Irish Country Cooking by The Irish Countrywoman’s Association

April 7, 2014 - Written by Diana

Recently, my sister brought up our family’s ethnic heritage.  I think every family should explore their roots, and cook authentic recipes as a way to share that heritage. My grandfather’s parents were both born and raised in different areas of Ireland and migrated to the United States in the late 1800s, and early 1900s. A review of Irish Country Cooking – More Than 100 Recipes For Today’s Table seemed like a very appropriate review for me. While this book contains all of the regular St. Paddy’s Day food of Corned Beef and Cabbage or Shepherd’s Pie, it introduces a few new ones plus a few out of box surprises like Hungarian Goulash. My Hungarian grandmother who was married to my Irish grandfather would have had a chuckle.

Irish Country Cooking - Cookerati

The Irish Countrywoman’s Association

The hard covered book was compiled by the Irish Countrywoman’s Association.  The ICA was founded in 1910 and consists of over 700 local guilds throughout Ireland.  Over the years these guilds produced their own local cookbooks with recipes passed down in families from generation to generation.  This book – Irish Country Cooking is a compilation of 100 of the best recipes from those local cookbook collections.

Crusted Rack of Lamb - Cookerati

Irish Country Cooking – the book

I tried out a few of the recipes and I liked how well they came out.  I made the Crusted Rack of Lamb with Orange and Olive Salad.  My lamb looked exactly like the photo in the book and tasted great too. I shared it with my family for my birthday dinner. My husband and son also loved the Colcannon – a very traditional potato and cabbage dish.

Speaking of photos – there are plenty, though not every recipe has a photo, most do.  There is a table of contents in the front and an index by ingredient in the back (just the way I like it).

We have all of the regulars like Soups, Starters, Main Meals, Side Dishes – which include preserves as well as side dishes and dips, sauces and stocks.  Then we have the sweets which include cakes, puddings and desserts.  To add to the content it starts out with an introduction from the ICA national president, a note from the editor, and a few words from guest chefs.  This book also  contains useful equipment and a glossary.

What else is cool about the recipes:

The only drawback is that it doesn’t have nutrition labels so that you can adjust something if it goes over your dietary limits.

All around this is a really nice book for authentic Irish recipes, some I have seen before and many I have not.  I plan on using it to inspire some of my own contributions to the family meal.


Disclosure: I was sent a review copy in order to complete this review.  This is not a sponsored or paid post.  The review is based on my opinion of the book, and is not influenced by anything else.



2013 Holiday Guide: Book Suggestions For Your Foodie Friends

December 22, 2013 - Written by Diana

There is still time to run into your favorite bookstore and pick up a nice book-related gift (or two) for your foodie friends and family, and this Holiday Guide contains a few book suggestions for your favorite foodie.  Some of these books are also in ebook form, if you want an extra for yourself. In fact a great gift for reading recipes is an Ipad Mini or a Samsung Galaxy Tablet.  My husband has the tablet – and uses apps to read kindle, nook and other eReader type books. It’s also perfect for taking photos of your food and for looking at photos, much better than a cellphone.  Enjoy!  I hope you get to experience a new recipe or foodie inspiring book to help you throughout the new year.  By the way – Amazon says the last time for overnight is Midnight Monday December 23rd, EST.

The following books were sent to me this year and these are the ones that I feel would make nice gifts:


The 2012 Holiday Recipe Book Gift Guide

December 20, 2012 - Written by Diana

This a quick listing of books that I have received for review and suggest to my readers.  This is not a complete guide to every new book; I can’t afford all that’s available but I can give suggestions among those I have received.  The one book I bought for myself in the beginning of the year is The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America’s Most Trusted Cooking Magazine.  If you are looking for a more upscale book, a little bit pricier but packed with suggestions, tips recipes and techniques, then this book is a great choice.  It does cost a lot less than I paid for it last year, so it’s a good choice.

When available, I’m adding links to amazon.  I do get a tiny bit from it, but feel free to find it on your own, buy it used from another bookseller or borrow from the library.  I’m attaching links for your convenience and so you can find the correct book but you don’t need to go through these links.  This will be a long post but there are a lot of cool books, some by bloggers like me and I like to encourage that.  Some books came to me in .pdf form, and I will let you know if that is the case.  Cookbooks are always a good gift, I hope you can find one for someone you love.

Holiday Books:

Holiday Slow Cooker: A Year of Hassle-Free Celebrations  When a friend asked for recipe suggestions for her Christmas meal, I showed her this book. Though the recipes are for meals created in a crock pot, they can easily be adapted for the oven.  My pick for her – the lamb roast because she’s never made a lamb before, however I decided to go one step further and we’ll be enjoying lamb shanks for New Years – my latest extravagance.  This cookbook is organized by holiday and the edges of the pages color coded to make it easy to use.

