Good + Simple

I was really curious about Good + Simple by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley, especially after the rave reviews the Hemsley sisters garnered for their first offering The Art of Eating Well. They are fascinating to listen to - see also a great podcast interview on Radio Cherry Bombe - and clearly know their stuff when it comes to nutrition and healthful eating. Their tips and tricks are insightful and did inspire me to make some (small) changes in my diet like reducing sugar and caffeine.

Usually when I get a new cookbook I read it cover to cover flagging every recipe that sounds delicious until the pages are bristling with tabs - some annotated with upcoming occasions or seasons to jog my memory down the road. The snag came along when I began to look through the recipes and found that many of them required unusual or difficult to find ingredients even in New York City (maybe something lost in translation since this is a book out of the UK?), lengthy processes, or a combination of flavors that just weren't appealing to my palate. I put this book down without sticking a single post-it.

If you're a regular reader you know by the recipes I post that we eat fairly healthfully with an indulgence here and there, but we still consume dairy, gluten, etc. So, it probably says more about my commitment to an eating overhaul than about the quality of the content, but for me photographs are another huge part of diving in to a new author. Beautiful, appetizing images show me what the finished product should look like and motivate me to actually make the dish. Unfortunately, as an accompaniment to a fresh, modern take on cooking & eating these pictures felt dated and flat, even a little off putting.

Honestly, I wish I liked this book more. I love that these two sisters have established a successful business, and I would have been psyched if their book had inspired me to experiment with the way we eat. For people looking to address diet-related health issues I think this could be a great resource, and I'm not saying I'll never ever pull a recipe from this book - it's possible I'll find myself returning for some of the gut-health information - but unless I have a dinner guest with dietary restrictions it's not going to be my first stop.

I received a promotional copy of this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Reading Material: Pre-Thanksgiving Edition

Maddie pup in Central Park, New York, NY  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Maddie pup in Central Park, New York, NY | Image: Laura Messersmith

Thanksgiving is everything that’s best about the holidays – there’s a great dinner, no shopping stress, and plenty of time to nap in front of the fire in between movies and board games. One of my all time favorite memories is of Thanksgiving a few years ago when everyone was home at the same time – a rare occurrence now that my siblings and I are married and/or scattered across the country. There was a giant snowstorm prompting a cabin fever initiated sledding party on the giant hill behind the house, which naturally lead to hot chocolate spiked with ancient booze of unknown provenance from the liquor cabinet. Sabra crème de cacao, even if it’s from a dusty bottle, tastes amazing in homemade cocoa.

The one drawback is city traffic insanity – nothing like sitting at a standstill on the West Side Highway to put a damper on the spirit. So, Mike, Maddie, and I will make the great migration “over the river and through the woods” Tuesday night. Cross your fingers that we make good time! I’m on point to help with dinner and after the wonderful Friendsgiving we attended last weekend I’m thinking very seriously of re-creating the menu. The only thing I’m leaving out from the traditional spread is green bean casserole. It might draw some flak from Mike’s direction but I’m hoping with the Winter Greens Gratin on the table he won’t notice….

Whether you’re a host or a guest, I’ve collected some Thanksgiving-appropriate reading material to help you prepare for your own festivities. Happy Thanksgiving!

Reading Material:
I can only imagine the sorrow of the people who lost loved ones or were touched by the terrorist events in Paris last weekend, so it’s heartening to see Parisians fighting back by holding tight to their cultural touchstones. #tousaubistro (via Eater)

If Thanksgiving had a fairy godmother it would clearly be Ina Garten arriving in a swirl of kosher salt and fresh herbs. Hamptons Magazine has the inside scoop on how she prepares. Or you could watch her Food Network special with Bobby Flay…not that I’ve had it on repeat or anything.

Most of us will be grocery shopping this weekend for the great cooking marathon that is Thanksgiving. Food52 has some advice for surviving what is sure to be a hectic day at the store without forgetting a key ingredient.

We’ve all been there: Thanksgiving morning dawns and the bird is still solid as a rock. What to do!? The Kitchn has some wisdom on how to handle frozen turkeys.

