The latest in foodie skank wear

I don't always agree with the Haphazard Gourmet Girls (like here), but I do admire their knowledge, spunk, and passion.  And in this case, we are in total agreement:

"When Did Candy Corn Become a Slut?"  They also feature other winners here.

Eat, drink, and take your opportunity this Halloween to wear 4-inch heels in the kitchen!

All Hail the Queen!

Seriously.  What the hell are you doing reading this right now?  Go get Ina's new cookbook.  Now.  Go.  Buh-bye. 

I'm off to the bookstore!

Sigh of relief

I just found out I got funding to go to ALA Midwinter in Denver - I was really worried I wasn't going to get it with all the economic brouhaha and all.  

Huzzah.  And phew!

So I can now post this:

Eat, drink, and network while doing so!


What alcoholic beverage pairs best with your favorite children's book?

Examiner.com came out with a few fantastically awesome (and spot-on) lists of books to read with alcohol: beer, wine, and hard liquor.  I went through an embarrassing Victoria Holt stage in high school so I got a particular laugh out of the recommendation to read her with a glass of white wine.  I also snickered over the recommended pairing of Budweiser/Miller with America (The Book) by Jon Stewart - it's the perfect antidote to my overdose on election coverage.

So what about children's literature?  And young adult?  Am I the only one that does imbibe (sometimes) while reading?  What are some pairings you would choose?  I mean, obviously, you have to pair a raspberry cordial with Anne of Green Gables - that's a no-brainer.  Any others?  Here's a short list off the top of my head:

- Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen (is it just me or is she Stephanie Plum in training?)
- Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka (totally!)
- Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (probably something cheap and domestic...they are in high school, after all)


- Sweet Valley High and Sarah Dessen's books are white wine books (I mean NO disrespect to Sarah Dessen by pairing these together!!!!  If it helps at all, SVH is a white zin and The Truth About Forever is a complicated, rich Viognier)
- Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares (totally white wine fare)
- My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath and Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller (these are Pinot Noir books - warm, cozy, lovely, complex but not weighed down)
- The Giver by Lois Lowry is a Zinfandel - Before I Die by Jenny Downham is a Zin too.
- The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen is soooooo champagne perfect!

Hard Liquor/Cocktails:

- Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicholson series is the perfect thing to read with a Cosmopolitan, anything pastel-colored, anything with -tini at the end of it.
- Whiskey neat: I think if Kiki Strike were to be an adult and a drinker, she'd go for a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails whiskey neat.  10 Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher is a whiskey neat too, given the speak-easy nature of the setting.
- Harry Potter is challenging, but I would have to choose the pumpkintini I've been dreaming about for two years...you know, they drink all that pumpkin juice...get it???
- Lastly, I don't know if I'm getting the time period right here but doesn't it seem like you should drink mead with Good Masters!  Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz?

Eat, drink, and read children's books while doing so.


REVIEW: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

It’s the publishing season again!  Last week was Random House (see my recap) and this week was HarperCollins.  In between was a dinner on Monday night, hosted by Random House at Beacon in NYC, to celebrate Carrie Ryan’s upcoming book The Forest of Hands and Teeth. 

While I tried my damnedest to read the whole book before the event, I was only about halfway through once Monday night rolled around.  Luckily no one spoiled the ending for me (though Ryan’s editor, Krista Marino, kind of did when she told me the projected title of the companion book…which I won’t share here*).  Carrie Ryan** was as sweet and gracious as can be, and she seemed genuinely excited and flattered by all the attention.

So how is the book?  Here’s my take:

First, let it be stated that I don’t do horror.  I just don’t.  And I don’t do fantasy.  Yet there have been particular books that have forced me out of those prejudices, much to my delight: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight, Graceling, among others.  Well, add The Forest of Hands and Teeth to that genre-busting list.  I hate to even tell you this because I don’t want you to shut down on me, but you do need to know that this is a zombie book.  Now, Ryan never refers to them as such: throughout the book, they’re only called the Unconsecrated, or the dead, etc.  But you pick up on the zombie thing pretty fast. 

Forget that, though.  This is a story about love, self-preservation, dreaming about a bigger world “out there”, religion, authority, family, hope, faith…I could go on and on.  Which is why I predict right now that this book is going to be hugely popular.  It has a little something for everyone and leaves enough open-ended questions and leaves enough secrets unrevealed that you can use your imagination…and it also makes you want more.  If the sequel had been available when I finished this, I would have immediately picked it up.