Author  Jonni Downing – blog owner of CrockpotNinja.com along with her daughter

Ingredient Index – No (but only 100 recipes),  Ingredient type – Mostly fresh some canned

Cover type – Soft,  Pages – 106 glossy

Photos: Some


Delish A Home-Baked Christmas: 56 Delicious Cookies, Cakes & Gifts From Your Kitchen   This cookbook was produced by Hearst Books and Delish.com a Hearst Publication website.  If you like fruitcake – the real stuff not the cardboard stuff with fake fruit; this is for you.  There are about 15 different types including gluten free and plenty with alcohol. A Home baked Christmas is about putting together a gift rather than a serving for a meal, though it is all edible but most of the treats are a nice visual presentation and would be a nice gift whether you are giving or receiving the treat. There’s a section on gift and table display.

Author(s): Staff of Delish.com

Ingredient Index- Yes,  Ingredient type: Mostly baking ingredients, but no mixes

Cover type: Hardbound binder (smaller),  Pages – 127 including index and conversion.  Semi glossy

Photos: 1 per recipe


The Dead Celebrity Cookbook Presents Christmas in Tinseltown: Celebrity Recipes and Hollywood Memories from Six Feet Under the Mistletoe – Pop culture cookbook  is a good way to describe this cookbook.  We’re introduced to some interesting tidbits about the actors, actresses and movies that celebrate the holiday season.  Then we get recipes that belonged to some of the celebrities of those holiday movies. It’s a fun quirky book though the recipes are your normal family recipes.  It might be me, but I enjoy that the two people most famous for being Mom’s in their Christmas shows have box mixes in their recipes.  I also enjoyed the Star Wars Holiday Special synopsis and I love that the Walton’s is part of the tribute – watching it is my Christmas Tradition – along with Holiday Inn, another movie mentioned.   I would buy this book for the fun factor, or for someone who has a cookbook collection that needs a little something special.

Author:  Frank DeCaro – author, writer, movie critic

Ingredient Index-  Kind of – semi ingredient list/ celebrity/ recipe index, Ingredient Type: Fresh, canned, box mix

Cover Type: – unknown .pdf , Pages 242.

Photos: Photos of celebrities, not food.


College Student:

Kitchenability 101– The College Student’s Guide to Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Food. This book is definitely for kids heading on their own to live in a dorm or small apartment.  This is a very basic book for kids like my son who is not big on the cooking thing, so he goes for the easy eats.  Most of these recipes can be cooked in less than ten minutes and some that are longer.  The recipes are labeled with a D for dorm and an A for apartment, though I disagree with some of the dorm labeled recipes because they require a toaster oven and my kids weren’t allowed to have a toaster oven. However, a toaster oven is a great tool when you are cooking for one and those recipes would be nice for the apartment. The recipes in this book also fit the college kid’s budget, the ingredients are easily available and affordable.

Author: Nisa Burns – Chef and Blogger at Kitchenability.com

Ingredient Index – Yes, Ingredient type: Fresh ingredients, cans, pre-made waffles

Cover type: Soft bound, Pages – 175 including Index, Acknowledgment and PR for speaking engagements.  Glossy.

Photos: 1 per recipe


The I Love Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook: 150 Delicious and Healthy Recipes Using Foods from the World’s Greatest Grocery Store. I decided that this book should be under the college student heading rather than the vegetarian because of the cooking style and ingredients used.  Most of the recipes are very easy and can be prepared in a few minutes using (Trader Joe’s) canned, fresh  and bagged ingredients from the local store aisles. It’s a little more diverse than a college student has probably made, but very doable.  It’s especially good if your student is a vegetarian, but my omnivore kids eat vegetarian too, and would enjoy many of these dishes. There are also vegan and gluten-free recipes included and labeled.

Author: Kris Holechek Peters,  blogger of Nomnomnomblog.com

Ingredient Index – No, but there is a recipe index, Ingredient Type: Fresh, cans, bagged.

Cover type: Soft bound, Pages – 191 including recipe index and photo credits.  Glossy

Photos: Most recipes have photos but not all


Vegetarian/ Vegan:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Slow Cooking This slow cooker book for vegans is comparable to a regular slow cooker book in that the selection of recipes is similar though adjusted for the Vegan diet.  The recipes run the gamut of breakfast through main , side dishes, appetizers and desserts. I could use any of these recipes in my cooking, though I don’t use seitan very often.  As a vegan,  a slow cooking guide would be a plus in the kitchen.   As with every Idiot’s Guide -there is a good 101 chapter in the front dedicated to slow cooking and another chapter on adjusting to vegan cooking, as well as a glossary in the back.

