Chef on DVD

Jon Favreau directs and stars in Chef. In the film, Chef Carl Casper loses his restaurant job with help from a public scene that goes viral. He is struggling with finding time for his son while dealing with his ex-wife. He longs to cook creatively and finds himself in a rut. Casper eventually gets talked into heading to Miami to open up his own food truck making his own food his own way.

The truck ends up on a road trip across America with Carl, his son, and his soux chef played by John Leguizamo. The film is funny, touching, and foodilicious! Bring on the Cuban street food! The film also stars: Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Sofia Vergara, and Amy Sedaris. Fun!

Absolutely Oatrageous!

If you are looking to amp up your morning breakfast routine, then check out Kathy Hester's newest book, Oatrageous Oatmeals!

The book starts off with more conventional ways to use oats, including delectable and creative oatmeals such as Apple Pear Baked Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Pumpkin Coffee Cake Oatmeal. However, it also delves into other breakfast ideas such as muffins, granolas, coffee cakes, and breakfast bars. These are all great ideas for those snuggly winter mornings when a warm breakfast is welcome, but what about the summer months? "Oatrageous Oatmeals" also includes several recipes for overnight oats, which are cool and satisfying refrigerated oatmeals.

The most surprising part of this book is the addition of several savory recipes for lunch and dinner. Picky kids (and grown-ups!) won't even be able to tell that there are protein-packed oats in their Chickpea Veggie Soup or their Potato Gnocchi. Those with specialized diets can find something to love in this book too; all recipes have omitted the use of meat and dairy products, and included alternatives to omit gluten as well.

Kathy Hester is well-known for her contributions to the Key Ingredient blog as well as other online publications. She has written three other cookbooks.

Taco Tuesday!

It’s taco Tuesday! What are you making for dinner? Taco Tuesday has been around for a while, but it seemed to pick up steam with families after last spring’s Lego Movie. What’s taco Tuesday? It’s pretty much just making it a point to dine on tacos on a Tuesday. Pretty genius, if you ask me. Because tacos are awesome!

Tacos can be simple or elaborate. Nachos? They count. Walking tacos? They totally count. Burritos? Get on it!

Looking for some ways to spice up taco night at your house? Check out some of the cookbooks with oodles of taco recipes available at the library! So many tacos! And hey, tacos are good any day of the week!

Dos Caminos Tacos: Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Mexican Street Food

Tacos: 75 Authentic and Inspired Recipes

Vegan Tacos: Authentic & Inspired Recipes for Mexico's Favorite Street Food

Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos

Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors From the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico

Here’s a quick list of additional taco-tastic titles.

Mastering Fermentation by Mary Karlin

We all know that eating fermented foods is good for the health of our gut microbiome. It is really surprising just how many foods and drinks assist those good bacteria to thrive in our guts, like the obvious ones: yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, vinegar, kombucha and creme fraiche. But add to that list sausage, sourdough bread, fruit chutneys, corned beef, gravlax, olives, chocolate, cheese, wine & beer. We have a long and richly varied association with fermentation throughout history, assisted by the world of bacteria, which turns our crops and animal-source products into very tasty, healthy and able-to-be preserved foods. The health, flavor and digestibility of almost any food can be enhanced by the working of good bacteria and Mary Karling can show you how.

Mastering Fermentation is an excellent resource to help you explore how to do this in your own kitchen, with very little fuss and at very little expense. You mostly need some salt, and sometimes some whey, a few crocks or Ball jars, basic kitchen equipment and a little patience (it takes time for the magic to work). Karlin covers all the basics and then walks you through fermenting vegetables, dairy, grains, meat and beverages. There is something here for all tastes and eating styles. Some recipes are more challenging than others (Hop Stoopid Ale, feta cheese or wood-smoked pastrami anyone?), but the majority are familiar and no-reason-not-to-start-today easy.

Besides being useful and full of intriguing experiments, Mastering Fermentation is also a handsome, well-organized, picture-laden book which is a delight to read. She includes a very comprehensive list of resources and websites for supplies and support, as well as a bibliography for further reading, if the fermentation bug strikes you!

British culinary history comes to life in Historic Heston

I was fascinated when I picked up the amazing new cookbook Historic Heston, by Heston Blumenthal. The book is a James Beard Award Winner for Cookbook of the Year 2014 and that prize was certainly well-deserved. In this fascinating tome, Blumenthal takes readers and chefs on a journey through the culinary history of Britain, from the middle ages all the way to modern day. “Alighting upon the most iconic and intriguing dishes, such as Meat Fruit, Powdered Duck, Tipsy Cake and Mock Turtle Soup, he delves into the story behind each one, before using them as inspiration for his own modern recipes,” reads the cover. I was particularly wonder-struck by the photography in the cookbook by Romas Foord: the image of a beautiful orange on one page is revealed to be constructed completely out of marzipan on the next. Later in the book, a close-up of meat stew is detailed enough to expose the individual spices in the broth. Seeing the ancient dishes as they would have been created in midieval times is a treat and Blumenthal’s adaptations to make them modern are completely usable. Historic Heston is truly a must-peruse for those interested in cooking, photography or British history.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #492 - “I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong... I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

