Thursday, August 22, 2013

French Twist by Catherine Crawford

This was a fun book to read!  The author is definitely in love with all things French.  She decides to try to change her parenting style from American helicopter mom to the  French method.

 It's very humorous to read.  Take this line, for instance:
"My children aren't particularly clingy when measured against their American peers, but compared to the French they are like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, minus the butcher knife." That's just awesome.

The book is full of charming stories about her family and her darling little girls.  I am pretty sure that I enjoyed every single page of this book.

The author tells a great story and shares some good advice.  I wouldn't say I got a lot of parenting advice out of this book because most of the things she did as a parent (before Frenchifying everything) weren't things I necessarily did or do with my daughter. I'd say I'm more closely tied to the French parents (especially on food, discipline, and good manners).  There are some good tips for new parents though and I'd say quite a few American parents could learn a lot by reading this book.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cooked by Michael Pollan

I read this book for The Kitchen Reader reading group that I'm part of and I am so glad that I did! I'm also counting it in my Foodie Readers Book Challenge for 2013. I don't know if I would have gotten around to reading it otherwise and it's a great book!  Be warned though - he goes into very detailed information in parts.  I found that I read most of it but some of it, I have to admit, I just skimmed.

Cooked is divided into four main sections fire, water, air, earth.

In Fire, he spends time with to two different barbeque pit masters in North Carolina where they do whole hog barbecue, to learn and get some hands on training. Great line about the pit room at the Starlight Inn  "The pit room was in fact an infernal chamber, and not a place likely to stimulate an appetite for cooked pig in many people."

His first taste of the barbecue - "So this was barbecue. Right away I realized I had never before tasted the real thing, and I was converted. This was easily one of the tastiest, most succulent meat dishes I had ever eaten, and certainly the most rewarding $ 2.75 I’d ever invested in a sandwich."

The time he spent with Ed Mitchell is when he finally got some hands-on experience and it was fantastic reading.  I'm going to try to find and watch the Throw Down with Bobby Flay episode where he went head to head with Ed Mitchell.

This section of the book includes a little history, a little mythology and a little bit about the Bible.  He's a good writer and keeps the book moving by adding in these interesting little tidbits along the way.

Needless to say, both the Starlight Inn  and The Pit are on my 'to visit' list the next time I'm road tripping along the east coast!

Next up in Water which covers braising, stews, and  soups.  I love the story about how Samin, his former student who gives him cooking lessons, got a job a Chez Panisse.

I was intrigued by the dish pork in milk maiale al latte and will try cooking it soon.

He really is a talented writer.  This line for instance - "Braise: the sound of that lovely word itself suggests a certain slow unfolding, the final “z” sound trailing off with no hard consonant to stop it." Awesome!

I enjoyed the stories about Sunday cooking and spending time his son and dinners around the family table.  Just lovely.  I also plan on eventually trying his recipe on braising at the end of the book.

Air. The section on baking was probably my favorite.  Just before reading this book, I began the process of making a sourdough starter.  So, the section of the book was not only interesting but very useful for me. I plan on baking bread with my starter soon and will post the recipe/blog here on my cooking/travel blog.

Earth was a fun section.  It was all about fermenting - vegetables, beer, cheese etc. I especially loved to part on cheese making with Sister Noella. The beer making was also super interesting (partly because my husband has also just started making beer at home).

This is a really good book that I would recommend to friends.  The author is good at weaving practical advice, stories, history, religion, and technical information all into one very readable book.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Heaven and Earth

Reading this book is a pure joy!  Because of the form that it's written in, it's like being in the same room with then Cardinal Bergoglio and  Rabbi Skorka and listening to some amazing conversations.  Like a fly on the wall, only better!  It's really interesting to get so much information on both the Catholic and Jewish perspective of things.  I feel like I've learned so much by reading this book BUT it's not one of those books that you almost feel required to read to obtain knowledge it just happens naturally as you listen in to two very intelligent people having a conversation.

I learned some really interesting things - like some theories on why God didn't like the tower of Babel.

I love this line by Pope Francis on the devil "Maybe his greatest achievement in these times is has been to make us believe that he doesn't exist and that all can be fixed on a purely human level.

Here is another one on death, "In my case, for example, I think that every day I'm going to die.  This does not distress me, because the Lord and life itself have given me the proper preparation."

Here is the list of topics they discuss:
The Devil
Religious Leaders
the Disciples
Same Sex Marriage
Politics and power
Communism and Capitalism
The Conquest, Socialism, and Peronism
Arab Israeli Conflict
Interreligious Dialogue
Future of Religion

This book is less than 200 pages.  It is an easy read and it's filled with interesting topics.  I recommend this book for anyone that like religious studies, Judaism, Catholicism, or Argentina.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.