Author: Beverly Lynn Bennett, Vegan chef, baker and blogger and veganchef.com

Ingredient Index – Yes, Ingredient Type: Fresh, cans, bags, dried

Cover Type: Soft bound,  Pages – including index, appendix, glossary and the two intro chapters – 292

Photos: None


The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook: 125+ Delectable Plant-Based Vegan Recipes for a Fit, Happy, Healthy You If you want to try vegan, this would be a book I’d recommend. Most of these recipes don’t seem to be replacing meat with another ingredient like soybean and trying to make it seem like a vegan beef stew, instead it’s based on building on the flavor profile of the ingredients used to create the vegan dish.  That’s not to say they aren’t making stews or soups, but they are making stew, soups, appetizers, breakfasts, mains, sides and desserts that are all plant based and they do look pretty darn delicious.

Author: Melissa Costello founder of KarmaChow.com

Ingredient Index – Yes, Ingredient Type: Fresh, Canned

Cover Type ? – received a .pdf version, Pages 242 including index, baking substitutions, acknowledgements, etc.

Photos: Yes for most recipes


Family Style:

This is open to interpretation, so to me it means it’s based on meals that the average family dining experience.  Since I’ve already done vegan separately, it isn’t included in this category.


America’s Favorite Food: 200 top-rated recipes from the country’s best magazines – The book is a compendium of recipes from many different magazines including Cooking Light, Real Simple, Health, Southern Living, Sunset, All you, and Coastal Living, the publisher oxmoor house, and the website myrecipes.com.  This is a decent size book with plenty of recipes to fit everyone’s tastes, and abilities with lots of great photos.

This is my first interactive book. Using a digimarc app you can download the entire book, some extra recipes and techniques in print and video to your smart phone.  I had a little trouble getting the digimarc app to work and download the book.  I did not have trouble scanning the photos of the recipes for their link to their myrecipes site or the videos, just the book download.  I’m going to keep trying since the app was new to me.  Without the app links the book is still a good buy and when the apps no longer work it will still be a good one to own.  The quality of the book is independent of the app.

Author: Writers for Cooking Light, Real Simple, Health, Southern Living, Sunset, All you, and Coastal Living, the publisher Oxmoor House, and the website myrecipes.com.

Ingredient Index: Yes (also nutritional info) Ingredient Type:  Fresh, frozen, bagged

Cover type: Soft bound, Pages: 288 including index and nutritional info.  Semi-glossy Photos: Yes for each recipe.


The Golden Book of Pasta: Over 250 Great Recipes – Pasta is a great staple for family meals.  This book is chocked full of pasta recipes, and all types of pasta are represented including rice noodles.  The book is divided into short pasta, long pasta, fresh pasta, stuffed pasta, baked pasta, and noodles.  This could go in the college kid category too, because pasta is such a fast and easy meal to prepare in most cases that it’s a staple.  The golden books are great because they are pretty extensive and have great recipes and photos, but there isn’t an index by ingredient, just by pasta type, it doesn’t have breakfast or dessert.  There are photos with tags of many different pastas, but not how to pronounce the names.  The very, very plus side, is that my husband could do these recipes, or my son.

` Author: Carla Bardi

Ingredient index: No – only index by pasta type  Ingredient Type: Fresh, Canned, Dried

Cover type:  Hard bound with Gold book cover, Pages: 608 including index by pasta type.  Glossy.

Photos:  Yes, for each recipe.



The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking – This book is so popular, it’s out – well, at least on amazon.  You might be able to find it in the store or at almanac.com/shop.  This is a book I recommend for you – to keep.  It’s not a large book, but it has lots of great baking material – breakfast treats, quick breads, cookies and bars, pies, crisps, crumbles and crunches, cakes for every occasion, a crash course for pie bakers.  This book is pretty inexpensive – at only 9.99, it’s worth the price.

Author: Ken Haedrich, master baker and pie maker, cookbook author, award winner.

Ingredient Index: Yes.  Ingredient Type: Baking ingredients

Cover type: Softbound, Pages: 136 including index, conversions and weights.  Glossy.

Photos: Some


How to Be a Breadhead: A Beginner’s Guide to Baking – This is a cool book written by a monk in Peru, Illinois.  It is the basic bread book – starting at the very beginning why and how things work.  He shows what basic tools are necessary for a breadhead.  You get instructions on a simple bread dough recipe and how to use it to make other special treats like an herbed spiral, cinnamon rolls and crescent rolls.

