Tag Archives: cookbooks

5 for Friday: Hoopla Review + Agatha Christie

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Because I currently don’t have a commute, I haven’t been listening to audiobooks as much as I’d like to. I’m not one of those people who can really concentrate on one when I’m cooking or cleaning, nor can I do it while I’m lying in bed. I find them best while I’m driving or riding in a car. That being said, I’ve been lucky that I’ve got my husband on the bandwagon to listen to audiobooks when we take a road trip to see family! So I’m still listening to them here and there.

Hoopla – What is it?

When we do these trips, I tend to check how long the audiobook is before I but it on hold at the library. I’ve also just started using our library’s digital media service – Hoopla. With Hoopla, I can check out something like 4 or 6 titles each month using my library card for free! This includes any digital media I can download to a device: ebooks, audiobooks, music and video. I always preferred using the physical CDs in my car, but here is my introduction to my first Hoopla experience.

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Bon Appétempt:
A Coming-of-Age Story (with Recipes!)
by Amelia Morris (nonfiction) – worth a listen (must listen for foodies!)

I was searching for something else on my library’s website, when this book came up. I was intrigued! It was only offered, however, as a digital audiobook on Hoopla. I promptly signed up and decided I’d make the effort to figure out how to use it. At first, I started listening to it in the car, but I’d take such short trips around town, it was hardly worth the work of making sure I’d get the app open and pause it when getting out of the car. I also had to turn up the volume to the highest level to hear it.

I had to figure out when to listen to it. I did end up listening to it in bed when I was going through cookbooks doing some meal planning. I did listen to it on the treadmill. Finally, I listened to it at work when I was doing some data entry one day. The reason was that my audiobook was about to be returned. Hoopla will automatically return the book for you so you don’t have to bother. But I didn’t know how to renew it or if I checked it out again, if it would remember where it left off!

The other thing about listening to audiobooks digitally rather than on a CD is that you can change the speed of the reader. I do like being able to listen to an narrator at 1.25 or sometimes 1.5 times the speed of the reading. Rob says it sounds like chipmunks, but I think that is more if you get to 2x the speed. It sounds strange! But others say that they have become used to it.

In the end, Hoopla automatically returned my book while I was listening to it. I checked it out again right away and it remembered where I left off! It didn’t seem to count against the number of titles I check out each month because, essentially, it’s the same title.

All of that being said, I LOVED THIS BOOK! I am so glad I found it. Morris’s stories about recipes she’s cooked from magazines and how all of this came about it her life are fun. But this book also addresses the struggle we all have in learning how to cook. The attempt at cooking and learning what we like, don’t like and what is worth it. I started following her blog of the same name. I liked listening to this book and hearing the voice behind her story, but I missed having the printed recipes included in this book because they made my mouth water!

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Behind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough 
(fiction) – on the fence

There is a lot of wine-drinking in this book! This is a thriller of sorts, but not what I expected. It’s a little weird. I’m still not sure what I think about it. I think it might work as a movie, though.

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Frost Bite:
everyday food fresh from the freezer

by Susan Austin (nonfiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

I’m conflicted by this cover! On one hand, you are a cookbook – shouldn’t you have something appetizing on the cover? On the other hand, the color is perfect for something frozen… and your freezer is closed – don’t you want to open it up and use what’s inside?

I discovered this book because it was recommended by Jules Clancy, author of 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes. But a quick flip through, while interesting, didn’t send me swooning. I couldn’t find this book in my local library, so I ordered it on ThriftBooks (<–refer-a-friend link) for $5. I got a signed copy! You always know the condition of the used book you’ll be getting on Thrift Books, but you never know about those bonus surprises!

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And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie (fiction, radio broadcast dramatization) – worth a listen

Do you remember when in just the course of a few months I had read several books referring to Agatha Christie novels? It was all so strange and I thought it was probably time I checked out this classic mystery novelist. But out of all her books, where did one begin!? I googled for the best books to start with to get a taste of her writing. In the end, I decided to go with Murder on the Orient Express with the intention of reading it before the movie came out.

