Monthly Archives: September 2015

MORE GOOD EATS IN CHARLESTON, SC

FullSizeRender[11]

Slightly North of Broad
192 East Bay Street, Charleston
www.slightlynorthofbroad.net

It’s not possible to pick a favorite from the three outstanding restaurants where our group lunched during our sojourn in Charleston. But the low country bistro known as SNOB offers much to recommend it. Staff set up new tables quickly and expertly. Plated foods were works of art. Fresh produce banked the entrance to a busy open kitchen, a nod to the practice of using local ingredients. Service was outstanding and wait staff easily answered questions and knew the food.

FullSizeRender[14]

Oh yes, the food!!!

FullSizeRender[13]

Steamed Local Clams in a flavorful silky broth.

FullSizeRender[12]

A side of spaghetti squash with tomatoes and greens. This dish accompanied one of the specials but when I ask if I might order it as a side, the kitchen served it up.

FullSizeRender[6]

Chilled Shrimp Salad with Cider Vinaigrette.

FullSizeRender[15]

Blue Crab Salad Plate with Fruit and Toast Points.

One of our group at another table testified to the amazing flavors of the Shrimp and Grits with house sausage and country ham.

FullSizeRender[4]

Just baked cornbread sticks and butter perfectly matched out food.

This place was cozy and inviting, busy with a brisk lunch crowd. My advice: when you are in town, don’t miss this place!

FullSizeRender[10]

FRESH FLAVORS + ELEGANCE = DINING PERFECTION

FullSizeRender[8]

Palmetto Café at Belmond Charleston Place

Located on Meeting Street downtown, this elegant spot serves up innovative American cuisine using fresh local ingredients and a nice selection of wines. Highlights of our visit beyond the delicious food included outstanding, gracious service, and an artistic ambience surrounding us in a cushion of luxury.

The food:

FullSizeRender[4]

Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with pickled corn salad, lobster sauce, and diced lobster. Note the large dice, really chunks, oh, so luscious.

FullSizeRender[7]

Crab Salad with avocado and golden tomato vinaigrette.

FullSizeRender[5]

Shrimp Tacos

FullSizeRender[12]

Flavored Butters served with a basket presenting a variety of interesting bread choices of varied textures, all perfectly matched to the type of bread; a tender dinner roll and thin crisp lavash were two of my favorites.

Desserts were way above the norm. A rhubarb pastry with ice cream was wildly wonderful in all respects.

This was our group’s first lunch in Charleston, and a fitting preview of the great food served in this up and coming restaurant city. My wine was excellent. Everyone was delighted with the food. In short, we loved the place. My three words are scrumptious, elegant, graceful. Sincere thanks to waiter, hostess, and manager who all saw to our comfort and well-being and of course to a kitchen producing taste with a capital T.

Based on my experiences, Charleston really is a city of friendly and gracious hospitality. Most of the people we met during our almost week there were helpful, friendly and kind.

FullSizeRender[10]

www.charlestonplace.com or google the Palmetto Café in Charleston, SC.

FullSizeRender[11]

VISITING CHARLESTON, SC UNDER OVERCAST SKIES

FullSizeRender[6]

FullSizeRender[13]

Welcome to the Visitor’s Center in Harleston Village.
FullSizeRender[14]
Complete with flowers

FullSizeRender[7]

Ready for the carriage tour?

FullSizeRender[9]

Oldest Federal Building

South of Broad

FullSizeRender[15]

FullSizeRender[16]

White Point Gardens

FullSizeRender[5]

The Battery, downtown Charleston waterfront

FullSizeRender[4]

Downtown Street Scene
FullSizeRender[10]

At the Beach on Isle of Palms

FullSizeRender[11]

FullSizeRender[12]

First visit to Charleston. Dreary weather. Exciting carriage ride. Lopsided, dark pictures. Still, fun times, interesting sights, and lots of good food. More coming up in that department.

SPOTLIGHT ON FIVE FALL COOKING MAGAZINES

FullSizeRender[2]

Cook’s Country September 2015

Cover Feature: Big Berry Scones.
Trending: Pork with recipes and information for Kentucky BBQ Pork Steaks and Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas and at least two other pork recipes.
Inside: What Caught My Eye – Five Easy Recipes for Potato Salads. I haven’t had thousand island dressing all summer, and there is a suggestion for Thousand Island Potato Salad with ketchup, brown sugar and mayo-style dressing.
How to: Make a Frittata.
Roundup: Lots of info and recipes for its size.

