What’s Cooking? – Moosewood Style

I just returned from the Fingerlakes of New York where I was delighted to be able to eat at one of my favorite places, The Moosewood Restaurant.  The Mooswood is located in Ithica and they have made a name for themselves in this college town by being a place to go if you want locally sourced, mostly vegetarian meals.  The lunch and dinner menu are different every day of the year and always filled with interesting and delicious options.

The Moosewood has also made a name for themselves around the world with their cookbook collection comprising over 12 cookbooks.  They have won a number of James Beard book awards.  I can personally speak for 8 of their books because I have them in my collection at home and cook from them frequently.

While the cookbooks are mostly vegetarian they do offer chapters on fish and seafood recipes.  If you are a new vegetarian or a carnivore wanting to make a veggie meal and wondering how to put a complete meal together, all of the recipes in the cookbooks give you menu suggestions.  If you are wanting to make the Greek Scampi (one of my all time favorites from theMoosewood Restaurant Cooks At Homecookbook) they suggest serving the scampi over rice, couscous or orzo with a side of steamed broccoli or asparagus.  They take all of the work out of planning complete meals!

If you are looking for a great cookbook to introduce you to vegetarian (or pesce-tarian) cooking or expand your current repertoire then stop by the Bookshop and pick up a Moosewoodcookbook.

“V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore

V for Vendetta has been a favorite movie of mine ever since it came out. I had to watch the movie three times before I actually understand it, but once I did, it blew my mind. It was so crazy insane that, as a viewer, I could grow to love a terrorist, hidden behind a mask, just based solely on his thoughts and ideas. I eventually found out it was a comic book and I swore I’d eventually read it. It arrived at the bookshop a couple weeks ago for the Downingtown summer reading list (thanks guys!) so I had no excuses now; I had to read it.

“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot, I see of no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” The story opens up on the fifth of November of 1997 when Evey Hammond (one of the main characters) gets rescued by our terrorist, V, from fingermen (a gang of secret police officers) who intended to kill her. V is cloaked head to toe and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask (FYI…Guy Fawkes was the man who attempted to blow up parliament in 1605) V manages to successfully blow up parliament that night sending a very strong message to the corrupt government of the United Kingdom.

During the chaos of the aftermath of the bombing, V goes on to kill three more people, Lewis Prothero, (the voice of fate- basically a propaganda broadcaster) Bishop Anthony Lilliman, (a pedophile priest) and Delia Surridge (the medical examiner). What the head director slowly starts to figure out is that these three people were all employed at the same death camp during the war. The camp was burned to the ground by the patient in room number five or V.

A few months later, V breaks into the main broadcasting center and delivers a speech to the citizens of London. He tells them to take charge of their own lives, and the government should fear the people and not the other way around.

I can’t write much more about the plot without giving it away, but the book is great. I really enjoyed reading it, but I feel like I still don’t really get it. I may sound like an idiot and I’m sorry, but its almost as if something is missing in the story in my head; like that “wow” moment. I’m hoping if I read it a couple more times I’ll understand it a little better. Besides that, it was a great book. The comics looked exactly how I imagined they would and the dialogue was perfect with different accents for different characters. I highly recommend this book so read it and let me know what you think!


Interview with Karen Thompson Walker, author of “The Age of Miracles”

Today at 5:00pm on WCHE 1520am, Sam interviews Karen Thompson Walker, author of “The Age of Miracles”.

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

“[A] gripping debut … . A triumph of vision, language, and terrifying momentum, the story also feels eerily plausible, as if the problems we’ve been worrying about all along pale in comparison to what might actually bring our end.”
Publishers Weekly

“Beautiful and frightening … Karen Thompson Walker takes a fantastic premise and makes it feel thrillingly real.”
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!

Karen Thompson Walker was born and raised in San Diego, California, where The Age of Miracles is set. She studied English and creative writing at UCLA, where she wrote for the UCLA Daily Bruin. After college, she worked as a newspaper reporter in the San Diego area before moving to New York City to attend the Columbia University MFA program.

A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, she wrote The Age of Miracles in the mornings before work—sometimes while riding the subway.

She is the recipient of the 2011 Sirenland Fellowship as well as a Bomb Magazine fiction prize. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

If you miss an interview you can always catch it at Wellington Square Books or on the Avid Reader at iTunes.

Kids Corner – “Lion Library” by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

In this New York Times bestseller Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.

This is a heartwarming story about being nice, following the rules and helping others.  It also teaches kids about why it is okay to break the rules, sometimes.  With beautiful illustrations this book is sure to be a favorite among kids.  Who wouldn’t want to go to the library and curl up with a good book and a lion? 

