Monthly Archives: July 2016

OUTLANDER KITCHEN

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Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook
Author: Theresa Carle-Sanders
Publisher: Delacorte Press (2016)
Genre: Cookbook
Hardcover Edition: 324 pages with index and photos
Source: Personal copy

If you are still basking in the memories of the outstanding finale of this season’s Outlander, maybe you would like to extend your daydreams with a closer look at this cookbook.

Carle-Sanders has done the research. We can enjoy the read and make some of these recipes in the comfort of a 21st century kitchen. This author leaves no stones unturned. (pun intended). She begins with the pantry for a time-traveling kitchen. In this section she gives important tips like this note: “it takes more kosher salt than regular table salt to season a dish, so if you are using table salt, use about half the amount of the kosher salt called for.” p. 5. She has sections on equipment and a glossary of techniques.

For the recipes she includes quotes from many of Gabaldon’s books. Not only are these a joy to read, they take you to the spot you need to be as a kitchen cook looking for inspiration, or just plain fun.

The book is full of interesting notes such as the fact that authentic cullen skink is a soup made with finnan haddie, haddock caught off the Moray Firth and smoked using green wood and peat. Even my Scotch great grandmothers pioneering in Iowa in the 19th century did not have that ingredient for their soup. They probably used the salt cod that could be ordered from the Montgomery Wards catalog. They did have onions, butter, potatoes, milk.

There are the usual more modern, yet timeless, recipes: Oyster Stew, Shepard’s Pie, Steamed Mussels, Oxford Baked Beans, Corn Muffins, Apple Fritters, Gingerbread – well you get the idea. There are recipes so modern they surprise you: Hot Chocolate, Upside-Down Plum Cake, Cheese Enchiladas, Pizza, Spaghetti and Meatballs.
There are special recipes I can’t wait to try such as Tortellini Portofino. Always there’s a paragraph reference from one of Gabaldon’s books, great photos, and clear directions, as well as notes about ingredients, if needed, for every recipe.

It’s a book filled with recipes and information that spans centuries and continents.
There’s no doubt I’ve hours of enjoyment ahead with this cookbook. And if I travel through the stones, more interesting cooking and eating. Cheese Savories, anyone? I’ll be making these with Paris on my mind.

PAULETTE’S QUICK AND QUIRKY READING RECS

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1. The Sport of Kings (novel) by C.E. Morgan – SKIP IT

2. Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman – IF MYSTERY/THRILLER IS YOUR GENRE?

3. Secondhand Time: the Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich – MAYBE

4. The Anchoress: A Novel by Robyn Cadwallader- THE JURY’S STILL OUT

5. The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma – BORROW IT OR NOT.

EDGARTOWN BOOKS

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Such a pleasant place. Staff friendly and helpful!
44 Main Street, Edgartown, MA on Martha’s Vineyard.
Couldn’t leave the Vineyard without a bookstore visit.
www.edgartownbooks.com

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The charming building fits right in with the Edgartown history and vibe. It looks like it was perhaps once the home of a whaling captain.

Books are tucked into every corner. Such a nice selection!

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Wish I'd bought this one!

Wish I’d bought this one!

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Come on in and spend some time. Or check out the website. It’s a cozy, interesting place to browse books!

BOOK COMMENT: NO PROBLEM, MR. WALT

BOOK COVER

Mei Wen Ti Wooden Boat Show

pictures courtesy of the author

No Problem, Mr. Walt: A Memoir of Loss, Building a Boat, Rebuilding a Life, and Discovering China
Author: Walt Hackman
Publisher: www. PublishAuthority.com, 2015
Genre: Memoir
Paperback Edition: 279 pages
Source: Personal copy

Walt Hackman has written a compulsively readable travel memoir. He made his dreams come true in multiple ways and to read about his efforts and his travels is inspiring. There is drama and delight. He always keeps the focus on the forward movement of building a boat.

