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Favorite Cookbooks II


Cookie Swap


5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Idea for a Holiday Party or Christmas Baking, November 1, 2011

This is a really fun cookbook with lots of ideas for a Holiday party. Suggestions are given for what to serve alongside the cookies - like punch and hot chocolate. The idea is that everyone coming to the party brings a plate of cookies. Ideally all your friends have a Kindle and can download this recipe book so they can make one of the recipes.

One of the good ideas in this book is the "cookie-decorating contest." This may take a bit of work to set up but the kids at your party will love it.

Some of the delicious recipes in this book include:

Chocolate and Vanilla Swirl Cookies
White Chocolate-Raspberry Diamonds
Chocolate-Toffee Delights
Holiday Peppermint Fudge
Merry Mocha Mix
Snowy Eggnog Teacakes

and much more...

All I can say is that the girls who run Gooseberry Patch are having way too much fun. They write really useful cookbooks that help you create that feeling of a cozy home we all crave.

~The Rebecca Review



Celebrate Cuban: 100 Great Recipes


Culinary Favorites and Cuban Culture, October 23, 2006

"Cuban parties have always been about food. Step into any Miami Cuban household a few hours before a big party and you will immediately detect the heavenly scent of garlic, green peppers, and onions sizzling in olive oil." ~ Glenn

Celebrate Cuban is a collectible cookbook, not only because of the amazing pictures tempting you at every turn of the page, but because of the writing style. I adore the way this book is written. The personality shines throughout and each recipe has comments from Glenn, Raśl and Jorge. There are also conversations between the three cooks and this introduces you to the cultural significance of each dish or gives you insight into why an ingredient is so popular.

The recipes are especially unique and while you may have never tried a guava cake, the picture will have you ordering cans of guava. Guavas are also used in the sauce for the Baby Back Ribs.

The rum butter frosting on the Rum and Coke cake uses Coca-Cola and this amusing comment is on the same page:

"The biggest trouble we had making this cake was convincing Raśl that the rum and Coke goes in the cake and not in the cooks!" ~ Jorge

For dinner you might want to try the Grilled Fish recipe that works on your outdoor grill. Beef Kebobs are flavored with citrus and oregano and you can prepare them the night before. The Chinese-Cuban Style Pork Roast is drenched in a soy and sherry sauce with five-spice powder and more garlic.

Roasted Turkey with Lime and Oregano sounds delicious for Thanksgiving. The instructions are detailed enough to make this sound easy to accomplish. First you make a marinade in your blender with lots of garlic and then leave everything overnight. The instructions are listed in the exact order you need to accomplish everything on time. The recipe takes you from marinade to roasting the turkey to making a delicious gravy. Even if you have never tried to make Thanksgiving dinner, this is something you will want to try. Additional soon to become favorite recipes include: "

Shrimp in Cilantro Cream Sauce
Cuban Pizza
Spinach Empanadas
Cuban Milkshakes
Rice with Seafood
Baked Potato with Bacon (they wrap the potatoes in bacon)
Corn Stew
Spanish Seafood Omelet
Cuban Style Bruschetta
Sweet Cuban Toast (like French toast, but with lemon peel and cinnamon)

The Caramel sauce in this cookbook is a safer version of the condensed milk sauce you might remember making as a child. I had forgotten about this and now I see you can make it in a double boiler.

"It can take several hours to cook in the can, but you can do this one in about an hour." ~ Raśl

I read and cook from a lot of cookbooks and this one is very exciting on all levels. On one page you are dreaming, the next laughing and when you are cooking, you feel a connection to culinary favorites and the Cuban culture.

~The Rebecca Review



The Pudding Hollow


Delicious Bread Pudding, October 6, 2005

The Pudding Hollow cookbook is a unique treasure with warm comforting recipes and nurturing family favorites like Shepherd's Pie and Beef in Horseradish sauce. The recipes come from Hawley, Massachusetts. Here the New England autumn inspires poets and food is not just something purchased at the store. The people live of the land and share their recipes for jams and comforting dinners.

Each chapter begins with stories of the area and Tinky Weisblat shares her cooking experiences. Instantly you are drawn into a world of delicious soups and oatmeal bread. I felt nostalgic as I read about banana cake and glazed pecans. These are treats you may remember from childhood.