Author:  Fr. Dominic Garramone, monk, cookbook writer, award winner  and blogger at the breadmonk.com

Ingredient Index: No, but with limited ingredients, not necessary. Ingredient Type: Baking Ingredients

Cover Type: Softbound, spiral bind.  Pages: 87 including the final exam.  Stock paper.

Photos:  Yes, black and white.



Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your “Hole” Day – This is a cool book and though the donuts are mini – the recipes cover a wide range of options and cooking methods.  The donuts aren’t just deep fried, they can be baked in the oven or in a mini-donut maker and there are recipes to cover all of them. Besides the ordinary, there are the extraordinary including those for the adult who imbibes in their donuts and the kid in you who might like confetti.  It makes one want to go out and get a doughnut maker or oven pan to bake donuts in.

Author: Jessica Segarra, blog owner of TheNoviceChefBlog.com

Ingredient Index: Yes.  Ingredient Type:  Baking Ingredients

Cover Type:  Hardbound.  Pages: 172 including index.  Semi- Glossy.

Photos: Some.



The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen Cookie Lover’s Cookbook: Gooey, Chewy, Sweet & Luscious Treats (Good Housekeeping Cookbooks) This is one honking big book of cookies. The Cookie Monster himself would be impressed with the size, quality and quantity of cookies in this book. If you are looking to do a cookie exchange, you will find something everyone else isn’t making in this book it’s so complete.  These are well tested in the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, with plenty of hints tips and tricks.  The book is so big it’s in a binder, which means you can open it flat while you are mixing up your ingredients. There is an appendix, and an extensive index plus an index that divides the cookies into the type of person who might enjoy them.  This is also an interactive book with qr codes referring back to the Good Housekeeping website and videos.

Author: The Staff at The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen

Ingredient Index: Yes!!!  Ingredient Type:  Baking Ingredients

Cover Type: Hardbound Binder.  Pages: 444 including appendix and indexes.  Semi-Glossy.

Photos: Some.



Spiked Desserts: 75 Booze-Infused Party Recipes – A cool recipe book that combines your favorite desserts with your favorite alcohol, nsfw – or at least not safe for my workplace, yours may have different rules. The author relies on boxed mixes for some desserts as well as canned fruit.  It’s a fun book full of fun treats.

Author: Chapel Hill Publishing

Ingredient Index: Yes, Ingredient type: Baking Ingredients, canned

Cover Type: Softbound Pages: 130 including index. Glossy

Photos: Yes.



Young People:

Dishing It Up Disney Style – A Cookbook For Families With Type 1 Diabetes & the companion book Coco Goes Back to School.  Lilly and Disney teamed up to put together some books to help out children with type 1 diabetes. The cookbook – Dishing It Up Disney Style is a recipe book with great child friendly meals that fulfill the nutritional needs of a child with type 1 diabetes. The recipes are all named after a Disney Characters with tips by the characters. This book is available free from the pediatric endocrinologist office.  If your child has type 1 diabetes, ask for a copy of this book. The companion book Coco Goes Back To School, is a children’s book that will help your child explain to her friends what diabetes is, and how it will affect her diet and her physical routine in a fun way using disney characters. Though the cookbook is geared towards the nutritional needs of a child with Type 1 diabetes, the recipes look tasty enough for any person, or child to enjoy.

Author:  Lilly & Disney

Ingredient Index: No,  Ingredient Type: Fresh, frozen, canned

Cover Type: Hardbound,  Pages: 80.  Semi-Glossy

Photos: Yes.



The Unofficial Narnia Cookbook: From Turkish Delight to Gooseberry Fool-Over 150 Recipes Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia If your kids (or you) are a fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, you might enjoy cooking some of these recipes based on the book.  There is a lot of eating meals going on in Narnia it seems, and the recipes are based on the meals in the book, though some rather loosely – as a large meal is represented with what a large English meal would be.  Some of these meals are too advanced for young kids to do more than assist you in making the meal, or watching, but most are good for children, teens and (of course) adults to attempt.

