“The Midwest is rising,” writes Minnesota native Amy Thielen – and her engaging, keenly American debut cookbook, with 200 recipes that herald a revival in heartland cuisine, is delicious proof. Amy Thielen grew up in rural northern Minnesota, waiting in lines for potluck buffets amid loops of smoked sausages from her uncle’s meat market and in the company of women who could put up jelly without a recipe. She spent years cooking in some of New York City’s best restaurants, but it took moving home in 2008 for her to rediscover the wealth and diversity of the Midwestern table, and to witness its reinvention. The New Midwestern Table reveals all that she’s come to love – and learn – about the foods of her native Midwest, through updated classic recipes and numerous encounters with spirited home cooks and some of the region’s most passionate food producers.
With 150 color photographs capturing these fresh-from-the-land dishes and the striking beauty of the terrain, this cookbook will cause any home cook to fall in love with the captivating flavors of the American heartland. (description from publisher)
In The Longest Road one of America’s most respected writers takes an epic journey across America, Airstream in tow, and asks everyday Americans what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large.
Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. A question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he’d drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question. So it was that in 2011 Caputo, his wife and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as “Fred” and “Ethel”) from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today’s United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart. (description from publisher)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld, New Adventures of Old Christine) and Tony Hale (Arrested Development) recently won Emmy’s for their roles on HBO’s Veep. Dreyfus plays former Senator/current Vice President Selina Meyer, who is constantly surprised by the banality of her new job. Hale plays Gary, Selina’s extraordinarily loyal personal aide. The cast is rounded out with Selina’s staff played by Anna Chumsky (My Girl!), Matt Walsh (Upright Citizen’s Brigade), and Reid Scott (My Boys, The Big C).
Veep features exceptional satirical writing, but what makes it work is the chemistry and experience of the cast. It would be easy to write off Dreyfus’ Selina as Elaine Benes 2.0, with her nervous energy and superficial nature, but despite her lack of power outside of her office, she has true power over her staff (a power dynamic that Elaine never had). Their deference to her leads to influxes of ego, which are deflated by having to comply with the President’s expectations and perform mundane tasks.
I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize how great Tony Hale plays Gary. He deserved the Emmy he won for this role, because he somehow quietly, often in the background, overshadows Dreyfus (not an easy task!). Hale’s Gary is Buster from Arrested Development, if Buster could function outside of his mother’s living room. Hale and Dreyfus bring out the best in each other’s characters and the writing. I would recommend this series to fans of Arrested Development, Seinfeld, Parks and Recreation, and Louie.
Parodies, continuations and alternate universe settings of Jane Austin’s books have become very popular – mysteries, vampire hunters, etc. – with a greater or (more often) lesser degree of success. Now there is a new version using the world and characters Austin’s Pride and Prejudice and it is delightful and beautiful and very much a great success.
Longbourn by Jo Baker follows the story of Pride and Prejudice from the the servants point-of-view. As were good servants in real life, the servants in Austin are mostly silent and unseen. Here they take center stage. They have their own dramas and crisis, joy and heartbreak and a unique, decidedly unglamorous view of the family. The Bennett girls, both thoughtful and frivolous, only rarely acknowledge the servants and the extra work they often unnecessarily create for them (except for sweet Jane who is always undemanding and kind), and offhandedly change the servants lives without consulting what they might wish. Although they are the center around which the servants orbit, the Bennets are regulated to the periphery here and the world of the servant is foremost. The work is physically hard and mind numbing dull, yet for most of the servants their place in the household gives them shelter, both physical and emotional, from a cruel world.
Sarah, orphaned at a young age, is grateful to have a place at Longbourn, yet wonders if she can again find the happiness she remembers before her parents died. Her suspicions of James the new footman gradually change and when she discovers his secret, they become bound by love and a common understanding of those who are alone.
Longbourn is beautifully written – you may find yourself stopping frequently to reread favorite passages – and full of compassion and secrets. James’ story is especially heartbreaking and suspenseful. At heart a love story, Longbourn is also about the restrictions imposed by society and class structure, about what we are willing to sacrifice for those we love, about the power of waiting and standing firm, about finding your own path no matter the obstacles.
Remember the nut-covered, pink-colored cheese balls served at grandma’s house for the holidays? Well, these are not your grandma’s cheese balls. Find out just how different and inventive they can be in Great Balls of Cheese.
