Thursday, July 30, 2015

Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From A Little Neighborhood Bakery by Rosie Daykin

Back when my children were young, sometimes at the bakery counter we'd buy a birthday cake for no real occasion.  We'd have it dedicated to the birthday of no one in particular that we knew.  It was just a fun treat that we'd enjoy later at home.  This random purchase provided a boost in mood and excitement for everyone.  Who doesn't love birthday cake?   Looking back, there are many fond memories associated with the food we've shared with family and friends.  If you are someone who enjoys food traditions and collecting recipes from loved ones, then this is a book you will enjoy.

Perusing the pages of Butter Baked Goods by Ms. Rosie Daykin evokes that kind of nostalgic memory.  As a successful business woman, working at the time as an interior designer in Vancouver, she saw a need in her community and decided to follow her life-long dream of owning a bakery.  She found just the right location and her shop, Butter Baked Goods, opened in 2007.

Her vision for her new venture was a place to create special treats and cakes that she had enjoyed in her childhood.  The recipes she includes in her book are some of the homespun favorites she sells in her shop.  Many of the baked goods featured are ones I have made over the years for family and friends and no doubt you will recognize them as favorites from your past as well. Some of them have a fun, new twist.

Ms. Daykin starts the book with suggestions for a well-stocked pantry and fridge. Things you want to have on hand when the baking urge strikes.  She then moves into the "Tools of the Trade".  I was surprised to see two wooden yard sticks included with some of the tools but after reading on, I think her idea for using them is not only practical but brilliant.  The answer to this culinary cliffhanger is on page 15.  She also has a list of equipment she can't live without and gives hints for working with eggs, creaming butter and sugar, as well as other pastry chef techniques.

Now the recipes.  The chapters are laid out to be able to create: muffins and scones, drop sandwich, as well as rolled cookies and bars, cakes and frostings, pastry, pies and tarts and other confections. Her marshmallows have been such a success she has a separate operation just to make them.  With the success of her first bakery, she has opened a second and also sells her tasty treats to other high end grocery stores and shops.

Since I won't be able to take a trip to Canada to sample her wares anytime soon, I am content to have the opportunity to bake from the book.  I love that she has taken the time to share her recipes. It's always so refreshing to see confident bakers willing to share their recipes so unselfishly like Ms. Rosie had done.  I can attest that the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies and the Homemade You Know Whats were a huge hit with co-workers.  It was also great to have something turn out as photographed when working from a new cookbook.  I have even made the peanut butter cookies in a gluten-free version, substituting Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour for the same amount of the all-purpose flour required in the original recipe.  It was a real treat to have something tasty to offer my gluten-intolerant child to be able to enjoy without feeling like the cookie was lacking something.  They were delicious and you would not have been able to tell they were gluten-free unless you were told.

If you are looking to find other books that have that same nostalgic flair for baked goods, you might try either of the cookbooks by Savanah, Georgia pastry chefs, Cheryl and Griffith Day.  They are: Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook and  Back in the Day Bakery, Made With Love.  You won't be disappointed!

Happy Baking!  Phyllis

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Frugal Paleo Cookbook: affordable, easy and delicious paleo cooking, by Ciarra Hannah

The idea of a “paleo diet” has been around for a few decades. As this food trend gains momentum, cookbooks are of course joining in this boisterous discussion. And as in all movements, there are good books and bad books. Luckily, Ciarra Hannah’s new book, The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, is one of the good ones.
Hannah runs the website Popular Paleo. The Frugal Paleo Cookbook is her first book. She does not waste time explaining how paleo diets works. If one has picked up this book, they are assumed to have some understanding, or can infer the rules. Still don’t get it? Peruse the gorgeous pictures of this cookbook to gain some enlightenment, or visit her website for a clue.
Her selling point in this cookbook, frugality, speaks to my soul (and my wallet!). Few recipes call for more than simple ingredients.Don’t have have exactly what was listed in your cupboards? Organic foods, especially, free-range protein, are pricy. Try substituting like-minded ingredients whenever needed. And of course, some recipes are simple, others painstakingly elaborate. There are no shortcuts, which may confound some. This book is not necessarily for beginners.

Think that paleo may be for you? Jump on the bandwagon with such books as Paleo takes 5- or fewer : healthy eating was never easier with these delicious 3, 4 and 5 ingredient recipes, by Cindy Sexton, or Well Fed: Paleo recipes for people who love to eat, by Melissa Joulwan, who is featured in the foreword of Hannah’s book. Not ready to give up your favorite foods? Place a hold on Russ Crandall’s Paleo Takeout: restaurant favorites without the junk, to ease into the lifestyle. And happy eating!