Quotes from the book are presented for every meal.  So, “Prince Rillian Orders Lunch For The Updwellers”  has a book quote ” The knight is very strange, but he doesn’t forget to order food for his visitors. Before facing the difficult decision of whether to free him or not, our faithful trio enjoy some good food (The Silver Chair, chapter 11).  ”  After which a recipes are presented to represent the food he ordered – Pigeon and Morel Pie – Cold Ham – Green Salad with Apples and Raisins – Heavenly Honey Cake – Triple Almond Cake with Raspberry Filling.  The Pigeon and Morel Pie is really pigeon and morels, though in an earlier recipe they say you can use cornish hens.  This is not kids food for a picky eater, this is more upscale fare but representative of the book. The book is unauthorized and unofficial and not endorsed by CS Lewis or Twentieth Century Fox.

Author: Dinah Bucholz – author of the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

Ingredient Index: Yes, Ingredient Type: Fresh

Cover Type: Hardbound, Pages: 234.  Off white stock.

Photos: None.



Misc. – You might think this is those I didn’t care for, but you’d be very wrong.  One of my very favorites is Savory Pies, but it didn’t belong in baking or the other categories.  Tastes of Treme is very regional so it too was a lost soul and goes in this category.  I just thought to put the rest here as well. So enjoy.

Savory Pies: Delicious Recipes for Seasoned Meats, Vegetables and Cheeses Baked in Perfectly Flaky Pie Crusts The recipes in this book are droolworthy – and very savory looking.  Not only would they make great meals, but a lot of them look like they would travel well.  None of the pies are dessert, this is about being the center of attention and the main meal.  Pies, pasties, pockets, tarts, galettes and pot pies are all represented in this great little book.  Greg Henry is also known as Sippity Sup and well known among the food blogging community, a very supportive guy of all the other food bloggers.

Author: Greg Henry- cook, food blogger, leads cooking classes, featured in magazines and podcaster of “The Table Set”

Ingredient Index: No, recipe index only, Ingredient Type: Fresh, baking, canned

Cover Type: Softbound, Pages: 192 including recipe index.  Glossy.

Photos: Some.


Muffin Tin Chef: 101 Savory Snacks, Adorable Appetizers, Enticing Entrees and Delicious Desserts My kids think this book is neat, as do I. If you have a lot of running around to do, make ahead meals in muffin tins makes sense.  It’s also kind of fun and portable.  My kids would have loved it if I made breakfast that they could gulp down while waiting on the bus out front.  Little quiches, salads, muffins, desserts – it’s all covered.  I could do everything for dinner in muffin tins, but I might have to get more tins. These would be great for packable lunches too, something I do more often these days, and portion control too.

Author:  Matt Kadey – registered dietician, freelance nutrition writer, recipe developer and travel writer.

Ingredient Index: No, recipe index only, Ingredient Type: Fresh, baking, canned.

Cover Type: Softbound, Pages: 148 including recipe index.  Glossy.

Photos: Most.


Taste of Treme: Creole, Cajun, and Soul Food from New Orleans’ Famous Neighborhood of Jazz Regional is a good word to describe this book. It doesn’t mean that you must belong to the region to cook the recipes, it means that it’s pretty representative of a region – Louisiana would be the region, and maybe especially New Orleans. This book is filled with local authentic dishes and recipes, along with short blurbs about traditions, local attractions, and local fare.  I love that Treme starts out by giving you the directions for a spice mix called “Suck Da Heads and Pinch da Tails Creole Spice”  and talks about file powder made from sassafras leaves used as a thickening agent.  The Holy Trinity (Wit or Wit-Out Da Pope) is discussed since it’s used in many of the recipes.  This is a good book using really good regional ingredients and flavors.

Author: Todd-Michael St. Pierre – cookbook and children’s book author, magazine writer, recipe developer.

Ingredient Index: No, recipe index only, Ingredient Type: Fresh, canned

Cover Type: Hardbound, Pages: 208 including recipe index. Glossy.

Photos: Some.



Healthy Home Cooking for Kids & Tuna Wrap Roll Recipe

July 10, 2012 - Written by Diana

Healthy Cooking for Kids by Emily Rose, is a cookbook that caters to the young palate, but also  has no butter, no white flour and no added sugar.  It does use rice bran oil, honey, whole wheat pasta, plenty of vegetables and whole grains. Emily’s book contains about 100 pages – with 50 recipes, and nice photos to match.  The kids can join in to help with cooking and baking and putting the food on the table because they are simple in preparation and in taste.  Kids seem to enjoy foods that are uncomplicated – and I think this book fits the bill, and also manages to get in lots of good for you ingredients.

I made the Tuna Wrap Roll in about 2 minutes – I like the idea of adding avocado and cucumber into the wrap with the tuna.  Give it a try, I think your kid will like it also.

