The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

how-to-eat-supper.jpgAs a devoted fan of NPRs The Splendid Table, I was anxiously awaiting this cookbook. I must admit at first glance I was slightly disappointed because I didn’t see lots of food pictures. It took almost no time though for me to fall in love with How to Eat Supper.

As loyal listeners know, Lynne and Sally share an immense curiosity about all things food. Like the show, this book goes far beyond the recipe to include history, techniques, references, and great stories. There is also a “Building the Library” blurb every few pages that suggests other great cookbooks. Some wonderful quotes about food and eating from a diverse group of people, the likes of Henry David Thoreau to Miss Piggy are also included.

Even though the categories of recipes run the usual gamut of salads to sweets, the individual recipes themselves are far from the normal supper fare. Not to worry though, even novice cooks will find that these are things that they can cook.

I’m going to try the Pan Crisped Deviled Eggs. Let me know what recipe you try!

The Armchair Traveler: Scandanavia (it’s cold, but hot)

scandinavian-crime-novels.jpgIn the last ten years, there has been a renaissance of Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic crime writers. The brooding and world-weary Nordic antihero has emerged as a leading trend in mysteries.

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

Voted “Best Norwegian Crime Novel of all Time” by Norwegian book clubs, this is a good example of parallel storytelling. Detective Harry Hole is drawn into a case with ties to World War II and Norway’s cooperation with Nazi Germany. Alternating between the Russian front and contemporary Oslo, Hole finds that aging collaborators are being murdered one by one.

Sun and Shadow by Ake Edwardson

Swedish detective Erik Winter likes the finer things in life (he is a sharp dresser with a taste for good jazz and fine food), but pressures of his personal life and work are taking their toll.

The Man Who Smiled by Henning Mankell

This is the fourth in the Inspector Wallander series; Swedish author Mankell was one of the first of the Scandinavian wave of crime writers. In this one, Wallander is ready to quit the force in Ystad when a friend asks him to investigate a death (and is then killed himself).

The Torso by Helene Tursten

Irene Huss is an interesting example of the female side of law enforcement. She is a stressed out cop in Gothenburg, Sweden. Tursten’s strength is depicting the demands of the job and an equally demanding family life

Other fine writers are Asa Larsson, Kjell Eriksson, Arnaldur Indridason, Karin Fossum and, of course, Peter Hoeg.

The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy

The Art of Mexican CookingMexican cooking is more than tacos and salsa; it is in fact a rich, complex and varied cuisine with distinct regional differences. Originally published in 1989, The Art of Mexican Cooking by Diana Kennedy is back in print filled with not only recipes, but stories and information about the unique, delicious foods of Mexico.

This is a cookbook for aficionados; many of the recipes and techniques are advanced (making blood sausage or cleaning a squid), but there are many accessible dishes as well (such as Mexican masa ball soup) Emphasis is on authentic ingredients and produce, most of which are now readily available in American markets. One chapter is devoted just to chilies and another on the sauces and relishes of Mexican cuisine, as well as chapters on corn, pork, chicken and desserts among others.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with some real Mexican food!

To The Swift edited by Joe Drape

To the SwiftGlamour, tradition and, oh yeah, bourbon – what’s not to like about the Kentucky Derby? It’s also, of course, America’s premiere horse racing event and sets the stage for the Triple Crown (the Derby, the Preakness in two weeks and the Belmont three weeks after that)

Of the 40,000 Thoroughbred foals born in the United States each year, only 20 get to the Kentucky Derby. Only eleven horses have gone on to the win the Triple Crown. To the Swift chronicles the triumphs and heartbreaks, drama and hope of this beautiful and exciting sport. Heavily illustrated and filled with stories of not only the winners but those that came up short, this collection of stories from The New York Times combines original reporting with new essays on the sport.

Now, what was that about bourbon? The key ingredient for mint juleps of course! No traditional Kentucky Derby Party would be complete without them.

Let the Shopping Begin!

Farmer’s Market season is upon us! Despite the flood, The Davenport Freight House Farmer’s Market will be open bright and early Saturday morning. Check out the Radish for a comprehensive list of all the area markets. Besides the great produce, there well be other fun events in which to partake while shopping. The Davenport Public Library will be there for storytelling on the third Wednesday of each month. Cooking demonstrations are scheduled later in the season. Support our local farmers and feel good about helping to reduce the amount of fossil fuelPlenty it takes to get produce from field to fork. Here are a couple of books that helped inspire me to be a locavore.

In Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, a Vancouver couple recount their experiment of living on a diet of foods grown within 100 miles of their home. They went so far as to not use salt or oil since these staples were not locally produced. They also experience the joys of growing some of their own food as well as getting to know local producers of the items they purchase. The authors learn a lot about nutrition, uncommon varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as share their experiences in canning tomatoes and making jam. While not everyone will want to take such a radical approach to being a locavore, this book offers an eye-opening account of what it means to step outside Animal, Vegetable, Miracleof the industrial food system.

