Cooking the Book: Swedish Visiting Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie GreenspanOne of my favorite cookbooks (as I mentioned in one of my earliest posts), but it was after making the cake for my book club’s tea party and having two people request the recipe that I realized it’d be nice to have it shared here as well.

I have made a few changes to the way Greenspan wrote the recipe in her cookbook (I promise I made it her way the first few times). I always omit her optional almond extract, because I hate almond extract, and I up the vanilla extract. I rarely have fresh lemons, so I almost always substitute lemon essential oil for the zest of one lemon, and I changed the order for how ingredients are mixed, to make it even easier on me.

How I Now Make “Swedish Visiting Cake”:

1 cup (200 grams) sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
4 drops lemon essential oil* OR zest from one lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (120 grams) all purpose flour
about 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan.

Combine sugar and lemon essential oil or zest. Mix together. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix thoroughly. Add salt and vanilla extract and stir well. Stir in butter, and then add flour and mix until just combined.

Pour into prepared cake pan and sprinkle top with sliced almonds and extra sugar. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden.

swedish-visiting-cake-made-with-essential-oils

My verdict:

Love this cake. It’s easy to make, quick to bake, can be made with pantry ingredients only, and lasts well.

The kids’ verdict:

It’s cake. They’re kids. What’s not to like?

See all the Cooking the Book reviews and recipes I’ve shared..

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

* If you’re baking or cooking with essential oils, please make sure you’re using ones that are safe for consumption. I use and recommend Young Living, because of their standards, and they have a special line of oils just for dietary purposes.

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Quick Lit: Kids’ Cookbooks

In my monthly recap posts, I’ve mentioned trying to teach my kids to cook or at least basic kitchen skills – they are only 7 and 5, so I’m not expecting them to start cooking dinner or anything, but they’re still ready to learn some things.

Because it’s what I do, I started with some books and checked a stack out from the library. These were my favorites:

New Junior CookbookBetter Homes and Gardens New Junior Cookbook

What I liked about it: My son really likes this as a collection of recipes – they’re appealing, and it’s colorful. He’s requested that I buy it for him as he wants his own copy, instead of just reading the library copy.

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

The Disney Princess CookbookThe Disney Princess Cookbook

What I liked about it: My daughter LOVES this book – it’s got princesses! I was actually fairly impressed with this one – I liked that the recipes were mostly really recipes, not just assemble a couple of items together. The recipes are cleverly tied to the princess theme, and they have an index at the back combining some of the recipes to have a themed meal. It’s very cute. She also wants her own copy of this, and it’s quite likely that both kids will get their preferred book for Christmas.

It’s a great cookbook, and really appealing for young cooks (ok, young girls; my son was unimpressed).

Why this didn’t work for me: it’s not really a cooking lesson book; it’s mostly recipes (with a little bit of extra info, but not enough for what I needed.

National Geographic Kids Cook BookNational Geographic Kids Cookbook: A Year-Round Fun Food Adventure

What I liked about it: Loved the format for this one – it follows the calendar year, and is filled with food traditions and facts from around the world.

Why this didn’t work for me: it would be better for older kids, as it’s not a beginning book. I did really like the year theme, and it would be fun to work through it in the future, but it’s not right for us at this stage.

How to Cook in 10 Easy LessonsHow to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons

What I liked about it: This was the best I found at giving cooking instruction – it’s structured to actually teach, not just be a book of recipes. The ten lessons work very well to address specific skills – using knives, peeling & grating, etc.

Why this didn’t (perfectly) work for me: What was less successful was the fact that we couldn’t just start at the beginning and work through the book – some recipes ended up referring to skills that hadn’t been taught yet. I wanted it to be open-and-go for me, and I ended up having to rearrange things more than desired.

It’s also written originally for a UK audience, and not everything was translated/adapted for a US audience. Most of it was, but there were some things that were not the same for us. A minor quibble, but when it was something my son was reading carefully, it added an extra layer of complication.

The Results

Since it was the closest to what I wanted, I bought a copy of How to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons, and used it for about 6 weeks, with varying degrees of success. The Key Lime Pie was delicious, the Chocolate Cake was dreadful, and everything else was somewhere in between.

Mostly it ended up not working that well as an actual cooking lesson, and it really wasn’t easily designed to take beginners in a sequential way through things, let alone beginners of different ages and abilities.

So it’s not so much that it was a bad book, just that it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. I think it will work better once my kids have those basic skills, and they can practice them more with this book.

