Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom


Blurb:
Pitmaster is the definitive guide to becoming a barbecue aficionado and top-shelf cook from renowned chefs Andy Husbands and Chris Hart.
Barbecue is more than a great way to cook a tasty dinner. For a true pitmaster, barbecue is a way of life.
Pitmaster is the definitive guide to becoming a barbecue aficionado and top-shelf cook, whether you’re new to the grill or a seasoned vet. Recipes begin with basics, like cooking Memphis-style ribs, and expand to smoking whole hogs North Carolina style.
There is no single path to becoming a pitmaster. Barbecue lovers are equally inspired by restaurants with a commitment to regional traditions, competition barbecue champions, families with a multi-generational tradition of roasting whole hogs, and even amateur backyard fanatics.
This definitive collection of barbecue expertise will leave you in no doubt why expert chefs and backyard cooks alike eat, live, and breathe barbecue.
From the All Q'd Up blog:

"The chapters go into styles of barbecue, and delve into the main regions: Backyard Barbecue; North Carolina; Kansas City; Texas; The North; and Competition Barbecue. As far as recipes, this book has the classics from the above regions that are the go-to ones, with nothing extra that doesn’t fit. You’ll find favorites like barbecue rubs, sauces, and sides to the actual meats that define the barbecue regions – Butcher Paper [Beef] Brisket from Texas, and Whole Hog Eastern North Carolina Style."

Read the full review from the All Q'd Up barbecue blog, and try a recipe from the book.



Book Info:
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking--Flatbreads, Stuffed Breads, Challahs, Cookies, and the Legendary Chocolate Babka by Uri Scheft


Breaking Breads Blurb:
Named one of the Best Cookbooks of the Year by Food & Wine, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, The Washington Post, and more
 

Israeli baking encompasses the influences of so many regions—Morocco, Yemen, Germany, and Georgia, to name a few—and master baker Uri Scheft seamlessly marries all of these in his incredible baked goods at his Breads Bakery in New York City and Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv. Nutella-filled babkas, potato and shakshuka focaccia, and chocolate rugelach are pulled out of the ovens several times an hour for waiting crowds. In Breaking Breads, Scheft takes the combined influences of his Scandinavian heritage, his European pastry training, and his Israeli and New York City homes to provide sweet and savory baking recipes that cover European, Israeli, and Middle Eastern favorites. Scheft sheds new light on classics like challah, babka, and ciabatta—and provides his creative twists on them as well, showing how bakers can do the same at home—and introduces his take on Middle Eastern daily breads like kubaneh and jachnun. The instructions are detailed and the photos explanatory so that anyone can make Scheft’s Poppy Seed Hamantaschen, Cheese Bourekas, and Jerusalem Bagels, among other recipes. With several key dough recipes and hundreds of Israeli-, Middle Eastern–, Eastern European–, Scandinavian-, and Mediterranean-influenced recipes, this is truly a global baking bible.
A really great baking book here. From the Pastry Sampler blog:

"Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft gives spirit to old favorites, and is a reflection of the author’s travels. Traditional challah, laminated breads, flatbreads, and stuffed breads are all greatly described and made, and he mixes contemporary ingredients with traditional methods. And it’s not just about yeast breads – we are presented with wonderful treats for afternoon tea or coffee, too, and all the things to serve them with,  a surprising focus on the savory here."



Book Info:
Read the full review on the Pastry Sampler blog, and try one of the recipes.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

More Than a Slave by Anaelle Gadeyne


Book Blurb:
Alexander Anderson has a reputation that would strike fear into the heart of the devil himself. And now, Aria Starbird is his property. Aria has spent only a few months as a lowly slave, but already her happy childhood memories were starting to fade under the weight of her brutal existence. 

When she is sold to Lord Anderson at an auction, she cannot help but be afraid. Lord Anderson is known for his cruelty. He is fiendish and handsome and as wicked as he is wealthy. However, as she gets to know her new master, she realizes there is more to him than meets the eye. Over time, she is able to penetrate his tough exterior, and begins to understand the struggle of a man who believes love is a weakness, but whose heart is now yearning for something unknown. 

