Monday, November 30, 2009

Chocolate A Love Story: Review and Giveaway


Chocolate for me is the perfect winter treat. On a cold winter day, a mug of hot chocolate with steamed milk warms the insides. Chocolate cake with a peppermint chocolate ganache seems to be the perfect dessert after an afternoon of ice skating. Little chocolate Santa Clauses hanging from the tree and stuffed into stockings wait to be be eaten.

Chocolate is the most amazing food. You can melt it and drink it, or drizzle it ever so delicately over a dessert. You can eat it all by itself, turn it into a pudding, spread it on toast or crepes, chop it up and mix it into cookie batter or shave it and dress up a cake. What other food is there that can change it's texture or shape like a chameleon and still taste delicious?

Chocolate, A Love Story is a collection of 65 Chocolate Dessert Recipes from Max Brenner's Private Collection. There is no Mr. Max Brenner, Max Brenner is an Israeli chocolate chain. I must say before I read the book I had never heard his book.

If you a chocolate lover you will enjoy the book, with recipes named, Parisian new life chocolate dream cake, A high school bonfire chocolate melting heart cake, Enticing sugar churros and Shanti white chocolate white chai image and spicy moneymaking cookie hope. If I was not still stuffed from Thanksgiving I would make some Shanti white chocolate chai image now.

The cookies are a wonderful concoction of hazlenuts, walnuts and a pinch of five spice powder, to name a few of the ingredients. In reading the recipes they seem easy enough to follow. I have not made any of the recipes YET, however the directions are simple enough to follow.

An unique feature of the book is the artwork by Yonatan Factor, bold illustrations inspired by Art Deco poster graphics. I must admit I am not really fond of the artwork in the cookbook. I like to see photographs of what I am making. Oftentimes I will make a recipe based on what it looks like. I like to know what the final result should look like.

Do not let that discourage you. Chocolate lovers will enjoy eating their way through this book.

Hachette has been kind enough to give me one extra copy of Chocolate, A Love Story, that I am going to share with you.

So you may have this book for the holidays the contest will run until December 10 and since I am mailing it out it will be international. Please leave your e-mail in your entry. Also please make sure each entry is separate.

To enter, for your mandatory entry tell me your favorite chocolate to bake with.

For extra entries:
2. Blog about the contest leave me the link
3. Tweet about the contest (you may do this daily) leave me the link
4. Click on the doggy and donate a bag of food.
5. Tell me your favorite chocolate dessert.

Thank you to Hachette Publishing for giving me a copy of the book to review.

Winner Of White Picket Fences

Congratulations to Joy who is the winner of White Picket Fences.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Weekend Cat Blogging #234

This weekend's cat blogging is being hosted by Othello at Paulchen's Food Blog.

My sister is so kind to let me sleep on her.

Our weekend has been one big sleepfest

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Apple Cranberry Pecan Pie

I hope that everyone has been having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Mine has been exactly as I wanted it to be...well almost exactly how I wanted it to be. Usually I go to Paris the day after Thanksgiving. Given I am not there I have been having some withdrawal. This morning I treated myself to a Parisian moment. I walked to the bakery and bought myself a baguette. They were very nice at the bakery and asked me if I wanted to wait, as they had some warm baguettes coming out of the oven.

I sat down outside with some butter and jam and must have eaten half the baguette on the spot. I adore warm bread. Especially just soaked with butter. I am going to make a cranberry turkey sandwich with brie with what little is left. The day is gorgeous here, so I am going to take my chair and some books and have a lovely afternoon reading at the beach.

Wednesday night I was surfing the net and found this recipe for apple cranberry pie. This time of the year I always have cranberries so I was set to go. I never make apple pie-nor do I eat it. For one simple reason, my mum made the best apple pie I have ever tasted. She got ill when I was a teenager and that was the end of her pie making. I have had a few apple pies since then, but given no one makes them like my mum, that was the end of me and apple pie.

I am not sure what really made me wade into the unknown territory of making an apple pie, maybe the cranberries, they are a seasonal favorite of mine. I decided to try the recipe. It was a huge success. For me, I liked the combination of apples, with cranberries and pecans. The use of agave instead of sugar gave it a slightly different taste. Agave is sweeter than sugar so you do not need as much agave.

I must say for never having made apple pie before I was rather impressed with my efforts. This was not my mum's apple pie, but I think that she would like it.

