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A few posts ago, I mentioned that my goal has been to try at least one recipe from each cookbook that I get from the library. I have the habit of seeing a shiny new cookbook and putting it on hold, flipping through the recipes picking out ones that look tempting, and then never managing to try any of them before I have to return it to the library. Here’s my current batch:

So far I’ve made recipes from three (all except The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook), although I’ve checked out The Sprouted Kitchen twice, so I suppose I should make a second recipe. And, confession, I had to return The Science of Good Cooking because it had holds, and I barely even looked through it first.

Here’s what I’ve made.

Vintage Cakes: This is one that I requested my library buy, because it looked gorgeous and because I own and like Richardson’s other cookbook, Rustic Fruit Desserts (plus, she’s local). I had it out in the fall and made Pearl’s Chocolate Macaroon Cake (a yummy coconut layer inside a chocolate bundt cake – what’s not to like?) This time I made the Kentucky Bourbon Cake, since someone in my house is a big bourbon fan (and it’s not the baby). If you like the flavor of bourbon, this is a must-try. There’s some in the batter, and the cake itself is a nice moist, buttery bundt. Then you make a bourbon-sugar-butter glaze, poke holes in the flat side of the bundt, and pour half the glaze in. This gives you nice gooey, extra-boozy streaks in the cake. Then you flip the cake out of the pan and pour the rest over the top. Mine was unattractive (it stuck) but delicious.

The Sprouted KitchenI can’t remember where I saw this recommended, but I thought I needed something to balance out all the baking books. Lots of things look tasty, and so far I’ve made the Ranchero Breakfast Tostadas. It felt like a lot of steps and ingredients for a relatively humble meal, but it was worth it. You toast a corn tortilla and top it with a black bean mash, a fried egg, cheddar, avocado, cilantro and lime juice. We had them for dinner instead of breakfast, and the runny egg yolk really pulls it all together. I’d make this again – or at least use the basic concept once I have to return the cookbook.

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: It turns out that I saw this on a list of 2012’s best cookbooks on NPR – along with The Sprouted Kitchen and The Science of Good Cooking. I haven’t made anything yet, but I’ve been eyeing some of the pies, like the Triple Coconut Cream Pie, although realistically I might manage some muffins or scones.

Super Natural Every Day: Some of these recipes have me drooling and some are less appealing, especially in my extremely carnivorous state. However, I made the Baked Oatmeal yesterday, reheated leftovers today, and think I’ve found a new breakfast standby. Not as quick and easy as our current favorite, a Dutch baby with a layer of sliced apples on the bottom (which I can make without referring to a recipe), but nice and hearty. And a worthy use of the last of the summer blueberries. I’d also like to try the White Beans and Cabbage, the Bran Muffins, or the Frittata.

I’ve found myself reading more ebooks than usual lately, mostly in the middle of the night when I don’t want to turn on a lamp to read any of my print books, but I’m awake feeding baby and getting him back to sleep. The Kindle app on my phone is perfect for the middle of the night, and I’ve been reading a combination of ebooks from the library and ARCs from Netgalley. Here are a few I’ve gotten from Netgalley – I think they’re all out now, or almost out.

In the Shadow of BlackbirdsIn the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Publication date: April 2, 2013

I’d recommend this to anyone who likes books about diseases, spiritualists, ghosts, World War I, or a creepy combination of the supernatural and historical fiction. The setting is particularly vivid, as well as the historical details about how people tried to protect themselves from the flu – sometimes the truth is as creepy as the fictional bits! It’s a dark story that might pull fans of the supernatural into the realm of historical fiction. Or, if you were intrigued by The Diviners but wanted it shorter, minus the humor and slang and flippant characters (for the record, I liked both books).


Being Henry DavidBeing Henry David by Cal Armistead

Publication date: March 1, 2013

The story of a boy who wakes up in a train station and doesn’t know who he is makes for an instant page turner. I loved never knowing quite where the story would go, or who he would turn out to be. Several side characters were nicely drawn and I liked the way Thoreau and his writing were worked into the story (except for the visions of Thoreau himself, which felt unnecessary). Unfortunately, the story takes a turn into lackluster high school drama with the battle of the bands plot line, which just felt like padding. Also, while the main character gets some resolution, several other characters are left hanging at key moments in their stories. I was particularly interested in the brother and sister characters and what would become of them. Unless Armistead is planning a companion that centers on them, leaving them mid-story was just mean.


Anything But Ordinary Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery

Publication date: September 11, 2012

Bryce’s story was compelling and the whole thing was an interesting if fairly standard drama, somewhere in between a problem novel and something more original. Girl wakes up after being in a coma for several years, life has moved on without her, etc. But Avery throws in some elements that take the story out of realistic and into ‘her brain has been changed in mystical ways’ territory, and those pieces of the story didn’t work as well for me. I think I would’ve preferred to see Bryce deal with things in a strictly realistic way. I also have mixed feelings about the ending, and ultimately felt a little let down by the whole thing. Still, a story that I’d recommend to teen readers who are hooked by the whole premise and don’t need a 100% happy ending.
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April 2013

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