18 January 2020

Weekend Cooking: A Sneak Peek at Upcoming Cookbook Reviews

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish ReadsI'm not quite sure if my past week passed by quickly or slowly, but I do know that it wasn't an easy week. I spent most of the time with my mother and some of it in the hospital.

There was pretty much no cooking going on, though the hospital restaurants had some decent choices. I know that I haven't yet visited your posts from last week, but I hope to find some time to read them in the week to come--once I catch up with my work, that is. Oh and some sleep would be nice too.

Anyway, today's post is a sneak peak at five cookbooks I have waiting to review. Some I've cooked out of; others I haven't. I'm just a little too brain dead at the moment to write up a thoughtful review, and I don't want to short-change you or the cookbook authors.

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish ReadsFirst up are two books published by Austin Macauley. I was interested in these cookbooks because they are geared to new cooks. I'm always looking for good books to suggest to friends and relatives (of all ages) who claim they don't know how to cook or that cooking is too difficult. Both cookbooks arrived when I was out of town last week, and I haven't had a chance to study them. However, from a quick flip through, Simply No Weigh by Di Weiss (2018) looks like it will appeal to a range of cooks and tastes. Beginners Cookbook by K. Mortimer (2017), on the other hand, seems perfect for college students or fresh-out-of-the-nest new adults setting up home in their first apartment. I'll let you know what I think in the weeks to come.

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish ReadsNext is Eat for the Planet Cookbook by Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone, which published this month from Abrams. I have so many pages marked, the book barely closes anymore! The recipes are plant based (the new term for "vegan"), and this omnivore has found a number of recipes to love. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my story showing the enchilada pie. Sooo good. I've made a couple of artichoke dishes from this book and a soup. You'll have a full review of this winner very soon. I took this cookbook to mother's last week because there are a number of vegans and vegetarians in my family, and those of us who eat meat also love to change up with veggies when we can. Alas, I didn't get a chance to make the mushroom barley soup for everyone in Ohio, but I think that's my next recipe from this cookbook.

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish ReadsThe final two cookbooks are both published by Voracious. Again, if you follow me on Instagram you've already seen a photo. I am a huge Canal House fan, so I was super excited to receive a copy of their Cook Something: Recipes to Rely On by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton (Sept. 2019). The photos, the recipes, the step-by-steps . . . I love it all. Although I rarely use a recipe to make pasta Bolognese, I really wanted to try their version and wanted to cook it for my family. I also thought my mom would enjoy pasta. Sadly she now finds tomatoes to be too acidic, so I wasn't able to make it for her. However, I will be making it for us--really soon. The revised edition of The Milk Street Cookbook by Christopher Kimball (Oct. 2019) includes "every recipe from every episode of the TV show." There is so much information packed into this beautiful cookbook that I don't even know where to begin. The recipes are solid and doable and the photographs are wonderful. Lots of exploring in my future.

I will do my best to visit all of your posts from last week and this, just as soon as possible. In the meantime, I'm taking each day, one at a time.

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Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.
_______

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16 January 2020

Off the Shelf; Or What's New in My Corner of the World 8

Beth Fish ReadsQuick personal update here. You might have noticed that I haven't been posting much and that I haven't been visiting blogs or posting on Instagram or even tweeting. There's a reason for that.

My mother has been having some health issues, and I've been visiting with her and taking over some care-giving duties from my brother. As you can imagine, all my non-work time is focused on family and helping my mom regain her strength and vigor. I have not been reading or reviewing or tending to my blog.

I will have a Weekend Cooking post up on Saturday. I hope next week I can be more active on social media and my blog. At the moment we're taking each day, one at a time.

So, in case you were wondering what happened to me, now you know.

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11 January 2020

Weekend Cooking: Chicken Soup

Soup recipe from Beth Fish ReadsHappy Saturday. Today's Weekend Cooking post is going to be short and to the point.

I'm cooking for my elderly mother this week and am tasked with finding appealing dishes that aren't too spicy and that are easy to digest. We've had scrambled eggs, baked salmon with broccoli, and roast chicken with rice.

I had some leftover chicken and was looking for some simple ideas for using the meat to make a tempting meal. I turned to Budget Bytes, one of my go-to sources for trusted recipes. While browsing the site, I came across Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, and decided that was just what my mom needed.

Because the chicken was already cooked, and my mother can no longer tolerate garlic and onion, I used the Budget Bytes recipe for inspiration only, though my finished dish looked very much like the photograph. Oh and I used boxed bone broth instead homemade.

My mom ate a full serving, which is a total success in my world. The recipe and a video for making the soup can be found on the Budget Bytes website. The photo is theirs too.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 8
Healing soup2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. carrots
1/2 bunch celery
2 split chicken breasts, bone-in
1 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 whole bay leaf
Freshly cracked pepper
2-3 tsp salt
6 oz. egg noodles
Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, and olive oil to a large pot and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and transparent.

