Fabulous Fiction Firsts #302

Just about now - as the days get shorter and the temperature dips below freezing, my reading drifts toward the upbeat and heartwarming, and I am glad to have found Angelina's Bachelors : a novel, with food *.

Angelina D'Angelo's Frangelico Chocolate Dream Cake (recipe included) is to die for and unfortunately her husband Frank did just that. Grieving and listless, she turns to her one passion - cooking. To make ends meet, she gathers the hungry bachelors in the neighborhood and offers to feed them. Apart from the out-of-this-world meals she painstakingly prepared daily, each of them comes to find community and riches far beyond his/her expectations.

Angelina marks the fiction debut for cookbook author and TV cooking-show producer Brian O'Reilly whose "keen ear for the neighborhood (South Philly) swells lends a charming, timeless quality to the tale."

And the recipes by Virginia O'Reilly... they are fabulous. The O'Reillys are no strangers when it comes to food and cooking. Between them, they have published two cookbooks (Mission: Cook!: My Life, My Recipes, and Making the Impossible Easy, and Impossible to Easy: 111 Delicious Recipes to Help You Put Great Meals on the Table Every Day), with Robert Irvine, the star of the Foodnetwork television program they produced, called Dinner Impossible.

Unlike recipes in other novels, these are neither cute nor cheeky. They are gourmand-serious and kitchen-tested. I have ordered my own copy of the book so I could try out the Stracotto (Italian Pot Roast) this holiday season.

* = starred review

Things We Love: Food and Television

It is that time of year when we begin thinking about food just a bit too much, and plan meals and treats that would be perfect for such and such occasion. Why not celebrate food a little further with some quality cooking shows on DVD! They are ever-entrancing and sure to have you grabbing snacks from the kitchen as you watch.

Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations: Chef and author Anthony Bourdain travels the world sampling local foods and culture. His dry wit and honest opinion of food and culture keep this show lively.

Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie: Gourmet travels the world to serve you a feast of culinary trends, exotic ingredients, and food-obsessed personalities. Exploring the world through food never looked so yummy.

America’s Test Kitchen: In the most watched cooking show on public television, viewers can learn the secrets to foolproof home cooking along with no-nonsense reviews of kitchen equipment and supermarket ingredients.

Cook’s Country: Christopher Kimball and your favorite chefs from America's Test Kitchen turn their no-nonsense approach to cooking to the American repertoire, turning bad food into great food through careful testing. Set in a farmhouse of interesting characters, this show is a hoot.

Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home: Two of the world's most talented and engaging chefs, Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, gather in Julia's famous kitchen to present the essence of great home cooking.

Oliver’s Twist: Chef Jamie Oliver shows us how to shop for the freshest, most flavorful ingredients and then it's back to his flat where he rustles up some tasty dishes for his friends. Jamie’s charisma and food knowledge make me want to bike down to the local bakery and buy some fancy breads after watching this show.

Chef! Famous chef Gareth Blackstock struggles with dividing time between wife Janice and the restaurant. It's a good thing he can let off steam with his remarks.

Now back away from the TV and go stir that sauce!

Go West, Television Viewers

There are several classics in the history of television programs set in the old west. A few of them have recently hit the shelves at AADL.

Gunsmoke was on the air from 1955-1975, and is the longest running dramatic series in the history of televison. Set in 1873 in the frontier town of Dodge City, Kansas, Gunsmoke centers around Marshal Matt Dillon and his adventures with saloon-keeper Miss Kitty, Doc Adams, and Deputy Chester Goode.

Another western drama, The Virginian, aired from 1962 to 1971. It was television's first 90-minute western series, and ran for nine seasons, making it television's third longest running western. Set in Wyoming around the year 1886, and loosely based on a 1902 novel by Owen Wister, the series revolved around the foreman of the Shiloh Ranch, known as The Virginian, and his fellow Shiloh Men.

For more westerns, check out the movies in our westerns section, as well as the hit TV show Bonanza.

Famed TV Writer Mark Rothman Reads From His New Book of Essays

Tuesday November 1, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Remember laughing to hit shows such as "Laverne and Shirley," "Happy Days," and "The Odd Couple"? Come to the library and meet the man behind the humor! Famed TV sitcom writer Mark Rothman reads from his book "Mark Rothman's Essays: Many About Show Biz and All About Life."

Whether you watched the shows in the 1970s or saw them in reruns, Rothman's work has made many generations of tv-viewers laugh and escape in his memorable characters.

Books will be available for sale with a book signing following the presentation.

Time to LOL: More MST3K Films

If you’ve been scarfing down the many Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVDs AADL owns, and are ready for some new additions, you’re in luck. Joel Robinson and Mike Nelson, with Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo and Gypsy (yes, all robots!) will keep you laughing as they poke fun of the best of the worst movies- often science fiction B movies. These guys are the best at what they do. Hot off the delivery truck are some new discs for you to get on the hold list for.

Volume 14: Mad Monsters, Manhunt in Space, Soultaker, Final Justice

Volume 15: The Robot Vs. The Aztec Mummy, The Girl in Lovers Lane, Zombie Nightmare, Racket Girls

Volume 17: The Crawling Eye, The Beatniks, The Final Sacrifice, Blood Waters of Dr. Z

Power Sewing DVDs

Sandra Betzina, international lecturer, writer, TV personality, and pattern designer, stars in this series of how-to sewing videos from her webTV show. Some also feature writer and designer Ron Collins.