Apple Cranberry Pie (adapted from Agave)

Whole Wheat Pie Crust*
6 cups peeled and sliced apples
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup Xagave
3 tbsp. whole wheat pastry flour
Juice from 1/2 lemon
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Grease 9 inch pie pan and line bottom with crust.
Mix all ingredients except the butter in a bowl.
Pour mix into pie crust. Divide butter and place on top of filling.
Cover the pie with the remaining pie crust, seal and flute
edges and cut slits to permit steam to escape.
Bake at 425°F for 40 to 45 minutes.
Let cool and serve

* If you look at the photo on their website their pie does not have a crust. I did not use a top crust for mine. However half way through baking it, I noticed that the pecans and apples looked like they were starting to dry out, so I covered the pie with tin foil and then removed the tin foil the last 5 minutes to brown the top. However their directions call for a crust. I think their photo is deceiving, as it looks like there is a pecan layer and then the apples and cranberries. I mixed all the ingredients together.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Virtual Cookie Swap: Pepper Spice Cookies

Julie at Booking Mama and Kathy at Bermudaonion's Weblog are hosting a virtual cookie exchange at Booking Mama. If you have ever participated in a cookie exchange you know that they are a lot of fun. You bake away and then swap cookies with other participants. It is a great way to end up with lots of different cookies. Check out the different recipes at Booking Mama. I chose Pepper Cookies-they are an easy and slightly spicy cookie, that will last through the holiday season.

Pepper Spice Cookies

YIELD: Makes about 7 dozen cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon ground cardamom
1teaspoon ground cinnamon
1teaspoon ground cloves
1/2teaspoon black pepper
1/2teaspoon salt
1/2cup butter, softened
2-1/2cups powdered sugar plus extra to roll the cookies in
4 eggs
1/2teaspoon almond extract


1. Place 4 cups flour, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and salt in medium bowl; stir to combine. Beat butter and half of powdered sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down side of bowl once. Beat in eggs and remaining powdered sugar, scraping down side of bowl once.
2. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat at low speed until well blended, scraping down side of bowl once. Beat in almond extract and enough remaining flour until stiff dough forms.
3. Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls on large baking sheets or tray; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheets. Place balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until firm and light golden brown. Remove cookies to wire racks.
5. Roll them in the confections sugar once they have cooled.
6. Store tightly covered at room temperature or freeze up to 3 months.

Review of Permission Slips by Sherri Sheperd

(FROM THE PUBLISHER) Covering topics such as "It's Jesus or Jail," "Marriage, the Hard Way," "Children: The Gift You Can't Give Back," and "All the Things I Don't Know...And All the Things I Definitely Do," stand-up comedienne, actress, and ABC's The View co-host Sherri Shepherd comically chronicles her struggles to keep up with the many roles-professional, wife, mother, daughter, and friend-that women must play in today's world. Sherri urges women to pursue their most important dreams and to never give up, but also let's readers know that it's okay to give themselves "permission slips" when things don't always work out the way they want them to.Sherri Shepherd currently serves as a co-host on ABC's The View, which airs five days a week on ABC affiliates nationally and consistently draws more than 3 million viewers per show. She also plays a recurring character on NBC's 30 Rock.

Sherri has had a long career as a regular cast member on some of America's best-loved shows, including Suddenly Susan, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and her own show, Less Than Perfect. Sherri has also been in countless other TV shows and films including Beauty Shop, and Guess Who.

Sherri currently resides in New York with her son.

As I am sitting down to write my review for this post, I am reminded that I do not have a rating system for my books. I have given it some thought-great would be a warm chocolate croissant and a wonderfully brewed cup of tea, good would a croissant with butter and jam and a wonderfully brewed cup of tea, finished it would be a cup of tea and bad, is a cold cup of tea, microwaved not even boiled hot water and served in a styrofoam cup that is harmful to the environment. Permission Slips is just that tea in a styrofoam cup.

I cracked open the cover thinking this would be more of a self-help, psychological approach for women who take on the world, attempt to accomplish every task under the sun and never give themselves a break. The concept behind the book is to give yourself a Permission Slip. I did not find the book offensive, but rather self demoralizing.

Yes, we should all give ourselves a Permission Slip, it is Saturday the house needs cleaning, but your best friend invites you out, the weather is nice and you would sooner go for a walk. But that is not what this book is about.

First of all the author shares TMI-too much information-does the whole world need to know she lost her virginity to Gilbert at the age of 14, because her friends said their would be lots of hooting and hollering with sex. No. Would I acknowledge I married a man who said he could not be monogamous and dated another man who threatened to pour gas and light me on fire. This sort of behavior does not warrant a Permission Slip but years of counseling to overcome other issues.

