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Out of Line details Barbara Lynch’s extremely unlikely journey from a “project rat” (her term) to a three-time James Beard award-winning chef living la belle vie. Along the way she falls in and out of infatuations, describes glorious meals and keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Lynch’s teenage escapades—boosting a bus, driving without a license from Boston to Florida, flying to the Bahamas using stolen credit cards—are almost as jaw-dropping as her memories of growing up in the South Boston neighborhood under the eye of mobster Whitey Bulger. Lynch’s vivid memories, her straightforward and direct manner of telling stories and her obvious passion for food make these pages fly. The child of a single mother, Lynch remembers how her mom made everyday food special—pickle juice in the tuna salad, crushed saltines in the meatballs, a particular brand of tomato sauce. Here, Lynch acknowledges that care in the preparation of food happens at all levels, that lingering over flavor is part of what it means to be fully human.

The gutsiness that led her to steal that bus later enables her to accept a series of seemingly impossible professional tasks—single-handedly cooking a wedding feast in Italy, making dishes in Hawaii for hundreds, launching a variety of restaurants with the slenderest advance preparation. She admits to saying yes and figuring out the details later, a report that I find fully believable after traveling through several chapters at her side. This is a candid telling of how a devil-may-care attitude gave rise to one of the most powerful female restaurateurs in the country today.

This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Out of Line details Barbara Lynch’s extremely unlikely journey from a “project rat” (her term) to a three-time James Beard award-winning chef living la belle vie. Along the way she falls in and out of infatuations, describes glorious meals and keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

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Marcus Samuelsson made his name as one of the youngest executive chefs in Manhattan and a familiar face on the Food Network.

What might be less familiar is Samuelsson’s fascinating personal history, which he lays bare in Yes, Chef. Born in Ethiopia, Samuelsson and his sister became dangerously ill with tuberculosis. Their mother walked with them from their remote village to Addis Ababa, where she died. The children were adopted by a loving Swedish family.

Samuelsson spent much of his childhood at the elbow of his Swedish grandmother, an excellent home cook, and went on to work at restaurants in Europe. But after a horrific car accident killed one of his closest friends, Samuelsson sought an apprenticeship to take him away from his grief. He landed at New York’s Aquavit, a restaurant that is, he writes, “more Swedish in its menu than any I had ever worked in.”

This was the beginning of a love affair with New York City. To read his descriptions of the food he eats, from steamed buns in Chinatown to roasted meats from street vendors, is to almost viscerally experience the smells, sounds and sights of the city.

Although he traveled the world learning about every cuisine from French to Mexican, Samuelsson was at a loss when a student asked him to describe trends in African cooking. He had not set foot on the continent since he was a toddler. Rediscovering his Ethiopian roots led him to open the successful Red Rooster in 2010, deliberately choosing the underappreciated streets of Harlem as the site for the restaurant.

Samuelsson’s is the most unlikely of journeys, and he takes readers along every step of the way in this delicious memoir.

Marcus Samuelsson made his name as one of the youngest executive chefs in Manhattan and a familiar face on the Food Network. What might be less familiar is Samuelsson’s fascinating personal history, which he lays bare in Yes, Chef. Born in Ethiopia, Samuelsson and his sister became dangerously ill with tuberculosis. Their mother walked with […]
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Robert M. Parker, on the other hand, has never been to everyone’s taste: His exhaustive, and sometimes exhausting, consideration of vintage and history may be too much for all but the serious oenophile, but the fourth edition of his Bordeaux: A Consumer Guide to the World’s Finest Wines is a remarkable achievement, the sort of book those real admirers will read for pleasure as armchair chefs read the most elaborate cookbooks. Bordeaux is Parker’s passion he’s been making tasting trips twice a year for more than a quarter century and his influence on winemakers’ styles is somewhat controversial, but Parker’s knowledge is undisputed. His writing skirts the edge of spoonable jargon, but it never falls over into simpering. Consider this description of the 1996 Chateau d’Yquem: “Light gold, with a tight but promising nose of roasted hazelnuts intermixed with creme brulee, vanilla beans, honey, orange marmalade, and peach.” If that makes your mouth water (and it does mine), this is the Christmas bonus you’ve been dreaming of. Eve Zibart is a restaurant critic for The Washington Post and author of The Ethnic Food Lover’s Companion.