Even if you’re a super sewer these are a great visual aid to hone your skills. If you’re looking to see how others get it done, these DVDs are also for you. I know it helps sometimes to have a visual aid when working on projects.

Power Sewing Skill DVDs to choose from include: Foolproof Buttonholes, Pant Fitting Pointers, Copy Ready-To-Wear, Anatomy of a Jacket, Jeans Couture, and Linings A to Z. Everything you need to figure out fly fronts, hems, sleeves, pockets, vests, alterations, and more.

DVDs in the new-to-AADL Power Sewing Master Series include: Fabrics, Needles and Presser Feet, Pattern Alterations and Interfacing, Details, Behind the Seams, and Home Décor.

Each show provides an in-depth instruction with close-up camera work and graphics. Whether you have been sewing for years, or just getting started, you will learn new methods that will inspire you.

Attention Peaks Freaks

Have you been itching to watch the pilot episode of Twin Peaks? Thanks to some added copies in the AADL collection, you now can. It happens to come from a metallic gold case of magic and wonder. It’s the most beautiful box set to have graced my hands since I purchased the original Twin Peaks box set on VHS, which I still own.

If you’ve been meaning to watch the show for the first time, or fall in love with Agent Cooper all over again, we’ve got you covered. Also added to the collection, is Season 2, Disc 7, which is a disc with bonus features(!) including: Deleted scenes, a slice of lynch, Peaks SNL skits, "Secrets from another place" feature-length documentary, interviews with cast and crew, and much more. It. Is. Purely. Magical. If you're ready to get your David Lynch on.

TV Shows: Bored to Death

It seems like offbeat comedy TV sure is easy to come by these days, and though it may not all be quality, it exists. HBO’s Bored To Death (A noir-otic comedy) is one that hits the funny bone, and hard.

Created by author Jonathan Ames, the show centers around a fictional Jonathan Ames, played by Jason Schwartzman. He is a well meaning but struggling writer, living in New York, who decides to lead a double life by pretending to be a private detective. He starts out by placing an ad on Craigslist, and ends up getting calls for cases that take him on crazy adventures with his two friends George and Ray, played by Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis.

Schwartsman's great, but Danson and Galifianakis kind of steal the show in this one. Their style of comedy is less stuffy than Schwartzman, and their wacky characters allow for some killer scenes with even more killer lines. Danson is at his best in this one.

It’s akin to Curb Your Enthusiasm, Party Down, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Community, if you’re into that. Season 3 of Bored To Death begins this fall on HBO.

Author Birthdays: Potter, Ashbery, Davis

July 28th marks the birthday of authors Beatrix Potter, John Ashbery, and Jim Davis.

Beatrix Potter was an English author known for her children's books, most notably The Tale of Peter Rabbit. There are actually over 20 tales of Peter Rabbit and his fellows, like Mrs. Tittlemouse and Mr. Tod.

Potter's other works include The Fairy Caravan, about a guinea pig who runs away from home to join the circus, and the sort-of-autobiography Letters to Children From Beatrix Potter, edited by Judy Taylor.

John Ashbery is an American poet. According to the Academy of American Poets, he has won nearly every major American award for poetry, and has quite a few other awards as well.

Ashbery's collections include the Griffin Poetry Prize winner Notes From the Air, and the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle and National Book Award winning Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

Jim Davis is an American cartoonist. You've probably at least heard of his most famous strip, Garfield. In addition to the actual strip, he also helped to write and produce the many TV shows, specials, and CGI movies starring the lazy cat.

While his main cartoon is Garfield, Davis also wrote U.S. Acres, also called Orson's Farm, which you still might recognize if you have ever watched the animated series Garfield And Friends.

If you're looking for Summer Game points, try taking a look at some of those titles!

Author Birthdays: Stone, Garfield, Howatch

July 14th marks the birthday of authors Irving Stone, Leon Garfield, and Susan Howatch.

Irving Stone was an American historical fiction author. His most well known novel may be The Agony and the Ecstasy, a book about the Renaissance artist Michelangelo. The book was also made into a movie starring Charlton Heston.

Stone's main works are all fictionalized biographies. In addition to Michelangelo, he also wrote books on artists Vincent Van Gogh and Camille Pissarro. The novel of Van Gogh was also made into a movie.

Leon Garfield was a British children's historical fiction writer. He also adapted many Shakespearean tales for children, which we have in both written and audio formats, as well as the television show Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.

Garfield's original works include Smith, which is about a 18th century London pickpocket, and The Empty Sleeve, a ghost story featuring protagonist twins.

Susan Howatch is a British fiction writer known for her family sagas and religious themes. Her most popular series is probably the Starbridge Series of six books about a fictional Anglican diocese called Starbridge. The first book in the series is Glittering Images.

Howatch also wrote many stand-alone books. These include The Waiting Sands, which Library Journal described as "three tales of romantic suspense," and Penmarric, a novel set in medieval Cornwall.

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