I did not know who Sherri Sheperd was, except a host on The View. However, I would not watch The View because of her after reading this.

If anyone liked this, please let me know.

Thank you to Hachette Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book to review.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

The kitties wish you A Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Szechuan Soup

This time of the year could be called 100 days of pumpkin. Pumpkin for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When else could you eat the same food for all three meals in three different ways? Best of all you could even have pumpkin for dessert. Just think, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin ravioli and then pumpkin soup. The possibilities are are endless.

All I need to really enjoy my pumpkin soup is a kitchen with a rustic table. You know the type, a long wooden table, with benches. Of course, you would have loaves of fresh baked bread, still warm from the oven. There would be a carafe of red wine. A vase full of flowers, reds, oranges and shades of gold. Add a few cobs of corn.

Do not be shy. Rip a piece of bread off and dip it in the soup.

But wait, this soup has a special surprise. Peanut Butter.

Pumpkin Szechuan Pumpkin Soup

medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 can 16 oz pumpkin
a 3/4-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and sliced thin
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk


In a large heavy saucepan cook onion, and garlic in oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until onion is softened. Add pumpkin, gingerroot, red pepper flakes, and broth and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and serve.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Blogging By Mail

This blog is about me, but really it should be about him. Why keep on scrolling down. The Post is below; but if you click on The Animal Rescue Site. Your click donates some food.

So my partner for blogging by mail, put up some hints about herself and what she wants. Great idea, so I am going to do the same.

Relaxing-the beach-I would sooner spend time at the beach than in the mountains.

I love milk chocolate, especially Milka, Lindt, pretty much all the European chocolates, not fond of Godiva at all, much too rich.

I love the little spatulas that have the Christmas decor on them.

I adore tea, especially Russian Earl Grey,

Christmas decorations are fun.

I have two adorable kitties that I love, but I love all animals.

I really enjoy photography even though my food photography is horrible.

Love travelling.

Am infatuated with everything French. I wish I could stroll the streets of Paris in a Chanel suit with a dog, sampling macaroons.

Pearls are a girls best friend.

I collect cookbooks.

Enjoy yoga, Sarah Brightman and Bocelli.

L'Occitane is one of my favorite body shops, I wear moisterizer every day, love the different scents, especially shea butter and coconut and lemon.

To my Secret Santa Partner that I am shopping for, I love sinking under the duvet also and getting cozy with a cup of tea and a book.

Okay I think you get the picture.

Most of all, please click the link and feed an animal.

Please Feed Me: I am A Cute Little Dog

Hi, all you animal lovers! This is pretty simple... The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily so they can meet their quota of getting FREE FOOD donated every day to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute (about 15 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals for free'. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising.
Here's the web site! Please pass it along to people you know: I know you love surfing the web or you would not be here. Thanks for your help

The Animal Rescue Site

In My Mailbox Mondays

Thank you to the Story Siren who hosts this meme. I like participating in this as it is fun to see what books are out there.

This week I recieved Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy. This was a win from the Dewey Reading Challenge-I adore the cover.

FSB sent me Divorce Sucks and Be the Change to review. I believe Be the Change will be quite an interesting read.

Andrews McMeel Publishing sent me The Cocktail Primer. This is perfect for making holiday drinks. Just please remember, do not drink and drive, plan in advance whether you are attending the party or hosting one.

From Yvette at True Crime Books I receive The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.

Simon's Cat is a treasure that I won from Sally at Book Critiques

I won this darling Mortar and Pestle from Joanne and Adam at Inspired Taste. I cannot wait to finish my seminar and get back in the kitchen.

What have I read-not much-I finished Cemetrary Dance on my audiobooks-absolutely loved it. I am listening to The Juror by G. Dawes ( this is really bad and I would not be reading it-but some how a bad book in traffic is not as bad as a bad book in bed-I think it distracts from the bad traffic). I am still reading French Lessons: Adventures with a Knife, Fork and Corkscrew.

What do I hope to read: I am hoping for Pioneer Woman Cooks and Making Toast, which I saw at A Bookshelf Montrosity.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Hello I have not really been around the last week. Where have I been? Everywhere but home. I was in Northern California at the beginning of the week for work. And upon my return I have been locked inside the banquet hall at a hotel for a seminar-today was day 4 of 5. I am seeing stars. Just to make sure we are paying attentnion there is no internet access. Probably a good thing because today I would have been very tempted to surf the web.

I have been awarded a few awards: The first being the Honest Scrap award from Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books. There is no photo of the award currently as I cannot connect to upload photos at this time.