As the two let down their walls and discover each other’s truths, will Aria be able to tame Alexander's inner-beast? 
This is a story of a girl who is sold off to ease her very poor parent's burden. And while the story had elements that were good, the violence was a little over the top, and seemed wholly unnecessary at times. We are introduced to the heroine being sold off to two different men, and the hero nonchalantly talking about killing four slaves in a week.

It's hard to put your heart into reading a historical romance with really so much violence going on around the slaves. The issue here isn't actual slavery, but the attitude of sadistic violence that all the characters employ. (Spoiler: there is an actual torture dungeon in the house, and the occupants can hear the screams.) The main characters regard torturing someone as a non issue, so much so that it was hard to like anyone. The writing and the dialogue between the characters seemed disjointed in places making it hard to follow along, and the ending fell flat. 

I try to find the good in most books, though, and I was truly amazed that Aria seemed to hold her own even though she was sold by her poor parents into lifetime servitude (although she never really much acted like an actual slave throughout the book) and she had endured so much torture and abuse. That by itself shows her strength.



Book Info:
Disclosure: this book was provided by the author and any opinions are my own.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Cookbook Review: Slow Dough by Chris Young


Blurb:
Making bread is an ancient craft and a fulfilling experience, a skill that is learnt by touch and feel. There is nothing more satisfying than kneading, pulling, stretching and punching the dough, using a little yeast and sugar to transform its lumpen beginnings, as if by alchemy, into a loaf. But it's not all hard work. To get a truly wonderful bread, you can use a starter to do the work for you and it does wonders for the texture, flavours and aromas of the final bread. The Real Bread Campaign has been running since 2008, encouraging people to get baking and raising awareness of the additives that exist in most shop-bought loaves. In Slow Dough: Real Bread, learn secrets from the campaign's network of expert bakers to make a huge array of exciting slow-rise breads at home. Whether you want to make a Caraway Seed Rye Bread, a Fougasse Flatbread or an All-Butter Brioche, in these recipes you'll learn how to make different starters for different breads, as well as the fundamental processes (many of which you can just sit and wait for): fermenting, kneading, first proof, last rising, and baking. In a world of mass-production and redundant additives, bread being among the worst offenders, this book, about real craftsmanship, is like a breath of fresh air.
Read the book review plus try a recipe from the book Slow Dough on the Pastry Sampler Blog.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Around the World in 80 Tales by Dave Tomlinson

Blurb:
TRAVEL TURNED ME INTO A STORYTELLER
To travel the world is an amazing experience. I’ve spent years traveling alone along popular tourist trails and to remote travel destinations far beyond them. Each travel experience is an adventure and each adventure gives with a story to tell. Fascinating travel memoirs deserve to be shared so one day I decided that I’d write 80 of my best travel stories.

After leaving me speechless, my world travel then turned me into a storyteller!

I’ve found that adventure travel on a budget is a kaleidoscope of people, places, events, history, culture, food and fun. Through the pages of my travel book, I’ll bring it all to life for you. The collection of short stories is fascinating, inspiring, amusing and amazing. Collectively, they are an insight into the wonderful highs and gritty realities of traveling the world on a budget.
This is a collection of stories from different places the author has visited. Each story is long enough to give a feeling of location, but probably short enough to fit into a blog post. It was easy to read but felt a bit disjointed as the locations aren't presented in the order of how he visited them, and are fairly randomized in the book. Having said that, the randomized order by the author was intentional.

The stories themselves are good, though, and some were very informative. His visit to Tennant Creek in Australia is a reminder to always pay up if you use facilities in a new location without permission and his trip to Gujarat, India, warns of eating strange foods and strange places. For the most part, he finds that the people from different cultures are welcoming and helpful. The single accompanying photo shows what stood out for him on each trip, and each locale was well described.

In each city Tomlinson highlights the things that stood out with the people and landscape, surroundings if in a city, and a little history if he learns it. This is a travel book that is appropriate for kids and adults alike.

Book Info:


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Bum Luck by Paul Levine


Blurb:

A fast paced story and a really great read. The story line began with the improbable decision by a lawyer to kill his client, and by the time the middle of the story came around I was hooked and read straight through to the end.

