Here are a few belt-tightening culinary tips from the new book The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff Yeager:
-Order only tap water with your meal when you go out to eat. Beverages are typically marked up 300 to 600 percent. Ordering water only will save you about $800 a year.
-Put box-wine into premium label bottles and no one will know the difference. Check AccidentalWine.com for for up to a 40% discount on premium bottles with cosmetic packaging imperfections.
-If you use a crock-pot once a week for eight hours, it will only use 30 cents of electricity a month, making cheap, tough cuts of meat fork-tender.
-Choose to host brunch, giving everyone their own quart-size ziplock bag and a serving tray of tasteful omelet ingredients. Add a couple of eggs and boil all for fourteen minutes for perfect custom omelets, saving you $100 over a sit down dinner.
-CouponMom.com proposes “cutting your grocery bill in half” with downloadable coupons and a state-by-state grocery coupon database. Owner Stephanie Nelson estimates her regular site users save $2,000 per year.
I’m convinced George Motz’s cross country quest to find the best burgers in America in his book/documentary Hamburger America makes him quite possibly one of the greatest human beings ever to eventually get a stern lecture from a physician.
In the film, all the focused-upon restaurants have been in business for a minimum of forty years. You’ll find consistencies across that resonate with even the most ardent of sprout munchers. The burger is obviously the star, but the supporting actors steal the show for me, i.e. the 50s-era neon signs, polished chrome stools, and the American Gothic-esque couples standing proudly in front of their mom and pop lunch counters where the size is “one” and the portion is whatever granny pats out.
These are truly the heartiest scrub-tree rugged organizations in their ability to eke out a living and a superior product in the flattened American fast food landscape.
You’ll see the regionally familiar Billy Goat Tavern (Chicago) and Hamburger Inn #2 (Iowa City) and wonder if there will ever come an occasion to visit places like Stella’s Hamburgers in Bellevue, Nebraska.
It’s a brutal book to skim at 11:30am.
It’s almost here – the non-stop food fest that we call “the Holiday Season”! The next six weeks, from Thanksgiving to New Years will be filled with eating opportunities galore. In any culture, sharing food – especially homemade food – brings together families, friends and communities, creating bonds that last. Putting together all of that food can be a lot of work though, so this week the Info Cafe blog is going to focus on some of the new cookbooks that are now available. Be sure to stop by the library and check out a copy!
Thanksgiving, a holiday celebrating the harvest, is all about food – there’s no pressure to find the perfect present or outdo the neighbors with your light display. It’s also maybe the most traditional – almost everyone automatically thinks of turkey when they think of Thanksgiving. It’s how you fix the turkey and your choice of side dishes where family traditions take over.
If you’re looking for something different, or if this is your first year hosting the big event, take a look at The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan with it’s traditional yet fresh approach to the meal. There is a nice variety of choices listed for the basics – turkey, stuffing, gravy, vegetables, deserts – with some interesting twists included. How about Spiced Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting instead of the ubiquitous pumpkin pie? Or shake things up with Molly’s Pumpkin-and-Sage Lasagna.
Two chapters make this book a stand-out – “Regional Thanksgiving Menus with Timetables” that will help any cook plan for the big day, and “Leftover Favorites” which lists several tasty ways to deal with leftovers that go beyond the turkey sandwich.
And don’t despair if you can’t get ahold of this book in time for Thanksgiving – the autumn themed recipes will be just as delicious at Christmas or New Years, or any wintertime family gathering.
In today’s fast food world full of instant puddings and potatoes, it is refreshing to read a book featuring real food. But The School of Essential Ingredients also features real people. Each chapter focuses on a different student in Lillian’s cooking class, revealing not only their own particular foibles and dilemmas, but also how they each contribute something satisfying and indelible to the mix. There’s Claire, a mother struggling with the demands of her young children; Tom, a young widower still grieving over the loss of his wife to breast cancer, and Isabelle, an elderly woman tentatively dealing with the confusion of memory loss, to name but a few.
The book is satisfying on many levels. First, it just made me want to bake something – at times it seemed I could almost smell what they were cooking, even though my kitchen was very vacant. Then, I got nostalgic, remembering favorite dishes from my childhood, and relishing how food often brought family together. Finally, in a very subtle way, I witnessed the characters forming lasting relationships with each other and realized what a difference one person can make in another’s life.
In this first novel (but third book) by Erica Bauermeister, it’s obvious that she has a “love of slow food and slow life instilled by her two years living in northern Italy.” She’s whipped up a delightful, delicious dessert of a book.