I am suposed to list 10 things about myself that I am being honest about.

1. Even though I have been named after Esmeralda in the Hunchback of Notre Dame I have never read the book-terrible isn't that. It is my goal to read it in 2010.

2. I have a serious sweet tooth -which lately I have not been able to control.

3. I have been reading since I was 4 or 5 and always loved it. We used to have the bookmobile come to our school. I loved my library card and would come home with bags of books.

4. As a child I used to choose books that had the golden award on them. I know, just as shallow as choosing a book for it's cover.

5. As a teenager I worked at the bookmobile.

6. I hum to myself a lot.

7. I always taste my cooking as I go along.

8. If I could choose to sit down for dinner with someone...Jacqueline Kennedy.

9 . I have tried to take books to church with me for something to do during the homily. (I got caught)

10. I do not have much patience for making delicate desserts.

Now who should I pass this on to?

Amy at House of Seven Tails

Jo-Jo loves to read

Joy at Books and Life

Nfmgirl at a Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World

Palidor at Crazy Asian Gal

Gwendolyn at A Sea of Books

Amy at A Park Avenue Princess

Joanne and Adam at Inspired Taste

Nat at Girls are Made of Sugar and Spice

Vickie at Reading at the Beach

From Palidor at Crazy Asian Gal and Tam at Baileys and Books and Beth at Beth's Book Review they passed along the friendship award to me. I would like to pass this to Carol at Carol's Notebook. and Sheri at A Novel Menagerie

This award is from Sophie at Sophie's Foodfiles
and Amanda at A BookShelf Montrosity

Let me pass this on to Priscilla's Mama at Priscilla Speaks, Rebecca at Chow and Chatter and Hannah at Bittersweet and Rosa at Rosa's Yummy Yums and Mary at Books Gardens and Dogs and Beth at Beth's Book Review, Lou at Lou's Pages and Pam at Sidewalk Shoes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Recipe Club: Andea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel

Many cultures focus important events and celebrations around food. The Recipe Club is no exception as readers are introuced to the lives of Val and Lily.

The Recipe Club is a compilation of emails and letters written back and forth between Val and Lily. Friends since their childhood they have not spoken in over 26 years. Both come from dysfunctional families with thier own issues that they struggle with as they come of age during the 60's. Val's mother is neurotic and constantly depressed, while Lily's beautiful mother overshadows her daughter.

As children Val and Lily formed a club "The Recipe Club" exchanging recipes that mirrored the events of their lives. Love is celebrated with Holy Cannoli Chocolate Chip Cannolis, Diploma Dip with Veggies is perfect for a college graduation.

Their relationship picks up in 2000 instigated by the death of Val's mother. However old wounds do not easily heal and the two friends are still angry over past events.

The book includes a wonderful collection of recipes. The authors have been kind enough to include an index to make finding them easier.

Thank you to Caitlin Price, at FSB Associates for providing me with a copy of the book. Below are more tales of Food and Friendship from the authors of The Recipe Club.

Tales of Thanksgiving Food and Friendship
By Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel,
Authors of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

For some people, Thanksgiving evokes warm feelings triggered by memories of a close-knit family gathering, where relatives share traditions and a home-cooked meal.

For others . . . it's the beginning of a holiday season stuffed with lunatic relatives, family dysfunction, bitter recriminations, and heartburn.

We heard a wide range of Thanksgiving Tales this year while traveling around the country for our Recipe Clubs. Inspired by the plot and structure of our book, Recipe Clubs are storytelling and friendship circles in which women gather to share true-life food-related stories along with recipes. Recipe Clubs are not about cooking; they're about creating community and fostering friendship . . . they're about laughing and crying . . . they're about honoring our own lives and the lives of others. They show us how the simplest, sweetest, or funniest tales about food can turn into deep revelations about our lives.

Just about everybody has at least one quintessential Thanksgiving food memory that perfectly captures the complicated feelings surrounding the holiday. Here are some of our favorites:

One Recipe Club friend recalls the first time she ever cooked a Thanksgiving meal on her own. Her mother, who traditionally did the meal, was recovering from surgery. Her father was working. And her sister was flying in just in time for the meal, but not early enough to help cook.

So our friend rose to the challenge, proclaiming that she would do the entire meal, on her own. No problem -- until reality set in. She woke at dawn, shopped, chopped, and soon realized her oven was half the size it needed to be. By the time the turkey wanted basting the chestnut stuffing required baking -- and the brussel sprouts were definitely not cleaning themselves!