Robert M. Parker, on the other hand, has never been to everyone’s taste: His exhaustive, and sometimes exhausting, consideration of vintage and history may be too much for all but the serious oenophile, but the fourth edition of his Bordeaux: A Consumer Guide to the World’s Finest Wines is a remarkable achievement, the sort of […]
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For a country, and a generation, accustomed to immediate gratification, the idea of waiting for wine either to understand it or to enjoy it is only beginning to take hold. Even with the growing availability of wines by the glass or tasting flights, most Americans still know few words of winespeak beyond “Cabernet” and “Chardonnay” and still think them synonymous with steak and seafood. And the concept of drinking wines that were bottled before the Bastille fell or the 19th century turned, as I’ve been lucky enough to do, strikes many casual and perfectly contented drinkers as sheer pretension. But for those who may be increasingly intrigued by the subtleties of the world’s wines, the Christmas season turns up several prime gift ideas.

Robert Parker is the 900-pound gorilla of wine criticism, and during the last few years has arguably become the industry guerrilla, as well. His own personal preferences and the undoubted power of his ratings, published monthly in the Wine Advocate, has clearly pressured many winemakers to alter their style. And his castigating of other wine writers who accept free samples is more than a little disingenuous (“I purchase more than 75 percent of the wines I taste, and though I have never requested samples, I do not feel it is unethical to accept unsolicited samples.”). Although the latest (the sixth) edition of Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide occasionally falls prey to this sanctimony, it is yet another example of his thoroughness, bulldog bluntness and unexpected humor. His tongue-in-cheek translations of winemaker jargon are priceless, as are his comments on the distinction between consumers and mere “collectors.” Nor is he a price snob: His lists of regional best bargains under $12 or $15 should be bookmarked for quick reference. Still, this may not be the best choice for someone just setting out to make respectable choices from restaurant wine lists. Parker’s knowledge of seasonal affect, so to speak, may be more than many beginners need to know, although serious collectors will find his summaries of older vintages helpful. The book’s subtitle describes it as “The Complete, Easy-to-Use Reference on Recent Prices and Ratings for More than 8,000 Wines from All the Major Wine Regions,” and one can well believe it.

Michael Broadbent has been a Master of Wine for more than 40 years and head of Christie’s wine department for 35 years. His Vintage Wine: Fifty Years of Tasting Three Centuries of Wines (Harcourt, $50, 560 pages, ISBN 0151007047) is an unobtrusively erudite mixture of history and anecdote with personal observation and characterization it has an unmistakably British sense of propriety and, well, good sportsmanship. Broadbent writes with a fine painterly palate, to force a pun, and a sometimes surprising sensual abandon that fully captures each wine. Again, however, this is a fairly compendious reference aimed at the serious drinker, or at least the platinum-card diner.

The small but wide-ranging Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Guide 2003 (Harcourt, $14, 320 pages, ISBN 0151008760) is disappointing only because the limited space allotted each entry Clarke covers regions, specific wineries and varietals alphabetically forces him to omit the pungent thumbnail witticisms that are his trademark. But it would be a fine volume to keep in the car’s glove compartment for unexpected buying sprees. The revised version of Clarke’s New Wine Atlas (Harcourt, $60, 336 pages, ISBN 0151009139), on the other hand, is very nearly what it sounds like a collection of maps but its glossy photos and labels and cut-to-the-chase intelligence are just the things to remove a budding connoisseur’s terror of terrior.

Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher have made their career, and marriage, drinking as unabashed ordinary people, and their Friday “Tastings” column in the Wall Street Journal is democratically aimed at casual wine clubs and amateur collectors. The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine (Broadway, $26, 304 pages, ISBN 0767908147) is ideal for novice wine drinkers, focusing on the basic flavors of various wines basic in description, too, which may reassure less experienced readers put off by “hints of tobacco” or “musty bookbindings.” It’s not a comprehensive guide, and is sometimes too conversational (“Whoa! the first blind flight of these [New Zealand sauvignon blancs] blew us away!”), but it would make a good gift for a neighbor you’d like to swap Friday dinners with. Eve Zibart is a writer for The Washington Post and author of The Ethnic Food Lover’s Companion.