But then, Modern Mrs. Darcy highly recommended And Then There Were None on audio read by Dan Stevens, who played Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. It was available on Hoopla, so I promptly downloaded it for our drive back to Green Bay. I also picked up a CD audio version of the book as a backup if for some reason we had trouble with the download in the car.

Unfortunately, even with the volume turned up all the way, we couldn’t hear the Dan Stevens version on Hoopla all that well. I was glad to have the backup. But even with the little we heard of the Dan Stevens version, the CD version was notably different. It was then I realized that we were not listening to a reading of Christie’s book, but a BBC radio dramatization of the novel! It was decidedly well-done; but the whole story was told in an hour and a half versus the 6 hours expected with the reading of the book.

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Murder on the Orient Express
by Agatha Christie (fiction) – worth a read

This book took me a bit to get into and to learn all of the characters. That being said, I loved the ending. And guess what? I did see the movie! Just this past week. It’s a rare occasion, but I thought the movie was even better.

At the time of this writing, the movie is only getting 58% on Rotten Tomatoes; but I personally loved the movie adaptation. Although some of the characters were changed/combined, I felt like they were much more developed. Kenneth Branagh makes an excellent Poirot! He directed this film and I hope he decides to continue making more movies in her Hercules Poirot series. It felt like he was able to take Christie’s storyline and add more depth, more dramatization and even a bit of humor.

Something that was also captured in this movie was the time period. Rob and I wanted to ride that train! There was so much attention to detail to time and place, something that wasn’t really described in the book. But I highly believe that was because Christie was writing during the present! (The book was published in 1934.)

Rob noticed that the original movie version (1974) remains at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. I am now on the waitlist for that DVD from the library. It will be fun to compare!

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Do you use a digital service to download audiobooks?
If so, what’s been your experience?
Have you read Agatha Christie?
If so, what’s your favorite novel?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Friday Five: 2 Great Books + 3 Cookbooks

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Has it really been a month since I’ve last written? Well, I’ve been working my butt off, but also enjoying summer!

Anyway, I’ve been very lucky to have picked up two excellent books this time around. I didn’t know much about them, which I prefer. The cookbooks were mainly flip-throughs!

Love Warrior
by Glennon Doyle Melton 
(non-fiction) – MUST READ

I have not been through anything that this author has been through, nor did I know anything about the book going in. But I felt all the feels. It’s weird that I could relate to her probably for no other reason than pure, raw emotion.

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The Tucci Table
by Stanley Tucci 
(non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

To be 100% honest, I found this cookbook because I did a search for “trout” on my library website. We recently went on a charter fishing trip with my parents and the haul of trout that we brought back will not be consumed by Rob nor my mother. I need recipes! This cookbook, while it didn’t deliver on the trout recipe I looked for, it does have a few really great traditional recipes and I loved reading the stories behind them. I found a recipe for Tuscan Tomato Soup, that I believe I’ll be making all winter long when tomatoes are not in season and I can use my fave canned San Marzanos! The author looked familiar to me and when I looked him, I realized why: Stanley Tucci is an actor.

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Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One
by Joe Yonan (non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a flip

 

Oh how excited I was to check out this cookbook! I’m not sure how I discovered it… I will tell you, it’s not for the novice cook. There are some great foodie-lover recipes; but other than the 12-Hour Tomatoes, I probably won’t be making anything from this book.

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DASH DIET DETOX
by Kate Barrington (non-fiction, cookbook) – skip

I was just looking for a few healthy recipes here, but I didn’t really find anything new.

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This is How It Always Is
by Laurie Frankel (fiction) – MUST READ

This was a popular book on my library wait list and on the Modern Mrs Darcy blog. A description I read at some point described a quirky family with secrets. This book is so much more than that. And it is a book that needed to be written now. It’s a book that I want to scream at the top of my lungs for everyone to read. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

Highly Recommended. 

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What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

 

Cheers~
Carrie

A Good Mix of 5 Books for Friday!

