Saturday, December 9, 2023

December/January Pick: Undercooked by Dan Adhoot

Welcome to the holiday season at Cook the Books.   I'm hosting the December/January round.  It never occurred to me to pick a holiday themed book.   I guess I should have considered some holiday classics or a holiday cookbook.  Instead I selected Undercooked: How I Let Food Become My Life Navigator and How Maybe That's a Dumb Way to Live by Dan Ahdoot (March 2023).   

I chose Undercooked after listening to the “Eating with Funny People” episode of Splendid Table where comedian Dan Ahdoot and his new book were featured. Undercooked is a compilation of essays regarding his connection with food and his family and his relationships.

From the publisher: Despite an impressive résumé as an actor and writer, Dan Ahdoot realized that food has been the through line in the most important moments of his life. Growing up as a middle child, Ahdoot struggled to find his place in the family until he and his father discovered their shared love for la gourmandise. But when the tragic death of his brother pushed his parents to strengthen their Jewish faith and adopt a strictly kosher diet, Ahdoot and his father lost that savored connection.

To fill the absence left by his brother and father, Ahdoot began to obsess over food and make it central in all his relationships. This, he admits, is probably crazy, but it makes for good stories. From breaking up with girlfriends over dietary restrictions, to hunting just off the Long Island Expressway, to savoring his grandmother’s magical food that was his only tactile connection to his family’s home country of Iran, to jetting off to Italy to dine at the one of the world’s best restaurants, only to send the risotto back, Ahdoot’s droll observations on his unconventional adventures bring an absurdly funny yet heartfelt look at what happens when you let your stomach be your guide.

I hope you enjoy.  There is a lot of humor in this book (along with the sadness mentioned above in the publisher's blurb).   I've only read the sample version on my Kindle but I can't wait to pick it back up.

Debra, Eliot's Eats

Deadline for contributing your post is Wednesday, January 31, 2024.  Just comment below with your link.  

Saturday, December 2, 2023

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living: The Roundup

As mentioned in my original pick overview, for The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, the novel truly did sound the double horn: foodie fiction, with good plot and character driven writingI really enjoyed this book.  It was a lovely break from the normal working routine around here, as is every good book.  It's why I read!  

So, away we go with Roundup time!  An online dinner party, where we all contribute a dish.  Sort of like a virtual potluck. Though you could almost call this one a dessert potluck.  All are the creative and inspired posts from our current book selection contributors, just teasers here.  Be sure to go to the various links and check out their whole posts.  In order of appearance we have: 

Camilla, of Culinary Cam, who came in with three dishes, two in the dessert category; Pumpkin Pie Creme Brûlée and Lattice topped Apple Pie, and in appetizers, Savory Popovers! Wow! Winners all.  She commented: "This is a quick, breezy read that's perfect for the season. As you can imagine, there is a lot of food in this novel." And in her post as well.

Next, Wendy, of A Day in the Life on the Farm, brought us a delicious dessert, some very delightful sounding and looking Apple Pie Cookies!  I think I would (will, as they are on the TBM list) like these a lot!  She had this to say about the book: "It is a fun easy read, perfect for picking up on a quiet weekend as it only takes a day or two to read."

I, Claudia of Honey from Rock, came up with a dish of Stuffed Mini Pumpkins, inspired by the protagonist's Pumpkin Creme Brûlées baked in mini pumpkins, which I made into a savory version, and filled with a tasty mixture of mushrooms, Swiss chard and several different cheeses.  About the book, I mentioned that it was "A fun, food filled and romantic light read. Nothing too serious, but still encouraging for anyone wanting to begin again, or starting a new project in a new place. I enjoyed it and found lots of delicious cooking inspiration."  

Then Cathy of Delaware Girl Eats, arrived with, yes, a delectable dessert, Apple Cranberry Bundt Cake, which sounds so good!  I am more than ready for some.  Right now!  She remarked about the judging of desserts that took place in the novel, "Thank goodness I didn’t have to go through that process because in the end desserts are judged on so many personal factors like memories they evoke and just plain tastiness." So true.

Next, predictably with another dessert, we have Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures who brought us Mini Cherry Pies.  Oh boy!  We're certainly getting some yummy sounding treats.  She thought the book was "Ultra sappy but engaging." Hopefully, her pies made it all worthwhile, they do look very good.  

The famous Marge of The Intrepid Reader and Baker, fame also brought us a dessert, Apple Turnovers! They look amazing! She said about the book; "I read it while I was on holidays and I thoroughly enjoyed it. With some books you know from the first chapter that it is your kind of book, and this was one of those books."

Then Simona of Bricole came along with a very interesting post and a savory dish of Farrecchiata with Cheese.  It's about a virtually unknown type of legume made into a version of polenta.  She says: "I don't have a sweet tooth and we don't eat dessert at home, so I looked for inspiration elsewhere, namely in the weather: it's cold in Guthrie in the winter, and it snows a lot. Growing up, my father would describe a cold day as "polenta day," a not-so-subtle hint to my mother to prepare one of his favorite dishes." 

And,  to round things off, Debra of Eliot's Eats brought us a lovely Harvest Salad, with a Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette, inspired by a Harvest Dinner Salad mentioned in the book, only with fresh apples.  Perfect for our virtual feast!  She observed that "The City Baker’s Guide is a tale about simple living in a small town in Vermont with a happy ending.  Yes, it could be a Hallmark movie…but you know something? I think I would watch it."

Finally, just under the wire, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen arrived with a comforting Creamy Potato and Spinach Soup, inspired by the weather in the New England town, as was Simona.  She says, "Overall, I enjoyed this story as books where starting over in a small town/community or starting over, in general, are my jam, especially where food is involved. I do admit to not liking Olivia much when the book started, but she grew on me as the story continued."

That's all folks!  A marvelous selection of dishes, thanks all of you who contributed, though if I missed anyone, please let me know.  Now, stay tuned, Debra of Eliot's Eats will be heading up our next pick, for December/January: Undercooked: How I Let Food Become My Life Navigator and How Maybe That's a Dumb Way to Live by Dan Ahdoot.