Food and Wine September 2015

Cover Feature: Mexico City’s best guacamole and 2015 Travel Poll Winners.
Trending: Travel, Mexican style recipes:tortilla, guacamole, tacos, quesadilla and Pork: ribs, chops, pork belly.
Inside: What Caught My Eye – Most Up and Coming Restaurant City – Charleston –up and coming chefs and their restaurants: Fig, Parlor Deluxe, Mercantile and Mash, 482 and Cannon Green. Maybe I’ll be there next week.
Roundup: If you like Mexican food, this issue is for you.

Cooking Light October, 2015

Cover Feature: Chili Seven Ways
Trending:Vegetables – squash, spinach, beets, kale, vegetable combos.
Inside: What Caught My Eye: Turkey Tetrazzini under five hundred calories, Hash Recipes and Great beef recipes from sirloin to shorts ribs to flat iron steak.
How-To: Chicken Jardiniere with Jacques Pepin
Roundup: This issue is full of good food.

Bon Appetit September 2015

Cover Feature: Best New Restaurants! Recipes from America’s Top Kitchens
Trending: Lettuce gets younger and younger, but I like it. Asian Dishes.
Inside: What Caught My Eye: Rotisserie Meats and Sandwiches. Buy the brisket and the bread. Don’t cook. OR…Try smoked fish, whipped burrata and fresh bread with those young greens.
How-To: Plate Like A Pro: Very artsy. Where’s the food? What’s the food?
Roundup: Pages are so busy it’s hard to focus, so glossy it’s hard to read. My eyes are tired from trying to find the info.

Eating Well September-October, 2015 I Pad issue.

Cover Feature: Beets, Comfort Food and 5 Chicken Soups for Your Soul
Trending: Vegetables, leafy greens
Inside: What Caught My Eye: Spanakopita Loaded Potatoes. Top that baked potato with spinach, garlic, cream cheese and feta.
How-To: Variations on chicken soup.
Round-up: Strong food writing: essays you are glad you read. Meet people that care about good food.

Each of these issues offers much more than my highlights indicate. Pages burst with colorful essays, recipes, pictures and features, a cornicopia of goodness.

LOVING THE FOOD LIFE

51H+vw5B94L._AC_SY220_

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
Author: J. Ryan Stradal
Genre: Novel
Publisher: Viking, 2015
Hardcover Edition: 310 pages
Source: Personal copy

This story delivers all the force and fun of a rollercoaster ride. Yes, food plays a starring role in this debut novel, but it is the character Eva Thorvald whose life story glues the reader to the page. We follow her from infancy to adulthood, often seen through the eyes of her Midwestern cohort, a group of disparate family and friends and non-friends who make her life what it becomes.

Yes, there are recipes here and there. Would it be Minnesota without a Wild Rice Casserole or as author Amy Thielen insists Wild Rice Hot Dish. There are bars, lutefisk and walleye. Stradal’s descriptions of lutefisk alone are worth the price of the book. Each chapter boasts a food title, introduces more characters, more hilarity, more heartbreak and more of Eva’s story.

If you are a Midwesterner, or not, you must be willing to engage (set aside your loyalties) in the author’s humorous presentation of some things Midwestern (Minnesotan) and accept the fact that all kinds of people populate the food world, the teen world, well….all worlds. His arrows hit some of the sacred bull-eyes of Midwestern place and people.

You may want to find out more about this author. His Upper Midwestern credentials are solid. I’ll wager he has read more church cookbooks than any of us can count. He knows heirloom brands, all things food, and he can make the food obsessions of our time very clear and very funny. According to Jessica Gelt writing for the Los Angeles Times, he “coproduces the reading series Hot Dish, acquires books for small publisher Unnamed Press, edited the 2014 California Prose Directory (an anthology of California writers) and is on the advisory board at 826LA, Dave Eggers’ nonprofit youth writing program housed in a storefront on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. He’s also the fiction editor at literary website the Nervous Breakdown.”

I’ve read some good books this year. This is hands-down the funniest. Fast and totally engaging, it feels like singing one of those multi-versed old-time songs and you can’t wait to sing the lyrics of the next verse. If you like peanut butter, buy the book for Pat’s Peanut Butter Bars recipe. This creative novel is well-written and fun to read! So dig-in to a read with quite likely a different taste than your usual fiction choices.

PICK A FAVORITE ANN ARBOR CORNER.

FullSizeRender[12]

Literati Bookstore
124 E. Washington,
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

FullSizeRender[9]

How about the corner that hosts an indie gem of a bookstore in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, MI? Literati Bookstore has books downstairs, upstairs and filling the main floor. Looking through the front window, I am pulled into the store. And inside, books surround the reader. Many, oh, not just a few, handwritten notes describe the books. The shopper immediately connects with the books. Organization and open space make books easy to find.

FullSizeRender[11]

Have a seat?

FullSizeRender[5]

Books are accessible.

FullSizeRender[6]

FullSizeRender[13]

Here are the books you’ve been looking for. It seems they have everything.