Miracle in a Dry Season * by Sarah Loudin Thomas is set in the small town of Wise, WV. (First in the Appalachian Blessings series)

Rumors and speculations swirl around single mother Perla Long and her 5 yr.old daughter Sadie when she comes to live with her uncle and aunt. Casewell Phillips, a church elder and a confirmed bachelor is charmed when he meets beautiful Perla, and before long, he is crafting doll furniture for Sadie. But like the townfolks, he is cautious of her past that hints of sordidness, and suspicious of her singular talent of producing literally an endless feast out of meager rations.

When a severe drought hits Wise, folks are torn between gratitude for Perla's gift, small-town gossip, and a minister bent on judgment. Perla and Casewell must look deep into their hearts and faith for guidance if they are to have a future.

"Thomas's fiction debut offers sympathetic, wholesome protagonists seeking to live faithful, prayerful lives and engaging supporting characters in subplots that explore the overarching themes of forgiveness, redemption, and the wideness of God's love."

Fans of Ann Tatlock, Karen Kingsbury, and Lisa Wingate now have a new author to watch.

* = starred review

The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying & Start Making

I have a new love. It’s called Hollandaise sauce. Velvety, lemon-butter, it partners with meat or fish, eggs, grains or vegetables. A very democratic sauce. One for all.

The only way to enjoy this delectable garnish is to make it yourself. You can be tres authentique and do it the long way, a la master chefs Jaques Pepin, Julia Child and Elizabeth David. Or you can totally cheat and follow the example of this brief Food Lab video. A stick blender and two minutes and you’ve got it.

But why stop there? Next up - homemade mayonnaise. For such a common condiment it is way more complicated. Which oil, whole egg or just the yolk, lemon juice or vinegar, arm-powered whisk or blender? That’s where a number of lovely books came to my rescue and taught me way more about sauces than I thought possible, especially this marvelous book, Modern Sauces: More Than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day. We have many, many others! You too can emulate the great cuisines of every continent with sauces and toppings which enhance flavor and presentation.

But my greatest discovery was this handy compendium to the self-sufficient and frugal gourmet, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. Very resourceful, inspiring, entertaining, and useful! Next up - homemade ketchup.

Happy National Kale Day!

Today is National Kale Day! How will you celebrate? Perhaps with a green pear-kale smoothie to start the day, followed by a nice massaged kale salad with dried cranberries and a balsamic dressing for lunch, followed by roasted veggies over garlic sautéed kale for dinner.

Kale is a much talked about superfood that can be eaten cooked or raw in a variety of ways in place of lettuce or spinach to spice things up a bit. If you’re still skeptical, there are many varieties to choose from as far as taste goes – curly, purple, Russian, dinosaur?!

For some recipes featuring kale and other greens, check out these leafy green books at the library. Also, local gardener Diana Dyer (garlic!) has a blog called 365 Days of Kale where she offers a ton of recipes, info, and insight on the health benefits of kale. Don’t forget to check out the site for National Kale Day to see how you can be a Kale Hero! Enjoy ~~

Ree Drummond: The Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond’s memoir of how she met, fell in love with, and married her rancher husband is hilarious, romantic, and charming. Titled The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, A Love Story and published back in 2011, the entirely true story definitely made me want to find my own cowboy out there somewhere! Ree was born in urban Oklahoma and went to college at USC, where she fell in love with the city life. After a few years in Los Angeles, she moves back home temporarily before she plans to move to Chicago. When she meets “Marlboro Man” one night in a smoky hometown bar and he begins to woo her, Ree’s plans change somewhat and before she knows it she finds herself the wife of a down-home Oklahoma rancher, living over an hour from the nearest grocery store and surrounded by cattle rather than skyscrapers. Ree’s stories of her new country life are completely heartwarming.

After publishing this lovely memoir, Ree was inspired to write more and has produced several fantastic cookbooks complete with delicious, easy recipes interspersed with more stories of family life at the ranch. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: recipes from an accidental country girl, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: food from my frontier, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: a year of holidays, are all beautifully photographed, adorably written, and extremely handy to have in any kitchen!

Most recently, Ree has branched out into writing children’s books about Charlie the ranch basset hound, who is based off of the basset hound that she and her family own in real life. There’s Charlie the Ranch Dog, Charlie the Ranch Dog: where’s the bacon?, Charlie and the New Baby, and Charlie and the Christmas Kitty, as well as several other picture books about the lazy, mischievous dog.

For more information about Ree, and for additional recipes, stories, and photos, check out her awesome blog The Pioneer Woman.

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