Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Next Four Cook the Books Selections for the 2014 Reading Season

Even as we travel through historic and contemporary America through the pages of our current CTB book selection, "Twain's Feast" by Andrew Beahrs, it is time to plan ahead for some other great reading to fill out the rest of the year.

To heighten the drama before this biblio-unveiling, I wanted to mention the changes that are happening with our Cook the Books band of bloggers. 

First, Heather of Girlichef, is regretfully leaving as a Cohost, though she notes that she will still join the group from time to time as her schedule allows.  I know I have always enjoyed Heather's writing and recipes, so I hope she can squeeze some time in for us and for some great reads in the coming months. The good news is that Debra of Eliot's Eats will be stepping up to the plate as our Fourth Cohost so we will still have a lot of "flavor and spice" represented in our foodie book selections. 

The second big change at Cook the Books is that we are doing away with the Guest Judge and winning post feature to our blog. While we have had a long line of wonderful Guest Judges and savored their comments about our posts, it is sometimes a mad scramble for the Cohost to secure a Guest Judge in cases where we've picked a very popular author that doesn't respond to our invitations (or an author who is deceased). We will still post a roundup of blog posts about our featured book, but there will be no Cook the Book winner. If an author wants to comment about our roundup, we'll pass it on. 

Now, onto the next four Cook the Books picks. 

Simona, Rachel, Deb and Debra have picked out the following books for upcoming rounds of Cook the Books. Here are what we have picked and why we chose it in the host's own words: 

April/May 2014 Round hosted by Rachel of The Crispy Cook

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas (2003)

This witty memoir is by an Iranian-born author who emigrated to southern California with her family in 1972, when she was a little girl. The essays about growing up with an engineer father who thinks he knows more about America and the English language than he actually does, adjusting to cultural differences in school and at-large, and marrying into a French family are full of humor and sparkle. And of course, there are some descriptions of lots of 
luscious Persian cooking to inspire us in the kitchen.


Deadline: Sunday, June 1, 2014

June/July 2014 Round hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen:

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen a Memoir by Jacques Pépin (2003)

Whenever I catch an old episode of Jacques Pépin on PBS or find him on a talk show or serving as a judge on a cooking show like Top Chef, I am struck by what a class act he is. Always respectful, thoughtful and with a true passion for food and for sharing his knowledge of cooking. Now 78, Pépin is a prolific chef, teacher and author, writing over 20 cookbooks and hosting or co-hosting 13 different cooking shows over the years. Several years ago a good foodie friend gave me her copy of his memoir, "The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen" and I reveled in his tale of growing up in France and working in his mother's kitchens, his time spent training and cooking in Paris, and his move to the United States in 1959. 

Stumbling over a copy the other day, I wanted to revisit this book myself and share it with all of you. Spanning several decades, his stories of how today's cooking scene evolved and his friendships with some of the greats like Julia Child, Craig Claiborne and James Beard make this book a charming and engrossing read for any foodie. (Anthony Bourdain called it "an instant classic!") The book itself includes some of Pépin's favorite recipes, and along with his array of cookbooks and online recipes, there should be plenty of inspiration and dishes to choose from. 


Deadline: Thursday, July 31, 2014

August/September 2014 Round hosted by Debra of EliotsEats

A Thousand Days in Venice, by Marlena De Blasi

I cannot remember why I picked up A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi.  I am sure it had something to do with the books tagline of “An Unexpected Romance” and obviously because it was set in Venice.   But, I soon became intrigued with the life De Blasi begins in Venice.  The thousand days of the title include her moving from St. Louis to Venice to start a life with a new and unexpected love.  It chronicles her spontaneous decision to live life and share her heart with Fernando (“the stranger”) and immerse herself in the food, culture and people of the city that is to be her new home.  Thousand Days in Venice is a love story between a man, a woman and a truly beautiful city.  Rest assured there are some authentic recipes included such as Prugne Addormentate (Sleeping Pears), Pappa al Pomodoro, and  Porcini Brasati con Moscato (Wild Mushrooms Braised in Late-Harvest Wine).  It has been a number of years since I have read this book so I am looking forward to rereading it.   Please note that De Blasi continues her adventures with Fernando in A Thousand Days in Tuscany and The Lady in the Palazzo:  An Umbrian Love Story. She also writes about other’s loves in That Summer in Sicily and Antonia and Her Daughters. These books are all full of food, bittersweet tales, love, and beautiful descriptions of Italy and its people.    

De Blasi is also the author of two cookbooks:  Regional Foods of Northern Italy (a James Beard Foundation Award finalist) and Regional Foods of Southern Italy.
I hope everyone enjoys this trip to “The Floating City.”

Deadline: Tuesday, September 30, 2014


October/November 2013 Round hosted by Simona of Briciole

That Old Ace in the Hole, a novel by Annie Proulx (2002)

Although set very far away from the Newfoundland of The Shipping News, this novel shows some parallel to Proulx's earlier novel.The protagonist is a shy man confused about his place in the world, who finds himself transplanted into a new environment full of interesting characters and rich in local customs.

Adding to his clumsiness there is the fact that he is on a mission — to buy land to establish a hog farm— opposed by many of the people who also show him kindness.There are no recipes in the novel, but many dishes are mentioned and I hope that some elements of the story will inspire you. Above all, I hope that you will enjoy following Bob Dollar's adventure in the Texas Panhandle.


Deadline: Tuesday, December 2, 2014

As always, we welcome everyone to join us for one or more of these Cook the Book rounds. The only requirement to join in the fun is to read the book and blog about it, including making a dish inspired by its pages.  Please join us.



Camilla M. Mann said...

Woohoo. Thanks! Now I have new books to read. Very excited.

Ana said...

Well, I now that we no longer need to secure a guest judge (namely the author of the book we are reading) I hope that we can get away from the chick lit reads and choose books with more substance to them.
Overall, the new selections seem very interesting

Simona Carini said...

Glad to read you find the selection interesting, Camilla and Ana.

Anisja said...

Ciao, piacere di conoscerti, grazie per essere passata da me!!!