While the onion and garlic are sautéing, wash and slice the carrots and celery. Add them to the pot and continue to sauté for a few minutes more.

Pull the skin and any excess fat from the chicken breasts. Add the breasts to the pot along with the bay leaf, basil, parsley, thyme, some freshly cracked pepper, and eight cups of water. Cover the pot, bring it to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour. Make sure the pot continues to simmer for the whole hour. If the heat is turned down too low and it is not bubbling away, the chicken will not shred easily.

After an hour of simmering, remove the chicken from the pot. Using two forks, pull the meat from the bone and shred it slightly. Season the broth with salt. Begin with one teaspoon and add more to your liking. I used 2-3 teaspoons. The flavor of the broth will really pop once the salt is added.

Add the noodles to the pot, turn the heat up to high, and boil the noodles until tender (about 7 minutes). Return the shredded chicken to the pot. Taste and season again with salt if needed (I didn’t need to). Serve hot!

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Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

NOTE: Mr. Linky sometimes is mean and will give you an error message. He's usually wrong and your link went through just fine the first time. Grrrr.
_______


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10 January 2020

5 Coming-of-Age Stories to Read This Month

When deciding which books to add to your reading list, are there themes, genres, or settings you just can't say no to? One of mine is coming-of-age stories. I love following a character as he or she transitions from innocence to reality. There is something about the arc of personal growth that appeals to me, whether the protagonist is a child, a teen, or an adult.

If you're like me, then January is going to be a great month. Here are five books with coming-of-age elements that made it onto my teetering book stack. I hope you plan to add at least one to your own reading list.

review of The Truants by Kate WeinbergThe Truants by Kate Weinberg (Putnam, Jan. 28) follows the transformation of Jess, a small town girl who discovers diversity through the friends she makes freshman year at a college in East Anglia. Although billed primarily as a thriller with literary themes (Agatha Christie looms large), this is also a story of how little we really know about other people and what happens when we begin to see them without our rose-colored glasses. First lines:

It’s hard to say who I fell in love with first. Because it was love, I think you’ll agree, when I’ve finished telling you.
Audiobook: Read by Olivia Dowd (Penguin Audio; 9 hr, 36 min)

review of The Girls with No Names by Serena BurdickThe Girls with No Names by Serena Burdick (Park Row, Jan. 7) is set in New York just over a hundred years ago. Two sisters from a well-off family hardly notice the girls living in the nearby anything-but House of Mercy for the wayward, until the older Luella disappears. Young Effie checks herself into the House of Mercy to look for her sister, only to find that she's alone and that life isn't full of fun for everyone living in the city. First lines:
I lay with my cheek pressed to the floor, the cement cool against my spent rage. I’d screamed. I’d bitten and scratched. Now I was paying for it, but I didn’t care. I’d do it again.
Audiobook: Read by Emily Lawrence, Nancy Peterson, and Amy McFadden (Harlequin Audio; 12 hr, 24 min)

reivew of The God Game by Danny TobeyThe God Game by Danny Tobey (St. Martin's Press, Jan. 7) is a mix of techno-thriller and mystery as a group of nerdy high school seniors discover a cool game hidden in back reaches of the internet. The more involved they get with the game, the more powerful the consequences, until at least one of them has to begin to balance AI with reality and deal with issues of theology, ethics, and friendship. First lines:
The blue light of the computer screen was flickering on Charlie’s and Peter’s faces, making them look like astronauts lit by the cosmos.
Audiobook: Read by Andrew Eiden (Macmillan Audio; 13 hr, 31 min)

review of Creatures by Crissy Van MeterCreatures by Crissy Van Meter (Algonquin, Jan. 7) begins as a young women prepares for her wedding on an island off the coast of Southern California. The story is told partly through her memories and partly in real time, as she comes to terms both with her childhood (raised by a charming though drug-dealing father) and with her present (dead whale on the beach, sudden appearance of her long-absent mother, and fisherman groom possibly lost at sea). First lines:
There is a dead whale. It rolls idly in the warm shallows of this island, among cartoonish sea animals with tentacles, suction cups, and goopy eyes.
Audiobook: Read by Piper Goodeve (Highbridge; 5 hr, 58 min)

We Wish You Luck by Caroline Zancan (Riverhead, Jan. 14) follows a trio of graduate students enrolled in a low-residency MFA writing program at a prestigious college. During one of the on-campus sessions, their famous-author advisor goes a step too far in the critique of their work, and the students are left with the stark truths of power, art, competitiveness, and love. First lines:
There is no train ride in the world prettier than the one from Penn Station to Albany. Ten of the seventeen people in our class took that train up to the first June residency.
Audiobook: Read by Kristen Sieh (Penguin Audio; 7 hr, 27 min)

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06 January 2020

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Weekly Reset 3

Book reviews and books to screen at Beth Fish ReadsThe first full workweek of the new year is about to begin! Although I worked through most of the holiday break, today still feels like a return to reality, probably because I can expect to start hearing from my clients.

