Sign Up

Get the latest ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

All , , , Coverage

All Cookbooks Coverage

Feature by

★ Grist

James Beard Award-winning chef Abra Berens and her collaborators have created a most magical combination of aesthetics, soul and practical guidance in Grist, a cookbook focused on humble stuff: beans, legumes, grains and seeds. Let it be said that I love beans, and I really love the way Berens provides, along with specific recipes, a number of templates to follow for any combination of ingredients you crave or happen to have on hand. For example, a bean + vegetable + flavor + texture chart starts with beans (any kind), then lists four suggested ingredients for each step: add veg, add flavor, add extra texture and serve. Elsewhere, she walks us through a week’s worth of lentils without boredom, and her recipes regularly include three or more variations. Topping it all off are Lucy Engelman’s beautiful illustrations, which make this a true work of cookbook art. 

Where They Purr

A bedroom decked out in lush linens and pillows—and a cat, luxuriating on the bespoke duvet. A kitchen with floor-to-ceiling windows—and a cat, nonchalantly surveying the room from atop the dining table. This is the fabulous world of Where They Purr: Inspirational Interiors and the Cats Who Call Them Home, in which images of sleek interiors foreground the homes’ feline overlords. Photographer Paul Barbera got the idea for a cat-centric home design book while working on a previous project, Where They Create, and the result takes those “how they styled it” shots we’ve all seen while shopping online—a sofa, say, captured with the owner’s pet proudly lounging—to the next-next level. The homes featured here are mostly high-end and very modern, full of sharp angles and long lines. You might be inclined to call some of them cold, except how could you when fluffy Pud or Pippi or Gustov is lurking or perched or sprawled in their midst? As a cat lover, my only quibble with this purrfectly delightful book is that there are too few orange tabbies in the mix. I suppose we all, like our cats, have our own prefurences.

Wanderess

As I prepare for a solo journey to the Southwest, I’m happy to have in my pocket Wanderess: The Unearth Women Guide to Traveling Smart, Safe, and Solo, a guide for women, by women, and geared toward solo travelers. Whether you’re going it alone for the first time or planning a girls’ trip, the editors from Unearth Women have assembled in this colorful book all the resources, hacks and advice you could ask for, including tips for traveling while pregnant and specific recommendations for women of color and travelers who are trans, lesbian or queer. The writers also offer an outline for creating your own Feminist City Guide, which centers women-owned businesses; if you like, you can pitch your guide(s) to Unearth Women for possible publication.

From the humble bean to the high and mighty feline, the books in this month’s lifestyles column colorfully celebrate the joys of food, art and travel.
Feature by

New Native Kitchen

Perfect gift for: Your foodie spouse who loves gardening and open-fire grilling

In New Native Kitchen, Navajo chef Freddie Bitsoie, previously of the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, celebrates the cuisines of Indigenous cultures while respecting and revering “hyperlocal” regional distinctions in these foodways and traditions. Bitsoie, who came to cooking via cultural anthropology and art history, aims to tell “edible stories that allow people to appreciate the living artifact of food.” Here, with the help of James Beard Award-winning author James O. Fraioli, Bitsoie introduces readers to key elements of the Native pantry, such as nopales (cactus paddles), Navajo steam corn, sumac powder and tepary beans, many of which can be ordered online or found at specialty spice shops. From a sumac Navajo leg of lamb with onion sauce, to a Makah crab boil, to Choctaw bison chili, Bitsoie covers the vast North American continent and its islands in this important book.

Wild Sweetness

Perfect gift for: Your boho friend with a shortbread obsession

With full-page photographs of winter branches, gently wilting roses and foggy ponds, Thalia Ho’s Wild Sweetness is as much a moody evocation of nature’s evanescence as it is a sumptuous celebration of dessert. Grouped by season, the recipes range from comfy American standards like cinnamon buns and gingersnaps to frangipane tart and a fig clove fregolotta. All possess a delicate quality and some flower, spice or other ingredient redolent of the natural world. Cream seems a visual motif, showing up, for example, in a juniper ice cream, a frosted chamomile tea cake, a lemon curd streusel cake and amaretti. But deep, dark chocolate is at play too—in ganache thumbprints, drunken fig brownies and a beetroot mud cake, among others sheer delights.

À Table

Perfect gift for: The hip newlyweds next door with the adorable dog

Is anything sexier than a good French cookbook? Rebekah Peppler’s À Table reveals and revels in the charms of long, casual French dinners with friends, and Peppler leads with blithe wit as she shares a modern take on entertaining. (She won me over instantly with the words “Hemingway was a supreme ass” in a recipe for Chambéry cassis, an aperitif.) Women are at the center of Peppler’s vision, one in which we dispense with yesteryear’s formalities in favor of long, carefree nights of smart conversation, mismatched plates and zero pretension. Ouais, cherie. On to olives with saucisson and roast chicken with prunes! On to daube de boeuf and (vegan!) French onion soup with cognac! You’ll love the mellow-but-decadent vibe, even if you feel un petit peu jalouse of Peppler’s Parisian coterie.

Black Food

Perfect gift for: Cultural mavens, globetrotters and aesthetes

Chef and Vegetable Kingdom author Bryant Terry assembles a large all-star team for his glorious new Black Food, “a communal shrine to the shared culinary histories of the African diaspora.” I love this trend of cookbooks that are so openly ambitious, with essays and poetry, visual art and historical context, all of it standing strong alongside the food. Structured by themes such as motherland; Black women, food and power; and Black, queer, food—each with a corresponding playlist—this vibrant, immersive book pulls from many foodways and regions of the globe, with Black chefs, intellectuals and tastemakers leading the way. We encounter dishes as diverse as Somali lamb stew, Bajan fish cakes, Ghanaian crepe cake, vegan black-eyed pea beignets and, at last, for the perfect finish, Edna Lewis’ fresh peach cobbler. Terry also shares a recipe for Pili Pili oil, which adds an herbaceous, spicy kick to anything you drizzle it over.