Review by Nicole

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dessert For Two: Small Batch Cookies, Brownies, Pies, and Cakes

Dessert For Two: Small Batch Cookies, Brownies, Pies, and Cakes by Christina Lane

To be honest, it was the picture on the book cover of the adorable chocolate pies in the canning jar lids that first grabbed my attention.  I have made pies in canning jars, but using the lid as a tiny spring form pan is genius.

Being a new empty nester, I am having to learn how to scale down my recipes so that my husband doesn't have to eat the same leftovers for a whole week.  When it comes to baked goods it isn't just a matter of halving the recipe.  After all, how do you halve an egg?  Christina Lane has worked out all the math and science for you.  She obviously has spent a lot of time with each recipe to make them as easy as possible.  All while keeping the texture and flavor of the full scale version.

The recipes are broken down into chapters for cookies, bars, cakes, Southern Delights (which include pies, cobblers, and puddings) and candy.  Most of the cupcake recipes make only 4 cupcakes.  The cookie recipes make 12 or fewer cookies. The bar recipes are made in a 9 x 5 x 3 pan and Christina says they make 2 servings.  The servings are quite large so I cut them in half again to make 4 bars per pan.  Most of the pies and cakes are made in a 6 inch pan. 

The Oatmeal Cream Pies cookie recipe is to die for.  Can it get any better with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and molasses in an oatmeal cookie?  Oh wait, it can, add the marshmallow cream filling and wow.  I love blondies, which are really just a chocolate chip cookie in bar form.  I have tried other scaled down versions but they were never quite right.  This one is made in the 9 x 5 x 3 pan and is just right.

Other titles on the same subject:

The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook by Editors at America's Test Kitchen
The recipe for Chicken Soft Tacos is easy and very good.  You poach the chicken breasts in a sauce made from cilantro, orange juice and Worcestershire sauce.

Cooking For Two: More than 130 Delicious Recipes to Enjoy Together by Betty Crocker

Review by Kathryn

Monday, July 27, 2015

Smart Storage Solutions: Creative Closets, Stylish Shelves & More by Valerie Rains

There are those of us that have reached a certain age and have encountered friends and family who can't resist the urge to tell us that we need to lighten up. In this occasion,  I mean they are trying gently to say that we need to consider divesting ourselves of excess baggage or stuff that one collects over a lifetime.

I, myself am a collector of things.  I don't believe I am in jeopardy of being featured on Hoarders: Buried Alive anytime soon but we all can use some help sorting things out. If you are like me and not ready to embrace letting go of everything just yet, then hopefully this book will help.

Initially, I was drawn to the book Smart Storage Solutions because it is by Country Living. It has a wonderful timeworn filing cabinet featured on the cover and at a first casual, flip though, the book is filled with the stunning photography that Country Living magazine has been long noted for. The "Collector" will enjoy this book by just admiring the vast variety of collections the book contains.  All are artfully featured but I urge you to look further and take a minute to read this book.  It is filled with all kinds of storage suggestions to help you create your own stunning displays and if you haven't mastered it yet, to organize your collections and beautify your spaces.

I happen to love antiques.  That being said, I also embrace the practice of re-purposing things that can be destined for an elegant new life.  Old cabinets, shelves, or tables, wooden boxes or containers that have lived to their potential in that former life and though a bit scuffed up, celebrate their age with each new purpose. There are many clever uses for common items, like the use of vintage suitcases on page 6, stacked high in a room, that supply extra storage or the small, vintage, metal tackle box that becomes a desk organizer on page 110.

Author, Valerie Rains has organized the chapters to give hints for seven areas in the home and outdoors as well.  I love the bright ideas! that punctuate several photos throughout, indicating a new approach for displaying your treasures.  This is one time you won't mind doing your HOMEWORK because the photos of hand-sewn tags with homework written in an eye catching red font, indicate a project that you can try at home. Most of the homework projects are doable by the average homeowner with basic carpentry skills and tools.

I love the idea on page 67 to upcycle a dresser drawer into a mini-bar by adding a lid to the drawer. The lid becomes a drop down shelf when the bottom of the drawer is bolted to a wall.  I don't happen to need a mini-bar but my guest room could use a space for guests to put a few personal items.  A small re-purposed drawer could make a perfect nightstand and wouldn't take up the permanent space a table would.  There are several more tips for choosing paint colors to unify a space and helpful hints for de-cluttering to create calm spaces. There is a definite art for what to conceal and what to reveal.

I hope you can find a few clever ideas in this book to bring you some peace of mind and perhaps thwart the efforts of well-meaning minimalists in your life.  If you are looking for other books on creating great collections you might try The Little Book of Big Decorating Ideas: 287 Clever Tips, Tricks, and Solutions by Katy McColl.  It contains even more creative ideas from the staff of Country Living magazine. The book utilizes the same sensibility of a streamlined approach to showcasing your collections to create a serene space.