Jake Lassiter is a lawyer who's seemingly a shark and one who will win at all costs, but really wants to find redemption in his life. He not only believes his client is guilty and wants a way to even the score, but he is caught up in a scandal where he looks guilty as hell, and the clock is ticking to prove his innocence. He is former pro football player who has had numerous head injuries leading his friends and family to believe there is a relationship between the swift change in his behavior and previous (and current) concussions.

I loved the story line, and the pace that it's written. It was funny and smart, two great additions to any mystery. This book is the second in the series Lassiter, Solomon & Lord, and I'm guessing the next book will be as good as this one.

Book Information:
This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

A Rebel Among Us (Renegade #3) by J.D.R.Hawkins


Blurb:
After David Summers enlists with the Confederate cavalry, his delusion of chivalry is soon crushed when he witnesses the horrors of battle. Shot by a Union picket, he winds up at a stranger’s farm. Four girls compassionately nurse him back to health. David learns his comrades have deserted him in Pennsylvania following the Battle of Gettysburg, but his dilemma becomes much worse. He falls in love with the older sister, Anna, who entices him with a proposition. To his dismay, he must make a decision. Should he stay and help Anna with her underhanded plan, or return to the army and risk capture?
For a girl who likes history, reading about life during the Civil War was just icing on the cake for this sweet romance. The story really was engaging and well written, and I could picture myself in that time period. Very well researched and detailed, and it was pretty honest of how slaves and freed men were treated back then. I don't know why this stuck with me, but in other fiction books I've read of the Civil War, when it came to the issue of slaves, the South was bad and the North was good and treated all freed slaves as free white men, which wasn't always the case. 

It begins with a family of girls in Union territory finding a Confederate soldier injured, and how they nurse him back to health. The oldest sister gets him to stay one time, then asks him to stay longer with a proposition. Great story line and the characters were all likable. While Anna and David were the main characters, Maggie, the younger sister, and Patrick, a neighbor, helped make the story better.

I loved this book! It's a longer book, so she has the time to work in details from her research. This was the first book I've ready by J.D.R. Hawkins, and I look forward to reading more historical pieces from this author.



Book Info:
  • A Rebel Among Us by J.D.R. Hawkins
  • 2016; Foundations, LLC; Second Edition edition.
  • 563 pages; ebook and paperback editions.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The Meals to Heal Cookbook by Susan Bratton and Jessica Iannotta

Blurb:
From the founder and the chief operating officer of Meals to Heal (a company that provides vetted nutritional information and prepared meals delivery to cancer patients and their families): 150 nutritionally balanced recipes created with an eye toward the special needs of cancer patients (e.g. mouth sores, nausea, and difficulty swallowing) who often suffer from malnutrition.
I loved this book. I read and reviewed this for my personal blog and also shared a great recipe from it: Parchment Paper Steamed Fish and Vegetables.

My summary, "If you are on a cancer treatment path that includes chemo, then this is the perfect book to have in the kitchen. No empty promises for an easy ride through treatment (because there isn’t one), just real world, wholesome recipes that provide nutrients making you stronger - and presented in a way that tackles your side effects and manages your symptoms. Highly recommended read." Read the review below.

The Meals to Heal Cookbook: 150 Easy, Nutritionally Balanced Recipes to Nourish You During Your Fight with Cancer by Susan Bratton and Jessica Iannotta.

Book Information:

 

Book Information:

 Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I read this via an audiobook, and am so glad I did. The three women reading it made this psychological thriller really hard to put down. And with them in character, each made me feel a little something more.

Blurb:
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. "Jess and Jason," she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
A mystery and whodunit in one, this was a great example of what a classic Hitchcock film was like when I watched them as a kid. No jump out at you moments or gory details; just a smooth and completely engrossing tale of a woman who suffers alcoholic blackouts who thinks she knows what she sees. As the book progresses, I ended up with a pity-hate relationship with her: she was so screwed up that her actions were both pitiful and made you angry at the same time reading it.

While most books you can tell a little bit about the plot without giving it away, this book is a true 'read it for yourself' one. If you are an Audible member, Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher all did a superb job of telling the story of the three women in the book.



Book Information:


Disclosure: Amazon links.
 



