Category: Cooking (Page 1 of 5)

Ms. Cook reviews ‘How to Set a Table’ (with Paella Bowl recipe)

How to Set a Table

Special Post by Guest Blogger Roben Mounger

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.
– Virginia Woolf

What in the name of Sam Hill’s grandmama’s silver is needed by the generations to come? One insurance executive commented that “technology is developing so fast that autonomous vehicles could be available by 2032, meaning babies born today may never have to take a driving test.”

If that’s what’s in store, what will become of the competitive edge for things like buying fancy schmancy cars? Self sufficient endeavors like growing the best garden might be an answer and a possible leap forward in the culture. What goes around comes around.

My grandparents taught me about growing vegetables and maintaining a chicken coop in the backyard. They schooled me in how to sew on a button and put in a hem; how to iron a shirt and make boiled custard; how to mop a hard-to-clean checkered kitchen floor; how to use the public library and behave in the company of others.

They also required that I set the table for each meal, a job that I failed to appreciate. For me, rules that never wavered were a drag. Things today have gone a bit slack in this, yet another, category of…. “why bother?” Behold, rules for household management are now of a refreshingly reliable nature.

And considering the never ending river of paper and plastic products streaming across the world table and into the landfill, we should think again. In the face of such despair, there is a growing recognition that a daily diet of beauty is not only enjoyable, but as The New York Times reported, “can speed patient recovery, aid learning in the classroom and spur productivity in the workplace.”

To that, as humble as it seems, a prepared table set and ready for a meal may revitalize life with its inestimable beauty. Somehow I believe that the erudite publisher Clarkson Potter has mystical awareness. They have, after all, been in the lifestyle book business since 1959. Their books are instructional as they are visually stunning.

From bloggingforbooks.com, I chose one of the publisher’s creations, a linen-like text, How to Set A Table, for its alluring cover design and simple statement of intent. Believe it or not, it’s a real page turner with exquisite zen-like photos prompting ease in the daily routine of setting a table.

Inside the tiny book are decrees to be treasured. With the new world of specialty cocktails, who doesn’t need a tutorial in the different kinds of glassware? A generation or two of instruction has been bypassed, so a succinct primer in flatware types and their placement is elementary yet necessary.

How to successfully iron a tablecloth is weirdly helpful. Also, useful and proper table manners for a relaxed and happy meal are scattered throughout like the mothering voice for which you long.

But what is mandatory for continued use is how occasions are broken into their own chapters with advice on how to set the dining table, the breakfast bar, the coffee table, the picnic blanket, the bistro table, the console and the serving tray.

With appreciation you’ll note that How to Set A Table counsels, “personality is always the most important ingredient.” I will give tribute to this notion when I joyfully make the book a gift, from Lemuria to my grandchildren .

And they will know that it is essential for home because they’ll see that it stands next to my beloved copy of Dinner by Melissa Clark. But that is another story.

*I received this book free from Blogging for Books, but was in no way required to provide anything but an honest review.

Paella Bowl

My mother had an elegant flair for entertaining. Her primary guests were family members. Pre national food obsession, she took a class in Spanish cooking and derived a family heirloom – a recipe for paella.

I treasured that recipe for special events, but over time prepared it less and less as it was heavy in exotic proteins. Later I adopted a quickie paella from the pages of Real Simple which made use of pre-prepared ingredients.

With the following recipe, however; I feel that I have graduated to a contemporary and divinely inspired paella.

Here it is:

broth
3 1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

saute
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 artichoke hearts, quartered
1 medium yellow squash or zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small roma tomato, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cup frozen lima beans or edamame
1 cup paella or arborio rice

garnish
1/3 cup green peas, thawed if frozen
1 jar roasted red pepper, cut into 1/3-inch strips
1/4 cup minced parsley
lemon slices

broth
heat the broth, paprika, salt and saffron in a saucepan over high heat, bring to boil, reduce to simmer. cover and keep warm over low heat.

saute
heat the oil in a 13 inch skillet over medium high heat. add the artichoke and squash and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. transfer to a medium bowl. add the bell pepper, tomato and garlic. cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. add the green beans and lima or edamame beans. add the rice, spreading it evenly over the vegetables. add the broth, taking care not to disturb the rice too much, but ensuring that the rice is submerged in the broth. reduce the heat to medium and cook until the rice is al dente, about 14 minutes. arrange the squash and artichoke hearts on the paella and continue to cook until the rice is tender and the broth is absorbed, about 4 minutes longer.

garnish
scatter the peas over the paella, arrange the strips of pepper on top of the paella and sprinkle with the parsley. remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 5 minutes before serving. serve in bowls with lemon slices.