For a country, and a generation, accustomed to immediate gratification, the idea of waiting for wine either to understand it or to enjoy it is only beginning to take hold. Even with the growing availability of wines by the glass or tasting flights, most Americans still know few words of winespeak beyond “Cabernet” and “Chardonnay” […]
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Four adventurous orphans take up residence in a boxcar and begin to solve mysteries — this is the premise of the beloved Boxcar Children series, begun in 1942 by Gertrude Chandler Warner and still going strong. Warner enjoyed pointing out that her first book, The Boxcar Children (Whitman, $3.95, grades 3-8), "raised a storm of protest from librarians who thought the children were having too good a time without any parental control! That is exactly why children like it!"

Today’s young readers continue to seek out Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden and their dog, Watch, whose exciting exploits are described in easy-to-read chapters. Their creator was born in 1890 and lived across the street from a train station in Putnam, Connecticut, as Mary Ellen Ellsworth explains in a new biography, Gertrude Chandler Warner and the Boxcar Children. The resulting soot and cinders meant that the family had to dust the windowsills twice each day.

Although Warner was spirited and full of fun, poor health prevented her from finishing high school. During World War I, a shortage of teachers prompted the local school board to hire her to teach first grade, a position she held for over 30 years. She wrote the first Boxcar book while home recuperating from an illness, thinking back to her childhood glimpses inside a caboose, where the sight of a small stove, table, and dishes led her to imagine what it would be like to live on a train.

By the end of the first book, the four children are reunited with their wealthy grandfather, who moves their boxcar from the woods to his yard. From this beginning, the independent Alden children became so popular that Warner wrote 19 adventures about them with titles such as Surprise Island, Mystery Ranch, and Snowbound Mystery. Warner died at age 89 in 1979, but the Boxcar Children live on with new titles such as The Pizza Mystery, The Canoe Trip Mystery, and The Dinosaur Mystery, written by new writers faithful to Warner’s vision. There are now 59 books in the series and eight special mysteries with additional activities in the back.

The clan even has their own cookbook, The Boxcar Children Cookbook, by Diane Blain, featuring such treats as secret code buns, hobo stew, and tree house chocolate pudding, all inspired by passages from the books. Certainly the volume is in keeping with the spirit of the series—Warner’s very first description of the children has them standing in front of a bakery, hungrily looking inside.

When young Gertrude Chandler Warner gazed into a caboose and started dreaming, little did she realize what it would lead to. Kids, trains, and mysteries make for an all-aboard formula that remains hard to beat!

Alice Cary reviews books in the railroad town of Groton, Mass.

Four adventurous orphans take up residence in a boxcar and begin to solve mysteries — this is the premise of the beloved Boxcar Children series, begun in 1942 by Gertrude Chandler Warner and still going strong. Warner enjoyed pointing out that her first book, The Boxcar Children (Whitman, $3.95, grades 3-8), "raised a storm of […]
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Football season’s in full swing, so get your gourmet game on with The NBC Sunday Night Football Cookbook, which stars 150 recipes from NFL players and many of America’s top chefs, including Emeril (bam!) Lagasse and grill – guy Bobby Flay. This eclectic cookbook puts regional down – home favorites (Houston Texan Chester Pitts’ cheesy Potato Casserole, oh yeah!) in the huddle alongside more gussied – up grub (Chef Jonathan Hale’s Deconstructed Sushi, anyone?), offering dishes that go beyond halftime hot links and tailgate chili. Also, this book has heart: proceeds benefit nationwide food banks via the Super Bowl “Taste of the NFL” fund – raising event and Feeding America program.

Intros from singer/football fan Faith Hill and Hall of Famer John Madden kick off the cookbook, which is handily organized by NFL regions from east to north, south to west, making it easy to locate a favorite team. Sections highlight a nation’s bounty of appetizers, main dishes and desserts, a far – ranging variety of foods that reflect the diversity of America’s current cultural palate. Meat – and – potatoes fans will find lots to love, especially luscious wine – braised short – ribs and an exotic recipe for bison burgers, but there’s something here for everyone – even vegans (try KC Chief Tony Gonzalez’s spicy Tom Kha Tofu soup or Chez Henri Chef Paul O’Connell’s Swiss Chard – Eggplant Crepes with Tomato – Basil Coulis). The recipes are clearly written and conveniently timed out, presented in an easy – to – follow format with wine pairings (oddly, there are no suggested brew pairings) and enhanced by color photographs – of both the food and the football greats – along with snippets of player and team trivia. A final bonus section includes three tempting Super Bowl party menus.