Tuna Wrap Roll Recipe
Prep time
Total time
A kid friendly tuna wrap with avocado and cucumber.
Recipe type: Wrap
Serves: 2
  • 160 g tuna (tinned)
  • 3 tsp mayonnaise
  • ½ continental cucumber
  • ½ avocado
  • 2 rye wraps
  1. Place tuna and mayonnaise in a bowl and mash with a fork.
  2. Slice the cucumber lengthwise into strips and remove the seeds.
  3. Slice the avocado.
  4. Place the rye wrap on a sushi mat to assist in rolling the wrap.
  5. Place tuna in the center,then top with cucumber and avocado.
  6. Roll the wrap and then slice.


Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair

May 9, 2012 - Written by Diana

When I saw the title – Baking Basics – I thought it was a tutorial type book teaching baking from the ground up – like a textbook.  I was wrong, this is more about simple and basic baking, that anyone can do.  Mostly desserts, these dishes are easy but delicious.  Most of the recipes are one or two pages, but there are a couple of longer ones.  The ingredients can be found in most pantries and are used in more than one recipe with a few surprises here and there. I received a copy of Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair to use for a review.

As a food consultant and recipe editor, Pat Sinclair knows how to put together great recipes. The book starts out with basic baking instruction, that is used throughout.  Sprinkled here and there all through the book are tips and tricks.  This is all in addition to great recipes.  The recipes include biscuits and breads, coffee cakes, brownies, crisps , custards, cheesecakes, cakes, pies and yeast breads.

There are nice photos, though not a photo for every single recipe but for quite a few. The pages are glossy, with easy to read print – which I find is very necessary these days.  The measurements are shown two ways – one is the metric conversion in case you need it.

All of the recipes are really good for the novice baker or someone who just enjoys baking tasty desserts.  I recommend this for a college kid, someone starting out, a homemaker who would like to bake for the family and anyone who would like to do some basic baking.

I tried out some recipes, in my next post, I’m going to share  Fresh Strawberry pie – the perfect Mother’s Day dessert this year since strawberries are at their peak right now.



Cook Wild by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi

March 20, 2012 - Written by Diana

My first glance at Cook Wild: Year-Round Cooking on an Open Fire by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi was enough for me to decide that this book is a keeper. As a former Explorer (boyscouts) and girlscout that grew up in a family of campers, cooking outdoor has always been a favorite of mine. Our Backyard fire pit is undergoing renovation, so I tried the borscht recipe in my cast iron enamel pot on the stove. I cheated but only a little in order to finish the book review.

There are so many different ways to cook in the outside, some I’ve never seen before. I want to try wrapping a chicken in dough and placing in a fire. I also was impressed by the bread wrapped around branches of a tree and hung above the fire. Digging a pit and wrapping with leaves looks interesting too. Many of these are time intensive and all that are cooked over an open flame or coals will need constant attention.

Ms Fischer-Rizzi identifies and uses several wild plants in Cook Wild like elderberry, coltsfoot, polypody ferns and nettles – though I wish there were photos of polypody fern since I didn’t know that one until I did an online search . A few use specialized equipment, like a dutch oven, tangine, bundt pan and a waffle iron however plenty use what you find around you in the wild like sticks and leaves to hang and hold food.

When I received the book, I called my sister who is the leader of a Venturers group and told her to look into it because I thought it might be fun for them to try new ways of cooking out in the open. While you probably can’t do some on a back packing or canoeing trip because it’s tough to carry around a dutch oven and ingredients are space limited, there are other times when it will expand their skills.

This is a fun to have book with fabulous photos by Sabine Mader and Ulrike Schmid. It was originally written in German in 2010. I recommend it for those who want to cook outside in the wild (or their backyards).

Disclosure – I receive a copy of Cook Wild in order to facilitate this review. I received no compensation for the review and my opinions are my own.

The Healthy Way to Get Through That Superbowl Party

January 27, 2012 - Written by Diana

Superbowl and healthy eating don’t seem to go hand in hand.  We associate this testosterone infected party with fried finger foods covered in cheese, things you can toss back and swallow with beer – though in my case it would be wine or a cooler.  The truth is, though I bring healthier foods, there will be other things there that I should stay away from.  I’m going to try and give us some great ideas to help us get through this fat laden party in the next week.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat some of the bad stuff, but if I fill my plate with the good stuff, and just leave a little spot here and there for the other stuff that will be okay.

Tosca Reno the queen of the Clean Eating recipe books has produced a small guide book.  It’s small in size, and you can stick it in your laptop case or your briefcase to reference whenever you need a little help.  Tosca calls it “JUST THE RULES: TOSCA’S GUIDE TO EATING RIGHT ” – I think it’s a strong name for a small book, but some people need help being strong and so “Just The Rules” fits. Everyone needs a help to be strong sometimes.  There are 50 rules altogether, most are obvious though sometimes we just need a reminder.