This Week in the Bookshop – The First Edition Club

Did you know that we have a number of first and limited edition club books?  Once a month the members of the First Editions Book Club receive a signed first edition of a new work of fiction by an emerging author who shows exceptional talent and promise.  June’s signed first edition is Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.

Sam recently interviewed Jess Walter for his weekly radio broadcast, The Avid Reader.  You can listen to the podcast of his interview on iTunes.

Here is what Sam has to say about the book:

Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter, is literally one of those few books that you can’t put down.  It is April of 1962.  The catastrophic set of “Cleopatra” sets the opening of this novel.  A dying American actress, an extra in the film, arrives in a town so small that it exists primarily as a rumor.  Dee Moray, one of the book’s numerous protagonists, a beautiful blond, enters Porto Vergona and immediately smites young Pasquale Tursi, the  proprietor of the adequately named “Hotel Adequate View”.  A shared moment between the two creates the link that unites them and the book itself, together for a lifetime.  Reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”, the book’s magical narrative leads us deeper and deeper into the realization that the moments of our life, combine, or stand alone, to shape our very existence, our personalities and our fates.
Suffice it to say that this book enthralled me, and will you.  Listen to my interview with Jess Walter and hear him explain the nuances of his work and the muse that led him to write this, which, along with A Visit From the Goon Squad are my picks as the two best books of the year.

“Faith” by Jennifer Haigh

In light of all the recent publicity surrounding the sexual abuse scandals in both the Catholic Church and at Penn State, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Jennifer Haigh’s latest novel, Faith. She tells the story of Father Art Breen, the popular and respected pastor of a large suburban Boston parish who is accused of abusing an eight year old boy he has taken under his wing. But the novel is actually more about family dynamics, truth and trust, punishment and forgiveness. Haigh explores all kinds of faith—- faith in the church, faith in ones family, faith that what we’ve believed to be true our whole life is still true, faith in ones own strengths and beliefs.

Art’s half sister Sheila narrates the tale. Although she has fled her stifling Irish American home and has lost faith in the church of her youth, she returns home to fight for Art – her faith in his innocence is absolute. Her other brother Mike, has the opposite reaction. The sibling relationship is further complicated by Mike’s wife who believes everything is wrong in the Catholic Church, their parents’ inability to cope in any realistic way with the situation, and Art’s resistance to answer questions and refusal to defend himself.

Haigh has done an admirable job of not sensationalizing the subject and actually keeps the reader in suspense. She certainly makes the point that things aren’t always as they seem.

I enjoyed the book so much more than I expected to. It turns out to be a fascinating look at a complex moral issue. Beautifully written, it is a story of love and loss, good and evil, and faith.

What’s Cooking? – “Everyday Food – Great Food Fast”

Last night I was looking for something something quick, easy and delicious to make for dinner so I picked up Everyday Food-Great Food Fast from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living Magazine

In the past I have found Martha’s recipes to be quite labor intensive but a few years ago a friend recommended Everyday Food, the little magazine you see in the racks at the grocery store.  I was skeptical but my my friend promised that the recipes were delicious and really easy to make, using minimal ingredients and requiring little time.  I was pleasantly surprised. 

Therefore, when I got home from work and was thinking about what to fix for dinner I reached for the Everyday Food-Great Food Fast cookbook.  Everyday Food is a collection of recipes based on the little Everyday Food magazine.  Just like the magazine, the recipes are quick (most requiring 30 minutes) to prepare and require minimal ingredients. My favorite features are:

  • organized by season (my favorite feature!)
  • pictures for every recipe
  • a little tag showing preparation/cooking times

I love cooking with the seasons, the food is freshest and most nourishing when it comes straight from the garden (or the CSA) or does not have to travel as far (like from Mexico) to get to the grocery store.  When I got home from work I picked up the cookbook, turned to the summer section and found a recipe that I had most of the ingredients for in the house.  I made the Indian-Spiced Chicken burgers with a side of watermelon.

Standing by my spice cabinet, I mixed up some cumin, cardamom and a few other ingredients and tossed in chunks of chicken.  I let that marinate for a few minutes while I heated the grill and then dumped the mixture into the food processor to chop up a bit more.  Once it was pulverized a bit I made little mini patties and popped them on the grill for about 3 minutes per side.  In all, it took me about 40 minutes which is what the recipe suggested it would take.  To serve these yummy little burgers I grilled some pita bread and we put the burgers into the pita halves with some tomato, cilantro and plain yogurt mixed with a little cumin.  D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!

If you are looking for a go-to cookbook to help you get family meals on the table with minimal fuss then stop into the Bookshop and pick up Everyday Food-Great Food Fast.