The long anticipated movie Julie and Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, opens today and whatever the reviews, it’s sure to be filled with beautiful food. Based on the book Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, it follows the cooking adventures of a young woman who, in an attempt to bring some focus to her life, decides to make every recipe in Julia Child’s iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking – in one year and all in her tiny kitchen.
This isn’t the first time food has been the centerpiece of a film. Take a look at these entries for more mouthwatering fun:
Big Night – An Italian restaurant on the brink of closing pulls out all the stops in one last attempt to keep the kitchen running.
Babette’s Feast - An unexpected windfall allows Babette to create a once-in-a-lifetime banquet for her longtime benefactors, a pious religious group that deny earthly pleasure.
Chocolat – When a mysterious single mother moves into a small French village and opens a chocolate shop, magic and controversy soon follow.
Sideways – Two best friends spend a week touring the California wine country, discovering passion, exploring their failures and searching for the perfect wine.
Like Water for Chocolate – In this romantic fantasy a couple is denied the chance to marry. To be near her, the young man marries her sister and she expresses her passion for him through her cooking.
What’s cool about magazines is that they teach you how to do really useful and practical things, but in a painless and fun way. The Main Street library has two new titles that do just that.
Food Network Magazine is chuck full of recipes: check out the best burger in each state with Bobby Flay (in Iowa it’s the Famous Garbage Burger in Ames), peruse the recipes for “50 Summer Drinks,” and plan a Father’s Day cookout.
Learn how to save energy by browsing through Home Power Magazine. Recent articles tell you how to buy a wind generator, smarter power strips, energy saving digital TV converter boxes and investing in solar electricity.
As autumn fades and winter arrives, we look forward to the holidays of the season to brighten the cold and gray days ahead – from Thanksgiving to Super Bowl Sunday and beyond, there are all kinds of reasons and excuses to get together with friends and family. And to eat, of course!
It’s easy to eat seasonally and locally in the summer when it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with the abundance, but Anne Bramley’s Eat Feed Autumn Winter shows you that not only is it possible, it’s easy and delicious to eat well in the colder months too. Recipes are arranged by festive menus, with the emphasis on non-traditional celebrations: Guy Fawkes Day, Greek Harvest, Afternoon Tea, Election Night Get Together, Spring Eve. As well as the usual information on how to stock your pantry and cooking tips, Eat Feed Autumn Winter is liberally sprinkled with the facts and stories behind the events of the cold season from around the world.
Don’t forget, the Davenport Farmer’s Market continues all winter in the Freight House on West River Drive!
Don’t let winter get you down – instead, celebrate it with good food and good friends.
Love Chinese food but are intimidated by the thought of cooking a cuisine so different from what you grew up with? Looking for some family-satisfying meals that go beyond chicken and hamburgers? Kylie Kwong provides just the help you need with Simple Chinese Cooking.
Starting out with detailed descriptions of equipment and ingredients unique to the Chinese kitchen, Kwong presents recipes by ingredient – beef, pork, chicken, tofu, vegetables, noodles and wontons, etc. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful color picture; if more detailed preparation techniques are required, the recipe is accompanied by a series of step-by-step black and white photos. The book finishes with a chapter on “Eating Chinese-Style” (just exactly how do those chopsticks work?) and menu planning.
This lovely, encouraging book will have you enjoying Chinese food right from your own kitchen in no time.
The “breath” of a wok is the steam that rises from a sizzling hot finished dish. This charming cookbook takes a slightly different approach to Chinese food by focusing on the wok and its recipes. In addition, there is a history of the wok and it’s importance (central to so much Chinese cooking), the construction and manufacture of woks and advice on buying and seasoning a wok.
While many of the recipes are familiar, there is also a wide range of fresh ideas, gathered from a variety of people including chef Michael Yan, writer Amy Tan and Young’s own family, and range from beginner friendly to master lessons.
Practical, smart and fun, The Breath of a Wok will have you cooking confidently with a wok in no time.
Stepping beyond the familiar Chinese cuisines, Beyond the Great Wall by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid explores the flavors and foods of the outlying areas of China, including Tibet and Xinjiang in the far west of the country. Authentic recipes, gathered by the authors over a series of visits to China over the past 20 years, are “translated” for the Western kitchen (no need to go looking for camel meat!)
However, this is much more than a cookbook; stories of the adventures and people that were met along the way are scattered throughout the book. The photography is spectacular – there are the usual mouth-watering close-ups of delicious dishes, but there are also sweeping views of the landscape, intimate portraits of the people, and a careful recording the customs and practices of this distant land.
Part cookbook, part travel book, part cultural education, Beyond the Great Wall will feed the soul as well as the body.