A Chinese Junk, Chinese food (complete with recipes), travel and business keep the pages turning. For this reader the descriptions of Chinese people and customs were one of the most interesting aspects of the memoir. Hackman made each city and place where he visited and conducted business during his multiple trips to China come to life, as if the reader were viewing places in a documentary with a personal touch. Hackman has done an excellent job of inserting facts while keeping the forward flow of the narrative. He does not overwrite. In chapter 21 the story of his pet cricket and crickets in Chinese life is most enchanting. But the real suspense: Will the Chinese Junk get built? Will the complications of boat building in China work together to produce the desired result?

Last winter Mr. Hackman asked me to take a look at his book. He was kind enough to send me a copy when it became available. Thank you, Mr. Walt. It is and was a very enjoyable read. Mr. Hackman thoughtfully includes information about China, people and places and further references.

You can see photos of the Mei Wen Ti, a traditional Chinese junk, and more at the author’s website http://www.mrwalt.com/ His is a beautiful website complete with much interesting information. The current owner of the junk keeps the junk in good condition. It recently won the People’s Choice Award in the Wooden Boat Show in Newport Beach, California.

The book is available in eBook form from Amazon and a print copy can be ordered on his website.

Follow Mr. Hackman on Facebook and Twitter @ Walt Hackman.

This reader enjoyed the humor, mystery and suspense of this extraordinary journey as told by Mr. Hackman. One doesn’t need to be interested in China or in boat building to enjoy this book. It’s quite simply a very good read. Enjoy.

READER INTERVIEW WITH INDIANA READER SUSIE BROWN

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FINALLY, another installment in the continuing readeatlive/blog reader interview series. Blog readers, you will enjoy meeting Susie and I think you will be jotting down some of her reading recommendations and hoping to adopt some of her reading habits. I know I intend to.

Tell us about what you are reading?
I have just finished two entirely different selections. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is the story of the families of two half sisters born in different villages in 18th century Ghana. One is married off to an Englishman and lives in the comfort of a castle. The other is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeon, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s slave trade and shipped to America where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. The author weaves her way through the generations and gives us a wonderful ending that reconnects us with the original sisters.

Sharon Guskin, with her first novel The Forgetting Time, tells the story of a psychology professor suffering from early stages of aphasia, a single parent mother, and her four-year-old son who is experiencing life before life. This was a page turner.

Do you have a favorite book of the last year?
I am on a committee that chooses books for a book club and recently, as we plan for next winter, I have read several books that I have enjoyed. Number one on that list would be The Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner. This story is about a connection between two women living 90 years apart, in 1911 and 9-11-2001. It is not only a good story line but very informative about Ellis Island at that time.

What book was a disappointment to you and why?
If a book is disappointing to me it is usually because I don’t care for the characters, it drags or it just does not hold my interest. I like a page turner! A recent disappointment was The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, which I actually listened to rather than read. I spend quite a time in the car and often listen to books on CD’s. That way I can also do two books at one time. This book was 13 CD’s long and by CD 8 I was fast-forwarding through chapters. A friend that also read the book agreed that it could have been 150 pages shorter.

Do you have favorite underappreciated or overlooked authors? Do you have an author you wish to recommend. Feel free to tell us the books of that author you most liked.
JoJo Moyes! I am sure that by now she is not considered overlooked but before I read Me Before You last year I was not at all familiar with her work. I enjoyed how she told that story and have since read many Moyes novels. I would recommend The Last Letter from Your Lover (not really a lovey love story) and The Girl You Left Behind.

Do you have a long-loved book?
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I loved the relationship between Morrie and Mitch. I have read this book at least three times. I can only hope that somewhere along my 29-year teaching career I touched someone as deeply as Morrie touched Mitch.

How do you decide what to read?
Most of my choices come from hearing or reading about books. I always check out the Best Seller lists, the library’s most read list and I have friends that know my preferences and recommend titles to me. I normally read fiction of most types but I stay away from science fiction or thriller books. I enjoy learning about something as I read, as well as just enjoying the plot. For instance, before reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline I had no clue that such a thing had existed and that caused me to do research and read further on the topic. And now I am looking into the topic of children experiencing life before life.

Where and when are you most comfortable reading?
I love to read in the morning at my kitchen table by the windows that overlook my gardens and a wooded area. The sounds of the birds, a cup of coffee, and a good read is a wonderful way to start a day.