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A good mix of audio, thriller, cookbooks this week. Oh, and there’s that one about a dog… 🙂

OUTLANDER
by Diana Galbadon 
(fiction, audiobook) – DNF

I sort of  lied about not listening to audiobooks until this winter when my commute resumes… because there was this one. I’ve seen Outlander on so many must-read lists, but it is Just. So. Long. (Approx 860 pages.) My mother-in-law even said she loved it and that it truly was worth reading.

Then I spotted it on an audiobook list and thought about checking it out from the library, but realized that I with my 1 hr commute three days a week (at the time), I wouldn’t be able to get this 32+ hour audiobook back to the library when it was due. So I asked Rob if instead of listening to music on our drive to Michigan and back to visit his parents if he’d consider listening to an audiobook. He agreed.

After we got on the road and situated for our road trip, I popped in the first CD (there are 28!) and Rob said, “Oh, no! A Brit!?” I would agree that sometimes British narrators are difficult to follow, depending on the context of the book. But due to storyline, it was only appropriate because the main character is British. I told him to give it some time. It often takes me a bit to get used to the voice of any narrator when I start an audiobook. I told him that we could eject the CD and go back to radio any time he wanted. I was just glad he was open to the idea!

We loved the whole idea around this book! It did seem slow at some points and I will admit that my mind drifted a bit from time to time, but we kept listening. At one point, Rob asked what genre this was because it really was hard to tell. A quick google search led to a description of this story as romance. I wasn’t about to tell Rob that! He would have grimaced and stopped listening! Plus, it truly is much more than that. It starts out as part historical fiction and the time travel turns it into fantasy and war fiction and love and romance and then maybe… erotica? Oh boy! This book really does have it all.

After reading some reviews, I will agree that this book does take some time to get into and can be slow-moving, but the characters really develop into something special. However, Rob and I quickly realized that by the end of our trip, we were only going to get half way through all of the CDs!

At one point, I told Rob that we could pick this up on the TV series to move everything along a little more quickly. But in the end, as the book got better, we realized we’d miss listening to the book. We decided that we are going to pick up the audiobook again and finish the second half on our trip to Michigan in the fall.

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I See You
by Claire Mackintosh
 (fiction) – worth a read

After reading Mackintosh’s I Let You Go earlier this year, I put myself on the wait list for her second book. I found it funny that she addressed the issue of the “dreaded second novel” in her acknowledgments, about how that second one never quite compares… And I think that may be true with this one. It’s a great book, but very different. I loved the setting (Welsh countryside) and interesting twist midway through I Let You Go. This one takes place in the tubes of London. It’s quite creepy, but well-done. I love how most of her characters feel like real, average people.

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Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat
by Chrissy Teigen
 (cookbook) – worth a read

Tiegen makes a point in her book to say something to the effect that she didn’t want to write a cookbook about salads, but also that she didn’t want to write one that said, “Look at me! I can eat whatever I want!” {I don’t remember the exact words, so I’m paraphrasing here.} But truly, I kind of feel like the latter is exactly what she did!

This book is about flavor – and not compromising that. I chose a few recipes that I intend to make. Rob’s new fave obsession is Mexican Street Corn, so that is on the docket.  But to be quite honest, the recipes I have listed to try, tend to be the lightest ones out of the cookbook! Creamy Parmesan Skillet Eggs, Chunky Creamy Mushroom Soup and Sriracha Caesar Salad. Yes, please!

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A Dog’s Way Home
by W. Bruce Cameron (fiction) – MUST READ

I don’t think you know how long I’ve waited for this book. I first read Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose a couple of years ago (way before the movie, which I have yet to see) and just loved the concept of a book written from a dog’s perspective. The way Cameron writes, too, is so compelling that when a chapter ends and I tell myself I’ll pause there, I want to keep reading because there is almost always a cliff-hanger!

I immediately read the follow-up book A Dog’s Journey. After finishing that book, I went in search of Cameron’s other books because I craved more books written from a dog’s point-of-view. Alas, those were his only two. I’ve read a couple of his other books, but was still longing for this style. A Dog’s Way Home did not disappoint. I again loved the perspective, the storyline and how it gripped my heart. Any dog lover should read and savor. These books are some of my favorites of all time.