Tables & Spreads

Perfect gift for: Your sister-in-law who loves to host and is always leveling up

I am not a big entertainer, but I love a good snack-meal. And there’s something delightful about artfully arranging a table full of nibbles for guests: curious cheeses, spiced nuts, tangy jams, decadent dips and a handful of rosemary sprigs plucked from the garden. Whether this sounds fun, anxiety-producing or a bit of both, Tables & Spreads is here to help you party. Shelly Westerhausen, master of Instagram-worthy tablescapes, shares themes for every occasion, from dips for dinner, to a savory focaccia party, to a Christmas morning Dutch baby party. Special attention is given to what Westerhausen dubs the “wow factor”: decorative and mood-setting details such as color themes, decanters and candles of varying heights, along with floral arrangements. Informational charts abound with practical assists; my favorite may be “Portioning a Spread,” right down to tablespoons of dip or pieces of crudites, so you don’t over- or under-buy.

This holiday season, whether you’re hosting or showing up with a single covered dish, let one of these outstanding cookbooks be your guide.
Review by

Sampling a tasty collection Drinking for me means only wine. . . . I believe in wine as I believe in Nature. I cherish its sacramental and legendary meanings, not to mention its power to intoxicate, and just as Nature can be both kind and hostile, so I believe that if bad wine is bad for you, good wine in moderation does nothing but good. This passage, from a short essay called When I Became a Gastronome by journalist Jan Morris, looks back to the meal during which the subtle and intricate force of flavors suddenly broke over her, like an inaugural bottle itself. The meal itself was, as she recalls, nothing elaborate fresh rolls, patŽ of some sort, cheese, I think, apples and a bottle of local white wine. And yet for the first time, Morris, who had always been so sensitive to the undercurrents of cities and cultures and morŽs, was gripped by the voluptuousness of patŽ, the assertive confidence of bread, and the concentrated abundance of wine.

Morris’s piece is one of more than 50 pieces, many published for the first time, in a collection called The Adventure of Food: True Stories of Eating Everything. Collected by Richard Sterling, they include memoirs, magazine articles, semi-fictional musings, and even a few nutritional polemics, most of which take place in foreign countries and which are frequently as intriguing for what they say about Americans abroad as about the foods themselves.

Foods, and drinks, are explored a bit squeamishly by Mary Roach in The Instructress, a rueful recollection of facing down rodent knees and a pre-chewed, fermented manioc brew called chicha prepared by her Amazonian hosts. Or romantically, as in Taras Grescoe’s pursuit of absinthe, the hallucinatory and potentially fatal Green Fairy linked to Toulouse-Lautrec and Oscar Wilde. (That Grescoe slanders Edgar Allan Poe is the piece’s one failing.) Or nostalgically, like Marguerite Thoburn Watkins’s recollection of drinking old-fashioned North Indian Chai in an Unglazed Cup, a eulogy that must have been written prior to the commercialization of chai by American coffee society. Or seductively, as in artist-author Heather Corinna’s prose-poem fantasy, Eat Drink Man Woman ( We describe so very little of what we feast upon when we merely call it food ).

In fact, reading this collection, one is reminded that poetry is in the eye of the consumer. Jonathan Raban discovered this while sailing down the Mississippi River for the book Old Glory. ÔPeople eat squirrels around here?’ I asked.

ÔEat squirrels?’ the old man shouted, banging his stick up and down on the bar floor. ÔWe do not eat squirrels, sir. We may regale ourselves upon them. We might be described, on occasion, as consuming them. We do our humble best to honor the noble squirrel. We make, at the very least, a repast of him.’ One incredibly rich entry (or entree) is the recreation by Michael Paterniti of the illicit last banquet prepared for the terminally ill former French President Francois Mitterrand, the highlight of which was ortolan, a tiny songbird whose consumption had already been outlawed. The entire piece, which originally ran in Esquire, is almost overripe with culinary description, including a fine bit on foie gras; but the description of ortolan, which Paterniti persuades a chef to prepare for him and his girlfriend, is spectacular. The bird is surprisingly soft, gives completely, and then explodes with juices liver, kidneys, lungs. Chestnuts, corn, salt all this in an extraordinary current, the same warm, comforting flood as finely evolved consommŽ. . . . I put inside myself the last flowered bit of air and Armagnac in its lungs, the body of rainwater and berries. In there, too, is the ocean and Africa and the dip and plunge in a high wind. And the heart that bursts between my teeth. This is truly a seductive collection, one that can be grazed in, consumed in large chunks, or nibbled at a course at a time. It could easily be enjoyed with an escalating series of wines, from the aperitif to the sauterne; but in honor of Jan Morris’s epiphany, we recommend Penfolds’s brilliant Koonunga Hill SŽmillon-Chardonnay blends wry, lithe wines with a courteous but not modest balance of acidity and aromatics.

Opening formally with green-apple crispness and a hint of apricot, it gradually softens into a graceful and yet tightly fermented spin of pistachio, balsawood, and secret peach and ends with a low sweep of praline. And although vintages vary slightly, the quality is always dependable and, year after year, the prices a blessed $8 or so give even more meaning to the word sacramental. In fact, I apply it ritually.

Eve Zibart is a restaurant critic for the Washington Post.

Sampling a tasty collection Drinking for me means only wine. . . . I believe in wine as I believe in Nature. I cherish its sacramental and legendary meanings, not to mention its power to intoxicate, and just as Nature can be both kind and hostile, so I believe that if bad wine is bad […]
Review by

Starry, starry night by Pat H. Broeske ‘Tis the season for show business awards shows, which, collectively, seem to honor every possible subject and category. But try as everyone might, there is no topping the granddaddy of awards shows the one that has spanned seven decades and continues to generate breathless guessing games. But if the Academy Awards are at the heart of the movie industry’s biggest, most anticipated night of the year which this year comes on March 21 they are not the driving force behind movie making. Money is.