Author Q & A with Lucy Buffett

Interview with Lucy Buffett by Jana Hoops. Special to the Clarion-Ledger Sunday print edition (June 25).

Gumbo LoveAlong with her family, it’s the spirit–and the food–of the Gulf Coast that claim the biggest parts of Lucy Buffett’s heart, and she embraces both in her newest cookbook, Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life.

Part food preparation, part philosophy and thoughts on living life to its fullest, Buffett takes on topics like why dessert should be eaten first, why fried foods matter, and why sometimes you just need to “run toward what you fear: close your eyes, hold your nose and jump into it.”

Growing up in Mobile with her sister Laurie and musician/brother Jimmy, Buffett developed a love for the culture and food of the Gulf Coast that eventually led her to open her now-famous “Lu Lu’s” restaurants in Gulf Shores and, later, Destin. She works tirelessly to offer the best experience possible to her customers, and, through Gumbo Love and her previous book LuLu’s Kitchen, to her readers, as well.

Please tell me a little about your childhood, and your spirit of adventure and celebration that seems to come from living along the Gulf Coast.

I was born and raised in Mobile, and, much to my dismay, I am the only person in my family NOT born in Mississippi! That includes my brother, Jimmy, my sister, Laurie, and me. But to this day, we still call each other by our nicknames: LuLu, LaLa, and Bubba. We grew up with dreams of living on the water–boating and recreating on the Gulf Coast shores in both Alabama and Mississippi, because we spent summers at our grandparents’ homes in Pascagoula and Gulfport.

Of course, we are Southern to the core, but being coastal and Southern injects a passion for adventure and a curiosity for what lies beyond the horizon at the water’s edge.

All of us have ventured far from our roots, and I’m the only one who came back home. But like all Southerners who “move away,” my siblings still relish their Southern upbringing and the Gulf Coast cuisine of our childhoods.

Your travels through the years have taken you on a “food tour” that began when you left Alabama as a young woman, and cooked your way through Key West, New Orleans, Belize, New York City, Los Angeles–and back to Alabama.  How did all of those influences affect your cooking?

My cooking skills evolved with my travel adventures. I learned to cook from a Junior League cookbook as a very young wife and mother. I think travel is a very important and a necessary type of education, but since I had an affinity for cooking, I was always fascinated and eager to try new recipes for dishes that I encountered along the way.

I started cooking the dishes I grew up with, but moving to New Orleans deepened my knowledge of the Creole and Cajun cuisine that migrated across the Gulf Coast. Moving to the big cities, I learned how to appreciate and embrace food trends and dove into experimenting. It was fun and enlightening, but as I’ve gotten older and with my move back to the Gulf Coast, I’ve returned to my roots and that is the cuisine I serve at my restaurants. Regardless of what I cook or eat, I’m all about the food tasting delicious!

Tell me about the concept and intention of your cookbook Gumbo Love–and what the title means to you. Also, how many recipes are included?

There are 150 recipes in Gumbo Love and basically, it picks up the conversation about Gulf Coast cuisine that I started in my first cookbook, LuLu’s Kitchen (2016), [formerly Crazy Sista Cooking.]

Gumbo Love is my homage to the Gulf Coast and the vibrant food culture of the beautiful beaches and swampy wetlands I call home. Gumbo is a classic dish in that culture, and every family has a gumbo cook or story to tell.

Making gumbo is not for the faint of heart! All the character building lessons I’ve learned over the years like preparation, discernment, patience, courage, and surrender are all utilized when making a pot of gumbo. Gumbo Love is not only the title of the book or a phrase I have coined, but a philosophy by which I live. It’s about acceptance, love, respect, fortitude, celebration and gratitude.

Gumbo Love includes not only wonderful gumbo and soup recipes, but chapters with your own Gulf Coastal take on main dishes, vegetables, salads, sandwiches, sauces, drinks, and more–and the book begins with a chapter on desserts. Why start with desserts? 