Happy Organizing,

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Spiritual Child : The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong Living / Lisa Miller (Clinical psychologist)

Children have an inborn spirituality, a spiritual compass, according to Lisa Miller, PH.D., the author of The Spiritual Child: The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong LivingShe calls it “heart knowing.” As a clinical psychologist, Miller has been studying spirituality and its place in child development for fifteen years. She believes parents are unaware of the research. That’s why she wrote this book.

In the introduction, she gives her credentials and summaries of case studies, interviews, and neuro-imaging research. She defines spirituality for the reader as “an inner sense of relationship to a higher power that is loving and guiding” and believes it does not necessarily equate with religion.

Throughout the book, Miller gives tips for parents such as recognizing the importance of commitment to family and to a spiritual community. She points out that unconditional love is spiritual parenting. I like her analogy that parenting is not a scorecard, but more like a” tidal wave of love that we are learning to surf.”

Adolescence can be one of the most stressful times for parents and their children. If you have an adolescent, the chapter The Quest: The Adolescent’s Search for Life’s calling, Meaning, and Purpose will give you insight into the changes in the adolescent brain and how senses are intensified in the rapidly changing brain. 

The Spiritual Child will help you to recognize your child’s spiritual awareness and learn to encourage it, to start a conversation in unplanned spiritual moments, and to teach your child appreciation for spirituality in other cultures.

If you like The Spiritual Child, and are looking for a Christian aspect to nurturing your child's inner development check out In This House We Will Giggle; Making Virtues, Love & Laughter a Daily Part Your Family Life. It’s full of fun activities, such as “The Kiss Attack” or a whole list of ideas to encourage generosity.

To read with your child, I recommend If You Plant a Seed, a large-sized picture book that illustrates kindness and compassion. All of these titles are available at the Virginia Beach Public Libraries. Review by Sandi H.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gluten-Free Living Magazine

Picture your favorite ice cream. Mmm. . . .  Now hold that thought. What if you couldn’t have it any more? If you are on a special diet, you must live with restrictions daily. When you get a craving, what’s the alternative? Does Pecan Passion, Strawberry Bliss, Blackberry Honey or Chocolate Orange Chip sound good? All are dairy-free, gluten free and vegan. The July/August 2015 issue of Gluten Free Living Magazine features an article about ten non-dairy ice creams. Each one comes in many different flavors. You can read this magazine on your computer or mobile device, free from your Virginia Beach Public Library.

Click on links within the articles in this digital magazine to go directly to the different ice cream companies for more information, such as what stores carry the ice cream in your area. Another link within an article,, allows you to select what foods you have at home from a list on the site, choose My Restrictions, such as Gluten Free, and get custom recipes.

An expanded recipe section in the magazine includes Filipino food by Laura Hahn, author of Around the World, One Gluten Free Meal at a Time. Also, a panel of pizza tasters choose their favorite frozen gluten free pizzas, and tell why they like them. Ice cream and pizza, two of my favorite foods in one magazine!

The issue lists sources for home genetics tests, so if you have a family history of Celiac you can find out whether or not you inherited the gene for developing the autoimmune disease.

Check out Gluten Free Living for more articles, restaurant reviews or product information. Or, browse VBPL’s digital magazine collection for more foodie magazines for special diets such as Vegetarian Times or Diabetic Living. The magazines never expire—there is no time limit. Once you check out a magazine, it will remain in your personal reading account until you delete it. Review by Sandi H.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Homesman, DVD

The Homesman is not your typical Western. There is no bloodshed. No battle between the good guys and the bad. But, it has one element that typifies a Western—someone winds up dead. Who dies and how, took me by surprise. The movie was just moseying along, then the sucker punch.

George Griggs (Tommy Lee Jones) sets out on a horse drawn wagon across Nebraska with four women. Three of the women are chained inside, either insanely violent or catatonic. A fourth woman, Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank), bossy and self-sufficient, with no prospect of marriage, rescues Griggs from hanging. She promises him three hundred dollars to accompany her and the trio to Iowa where a minister’s wife is waiting to shelter the women until they can travel East to their families. Along the way, Griggs, who is only in it for the money, starts to soften and eventually the three mad women look to him for food and direction. Mary Bee, however, starts to unravel during the difficult journey. Hopelessness and constant peril coupled with insanity lead to desperation.

Jones, who also directs the movie, has an unmistakable voice and weathered face. His character is a claim jumper, a scoundrel and a survivor.  Hilary Swank as Mary Bee is his counterpart. Will they make it to their destination?  

The movie is based on The Homesman: A Novel by Glendon Swartout, which won the Western Writers of America's Spur Award and the Western Heritage Wrangler's Award in 1988. For another heart wrenching story of women tormented by the isolation of American frontier life in the 1800's try the classic novel Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie by O. E. Rolvaag. Both titles are available at the Virginia Beach Public Libraries.

If you like western films, check the VBPL catalog for classic, traditional or contemporary titles, including The Homesman. Review by Sandi H.