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Twin Cities Chef’s Table:
Extraordinary Recipes from the City of Lakes to the Capital City
by Stephanie A. Meyer (non-fiction, cookbook) – worth a read

It’s almost a secret that our Twin Cities house some wonderful culinary delights. I have been touting for years that we live in a highly underrated foodie city! When I brought this book home from the library and put it on the coffee table, Rob thumbed through it and said, “Why don’t we HAVE this book?! We need to own it!”

This book was published in 2014 and it is so fun to read about some of our favorite places (we’ve been to about 25 of the restaurants listed in here), grieve those that have closed (approximately 10) and regret those that we never made it to before they closed. That being said, I wouldn’t realistically make any of the recipes out of this book. Maybe that’s why I am a diner at these restaurants, not a chef. 🙂

Still, only three years later, this book already has become a piece of history – illustrating top restaurants in the Twin Cities at a place in time. We all know how the dining culture evolves with trends coming and going. But one thing I think will remain the same for years to come: relying on farm fresh, local ingredients and sustainability whenever possible. The only thing that’ll change? The creative ways in which to use ingredients!

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Have you ever listened to audiobook with someone else?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday – What I Read This Spring

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I’m a bit behind on what I’ve read and listened to, but here’s what was in front of me this spring… just before our trip to Charleston. FYI – There are some great ones/favorites in here!

The Artist
by Suzanne Hagelin 
(fiction) – on the fence

I’m guessing I found this book as a free download on the Amazon Kindle store. It had good reviews and I “purchased” it on a whim. Although I don’t own a tablet or e-reader, I like to have a few Kindle books on my phone in case I’m stranded in line somewhere without a book. I don’t tend to enjoy reading books on my phone. This was a shorter book with an intriguing premise; but I’m not sure I like how it unfolded. As usual, I’m just not fond of many endings to books.

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Underground Railroad
by Colson Whitehead 
(fiction) – must read

This book has an ongoing, growing waiting list at my library and for good reason. I can’t say that I’ve ever read a historical novel like this. Whitehead is a wonderfully descriptive writer who captures such depth in imagining place and time you can almost feel it. I loved this book… the only part I didn’t was the ending. Because this piece could truly have kept on going.

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Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue 
(fiction, audiobook) – must read/listen

Somewhere along the way, I not only had reserved this on my to-read list, but also as one as I should listen to on audio. I would definitely agree that this is the route you should take there. This book probably rates up there as one of my favorite audiobooks of all time! The narrator has a phenomenal ability to do a wide range of voices and accents that feel completely authentic. In today’s world of immigrant debates, I think this book is highly relevant to our time.

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Sheet Pan Suppers:
120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven
*Plus Breakfasts. Desserts. and Snacks, Too!

by Molly Gilbert (non-fiction, cookbook) – skip

This is one of those cookbooks where I started reading and got really excited about it. I love the idea of pulling an entire meal out of the oven all arranged and cooked on one pan. Then after putting the cookbook aside for a few days and returning to it later, I lost interest. I only found a couple of recipes I could actually find myself making.

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Dinner: A Love Story
by Jenny Rosenstrach (non-fiction, cookbook/memoir) – must read

Kat at Tenaciously Yours posts weekly photos of her dinners and sites many of her meals as coming from Dinner: A Love Story. With my plan to borrow one cookbook per week from the library this year, this seemed a logical choice.

I completely adored this cookbook, but not for the reasons I thought! Since this book is part memoir, it does read just like a story… which is how I often read cookbooks anyway. After flagging several recipes, I decided to just purchase the cookbook myself. This is why it’s helpful to check cookbooks out of the library – you can decide whether or not you want to own them!

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This is a sixth one, but I’m adding it because it’ll be my last audiobook for a while, until this winter when my commute resumes.

