Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Our August/September Selection: Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Since March and our 2020 safer-at-home experience, I have read over twenty books.   Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown is number twenty-one and the August-September  selection for Cook the Books.  

From the Publisher:
In this captivating dual narrative novel, a modern-day woman finds inspiration in hidden notes left by her home’s previous owner, a quintessential 1950s housewife. As she discovers remarkable parallels between this woman’s life and her own, it causes her to question the foundation of her own relationship with her husband--and what it means to be a wife fighting for her place in a patriarchal society.

When Alice Hale leaves a career in publicity to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in a box in the old home's basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner--1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the cookbook’s pages Nellie left clues about her life--including a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to her mother.

Soon Alice learns that while baked Alaska and meatloaf five ways may seem harmless, Nellie's secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister--even dangerous--side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the mounting pressures in her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.

About the Author:
Karma Brown is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of the novels Come Away With Me, The Choices We MakeIn This Moment, and The Life Lucy Knew. In addition to her novels, Brown's writing has appeared in publications such as Self, Redbook, Canadian Living, Today's Parent, and Chatelaine.

The premise of the novel had me captivated from the beginning.  There are recipes included in the book, all with vintage roots mostly in the category of comfort food:  meatloaf, chocolate chip cookies, tuna casserole.  But, there are some more interesting ones as well like rose caramels.  (And perhaps some that you should never, ever make.)  The recipes fall as precursors to Nellie's chapters.  As the narration jumps from a 1950s housewife's POV to that of a modern "homemaker," some startling similarities may arise.  

Please join our merry band of epicurean bibliophiles for this round.  Get a copy of Recipe for a Perfect Wife and read along.  Get inspired by an old classic family recipe from the 1950s or create something new inspired from your reading.  Anyone can participate in Cook the Books and new participants are always welcome!  (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.)

Deadline for contributing your post is Wednesday, September 30, 2020  Leave a comment below with a link or email me at eliotseats@gmail.com.  

Happy reading!


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Kitchen Chinese: The Roundup

It's Roundup time again in the Cook the Books Club corral. I think we've pretty much all enjoyed our light-hearted  immersion into Chinese culture and food, via Ann Mah's Kitchen Chinese

I hope you'll all forgive me, but since Google just changed the formatting of blogger.com,  I am having a hard time navigating the posting operation.  Definitely not so user friendly any more.  So, in the interest of personal sanity, I'll let you look at each site on your own for the full reviews, comments and recipes of our participants.

First up posting was Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.  She brought us a dish of Pork Won Ton with Chives.  Oh Boy!  I'd like some of that immediately. Don't those precious dumplings look good?


Elizabeth of Culinursa was up next with a very delicious looking  pot of Mapo Tofu, an all time favorite of mine, and with several of our other posters here as well.

Next Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm brought in some wonderful Pork Tenderloin Char Sui. Always a treat!  And very versatile to have any on hand for use in other dishes.

Claudia, (moi) of Homey from Rock, prepared a tasty bowl of Cold Spicy Noodles with Beef Slivers, which I thought would be good for this hot summer weather.

Next, Debra of Eliot's Eats arrived with a very delicious sounding dessert, Chili Infused Brownies with a Mango Sorbet.  So cooling and scrumptious with all the flavor contrasts!

Then we had a very yummy looking dish of Stir Fried Peking Pork from Amy of Amy's Kitchen Adventures.  Doesn't that picture make you want to immediately scoop some up?

Simona of Briciole arrived with her special creation of Konjac Noodles - two types of noodles in a perfect and very intriguing summer dish, or actually for any season..

And finally, in at the end, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, brought us a vegan version of Mapo Tofu with Tomatoes!  Sounds like a great variation on a dish that I'm sure has nearly as many takes as there are Chinese people.

That's it folks, and I certainly hope you'll visit each and every one of our contributors to catch the full comments, reviews and recipe descriptions on their posts.

Next we'll be reading Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown, our August/September selection, and hosted by Debra of Eliots Eats.  You have until Sept. 30th to participate in this round.  Hope to see you there!