With its corn by the acre, beef on the hoof, Quaker Oats, and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, the Midwest eats pretty well and feeds the nation on the side. But there’s more to the Midwestern kitchen and palate than the farm food and sizable portions the region is best known for beyond its borders. It is to these heartland specialties, from the heartwarming to the downright weird, that Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie invites the reader.
The volume brings to the table an illustrious gathering of thirty Midwestern writers with something to say about the gustatory pleasures and peculiarities of the region. In a meditation on comfort food, Elizabeth Berg recalls her aunt’s meatloaf. Stuart Dybek takes us on a school field trip to a slaughtering house, while Peter Sagal grapples with the ethics of paté. Parsing Cincinnati five-way chili, Robert Olmstead digresses into questions of Aztec culture. Harry Mark Petrakis reflects on owning a South Side Chicago lunchroom, while Bonnie Jo Campbell nurses a sweet tooth through a fudge recipe in the Joy of Cooking and Lorna Landvik nibbles her way through the Minnesota State Fair.
These are just a sampling of what makes Fried Walleye and Cherry Pie – with its generous helpings of laughter, culinary confession, and information – an irresistible literary feast. (description from publisher)
The number of soldiers wounded in World War I is, in itself, devastating: over 21 million military wounded, and nearly 10 million killed. On the battlefield, the injuries were shocking, unlike anything those in the medical field had ever witnessed. The bullets hit fast and hard, went deep and took bits of dirty uniform and airborne soil particles in with them. Soldier after soldier came in with the most dreaded kinds of casualty: awful, deep, ragged wounds to their heads, faces and abdomens. And yet the medical personnel faced with these unimaginable injuries adapted with amazing aptitude, thinking and reacting on their feet to save millions of lives.
In Wounded, Emily Mayhew tells the history of the Western Front from a new perspective: the medical network that arose seemingly overnight to help sick and injured soldiers. These men and women pulled injured troops from the hellscape of trench, shell crater, and no man’s land, transported them to the rear, and treated them for everything from foot rot to poison gas, venereal disease to traumatic amputation from exploding shells.
Drawing on hundreds of letters and diary entries, Mayhew allows readers to peer over the shoulder of the stretcher bearer who jumped into a trench and tried unsuccessfully to get a tightly packed line of soldiers out of the way, only to find that they were all dead. She takes us into dugouts where rescue teams awoke to dirt thrown on their faces by scores of terrified moles, digging frantically to escape the earth-shaking shellfire. Mayhew moves her account along the route followed by wounded men, from stretcher to aid station, from jolting ambulance to crowded operating tent, from railway station to the ship home, exploring actual cases of casualties who recorded their experiences. Both comprehensive and intimate, this groundbreaking book captures an often neglected aspect of the soldier’s world and a transformative moment in military and medical history. (description from publisher)
Christopher and Catherine Knuth take you into Oma’s German kitchen, sharing traditional comfort food to warm your heart. These authentic recipes, including meatloaf, rouladen, sauerkraut and seafood, bring the diverse tastes of Germany to your table.
Complete with clear instructions as well as full-color food and location photography, The German Kitchen is more than just a fantastic German recipe book. It is almost as though you are being taken by the hand on a cooking tour of Germany, where you would learn the recipes and techniques needed to cook culinary specialties such as goulash soup, beef rouladen, pork chops with mustard sauce, and spicy, herb-infused seafood native to the riverside outskirts of Hamburg.
Learn how to cook traditional German recipes without having to leave the comfort of your own kitchen. With enough seafood, vegetable, meat, dressing and dessert recipes inside, transform your kitchen into a truly German kitchen. (description from publisher)
For Rich Cohen and millions of other fans, the 1985 Chicago Bears were more than a football team: they were the greatest football team ever – a gang of colorful nuts, dancing and pounding their way to victory. They won a Super Bowl and saved a city. It was not just that the Monsters of the Midway won, but how they did it. On offense, there was high-stepping running back Walter Payton and punky QB Jim McMahon, who had a knack for pissing off Coach Mike Ditka as he made his way to the end zone. On defense, there was the 4-6: a revolutionary, quarterback-concussing scheme cooked up by Buddy Ryan and ruthlessly implemented by Hall of Famers such as Dan “Danimal” Hampton and “Samurai” Mike Singletary. On the sidelines, in the locker rooms, and in bars, there was the never-ending soap opera: the coach and the quarterback bickering on TV, Ditka and Ryan nearly coming to blows in the Orange Bowl, the players recording the “Super Bowl Shuffle” video the morning after the season’s only loss.