But things really went south when it came time prepare her grandmother's famous pumpkin pie. This was the pie recipe that had been handed down through generations. If it didn't come out perfectly, our friend knew she'd feel like a failure.

Of course, nothing went right. The pie crust was too wet, then too dry. There was too much nutmeg, not enough ginger. With every crimp of the dough her head swam with the imagined voice of her southern grandmother: "A woman is judged not just by who she is, but by what she can bring to the table."

When the pie came out of the oven, the crust was too brown, and there was a giant crack running down the middle of the filling. Our friend fought back tears, took a deep breath, and set the pie out to cool, knowing more clearly than ever that neither it -- nor she -- was, or would ever be, perfect.

But when it came time for everyone to gather at the table, something shifted. Her parents and sister praised her hard work and loved the meal. And our friend realized she had somehow been carried on the wings of the generations of women who had cooked before her, without complaining, to serve a Thanksgiving meal to their family. She felt truly thankful for all the work that her mother, grandmother, aunts -- indeed all the women she'd known through her life -- had accomplished each holiday. Triumphant, connected, and happy, she understood that food cooked with love is its own kind of perfection.

One Recipe Club friend recalled her first Thanksgiving after her divorce.

Since carving the bird had always been her ex-husband's job, she delighted in finding a new, turkey-free recipe. She settled on an apricot-glazed ham, and went to work cooking a glaze of brown sugar, cloves, and apricot nectar (an ingredient that gave her extra pleasure knowing her ex-husband detested it.)

When her grown children came for dinner, they were childishly upset not to have their usual 12-pound bird. But it was delicious, and in the end each one complimented the chef. On her way out, the youngest daughter told her mother, "maybe we all need to learn how to gracefully accept change."

For this new divorcee, serving ham became a way of asserting her independence, showing her children there was life after marriage, and teaching the whole family to find new ways to be together.

The truth is, we don't pick our relatives. So if the Thanksgiving gathering of the clan is an annual emotional challenge, you aren't alone.

In a recent Recipe Club circle of old friends and new acquaintances, we met a woman who admitted that for most of her life she dreaded Thanksgiving; all it evoked for her were memories of family fights. The contrast of what she knew Thanksgiving was "supposed" to be, versus what it was in her home, always made her feel ashamed and disappointed. And yet every November she felt compelled go home for a family Thanksgiving meal.

But one year, that changed, when her parents and brother decided to have Thanksgiving away from home. They journeyed together to Nantucket, where they ate dinner at a seaside inn. The inn served a New England clam chowder, rich with cream and warm on a cold autumn night. And they discovered that a new location, with new foods, away from the house where memories were often more fiery than the jalepeno cornbread, turned out to be just what the family needed.

Now, every year, back at home, they have a new tradition: serving New England Clam Chowder at their Thanksgiving feasts, each spoonful bringing back fond memories of a peaceful and loving family holiday.

Finally, a little tale of food and friendship.

A reader of our book told us that she had a choice this year. She could invite Uncle Tim and Aunt Zoe, the way she does every year, and spend the entire holiday worrying about whether or not the perpetually complaining couple were happy. She could include cousins Beth and Sean, knowing they would be competitive, putting down her choice of food, her way of cooking, her table setting. She could extend an invitation to her brother and dreaded sister-in-law, who would sit in silence the entire meal and pick at the food.

Or . . . she could shake things up and do something entirely different: invite only friends. True friends. People she enjoyed being with. Who made her laugh. Who spoke truthfully. Who shared her passions for good books, good wine, and good music.

She took the leap. She dumped the whiners, broke with tradition, irritated several family members -- and never looked back. The moral: good food and good friends are the perfect combination. Sometimes it's a good idea to trim the guest list before you serve the bird with all its trimmings.

©2009 Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel, authors of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

Author Bios for The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship
Andrea Israel is a producer/writer for ABC's Focus Earth. She was a producer/writer on Anderson Cooper 360, Dateline, and Good Morning America (which garnered her an Emmy Award). Her story In Donald's Eyes was recently optioned for a film. Ms. Israel is the author of Taking Tea. Her writing has appeared in many publications.

Nancy Garfinkel is co-author of The Wine Lover's Guide to the Wine Country: The Best of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino(Chronicle Books, 2005). A creative strategist, design consultant, writer, and editor for magazine, corporate, and non-profit clients, she has won a host of graphic arts and editorial merit awards. She has written extensively about food and graphic arts.