In The Gross: The Hits, the Flops The Summer That Ate Hollywood (St. Martin’s Press, $24.95, 0312198949), Peter Bart explores the hows, the whys, and the surprises of the summer 1998 box office derby. As the editor-in-chief for Variety and Daily Variety, Bart had access to the executives and filmmakers behind a disparate slate, including the effects extravaganzas Godzilla and Armageddon, the paranoid character study The Truman Show, and that goofy exercise in raunchy, There’s Something About Mary. From the genesis of the various films (inspiration for the Bruce Willis character in Armageddon was real-life firefighting legend, Red Adair), to their development (too many were written by committee ), to the final product (following a test screening, The Avengers went through a major reworking), and on through their journey at the box office, The Gross looks at the way big business has impacted the industry, which has itself become a big business.

Along the way, Bart delivers some enticing cameo appearances. In fact, given its roster of names stars, filmmakers, power-brokers and more it is curious that this book does not have an index, for some of its liveliest material concerns the names behind the titles. In recalling a meeting with Steven Spielberg, a sceenwriter is quoted as saying, He’s like a Mafia boss in that he subtly flaunts his power. Indeed, while talking about a script particular, Spielberg said, We should ask the President that question. He’s my house guest next weekend. Even the rich and famous can’t resist name-dropping.

The rich and famous, as well as the artistes, have figured prominently in the saga of the Oscars. The predictably unpredictable awards race has honored both the obscure performer and the superstar, art house titles, and epics. In that respect, the lavish 70 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards (Abbeville Press, $65, 0789204843) reflects society, as well as the various film years.

Written by Robert Osborne, longtime columnist for the Hollywood Reporter, this newly revised and expanded edition has as much appeal to the movie buff as to the scholar. The tone may be ultra-respectful after all, this is the authorized account of Oscar but the detailed year-by-year summations are rife with facts and juicy trivia. Just in time for this year’s Oscar night parties, Dining with the Stars serves up all kinds of tasty possibilities. Here’s one possible menu: Halle Berry’s Almond-Berry Brie Appetizer, Shirley MacLaine’s Favorite Chicken Soup, Joanne Woodward’s Sole Cabernet, and, for dessert, Dolly Parton’s, uh, Stack Pie. More than one hundred celebrities share their favorite recipes, knowing that a portion of the book’s net proceeds will benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles. Whether they earn awards/money, many movies contain special gags or references some obvious, many not. Bill Givens, who has chronicled blunders via a series of books about film flubs, now goes after Reel Gags: Jokes, Sight Gags, and Directors’ Tricks from Your Favorite Films (Renaissance Books, $9.95, 1580630421). Did you know that the first one to be eaten by a T-Rex in Jurassic Park was one of the movie’s screenwriters? Now you do.

Starry, starry night by Pat H. Broeske ‘Tis the season for show business awards shows, which, collectively, seem to honor every possible subject and category. But try as everyone might, there is no topping the granddaddy of awards shows the one that has spanned seven decades and continues to generate breathless guessing games. But if […]
Review by

YE OLDE CURIOSITY SHOPPE What’s your poison? Editor’s note: Each month we see lots of books. Some of the curious arrivals are featured in this space.

So, what is this love affair between cooking and crime-solving? According to Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezahl, the authors of A Taste of Murder: Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary Mystery Writers, dining and dying share a lengthy history. And here Weibezahl and Grossman honor that tradition with a sinfully tasty collection of killer cuisine from America’s most popular mystery writers. Recipes include: The Kinsey Millhone Famous Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich by Sue Grafton (for a different twist, we suggest frying it up Elvis style), Sea Bass in Orange Sauce by Richard North Patterson, Chili from (who else?) Joe R. Lansdale, Salami a la Chama River by Tony Hillerman, Irene Kelly’s Favorite Asparagus Linguine by Jan Burke, and Aunt Zell’s Pecan Pie by Margaret Maron, just to name a few.

In this book where mystery meets meat, there’s also a chapter (cleverly titled No Place to Meat ) for vegetarians, proving that deadly dishes don’t really have to be dead.

How delicious to discover that these masters of crime are also master chefs. We just can’t think of a better book for the mystery reader or food lover in your life. With chapters like The Pot Thickens and Kneadless Violence how can you go wrong? (And as if you needed one more reason to acquire A Taste for Murder, the authors are donating a portion of their profits to From the Wholesaler to the Hungry, a national organization that helps cities develop programs to distribute fresh produce to low-income adults and children.) Moses McGuire’s Almost Patented Teriyaki Salmon by John T. Lescroart Shopping List: 2 pounds of salmon fillets (not salmon steaks), skin on Juice of one lemon 1/2 cup of soy sauce 1 teaspoon dried thyme 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Fresh tarragon and thyme, chopped Butter Preparation: Mix lemon juice, soy sauce, dried thyme, and olive oil in a wide, shallow container and place fillets skin side up into the marinade. Let stand at least an hour, but refrigerated overnight is better. Prepare barbecue. When coals are ready and very hot, oil grill lightly, then place fillets skin side down directly on grill. If using kettle grill, cover. If not cover with aluminum foil tent and watch for flames. Do not turn fish over. Cook at least six minutes, but no more than ten minutes. Salmon should be orange/pink at the surface with the skin quite burned. Dot with softened butter into which you’ve beaten fresh chopped tarragon and thyme. If desired, heat marinade to boiling, and serve as additional sauce for dipping or for rice, etc.

Serves 4.

The above recipe was reprinted with permission from A Taste of Murder, a DTP Trade Paperback by Bantam Dell Publishing Group. ©1999 Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezahl

YE OLDE CURIOSITY SHOPPE What’s your poison? Editor’s note: Each month we see lots of books. Some of the curious arrivals are featured in this space. So, what is this love affair between cooking and crime-solving? According to Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezahl, the authors of A Taste of Murder: Diabolically Delicious Recipes from Contemporary […]
Feature by

You see her on TV, you use her cookbooks, you may even be lucky enough to eat in her restaurant, soon you’ll be able to read her new lifestyle magazine and see her brilliant smile on the silver screen (she’s in Elizabethtown, a major motion picture in theaters this fall, directed by Cameron Crowe and produced by Tom Cruise). We’re not talking Martha here, we’re talking Paula Deen, the queen of the Savannah cooking scene make that the Southern cooking scene. As her audience grows, so grows the demand for her down-home Southern recipes. Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics, a one-volume edition of her first two mega- selling tributes to the cuisine she knows and loves, The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and The Lady & Sons, Too!, will be in stores in early October just in time for holiday giving and getting put it on your holiday hit list and reserve your copies ASAP.

