Monthly Archives: June 2015



Northeast Oklahoma is green, greener than you might imagine. Rain in abundance, hot weather and blue skies produce a bountiful crop for local growers to bring to the market.

fresh greens

fresh greens



Look at these large squash blossoms

Look at these large squash blossoms


Visiting the market, shoppers find an interesting array of goods. The Natural Meat Market showcases Grass Fed Beef, Wagyu Beef grown in Tulsa County, Free Range Chicken and Pork and other Artisan Made Deli Meats. There are all sorts of inviting fresh breads.


And several places to buy a cup of coffee or a baked treat.

More flowers, cheese, specialty items.


Even, a birdhouse. What fun!FullSizeRender

I’ve only scratched the surface. Hope someday you are able to stand in the sunshine in the delightful Cherry Street Neighborhood in Tulsa.


We took home some of this very fresh sweet corn for our dinner. It tasted so very good, crunchy and sweet! Fresh sweet corn is on my gratitude list. What’s on yours?


The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This novel about two sisters separated in World War II France is solid on the Best Sellers Lists.


At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
I loved Water For Elephants, her last book. This one….not so much. Just can’t care about the characters.


The Expats by Chris Pavone
This mystery was recommended by a bookstore staff member at just the time I was looking for a mystery. But, it only seemed a tangled and not very interesting tale.
Ruby by Cynthia Bond
Oprah picked this book and I did, too. After a few chapters, I returned it to my home bookshelf, where I think it is destined to sit, unread.

You may well like one of these books I wish I’d left on the shelf. I recommend you take a close look or feel free to abandon the book if you aren’t enjoying it. My list of five is only four. What book would you add to round out the list? What book are you wishing you had left on the shelf or abandoned, or maybe it just wasn’t as gripping as you’d hoped? Or maybe you want to speak up for one of the above. Let’s have a conversation!



Born With Teeth
Author: Kate Mulgrew
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co. 2015
Hardcover Edition: 302 pages
Source: Library Copy

Kate Mulgrew is an American actress who first became well-known for her role in the TV Soap Opera Ryan’s Hope. She has done much theater, film and TV work of note. She is the winner of a Golden Satellite Award, an Obie Award, and has been nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Currently, she is arguably the most interesting character on the comedy/drama for Netflix Orange Is the New Black. Her success as a actress may well be built on heartbreak and grit.

She was raised as part of a large unconventional Irish family in Dubuque Iowa. She tells her story with grace and shows us her talent and ability to take risks at the right time. She doesn’t over analyze but sticks to the facts with as much objectivity as anyone can when relating their heart, soul, and life.

The book is a fast read. She writes lovely prose. Her distinctive voice, honesty and humor carry the reader along at an easy clip. The book is well-edited and well-structured making the most of the material and connecting with the reader. Mulgrew is a woman of beauty and passion. I’d like to know her better. She extends herself in telling us about her loves and sorrows. Any reader will thank her for that. Her life is as vivid as the red hair she owns in her role as “Red” Reznikov on Orange Is The New Black.

When I finished this book, I could only shake my head and say, “What a woman!”



Is that why I have so many? And what is the perfect cookbook? What makes a cookbook that you can’t leave the store or library without? Do you see recipes and pictures of things you think you want to cook? Do you want to read more? Does this one seem like the one cookbook you can’t live without?

A List of Seven Cookbooks. Maybe one of these is The One for you?!


Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking From London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. (2014)
Wonderful pictures. The method of preparation titles the sections, for example: braised, steamed, mashed, baked, etc. Recipes that may interest you: Taleggio and Spinach Roulade, Root Mash with Wine-Braised Shallots, Stuffed Zucchini,
From my viewpoint, the recipes seem exotic and somewhat complicated. And consider this: What is your level of interest in vegetarian eating?


Trisha’s Table: My Feel-Good Favorites for a Balanced Life by Trisha Yearwood. (2015)
This is the author’s third cookbook. Here she focuses on, as she puts it, classics with a healthy twist. Glossy pages and traditional organization make it seem easy to use. Many pages include a “trisha tip”, always fun and helpful. As expected there are fun family pictures and origins for many of her recipes. Her slow cooker Georgia Pulled-Pork barbecue looks and sounds really good. I like Ree Drummond’s Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled-Pork, but think I might want to give this recipe a try.