For more information please visit

Friday, November 13, 2009

White Picket Fences Review and Giveaway

White Picket Fences, it is the ideal border for a beautiful home. We always admire the home with the white picket fence. But what really goes on behind the white picket fence? Is the family living there always as happy as they pretend to be.

When the storybook-perfect Janvier family temporarily "adopts" their teenaged niece, Tally, they assume they'll be helping her. But when Tally befriends her cousin, Chase, she soon realizes that he badly needs encouragement, too. When the troubled teens interview two holocaust survivors for a sociology project, will they trigger the healing process that everybody needs?

White Picket Fences introduces us to meet Neil and Amanda and their children Chase and D who live the perfect life in a home with a white picket fence. Amanda's niece, Tally, comes to live with them when her father who supposedly is in Poland cannot be reached and her grandmother dies. Chase and Tally have a school project that leads them to interview two old men at a nursing home that survived Treblinka during the Holocaust. This opens doors to the past that no one new existed. Susan Meissner has written a great book that explores relationships and the communication between family members. I enjoyed this book a lot.

Special thanks to Staci Carmichael at Waterbook Multnomah for the review and giveaway copies of this book! Should you wish to purchase the book, click here.

The giveaway will run through November 30-given I am sending out the book I will open the giveaway internationally. Oops I initially said November 15-I must be tired-I mean November 30th.

For a chance to win, mandatory entry is to leave me a comment why you want to win the book with your email. The winner must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.

For extra entries-tweet about the contest-you can do this daily.
Blog about the contest and leave me the link.
Follow my blog.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Torta Rustica

If I could choose to be a child in any city where would it be. Paris. Without thinking twice would be my choice. Can you imagine, the food? Fresh croissants for breakfast each morning, pain de chocolate as an after school snack. I can only guess what is in a Parisian child's lunchbox, escargots, quiche, french onion soup. The possibilities are endless.

What about the clothes. Off to school I would go, with colored tights that contrast my jumper and a scarf always knotted fashionalby around my neck. Of course I would have un petite chien. My little dog and I would take walks through the parks and by the Eiffel tower.

Maybe my dog would sit in the basket of my bicycle as I rode to the boulangerie for a baguette and a sweet after dinner pastry. Here, I get in my car everyday and sit in traffic. Not a day goes by without traffic in Southern California. In Paris, everyday you go to the boulangerie. Would I tire of all those pastries...I think not. Let's not forget the crepes and nutella.

Maybe I would be able to draw better. I envy the French children and their sketch pads. They are introduced to the great masters at a young age. Their parents take them to the museums with a sketch pad and crayons. And then of course is the visit to the boulangerie.

If I cannot be a child in Paris, I will settle for being a woman enjoying French food. Most of my fond memories of Paris involve food. I remember the first time I enjoyed vol-a vente, ice-cream from Berthillion, a Nutella filled crepe, steak frites, macaroons and chocolate eclairs.

I had passed through Charles de Gualle airport a few times as a child, but first spent time in the city as a 21 year old accessorized with a backpack and a stash of Amex travellers checks. I still remember the baguettes and cups of hot chocolate that would be served to us for breakfast at the youth hostels. From that trip I still have the t-shirt I bought with a drawing of the Eiffel tower-and the year 1987 emblazoned on it.

As I got older and moved up ever so slightly in my income bracket, I could enjoy different foods and better restaurants. One french dish I have always enjoyed is a quiche with a fresh salad. You have to love a country that can heat up a quiche for you and out the door you go. One momement you can be shopping at Galleries Layfayette and then hop over to the men's store, up the elevator to their market and enjoy a slice of quiche and glass of wine.

TORTA RUSTICA (adapted from Women's Day Holiday Baking 1995)

3 eggs
16 ounces cottage chess
4 ounces shredded (1 cup) pepato or asiago cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes drained and coarsely chopped
1 teaspon dried basil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cheese and basil and mix until well blended. Add the sun-dried tomatoes. (Sometimes I add a ten ounce bag of spinch) When you stir it all together it seems quite dense with the spinch, you may condense the mixture in the quiche dish. Add mixture into a quiche dish. I intentionally do not have a crust.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degress, bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in dish for 20 minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Help Save an Animal's Life

I just came across this blog It's Raining Cats and Dogs. They list animals at high kill shelters-Maybe someone you knows wants a pet. Please help save a life. It breaks my heart to see all the animals just sitting on death row.

When I lost my cat earlier this year I went to shelters looking for a new pet. It amazes me how many people just drop off pets because they are tired or done with them. People need to think before bringing home a pet. It is a responsibility. Please have your animal spayed so their offspring do not end up in a shelter.