Paula is big-time now a one-woman media conglomerate, outstanding restaurateur, creator of a line of food products and fun accessories, from biscuit mix and butt-rub to aprons, T-shirts and hats, star of the ever-popular Paula’s Home Cooking on the Food Network, loving mother of her two handsome, talented sons and devoted sister to her younger brother, Bubba, who, with her help and guidance, opened Bubba’s Oyster Bar, another Savannah success, just a few months ago.

But life for Paula hasn’t always been a picnic. She married her high-school sweetheart without much thought to starting a career for herself and by the time she was 23 had two baby boys under three, had lost both her beloved parents and taken in her 16-year-old brother to raise, too. Overwhelmed, fear of the outside seeped in and soon she was all but paralyzed. Paula had developed a full-blown case of agoraphobia and couldn’t leave the house. Not good for her, her kids or her marriage. Her husband moved the family to Savannah and Paula still suffered from her immobilizing malaise. Then, as she tells it, she woke up one morning (June 19, 1989, to be exact) and began the rest of her life. And that life is as successful as it is inspirational.

A feisty, female phoenix, Paula found a career by going back to what she knew best cooking. Newly divorced, with only $200 and two willing teenage sons, she began The Bag Lady, a home-based lunch delivery service; she made the food and her boys delivered it. The Bag Lady, an uncommon success, paved the way to The Lady &and Sons, Paula’s now famous Savannah restaurant where she serves the food she loves, the food she learned to cook in her grandmother’s South Georgia kitchen. Southern cooking, according to Paula, is a hand-me-down art, it comes from within and it’s how we show our love, by what we cook and create in the kitchen. It’s full of flavor. It’s filling. It just makes you feel good. Paula’s food made so many people feel so good that she self-published her first cookbook in 1997. It was quickly picked up by a major publishing house and followed by three more super-popular cookbooks. It’s hard to think of Paula who married tugboat pilot Michael Groover last year as anything but bubbly, warm, irrepressible and irresistible. But knowing something about her life, her troubles and the way she overcame adversity makes her an even more appealing personality. John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, has caught her essence when he describes her as an example of the extraordinary phenomenon of Southern womanhood, the steel magnolia. And all that effervescent energy and Southern pride is here for y’all to enjoy in Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics.

You see her on TV, you use her cookbooks, you may even be lucky enough to eat in her restaurant, soon you’ll be able to read her new lifestyle magazine and see her brilliant smile on the silver screen (she’s in Elizabethtown, a major motion picture in theaters this fall, directed by Cameron Crowe and […]
Review by

Out of the ballpark: bats and stats Perhaps no baseball season has been as closely monitored and analyzed as 1998. Balls were rocketing out of the parks at an amazing rate, and the Yankees were leaving the competition in the dust. There were formidable pitching performances and the usual smattering of high-profile players changing addresses. Cal Ripken ended his streak, and the Florida Marlins ended their short-lived chance at dominance.

These are some of the subjects captured in the new roster of baseball books.

In his excellent Summer of ’98: When Homers Fell, Records Flew and Baseball Reclaimed America (Putnam, $23.95, 0399145141), esteemed sports columnist Mike Lupica eloquently reminds us what last season meant, not just to a nation of fans, but to a nation. The sensational race for the home run crown between the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, of the perennial rival Chicago Cubs (as Lupica says, you can’t make this stuff up), deservedly takes center stage here, but he reminds us of the other highlights and personalities that helped make the Summer of ’98 so special. To a large extent, the book also revolves around the relationship with his sons as they have come to the age when baseball takes its unrelenting grip on them. The fact that Lupica’s enthusiasm is so unguarded just makes the reading more enjoyable.

No sooner had the dust settled from McGwire v. Sosa than the publishers got busy. Perhaps the best of the lot on the subject is Celebrating 70: Mark McGwire’s Historic Season ($29.95, 089204621X), a joint effort by the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Sporting News. This painstaking chronicle captures all the drama and excitement of each homer with photos, quotes, and historical context. Surely Big Mac can now be considered among the all-time greats.

In fact, he’s already included in the next selections, not one but two new books which designate the top hundred players in the history of the game. It’s a David and Goliath author’s competition between the Bible of Baseball and a professor of philosophy.

The Sporting News Selects Baseball’s Greatest Players: A Celebration of the 20th Century’s Best by Ron Smith (The Sporting News, $29.95, 0892046082) has tradition going for it, calling on its vast archives for photos and narrative. Baseball’s Greatest Players does an even-handed job incorporating players from the Negro Leagues but exhibits some bias in picking players primarily from the pre-expansion era (prior to the 1960s).

On the other hand, Ken Shouler’s The Real 100 Best Baseball Players of All Time . . . and Why! (Addax Publishing Group, $22.95, 1886110468) claims to be devoid of sentiment, relying solely on the numbers as qualifications for membership into such an elite group. While Shouler excludes members of the Negro Leagues, he does include more players from the ’60s and later, perhaps to attract a younger readership. Sure, there are differences of opinions between the two books, and you might question the methodology used in the selection process, but part of the fun of being a fan derives from the kind of arguments that these volumes will undoubtedly generate.

The Autobiography of Baseball by Joseph Wallace (Abrams, $35, 0810919257) is a different sort of best book and takes the concept of oral history to a new level. Previously all the players in such books would share a common bond, like a team or a time frame. But Wallace wonders how it might be to sit down old-timers with contemporary players for a discussion of their craft. Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds . . . Bob Feller and Greg Maddux . . . brothers of the diamond shooting the breeze. Using excerpts from old interviews, Wallace seamlessly blends the generations as they regale us in tales about the pressures a rookie faces, the joy of the cheers, and the heartbreak of realizing it’s time to hang ’em up. The choice of illustrations works extremely well in enhancing the stories.