Bar Tartine: Techniques and Recipes by Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns (2014)
In this cookbook the focus is on drying, curing and canning. So if that is what you are after, maybe this is the one for you. The professional cooks are salivating as they throw honors and kudos at this book. My verdict from a very quick look: outside the mainstream but verrrry interesting.


New England Open House Cookbook: 300 Recipes Inspired By the Bounty of New England by Sarah Leah Chase (2015)
My New England friends may well consider this a must. The author is experienced and endorsed by Ina Gartin. The recipes are to drool over. From Woodstock Market Carrot dip to lobster recipes, this book has my attention. At least I want to take a closer look, and I’m not even from New England. Maybe we all have a fascination with the place?


Endless Summer Cookbook by Katie Lee (2015)
The word summer always gets my attention. In my mind I’m at the Farmer’s Market buying wonderful fresh food and turning it into a tasting festival on the table. A quick look at some of these pages promises easy-to-enjoy prose and pictures. Recipe titles make me want to prep and eat: Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Curry Shallot Butter, BLT Burgers, and Salmon Salad. But are there enough recipes to justify the price and the title? I need a closer look. What about you?


The American Plate: a Culinary History in 100 Bites by Libby H. O’Connell (2014)
This delightful book is organized in short bites of text within chapters according to historical context. And each chapter has an historic recipe or two. One can read away in bits and pieces, not unlike a blog but meatier.

For example Chapter 4 is titled Roast Turtles and Hangtown Fry, The Rise of a New Nation. Bites include Irish Potatoes and Mint Juleps among others. Recipes are Brunswick Stew, Election Day Cake from the Andrew Jackson Era, Rabbit in Chile Sauce and Hangtown Fry (Oysters). I think I’d like to own this book, not because of the recipes, but because it is fun to read and ponder over time.


Soup of the Day: 150 Delicious and Comforting Recipes From Our Favorite Restaurants (2014) by Ellen Brown
Between the covers of this book, one can read about all sorts of soup from a variety of chefs and their restaurants. In her introduction the author reminds us that soup can speak to our emotions. She includes a wonderful story from Maya Angelou in her forward, Angelou tells that whenever anything went wrong in her girlhood, her mom would say, “Sister mine, I’m goin to make you some soup.” Maybe soup can fix anything.

Amazing variety and just the right amount of origins information make this book tasty indeed. Directions seem easy to follow. Today I’ll be using her tips on Broccoli and Cheddar Soup to use up the leftovers in my fridge. Hers is an adapted recipe from The Soupbox in Chicago, Illinois. I plan to add a bit of healthy turmeric to the garlic, thyme and marjoram along with the onion, pepper, carrot and broccoli. We’ll see what happens with that?

Seems like so many sources are praising turmeric. Problem is I don’t seem to know what foods it enhances. Maybe some of you out there can help with info about turmeric? As always, comments are appreciated by readers! What do you think of turmeric? How do you use it? Which cookbook from this list interests you the most? We love to hear from you!




Early Warning
Author: Jane Smiley
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015
Genre: Novel
Hardcover Edition: 476 pages
Source: Library copy

Early Warning continues the story of an Iowa family, the Langdons. In this volume the many offspring of Walter and Rosanna Langdon migrate across the country, mostly to American cities. There is never a dull moment as the story moves from the toll of CIA intrigue to rebellious teenagers. Who knew the years 1953 to 1986 could be so fascinating?

The characters are finely drawn, riveting in the changes they experience. This is realistic fiction with an exclamation point. The sharp details are grounded in reality and utterly telling. Who is most interesting? Who surprises the reader most? It’s almost like a parlor game, and yet I cared about each character by the novel’s close. And oh, I hated to leave them when I had read the last page. Much changes and shifts for these characters, as it does in our own lives.

Raising children interests many readers and it interests author Jane Smiley and the Langdons to a remarkable degree. The details of child-raising hold center stage. I venture to say this author writes children better than any other and she does it in context, as opposed to a 10 or 12 year old voice knowing and dominating all as in much recent fiction. The structure of this novel focuses us on this character and then, that one, as they raise families in different places. Similar to the first book, each chapter takes the reader to the next year and within each chapter are scenes, so detailed and clear you feel a part of the far-flung family in different places and experiencing different events.