Cohen tracked down the coaches and players from this iconic team and asked them everything he has always wanted to know: What’s it like to win? What’s it like to lose? Do you really hate the guys on the other side? Were you ever scared? What do you think as you lie broken on the field? How do you go on after you have lived your dream but life has not ended? The result is Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football, a portrait not merely of a team but of a city and a game: its history, its future, its fallen men, its immortal heroes. But mostly it’s about being a fan – about loving too much. This is a book about America at its most nonsensical, delirious, and joyful. (description from publisher)
Christmas is coming – some planning ahead may help make it a little less chaotic!
For those short on time but long on cookie love, Slice & Bake Cookies comes to the rescue! Elinor Klivans shares 50 recipes that are quick to mix up, stash in the refrigerator or freezer, and have at the ready to slice and bake whenever a sweet craving strikes. From classics such as old-fashioned oatmeal raisin cookies and Linzer hearts to modern takes on savory cookies and crackers, the recipes collected here fit the bill for any impromptu get-together. With a rundown of ingredients and baking equipment – plus tips on decorating, serving, storing, and even shipping – freshly baked, warm-from-the-oven cookies will always be on hand. (description from publisher)
Grandpa Frank is just a grandpa and he doesn’t seem to like anything (except pickled onions), so how could his grandson possibly talk for a whole minute about him in front of his entire class?
In The Frank Show by David Mackintosh, Frank’s grandson is nervous about presenting about his curmudgeon grandfather during show and tell. Especially since his friends have exciting people to introduce, like Fay’s cousin who “tells you if your bag is too heavy at the airport” and Hugo’s stepbrother who’s sports car has an eight-ball gearshift knob.
The Frank Show is the perfect example of a picture book that seems to have been written more for adults than for kids. I see the jokes flying right over younger kid’s heads, and not many children are going to spot Edgar Allen Poe and his raven in the illustrations. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend this book — because it is fantastic. Mackintosh’s illustrations are funny and child-like, filled with subtle references and jokes. This story is as much about the generational divide as it is about taking people for granted — both topics rarely explored in picture books. Grandpa Frank’s exaggerated stories and cranky advise are entertaining, and his grandson’s fears are completely understandable. Seriously, pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed, unless you’re Frank. I’m sure he’d say that they don’t make them like they used to or something as equally crotchety.
Bring out your children’s creativity and imagination with more than 60 kids’ art activities from the creator of The Artful Parent blog.
Art making is a wonderfully fun way for young children to tap into their imagination, deepen their creativity, and explore new materials, all while strengthening their fine motor skills and developing self-confidence. The Artful Parent has all the tools and information you need to encourage your children’s creativity through art. You’ll learn how to set up an art space, how to talk to children about their artwork, how to choose the best art supplies (without breaking the bank), how to re-purpose and organize the piles of art created, and even how to use kids’ art activities to soften everyday transitions. The more than sixty engaging kids’ arts and crafts projects included here are accessible and developmentally appropriate for one- to eight-year-olds, and they’re a far cry from the cookie-cutter crafts many of us did in school as kids.
From bubble prints to musical chairs art, these kids art activities allow children to explore art materials, techniques, and ideas as they grow more creative every day. With activities for down times, action art for releasing energy, and recipes for making your own art materials, this book is your guide for raising an artful family. (description from publisher)
Cook from the farmer’s market with inspired vegetarian recipes – many of which are gluten-free and dairy-free – with a French twist, all highlighting seasonal produce.
