Taste of Home recipes across America : 735 of the best recipes from across the nation

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Taste of Home Books
Title:  Taste of Home recipes across America : 735 of the best recipes from across the nation
This is a fun cookbook to read. The recipes were submitted by readers of Taste of Home magazine. The book features glossy color photos of most, but not all of the recipes. It is divided into these sections: Northeast, Southwest, Midwest, West, and South. You’ll find recipes for soups, breads, entrees, desserts, appetizers, drinks, and side dishes. There are classics such as Yankee Pot roast, Philly cheesesteak, and Texas sheet cake. The recipes are not daunting and are suitable for the novice to the experienced cook. Most recipes have ingredients you’ll find in your pantry or at the local grocery store. There are no calorie counts or nutritional information for the recipes; some of them do seem to be high in fat. I tried the Chili Artichoke Dip which was very easy to make and was delicious. I liked the interesting food facts and histories, as well as photos of the towns and cities from which the recipes hail. They even mention food festivals.

Old-school comfort food : the way I learned to cook

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Alex Guarnaschelli
Title: Old-school comfort food : the way I learned to cook
Chef Alex details some of her personal journeys in professional kitchens and gives recipes for each section of the book. Unfortunately, one of the classes she excelled at was, “How to take a basic recipe and make it far more complicated.” The food itself sounds appealing, but the extra steps she adds make me think that by the time I cooked it, I’d be too tired to eat it. It’s a decent read, though.

It’s All Good & My Father’s Daughter

From Raymond Cantwell
Title:  It’s All Good & My Father’s Daughter
Author:  Gwyneth Paltrow
These are two cookbooks Ms. Paltrow recently wrote.  While they were more geared for experienced cooks, guys with limited kitchen skills, such as myself, could still make some of the recipes.  I tried Blythe’s Blueberry Muffins, and the Stuffed, Baked Apples.  They were surprisingly delicious.  The earlier book, My Father’s Daughter had more basic recipes, and a simpler design.  It’s All Good, brought her game up a notch with the presentation and complexity of the recipes, but also made it more difficult for the average duffer to try to make them.  She offers plenty of insight into her life, especially about her Dad, whom she lost to cancer eight years ago, and who was the impetus for her getting into nutrition.

Bookmarked for Death

From  Michele Szydlo
Title:  Bookmarked for Death
Author:  Lorna Barrett
This is part of the Booktown Mystery series.  It’s my 1st one and I found it an easy read & enjoyable.  Good but not great.  The setting is a small town in NH, with interesting characters.  I also liked that recipes were included at the end that were all referenced in the book.  Unfortunately none of them are any that I would actually make since I’ve revamped my eating habits.

Muffins and mayhem: recipes for a happy (if disorderly) life

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Beecher, Suzanne
Muffins and mayhem: recipes for a happy (if disorderly) life
A memoir laced with recipes.  The author is the creator of DearReader.com,
an online book club. As a member, I know that she prefaces each online
installment with her daily column.  In this book, she details her humble
beginnings as an only child in Cuba City, WI.  In spite of an alcoholic
father and an indifferent mother who doesn’t understand her, she has an
indomitable spirit.  She is not afraid to make (big) mistakes, and to make
fun of herself. She seems to be a business/marketing genius, without any
college degrees.   After a failed marriage, she finds Mr. Right, also
divorced with kids. She and her husband move to Sarasota, FL. She has a
son and a daughter, but hardly mentions them. I would like to have read
why she married him so soon and why in Iowa City, and what it was like to
raise a blended family. Her take on living with an eye disorder was
inspiring (she learned to love the disorder instead of fighting it).

I didn’t like the recipes very much: the potstickers seemed too difficult
and others were too pedestrian.  Some of the chapters are verbatim from
her online column.  The grief over losing her mother is raw and if you
have been in a similar situation, you can relate.

Graceland’s table : recipes and meal memories fit for the king of rock and roll

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Rolfes, Ellen
Graceland’s table : recipes and meal memories fit for the king of rock and roll
Recipes submitted by fan club members and those who knew or met him. Some recipes are those that Elvis might have liked, and some he ate regularly.
His personal nurse at one time, Ms. Cocke, shares her meeting Elvis the
first time (“When I went into the building that morning, I knew the minute
I walked in the door that Elvis was already there. There was a static
electricity in the air that was just overpowering. That might sound funny,
but it’s the truth”). She submits an excellent banana pudding recipe (p.
222). Some recipes are southern cooking, some eclectic.  The first and
only cookbook produced with the cooperation of Elvis Presley Enterprises
and 400 fan clubs worldwide.  Features photos from Elvis’ early days, with
fans, and from movies.  Includes informative and personal 1- to 4-page
vignettes from people who knew Elvis or wish they did, which hint at the
amazing affect he had on people.  Recipes for appetizers, soups,
vegetables, salads, meat and seafood with readily available ingredients
and clear instructions. Do try the Tuna seashell pasta salad, Too much
monkey business bread, and Pizza for Elvis. Also has the classic peanut
butter and banana sandwich recipe.

Fit for a king : the Elvis Presley cookbook

From Jackie Cantwell
author: McKeon, Elizabeth, Ralph Gevirtz & Julie Bandy.
Fit for a king : the Elvis Presley cookbook
Recipes that were actually used at Graceland, by Elvis’ cooks or
relatives, or were popular during  that time period.  Many of the recipes
are surprisingly easy to make, and require readily accessed ingredients. I
tried the rum cake on p. 171 ; it won raves.  Includes reminiscences of
Elvis’s friends and fans. Features photos of Elvis from his childhood, his
Army days, publicity shots for movies, and with his fans and family. This
is true southern cooking, so count on generous portion sizes, rich tastes,
and high calories.  The recipe for Elvis’ favorite Peanut Butter and
Banana Sandwiches is here. The key is to mash very ripe bananas with the
peanut butter, before spreading on the bread and grilling. Buttermilk
finds its way into many recipes, as do pineapple and bacon.  Fantastic
recipes for Chocolate Zucchini Cake,  Cocoa Praline Cake, Scalloped
Eggplant, Chocolate Oatmeal Cake, Fudge Cookies, Sweet Chocolate Pie,
Mocha Pecan Bars, Peanut Butter Bread with Buttermilk, and Oatmeal Bread.
Warning about Spicy Lime Chicken on p. 135: Either boil the used marinade
or discard. Never top a cooked poultry dish with a marinade that came into
contact with the raw poultry; this could lead to food poisoning.

Cowgirl cuisine

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Disbrowe, Paula
Cowgirl cuisine : rustic recipes and cowgirl adventures from a Texas ranch
Successful NY food writer moves with baker/husband to Texas Hill Country. Think: scorpions, campfires, cowboys, ranch life, chuck wagons, horse riding. Excellent recipes for salsas, desserts, meats, appetizers, potato salad, cocktails. Most recipes have many ingredients (15 or more) which is daunting. One sandwich has 21 ingredients!  Warning about handling chile peppers (use rubber gloves, don’t touch face) should be on p. 1, not p. 78.  Great dulce de leche method.  Cooking terms not explained, nor sources for ingredients. Not for beginner cooks.