I like Rule # 14: A Treat is not a Cheat… A Treat is a Treat! – A treat is a once in a while thing, not something to overwhelm you with guilt, by the same token.. a treat is not a whole carton of ice cream, it’s a scoop.  “What we need to be conscious of, is how often we choose to enjoy a treat.”

Here are some more of the common sense “rules” that Tosca Reno presents in her Just The Rules!

Rule #8 – Color Up: Super Bowl junk is often a sea of fatty beige foods. Colorfulfoods are filled with more nutrients and flavor than bland, monotonous, processed foods. Opt for a rainbow of colors on your plate, which offers numerous health benefits.

Rule #12 – Smaller Portions, Smaller Pants: If it seems there’s a big array of food out still just take a small portion.  Sit down, eat and pay attention to your body.  Your body will tell you when it is hungry. Reflect on whether or not you want that next nibble because your body requires it.

Rule #13 – Fletcherize and Swallow: Take your time, chew, chew, chew before you swallow.  Makes your food last longer, and less will be gobbled up.

Rule #23 – Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Carbs can be confusing, and are often given a bad rap! Stay away from ‘bad’ grocery store, processed carbs and stick to ‘good’ carbs like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grain.

Tosca Reno has some suggestions for lightening up your superbowl party.   If you are going to the party, and you know what kind of food will be there, make your contributions be something lighter that you can start with.  Just nibble at the unhealthy fare, if you have to, and leave it behind for the others.

I like the quote at then end of the book:

Kick out the crap, invite in the good, throw in some water, and you are on your way to excellent health and a better body than you have ever imagined.

She also says it’s never too late to start and I think that’s the key to staying positive.

Gooseberry Patch – Quick and Easy Autumn

September 15, 2011 - Written by Diana

Gooseberry Patch is more of a community foodie publishing company than a cookbook publishing company.  Anyone can send in a recipe for their books, and if you do, you receive a copy of the book your recipe is in.  One of their latest is Quick and Easy Autumn Recipes, which I have the privilege of reviewing.  Lots of recipes sent in by the Gooseberry Patch Foodie Community that are quick and easy just like the title says.  I like how each recipe is credited to the foodie contributor and all of the personal notes attached also.  The Autumn Acorn Squash by Jenny Sarbacker looks very tempting, and I plan to try it out.

Plenty of autumn farmer’s market ingredients found in this book – apples, squash, beans, sausage, stews, soups, everything you want on your dinner table when the weather starts to turn a little cooler.  All the recipes take less than 30 minutes to make.  These recipes do depend on shortcuts such as canned biscuits and crescent rolls, canned soup and beans, etc.  However, you have to know that I am not against shortcuts.  Some days you just need a shortcut in order to have the time to sit down to a meal together instead of spending all the time cooking. When my kids were younger and I needed dinner on the table between homework and soccer, a shortcut was better than fast food in my opinion.  We still had plenty of time left for conversation.

Quick & Easy Autumn is perfect for busy families who want to spend more time enjoying fall fun and less time preparing meals,” says Jo Ann Martin, co-founder of Gooseberry Patch, an independent cookbook publisher headquartered in Ohio’s heartland. “What makes this book special is that each dish is ready in under 30 minutes, or begins with just eight or fewer ingredients. Family and friends will love scrumptious fall recipes like Cherry-Pecan Turkey Breast, Mom’s Butternut Squash Bake and Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle.”

“There’s more than 200 recipes in all for every autumn occasion, from bonfires and tailgating, after-school snacks and Halloween treats, and of course delicious Thanksgiving favorites,” says Vickie Hutchins, Gooseberry Patch co-founder. “Chapters take you from breakfast to dessert and everything in between, plus there’s dozens of helpful tips and inspirational ideas for getting the most from the season!”


Gooseberry Patch is one of the vendors at the Country Living Fair in Columbus this weekend.  Make sure to check them out and maybe find a good cookbook. Gooseberry Patch seems to have one to fit every individual’s taste. Jo Ann & Vickie will be signing books Friday and Saturday, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Gooseberry Patch just reached 80,000 fans on their facebook page, so they uploaded a new chapter to their online Circle of Friends recipe book.  The newest chapter is Burgers with 25 burger recipes.  All of the chapters can be downloaded to your personal computer and printed if you like.

Gooseberry Patch also has calendars with recipes, so if you are looking for a stocking stuffer (though they might not really fit in the stocking), a calendar is a good gift.