The game’s visual beauty is also well represented in coffee-table books by two of the most recognizable sports photojournalists. Mickey Mantle, the Yankee Years: The Photographs of Ozzie Sweet (Tuff Stuff Books, $39.95, 0930625218) is an ode to the baseball hero of the boomer generation. The cameraman’s distinctive style, shooting at an upward angle against a solid background, emphasizes the slugger’s mythic strength and grace. Sweet’s yarns about the photo sessions offer a candid look at Mantle and his teammates.

Reflections of the Game Lives in Baseball: The Photographs of Ronald C. Modra (Willow Creek Press, $29.50, 1572231807) represents some of the best of this veteran lensman. The anecdotal reflections come from the artist and his subjects. Pat Jordan, ballplayer-cum-writer, provides a running essay on how he was instilled with a love for the game, from his days as a little leaguer through his abbreviated professional career.

For those of us who can never get enough of a good thing, there’s a new heavyweight (literally) for the reference section. It’s the All-Time Baseball Sourcebook (STATS, Inc., $79.95, 1884064531). What sets this massive volume (over 2,600 pages) apart from other such tomes is the breadth and breakdown of data previously unavailable to the average fan. Rather than listing the individual records of every player, which can be found elsewhere, the Sourcebook offers batting and pitching averages listed by decade, age, and time-span (as in best five-year stretch, seven-year, etc.), just to mention a few of the many sections. There is also an extensive franchise section where you can find out all manner of statistical information about your favorite team, along with almanac-like capsules presenting interesting factoids.

The Sourcebook also contains box scores from every All-Star and post-season game, along with summaries and registers of all the participants. The editors also give you their takes on 90 of the greatest games ever played and a fresh look at the history of baseball’s amateur draft.

Well, I don’t know about you, but all this baseball talk has made me hungry. Let’s see what’s in the Home Plate Cookbook: Recipes from Baseball Greats Just Great for Your Home Plate by Gary Saunders, a collection of recipes from players and others connected with the game. Hmmm, there’s Bob Feller’s fruitcake, Mickey Mantle’s Yankee Garlic Bread, and Willie Mays’s Say Hey Bran Muffins, among dozens of other delectables. There are also food-facts about the links and lore of ball park food. But be warned: Most of the dishes are definitely not politically correct in this era of healthy eating. Still, this fun book provides a heaping helping of lighthearted glimpses into the players which we seldom see.

Ron Kaplan is currently working on a book about baseball during the Korean War years.

Out of the ballpark: bats and stats Perhaps no baseball season has been as closely monitored and analyzed as 1998. Balls were rocketing out of the parks at an amazing rate, and the Yankees were leaving the competition in the dust. There were formidable pitching performances and the usual smattering of high-profile players changing addresses. […]
Feature by

Gingerbread and dirty Santas, nativity scenes and maxed-out credit cards: the holidays bring both highs and lows. During this most special time of year, there are cooks cooking, crafters crafting—and people creating wacky Christmases of their own making, as celebrated in these new books.

Strange stories of the season
Count on Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors, A Wolf at the Table) to have a droll but dysfunctional take on the most sacred of holidays. You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas is a stepbrother of sorts to that antidote for forced merriment, David Sedaris’ Holidays on Ice. In “Two Eyes Made Out of Coal,” Burroughs attempts to impress his mother with a gingerbread house as seen in a magazine but decides to use “imagination” instead of the chump’s choice—following the recipe—and ends up with less fairy tale castle and more “public housing unit.” The mandatory participation of the holiday season strains Burroughs’ spirits in “Why Do You Reward Me Thus?” as he realizes how much he despises the “sheep shoppers,” the being-with-friends thing and the hijacking of Hanukkah. So he searches Manhattan for Jews, Chinese and others “on the outside of the snow globe” who “don’t give a [expletive] about Christmas either.” In a denouement worthy of O. Henry, he finds bums wanting to talk semiotics and a homeless angel who brings Burroughs out of his despondent drunken stupor with a Puccini aria instead of “The Chipmunk Song.”

It’s the hap-happiest season of all, so take a spin through the holiday madness in The Upside-Down Christmas Tree: And Other Bizarre Yuletide Tales. Authors Delilah Scott and Emma Troy uncover kooky traditions, presents from hell, weird holiday food and drink, unusual decorations and dysfunctional family antics from Christmases around the world. From the festive kiviak—or rotten auk meat—of Greenland and trees decorated in tampon “ornaments” to the clever “divide-and-conquer” in-laws’ Christmas, the “Yankee Swap” created by the original frugal re-gifters and the number of Santas peed on by children (34 percent), this compendium of all things kooky, charming and Christmas will provide plenty of laughs at the holiday table.

Pop-culture writer Hank Stuever enters the world of the Christmas crazy willingly in Tinsel: A Search for America’s Christmas Present. Relocating to a Dallas suburb over the course of three years to follow “true holiday believers,” Stuever—an award-winning writer for the Washington Post Style section and author of Off Ramp—creates an utterly charming yet sobering profile of the music, traditions, money, pressure and sheer nuttiness of the city’s seasonal celebration. Traveling with the proprietor of Two Elves with a Twist home trimming service, visiting with homeowners who light up their house so brightly it’s visible from space, meeting collectors of the twee Department 56 miniature villages and witnessing a single mom as she tries to provide a good holiday for her kids, Stuever is part sociologist, part psychologist and always a perceptive observer, placing American holiday rituals in a new light. “Our sense of Christmas is nothing without the narrative of heartbreaking need,” he writes. “Mary needed a place to give birth and nobody would give her one. This need for need exists so that our children can distinguish it from the concept of want.”