Delicious Winter Recipes:

Rhubarb Crisp
Chicken Curry
Chocolate Cherry Cake

Recipes for Summer:

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
Aunt Lizzie's Ginger Drink

When I needed a recipe for bread pudding to use up my day-old hoagie rolls (they work very nicely sliced), Eric Carle's Bread Pudding looked quite delicious and very rich.

As usual when I'm cooking from a recipe in a cookbook, I used what I had on hand and substituted dried cherries for the raisins, champagne for the Grand Marnier (with ¼ teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia is is about the same), sucanat for the sugar and the addition of apple pie spice on the top with cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of melted butter. Needless to say, I was impressed with how the recipe turned out. It seems you could really vary the tastes and create just about any type of bread pudding with his recipe. The possibilities seem endless and you could make seasonal classics.

My father used to tell me stories about Dandelion Wine and this cookbook actually has a recipe. The art in this book is quaint and lends a nostalgic quality. Judith Russell's folk art has been exhibited in Historic Deerfield and was inspired by the beauty around her.

You may find yourself wishing for a wood fire and the chill of winter or wishing you could jump into the pictures and experience farm life and the cozy feeling of a warm house with snow falling outside the windows. Through creating the foods in this cookbook, you can experience the healing effects of comfort foods. Cookbook collectors will be especially pleased with this find. Perfect for reading on a cold winter night.

~The Rebecca Review


Food Matters by Mark Bittman



4.0 out of 5 stars Heal the Planet by becoming more Health Conscious, May 30, 2009
"Industrialized meat production has contributed to climate change and stimulated a fundamental change in our diet that has contributed to our being overweight, even obese, and more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and perhaps even cancer." ~ pg. 2

If you buy this book for any reason at all, buy it for the creamy carrot soup recipe. If you make your own vegetable stock it will take you two hours, but if you use "Better than Bouillon" vegetable base (found at your local grocery store) you will save an hour. It took me about an hour to make the soup but it was well worth the effort. You can also freeze the leftovers quite easily and have a quick lunch or dinner ready to go. The only issues with the recipe is that Mark Bittman doesn't tell you to cut the carrots into 1-inch pieces - instead he says "roughly chopped." You also have to have all the vegetables ready to go before you start heating the oil. His first step is heating the oil. I also found that you have to bring the soup to a boil more quickly (high heat) and then reduce the heat to medium again if you want the soup to cook in 20 minutes (this is after 15 minutes of cooking the vegetables in the oil). This recipe was a pleasure to make and even my cat approved (she came running to me as I was eating lunch) as she licked some off my finger. I didn't give her very much although she wanted more because cats are not supposed to eat onions. The onions in this recipe give the carrots a delicious flavor once processed with an immersion blender. You will be surprised at the creaminess of the recipe even though it contains no milk products. I wasn't even tempted to add any cream.

The rest of the book is interesting but most of the information is about reducing the amount of meat you eat. Mark Bittman believes that the only way to reduce factory farming is to demand less meat. I'm only eating red meat about once a week and mostly choose organic or natural beef, cage-free eggs and organic chicken. So while reading through the first part of the book I felt I was doing fairly well. Mark Bittman explains why junk food and over refined carbohydrates are a bad idea. He has some strange ideas like drinking tap water instead of bottled. Although they both can harm you with chlorine in tap water or toxic chemicals leaching from the plastic. You really choose your poison unless you buy a water filter to use at home. Mark Bittman also admits to using sugar in his coffee - I guess he hasn't heard of "Stevia" yet which tastes so similar to sugar you won't notice a difference.

So while there is a lot of discussion about why meat is bad for you I was surprised to see that there are quite a few recipes using red meat. One recipe even calls for raw meat which I think is dangerous in the age in which we live. The rest of the recipes show you how to cook beans, make vegetable chips, use whole grains in flat bread, make delicious salads and to make healthy fruit smoothies. There are also quite a few recipes for fish and chicken.

Mark Bittman has been writing about food for 30 years so he obviously knows what he is talking about even though he seems skeptical about "acai berries." I found his discussion about food to be quite compelling even though he isn't as strict with himself as some authors promoting a vegetarian diet tend to be. At times I felt as if he was sitting on the fence and I wished he would just take one side or the other. So while this is not a book about vegetarian food it is a book about eating more vegetables and whole grains. In the end this book is about being more responsible and health conscious. If we all ate less meat it could really make a difference in the world. While I only found one recipe I wanted to try I think it is worth the price of the book. There are 77 recipes to choose from so you are bound to find something you will love.

~The Rebecca Review





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