Football season’s in full swing, so get your gourmet game on with The NBC Sunday Night Football Cookbook, which stars 150 recipes from NFL players and many of America’s top chefs, including Emeril (bam!) Lagasse and grill – guy Bobby Flay. This eclectic cookbook puts regional down – home favorites (Houston Texan Chester Pitts’ cheesy […]
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In 1985, Malcolm Forbes’ son Kip, acting for his father, paid $156,000 for a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite, part of a cache said to have been ordered by Thomas Jefferson but never delivered and found by workmen renovating an old house in Paris. The sale, and the huge publicity surrounding it, launched an era of what can only be called wretched excess (judging from some of the “tasting” menus) and of a hugely profitable market in fraudulent antique wine “discoveries” – a burgeoning hoax that would eventually tar several of the world’s leading wine experts, notably longtime Christie’s chief wine auctioneer Michael Broadbent (and to a lesser extent Robert Parker, creator of the controversial 100-point rating scale for wine).

It also cost any number of multimillionaire collectors an astounding amount of money, although Benjamin Wallace, author of The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine, makes it clear that some deserved it: Wallace’s stories of 12-hour tastings of rare wines, of eccentric tycoon-turned-America’s Cup winner Bill Koch’s extravagant wine cellar, and of the growing number of warning signs (holes in Jefferson’s meticulous record-keeping, dealers offering multiple cases of wine that had been made in limited numbers) ignored or downplayed by the industry are a reminder that collecting is itself a sort of mania.

It’s also competitive, and Koch, who eventually spent another fortune to prove the fraud, is more concerned with revenge than restitution. The villain of the piece is Hardy Rodenstock (an alias, as it turns out), who persuades some of the most prestigious wine tasters in the world that he is the Indiana Jones of antique vintages, particularly 18th-century Yquem, first growth Bordeaux and, of course, the “Th.J.” bottles. The “hero,” if there is one, is an unlikely team of investigators and scientists that is in itself fairly astounding.

Wallace’s painstaking research, his often pungent descriptions and an ability to temper his cliffhangers as he ducks and weaves with the narratives, make this a terrific read.

Eve Zibart is a former restaurant critic for the Washington Post and author of The Ethnic Food Lover’s Companion.

In 1985, Malcolm Forbes’ son Kip, acting for his father, paid $156,000 for a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite, part of a cache said to have been ordered by Thomas Jefferson but never delivered and found by workmen renovating an old house in Paris. The sale, and the huge publicity surrounding it, launched an era […]
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Celebrated American author M.F.

K. Fisher once said that when she wrote about food and eating, she was really speaking to our hunger for love and warmth. We humans are hungry, each with different longings we assuage according to our varied cultural roots. Come to sustain us through the winter are three savory volumes of food writing from a cornucopia of authors, including Fisher, that illuminate man’s culinary and agrarian traditions, creations, prejudices and cravings.

A memorable meal might offer superb dishes and exquisite vintages served in a delightful ambiance. Mark Kurlansky, author of The New York Times bestseller Cod, delivers just such a remarkable repast with his gastronomic anthology, Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History. Literary writings from an eclectic company of authors focus on man’s knowledge and appreciation of food and drink through the ages. From Plato, Brillat-Savarin and Thoreau to Elizabeth David and Alice B. Toklas (who reveals the best way to clobber a carp), these “cuts” analyze culinary arts and exaggerations, degustation and man’s enduring desire for crispy pommes frites.

Kurlansky’s clear, well-researched introduction (a small history of food writing) and commentary enliven his selections, which are tucked into chapters on gluttony, food and sex, the primary food groups, culinary rants, food politics and the seductions of chocolate. Choice Cuts is an erudite treat containing practical instruction on preparing your Thanksgiving turkey, arcane lore on the aphrodisiacal properties of celery, and peculiar recipes, such as how to make your whole roasted cow look alive again. A book for culinary aficionados, Cuts casts a wide appeal as pure entertainment, especially when garnished with a comfortable armchair, favorite libation and a plate of chilled, crunchy celery at hand.