I like to do things a little differently, not for the purpose of simply being provocative. For me, it’s about being in alignment with my curious, creative and rebellious nature. I write about my mother a lot because she was such a powerful influence on me and my family. After she suffered a stroke, she started ordering dessert first when we would go out for lunch. It was wonderful, playful, and a bit out of character for her stoicism. I just thought it would be fun to make desserts the first chapter and it brought back lovely memories of my mother. Plus, I have a wicked sweet tooth!

Not many cookbooks these days devote a chapter to fried foods. Please tell me about the one titled “Deep-Fried Favorites: A Southern Must”. 

I am Southern, and fried food is a part of my heritage and culture. Plus, it is one of the most delicious and delectable ways to prepare food. Being passionate about authenticity, I thought I needed to include recipes for the food that we all love and, by the way, is our number one best seller in my restaurants.

In the book, I explain how I have come to terms, in my older years, with balancing my eating the foods that better support my body and those that don’t. I don’t believe in good food or bad food. A little fried food or one dish of bread pudding isn’t going to hurt. It’s all about balance. And I’m very much at peace with my decision to never give up fried shrimp or chicken!

Tell me about opening the now famous LuLu’s Sunset Grill in Gulf Shores out of a modified bait shop. What was LuLu’s like in the beginning, and how it has grown?

The last 18 years of my 43-year work history have been what I call my own “Cinderella” story. But every job I’ve ever done prepared me to do the one I’m doing now. The first LuLu’s was truly a wonderful and small waterfront dive. It had very humble beginnings and I worked all positions along with my two grown daughters and six other employees. It was fun and hard, hard work.

After five years, I lost my lease and my first impulse was to close. But with the help of friends and an investor who had faith in me and my concept, we moved to the current location in Gulf Shores, expanding the seating from 100 seats to 400 seats.  It took off like a wildfire as soon as we opened the doors. Today, I have an additional location in Destin, Florida, and over 500 employees. Yes, it is big, but it is all built on the original concept of giving our customers an authentic Gulf Coast experience. And we really work hard together as the LuLu’s family to do just that!

In the book, you explain that an eclectic mix of foods is represented throughout the Gulf Coast, with colliding influences that include the cuisines and cultures of Cuba, Mexico, Africa, Louisiana Cajun and Creole traditions, and “Southern grace and simplicity.” Where does Mississippi coastal food fit into that mix?

The Mississippi Gulf Coast has a long history in the seafood industry. The warm Gulf water is the home to some of the best seafood in the world! All the influences you mentioned are so evident in our cuisine using the beautiful Gulf seafood: shrimp, crab, oysters, and the sweet warm-water fish are central items on any restaurant menu or household dinner table. We are so blessed to have the bounty that we have from the Gulf.

Gumbo Love seems to be as much a book about inspiration, life lessons, advice, and encouragement as it is a top-notch cookbook filled with dozens of amazing recipes. Tell me about that “other purpose” for this cooking guide.

Lucy Buffett

Lucy Buffett

I am a very gregarious person, but I am also a very introspective person and I’ve devoted my adult life to doing the “inner work” required for self-improvement. I wasn’t interested in doing a simple “how to” cookbook–if I am going to attempt any project, it must have meaning and purpose, other than just to make money. Gumbo Love gives a glimpse into my inner landscape that is the foundational block of my current business success as a restaurateur and personally as an independent, self-sustaining woman.

Can you share any career or other plans–maybe for books, restaurant expansions, etc.–for your future?

It took eight years to complete Gumbo Love and I worked on it fulltime for the last two-and-a-half years, so I’m going to take a break and get back to the restaurant business for a while. I have another LuLu’s opening in Myrtle Beach in 2018 and that is VERY exciting.

I do have an idea for another cookbook, but the next book I will write will be a business memoir called Confessions of a Reluctant Entrepreneur. However, I will do that at my leisure, and I’m planning a very long vacation so I can relax for a while and enjoy this great life I’ve worked so hard to manifest!

Gifting the Perfect Book: Bakers With Hearts as Soft as Melted Butter

If you haven’t already heard us talking about Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories, then please sit down and let me talk to you about the best cookbook of the season.