FullSizeRender[7]

History

IMG_2853

Poetry, second best selling section in the story.

FullSizeRender[10]

Books line the stairwell.

FullSizeRender[15]

FullSizeRender[14]

FullSizeRender[8]

Tee-shirts and magazine

FullSizeRender[19]

Yes, you can order on line and also find out about interesting events: author visits and the like. literatibookstore.com Their motto says it all. Real books. Real people. Real bookstore. Another in the readeatlive/blog long list of indie bookstores. Visit this one and connect with books.

And we love to hear about your favorite bookstore. Pass the indie bookstore information and enjoy.

END OF THE SUMMER FOOD SIGHTS IN ANN ARBOR, MI

FullSizeRender

At Kerrytown Farmer’s Market
The veggies, flowers and baked goods filled farm stands with natural beauty. I was so busy deciding what to buy, and figuring out how to show some restraint, I didn’t take the pictures I would have liked. Still, here is a bit of the flavor of the place. People crowded the aisles. And vendors piled their wares into lovely displays.

FullSizeRender[2]

FullSizeRender[4]

There were mums in all sizes. Many as beautiful and more so than these.

FullSizeRender[5]

I bought a few Honeycrisp Apples. When I got home and ate the first one, I realized I had forgotten how very crisp a fresh apple can be.

FullSizeRender[6]

I couldn’t resist these stripped yellow/red small tomatoes. They are the perfect compliment to so many foods. And some lovely butter lettuce leaped into my bag.

People chatter, answer questions, and help each other out. It’s that soft murmur of folks enjoying their day. Cars go slowly, looking to find parking. I appreciated the soothing sounds, no crashes or bangs.

At the Famous Zingerman’s Deli
FullSizeRender[7]
Zingerman’s interesting small buildings cluster across the street and down about a block from the market. Zingerman’s was even more crowded with people buying and eating than the market. But not too crowded for my friend and I to buy goodies and purchase a delicious lunch, sturdy fresh bread stuffed and piled high with deliciousness, a Rueben for her and chicken salad with bacon for me.

Unknown

I wonder what would tempt you? The choices are many, the customers wait patiently. People are always so polite at Zingerman’s. The staff leads by example.

FullSizeRender[9]

Here is detail from a sign on the outside wall of the building where we waited in line. Zingerman’s distinctive art welcomes buyers in signs and pamphlets. I could go there just to read. Maybe….

Cheese and olives feed the soul. I always head to that counter first. Here I was able to find the Castelvetrano Olives I liked so much in a Blue Apron order. They were divine with Gruyere cheese that disappeared before I could get a picture. I also bought a Wisconsin cheese, Bleu Mont Dairy Lehner’s Upland Experiment. When I tasted it I thought it interesting and not too strong. (You can sample anything at Zingerman’s.) Willi Lehner is the cheesemaker at this dairy in Blue Mounds, WI. I visited once and it was closed. So it seemed serendipity that when I asked for a Wisconsin cheese, the young pretty staff member offered this. I’m not sure what I will do with this earthy cheese; well, I know I will eat it.

FullSizeRender[10]

I also purchased Arkansas Peppered Bacon, a favorite, and half a loaf of Peppered Parmesan Bread. Look closely at this picture and you will see the huge chunks of cheese inside the bread slice.
FullSizeRender[11]

BLT and tuna with butter lettuce and tomato, oh so crunchy and good with this bread when toasted. The contrasting textures make these ingredients fit together in an almost supernatural way. Yes, the bread and bacon are both peppery but a nice contrast to lettuce, tomato and tuna, or whatever you want to put atop a slice.

A heart-felt thank-you to the friend who went along on this outing. It was an end-of-the-summer celebration of good tastes and yummy food smells.

www.zingermansdeli.com
www.a2gov.org will take you to a page for the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market
Ann Arbor, the home of the well-known University of Michigan is located about 40 miles west of Detroit. (The mileage is my estimate. It was about a 35-40 minutes drive for my friend and I.)

FullSizeRender[8]

LET’S GET ROLLING!

Unknown-1

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey
Author: Rinker Buck
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2015
Genre: Nonfiction, history, memoir
Hardcover Edition: 416 pages with maps and line drawings
Source: Library copy

Unknown

The adventure described in this book is a lively real-life journey across the 2000 plus miles of the famed Oregon Trail. The reader is a willing hostage to travel and history. The turbulent nature of the journey, the authors’ choice of words and tremendous eye and mind for the perfect detail makes his journey live again in the mind of the reader.

Buck makes driving a wagon sound more exciting than an account of rafting over a falls, makes the heart of the reader beat faster than one might have imaged. About their steepest descent Buck writes “We were just a descending cauldron of shrieking brakes and burning thresher belt now.” Pieces of thresher belt served as brake pads.