When French winemakers speak of terroir, they refer to a signature confluence of natural elements that distinguish one vineyard from another, helping to produce unique, legendary wines. This concept of distinction is no less evident when considering American Southern cuisine, which is bound intimately to its terrain and cultural diversity. The Southern way with food is feted in Corn Bread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing (University of North Carolina, $16.95, 304 pages, ISBN 0807854190), edited by John Egerton. Cornbread draws an endearing culinary portrait of the South, long renowned for its anomalies of habit and culture.

These collected essays from contemporary writers such as Rick Bragg, Roy Blount Jr., James Villas and others, are a celebration of Southern food, cooks and culinary traditions many of which have fallen prey to progress. Funny, perceptive, and wise, often a touch odd, these evocative writings are a paean to the vanishing South. There are not many men left like 96-year old Coe Dupuis, a Cajun moonshiner, who contributing writer Craig Laban calls the “wizard of whiskey, a Stravinsky at the still.” And it is hard to find a good batch of livermush, a fragrant mess o’ beans and hocks, or ambrosial ‘cue at just any corner cafŽ. These are special dishes of heredity, place and the sometimes strange finesse of Southern cooks.

Cornbread Nation, sponsored by the Southern Foodways Alliance, a Mississippi group dedicated to preserving Southern food culture, is not a definitive study of its subject, but provides a soulful, enlightening window on the terroir of Southern cuisine. With tributes to cooks Edna Lewis and Eugene Walter, debate on country- versus chicken-fried steak and a rhapsody to watermelon, even readers north of the Mason-Dixon Line will want to pull up a chair to the convivial Southern table.

Jeffrey Steingarten, indefatigable eater and food critic for Vogue, pulls no punches: He will go to the ends of the earth to debunk quackeries of taste and uphold gastronomic veracity. It Must’ve Been Something I Ate: The Return of the Man Who Ate Everything (Knopf, $27.50, 464 pages, ISBN 0375412808), a compilation of his essays for Vogue, chronicles Steingarten’s investigatory travels into the truth about how, why and what we humans eat.

Steingarten’s introduction, “The Way We Eat Now,” asserts that misguided attitudes toward food are at the root of global angst. He believes that bringing an open mind to the table can foster personal, and ultimately global, goodwill. The author’s culinary quest is often perilous: He takes a turbulent trip on a tuna boat in search of the elusive bluefin, endures a claustrophobic brain scan to prove that gourmandise is not caused by insidious brain lesions and suffers an overstuffed stomach searching out the last honest Parisian baguette.

These essays, a delight for discerning eaters, are lavished with Steingarten’s self-deprecating wit, obsessive doggedness and his devotion to “the elemental, primordial glee we feel every time we are called to dinner.” He preaches a simple gospel: Eat happily, be happy!

Celebrated American author M.F. K. Fisher once said that when she wrote about food and eating, she was really speaking to our hunger for love and warmth. We humans are hungry, each with different longings we assuage according to our varied cultural roots. Come to sustain us through the winter are three savory volumes of […]
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It has been 10 years since Anthony Bourdain’s breakout book, Kitchen Confidential, lured us from our comfortable restaurant chairs and banquettes in the front of the house back through the swinging doors into his mad, mad world—the kitchen—with lurid tales of life back there recounted in a profane and acerbically hilarious manner that confirmed our worst fears.

In Medium Raw, Bourdain is back with more intriguing food fights, moving further from the kitchen into the eating industry. If he and his recipes have changed, so have we. The Food Channel has made us all reality cooks, if not chefs, and we know Emeril, Bobby and Rachael by their first names. Bourdain has himself become a TV star, a world traveler in search of rare food; yet he went through his own personal downs and ups, and is now in a second marriage with a three-year-old daughter.