Mary has lived in a fenced-in village all her life, but her mother has always told her stories about the ocean and cities of tall buildings, all of which existed before the Return.  All Mary knows is the closely structured world run by the Sisterhood, protected by the Guardians, who keep the perimeter secure from the Unconsecrated.  But when Mary’s family is destroyed, she must make a choice between the Sisterhood and marriage with a man she does not love.  All the while, Mary wants to know what lies beyond the perimeter of her tiny village.  Is there an ocean out there?  And how can it be reached when the Unconsecrated are a constant and relentless threat in the forest?  Even when surrounded by so much death, Mary wants to live.

I don’t want to give away too much because – here’s the bad news – the book doesn’t come out until March 2009.  I know, I know!  Sorry to whet your appetite like this.  But this book is un-put-down-able, giving readers character development and plot in equal measure.  Not to mention that I was on the subway when a certain character dies (oh, come on!  I’m not giving anything away…it’s a book about zombies, for heaven’s sake!  You know people are going to die!)…and let’s say that I tooootally cried on the train.  I got a few funny looks.

Now, is the book perfect?  Of course not.  Mary’s constant back-and-forth can make things drag a bit: one minute she wants to risk everything to get to the ocean, then she does an about-face and goes into a downward spiral of self-doubt and self-defeat…then she’s back to being all bold and trying to get to the ocean again…then back…  But combined with the supporting characters, the constant moaning of the Unconsecrated, and the death of characters you wouldn’t expect, it’s a quibble.  Not too mention that, even though this personality flaw of Mary’s gets annoying, I still think it’s a fairly realistic reaction to what is happening around her.

I'm not normally a fan of posting reviews of a book so far ahead of the scheduled publication date.  However, just like when I reviewed Graceling months ahead of time, I’m making another exception here.  The hype is completely deserved, and people should be talking about this book now.  Brava to Carrie Ryan!


* It was so cool to sit next to Krista!  Normally, at the previews, Random House has their editors up on a platform, and we librarians don’t get a chance to ask them about their specific books.  So it was fun to get Krista’s perspective on this book.  Not to mention that she’s a fellow California native…

** Carrie's website has some friggin scary forest pictures on her site...you can practically hear the moans of the Unconsecrated when you look at them.  *shiver*  


Gastrosexual: It was only a matter of time


Yep, it's real. Look it up.

On one hand, I'm derisively snorting. On the other...well...I kind of wish my husband was one.

Thanks to Ruhlman for the link.

Food for thought

New York Times Magazine published an article by Michael Pollan, "Farmer in Chief" a couple weeks ago, written as a letter to the incoming U.S. president.

Michael Ruhlman does an excellent job of distilling the article down so that we have real ideas about how we the public can promote change (revolution, by my way of thinking). I also highly recommend that you read the comments - many of them are informed and interesting.

I have enormous food for thought here. For instance, Ruhlman lists teaching our children to cook as something we can do. I teach my daughter to cook. So much so that, with an enormous amount of trepidation, I'm teaching her (slowly, carefully, patiently...for a change) to use my niiiice knives. She knows her herbs, names of all my cooking tools, etc. etc. etc. Additionally, we have taught her to eat respectfully, for the most part - she eats a snack sitting at the table (not standing in the kitchen) and we always eat dinner at the table with the TV off (with the exception of our TV Dinner Fridays, where we lay a blanket on the floor, eat picnic food, and watch a movie).

However, I can't help but feel that there's so much middle-class privilege that goes along with all this. Why am I not teaching latch-key children who are making their own dinners without any adult supervision whatsoever? I could work with Kiddo's school (and the multitude of other schools in my neighborhood) to get gardens planted (oh, but who has the time?) My point being that I'm doing the bare minimum, if that. And that is not how revolutions happen.

Eat, drink, and consider how else I can contribute...


Spring 2009 Publisher's Preview: Random House

I went to the Spring 2009 preview at Random House yesterday, and this is what you need to know about that:

Kathy Kras. (librarian extraordinaire) told a story about passing Ina Garten in the halls of Random House. In my excitement, I forgot to ask Kathy when this event took place. Nevertheless, Kathy apparently started carrying on…in the presence of Ina…and, according to Kathy, embarrassed the hell out of the Random House folks. It couldn’t have been that bad, though, seeing as the Random House people still invited Kathy back for yesterday’s shindig. It would be a dreeeeeeam to meet Ina in the halls of RH, though I’m utterly convinced that I’d make a complete arse of myself. Thank goodness it was Kathy meeting her and not me!