GrdBabyCakesCvr-Online

Grandbaby Cakes gives a nod to heirloom recipe books of yore, but maintains a fresh, accessible, and enormously aesthetically pleasing feel. Jocelyn Delk Adams began the Grandbaby Cakes blog a few years back, and the mini-bio on her “about me” page bears repeating:

 “I created Grandbaby Cakes, a blog inspired by my grandmother, to display classic desserts and modern trends while showcasing the pastry and sweets field in an accessible way. I hope to inspire a new generation of bakers and dessert enthusiasts to learn baking skills and not feel guilty about enjoying dessert. At an early age, I loved visiting Mississippi to watch my grandmother, or “big mama” Maggie as my family affectionately calls her, bake. Big mama bakes cakes that literally have her neighbors lined up around the block waiting for a taste. She not only invents (yes, she developed all of her own recipes) the most delicious melt-in-your-mouth desserts I’ve ever tasted, but she also infuses them with so much love.”

Pulling from the recipes passed down from her grandmother to her mother and finally to her, Adams has put together a heartwarming, mouth-watering cookbook of deserts. Before she arrived for her signing a month or two back, a few of us here at Lemuria took the cookbook home; determined to have a few recipes available for tasting during the event. Every single desert was amazing. Here’s a preview of what we brought to the signing:

Cornmeal Pound Cake (with honey-butter glaze)

 Zucchini Cupcakes (with lemon-cinnamon buttercream)

Coffe-Toffee Pumpkin Cupcakes

We all pigged out hard, and while we munched, we spoke with Jocelyn and Jocelyn’s mother who was touring with her. These two women were so down-to-earth and happy to discuss recipes and baking techniques, and were so complimentary of our humble cake offerings. When Jocelyn heard that I had hand mixed (with a spoon, not a hand mixer) everything in the recipe I contributed, she ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the cake enough to make me feel like a master baker– and that’s just the way she is. A woman who puts you at your ease, who works hard, compliments hard work, and means it.

Chuckstr.com 2014

Jocelyn (second from left) with the women of her family

It must seem strange to talk more about the author of a cookbook than the recipes themselves (which can stand alone without any of my help- they are phenomenal), but Adams’s thoughtful and kind personality shows through every inch of Grandbaby Cakes. Here is the book you need to put into the hands of any cook you know; from novices to experts in the kitchen, Grandbaby Cakes is the perfect gift this holiday season.

And just remember, a little extra salt from getting misty-eyed while reading about Adams’s family memories will only make your Snickerdoodle Gooey Cake sweeter.

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“If this glorious book doesn’t make you want to drop everything you’re doing and go bake a cake right now, then I don’t know what will. Jocelyn’s spectacular cake creations are positively bursting with beauty, color, flavor, and fun. Make no mistake about it: this book will ignite the baking passion within you!” —Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Slow Gardening by Felder Rushing

Slow Gardening is inspired by the Slow Food movement, a movement which supports local food sources and biological and cultural diversity. Felder Rushing’s Slow Gardening supports a similar movement in gardening which encourages us to pay closer attention to the rhythm and seasons in our own gardening community and follow our creative intuition.

Felder’s book is geared toward the new or intermediate gardener, but as a veteran gardener, I found it a refreshing read. The book is laid out in a beautiful and reader friendly format with stories and examples from Felder’s and other gardens. Each section is peppered with quotes which speak to life lessons and gardening. Some of Felder’s advice might seem like common sense, but even the most experienced gardeners can use these reminders because gardening can be trying at times! Perhaps that is why Felder includes an entire section on “Garden Psychology.” Felder also deals with the “Nuts and Bolts” of gardening, dealing with pests, and learning how to compost and fertilize properly.

Slow Gardening is the perfect gift for yourself or your gardening friend as we gear up for another growing season.

Written by Lisa Newman

Boozie Books

Apothecary-room

A few weeks ago Jackson gained it’s first (or should I say, most legal) speak-easy–The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs. Moonlighting there as a bartender, I’ve had the pleasure of surviving bartender boot-camp with Neal and Kirk, the founders of NOLA’s The Cure, Belloq, and most recently, Cane and Table, and the consultants for The Apothecary. 

Imbibe!

imbibeIf you want to know the history behind cocktails, or if you just want to drink your way through history, David Wondrich’s book is full of the rich history of spirits. This well-researched book is an easy read, and fascinating. The history of spirits slinks into all facets of life. You can start at the beginning, or you can start with your favorite drink and go from there.

 

The PDT Cocktail Book

pdtWhat home would be complete without a good book of drink recipes? The PDT cocktail book is a great addition to your bartop. It’s illustrated, so you don’t have to do that much reading, which will be difficult after a couple of drinks anyway. There are hordes of cocktail recipes, online and in print, but a good cocktail recipe is hard to come by (I know you thought those marshmallow vodka shots were a good idea at the time).