Are you spending time with family over the holidays? Probably a good moment to brush up on back issues of Dad Magazine so you’re prepared for the dinner table conversation. Applicable to uncles and fathers-in-law. (via The Toast)

A brief pause during this most American of holidays for another piece from Eater on the Great British Bake Off. I am seriously Jonesing for more GBBO and it is killing me that PBS only has 1.5 seasons. Cruel!

Reading Material: Friendsgiving Edition

Image:  Laura Messersmith

Image: Laura Messersmith

This week was better than last in the Dept. of Getting Stuff Done, fewer Internet rabbit holes ensnared me, the cooking was focused, my props mostly behaved themselves during their time in the limelight, and this weekend we have a Friendsgiving party to attend. Yay!

As you might imagine I’ve been plotting and scheming what to make since we received the invitation with a mental Pinterest board about seventy-five items (25% of which were pies) that would be a-mazing to make. Overkill, much? Probably a good thing our hosts put together a list of assignments or I might have showed up with everything from appetizers and dessert to the bird itself…

With my role clearly defined – two sides (this Herbed Butternut Squash & Apple Mash and a Winter Greens Gratin I can’t wait to share with you) and some assistance with turkey roasting – I did find some time to peruse a few Internet items. Here’s what caught my attention this week.

Reading Material:
A timely and relevant question in all entertaining moments, but particularly in times of high-pressure cooking: what to wear? The New Potato has some thoughts on Friendsgiving outfits.

Am I the only one who mainlined The Great British Bake-off when Netflix released it a few weeks ago and then searched madly for more seasons? GQ has perfectly distilled my thoughts on why the show is so good.

And while we’re at it, The Toast continues to kill it with their list of horrifying desserts on GBBO. Just a small slice of “treacle and desperation tart” for me, thanks.

Cooking TV presenter, Rachel Khoo, who knows what it’s like to cook in a small kitchen first hand, summarized her essential cooking tools. Do you agree with her list? (via Food52)

The New York Times notes that written recipes have evolved over time - as a writer, reader, and follower (sometimes) of recipes it resonated. Do you prefer direct and to the point, or a bit more story along the way?

I haven’t made it to Sadelle’s in Soho yet, but Bon Appétit says it’s like something out of a Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. They had me at “whimsy.”


Reading Material: Daylight Savings Edition

Farmers Market Apples

Ever have one of those weeks when it’s just hard to get going? I wake up, head full of all the things I’m going to accomplish – recipes to test, errands to run, posts to write. It starts innocuously enough – just a little light lingering over morning coffee which quickly spirals into a morning spent futzing around on the Internet. (If that’s what you’re doing here right now, don’t worry I won’t tell!) All of a sudden it’s lunchtime and that perfectly reasonable to-do list, well let’s be fair, maybe it was a bit ambitious, has gone out the window.

Let’s blame the time change or the busy October we just wrapped up, because it was that kind of week around here. Some progress was made but I’m afraid I procrastinated a bit. Whoops. It’s good news for you though, since I’ve done the heavy lifting you can futz in a slightly more focused way. You’re welcome.

Reading Material:

Recipe alert! Deb Perelman of the fantastic blog Smitten Kitchen once again, has intuited what we all truly need in our lives. This time it’s a recipe for Oven Fries and I can’t wait to try them!

Bon Appetit has a formula to help determine how much counter space we really need. Filing this away in case I ever get to design a kitchen that has more than one work space…

I almost overlooked this interview with legendary cookbook and literary editor Judith Jones in Eater and I wouldn’t want that to happen to you! Want more JJ? Check out her memoir The Tenth Muse to learn how hugely influential she was in introducing world cuisines to the U.S.

Speaking of careful editing – Paste Magazine is fed up (pun 99% intentional, so I’m part of the problem) with this list of words they wish would disappear from food media. Do you agree? Or do you nom nom nom?

A strong cup of coffee in the morning is one of life’s small pleasures, but the lovely writing of this piece makes a compelling case for bad coffee. (via Serious Eats)