Sorry to sound as if I am preaching, but it breaks my heart to see these animals in a metal cage, knowing that a worse fate may await them.

While I do not believe in plagarism-I did take these photos off the website-I do not think they would mind-feel free to plargarize my post.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What Matters Most: Diary of a Teenage Girl by Melody Carlson

Sixteen-year-old Maya Stark has a lot to sort through. She could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.

To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

For myself I found the book rather young. While I do enjoy young adult books I could not relate to the subject matter of this book. Maya finds herself in daily struggles with life as a teenager. However for young teens I believe this would be a great book as it deals with issues that teens must find themselves in a daily battle with. Maya's issues are no different. Throughout each chapter she has her good and bad moments as she tries to cope with life's daily challenges. I think that most teens will enjoy Maya's adventures.

One aspect of the book I really enjoyed where Maya's green tips. Each chapter contained a tip on how to make the environment a better place. No matter how old we are we could all benefit from making the earth a greener place. Maya's Green Tip of the Day: Even in September most people are still using air conditioning. I've mentioned before that it's a good idea to turn your AC up a couple of degrees and save a few bucks as well as some energy. But here's another way to keep your cool—and it doesn't involve electricity. You can cool yourself off internally by drinking cold tea, lemonade, or water. Not only will you conserve energy (since all the cooling power is directed straight at your body's core rather than at the air), but you'll stay hydrated as well.

Thank you to Liz at Multnomah Publishing for giving me a review copy. If you want your own copy, visit here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lentil Quinoa and Apples for Jam

Look at this beautiful cookbook cover. Apples for Jam is a colorful cookbook. I must say it is adorable. Everything about this book is adorable and charming from the title of the book Apples for Jam to the way the recipes are categorized, by colors to the photos.

I love the idea of organizing the recipes by color. The color categories are red, orange, yellow, pink, green, gold, white, brown, monochrome, stripes and multicolor. The chapter on multicolored food starts off with a fun photo of a merry go round. This merry go round has beautifully painted horses with pink plumes. The recipes in this chapter include roasted zucchini and tomatoes with thyme, tiny savory tarts, smoothies and much more. Striped food, contains many different ice cream desserts and chocolate concoctions. What food is pink you ask, beet gnocchi, poached fruit in vanilla syrup and a few shrimp dishes.

I like the idea of organizing the recipes by color. Different days you are in a different mood. I think of fall food as being a variety of orange and red and golden hues, much like the changing of the leaves. Christmas time calls for deep reds and simple white menus. Of course for the spring I would want something green and fresh. Life is starting over. I am always up for something pink. Somedays you may be in the mood for a kaleidoscope of food.

So who is the author of this wonderful cookbook, Tessa Kiros of course. Click here for an interview with her. Previously I reviewed another one of her cookbooks, Falling Cloudberries. Born to a Finnish mother and a Greek-Cipriot father, Kiros, appreciates the world's diverse cultures and traditions. While Falling Cloudberries, has a variety of multi-ethnic recipes, Apples for Jam is a compilation of recipes that could be found in any home. All of Kiros' books are more than a compilation of recipes, they are her stories and memories with the food that accompanies them.

These are the recipes that will remind you of fond childhood memories. Food that you are in the mood for when you are feeling nostalgic and warm inside. All the recipes are quite easy to follow and I am sure taste delicious. If you are looking for a present for yourself of someone you enjoy spending time with, Apples for Jam is the perfect gift. If you never cooked before you will find yourself in the kitchen dressed in an apron, with all your measuring bowls and spoons ready to go.

So what did I choose to make? Lentil quinoa. This was not one of her recipes but an adaption of one of Kiros's recipes. I had recently purchased lentils, a vegetable I rarely eat except for in soup. Sunday night I made butter chicken from the recipe that Crazy Asian Gal was kind enough to share with us. Initially I was going to make curried lentils and then sat down to browse through Apples for Jam and found a recipe for lentil rice. Instead of using rice I used quinoa. The great thing about my lentil mixture is I think you could add any dish to it. My husband accidently poured the butter chicken into my lentil bowl and it was actually quite good. I like eating foods that absorb the taste and sauce of other foods.

LENTIL QUINOA (adapted from Apples for Jam)

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cups lentils
4 cups water plus 1 cup
1 cup quiona


Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion over medium-low heat, stirring often, until it is golden and sticky looking. Add the garlic, cinnamon, paprika, and coriander and stir until you can smell the garlic. Remove fro the heat.