What We’re Using Now

Tomorrow I’ll share about what I ended up finding, and what we’re using instead. It’s not what I thought I wanted or intended to use, but it’s working really really well so far.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Recent Cookbook Reads, Twitterature-Style
Three years ago: Recent Reads, Twitterature-Style

Month of Meals: 30 Minute Meal Plans

Month of Meals: 30 Minute Meal Plans by Jessica FisherMonth of Meals: 30 Minute Meal Plans by Jessica Fisher

Fisher has a new thing going on right now: A themed “Month of Meals” plan. July’s theme? 30 Minute Meals. And it’s only available in July – if this looks good to you, grab it before the month is over.

Meal time is still a big issue for me, for various reasons, but one of the best things I’ve figured out to make it easier is to have trusted resources for all-but-guaranteed dinner success. Fisher is one of those resources for me. Her recipes fit our tastes, and I trust them to turn out well.

I like this new plan she’s pulled together. The recipes aren’t new as far as I can tell, but they’re nicely organized together into 4 weekly plans. Recipes are included, so you won’t need internet access once you’ve downloaded the plan.

My only real complaint is that there are enough pictures scattered throughout that it makes it hard to print, for those who prefer working off a hard copy. If you’ve got a tablet and can work from that, this shouldn’t be an issue. For me, I’d rather there be a printable version at the end, with no pictures, to save on ink.

I like that there are 5 shopping lists included – one for each week, and one for the entire month. You know, in case you’re buying in bulk so it’ll be easy to get all the staples you’ll need. I also like the weekly prep tips and leftover suggestions – ideas for what to do with the little bits that often end up languishing in my fridge until I toss them.

The $9 price tag on this feels a tiny bit high, although it helps if I re-frame it and think of it as saving one night of take-out it’ll more than pay for itself. I’d still rather see it at $8 max – then it’s $2/week and appeals to my likes-things-nice-and-even side. Yes. I’m ridiculous. 🙂

And hey! Heads-up if you like Fisher’s recipes as much as I do. Her newest book, Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less: Fresh, Fast, and Flavorful Home-Cooked Meals, with More Than 200 RecipesGood Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less: Fresh, Fast, and Flavorful Home-Cooked Meals, with More Than 200 Recipes by Jessica Fisher, is available for pre-order right now for it’s early September release. You know I already ordered my copy. 😉

Disclosure: I received this book for free for review (but I pre-ordered the other one myself). I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Quick Lit February 2015

We’ll just call this a clear-out of some books from 2014 that never got mentioned. Plus some more recent reads. 🙂

Tasting the SeasonsTasting the Seasons: Inspired, In-Season Cuisine Thats Easy, Healthy, Fresh and FunTasting the Seasons: Inspired, In-Season Cuisine Thats Easy, Healthy, Fresh and Fun by Kerry Dunnington by Kerry Dunnington

Has some very intriguing recipes, but the book is crying out for photographs. There are a few recipes that call for specialty ingredients, but there is a source list in the back. I hope to do a “Cooking the Book” feature with this one soon.

Everythign I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden BookEverything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden BookEverything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow by Diane Muldrow

This was a gift, and it’s very cute. If you’ve read many Little Golden books, it’s more fun than if you’re looking at it and are unfamiliar with the source material.

The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the PlanetThe Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More Than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal IdeasThe Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet: Make Lunches Your Kids Will Love with More Than 200 Deliciously Nutritious Meal Ideas by Laura Fuentes by Laura Fuentes

Was hoping for some ideas to get out of the lunch rut we’ve fallen into, and I’ll be trying some of these with my kids. Fingers crossed that they’re a hit!

Signs of Life New TestamentSigns of Life New TestamentSigns of Life New Testament by David Jeremiah by David Jeremiah

Liked this except for some text issues – bad color choices make some parts of it almost impossible to read, at least in the copy I have. Boo.

Encounters with JesusEncounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest QuestionsEncounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life's Biggest Questions by Timothy Keller by Timothy Keller

Liked it but didn’t LOVE it like I expect to do with all Keller books. My expectations might be a tad bit high for him though.

WorshipWorship: The Ultimate PriorityWorship: The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur by John MacArthur

The most in-depth look at worship I’ve ever read, and I found it fascinating. Not a quick read, but one that required focus and attention. Highly recommended.

DIY CookbookThe America’s Test Kitchen DIY CookbookThe America's Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook

It’s fine, but there weren’t as many things I was tempted to try in this one. I’m sure a homemade version would be tastier, but right now with three young children? It’s not happening. Priorities push my time elsewhere. Someday though, I think it’d be fun to try making my own ketchup, hot sauce, candied ginger, pickles, cheese, and more. The only thing in the book I’m currently making on my own? Granola.