And who thought mules could be so interesting? That animal that even we western lovers hardly pay attention to is the heart and soul of this journey. This reader couldn’t get enough about the mules, past, present, future. Shake your head but read the book and see what you think? And for the mechanical types, all kinds of gadgets, rebuilds, fancy chains and hitches fill these pages.

Throughout the adventure the reader learns about the author, his relationship with his brother who accompanies him on the trip, and the father he remembers who took him and some of his siblings on adventures, perhaps less epic than this long trek, but no less memorable. These glimpses into personal motivations and talents add depth to the book, and reason to care deeply for the two men, their wagon and their mules.

And the history: always relevant, evocative and factual. Rinker Buck highlighted the adventures of women and other less well-known characters and places of this historic trail that delivered settlers to the Far West from the 1820’s to the end of the 19th century and beyond. His real accomplishment is to give the reader the sights, sounds, and emotions of what it was like to travel these places at that time.

The whole adventure is likeable, crazy and fun while being epic and dangerous. If this is travel writing, it’s the best, if it’s memoir, its grounded and true, if it’s history, its relevant and downright appealing.

No doubt! It’s my favorite book of the summer. Hooray for Oregon! Listen to the cracking voice of brother Nick call the mules: “Big Team! C’mon, Big Team! Beck! Jake! Bute! Oregon! Oregon, Big Team! We gotta make this hill, Big Team!” (p. 207)

The author is generous and kind to the people he meets and to those of us who read about the adventure. He appreciates his adventure and so we want to come along. Yup! Big Team. Big Team! Let’s get rollin’!

BN-JC882_0702RI_H_20150626142823

READING REFLECTIONS FROM WESTERN NY BONNE

Unknown-1

I consider myself a reader! I read for pleasure and for learning. I enjoy discovering how other people think and I am continually fascinated by what I read.

I read books every day usually 2-3 books a week. I have done this since I was a child as it started with my mother and grandmother reading to my brother and me every evening before going to bed. In elementary school one of my greatest pleasures was selecting books at a nearby library and bringing them home each week to devour. I loved series of almost any kind. Reading became a habit I still have.

I select my books by using Bookmarks Magazine reviews and friends’ recommendations as well as book reviews and lists in our newspaper and others. Also, I belong to an active book club where I read books I would never have selected. Over the past few years I have kept a reading diary so I can remember what I have read. I keep it alphabetically by author and then rate the book with an arrow: up really good, down, forget it and the in-between. This system has helped me reflect on and appreciate my reading habits.

At the present time I am reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng as well as Inner Compass– An Invitation to Ignatian Sprituality by Margaret Silf.

Several books really appealed to me these past few months. I thoroughly enjoyed The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (both historical fiction depicting places where I have been). I also enjoyed Sweet Salt Air and Family Ties by Barbara Delinsky as they told of families grappling with significant issues in today’s society. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown completely captivated me, and I learned so much.

I do not have one favorite author but depending on my mood I select books by certain people. I like reading on my ipad (both Nook & Kindle apps) and have downloaded so many books that I choose according to my mood. A book I start and stop today may be a favorite next month. My favorite genre is historical fiction. I really appreciated Ken Follett books and another favorite was Jennifer Donnelly’s The Tea Rose Series.

I enjoy mysteries, especially psychological ones, stories depending on character more than plot. Examples are those by Tana French (Dublin Murder mysteries), P. D. James and Val McDermid.

Two of my favorite non-fiction authors are Erik Larson and Laura Hillenbrand. I read many history books as well as some biographies. For me to endure those books the prose has to flow. I do not care for boring history or preachy biography.

However, I thoroughly enjoy reading best-selling authors. Some authors I go to for relaxation are James Patterson, Elin Hilderbrand, Nelson DeMille, Nora Roberts, Jodi Piccoult .

My waiting-to-read stack contains Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmstead by Justin Martin, The Swan Thieves by Eliabeth Kostova, Under the Starry Sky by Nancy Horan and Hour of the Hunter by J.A. Jance

On my shelves you might be surprised to find books on spirituality and prayer. Most of those books I keep for reflection and reference.

Reading is important to me because it takes me away from my every-day life into other places where I meet other people. I learn so much and then the reading I do gives me incentive to learn more about various people, places and things. I particularly enjoy historical fiction as I love history and traveling.

Note from the blogger: Bonne makes me want to run to my book stack and read the rest of the day away. Oh, and tomorrow, too. Thanks so much to Bonne for participating in the readeatlive/blog Reader Interview Series. I always find it a treat to listen to Bonne. In this piece one can hear her voice and feel her passion. Thank you, Bonne! Everyone’s book list is longer because of you.