Meanwhile, put the lentils in a large pan, cover with 4 cups of water and ing to a boil. Skim the surface and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Scrape the onion mixture into the lentil pan and add the quinoa, cooking over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir.. Cover the top of the pan with a clean dish towel, put the lid back on and let sit for 10 minutes.

Let me give a big thank you to Andrew McMeel Publishing for sending me this gorgeous book.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"Limelight" by Melody Carlson Book Review

Claudette Fiore was used to making men's heads turn. Married to Gavin Fiore, a Hollywood director, Claudette enjoyed the good life, expensive foreign vacations, 500 thread Egyptian sheet cotton sheets and a handful of servants to attend to her needs.

Suddenly at the age of 82, the glamorous life of Hollywood comes crashing down on Claudette as she is forced to learn the tasks of life, many of us perform routinely on a daily basis. As a widow, Claudette finds herself almost penniless due to her accountant's swindling.

What is a diva to do? Move back to her hometown in Northern California where she swore she would never return to.

Limelight is a quick, witty and enjoyable read. As an 82 year old Claudette does not have many endearing qualities. Used to being pampered she has difficulty adjusting to the lifestyles of the not so rich. Having spent most of her life in Hollywood Claudette is overly self conscious about her looks. By the end of the book, I found myself liking Claudette. Life in a small town makes her realize that at the end of the day all that is really important are the people that you surround yourself with.

The book has an assortment of quirky characters, Claudette's gay step-son-who works magic with her new home. His enthusiasm and appreciation of life is contagious. Bea, her nosy overly friendly neighbor has no fashion sense but will not be deterred by Claudette's snobbery. In her first week in town, Claudette meets the senior liaison lady, a fan of imitation handbags, an art dealer and a clerk from the hardware store.

Author Carlson, weaves together a fun story of life in a smaller town. She brings to life everyday events that we can all relate to, locking yourself out of your house and overflowing toilets. At times the book had me laughing out loud reminiscing about my own bad luck situations. The book also made me wonder what my life would be like at eighty-two.

If you are looking for a light fun read, I would highly recommend Limelight.

Thank you to Multnomah Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review. To purchase the book, visit Random House.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Guests Posts and What is in My Mailbox

seasonal vegetables at the Ferry Market Place.

Today I was fortunate to have been asked by two great bloggers to write a guest post over on their blogs. Both blogs are completely different. Crazy Asian Gal writes about her adventures in the kitchen. She loves to cook Indian and Chinese food and has some mouth watering recipes over at her blog. I pop over there when I want to try something different in my kitchen.For my post there I wrote about my visit the the Ferry Market Building in San Francisco.

The other blog where I wrote a guest post was at One Person's Journey through Books. Sheila is doing some volunteer work in Honduras so I am helping her out. Her blog features book reviews. I enjoy popping over in the mornings and reading her morning meanderings. In the spirit of Honduras cuisine I featured a recipe for Yam Fries and Mango Bay Chicken.


Thank you to Story Siren and Peeking Between the Pages for hosting this meme.

I must confess my mailbox was stuffed this week with lots of goodies. I think the postman and UPS like coming by. I must admit sometimes I get edible goodies in my mailbox and if I catch the UPS man delivering them, I will open up the box and share. I know he enjoyes the edible goodies.

Thank you to Hatchette for giving me

When Everything Changed and Permission Slips. Both books look into women issues. Why is it we all feel we need permission to enjoy life? Maybe When Everything Changed will answer the question.

Author T.L. Higley sent me a signed copy of Guardian of the Flame which takes place in ancient Egypt. I am going to need to sit down for an Egyptian weekend. Author Higley writes historical fiction.

Andrews McNeel Publishing sent me a copy of My Neptenthe-a gorgeous cookbook describing Bohemian Tales of Food, Family and Big Sur. There will be some recipes forthcoming. McNeel Publishing puts out some great cookbooks that make wonderful gifts for you or your friends. Their books are a collection of stories and recipes.

From the library I checked out Daniel Silva's new thriller The Defector. Silva is one of my favorite thriller authors. Each of his books features a theme of Judiasm.

Now comes time for the absentminded moment. I do not remember where I won these books, but from other blogs I received a copy of The Late Lamented Molly Marx and Bo's Cafe.

What did I read this week-I am listening to Cemetary Dance and loving it. I finished The Help-you can read my review here-I highly recommend it and I also finished Limelight which I will be posting a review this week as part of a blog tour-funny and entertaining.
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