Blog Posts by Katie M

Posted by Katie M on 09/04/18
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The Austin Cookbook by Paula Forbes features a wide variety of recipes from Austin’s award-winning, destination food scene. The author says that this book highlights what’s “unique, beloved, and/or especially Texan” about each of the restaurant and food truck recipes in the book, and I would agree. It’s a cookbook filled with detailed information about its recipes with lots of Texas recipe and restaurant history sprinkled throughout.
 
This book may not be meant as a quick weeknight meal book, but these recipes are attainable. Because many of the recipes are restaurant recipes, with a focus on developing flavors, some have multiple steps or components as part of the recipe and might take some time to put together. I tried the Lentil Chili, Buttermilk Pie, and the Jalapeno Cheese Grits and all came out great and were easy to make. As someone who grew up eating authentic Tex-Mex, the book covers many of the classics, with a variety of recipes for enchiladas, queso and margaritas, but also features “New Austin Classics,” with modern food and drink recipes, like the popular Beet Fries from East Side King and the Grilled Quail with Green Mole from Lenoir. Some other recipes that I plan to try are the savory Everything Bagel Kolache, the Salted Brown Butter and Dark Chocolate Pecan Cookies and the Grapefruit Salsa.
 
I think this book is ideal for anyone homesick for Austin, craving some Bob Armstrong Dip or Central Texas-Style Smoked Brisket, or interested in reading more about the current Austin food scene.
 
Cookbooks, Texas
Posted by Katie M on 07/24/18
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Dina Nayeri’s novel, Refuge, focuses on a father-daughter relationship after part of the family flees Iran in the 1980’s.

Dr. Bahman Hamidi’s wife and children leave Iran for the United States, while he chooses to remain, tied to his life, love of home, and an opium addiction. As Bahman’s daughter, Niloofar (Niloo), transforms into an overachieving Westerner, and eventually a European transplant in Amsterdam, the story follows her relationship with her father, as they interact during sporadic visits. Nayeri explores their intimate family relationship during these visits, as well as the cultural differences and changes that occur over the decades, to the members of the family, and in Iran and the world, through the lens of Bahman, as an Iranian citizen, and Niloo, as an Iranian refugee.

I found this book insightful, thoughtful and threaded with relatable humor, as Nayeri captures the complicated roles that time and place play in the idea of “home,” while maintaining characters and storylines that are candid and realistic. Nayeri skillfully writes about the conflicts facing refugees of all nationalities in Europe, as well as the interconnected role of family relationships and the refugee identity. This is a well-written, poignant book for those who enjoy literary fiction and who want to learn more about contemporary Iranian experiences.
Posted by Katie M on 06/21/18
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The Broadway musical, The Band’s Visit, based on the 2007 Israeli film, Bikur Ha-Tizmoret, won ten Tony awards earlier this month, prompting my interest in the movie.

The movie follows an Egyptian police band that has booked a performance at an Arab cultural center in Petah Tikva, but end up in the wrong town, (fictional) Bet Hatika, in the middle of the Negev Desert. When there is no transportation out of the city that day, and no hotels for them to spend the night, the eight male band members, through a fortuitous encounter with a café owner, are taken in for the evening by different people throughout the town. The situations that ensue highlight relationships built by finding common ground.

This has been described as a quiet film, and I would agree. It is a sweet charmer about a group of people, who meet under unusual circumstances, and experience life together over the course of one night. There is no great narrative or major action, but it is a lovely, and sometimes funny, story about the human experience.

For those who enjoy well-reviewed, award-winning independent and foreign films.
Posted by Katie M on 05/17/18
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Everything Is Horrible And Wonderful : A Tragicomic Memoir Of Genius, Heroin, Love, And Loss by Stephanie Wittels Wachs is the author’s absorbing account about coping with the death of her brother, Harris Wittels, from a heroin overdose. The book spans the few years between the time that the family learns of Harris’ substance addiction, to the year after his death, and details their attempt to make sense of everything. Stephanie openly discusses how concurrent to Harris’ addiction, she gives birth to a baby with a permanent hearing disability, and writes about the emotional stress of these parallel events.

Stephanie is unflinchingly honest in this memoir, and with her background in education and performance, her audiobook narration is a real standout. I listened on Hoopla, and highly recommend the audio format of the book, as the story, in her voice, is powerful; it’s tender and evocative and her love for her brother and her family is potent.

This is one of those books where you’ll laugh and you'll cry – the humor can be dry and quirky and laugh-out-loud funny (Harris was a professional comedy writer) and the tragic moments incredibly dark – but part of the strength of the story is this concurrent thread of humor and sadness. This book is for those who like modern memoirs, and anyone interested in reading a detailed personal account about addiction and grief, told through the lens of a candid, close-knit family.
memoir
Posted by Katie M on 04/16/18
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Hari Kunzru is the award-winning author of five novels and a short story collection; his most recent book, White Tears, was a PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist and listed on many Best of 2017 lists. I picked it up after seeing it on the list of finalists for the community read for New York City and found it to be compelling, haunting and original.

Described by the publisher as “a literary thriller and a meditation on art–who owns it, who can consume it, and who profits from it,” it centers around two college friends, Seth and Carter, who start a music production business, with a focus on serving artists who want their music to sound authentically timeworn, like the old blues vinyl Carter obsessively collects. One day, Seth discovers he’s recorded an unknown blues singer in a park and Carter puts the file online, where he claims it’s an old recording by a made-up musician named Charlie Shaw. In action-packed and dramatic fashion, both young men find themselves in over their heads, to great consequence, after a music collector tells them their recording is genuine.