Morning television viewers in the Central Ohio area can catch Vickie and Jo Ann on Good Day Columbus on the fourth Thursday of each month at 8:30 and 8:45 am (schedule subject to change). The show airs on Central Ohio’s FOX 28 channel.


Disclosure:  I was given Gooseberry Patch – Quick and Easy Autumn for a review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Man with a Pan edited by John Donohue

June 29, 2011 - Written by Diana

On Father’s Day I gave a tribute to the men in my life who cooked (or in my son’s case – didn’t cook). I got my inspiration from Man with a Pan, Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook For Their Families. , a compilation of essays by different men, presented and edited by John Donohue, mostly it’s about how they were inspired to cook.  I find it fun to read the male perspective, though I came from a family where men were for the most part, comfortable in the kitchen.  I can identify with some of these men, whether directly or seeing a trait in someone else I know.  Manny Howard turning dinners into events with much ado – that was my father.  He believed dinner gatherings should center around the presentation of the food, even if it was delivered as everyone was leaving.

I get a kick out of reading what some of my favorite chefs like to say – like Mario Batali and how just a little bit of involving your family in the cooking can turn you into a hero or turns the kitchen into a place everyone feels comfortable.   Then there are famous people such as Stephan King who took over the cooking in his house, and his way of cooking is to turn it down and go a little slower.  I’m always telling my daughter to stop trying to rush the cooking and turn the temperature down a little, so I agree with him on that one.  I also have a mother with a poor sense of smell and taste, which can be disappointing to cook for, though my mom is also on a special diet, so we eat much blander food when she visits.

There are recipes throughout and book suggestions, cooking tips, a cooking play(in the vein of The Shining).  It’s a fun read.  The short essays are the perfect size for a local bus or shuttle trip, or car ride so it’s like a satisfying quick snack instead of a full meal. When I got the book, Mark Bittman was one of the first segments I turned to, he like me, is a believer in cooking simply – you can skip around to your favorites first, or save them for last (best for last).  I’ve been reading a bit every night and recommend it to all of you.  It’s fun to see another point of view and to hear why others took to cooking for fun or as a passion.

Enjoy!  Someday I hope my son will want to explore the kitchen and find his passion in cooking.   After reading this book, it seems like there’s hope, doesn’t it?



Disclosure:  I received the book Man With A Pan  – for a review.  The review is my own opinion.

Everything Books To Help You Have a Healthy Summer

June 9, 2011 - Written by Diana

I have been given the opportunity to review a few Everything Books. These are great intro books to different subjects – you can read them from cover to cover to learn all about the subject, or you can search for particular information, tips, recipes and use it as reference material.  My biggest problem is there are no photos to go along with the recipes, and for something like the Everything Raw Foods Recipe Book, you might want to see what the finished product should look like.   The Everything books are perfect for trying out something new and using it as a guideline to figure it all out, inexpensively.    I’m going to quickly review three of these books :  The Everything Juicing Book, The Everything Mediterranean Diet Book, The Everything Raw Food Recipe Books.  Adams Media wants to help you start summer in a healthy way, so read all the way to the bottom to see what they have for us in June.

The Everything Mediterranean Diet Book  – All You Need TO Lose Weight And Stay Healthy –  This book is not just a recipe book.  Written by Connie Diekman and Sam Sotiropoulos the first one third of the book  leads you through the Mediterranean diet and healthy way of living.  What you need to do to live the Mediterranean way.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a staple in almost every meal, but there are plenty of other mediterraen must haves like roasted red peppers, red wine, feta cheese, lemons, etc.  There are suggestions throughout on how to lighten up a dish even more – like Chicken Galantine is suggested to be wrapped in Eggplant rather than back in it’s original Chicken skin.  This is a decent guide to help you get through trying to eat healthier and lose weight.

The Everything Raw Food Recipe Book –  by Mike Snyder and Nancy Faass with Lorena Novak Bull.  Raw Food Diets have always been perplexing to me.  I love my food warm and not so raw, so I don’t think I am willing to change.  However, I always say I’m willing to try new things, and raw foods are intriguing as well.  Did you know that dehydrating is a way to get the texture you need without baking or cooking?  I didn’t.  It almost seems like cheating.  The blender is your friend on the raw food diet as it is used in so many of the recipes.  Smoothies are a great way to start, though no one thinks about it being raw food.  I like the recipes in this, and though I don’t think I’m ready to make the switch, this is a great intro to a Raw Food way of eating.  This book also mentions that the Raw Food Diet is a great way to get healthy and lose weight.