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Panda Inn Calendar 2001 Cookbook



A quick review of an old cookbook calendar from 2001. Twelve classic Chinese recipes from the Panda Inn restaurant. The review and the recipe for the Firecracker Chicken are on the Cookbook Papers.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Protein Ninja: Power Through Your Day with 100 Hearty Plant-Based Recipes that Pack a Protein Punch by Terry Hope Romero



Protein is a major building block of your body. A protein rich diet helps curb hunger but it also helps with muscle loss. Terry Hope Romero's Protein Ninja provides over 100 different recipes packed with protein from breakfast to dessert and every meal in between. My full review is over on Sand and Succutash: Protein Ninja by Terry Hope Romero, and includes the recipe for Button Up White Bean Gravy, a delicious and satisfying gravy served over biscuits for a total comfort food dish.

Book Information:



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

Soupelina's Soup Cleanse - by Elina Fuhrman


Soupelina's Soup Cleanse is a cookbook dedicated to plant-based soups and broths to 'heal your body, calm your mind, and transform your life.'



Book Blurb:
With easy and filling recipes, Soupelina's Soup Cleanse has something for every palate and every person. From blended soups like "Easy Peas-y" for breakfast and the cleansing "Fennel Hurrah"; to chunky soups like the Asian-inspired "I Will be Bok, Choy!" and "Beet the Heat," a spin on all things fermented; to broths like the antiviral and immune-boosting "Pho Sho" and "Don't Kvass Me Any More Questions" from her family's Russian roots, Soupelina's Soup Cleanse will bring the power of soup - and the pleasure of soup - to kitchens across the country.

I loved this book. Read the full review and try the quinoa and bean chili, "It's Chili and It's Hot," from the Sand and Succotash blog. The recipe is included.



+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC

The Darkest of Suns Will Rise Book 1 by Brian Sfinas



Book Blurb:
Two hundred years in our future, mankind has made contact with a nigh-omniscient, pacifistic alien race known as The Prognosticate. With the help of these extraterrestrial visitors we have been able to solve the problems of overpopulation and disease. The Earth is recovering from our impact and our civilization is in a state of prosperity, united under the Alliance of Earthly Nations. Peace, however, is not in our nature.

The Darkest of Suns Will Rise tells the story of Aiden DeCaro and Clarissa Blue, the captain of a near-Earth defense ship and his damaged counterpart. The Orphanage, a loose collection of terrorist cells populated with religious zealots, destroys a merchant vessel while it moves through an AEN-protected trade route. Aiden's ship is the closest to the incident when it happens and when it's discovered that the Orphans are using Alliance military codes to nullify observation satellites and intercept civilian ships undetected, eyes turn toward Aiden.
So, let's say all problems regarding overpopulation and human's impact on Earth are solved, super robots were created in tiny, nanite forms to fix all the nasty things we could ever do to ourselves, and war was something we could avoid - would we be happy? The answer is no when information is withheld, even when it's a positive outcome. From the book: Throughout history, mankind has proven that you can keep docile and ultimately destroy entire civilizations simply by withholding knowledge from them. The alien race helping us also hauntingly invades our thoughts, and not everyone is playing nicely with them. The Prog believe only in reason and the Orphanage terrorist cells still believe in religion.

It's a little dark in places, but the extreme actions of the characters are strangely warranted. Humans live in a world where there are no real problems, and Clarissa needs Aiden's violent nature to feel anything in the apathetic life she lives.

The book is written in a series of journal entries by different characters, and every point of view gives another clue as to why the Orphanage terrorist cells exist. Even though the alien race has seemingly saved us from ourselves, the terrorist group IS humanity. But if the Orphanage succeeds it will most likely lead to humanity's eventual downfall. It's in our nature. Which makes for a good twisted read.

It's hard to categorize this book (dystopian, science fiction, mystery), so I won't and will just say it is a refreshing read from the usual cleanly written 'beginning-middle-ending' fiction novels. I have to say that I'm pretty good at figuring out and predicting the ending in mysteries though, (spoiler here) but the ending in this one made me re-read the entire book for clues as to whether Clarissa knew who the captain was from the very beginning.

All in all, a super read. More from this author: The Sexual Adventures of Time and Space.



Book Info:

Disclosure: This book was provided by the author, and any opinions are my own.


+Renee Shelton
Twitter: @121degreesC