Monday, October 24, 2011

Cake Ladies - Celebrating a Southern Tradition


by Jodi Rhoden

This beuutiful cookbook not only has loads of cake photos and recipes to try, but also a bit of history of some of the south's best cake ladies.  No less than 15 of them!

These ladies are known in their communities, for their cake baking skills, and are called upon often to contribute their specialty cakes for momentous occasions.  Evofery celebration in the south calls for a cake of some kind to mark the occasion.

Being from the south myself, I can confirm that the local cake ladies seem to have the best recipes for Pound Cake, Pineapple Upside Cake, Lemon Cake, Italian Cream Cake, Caramel Cake and Carrot Cake -- a few of the recipes featured in "Cake Ladies".

Jodi Rhoden started out learning to bake from her mother in Georgia but not really getting into the joy of it until she was out on her own in Boston where she learned to bake artisan breads, branching out later to include wedding cakes for her friends .  She eventually started a baking blog and it wasn't long until she knew she wanted to write a cookbook about other cake ladies.  She searched out the "back roads of the south" to find other cake ladies like herself and started writing their stories down.

It is well-written with a little history, traditional southern cake recipes and gorgeous  photos of cakes, cake ladies, and their countryside.

"Cake Ladies" is a must have for southern ladies or just anyone wanting more good and rich southern cake recipes!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Biblical Feast






"A Biblical Feast" by Kitty Morse, though a smallish paperback cookbook, has much to offer inside the beautiful red themed cover. There are red grapes, red pomegranates and red wine on a red striped cloth for a very striking eye-appeal on the front cover. The photo just begs the cookbook to be opened to see what else might look so good within.

The taste appeal arrives when the book is opened to a nice collection of Mediterranean recipes, sprinkled throughout with mouthwatering photos of the food! In fact, the photos alone are so enticing and makes the reader want to try the recipes just to taste the goodness!

If you've ever wondered about the foods mentioned in the Bible, you'll be pleased to read a little history about them--how they may have been prepared back then. With Morse growing up in Casablanca, Morocco's commercial capital, she had the perfect opportunity to experience the same types of foods that Jesus and the disciples dined on.

Morse actually takes you into the upper room with her description of how it might have been at  that last Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first few pages of the book has a lot of history that is a must read before continuing on to the recipes.

Most of the recipes include a great photo of the food, which really gets the mouth watering.  The photos are of such high quality and the food looks so good that you just want to reach for a bite before turning the page. Every recipe has a Bible verse at the beginning and then a paragraph before the recipe with history of the food or occasion that was celebrated.

The recipes range from Bitter Herb Salad, Squash with Capers & Mint, Lamb & Fresh Fava Bean Soup, Barley with Lentils & Onions to Ezekiel's Bread and Abigail's Fig Cakes, plus many more to choose from. Anyone on a Mediterranean diet will find many recipes to try in "A Biblical Feast".

The cookbook is small enough that it won't take up a lot of space on your cookbook shelf but the recipes will definitely add a lot of color and flavor to your dinner table.

Go to www.KittyMorse.com or www.ABiblicalFeast.com to learn more about Kitty Morse, the other nine books she has written, and the gourmet tours she arranges.  

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Camp Loopy in June- Can you hear the Whippoorwill?


My cookbooks are getting a rest this month. They're still piled all around me as I sit on the couch or sleep in my bed and I still glance through them when I need one of those 45-second vacations. But they are not my focus this month.

I decided to take a little break from everything else going on in my life and go camping. For a whole month! But this is the kind of camping where you never leave the house for the itchy woods, and where you can stay fairly cool under the AC instead of battling 100+ degrees outside in the shade. 

My couch has become my campsite -- my cabin, so to speak. I've got the makings for those great and wonderful by-the-campfire S'Mores and they're on the menu tonight!  I am really camping, y'all! 

I joined The Loopy Ewe's "Camp Loopy" for the summer and our first project is to knit a shawl, a shawlette, or a scarf -- in a month's time! There will be other projects in July and in August but it will be one big miracle if I get this shawl finished before the as-yet-unnamed July camp project.  I thought if I joined the June shawl camp project, maybe I would have the pressure/motivation to get it finished by then, but one thing I've learned is that I am definitely a slow knitter. 