Help for the holidays
Hostesses who fear they won’t have the mostest this holiday season only need a few hours with Best of Christmas Ideas to boost their spirits. The editors and stylists of Better Homes and Gardens magazine can be counted on for “fresh, fast and fabulous” ideas for stylish holiday decor, table settings, floral centerpieces, wreaths, cards, wrapping and treats in styles that range from fashion-forward (lime-green tree trimmings, blue velvet stockings) to traditional-contemporary (feather tree decorated with dried orange slices and pine cones). Need fast decorations? A Tiered Meringue Tree of either homemade or store-bought meringue cookies looks like it took hours but only requires a bit of stacking skills. Expecting last-minute guests? Spend an afternoon making and freezing hearty soups—like Smoked Sausage Split Pea—along with easy rolls and ice cream sandwiches (recipes included), and you’ve got dinner-in-a-minute for a crowd. Kids driving you crazy? Put them to work making paper cones stuffed with ornaments or pinecones to decorate the tree. Need quick hostess gifts? Try Herbed Toasted Almonds, or dress up a store-bought red pillar candle by gluing stick peppermints along its base. Each recipe, craft or sewing project is illustrated with full-color pictures and complete instructions and patterns (most only require basic crafting or sewing skills), and a list of sources at the back will help harried cooks or crafters place their overnight orders.

If Mother Earth is on the gift list, Anna Getty’s I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes That Use Less and Mean More has stylish ideas for celebrating, giving and reflecting on the season that recycle and reuse but still give plenty of joy. Sections on Nesting and Entertaining feature homemade decor and place settings using natural and recycled elements (Recycled Wool Wreath, Newspaper Stocking), and Trimming has ideas for earthy decorations (Sugared Crabapple Ornaments, Twig Stars). The Giving section suggests packaging homemade treats in repurposed containers, such as bamboo steamer baskets. Sophisticated but easy recipes are also included (Cranberry Prosecco Cocktails, Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Mascarpone, Pan-Fried Chicken Breasts with Chestnut Stuffing and Port Gravy), and the book is rounded out with lush photographs, “green tips” by famous eco-experts, a resource section listing useful websites and sidebars on green greetings and shipping, recyclable parties, low-impact gift and wrapping ideas and “composting Christmas.”

Bakers who are mystified by royal icing and luster dust will feel merry about the elegant designs in Cookie Craft Christmas. Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer—the bakers behind the Cookie Craft series—have created a tiny treasure of a book complete with full-color illustrations of their bakery-worthy holiday creations ranging from easy to elaborate. A few basic rolled-cookie recipes and lessons on pre- and post-baking decorative techniques are followed by instructions for more than 70 distinctive designs, plus tips on freezing, shipping and swapping home-baked treats. From white reindeer and gingerbread sleighs to sweet treats for New Year’s and Hanukkah, these cookies are designed to create lasting memories.

Deanna Larson writes from Nashville.

Gingerbread and dirty Santas, nativity scenes and maxed-out credit cards: the holidays bring both highs and lows. During this most special time of year, there are cooks cooking, crafters crafting—and people creating wacky Christmases of their own making, as celebrated in these new books. Strange stories of the season Count on Augusten Burroughs (Running with […]
Feature by

A celebration of the best that the Tex-Mex tradition offers, The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook, illustrated with 75 archival and new photographs, takes you on a tour of famous Tex-Mex restaurants, taco trucks, cook-offs and tailgating extravaganzas, and has all the recipes you'll need to make these spicy treasures in your own backyard. No Tex-Mex fiesta could start without a Margarita, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more welcoming summer cocktail than this super-seasonal, rosy-pink Watermelon version. If you can't find "watermelon liquor," no problema—just add little more tequila!

Serves 4

Thanks to Gramercy Tavern manager Nick Mautone for the frozen watermelon ice cube idea.

1/2 small watermelon
8 ounces Simple Syrup
4 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
12 ounces gold tequila
8 ounces watermelon liqueur
12 mint leaves

Cut the watermelon into 1-inch cubes, removing the seeds as you go. Place the cubes in a colander set inside a bowl. Stir the cubes gently to extract juice without breaking up the cubes. You should have at least 8 ounces of juice. Put the watermelon cubes on a tray and freeze until solid—about an hour.

Mix the syrup, lemon juice, and lime juice with the watermelon juice. To serve, divide the frozen cubes among 4 glasses. Add the tequila, then the liqueur, and then the juice mixture and stir. Garnish with the mint leaves.

Recipe from The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook; Broadway Books.

A celebration of the best that the Tex-Mex tradition offers, The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook, illustrated with 75 archival and new photographs, takes you on a tour of famous Tex-Mex restaurants, taco trucks, cook-offs and tailgating extravaganzas, and has all the recipes you'll need to make these spicy treasures in your own backyard. […]
Review by

When Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden was published in the spring of 1997, Emily Whaley was proclaimed the embodiment of style and hospitality. This Christmas is the perfect time to read more of the late Mrs. Whaley in her book, Mrs. Whaley Entertains (Algonquin, $17.95, 1565122003). Here, the grandam of gracious living shares her unforgettable stories, practical suggestions, and recipes everything she knows about unflappable hostessing. From Men in the Kitchen and Table Manners to Shrimp Pie and Dancing School Fudge, this little book will entertain you and your guests over the holidays.

When Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden was published in the spring of 1997, Emily Whaley was proclaimed the embodiment of style and hospitality. This Christmas is the perfect time to read more of the late Mrs. Whaley in her book, Mrs. Whaley Entertains (Algonquin, $17.95, 1565122003). Here, the grandam of gracious living shares her […]
Feature by

Fatherhood can be a challenge filled with responsibility, frustration and even pain, when life and relationships don’t go smoothly. But love, hope, pride and a sense of personal reward are the fulfilling part of the deal, and this selection of new titles helps to express the importance of the tie that binds.

