Friday, May 22, 2015

The Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison [and 3 others]

Would you like to be a part of a community of friends who share home-cooked meals? The Soup Club Cookbook: Feed Your Friends, Feed Your Family, Feed Yourself is the perfect cookbook for anyone wanting to learn how to start and carry out a soup club. This cookbook was written by four neighbors who have been in their soup club for several years.The rules of the club are: you should make one quart of soup per adult or four to eight quarts of soup a week, the soups should stand alone as a meal, the cook delivers the soup, and the empty jars have to be delivered to the next week's cook. Besides the wonderful selection of soup recipes in The Soup Club Cookbook there are chapters on Toppings for the soups, Food for Forks & Fingers, such as salads & dressings, Breads, Grains & Pastas, Big Food, and Cook's Snacks such as hummus and nuts. It is suggested that a soup club can be formed with neighbors, book club members, coworkers, or any people who would enjoy eating home-cooked food on a regular basis.

I love the premise of this cookbook, to take turns cooking big pots of soup and sharing with other members of the club. According to the cookbook, if your club is comprised of 4 members, a person would only have to cook their big pot of soup once a month and would therefore receive three meals a month. I think that I could handle that. The authors have covered every aspect of being in a soup club, including the message that "Your week will sometimes fall at the most inconvenient moment in your busy life," music to cook to, tools for cooking and delivery, and even how long it takes to boil a big stockpot of water. You will find that there is more to The Soup Club Cookbook than soup because the other recipes for salads & dressings, breads, toppings, snacks, and more are just as wonderful. The photographs and the layout with tips, notes, and stories make this cookbook very engaging. Perhaps The Soup Club Cookbook will inspire you to form a soup club where nourishing food made from scratch can be shared and enjoyed by all.

FYI: If you don't think that you will be cooking hot soups now that summer is almost here, there is a chapter in the cookbook with recipes for refreshing chilled soups made with summer fruits and vegetables.

Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup by Maggie Stuckey and The Soup & Bread Cookbook: More Than 100 Seasonal Pairings for Simple, Satisfying Meals by Beatrice Ojakangas are two more cookbooks that would be perfect for a soup club.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton

Are you a foodie, or do you like reading about foods from around the world that you have eaten or want to try? You might want to check out 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die because each page of this comprehensive book is filled with culinary delights, full-color photographs, recipes, farms, markets, shops, and more from all over the world. The book is divided by geographical regions in the world, such as British/Irish/English/Welsh/Scottish together in one section. 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die took many years to complete. This book is part of the 1,000...Before You Die series and was compiled from Sheraton's supreme knowledge of food and a lifetime of traveling.

Every time you pick up this book you will find something of interest that you didn't see before and you will have fun reading it. Even if you don't plan to travel the world, you will find this book fascinating.

1,000 Foods to Eat Before you Die may be checked out at the Virginia Beach Public Library. Some other recommended books about food and travel are Where Chefs Eat: A Guide to Chef's Favorite Restaurants by Joe Warwick, Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 700 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More by Jane and Michael Stern. You might enjoy a memoir by Mimi Sheraton, Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die by Patricia Schultz is part of the 1,000...Before You Die series.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Little Free Library Book by Margaret Aldrich

Have you ever spotted a Little Free Library - a box of books on a post with a sign that says "take a book, return a book" when you are driving around a neighborhood or on a trip and wondered what they are?  The Little Free Library Book, which was recently published explains the history and philosophy of Little Free Libraries, shows photos of Little Free Libraries all over the world, gives you instructions on how to get started building and launching your own Little Free Libraries, including professional blueprints, and is filled with stories from "stewards" or caretakers who have Little Free Libraries.

There are more than twenty-five thousand Little Free Libraries all over the world and in 2012 Little Free Library was established as an official nonprofit organization. It's amazing to learn that "conservative estimates from Little Free Library say that in a single year, more than 35 million books are traded." There are many ways to get a LFL: order one that's already built from the website, order a kit on the website that you can put together yourself, or you can build one with your own plans and ideas. To make your LFL official, you register it at and you receive an official charter number with a sign that gets attached to your library. On the LFL website you can find a world map that shows where Little Libraries can be found. In four years the Little Free Libraries have become a global movement and have been very instrumental in increasing literacy and a love of reading, especially in small towns that don't have a public library.

I always get excited when I come upon a Little Free Library in my travels, so I was thrilled when I heard that this book was being published. The Little Free Library Book is the kind of book that brings a smile to your face. There are many inspiring stories from the stewards of the LFLs and the photos are top-notch. You will love the wonderful quotes and sidebars that are scattered throughout the book and seeing how creative people are in building their LFLs. I especially enjoyed the idea that LFLs help to promote a feeling of community in neighborhoods. The book has sparked my interest in building a LFL for my new house and maybe it will do the same for you!

If you enjoyed The Free Library Book you might like to check out The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by Robert Dawson.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way That You Cook by Kristen Miglore

There are 100 recipes in this recently published cookbook that are compiled by Kristen Miglore, the executive editor at the James Beard Award-nominated Genius recipes column on The recipes have been gleaned from cookbook authors, chefs and bloggers from the Genius Recipes column on Genius Recipes is beautifully photographed, well presented, and sprinkled with Genius Tips, background information on the recipes, pictures of the process of making the dish, how to tweak the recipe to make it your own, and ideas for preparation. Some of the best cookbook authors and chefs who have recipes in this cookbook are Marcella Hazan, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Diana Kennedy, Alice Waters, Dorie Greenspan, Nigella Lawson, Mark Bittman, and more. The recipes have been tested and retested so that they can be deemed "legends" or timeless gems.

