Monday, July 29, 2013

Food-Related Books to Check Out

Last year, I did some quick reviews of food-related books I'd read during the summer. I think I'll make this an annual feature! This year, I'm privileged to have sneak peaks at brand new books and they're very fun.

Dinner, A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table
Jenny Rosenstrach
Ecco, 2012

Rosenstrach began her quest for the family dinner table in blog form, and last year she published this charming book version. By turns memoir and recipes, Dinner chronicles her struggle to figure out how this whole family dinner thing works. Rosenstrach is a funny writer and walks us through her gourmet years with her husband as newly weds, the frantic baby years when takeout was what it took, and the beginnings of the years with kids who eat like civilized folks at the dinner table. If you're committed to the idea of family dinner but struggle to find the time or wonder if it's worth it, read this book! You'll be encouraged and you'll laugh in the process. Then go try some of her recipes (we're big fans of the Sweet Potato Chicken Pot Pie. Trust me.). You can probably check this book out at your local library, but you may want to buy it when you're done.

thanks to my local library for a copy of this book; cover image from goodreads

We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
Becky Johnson and Rachel Randolph
Zondervan, 2013 (August!)

Another memoir of food and time spent around the table together, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook is a joint venture between a mom and her grown daughter. Together, they recount their food-related memories and share their favorite recipes. I enjoyed the honesty in this book, the recognition that food does indeed bring people together, and that grown children make new traditions that the parents can benefit from. Rachel, the daughter, and her husband decide to become vegan, and Becky, the mother, deals with it valiantly. The tone in this book is casual, much like Dinner, A Love Story and makes for a quick read. The recipes are not all vegan, but the ones Rachel does share definitely are on my "try this" list. So far, we've tried the vegan Sweet Potato Oatmeal Breakfast Bake (not sure if that's the precise title), and it was delicious! I can't wait to try some of Becky's recipes, too. Both Becky and Rachel are professing Christians, and they sprinkle in comments related to their faith throughout the book. However, it is not a spiritual meditation on food, and I think nonChristians could still enjoy it. Look for it in bookstores this fall.

thanks to publisher via netgalley for an ARC of this book; cover image from goodreads

Beating the Lunch Box Blues: Fresh Ideas for Lunch on the Go
J. M. Hirsch
Atria Books, 2013 (September)

As we gear up for another school year, lunch box meals are back on the radar. I get SO TIRED of packing school lunches. I don't know why. But that explains why I jumped at the chance to review this little book. Will it help? I'm not sure, honestly, if it will help me pack my kids' lunches. But it will most definitely help me pack mine and my husband's, and it's given me LOTS of ideas of things to try for the kids. Hirsch began this book as a blog, too (like Dinner, A Love Story), and chronicled his son's school lunch for a year. The book is not full of recipes so much as it's full of ideas: pair this with that. Use leftover chicken in one of these two ways. Try toppings like this for that. Each page is a full color, full page photograph of a lunch based on the suggestions given on that page (similar to the cover pictured). There are also about 30 dinner recipes in this book with--get this--TWO leftover lunch ideas. Genius. That's the way I like to cook. He does this with breakfast, too, as in "pack a leftover popover with ham and cheese" for lunch (or something along those lines). This is a very fun book to look through; my copy from the publisher was a digital galley, so I'm not sure how big a book it will be. Regardless, it's colorful and will get help jumpstart your school lunch packing as the school year gets under way. Look for it in store shelves this September.

thanks to publisher via netgalley for a digital ARC; cover image from goodreads.

Slow Food Nation: Why Our Food Should be Good, Clean, and Fair
Carlo Petrini (Jonathan Hunt, translator)
Rizzoli Ex Libris, 2007

I got a digital galley of this book, and for some reason thought it was "new." I don't know if it's new to the U.S. or not, but those of you who follow this kind of movement/way of life already will probably find the content in the book to be familiar stuff. If you're curious about the slow food movement, though, this book is packed with all kinds of information related to it. Yes, there IS an official slow food movement begun by none other than the author of this book! (Check out the Slow Food USA site for more information.) While I'm generally in favor of cooking from scratch, and I very much enjoy my local veggies from the Colvins in our CSA box each week, I'm also a bit wary of heavy propaganda. Slow Food Nation does lean in that direction, but no more than so many current food documentaries and other literature out these days. This particular book is more academic than many books out there, so if you are interested in really finding out about the whys and wherefores of the movement, I recommend you check this one out.

thanks to publisher via edelweiss for a digital copy of this book; cover image from goodreads

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