Oh, and there were books there, of course. Here are the ones I took special note of:

- What a Good Big Brother! by Diane Wright Landolf, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. A new sibling book where the oldest child doesn’t despise the new baby? Refreshing. (1.09)

- A Very Curious Bear by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Paul Howard. My first impression is that the text might be too sentimental for my tastes…but the illustrations we saw were really beautiful. (4.09)

- Babymouse: The Musical by Matt & Jennifer Holm. Well, dur. Who isn’t looking forward to this one? (1.09)

- Stone Rabbit series: BC Mambo and Pirate Palooza by Erik Craddock. The editor called this the answer for a boys’ version of Babymouse. Looks promising. (1.09)
- Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson. The sequel to 100 Cupboards. The editor said that some of the criticism about 100 Cupboards was that it was weird and strange (I concur) so this one is more “solid fantasy.” For all your weightlifting kids: this has 480 pages. (2.09)

- Duck & Goose: How Are You Feeling? by Tad Hills. Oh god, sooooo precious. The whole room swooned. (1.09)

- This Little Bunny Can Bake by Janet Stein. Stein, a debut author, studied with a world-renowned pastry chef in Barcelona; she’s the real deal. Yay! Foodie books for kids!

- You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! by Jonah Winter, illustrated by AndrĂ© Carrilho. This is from the spunky gals at Schwartz & Wade, and they passed the book around. I didn’t get to read the text much, but the illustrations are phenomenal. They manage to be very modern and stylized with a limited palette…but also very retro. The cover is a really cool holograph. Trivia: the artist apparently had never seen a baseball game when he was signed on to this project. Schwartz and Wade sent him Ken Burns’ Baseball as a primer. (3.09)

- The Enemy: a Book About Peace by Davide Cali and Sere Bloch. “Anti-war book for children.” Kid appeal aside, I was moved by the few pages we saw here. An important message, for sure. (4.09)

- The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. The editors compared this to A Handmaids Tale…to me, the description seemed to have tones of The Giver as well. I’m having dinner with Ms. Ryan next Monday so I’ll be reading this over the weekend. It certainly helps that Sarah Miller gave the book good praise! (3.09)

- The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino. I luuuurve Dan Yaccarino’s artwork…but don’t ask me to explain why. It just seems so…joyful. (3.09)

- Alligator Bayou by Donna Jo Napoli. Because I’ll read any word she puts on paper. (3.09)

The special guest (Random House always has one) was Graham Salisbury, promoting his upcoming book Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet (3.09). Like all of Random House’s guests to date, Graham Salisbury was engaging and funny – the room seemed delighted with every story he told.

In conclusion, can you believe Kathy saw Ina Garten just walking around Random House????

Note: Tracy Bloom Lerner, the Library Marketing Manager at RH, asked the room at one point to show hands if we’d be interested in seeing pages from books electronically. Needless to say, the show of hands was overwhelming. In front of me, Kate McClelland raised two hands. I raised both mine and clapped. To be able to see content online and, hopefully, cut down on the number of ARCs and review copies would be stupendous. It would save trees…and save space in my work area. Amen. (And thanks to HarperCollins and Candlewick, among others, who already have this kind of content available!)

One more thing: Random House did a really fun Hawaiian theme, in honor of Graham Salisbury. Lots of leis and inflatable palm trees. Super fun, given the autumnal weather seeping in!

Lucy Knisley event

Earlier this year, I reviewed French Milk by Lucy Knisley (in summation, I really liked it). It was originally published by Epigraph in 2000, but Simon and Schuster has now reissued it...though I'm unaware of how many changes, if any, there are to the original publication.

The good news is that Lucy Knisley will be at 192 Books on Tuesday, Oct. 21st at 7:00 p.m. to discuss her work, do a Q&A, and sign books. 192 Books is here in NYC at 10th Ave. and 21st St.

The bad news is that I don't think I'm going to make it to the event. Boo. I'm already signed up for a dinner with Carrie Ryan on Monday night and, in the name of simplifying my life, I just don't think it's a good idea to do two events in a row during the week. Oh, to be 20-something and obligation-free again! But who knows...I'm still deciding how badly I want to do both...

Eat, drink, go to the event, then tell me all about it so that I can live vicariously through all you people.
P.S. Just in case you need extra incentive, Lucy has said that there will be "French food and drink" at the event. So, indeed, you can "eat, drink, and..."


Heading to the Middle

Eek!  So I'm behind in my blogging...

It's not about to improve, however - I'm off for a long weekend to Missouri for the wedding of friends.  I've never been to the Middle of America before and, frankly, never thought I would.  Nevertheless, here I go!

Eat, drink, and travel...even to Middle America.


My First Attempt at a Souffle

I've never made a souffle before.  So I attempted one today, specifically Ina Garten's Blue Cheese Souffle recipe from Barefoot in Paris.  Here is what happened:


To quote Adam: "These are the best scrambled eggs EVER."