I love looking at new cookbooks and flipping through them to see what recipes in the book I would actually cook. I judge a cookbook by the 5-rule; if there are at least 5 recipes that look delicious and practical to make, then it's a winner. Genius Recipes more than surpasses the 5-rule. This cookbook is filled with yummy, fairly easy recipes that I can't wait to try. The cookbook is not vegetarian, but there are many recipes that are vegetarian and there is even a chapter titled, "Vegetarian Mains." This cookbook would be good for experienced and beginner cooks because the recipes have been simplified. The tips and comments are very helpful. I can tell that Genius Recipes will be one of my go-to cookbooks. Some of my favorites from Genius Recipes are Roasted Applesauce, Brisket of Beef, Meatballs from Rao's, Classic Guacamole, Basic Hummus, Chocolate Muscovado Banana Cake, Olive Oil & Maple Granola, Ratatouille, Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake, Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion, Cauliflower Steaks, and much, much more!

Check out Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way That You Cook soon from the Virginia Beach Public Library so that you can add some of these scrumptious recipes to your repertoire.  Your family and friends will think you're a Genius!

Similar to the Genius Recipes cookbook, The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks edited by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, founders of the online community and The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2: Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours also edited by Hesser and Stubbs are two cookbooks that are comprised of recipes from the Food52 community of emailers, tweeters, and bloggers.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Boys Don't Knit by T.S. Easton

Boys Don't Knit is told in a diary format by Ben Fletcher who is a British 17-year-old. Ben gets into trouble and is put on a year-long probation. The probation contract stipulates that Ben has to keep a personal journal, clean out and paint a storage shed at the victim of his crime's house, and attend a class during the week. Ben chose to take a knitting class because he thought that a hot teacher at his school was the instructor. It turns out that the knitting instructor is the mother of a girl that Ben likes. Ben finds that he is a "natural" to knitting, that he can visualize patterns in his head, and that the repetition of knitting relaxes him. Ben can't tell his father that he likes to knit because his father wants him to like manly things like soccer and car racing. He also has to keep his knitting a secret from his friends. Ben's passion for knitting grows and he starts designing and knitting complex patterns, enters two knitting competitions, and starts selling vests and hoodies on Eventually Ben's knitting prowess gets revealed to everyone at school and then he has to worry about bullies, his relationship with his group of friends, girlfriend, and his father. Stay tuned for the exciting finale to this story of a boy who "does" knit.

The title might deter boys from picking this book up to read, but they should not hesitate to check it out! It's refreshing to have the main character of a book go against the gender stereotype. Boys Don't Knit is filled with adventure, great characters, and a little romance. There are a few British words that you might not know, but it doesn't get in the way of understanding the storyline. The final scene is executed with suspense and humor. You will be rooting for Ben in between laughing and learning about knitting competitions.

Boys Don't Knit is the British author, T.S. Easton's first book to be published in the United States. Look for a sequel coming out to this story, An English Boy in New York.

For more books in a similar vein try Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison and When I Was The Greatest by Jason Reynolds.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The World According to Garp by John Irving

When I was in college, an English professor mentioned that wearing a Brooks Brothers suit was indicative of the type of man a character was supposed to represent. Recently, I revisited one of my favorite books, and I think stating that The World According to Garp is one of my all time favorite books probably says something about me as a character. But I unabashedly love this book.

John Irving, a literary giant in my humble opinion, discusses the life of T.S. Garp, the illegitimate son of Ms. Jenny Fields. Jenny Fields is a feminist, and writer, whose work is arguably more well-read than her writer son. Garp marries a woman named Helen, an English teacher, and they begin a family becoming the parents of two boys. The novel covers Garp's relationship with his mother, his wife, and also his career as a writer, including excerpts of his fictional works. An older novel, it remains relevant in relation to modern hot-topics like feminism, gender roles, and sexuality. Irving explores the depths of the human condition, what it means to be a man or a woman, all while engrossing the reader in the mire of relationships.

A finalist for the National Book Award, you don't need me to tell you this is a fantastic book - and who doesn't enjoy revisiting the classics? Additionally, in 1982 the book was made into a movie starring the late Robin Williams. The film also stars Glenn Close and John Lithgow, both nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. While immersed in the world of John Irving, you may also try The Hotel New Hampshire or The Cider House Rules.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Bean, A Stalk, and A Boy Named Jack by William Joyce

Jack and the Beanstalk is an old, familiar English fairy tale, and much like a number of old fairy tales, it is rather terrifying and gruesome. The giant wants to grind Jack's bones to make bread or the giant gets beheaded. So, it can be a trying task attempting to tell this story to a young child without frightening him or her. Thus, fractured fairy tales offer a gentler gateway before entering the seedier original stories, and William Joyce's take on Jack and the Beanstalk is adorable.

In A Bean, A Stalk, and A Boy Named Jack, the beloved author introduces us to Jack who is a smallish, ordinary boy. We also meet a smallish bean, who is not really any different from the other beans. Yet, when a drought in the kingdom leaves the king with a stinky toe, a magician steps in and helps make things happen. Jack plants the newly magical beans, ascends the gigantic stalk, and discovers a smallish giant has sucked up all the water in a large bubble bath. Jack assists the giant, Don, in washing his stinky toe (because it's a common ailment) before draining the tub and bringing water back to the kingdom. And what fairy tale would be complete with out a romance? Wouldn't you know it, Jack meets Jill and they head up a hill to fetch some water.

A lovely, pleasant story with a touch of humor for good measure. The new take on an old story not only teaches the lessons of kindness and sharing, but also sends a modern day message about being ecologically savvy. William Joyce's picture book is vibrant as ever, and as an author he rarely disappoints, so it's worth checking out some of his other titles such as The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore or the classic, George Shrinks. Mr. Joyce is keenly adept at making words dance across the page and utilizing literary devices that are witty and will make adults and kids alike giggle.