If you could meet any author, who would you like to know?
Patricia Polacco, even though she is an author of children’s books. Her books carry such wonderful lessons for all that read them. Nearly every book includes interaction between the young and the old, the value of reading, the importance of good teachers, the damaging effects of teasing or bullying, or the importance of culture and respecting people’s differences. At one time I had an extensive collection of Polacco books but have passed them on to grandchildren and fellow teachers.

Did you have a favorite children’s book you loved as a child?
A book that I loved as a child is The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Warner. It was read to my fourth grade class and I can still remember a picture that I drew of the boxcar sitting in the woods. I read it to my classes and also used it for a creative writing topic.

What is in your waiting-to-read stack?
I have several books on reserve at the library including Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarity and Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Danler. I also will be listening to Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Tell us anything else you would like us to know about your reading habits or your reading philosophy.
I read for enjoyment and relaxation and have always been a reader. My favorite part of my teaching day was the time after lunch when I read to the students.

I feel that reading to children is so very important long before they are school age children. Ask any first grade teacher and they will tell you that within the first days of first grade they can tell who has been read to and who probably had not had that privilege. As an aging adult I hope that reading will help keep my brain exercised.

Note from Paulette: Like Susie I am a Patricia Polacco fan. Susie so beautifully stated some of the reasons why Polacco is a much-loved children’s author. Next time you want a children’s book, or just a good old-fashioned pick-me-up, buy one of her books!

See an early post about Polacco and some of her books in the Archives of this blog. October, 2013.

TIM MABEE’S MARTHA’S VINEYARD SCALLOPS

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Without a doubt, the most delicious scallops ever in my eating history! Enjoyed in a waterfront Martha’s Vineyard cottage surrounded by terrific family this meal was the ultimate seafood dining experience.

These fat white scallops caught off the New England coast were smooth, flavorful, heavenly in every sense. No description, no combination of superlatives does them justice. Thanks Tim Mabee, Linda and their whole family for producing such a wonderful eating experience.

Tim Mabee’s Martha’s Vineyard Scallops
Based on Julia Child’s Coquilles St. Jacques
Printed from A Chef’s Table with Jim Coleman, WHYY, 2008

Tim began by cooking yellow onions slowly in 1 T butter and a small amount of olive oil in a pan for 5 minutes until translucent. Then he added shallots and garlic and cooked slowly for another minute. He then let these simmer a bit in vegetable broth before setting aside.

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Here’s the basic recipe and then more on the preparation.

Ingredients:
1 ½ pounds sea scallops washed and dried
1 ¼ cup yellow onions, finely chopped
1 Tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
1 or 2 large cloves garlic, minced
Vegetable broth. Tim used homemade.
Flour for dredging scallops
White wine
Bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon thyme
Grated Parmesan Cheese or other cheese of your choosing

Preparation:
After cooking the onion, shallots and herbs as described above, he dredged the scallops in a thin coating of flour and browned lightly in a hot oil and butter.

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He added the onions and broth (plus wine if you wish) to the pot before the scallops were too thoroughly cooked and kept them warm in the hot flavorful liquid for a few more minutes. Here he also corrected seasoning and discarded bay leaf before serving.

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Tim served aromatic rice cooked with bouquet garni to accompany his scallops. His herbs were tied in a small cheesecloth bag.

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His finished product, served in small glass soup dishes presented the lovely scallops beautifully. He placed several scallops in each dish and spooned the aromatic sauce into the dishes. He sprinkled each dish with cheese and dotted with small pieces of butter. He put them under a moderately hot broiler just long enough to heat through and brown the cheese slightly.

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The meal was enhanced by a deliciously dressed salad of locally grown greens with carrots and walnuts. Tim whisks up the most wonderful vinaigrettes. This one featured lemony flavors. Homemade bread was available to soak up the herby fresh liquids. Sweet, mild flavors, textures, and herbalicious smells came together in a perfect union. The meal was indeed very special.

Note: As always Tim and others are invited to comment. Hopefully Tim will set me straight where I have misremembered preparation. All tips and info are welcome.