Slow Cooker RevolutionSlow Cooker Revolution Volume 2Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2: The Easy-Prep Edition by America's Test Kitchen by America’s Test Kitchen

Not sure if it was me or the book, but I wasn’t inspired to try many of these – a first for an ATK book (excluding the one above, which was a very different sort of book). Maybe I’ve just looked at too many slow cooker books, and feel like I already have recipes for most of the types of meals I’m likely to make?

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: I received a copy of Tasting the Seasons from the author for review, but was not required to post a positive review (all opinions are my own!) This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Cooking the Book: Good Cheap Eats

Good Cheap EatsGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for $10 or LessGood Cheap Eats: Everyday Dinners and Fantastic Feasts for $10 or Less by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

Years ago there was a meal-planning service that I wanted to make work. I loved the idea of it, I loved the idea of the recipes, and the library had their books so it was easy to try. Except the recipes almost never worked for me. They didn’t match our tastes, and the few times I found one that I liked, my husband didn’t care for it. A menu plan where none of the recipes are ones you’ll want isn’t much of a help, and I finally admitted that trying to tweak their plan wasn’t worth the effort.

Jessica Fisher’s recipes? Now those fit our tastes. I’ve got all of her cookbooks and everything I’ve tried has been a hit. So it’s not that surprising that with her latest book I happily pre-ordered it and impatiently waited for it to be released.

And I’ve had it for a month now and have already made one recipe from it twice (the Chicken, Black Bean, and Rice Soup), as well as flagging many more to try.

This book is structured a bit differently – there aren’t sections for beef, or chicken, or soups. Instead there are menus, arranged thematically. For example, section one is “Going Meatless.” There are also sections on “Company Dinners” “Make-Ahead Meals” “Breakfast for Supper” and more. So if you’re in the mood for soup, it could be in almost anywhere in the book. That’s ok, because there’s a great index, but the organization does mean you can’t flip through one section and find them all.

I actually really like how it’s structured – it gives great ideas on accompanying dishes. As I write this, I’m planning on making the Poblano Chile Enchiladas this week. The other recipes grouped with it are for South of the Border Slaw, and Zesty Mexican Rice. Both of those sound good to me, so I’ll just use her entire plan!

There are lots of money-saving tips scattered throughout the sidebars. Some of them are familiar, but there were many that were new ideas for me. I wouldn’t get the book just for them, but they’re a nice bonus in a cookbook that I think will get heavy use in my house.

Unlike her book Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze CookbookNot Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook (NYM Series) by Jessica Fisher (which I also use and love), this new book includes photographs for many of the recipes. That was my main complaint with her freezer cookbook, so I’m very happy to see this change.

How I Made “Chicken, Black Bean, and Rice Soup”:

(very slightly modified from Fisher’s recipe)

1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water (because I didn’t have another two cups of broth)
2 – 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I never measured this, just dumped some in from a bag of frozen chicken)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium zucchini, shredded (the second time I didn’t have this, and skipped it. It was better with it.)
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup long grain white rice
juice of 1 lime (I used about 2 drops of lime oil)
1 teaspoon chile powder (she uses cumin here; I always sub chile powder for cumin in recipes)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I upped this amount)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I upped this amount because I wanted more zip)
salt and pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped (to garnish)

In a large stockpot, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, except for the cilantro. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro.

My verdict:

So good. Super easy too, and it makes a ton, so there are plenty of leftovers. And it’s freezable so I won’t be facing the same soup for days on end. My husband loved it too.

The kids’ verdict:

My kids do not like soup, but that’s not specific to this one. 🙁

See all the Cooking the Book reviews and recipes I’ve shared..

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Recent Cookbook Reads – Twitterature-Style

recent cookbook reads, twitterature-style

It’s been a good couple of months as far as reading cookbooks goes, even if my timing on two of them wasn’t the best.
My Paris KitchenMy Paris Kitchen: Recipes and StoriesMy Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz by David Lebovitz
I’ve loved his other books, both his memoir (The Sweet Life in ParisThe Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz) and cookbooks (especially The Perfect ScoopThe Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz and Ready for DessertReady for Dessert: My Best Recipes by David Lebovitz), and his latest bridges the gap between the two formats. It’s still clearly a cookbook, but it is filled with stories about his experiences in Paris since moving there a decade ago. I had to return it to the library before I was able to try any of the recipes, but there were lots that sounded (and looked) delicious.