With this trilogy we see a big picture of the small parts individuals play in life’s drama. Oh, I can’t wait for the next book. This trilogy is a not-to-be-missed family saga.



What a place! What a bookstore!


Enter through the blue door and you are in a store full of books and friendly service above and beyond expectations. (The staff here is perhaps the very best I’ve ever encountered.) More than the brick and mortar set on the streets of Petoskey Michigan, this place has a presence that reaches out to greet and transport you almost anywhere. With a newsletter, a website and a shipping policy that wows you, this bookstore is there for you, a new BFF!

Stroll through the shop with me. Books call from every corner.


The store features 99-cent shipping. They shipped Marge Piercy’s Made In Detroit, a new book sold out, and Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples. (I promised my friend I had it on the shelf at home, and it wasn’t there, so with one quick phone call it arrived in a few days.


At the store I purchased one fiction, At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen and one non-fiction Missoula by Jon Krakauer, both recently published. I nearly bought a whole pile, but exercised some restraint. I know when I must have something, it is only a phone call, 99 cents, and a few days away. I’m thinking about purchasing Circling the Sun by Paula McClain. This is a new novel about Beryl Markam whose autobiography has become a classic. She lived an adventurous life worthy of the telling.


Sign up for the weekly newsletter. Visit the website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. There is every reason to stay connected with this place. They sponsor visiting authors, feature new and noteworthy books, and stock books for mini readers, terrific teens, cooks and historians.



Local books are also a specialty. They are home to several book clubs. The newsletter features the variety of reads book clubs choose to read and discuss together. The store is located at 307 E Lake Street, Petoskey, MI, an inviting town on beautiful Little Traverse Bay north of Traverse City and Charlevoix.

There’s an energy here, not frenzied, but full of passion and interest in place, people and the musings of book lovers. You don’t want to miss it. You can be part of the excitement. Store and staff make that oh-so-easy, wherever you live.




James Beard Award Winning Food Writer Ruth Reichl brought her special brand of story telling to the Bay Harbor Yacht Club near Petoskey this week. The renowned independent book store McLean and Eakin in Petoskey, Michigan arranged for her visit. A delightful speaker, Ms. Reichl held the avid attention of her audience throughout her talk and the Q&A that followed. She won the hearts of her audience, and they won hers as well. The room hummed with good feeling and good fun.

She’s clearly a woman willing to take chances. After her job as editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine ended (while she was on book tour for the fat volume of recipes published by and titled Gourmet) she took a chance on doing something different. Her latest book is a novel, Delicious. Billie Breslin takes a job at a New York Food Magazine and her adventures begin. The story promises to be delightful as well as delicious.


Reichl’s many books include Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, and memoirs Tender At the Bone: Growing Up At the Table and Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures At the Table. In addition to the new novel, many of her readers are anxiously awaiting My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life to be released in September of this year.


Ms. Reichl has won six James Beard Awards. Her website draws you into her stories, and you can follow her Twitter. In addition to writing quirky restaurant reviews, she also wrote for New West Magazine. She says she tries to put her readers in a seat at a restaurant. She wants them to be able to taste the food. She was once the LA Times Restaurant Critic.

Most extraordinary was the manner in which Ms. Reichl handled the sophisticated questions from her audience. She told stories in reply, stories with humor, twists and turns. I cannot do justice to retelling her stories. You’ll have to take my word for her storytelling talent. I can share a word or two of her advice. What makes a good recipe? “Suggestion, collaboration, inspiration….makes you want to cook it again.” She shared the rule of Chekhov for the wanna-be-writers in the room. That rule reminds the writer they must know the back story of every character in their fiction. Not necessarily tell the full back story, but know the back story. In other words, know every character, even the minor ones, inside and out.

She asked how we want to spend our time? In public or private places? She appreciates a good restaurant meal but encourages us to cook at home. And well, if something goes wrong, it really doesn’t matter.

This woman is a compelling force for good food and good eating. She is a writer who is as delicious and delightful in person as she is on the page. Thank you Ruth Reichl, McClean and Eakin, and the dear friends who made it possible for me to be present for this event.