One of my favorites:

Vieux Carre

1 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Aged Cognac
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
.25 oz Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters

Stir with ice and strain over crushed ice or one large ice cube into a chilled rocks glass.

The Drunken Botanist

botanistArranged by plant, The Drunken Botanist breaks down spirits into their simplest parts–the wild plants that we drink. Curious what sloe gin actually is? Read up on the Sloe Berry (page 281) and then learn how to grow your own. There is even a handy recipe for a Sloe Gin Fizz on the next page. Reading through this book, I was surprised by what trees and flowers made an appearance in some of my favorite spirits–grains of paradise in Bombay Sapphire, angelic makes an appearance in Chartreuse and Strega, aloe vera is a component in Fernet Branca. Amy Stewart does not just stop with the science of plants, she also shares the history of the plant in spirits.

 

After reading up on your spirits, stop by The Apothecary and I’ll mix you a good drink.

Home Made Summer

home made summerIt may feel like Spring is never going to come but it’s not too early to start dreaming about summer fresh meals with friends and family.  Keeping the kitchen cool while wowing your guests gastronomically can be a challenge during the summer. With the help of the Home Made Summer cookbook, summer in the south is able to coax the most creative out of us.

The first Home Made cookbook, written by Yvette van Boven, has been out for a few years. She’s based in Amsterdam, though the recipes, geared towards the do-it-yourself cook, often have a flavor of the Irish and French, both of which are influences on her. Home Made Winter was chock full of recipes for comfort food, and now, Home Made Summer, which has just arrived, will prepare us for the sweltering months ahead.

Yvette says in the introduction, “on hot summer days, few people are keen on spending long hours in the kitchen.” We concur. The cookbook is organized rather differently than many cookbooks, with the breakfast, lunch and tea time recipes being first and most important, followed by drinks, many of which include tonics and cooling remedies for the hot days ahead, and then, finally, main courses and desserts. Among the recipes you’ll find inspiration for the barbecue, accompanying salads that are a cinch to prepare, cold soups to relieve the hottest days, and drinks that will capture the flavor of the summer while giving respite from it.

Many of the recipes in Home Made Summer involve little cooking time, with many dishes that essentially look after themselves. When the summer months come, we are eager to spend our energy with our friends, not in the kitchen. This cookbook helps us do exactly that, while reminding us of the importance of eating healthy and sustainable food.

Home Made Summer by Yvette van Boven (Abrams, 2013), $35.

Wheat Belly Cookbook

wbcA Gluten-Free Diet may seem like one of the many passing diet fads, however Dr. William Davis’ Wheat Belly Cookbook makes what may seem like an impractical or impossible diet a possible lifestyle. “Wheat is not the ‘healthy whole grain’ it was pretending to be…it is in reality a major contributor to the world’s worst epidemic of obesity” says Davis in his introduction.

mini-pizzas-410x290_0Between recipes for Pecan-Breaded Pork Chops and Chocolate Almond Biscotti, Davis intersperses success stories from people who have become healthier by steering clear of gluten. For some the change in diet was due to health problems, but for most it was a desire for change and a healthier lifestyle.

By far the best part of this recipe book are the gluten-free bread recipes: herbed focaccia, breadsticks, walnut raisin bread, the list goes on. Not only are these recipes gluten-free, but they also use carbohydrates that don’t raise blood-sugar. Even if you aren’t willing to commit to staying away from your favorite pasta or sandwich, these recipes are a wonderful way to introduce a healthier lifestyle to your family, even if it is just one night a week.

Cookbooks That Hold Your Hand & Your Attention

Here are some cookbooks whose insides are easy to navigate and clear, but that challenge you creatively. To me, many of the rules for choosing a good bedside novel also apply to cookbooks: don’t judge all of them by their covers – read the first page in order to tell if it will be a good fit for you, and only buy a book you will use. Of these four books, everyone with a little kitchen motivation could find a great fit.

Mr. Wilkinson’s Vegetables: A Cookbook to Celebrate the Garden by Matt Wilkinson, $27.50, Black Dog & Leventhal

This brand new gem is a good read for people whcookbooksholdurhando both grow in containers and are seasoned gardeners. Matt Wilkinson writes about both gardening and cooking  in an approachable way, and the book is filled with pictures and has a very hip design. It is organized by 26 vegetables that are common in American gardens, including tomatoes, leaves from the garden, and fennel.  Following a unique, pagelong introduction to each vegetable are recipes that incorporate it, tips, and explanations about technique. It’s a youthful book, and doesn’t presume much of anything about the kitchen that it ends up in.

Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson, $35.00, Clarkson Potter

Nigella is the famed author of the cookbook How to be a Domestic Goddess, and is a force in the cooking world. Just look at her website, nigella.com. Her new book covers the gamut of Italian recipes, all of which seem intoxicatingly rich and are paired with beautiful photographs. Each recipe has very clear, ordered instructions. This book is a graceful combination of the gorgeous gift cookbook and a methodical introduction to rich Italian recipes.

The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider, $27.50, William Morrow

This one has been around since 2006, but still seems unique in its approach. Combining recipes with explanations of how they work and examples of how they can be improvised upon, this is a book for someone who seriously wants to learn to cook off the cookbook. It is less a cookbook than a class in cooking.  It includes glossaries on pantry essentials and how to create various ethnic flavors.

Home-Cooked Comforts: Oven Bakes, Casseroles, and Other One-Pot Dishes by Laura Washburn, $24.95, Ryland, Peters & Small

This is the best book of one-pot dishes I’ve come across in my time bumbling around the cookbook section. Tons of delicious meat, poultry, fish, and vegetarian recipes, and good photos paired with each.

by Whitney

City Books

Cities. Isn’t it wild that something so obvious to modern life is the topic of so many books?

whit

No, because we are humans with minds that crave to understand ourselves and our ways of living. Here are some books that play to that desire from a myriad of perspectives, that offer very different ways of ultimately making sense of a happy life in today’s geography: the city.

GARDENING: The Balcony Gardener, by Isabelle Palmer, $19.95, Cico Books

This book is literally an aesthetic inspiration from cover to cover. Palmer introduces the tools for growing in balcony containers, and presents a book that is at once fun (one spread is titled “Cocktail Window Box,” pgs. 94-95) and educational, with concise explanations about everything from “All About Potting Mix” to “Salad Crops.”

COOKING: The City Cook, by Kate McDonough, $20.00, Simon and Schuster

Apparently a projection of TheCityCook.com, this book explains pantry planning for delicious meals at home in the city. McDonough has studied urban planning and French cooking, and worked as a business executive. Wouldn’t you trust it?

I would be amiss to mention this book without also putting in a plug for the myriad of awesome cookbooks we house in the huge cooking section. Love visuals in your cookbooks? Step-by-step instructions or encyclopedic Spanish cookbooks? Need something about how to improvise or how to make a schoolyard vegetable garden or how to design a professional plate? We have it all.

(SUB)URBAN PLANNING: Walkable City by Jeff Speck, $27.00, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Speck co-authored Suburban Nation (2000), which is in its 10th anniversary printing and still a relevant text. But what excites me about the brand new book Walkable City is that it tackles the problem of suburban sprawl in a horizontal way: it stands by the positive potential of cities in light of the sprawl.

How Buildings Learn by Steward Brand is about reading buildings and cities. Brand seems to appreciate cities through investigating their history, which is a different perspective but equally compelling and hopeful about the potential for our living spaces going forward.

URBAN CULTURE: A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook, $27.95, W. W. Norton & Co.

This brand new book seems to utilize case studies of St. Petersburg, Bombay, and Shanghai, to make an argument about the part of social influence in the global order of today.

The breadth of these “city” books is poetic. I just remembered a striking book of poems I read in college called Ideal Cities. In it, Erika Meitner paints a landscape inside her baby’s nursery via the contrast with the urban frontier outside. What better way to illustrate the great part that modern geography plays in our very identity?

by Whitney

Baking Up a Storm

Recently I’ve taken up baking as a my new after work hobby (I’ve run out of Lego sets to put together).  It started because I needed something really cheap to give as Christmas presents and figured who doesn’t love baked goods during the holidays.

From there it’s become a monster and I can’t stop baking.  The first baking book I picked up was The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl & Griffith Day.  I adore this cookbook.  After I made several items from this book I then picked up Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson which is also quite wonderful.

Having following all the directions to the tee I decided I was going to mix and match and come up with my own baked delights borrowing recipes from both cookbooks.  I’ve truly enjoyed my new hobby and have forced my co-workers to partake in my new love for baking.  Thanks guys for being my guinea pigs.

by Zita

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