Barefoot Contessa FoolproofBarefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can TrustBarefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten by Ina Garten
Beautiful photographs, and lots of suggestions for menus (not just individual dishes) and tips that work for entertaining. She likes seafood a lot more than I do, and some of her other ingredients aren’t ones that I buy because of their cost, but I still found several recipes I’d like to try.

Cooking with LoveCooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs YouCooking with Love: Comfort Food that Hugs You by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko by Carla Hall
If you’re familiar with her at all, the personality that came through on Top Chef shines throughout her first cookbook. She may be a chef with the ability to design and execute complicated dishes, but the focus here is on comfort food, and everything seemed very do-able for a home cook without extensive experience. I loved the tips she includes on some of the recipes for how to turn them into a fancier presentation if you’re wanting to use them for entertaining.

Fresh from the FarmFresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and StoriesFresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories by Susie Middleton by Susie Middleton
Gorgeous photographs and some tempting-sounding recipes for late spring/early summer, high summer, and late summer/early fall dishes, but the formatting and organization was terrible. The stories that flow throughout the text are appealing, but laid out in these small sidebars that carry over page after page. It’s very strange, and makes for a very disjointed reading experience. It also makes the recipes themselves sometimes not fit on a page as well, and results in lots of additional flipping back and forth.

Fresh from the Vegan Slow CookerFresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes by Robin Robertson by Robin Robertson
One of the ones that my timing was bad – the weather is too warm for me to want most of the soups, stews, chilis, and casseroles where slow cooking shines. However, that’s not the fault of the book, and I may check it out again once fall arrives. I tried the chili potato gratin recipe (subbing lentils for the seitan according to her suggestion) and thought it was really tasty. I’d happily make it again, especially as it was just as good reheated the next day. My husband even liked it. We did use real cheese on it though, as we’re not actually vegan. 🙂

Pies and Tarts with Heart
Pies and Tarts with HeartPies and Tarts with Heart: Expert Pie-Building Techniques for 60+ Sweet and Savory Vegan Pies by Dynise Balcavage by Dynise Balcavage
The other one where my timing was poor, but it also wasn’t the best fit, so I doubt I’ll try it again. Although pies may be popular in the summer for most people, I generally try to avoid turning my oven on once temperatures approach 90, so I wasn’t trying any of them right now. Since I’m not vegan, pie crust with butter isn’t an issue for me, and that’s one of the benefits of this book – no butter in the crust, or other dairy products in the pies themselves (or meat products in the savory pies). However, if you are vegan or trying to cut down on dairy or meat products, there were lots of ideas in here that sounded tasty.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Cooking the Book: Best 100 Juices for Kids

Best 100 Juices for KidsBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled JuicesBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled Juices by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

I don’t actually own a juicer. That means many of the recipes included in this cookbook I can’t actually try. But I still found lots to appreciate, enough so that I’m seriously thinking about getting a juicer.

My first tests from the book were the Peaches ‘n’ Cream Yogurt Smoothie, and the Strawberry Colada. I thought they were both delicious, my daughter hated them both, and my son liked the strawberry one, but disliked the peach one. My husband wasn’t home when we tried the peach version, and he wanted his strawberry one with a banana added to it. Once I did that, he loved it.

One of the things I most appreciated about the smoothie chapter is that every smoothie doesn’t include a banana. I hate bananas in smoothies, and it seems like every smoothie recipe I find includes bananas. Sometimes omitting them works, sometimes the smoothie tastes like it’s missing something, and I don’t always want to have to figure out what that is. Apparently one of Fisher’s sons doesn’t like bananas either, so that worked out well for me. 🙂

There are still plenty of ideas for me to try. My kids love slushies (and I hate the versions sold in convenience stores, so a homemade one is fantastic as far as I’m concerned). There are more smoothies that sound delicious. There’s a homemade sports drink, as we enter the season where my husband wants it on hand. But what I want to try next is the Lime-Mint Cooler – in other words, it’s like an alcohol-free mojito. While I look forward to having a mojito again eventually, for now that one will hopefully quench my lime/mint cravings.

I didn’t follow her strawberry colada recipe exactly; I didn’t have canned coconut milk, so I used some coconut extract and coconut water. And as already mentioned, after I removed my share, I added one banana for my husband’s portion.

How I Made “Strawberry Colada”:

2 cups frozen strawberries
1 small can pineapple chunks (from the refrigerator, so they were cold)
1/2 cup water
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract (I didn’t measure it exactly)
honey (added it to taste to get the sweetness where we wanted it)
1/2 cup crushed ice
banana

Blend it all together.

My verdict:

Delicious. I would happily drink this every day.