I spent the early part of last week prepping for our annual New Year's Eve dinner and movie-watching night and the second half on a kind of yearly reset: changing out calendars, thinking about goals for the coming year, straightening the house, and putting away the holiday decor.

This week's reset: I organized some incoming books, outlined this week's blog posts, and took stock of my e-galleys. Yes, I am serious about increasing the percentage of books I read digitally and spent some time going through Edelweiss+ and NetGalley to pick a few January titles.

I also took note of a few bookish shows to watch on television this month, including Anne with a E, Tolkien, Dracula, Dare Me, and Jane Austen's Sanditon. We watched the first episode of Netflix's Dracula: I have mixed feelings because it dragged a bit and doesn't follow the book. Sill, it seems worth watching. We also watched the first episode of Dare Me, which we really liked.

What I Read Last Week

Review of One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManusI decided I couldn't wait to get to the newest Karen M. McManus book, One of Us Is Next (Delacorte Press, Jan. 7), the second in the Bayview High series. This mystery, like the first in the series, has a strong foundation in social media and modern forms of communication. Although this story focuses on a new batch of students, we get to revisit characters we met in book one. The mystery involves a truth or dare game, which is a thinly veiled method of bullying. The questions for us readers are who is setting up the game, who is threatening to reveal secrets (the truths) if a student fails to take the dare, why are only certain students tapped to play, and what is the game master's end plan? As in the first book, the story is told via multiple viewpoints and there's a death. While I enjoyed the mystery (and didn't figure it out before the reveal) and appreciated the multilayered plotting, I wasn't as invested in One of Us Is Next as I was in One of Us Is Lying. Part of the issue may lie in the general setup of the mystery. I liked the closed-room premise of the first book more than the open-ended setting of this one. Regardless, I would happily read more about these characters if McManus writes another in the series. I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Listening Library; 10 hr, 24 min), read by Maria Liatis, Holly Linneman, Fred Berman, and Karissa Vacker. All the narrators were good in terms of pacing and building tension and dramatic impact, but the characterizations didn't blend quite as nicely as they did on the first audiobook. (audiobook provided by the publisher)

Review of Stormy Petrel by Mary StewartStormy Petrel by Mary Stewart (Hodder & Stoughton, 2019, 6 hr, 11 min) was originally published in the 1990s and is a standalone mystery set in the Hebrides. When a Cambridge professor and author takes a holiday cottage on an isolated island, she is looking forward to a peaceful couple of weeks to finish her latest novel. She hopes her doctor brother will be able to join her, as the island is the perfect place for him to get in some bird watching and photography. On a rainy night before her brother arrives, Rose is visited by a young man who says he grew up in the cottage and didn't know anyone was staying there. Soon thereafter, another man knocks on the door seeking shelter after his campsite became drenched. Both men are charming, but each seems to be harboring secrets. Whom should Rose trust and what do these men really want? Stewart creates believable characters and makes the Hebridean landscape an integral part of the plot. Fun escape reading. I listened to the unabridged audiobook, which was published last fall and read by Eilidh Beaton, for a freelance assignment. Beaton did a fine job keeping me engaged throughout. My full thoughts about the audiobook production will be available via AudioFile magazine.

New to My Bookshelves

What to read in January 2020

I'm grateful to have had a nice variety of books arrive on my doorstep in the last couple of weeks. Here are a few that caught my attention; all come out this month:
  • The Vineyards of Champagne is about how the Champagne region of France survived the German Occupation. (Berkley)
  • Hope in the Mail is "part writing guide and part memoir" and is geared to young teens. (Knopf)
  • House on Fire is Finder's latest thriller; this one is set in the pharmaceutical industry. (Dutton)
  • Recipe for a Perfect Wife is a dual-time-period story of two marriages. (Dutton)
  • A Good Man is a mix of domestic thriller and psychological suspense set in New York. (Penguin)
  • Kidnapped on Safari is a thriller, set in Africa, that addresses the all-to-serious business of illegal logging of public lands. (Skyhorse)
  • The New Improved Sorceress is the second in a portal fantasy series set in Richmond, Virginia, as well as in a magical realm. (Ace)
  • The Secret Chapter is the sixth book in the Invisible Library series, which is a very adult alternative world(s) fantasy with many bookish themes. I love these books, but I'm one behind. Time to catch up! (DAW)

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2020. All rights reserved.

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