Updated for contemporary tastes, Michelle Buffardi’s cheese balls come in both savory and sweet flavors, like cheddar, blue cheese, and Buffalo wing sauce, or Bing cherry, rum, and pecan. And cheese balls are just part of the story. Many of the recipes are in adorable shapes for all kinds of occasions, such as an Easter egg, Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ornament, or a football for a Super Bowl party. Other designs are just plain fun, like the Nacho Cat, a Wise and Cheesy Owl, or one that looks like a pizza fresh from the oven. There is so much interest in bringing old-fashioned foods back into style, and this is no exception.
Perfect for food lovers with crafty flair or anyone who loves to entertain, this book, with more than fifty inventive recipes and designs, is sure to be turned to again and again. (description from publisher)
Soul Food is an insightful and eclectic history, where Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition.
Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish – such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and “red drinks” – Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity. Miller argues that the story is more complex and surprising than commonly thought. Four centuries in the making, and fusing European, Native American, and West African cuisines, soul food – in all its fried, pork-infused, and sugary glory – is but one aspect of African American culinary heritage. Miller discusses how soul food has become incorporated into American culture and explores its connections to identity politics, bad health raps, and healthier alternatives.
This refreshing look at one of America’s most celebrated, mythologized, and maligned cuisines is enriched by spirited sidebars, photographs, and 22 recipes. (description by publisher)
Whether it is a family member that lives across the country, or a loved one away on business, attending college, or stationed abroad in the military, everyone loves to get a treat in the mail that says “thinking of you.” It would be even more meaningful if that treat could be homemade, or is a number of different snacks, sweets, and tastes of home to make someone living far away feel closer.
Shirley Fan’s The Flying Brownie is the first and only book devoted to making, packing, and adding creative, homemade touches for food gifts that can be shipped a long distance. It features 100 recipes for baked goods and other snacks and treats, each with precise storage instructions and storage times. The book also offers plenty of guidance in navigating the various rules and restrictions of postal services, customs, and even secure military installations.
Separate chapters are devoted to brownies and bars, cookies, candies and confections, breads and quick breads, extra-light items for inexpensive shipping, savory foods, and mixes to be assembled upon delivery. From a veteran of the Food Network Kitchens and a registered dietitian, this is a reliable and inspiring guide that is sure to bring those families and friends who live apart closer together through the very same thing that unites them when they live together: good food. (description from publisher)
Author Lily Koppel reveals for the first time the stories and secrets of America’s unsung heroes – the wives of our original astronauts in The Astronaut Wives Club.
As America’s Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons. Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK’s favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other’s children by day, while going to glam parties at night. As their celebrity rose – and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives – they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. This is the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history. (description from publisher)
The Secret Rescue by Cate Lineberry is the compelling untold story of a group of stranded U.S. Army nurses and medics fighting to escape Nazi-occupied Europe.
When 26 Army nurses and medics-part of the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron-boarded a cargo plane for transport in November 1943, they never anticipated the crash landing in Nazi-occupied Albania that would lead to their months-long struggle for survival. The group and its flight crew dodged bullets and battled blinding winter storms as they climbed mountains and fought to survive, aided by courageous villagers who risked death at Nazi hands to help them.
A mesmerizing tale of the courage and heroism of ordinary people, The Secret Rescue tells not only a new story of struggle and endurance, but also one of the daring rescue attempts by clandestine American and British organizations amid the tumultuous landscape of the war. (description from publisher)
James is a street musician struggling to make ends meet. Bob is a stray cat looking for somewhere warm to sleep. When James and Bob meet, they forge a never-to-be-forgotten friendship that has been charming readers from Thailand to Turkey. A Street Cat Named Bob is an international sensation, landing on the bestseller list in England for 52 consecutive weeks and selling in 26 countries around the world. Now, James and Bob are ready to share their true story with the U.S. in this tale unlike any you’ve ever read of a cat who possesses some kind of magic.
When street musician James Bowen found an injured cat curled up in the hallway of his apartment building, he had no idea how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London, barely making enough money to feed himself and the last thing he needed was a pet. Yet James couldn’t resist helping the strikingly intelligent but very sick animal, whom he named Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining that he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.
Perfect for fans of Marley & Me and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat, this instant classic about the power of love between man and animal has taken the world by storm and is guaranteed to be a huge hit with American fans as well. (description from publisher)