The kids’ verdict:

My son drank his share and his sister’s, and still wanted more. He’s a fan.

See all the Cooking the Book reviews and recipes I’ve shared..

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Twitterature May 2014

Twitterature

Holey, Wholly, HolyHoley, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of RefinementHoley, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement by Kris Camealy by Kris Camealy

Very reflective book that could work any time of year, not just during Lent.

The Enneagram Made EasyThe Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of PeopleThe Enneagram Made Easy: Discover the 9 Types of People by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele

Loved this easy-to-understand look at the Enneagram. And now I know I’m a 5.

My Name's Not SusieMy Name’s Not Susie: A Life Transformed by LiteracyMy Name's Not Susie: A Life Transformed by Literacy by Sharon Jean Hamilton by Sharon Jean Hamilton

Hard to read at times, as she had a difficult upbringing. I enjoyed the memoir aspects more than the literacy narrative.

Best 100 Juices for KidsBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled JuicesBest 100 Juices for Kids: Totally Yummy, Awesomely Healthy, & Naturally Sweetened Homemade Alternatives to Soda Pop, Sports Drinks, and Expensive Bottled Juices by Jessica Fisher by Jessica Fisher

We’ve tried a couple of the smoothie recipes already, and one was a big hit (the other I should have modified a bit more to our tastes). Am sorely tempted to buy a juicer so I can try some of the juice mixtures as well.

What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and MarriageWhat Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their TrainersWhat Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers by Amy Sutherland by Amy Sutherland

Short and readable and very enjoyable look at applying some animal training methods to human relationships.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Mastering the Art of French Eating

Mastering the Art of French EatingMastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in ParisMastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah by Ann Mah

Despite how it may seem, I really do hate to be bossy about things, but I’m still going to just tell you: if you are at all interested in food memoirs, food history, cross-cultural living, or adventures in Paris (any or all of those that apply), you need to read this book: it was lovely, and I was sad to finish it.

Mah is a foreign service wife – her husband the one with the foreign service career, and she’s the trailing spouse. Adjusting to that life, where her career continually has to restart in a new location, is behind some of the events that led to this book.

Many food memoirs attempt to tackle an entire life, and while Mah does mention some events from her childhood and adult experiences, the bulk of the book focuses on the year she spent in Paris without her husband, who was sent to a post in Iraq where spouses could not follow.

Structurally, I enjoyed Mah’s approach, where she focused on a different region of France and one of the food specialties of that area. Each section includes a recipe for the dish described, and several of them had me wishing I could travel there to experience the meal as it was intended (like that potato dish that can’t be precisely recreated in the U.S., because we can’t get the right kind of cheese).

It might not seem like it should work – integrating her chronological experiences in Paris into the structure of 10 regions and 10 dishes, but it absolutely did. That the account was so readable and compelling all combined to make it one of my favorite reads for the year.

Highly recommended.

Publisher’s Description:
The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time

When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Light is turned upside down.

So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city. Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.

Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.

Book Details

Title: Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in ParisMastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah
Author: Ann Mah
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Read This, Not That: Culinary School Accounts

Beaten, Seared, and SaucedThe Making of a ChefThe Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry

So, you’re interested in culinary school? Want to experience it vicariously, or just enjoy the accounts of what happens there?

There are plenty of books on the topic available: Under the TableUnder the Table: Saucy Tales from Culinary School by Katherine Darling, White Jacket RequiredWhite Jacket Required: A Culinary Coming-of-Age Story by Jenna Weber, and my most recent read: Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of AmericaBeaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America by Jonathan Dixon.

Instead of those though, I’d suggest you read Michael Ruhlman’s book The Making of a Chef, if you want a more general look at the Culinary Institute of America, or read Kathleen Flinn’s memoir The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry, about her experiences at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I’ve shared about both Ruhlman’s and Flinn’s books before, but they’re so much stronger and more enjoyable than the other ones I’ve read that I can’t allow that to stop me from highlighting them again.

In Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of AmericaBeaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America by Jonathan Dixon author Jonathan Dixon came across more that he didn’t want to grow up and figure out what he wanted to do with his life, and cooking school was a way to delay that for a little longer. He’s 38 though, and ends up relying on his girlfriend to pay most of their bills as all of his savings have gone towards tuition.

The best parts of Dixon’s book are the descriptions of his classes, but it’s not enough to recommend this book over the other stronger options that are available. I think if Dixon had explored what it was like to be significantly older than his classmates a bit more, and the ramifications of that on a future culinary career, it would have made for a stronger book. As it was though, that was a wasted opportunity to make his book shine among all the other accounts that have been published.

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