His dissections of the dumbing down of food TV, the sellouts by big-name chefs who will endorse anything, and his reduction of Alice Waters from an icon to a clueless and naïve crusader for locally produced, organically grown lunches for inner-city kids are still as hilarious, as scatological and as spot-on as ever. But while Bourdain is still the indicter, he is no longer the executioner. He understands ratings are ratings, that successful chefs have huge retinues and dozens of partners who get paid by endorsements, and that Waters means well and has inspired many. Moreover, he realizes now that he is human too, vulnerable to selling out, and no longer a chef or even a cook—just another food personality.

Yet Medium Raw is hardly buffalo wings for the masses. While Bourdain may have toned down the hot chili peppers and reduced the acidity, his fare—and his prose—is still quite spicy.

It has been 10 years since Anthony Bourdain’s breakout book, Kitchen Confidential, lured us from our comfortable restaurant chairs and banquettes in the front of the house back through the swinging doors into his mad, mad world—the kitchen—with lurid tales of life back there recounted in a profane and acerbically hilarious manner that confirmed our […]
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Before you dash out the door to this year’s holiday parties, don’t forget your host.

That is, remember to bring along something for the person who sent the invitations, set the table and swept off the front steps. Perennial hostess gifts are wine or flowers. And while nothing is wrong with these two universal tokens of appreciation, you can be a bit more creative.

Since it’s fall, how about a loaf of wonderful bread for breakfast? In my new book, I’ve got recipes for Pumpkin Bread, Zucchini Walnut Bread, Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Loaves, and my holiday favorite, Mindy’s Pound Cake. Or, pick up a loaf of good bread from your favorite bakery. Wrapped in parchment paper or presented in a handy foil pan ready to be reheated, loaves are a practical gift since they may be eaten at once or tucked in the freezer for a more convenient time.

Not a baker? What about a do-ahead chutney to serve alongside the roasted turkey and to spread on all kinds of weekend sandwiches? My Cranberry and Apple Chutney is quick to assemble on top of the stove and won’t spend much time in your host’s refrigerator. My aunt’s recipe for Jezebel Sauce an apricot-hued sweet and tangy sauce just right to pour over goat cheese or cream cheese as an hors d’oeuvre is equally enticing. To top potluck salads or for just nibbling out of hand, why not try my easy Sweet and Spicy Pecans? Place them in cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon, or pile into one of those cute Chinese take-out boxes found at craft and gift shops.

Packaging does say something when you’re presenting a gift, so to dress up your gifts, be on the lookout for containers and wrappings that make your food gift look great. Save department store jewelry and accessory boxes. Cover them in holiday paper, and line with waxed paper or parchment. Pack bars, candies and nuts into the boxes, then secure with a pretty bow. Or, buy small plastic organizing bins and trays. Line them with parchment or waxed paper and fill with loaves of bread, cookies or jars of preserves. Attach a bow and tag to the side. No time to cook? The supermarket has some nice grab-and-go food gifts for your host: ¥ Wander down the natural foods aisle to the bulk bins and you’ll find one of my favorite candies chocolate covered almonds. Place in a gift sack and tie with a satin ribbon.

¥ Select a variety of citrus fruit clementines, grapefruit, tangelos and bring these in a pretty sack.

¥ Pick up a nice bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar and tie a ribbon around the top.

And when in doubt? Show up with a bottle of your favorite wine. You can’t miss. Anne Byrn, best known as the Cake Mix Doctor for her best-selling books about spicing up packaged mixes, tackles potluck panic in her newest book, the What Can I Bring? Cookbook. A former newspaper food writer, she lives in Nashville with her husband and three children.

Before you dash out the door to this year’s holiday parties, don’t forget your host. That is, remember to bring along something for the person who sent the invitations, set the table and swept off the front steps. Perennial hostess gifts are wine or flowers. And while nothing is wrong with these two universal tokens […]
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College students may have varying degrees of cooking experience, cooking equipment and/or money to spend on ingredients, but they usually share one thing in common: They like to eat. Sisters Megan and Jill Carle, co-authors of Teens Cook and Teens Cook Dessert, have advanced to College Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends. As much as we hate the saying, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,’ there is some truth to it. . . . But, here’s a tip for you guys: girls find it just as appealing to have a guy cook for them. Anyone can take you out to eat, but making a nice dinner for someone shows that you care enough to put in the extra effort. You get bonus points for that, they advise.