Well known novelist, Barbara Kingsolver also took a year to drop out of the industrial food pipeline. In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, she chronicles her family’s move to rural Virginia where they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. The Kingsolver’s plant a huge garden and spend considerable time making pickles, canning tomatoes, and even making mozzarella. They even abandon their previous vegetarian ways and discover the pleasures of conscientious carnivory as they raise chickens and turkeys.

Where’s the beef…indeed.

Wendy\'s buyoutArby’s swallowed up Wendy’s last week after a buyout from its parent company. It’s bad news for all you baconaters out there.

Lets remember the good times in the days of Dave Thomas as we weep over our Biggie combos.

Did you know founder Dave Thomas….
-was adopted
-dropped out of high school and earned his GED late in life?
-dreamed of running a hamburger restaurant, since Columbus, Ohio DID NOT HAVE ONE.
-starred in over 800 Wendy’s commercials
-once worked for KFC’s Colonel Sanders as a franchise operator.

Check out the book of an inspiring man who wasn’t skimpy with the portions.

Rest in peace, Dave.

The Armchair Traveler – the American Southwest

American SouthwestLonging for immersion in the fragrant, dry heat of the desert southwest? Give one of these a try.

Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman

The Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee series is set in the rugged canyons and high country of the Four Corners area. Hillerman’s attention to the small details of the desert landscape and immersion in Navajo culture are what make these enjoyable, as well as the evolving relationship of the two lawmen.

Desert Heat by J.A. Jance

Set in the Arizona desert, this series really gives you a feel for the small town and family life of Joanna Brady. The first in the series starts off with a shock – Joanna’s husband, a sheriff’s deputy, is shot and her comfortable life begins to crumble.

Blackening Song by Aimee and David Thurlo

Ella Clah works as a Navajo Nation’s Special Investigator on the Shiprock, New Mexico reservation. She personifies the conflict between Navajo culture and Western capitalism. The series gives an insider’s look into this unique law enforcement entity.

Open Season by C.J. Box

Game warden Joe Pickett patrols the stunning Wyoming wilderness – where there is a constant struggle between development and environmentalists. Pickett’s day-to-day work is always related to those larger issues. According to the author, Pickett “works hard and tries, sincerely, to do the ‘right thing.’ He doesn’t talk much. He’s human and real which means he sometimes screws up.”

Little (or big) green houses for you & me!

Green building and remodeling offer opportunities to save energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resourses, improve air and water quality, and reduce waste. If all buildings in the U.S. met leading green building standards, national energy use and global warming emissions would drop by 10%. Here are a couple of books that can help you make your home green.

building-green.jpgIf you are considering building a small new home, take a look at Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods: Earth Plaster, Straw Bale, Cordwood, Cob, Living Roofs. The book starts with building fundamentals, has a short course on design, and then moves to hands-on building. It has lots of great color photographs that made me yearn for that straw bale house I’ve been dreaming of for years. It should be noted that the plans in this book are for a guest house, but the techniques could undoubtedly be used for larger construction.

Thinking about doing some remodeling and want to make your green-remodeling.jpghome a little more eco-friendly? Green Remodeling is a good place to start. This book covers a wide range of topics such as reducing home energy use, selecting nontoxic products, saving water, and supporting the environment through the use of products that support responsible manufacturing and the sustainable harvesting of natural resources. Projects have step-by-step guides as well as detailed pictures and drawings. Even if you aren’t planning a do it yourself remodel, this book can serve as starting point for going green in your home.

Little (or big) green houses for you & me!

Green building and remodeling offer opportunities to save energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resourses, improve air and water quality, and reduce waste. If all buildings in the U.S. met leading green building standards, national energy use and global warming emissions would drop by 10%. Here are a couple of books that can help you make your home green.

building-green.jpgIf you are considering building a small new home, take a look at Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods: Earth Plaster, Straw Bale, Cordwood, Cob, Living Roofs. The book starts with building fundamentals, has a short course on design, and then moves to hands-on building. It has lots of great color photographs that made me yearn for that straw bale house I’ve been dreaming of for years. It should be noted that the plans in this book are for a guest house, but the techniques could undoubtedly be used for larger construction.

Thinking about doing some remodeling and want to make your green-remodeling.jpghome a little more eco-friendly? Green Remodeling is a good place to start. This book covers a wide range of topics such as reducing home energy use, selecting nontoxic products, saving water, and supporting the environment through the use of products that support responsible manufacturing and the sustainable harvesting of natural resources. Projects have step-by-step guides as well as detailed pictures and drawings. Even if you aren’t planning a do it yourself remodel, this book can serve as starting point for going green in your home.