AT HOME IN THE KITCHEN

A cartoonist, and also an editor and writer for The New Yorker, John Donohue exploits a wonderful idea about men and food and emerges with Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families. Fact is, many of the world’s great chefs are men, so there’s no startling revelation here about males being savvy in the kitchen. But Donohue deftly links the phenomenon to the societal changes in modern-day life, where women and men are increasingly exchanging traditional roles, a situation that has opened the doors wide to average guys exercising culinary muscles—and proving to be pretty darn good at it.

Donohue solicits testimony mostly from writers, editors and journalists—including Stephen King—who supply interesting accounts of their personal excursions into the cooking life and recommendations for their favorite cookbooks, plus a few recipes each. Screenwriter Matt Greenberg’s Grilled Burgers with Herb Butter look straight-ahead delicious, as does musician and short story author Mohammed Naseehu Ali’s Peanut Butter Soup. King’s Pretty Good Cake seems simple enough (and tasty), yet the range of the submissions overall is ethnically rich (Manuel Gonzales’ Mexican Chocolate Pie!) and occasionally exotic (Shankar Vedantam’s Yashoda’s Potatoes), and some creations are doubtless more difficult to achieve than others (for example, Slatecontributor Jesse Sheidlower’s Bacon-Wrapped Duck Breast Stuffed with Apples and Chestnuts). Donohue cleverly peppers the text with funny, sophisticated cartoons, making Man with a Pan uniquely smart and also very useful. A must-have for kitchen-friendly dads, this volume should reap rewards down the road for family appetites everywhere.

GOING THE DISTANCE

Veteran CBS newsman Jim Axelrod has had an interesting career covering presidents and world events and hobnobbing with broadcast journalism icons like Dan Rather and Ted Koppel. Yet when shifting fortunes at his job filled him with self-doubt, Axelrod went into reflective mode. His resultant book, In the Long Run: A Father, a Son, and Unintentional Lessons in Happiness, is essentially a memoir of his upbringing, adulthood and working life, but the book’s main thrust concerns Axelrod’s sudden and quixotic attempt to match his late father’s running time in the New York Marathon. The senior Axelrod, a lawyer who wreaked some emotional havoc on his own family, serves as focal point for his son, who strives to reconcile their relationship and adopt his father’s achievement-oriented approach to running as a way to reconnect with the past and his memory of a loving man. The middle-aged Axelrod endures some expected physical lumps in getting into shape, but more importantly, his very readable text imparts some heartfelt lessons about the father-son bond.

THE GAME OF LIFE

Author/journalist Steve Friedman also strives to reconnect with Dad, and in his case golf is the activity that must serve as the linking metaphor. Not so easy, though, since the author despised the game growing up, mainly because he saw it as a barrier between him and his father, who played constantly. Friedman’s Driving Lessons: A Father, a Son, and the Healing Power of Golf tells the story of his return to his hometown in the St. Louis suburbs, resolved to learn golf under his father’s tutelage and make the conscious attempt to understand the game—and also dear old Dad. This brief book offers warm, funny and ironic chapters in which we view the author learning to golf—not an easy task, mind you, once you hit a certain age—and assessing his own life and career status, but mainly benefiting from his father’s encouragement and simple life philosophy. Both warm and cautiously unsentimental, Driving Lessons is a welcome little read and a great gift idea.

COMING HOME AT LAST

Finally, in the category of gut-wrenching fatherhood experiences comes A Father’s Love: One Man’s Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home. Co-authored with Ken Abraham, David Goldman’s personal tale is one of intense confusion, misunderstanding and deep hurt, not to mention a years-long investment of time and money in a battle in international courts to regain custody of his son.

Seemingly happily married in 2004 and the father of young son Sean, former successful model Goldman was stunned to discover that when his Brazilian wife, Bruna Bianchi, left the U.S. for a vacation with their son in her homeland, she had no intention of ever returning. So began Goldman’s five-year nightmare of attempting to have Sean returned to him, a journey of unimaginable heartache and loss in which he encountered stiff legal challenges, negotiated the thicket of long-distance international diplomacy, raised awareness among American government officials and the media, and combated the determined resistance of Bianchi’s Brazilian family, who refused to return Sean to his father even after his mother’s sudden death.

Goldman’s account seems repetitive at times, mainly because there were so many starts and stops in the process, but ultimately his tireless pursuit of Sean—by way of working the complicated legal system and marshaling support from lawyers, high-profile American officials and TV networks—does pay off. His bittersweet reunion with his son, and a sense of hope for their future together, concludes the coverage. The Goldman story gained a fair amount of attention in the States, and this eventful recounting should draw many interested readers.

Fatherhood can be a challenge filled with responsibility, frustration and even pain, when life and relationships don’t go smoothly. But love, hope, pride and a sense of personal reward are the fulfilling part of the deal, and this selection of new titles helps to express the importance of the tie that binds. AT HOME IN […]
Review by

You and your true love are bound to be hungry after re-creating your personal environment. Author Ailene Eberhard has the perfect solution for hungry lovers in her cookbook, The Passionate Palate: A Celebration of Love and Food. As Eberhard says in her introduction, “nothing fans the fires of love like good food that is lovingly prepared and served with affection.” Divided into the seasons of the year, this delicious collection includes over 20 menus and nearly 150 easy-to-follow recipes for sumptuous meals guaranteed to woo the one you love. In addition to cooking instructions, Eberhard also includes advice and tips on how to bring fun and sensuality into your love life. Each section has a list of seasonal “Aphrodisiacs to Enhance Your Love Life.” Did you know that tomatoes are considered “love apples”? Or that seaweed will bring more lust to your lovemaking?

You and your true love are bound to be hungry after re-creating your personal environment. Author Ailene Eberhard has the perfect solution for hungry lovers in her cookbook, The Passionate Palate: A Celebration of Love and Food. As Eberhard says in her introduction, “nothing fans the fires of love like good food that is lovingly […]
Feature by

'Tis the season, yet again! Start the tarts, roll out the dough, cut the cookies, ice the cakes, prep the puddings, whip the meringue and get all the inspiration and advice you need from these sweet new cookbooks.