Beloved Chocolate and Zucchini food blogger Clotilde Dusoulier is not a vegetarian. But she has, like many of us, chosen to eat less meat and fish, and is always looking for new ways to cook what looks best at the market. In The French Market Cookbook, she takes us through the seasons in 82 recipes and explores the love story between French cuisine and vegetables. Choosing what’s ripe and in season means Clotilde does not rely heavily on the cheese, cream, and pastas that often overpopulate vegetarian recipes. Instead she lets the bright flavors of the vegetables shine through: carrots are lightly spiced with star anise and vanilla in a soup made with almond milk; tomatoes are jazzed up by mustard in a gorgeous tart; winter squash stars in golden Corsican turnovers; and luscious peaches bake in a cardamom-scented custard. With 75 color photographs of the tempting dishes and the abundant markets of Paris, and with Clotilde’s charming stories of shopping and cooking in France, The French Market Cookbook is a transportive and beautiful cookbook for food lovers everywhere. (description from publisher)
Steven T. Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen’s Genius tells the story of Ted Max, a genius weighed down by expectations and overwhelmed in his interpersonal relationships. Once a promising quantum physicist, his life seems to have come to a halt. He cannot think of any new ideas at work and is facing losing his job at a think tank. His wife has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and he doesn’t know how to interact with his budding genius daughter and future frat boy son. And to make matters worse, his crotchety father-in-law won’t tell Ted the secret that Albert Einstein entrusted him with when he was “Bert’s” bodyguard. With no relief in sight, Ted begins to see himself unravel.
There has been a biographical graphic novel trend in publishing the last few years, but despite Albert Einstein’s strong presence in this graphic novel, this is not a biography. Seagle uses Einstein as a memory or an absence in Ted’s life. Kristiansen’s absorbing, lush pastel watercolor illustrations pair well with Seagle’s sparce and straightforward text, and make Einstein’s presence known throughout the novel. There is a sense when you read the book that you’re able to see some of the beautiful inner thoughts of a quantum physicist who has a difficult time voicing his feelings. I was much more touched by this book than I expected, and really felt Ted’s frustration with trying to live in the present when the future beckons and the past haunts. Ted many not be an everyman, but I think that most of us struggle with similar worries and heartbreaks.
I require two things of a cookbook for me to check it out:
♥ There must be lots of photos.
♥ Those photos must be beautiful.
Checking out a cookbook is not the same thing as USING a cookbook. For me to actually use a cookbook, I require two additional things:
♥ Simple ingredients.
♥ Simple instructions.
Very, very few cookbooks meet these requirements (thus I am forced to make frozen pizza at least twice a week. Sigh. It is so difficult being a lazy cook with high cookbook standards). So when I discovered that Mary McCartney’s new cookbook, FOOD: Vegetarian Home Cooking, exceeded all of my requirements I just had to hug it. Yup, I hug that cookbook. On a regular basis. Because I love it. I really really love it.
For those of you who are not as obsessed with the McCartney family as I am, Mary McCartney is the daughter of Sir Paul McCartney and the late Linda McCartney, and thus grew up in arguably the most famous of vegetarian families. I was worried that Mary’s long history with vegetarian cooking (not particularly my favorite type of food) would result in complicated and unappealing fancy cuisine and thus dash my hopes that I would ever be able to comfortably tuck in if invited to sit at the McCartney supper table.
Upon opening the cookbook, I was first struck (and almost brought to tears) by Mary’s cozy photographs of lovely people and fresh food and how the photographs reminded me just enough of her mother, Linda, but were still very much the artist’s own. Wonderful and crisp.
Then I started looking at the recipes and I was like “HEY I CAN MAKE THESE!” I made a cold Quinoa salad, a Quinoa and white bean soup, granola bars, zucchini pasta, a coconut-pineapple smoothie and all were easy and successful. My favorite recipe was the hummus and hot pepper jam sandwich – So simple, right?! The recipes are delicious and appealing to even a non-Veggie lover like me. Mary McCartney managed to not only make a beautiful and delicious cookbook, but also to make me feel like a confident, capable cook. And that is why FOOD gets a frequent hug from me. You should probably hug it, too.