The book has a strong start, becomes confusing and a bit muddled at its climax, only to finish in a shocking, if not completely unexpected, manner.  Overall, this is a well-written, thought-provoking and timely novel that looks at cultural appropriation and power in American culture head-on. I recommend it to those interested in modern literary fiction or noir mysteries.
Posted by Katie M on 03/19/18
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Dorie’s Cookies, by Dorie Greenspan, was the 2017 James Beard Foundation Award-winner for Baking and Dessert, and for good reason. The book is full of Greenspan’s delicious, well-tested recipes, with loads of pictures, detailed instructions, and preparation tips, to turnout the best cookies, even if you’re a novice baker. The book contains both standard classics and some very special recipes, like a variety of savory cookies and cookies like the Puffed Grain and Miso Cookies.
 
I have tried the cover’s World Peace Cookies, a memorable cookie that is both sandy and chewy, and that lives up to its name; as Dorie has said, “If everyone had it, peace would reign o’er the planet.”  I have made it on multiple occasions, and it always turns out perfectly, despite the inconsistent dough, just as she says it will. Another cookie I tried are the Goat Cheese and Chive Cookies, a savory shortbread, perfect for an appetizer tray or cocktail party.
 
There are so many recipes in this huge book to try, like the Lemon Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars, Hamantaschen with homemade jam, French Snacklettes in a pyramid shape, Blueberry Buttermilk Pie Bars, and Coffee Cardamom Cookies, to name a few. Whether you are looking for an everyday treat, or like to test and plan in advance for your annual cookie swap, this book has a little something for any cookie maker.
Posted by Katie M on 02/12/18
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The cookie of the moment is the Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, a recipe featured all over Instagram and various food sites, created by Alison Roman, author of Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes. The shortbread recipe is as spectacular as the online hype and you can find it in her book, which also contains many other excellent recipes and loads of inspiration. Roman’s book is well-written and straightforward, with relatable writing and down-to-earth recipes and instructions.
 
With a focus on fresh ingredients, there are many great-looking recipes, for everything from Shrimp in the Shells with Lots of Garlic and Probably Too Much Butter to Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon, desserts like a classic Lemon Shaker Tart and Brown-Butter Buttermilk Cake, and a whole section on Savory Breakfasts, all with quick and easy instructions. Roman’s book is a fun read, filled with beautiful pictures, and will probably make you want to spend loads of time in the kitchen, or at the least, spend time reading her gorgeous cookbook!
Cookbooks
Posted by Katie M on 01/16/18
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Bon Appétempt: A Coming-Of-Age Story (with Recipes!) by Amelia Morris, a 30-something “food” blogger, who writes a popular blog by the same title, is full of funny and charming stories in Morris’ distinctive voice. On her popular blog, PBS has produced her videos, she has won a Saveur food blog award, and her blog has been previously recognized as one of TIMES’s 25 Best Blogs of the Year.

Sharing personal observations about her life and family, she reveals relatable family dramas and growing into who you want to be. Full of thoughtful anecdotes, and a variety of recipes, from her mom’s comfort snack of Toasted Cheerios, to a delicious recipe for lemon pasta from her husband, this is a self-aware coming-of-age memoir. I recommend this book to anyone familiar with her Bon Appétempt blog or who likes modern memoirs.
cooking, memoir
Posted by Katie M on 12/19/17
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Paula Wolfert is “the most influential cookbook author you’ve probably never heard of,” according to Emily Kaiser Thelin, the author of the biography and cookbook, Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life. She never had a TV show or a restaurant, but over four decades published eight ground-breaking cookbooks, with multiple reissues and numerous articles. Her work helped popularize foods we now take for granted, including couscous and cassoulet, and her influence has long been felt in the elite circles of well-known chefs, and their books and restaurants.
 
Known for her acute memory, Wolfert was diagnosed with dementia in 2013, but she suspected something was wrong long before. Family and friends dismissed her symptoms early on, citing her aging and “senior moments.” Since her diagnosis, she is determined to do as much as she can for the prevention, treatment and cure of Alzheimer’s disease, advocating for early intervention.
 

I enjoyed this book that provides a detailed biography about someone whose influence is felt, but whose name we may not know; for the well-tested recipes that celebrate her life and ideas; and for the direct way she is addressing her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, sharing her diagnosis and advocacy openly.

 
Posted by Katie M on 11/20/17
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If you love reading cookbooks and have an interest in Southern cooking, there are 2 excellent additions to our collection:
 
First up is Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook by Pamela Strobel, which was out of print until the Lee Brothers discovered a copy of the book and had it reprinted. Starting with a detailed introduction that tells you about Princess Pamela and her beloved recipes and restaurants, it also provides notable information about the history of soul food cookbooks. The Lee Brothers have tested many of the recipes and the result is a series of helpful instructions, and while there are no pictures, there is a poem by Princess Pamela for nearly every recipe, full of self-deprecating humor and witty observation. Overall, I found it to be a fun and informative read. I made the Sauce Beautiful and Hot Slaw, which were both tasty, and plan to try more recipes, like the Brown Coconut Pie that calls for freshly grated coconut and the Molasses Pie with pecans.
 
Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen is a picture-filled tribute to her Raleigh, N.C. modern diner, Poole’s. This beautiful book is full of Southern-influenced recipes and ingredients, with many professional tips and tricks, and a focus on fresh ingredients. I made the Chow-Chow, a Southern pickled staple, and the Marinated Avocados with Apples, Blue Cheese and Almonds, which uses sorghum in its dressing; both were wonderful. The book has what looks like a definitive recipe for a savory tomato pie, Homegrown Tomato Pie, and a recipe for Chilled Corn Soup with Cherry Tomatoes that recommends a professional cream whipper for best results, as well as a host of other drink and food recipes. I think these recipes span both home-style Southern staples and aspirational reinterpretations, and I found the instructions, notes and pictures useful.
Cookbooks
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
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Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
 
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  • content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
 
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