THE CRAFT OF BAKING
International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) award winner Lisa Yockelson, a joyful and serious baker, shares her personal baking storybook in Baking Style: Art*Craft*Recipes. Instead of the usual header notes, she's written 100 essays to preface her recipes. In “Coconut Queen” she channels her grandma Lily’s kitchen, then offers up recipes for a Buttery Coconut Cake with Fluffy Frosting. “Fudge Griddled” leads to warm, fudgy waffles (definitely not for breakfast) served with dense, bittersweet chocolate cream. “Zoom!” introduces puffy, high-rise potato dough that serves as the basis for Gossamer Potato Rolls and Butter-Striated Potato Rolls, wonderful grace notes to any holiday meal. Yockelson’s instructions are extensive and the full-page color photos are almost edible. For bakers with some experience.

FOOD OF THE GODS
Choclatique is Ed Engoron’s ode to the substance he considers “truly the nectar of the gods,” divine at almost any temperature and “nature’s perfect food.” A passionate chocolatier, Engoron is the cofounder of the artisan chocolate company Choclatique. He’s traveled around the globe in pursuit of all things chocolate and now distills his love and knowledge in this collection of more than 150 recipes. All the recipes are based on five ganaches (a blend of chocolate, cream and flavorings), his universal chocolate building blocks. With those easy-to-make fundamentals under your belt, you can go on to create blueberry-poached Chocolate Dumplings, gluten-free Chocolate Curl Meringue Kisses, sultry Bittersweet Chocolate Tart, comforting White Chocolate Brioche Pudding and Chocolate Granola (what a way to start the day!). A must for chocoholics and those hoping to become addicted.

DIG INTO A HEALTHY DESSERT
Cooking Light, the longtime go-to source for healthier, lighter edibles of every sort, has for the first time gathered all the essential techniques for making lighter, healthier baked goods in one cookbook, Cooking Light Way to Bake. With more than 600 full-color, step-by-step photos, nothing is left to your imagination—it’s like having a baking coach right there in your own kitchen. Whatever you’re in the mood for—from yeast breads, quick breads, biscuits and biscotti to crepes, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, cobblers, custards and more—you’ll have the recipes you need, detailed instructions and great tips on what particular ingredients and equipment add to the mix. The secrets of light baking success are all here, for both baking beginners and flour-dusted old hands.

DUDE-FRIENDLY DESSERTS
I think most of us, if asked about the gender of cupcakes, would probably agree that the cute little things lean toward the ladylike. But if you take a look at what comes out of the oven in David Arrick’s Butch Bakery, now showcased in The Butch Bakery Cookbook, you’ll agree that these babies are muy macho and muy masculine—different, dangerously delicious and definitely “Desserts for Dudes.” The “Coffee Break” cupcake has a caffeinated, espresso- and Kahlua-infused body topped with a double shot of Espresso Buttercream. “Driller,” a maple cupcake, is sprinkled with crumbled, crispy Butch’s Bacon Bits. Dark stout (like Guinness) gives “Beer Run” its rich flavor, and Jack Daniel’s Cream Cheese Frosting jazzes up the big, beautiful Red Velvet “Defense Defense” cupcakes. Arrick calls his instructions a “plan of attack” and his ingredient list a roster. He starts guys out with Butch’s Toolbox and Butch’s Supply Cabinet, quick run-throughs of all the stuff you need to become a captain of cupcakes.

READY FOR THE PÂTISSERIE
Ginette Mathiot’s Je Sais Faire La Pâtisserie was first published in 1938, a few years after her fabulously successful Je Sais Cuisiner, which was published in English as I Know How to Cook in 2009. With The Art of French Baking, we now have her classic on classic French sweets and desserts, fleshed out with some necessary updates—and it’s just as straightforward and practical, helpful and comprehensive as its predecessor. Mathiot’s aim is to teach home cooks the elemental components of French baking—from traditional madeleines to rum-soaked babas; simple, light gâteaux to a show-stopping Paris-Brest; crumbly, buttery Sablés to Hazelnut Tuiles; Classic Brioche to caramel-swathed Floating Island. Allons enfants de la Pâtisserie! . . . It’s time to bake!

SWEET TREATS FOR VEGANS
Yes! You can make pies without dairy, eggs or animal products. In their third foray into vegan baking, Vegan Pie in the Sky, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero demonstrate that pies of all stripes, pie crusts (check out the new flaky Vodka Crust), tarts, cobblers, crisps and galettes—75 recipes in all—can indeed vie for a high place in vegan dessert-dom. For the upcoming holidays try the Voluptuous Pumpkin Pie, the Sweet Potato Cobbler, the Figgy Apple Handpies and the Pear & Cranberry Galette.

TOP PICK: AN INVITATION TO INDULGE
Judy Rosenberg, owner of one of Boston’s most popular bakery chains, won the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award for her first cookbook, Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book.Shethen followed it up with Rosie’s Bakery Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book. Now, she’s combined the two in a super-duper, updated and revised, no-holds-barred invitation to throw moderation to the wind: The Rosie’s Bakery All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed, Baking Book. Indulge to your heart’s content with the beautiful building blocks of baking: butter, sugar, chocolate and cream. In addition to Chocolate Orgasms—deservedly her most famous dessert—and her almost-as-famous Chocolate-Sour Cream Cake Layers that morph into many divinely decadent variations (Caramel-Topped Pecan Cheesecake, White Chocolate Macadamia Brownies and Coconut Fluff Babycakes), you’ll find Pumpkin Whoopie Pies for an offbeat Thanksgiving treat; thin, spicy Jan Hagels; Classic Spritz; Molasses Ginger Cookies to offer Santa; and Ultra-Rich Rugalah for Hanukkah.

'Tis the season, yet again! Start the tarts, roll out the dough, cut the cookies, ice the cakes, prep the puddings, whip the meringue and get all the inspiration and advice you need from these sweet new cookbooks. THE CRAFT OF BAKINGInternational Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) award winner Lisa Yockelson, a joyful and serious […]

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Recent Reviews

Author Interviews

Recent Features