chair reach the top bookshelf where we keep a beloved collection of Christmas books.  I pull down all the favorites and plop them on the corner of the coffee table, ready to read with grand-girls when they come in to stay.  It’s one of the best parts of Christmas!  Here are a few of our favorites.

B Is For Bethlehem — by Isabel Wilner, illustrated by Elisa Kleven.  This lively rhythmic telling of the Christmas story uses an ABC format and couldn’t be more beautiful.  The illustrations are a combination of collage and small paint details–exquisite.  And the message is glorious– honoring God and his gift to us at Christmas.

Christmas in Noisy Village — by Astrid Lindgren, illlustrated by Elon Wikland.  A band of village Swedish neighbor children spend their Christmas baking, gathering a tree from the forest, visiting a grandfather and feasting together at a Christmas party.  Couldn’t be more charming.

The Story of the Three Wise Kings — by Tomie DePaola.  Classic DePaola telling of the journey of the three wise men in search of the baby Jesus at the first Christmas.  He uses a slightly more formal take on his signature illustration and there is a interesting preface about the history of the telling the story of the wisemen.  A  wonderful addition to any Christmas book collection.

Santa’s Favorite Story — by Hisako Aoki, illustrated by Ivan Gantschev.  When the forest animals find Santa napping just before Christmas, they worry that Christmas won’t be ready! But Santa assures them that the real Christmas is more about the coming of a babe in a manger.  Lovely water color illustration and gentle text, make this a beautiful telling of Christmas.

Hope your Christmas is full of cozy reading and sweet times with family young and old.  Merry Christmas!

P.S. top illustration thanks to Holly Hobbie.

What I’ve Been Reading

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Hi Reading Friends–  It’s that time of year for our Book Club– We all send in recommendations from the books we’ve read and then weed through the list and narrow down to our next 6 books to read together Jan. to June!  Here’s the 4 books I recommended.  I think you might like them too.

And– what are your book recommendations??  I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading so I can take notes for my next trip to the library!!

When the Vicar in the small town of Chilbury disbands the church choir, after the men have all left with the advent of WWII, the women band together and revive the choir.  Written through the journals, diaries and letters of the various women, from an older nurse to a unscrupulous midwife, a young girl and her vivacious sister.  There is deception, romance, bravery and family ties stretched to the limits.  Sort of of a British Mitford-esque tale of colorful characters.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter is yet another in the current crop of WWII books.  In this story the Jewish Kurc family of Radom, Poland finds themselves scattered during the course of the war– between Paris, ports in Africa, a labor camp in Siberia, the front in Italy, Rio De Janeiro and Warsaw.  The narrative follows their amazing stories of hardship, bravery and near escapes.  At the end of the book, the epilogue explains that the stories told were of an actual family, collected and written by a grand daughter, Addy Kurc.  Heartwarming and incredible.

I love the way Lisa See connects a riveting story with big doses of Chinese culture and custom.  In The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Li-yan lives and works picking tea in a tradition bound village in southern China.  When she has a baby while unmarried, she takes her daughter to an orphanage where the baby is adopted by an American family.  Li-yan goes on the an education and builds a tea empire, always hoping to find the daughter she gave away.  A fascinating look at the prescribed life of a hill country young girl.

In Pachinko, Min Jim Lee weaves the story of a family over several decades, beginning in the early 1900’s when Sunja, a young Korean woman, pregnant and abandoned, marries a virtuous Korean pastor and immigrates with him to Japan.  The story continues with the lives of their children and the persecution of the Korean minority in Japan during WWII and beyond.  A poignant story of a family torn by circumstance, with characters that you really care about.  National Book Award Finalist.

P.S. Thanks for the reading graphic– illustrator Nicole Wong

Halloween Books Kids Love

Hello there– You know Halloween is already on it’s way if you’ve walked through Target lately.  My sis and I were there this week and scooped up a basket full of Halloween goodies to mail off to the grand-kids.

And that made me come home and pull down the little stack of Halloween kids books I keep for reading with kids this time of year.  Here’s some of our favorites:

We discovered this book on the aforementioned Target trip and stood there laughing in the aisle!  A group of goofy chickens are terrified of a number of strange things they see going on– a mouse of enormous size, a pumpkin with flickering eyes…  They work themselves into a state until it’s revealed that it’s just Halloween!

This is the Pumpkin uses rolling rhyme to take you through Halloween day into night with the buoyant Max and his family– from donning his costume, ghastly and green, through parties at school, past glowing pumpkins in the night, clear until he and his sis fall asleep amid their Halloween treats.  Bright happy illustrations make it fun!

Junie B. Jones at her best.  This time in Boo…and I Mean It!  Junie is too frightened to go out trick or treating.  There could be witches or monsters prowling, or pumpkins with sharp teeth!  But in the end with help from her mom, she manages to take it on.  This wacky first grader always makes me laugh out loud!

Our little protagonist in the Frankenstein mask steps up and knocks on the door of a haunted house to trick or treat on Halloween.  The occupants– a spider, some bats, a mummy, an owl… set off a startled chain reaction that a ends surprisingly.  Love the illustrations by the prolific Ted Arnold.