We were given several options and patterns were suggested. After looking at all of them several times, searching out the easiest and fastest one, I decided I would knit Whippoorwill designed by Carina Spencer and available for purchase at  www.SweetMamaSmallSugar.com 

I bought the Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga yarn (handpainted sock yarn) at The Loopy Ewe, of course, and am really loving the way it is knitting up. My colors are Northern Green Frog (brownish-green) and Beyers Jewel Scarab (lime green).  Don't you love the color names! It is really pretty, so far, and I'm keeping fingers crossed that I'm going to like the contrast color (Northern Green Frog) when I get to those rows. 

Well, I'd better get back to some knitting  I've only got 182 stitches on the needles right now and am working my way up to having a total length of around 400 or so.  This will definitely take a while so I need to get going on it. 

The photo above was made last week when I first got started so it's a little bigger now.  More photos soon.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Redneck Gourmet



It seems odd to use "Gourmet" (Gor-may) and "Redneck" in the same title to describe a good cookbook, but it really is the name of my newest cookbook from "L.A.", and that would be "Lower Alabama" -- not Los Angeles.

What started out as a joke recipe for John Paul Richardson turned into a cookbook of almost 500 recipes, some of which are real recipes and others that are not-so-serious (I hope!).  For instance, there is a recipe for Roasted Camel (recipe # 135) and another for Roasted 'Possum (recipe #123).  Some of the more serious recipes are for Mississippi Mud Cake; Rum Cake; and Granny Richardson's Peanut Brittle which I will make very soon!

Richardson got pretty creative with some of the recipes, renaming a pork and mushroom dish as "Psychedelic Pig".  I know that recipe will have some of the hippie types searching out THAT one.

This cookbook had my full attention right from the get-go!  How could it not with a 4-page introduction.  I started reading aloud to my hubby and we were both in giggles and tears within a minute. It is so different from all the other cookbooks in my collection, but this one is a one-of-a-kind that should be in every cookbook collector's library.

Two things that set it apart:  the paragraphs in the 4-page introduction are not separated by a space as they usually are in other cookbooks.  I felt compelled to continue reading to see what else was different.  I then noticed there is no index of recipes though there is a table of contents broken into sections that are familiar, such as "Barbeque", "Meats, Meat Dishes, and Chili" and "Beer, Wine, and Shine", just to name three of the 15 sections.

Most intriguing of all is that each recipe has a number in the title such as 208 Seafood Gumbo; 209 Alabama Gumbo; 210 Chicken Gumbo; 211 Mumbo Gumbo (no meat); 212 Cajun Gumbo, etc.  If you find a recipe you want to try or go back to later, you'll have to write down the number somewhere or page through until you find it again! I've never noticed this indexing method in any other cookbook.

As you can see in the photo, this cookbook has a coil binding so will easily lay flat while cooking from it.

If you're wondering if there is a recipe for snake, you are right -- there is!  But I won't be trying that one, or the one for Chitlins and Hog Maws, or Mexican Swamp Rabbit.  There are plenty of good-sounding recipes to try though and I will try them.

If you would like to order one for the Redneck Gourmet in your life, (this would make an excellent Father's Day gift) just go to www.paulrichardsonbooks.webs.com for the ordering info.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter Cinnamon Rolls




Grab a cup of coffee and have a cinnamon roll with me! It's been a while since I made any of these and wanted to make something special for breakfast this morning. They were very yummy and since we have a few left over, it looks like we'll be enjoying them again, maybe for lunch and dinner!

It's a beautiful day here in Katy, TX. If it would only rain a few drops.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hooks, Lies & Alibis



Hooks, Lies & Alibis by Chef John D. Folse and Michaela D. York is one of my newest acquisitions that I will be reviewing here shortly.

It is a giant collection of fish and seafood recipes and has a world of wonderful photos and stories to enjoy as well. This is a book you'll have to place on the table to read as it is so big and heavy that you could never read it in bed.

Watch for more on this book -- coming soon!