So I have to keep working on it, I guess.  My suspicion is that I didn't beat the egg whites long enough?  And on the upside, the chenin blanc I chose paired really well with it...as did the Dogfish Head Red & White that Adam drank with it.

Eat, drink, and be thankful that scrambled eggs with Roquefort are awesome


REVIEW: Dear Julia by Amy Bronwen Zemser

Finally!  I found my YA foodie book!  After reading A La Carte (meh) and High Dive (disqualified because it wasn’t really a foodie book), I have come to rest at Dear Julia by Amy Bronwen-Zemser.  And thank goodness!

As you’ve probably already guessed, I really enjoyed this book.  It wasn’t without its faults, of course, but I was able to overlook it and just enjoy.  Sixteen-year-old Elaine Hamilton is shy, reserved, and nearly invisible…and she is a cooking prodigy, thanks to her hero Julia Child.  Elaine has memorized every recipe of Julia’s and serves them up nightly to her busy mother, her stay-at-home dad, and her four younger brothers.  In the same town, Lucida Sans (yes, she changed her name to the font) is famous for trying to be famous…except that she doesn’t seem to excel at anything.  Throw in a handsome-but-jerky nemesis, a cross-dressing brother, and Julia Child herself….and the proverbial hilarity ensues.

I do want to say, for the record, that I loathe annotations.  That description above totally sucks.  I’m just sayin’…

Zemser really caught the essence of what it’s like to love cooking – her descriptions of Elaine’s single-mindedness and focus while creating a recipe are realistic, and I appreciated the approach that, while Elaine is passionate about food, there is also a calculated and practical nature about it.  Lastly, the dynamic of Elaine’s family is interesting and illustrates the point that meals are not created in a vacuum and pulling it all together is truly a family affair (or it should be anyway).

The descriptions of food are interesting; rather than going for fancy prose about the smells, textures, and sights, Zemser opted instead to let the dishes speak for themselves.  Because there is a focus on Julia Child’s recipes, there are lots of French names which, we all know, always makes a dish sound more delicious and fancy; you may not know exactly what Elaine is fixing but doesn’t Coquilles St. Jacques a la Parisienne in Scallop Shells sound wonderful?  There is a focus on the technique: while they are making the aforementioned dish, Elaine explains to her brothers “you want to be careful with those scallops, Chris[…]Simmering them for more than five minutes will result in a rubbery texture.”  Likewise, throughout the book, there are lots of descriptions about vegetables being julienned, duck stock being made into a reduction sauce, and desserts being flambĂ©ed.  Effectively, Zemser lets the technique become the drama, rather than flowery language.

The book isn’t perfect, of course.  The unrealistic happy ending is completely saccharine – really, it’s pretty bad.  But even Zemser seems to realize this in her wink-wink epilogue where there is a comment about happy endings.  So I chose to believe that the conclusion was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek with a aren’t-happy-endings-like-this-silly? mentality.  My other issue with the book was Elaine’s relationship with her mother.  It was just never really fleshed out and, even when Elaine’s mother was engaging in a heart-to-heart with Elaine, I still felt like she was a two-dimensional character.  Additionally, Elaine’s mother has some issues with her daughter’s cooking, namely that she fought hard for women’s liberation and now her daughter wants to engage in such a domestic practice.  With the advent of Food Network, celebrity chefs, and the numerous Julia Child biographies, I just don’t know how an educated woman could believe that anymore.  I found that unrealistic.

But these are quibbles.  Overall, it was an entertaining read – I finally found a decent foodie book for teens.  This could also be a good recommendation for parents and teens looking for a “clean read” – there is a brief kiss toward the end and no sex.  No violence.  No brand- or name-dropping.  No swearing.  I would even recommend it to kids as young as 10 or 11 who are more advanced readers.

Eat, drink, and hope that the food revolution is affecting teens as well.

More reviews:

Erin Cooks
Teens Read Too (it received a "Gold Star of Excellence")

All I Ever Needed to Know, I Learned from Georgia Nicolson

Adam: I don’t understand the whole idea behind making high school girls wear those uniforms.  I feel kind of sorry for them, waiting for the subway and standing in the cold with those super short skirts on.

Me: The girls roll up the skirts so they’ll be shorter.

Adam: What?

Me: Yeah, I learned it in my Georgia Nicolson series.  Apparently the girls roll the skirts at the waist so they’ll be shorter while they’re out in public.  Once they get to school they have to unroll the skirts.

Adam: Really?  Huh. 

There you go.  And who says Louise Rennison’s series is fluff?  Not me.  Being able to spew useless tidbits of information is a Life Skill, people.