M Train
by Patti Smith (non-fiction, audiobook) – DNF

I had this on a list of recommended audiobooks. At the time, I didn’t know it was non-fiction, nor the content of the story. I am not familar with author Patti Smith either. At first listen, I couldn’t believe that they had her narrate her own book on audio. It was monotonous and dry and I had hard time paying attention. The writing is excellent, but I couldn’t get past her voice. But after a while, it grew on me. (Which often seems to be the case with audiobooks.) Then it just felt right that she was reading this memoir of sorts. Because it was her experience.

I did abandon this book however, because it was what I was listening to when my commute came to a halt. After that, I was in the car for no more than a few minutes at a time by myself. It didn’t make sense to keep going when I was having a hard time concentrating with my own circumstances as it was. But her experiences (and love of black coffee) and the content of the book is interesting enough that I may revisit when my commute resumes this winter.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday: Books I’ve Read (Mostly Cookbooks!)

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Yup, it’s that time of the week… 5 more books I’ve read/listened to lately!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (audio)
by Mark Haddon (fiction) – must listen/read

curious-incident

I don’t know if I ever shared the story of how Rob and I met, but there are two short answers – it was in a bar and because of an autistic boy. Sound strange? Well, you’ll have to ask me about it some time. In any case, this book was wonderfully written from the viewpoint of an autistic boy. I’ve had this book on my to-read list on GoodReads for a while.

One day, I received a link to a blog post in my inbox. I recognized the title, not even knowing what the book was about at that time. When the last line of her post read, ” You can purchase tickets online at the Hennepin Theatre Trust and don’t forget the rush seats available for students and teachers!” I immediately thought of my friend Jen, who not only works in education, but also was one of the people that worked with the autistic boy who brought Rob and I together (in a roundabout way).

She said, “I’d love to go. Aren’t you the one who gave me that book to read?”

“No.”

“Did you recommend I read it a long time ago?”

“No, I’d only heard about it in the last year or so.”

She was almost certain that it was me. The thing is… This book was published in 2003, the year Rob and I met.

Enough about that little background. In the end, we did go to the play with rush tickets. It was so well-done and I walked out of the theater with tears streaming down my face. It is such a heartfelt story.

I still wanted to read the book, but also found it on a list recommended books to experienced on audio. I now know why… The narrator is absolutely fantastic and I felt totally captivated during my commutes. {I confess that my mind can wander if an audiobook doesn’t have me hooked!} Of course, I knew the ending, but I still found myself crying while driving home as the story was wrapping up. I highly recommend this story – in any form – to anyone.

~

Off the Menu: Staff Meals from America’s Top Restaurants
by Marissa Guggiana
 (cookbook) – skip

off-the-menu

By now, you know that I like to read cookbooks like novels. I loved the premise of the book’s title; but truth be told, after the intro, I ended up just flipping through the recipes. It’s still a great book, but from a recipe standpoint, I personally only felt compelled to make two of the recipes myself: Tuscan Kale Salad and a Cheddar Ale Soup. But I haven’t even done that.

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Commonwealth
by Ann Patchett
 (fiction) – on the fence

commonwealth

This is my first time reading any of Patchett’s books, other than her short memoir/advice on writing. {I know, where have I been all these years?!} She is now a quite famous author with over a dozen books to her name.

I had a bit of a time getting into this book at the beginning and had trouble keeping some of the cast of characters straight… but then things changed and I became engrossed! The entanglement of lives and stories was intriguing; but I felt there was no real climax. But then again, I’m not sure that one would have been appropriate… Or maybe it was that there was a climax, but it was talked about in the past tense over different points in the book, if that makes any sense. I didn’t really care for the ending because it was so gradual and not really finite. However, I don’t care for book endings in general. It is a rare case when I do!

This is a book in wich I liked in the middle, but not really the beginning or end, although both were necessary. This is also the second book I read this year that included the difficulties of aging. That stuff is always tough for me.

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300 Sensational Soups
by Carla Snyder & Meredith Deeds
 (cookbook) – on the fence

300-soups

We’ve really been into soup lately, but this book overwhelmed me. I started by flagging some of the recipes I wanted to try, but there were too many! I ended up deciding to thumb through the rest and put it on my wishlist over at PaperbackSwap.com to obtain my own copy.

