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Monday
Apr252016

My Healthy Dish by My Nguyen

Autor My Nguyen follows the now-common path of finding satisfaction preparing interesting, healthy meals at home and sharing via social media (Instagram, in her case), creating an accompanying website, and doing such a good job she ends up with more than a million followers! Damn, I’d give her a book contract too.

My Healthy Dish concentrates on the realities of preparing quality meals for a family, within the time constraints of children and a busy life. To this end, Nguyen offers useful, effective tips for food prep, some of which I found terribly helpful.

My favorite chapter covers Slow Cooking. In this book, it's the most pertinent to my life. Slow Cooker Chicken Sausage Jambalaya is remarkable, and simple to assemble and walk away from. 

As My says in her introduction to the chapter, “I’m surprised more are not doing it already." I've been on the slow cooker path for a long time and consider my crock pot an essential kitchen tool. 

Dig into My Healthy Dish and help yourself make meal preparation and planning a bit simpler and easier for yourself.

@MyHealthyDish, www.myhealthydish.com, @skyhorsepub

Monday
Apr252016

Back Blast by Mark Greaney

Back Blast is a damn enjoyable thriller. I was unfamiliar with Mark Greaney’s work, but reading Lee Child’s endorsement smack on the front cover, I knew I was going to dig into Back Blast and see just who this Gray Man was and what was going on here.

Far more than a tech-politics-oriented thriller, and turning out to be so much more than I expected from a writer subbing for the great Tom Clancy, Court Gentry as an ex-CIA operative in Back Blast is well developed and fascinating. I cared about him, his story and his mission. Gentry is complex, his past constantly catching up, but when he desperately needs to know why the Agency is trying to kill him, rather than run away he moves directly towards trouble. I found myself liking the guy, and feeling like I understood his thought processes, sharing his emotions. Gentry's relentless attitude, and the "who is this guy?" remarks from those he's pointing towards are rewarding.

Back Blast is so good, I’ve made it my mission to find Greaney’s earlier Gray Man novels and read 'em. That’s success in my world.

@MarkGreaneyBook, #backblast, @BerkleyNAL

Monday
Apr252016

American Wino by Dan Dunn

 

Dan Dunn’s premise for American Wino intrigued me. He’d recently seen a long relationship come to an end and was casting about for purpose in his life. Dunn enjoys drinking and writing about wine. As a journalist in the field, with the contacts to set himself up properly, it made as much sense as anything for him to drive coast to coast, twice, stopping at as many independent wineries as possible, in hopes of discovering the good wines produced in out-of-the-way, non-traditional (not California, Oregon, Washington) regions. He apparently was searching for fun, new experiences, good wine, and the time and space to figure his life out to some extent.

So far so good. Aptly subtitled “A Tale of Reds, Whites, and One Man’s Blues,” once Dan got past wine country in California and headed east, things got interesting. He has the capacity to search out interesting characters, those working damn hard to produce wine on their own terms, in some of the strangest places. Dun searches then out, immerses himself in their operations for a few hours or a day, and seems to drink as much wine as possible. No spitting going on with this guy. Oh, how I enjoy that attitude.

I was happy to ride along for a while, even though he was finding reminders of his just-ended relationship everywhere, and was saddened by it. Some of Dunn’s biting commentary is fresh; I wish there was more of it in American Wino. As the book flows, it seems his time with wine producers is shortened, but his reflections on life and his ex-girlfriend takes up more and more of the book.

In many respects I wish I’d ridden along with Dan on his trip. I found myself wishing for more about some of the wine people he spent time with. Perhaps doing this alone was what he needed; certainly it provided a wonderful premise for the book. If American Wino was a more expansive book I feel he’d have balanced the wine world with his own, and I’d have loved the book much more.

@harpercollins, @TheImbiber, #americanwino

Thursday
Apr142016

The New Cocktail Hour by Andre and Tenaya Darlington

Hand-crafted food, drinks, clothing, furniture, bicycles... the list runs forever into the distance. I’m tired of the buzz, the overkill about craft products. When I saw “hand-crafted drinks” on the cover of The New Cocktail Hour, my heart sank a little, and my jaded attitude began to awaken.

But this is why books can be magical. I held the book in my hands. I opened it, turned the pages. Began to read the introduction, gaze at the layout, admire the sublime photos and get a feel for what Andre and Tenaya were aiming for. And fell in love.

The New Cocktail Hour isn’t an accumulation of old drink recipes passed forward. The authors aren’t newly minted hipsters passing themselves off as experts. These two admire the beauty and traditions of the cocktail culture. They have reverence for history, and an understanding that food, attitude, environment, and passion all play a role 

Eras of American history, and various themes, determine the flow and composition of the book. This is an interesting and ambitious scheme. Food pairings are suggested along the way. When did you see that before in a cocktail compilation? Early on is “How to Host a Party with Three Basic Bottles.” Brilliant. 

When I came across “The Hemingway Bar” I was sold, all in. Five of the legendary writer’s recipes are within, as well as a call-out to another author’s book on the topic of Hemingway’s drinks.

Even the size and feel of The New Cocktail Hour pleases me. This isn’t an encyclopedia. It fits nicely on a bookshelf or in a drink supply cupboard; it’ll also be at home conspicuously left out when friends are over. Every time I turn a page I’m learning, whether it’s basic drink prep and craft, or letting my taste buds run wild reading recipes.

Andre and Tenaya Darlington have created an essential addition to cocktail literature. 

#newcocktailhour, @Running_Press, @andredarlington, @MmeFromage

Monday
Apr112016

Deliciously Ella Every Day by Ella Woodward  

Woodward’s second book is as delightful and appeals to me nearly as much as her first effort, Deliciously Ella (http://johnkoenig.squarespace.com/books-and-music/2015/9/30/deliciously-ella-by-ella-woodward.html).

Yes, she’s a plant-based, gluten-free cook and recipe creator (in England Ella is nearly an industry unto herself). I find her simple meals to be elegant in design, simple in execution, and wonderful sides to a steak or roast or chicken breast. Couple that with pretty graphic design encompassing nice white space, and I find myself relaxing a bit, just turning the pages of Deliciously Ella Every Day

Her focus this time seems to be oriented towards snacks, lunches and smaller meals. She’s a fair number of dessert recipes, for which I have little interest, but I know it’s a big deal for many. I just don’t want to throw that sugar and syrup into my body very often, but I’m sure the resulting desserts are wonderful. My taste buds have gone without much sugar for so long I’ve no attraction. I think that’s a good thing for me!

Give Deliciously Ella Every Day a good spin in the kitchen; my first try will be her Herbed Lentil Bowl, found on page 151. I enjoy lentils, don’t eat them often enough, and need a recipe such as this so mine don’t come out plain and tasteless.

www.deliciouslyella.com

@deliciouslyella, #deliciouslyella, @ScribnerBooks