Keeping hectic schedules and tight budgets in mind, the Carles provide many mouthwatering, easy-to-make and sumptuously illustrated recipes such as salmon cake with potato wedges, vegetarian chili and chicken salad pita sandwiches. Whether it’s a toga party for 20 people or a romantic dinner for two, this book will make you look like you were born with a spatula in your hand. College Cooking makes a great gift for a beginning cook and is a must-have for well-fed and well-lived off-campus college life.

College students may have varying degrees of cooking experience, cooking equipment and/or money to spend on ingredients, but they usually share one thing in common: They like to eat. Sisters Megan and Jill Carle, co-authors of Teens Cook and Teens Cook Dessert, have advanced to College Cooking: Feed Yourself and Your Friends. As much as […]
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Of course, if you’re beyond the scrounging stage and need more sustenance than Twinkies and Doritos to keep your mind sharp and your stomach from growling, we’ve got a few more books to keep you cooking when you head off to college. Daphne Oz’s The Dorm Room Diet Planner, the companion volume to last fall’s The Dorm Room Diet, offers practical advice not only on how to beat the freshman 15 (the dreaded pounds that unwary students pack on during their first year away from home), but how to be a more relaxed, more effective you. Through exercise (concise directions and illustrations, as well as a 20-minute DVD show you how); the right vitamins and minerals; and happiness enhancers, such as meditation, aromatherapy and massage, Oz outlines a plan for keeping your weight down and your spirits (hence grades) up.

A Princeton University student herself, Oz says that she already had the inspiration and information she needed to become a healthier person when she left for school, but writes, College proved to be my motivation, the catalyst that led to my lifestyle overhaul, because it marked the onset of my life as an adult. If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, don’t wait for a house to fall on you, get both of Oz’s books and start down the yellow brick road to health and happiness!

Of course, if you’re beyond the scrounging stage and need more sustenance than Twinkies and Doritos to keep your mind sharp and your stomach from growling, we’ve got a few more books to keep you cooking when you head off to college. Daphne Oz’s The Dorm Room Diet Planner, the companion volume to last fall’s […]
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First there was the Savannah restaurant, then the best-selling cookbooks and the Food Network shows. Now the Southern powerhouse who built a mini-empire on trans fats offers a no-holds-barred memoir, It Ain’t All About the Cookin’, a book that’ll leave you hankerin’ for fried chicken and biscuits.

Writing a memoir, even when the revelations aren’t lavished with references to butter, can be a slippery slope (just ask James Frey). Truth is tricky when memory is involved, but there’s no bull-bleep here: Deen’s story is straightforward, bluntly honest and served up with trademark irreverent Southern spice (and her favorite recipes). My God has a sense of humor even if what I say has a four-letter word in it, she proclaims. Expletives aside, Cookin’ is a hoot, a read that’ll grab hold of you like white on rice as you devour Deen’s rags-to-riches tale.

Deen had happy childhood hours in her Grandmomma Paul’s kitchen and carefree summers spent at her grandparents’ resort; then came her high school cheerleading days, followed by a difficult marriage to an alcoholic husband. There’s heartbreak as she struggles with crippling agoraphobia. There’s divorce and poverty, and two hungry kids to support. But, always, there’s the cookin’.

Desperate, Deen did the one thing she knew that she could do. With only $200, she launched The Bag Lady, peddling homemade sandwiches to office workers. In short order, the hardworking mother went from selling sandwiches to sit-down service, starting two successful restaurants, meeting influential people, and eventually winding up on the Food Network as the undisputed queen of Southern cuisine, and host of Paula’s Home Cooking. Along the way, she found fairy-tale romance and marriage. It Ain’t All About the Cookin’ drives home the importance of love, perseverance and family. It’s also a mini primer on restaurant ownership, and a guide to the beguiling secrets of Southern charm and Southern food. Alison Hood writes from San Rafael, California.

First there was the Savannah restaurant, then the best-selling cookbooks and the Food Network shows. Now the Southern powerhouse who built a mini-empire on trans fats offers a no-holds-barred memoir, It Ain’t All About the Cookin’, a book that’ll leave you hankerin’ for fried chicken and biscuits. Writing a memoir, even when the revelations aren’t […]

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