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5 Ingredients or Less Slow Cooker Cookbook
by Stephanie O’Dea (cookbook) – worth a read 

5-ingredients

Yes, I’ve been checking out a lot of cookbooks lately! I’ve followed O’Dea’s Year of Slow Cooking Blog because I’m always looking for easy meals. I love the fact that this book makes it even easier – settling for 5 ingredients or less. What I also loved about this book, as she notes in her introduction, that she refrains from making one of those ingredients a cream-based soup. She says that there are already so many slow cooker recipes with cream-of-X soups online and in vintage cookbooks. For the most part, O’Dea sticks with real food, which is what I like to see!

It’s funny, though, most of the recipes I flagged were for me {read: chicken, black beans, etc.}, not for Rob!

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Since I’ve only read one, tell me, what’s your favorite Ann Patchett novel?

Cheers~
Carrie

I read cookbooks and menus… out loud.

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My cousin once said the following about cookbooks:

“I read them like novels.”

I love that. It got me to thinking about the way I read them. Maybe I don’t read them front cover to back cover like one would a novel; but I do read them with a bit of excitement over what could unfold if I were to prepare the recipe. In addition, I will often skip around a cookbook like a Choose Your Own Adventure story. {Remember those?!}

I adore cookbooks with their infinite options, their full-color pictures and the hope that I, too, could make something like that. {The same could be said about cooking shows. Just how many I have plugged in the DVR has yet to be determined.}

But, as this title has already revealed:

I also read them out loud.

Again, I do not read them out loud word for word nor cover to cover, but with giddiness and glee when I find something that looks or sounds tasty:

“Ooooo! Listen to this…”

Rob just shakes his head and smiles. “I swear, that’s your favorite thing to do, read cookbooks and menus.”

It’s true that I like to point out items on menus that catch my eye or that I think someone will like based on what I know about them. This is when Rob will sometimes point out that everyone else at the table can read, thank you very much. I’ve come to realize that I may just be distracting everyone from deciding on what to order. Sorry!

Still, I think my true intention is to foster conversation on what sounds good and to draw attention to certain items that may be missed. {I always feel rushed upon being given a menu. I also feel like that annoying customer when we have to ask the server to come back after checking in with us a couple of times.} Furthermore, since I’m one who has a hard time making decisions, sometimes thinking out loud or discussing options with someone can help me make a choice more easily.

I find that menu descriptions alone can often have power over what we order. And creating one with just the right adjectives that not only provokes the mouth to water, but also is concise, is a true art form. Don’t you agree?

On the other hand, I find that cookbooks are essentially themed picture books with lists – lists of ingredients and steps. I mean this in the best way possible! I get hooked by a picture, feel hopeful about the ingredients and can determine if a dish is in my future by reading the steps. {Sometimes I get excited after seeing the picture and reading the ingredients that I forget to read the steps ahead of time and find myself stuck mid-recipe. Didn’t I learn anything in elementary school? Always read the instructions before beginning any project, Carrie.}

So, you can imagine my excitement when Kat told me I won her cookbook giveaway! She had been posting Friday Food Round-Ups with pictures of dishes she prepared from this cookbook:

A book inspired by the blog

The pictures she posted of her recreations from this book were drool-worthy.

Naturally, when the book arrived, before I tore the box open, I leaned over to my husband and said,

“Ohhhh… Guess what this is?! Rob gets to hear a bedtime story tonight!”

Honestly, I refrained from reading the cookbook out loud to him… This time. I will say that while I’ve used the Choose Your Own Adventure method to thumb through and get a feel for the these incredible recipes, I’m actually reading a lot of what the author has to say about chilies and Texan cooking methods. I never knew. Truly.

You better believe that I’ll be posting what I decide to concoct here at Season It Already! Thanks again, Kat, for The Homesick Texan cookbook. While I’m not exactly a great cook yet, it’s still in the right hands.

How do you read cookbooks?

Got any favorites you’d like to share?

Cheers~
Carrie