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Divine Your Dinner: A Cookbook for Using Tarot as Your Guide to Magickal Meals

Courtney McBroom and Melinda Lee Holm. Clarkson Potter, $22.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-593-23214-9

In this lighthearted debut, tarot reader Holm and chef McBroom invoke a delightful mix of tarot-inspired dishes designed to “integrat[e] purpose into your palate.” Recipes—each of which corresponds to a tarot card—are divided into four “suits,” matching Air, Fire, Water, and Earth energies with common ingredients used in spell books to nurture both the divine and the physical (like juniper berries, frankincense, and chicory root). Home cooks are encouraged to choose their own adventure—either by making a recipe based on a card or by picking an ingredient with “some energy that sounds good” from the “Magickal Ingredient Pantry” and finding its corresponding recipes. The cinnamon and ginger in the Eight of Swords’ chicken tagine can help “open your imagination,” while the Page of Cups’ “sensual” stone fruit cobbler is perfect for ridding oneself of “the residue of heartaches past.” Meals run the gamut from the savory to desserts and drinks, traversing cultures (giant bahn mì, bagna cauda “crudités,” fondue) and conjuring moods (for a little introspection, sip on the pomegranate julep), all while offering dashes of positive wisdom along the way. Even if readers aren’t converted, there’s lots to appreciate in this entertaining collection. Agent: Eve Attermann, WME. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Gennaro’s Limoni: Vibrant Italian Recipes Celebrating the Lemon

Gennaro Contaldo. Interlink, $35 (192p) ISBN 978-1-62371-860-2

The Amalfi Coast is known for extra-sweet, thick-skinned lemons, and native Contaldo (Gennaro’s Pasta Perfecto!) digs into the area’s flavor in a collection as bright and cheerful as its subject. “Lemons cleanse, refresh, disinfect, preserve, and are an absolute essential in the home,” he explains, before describing how lemons infused every aspect of his childhood. Desserts like cakey lemon cookies and white chocolate and lemon mousse with raspberries are no-brainers, but the flavors of citrus are also expertly woven into savory dishes: a fennel and apple salad is crowned with lemon-clementine compote, and pizza dough with lemon zest is topped with sausage, more zest, and a spritz of lemon juice. No part of the lemon goes to waste: scooped out rinds are stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella and baked. The style is alla mano—friendly and open—and organization is equally loose. A chapter nominally on vegetable dishes ropes in everything from pasta with capers to a frittata with red onions and parsley, while a chapter on fish features poached cod with olives and chili pepper, and sardines with a tuna filling that are breaded and fried. Whether codifying the 17-day process for crafting limoncello or explaining how friends at a hometown pastry shop candy citrus peel, Contaldo evokes joy. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Super Subversive Cross Stitch: 50 Fresh as F*ck Designs

Julie Jackson. Sasquatch, $16.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-63217-388-1

Subversive Cross Stitch blogger Jackson offers 50 wickedly funny designs in this rip-roaring cross stitch pattern guide (after Subversive Cross Stitch). “The cardinal rule... is to enjoy the process and not worry about perfection,” Jackson writes, and she carries that laid-back attitude throughout. The opening chapter covers tools and techniques, including directions on separating strands of embroidery floss and using a fabric hoop. Then come the patterns, broken into six sections: “Holidays,” contains an easy-enough “Bite Me” bat project, as well as a floral “Happy Fucking Birthday”; “A World Gone Mad” features a Handmaid’s Tale–inspired “Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum, Bitches!”; “Self Help” showcases a rose-adorned “Don’t Be Stupid”; “Cocktail Corner” places “I Think, Therefore I Drink” next to a martini glass; while “Work” features “Get Out of My Office”; and “Gifts” shows readers how to make a floral “May Your Life Be As Amazing As You Pretend It Is on Facebook.” Instructions for changing fonts are provided for those wishing to customize their work, and explanatory illustrations, easy-to-follow charts, and colorful photographs enhance the quirky patterns. Jackson’s fun-filled approach goes a long way to ridding the craft of its fusty image. Those new to cross-stitch will find this to be a kick-ass place to start. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Pilates for Everyone: 50 Poses for Every Type of Body

Micki Havard. DK, $19.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61564-992-1

After 20 years of practicing and instructing pilates, Havard brings what she’s learned to the page in her empowering debut. When she began Pilates, Havard noticed a “ ‘Stepford’-like quality to the instructors and the practitioners. Everyone was twenty-something and slender, and they looked like dancers or models.” By contrast, Havard lays out a “non-intimidating and welcoming” practice broken into seven parts. The first covers basic Pilates facts, such as its history (Joseph Pilates, a German immigrant, began the method in New York City in the late 1920s), different types (such as classical and contemporary), and benefits (core strength and flexibility among them). Next come poses for one’s upper body, lower body, and total body, then standing and chair Pilates, and a series of sequences combining multiple poses rounds things out. Havard takes all body types into consideration—each pose she presents comes with a slew of variations based on one’s needs and abilities, and the brief interviews with each of the models featured in the poses add a wealth of perspectives. The diverse cast and regimen modification options go hand-in-hand with Havard’s encouraging tone: “Who should do Pilates? You—no matter who you are.” The result is a welcome and refreshing departure from standard fitness fare. (July)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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The End of Craving: Recovering the Lost Wisdom of Eating Well

Mark Schatzker. Simon and Schuster, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9247-0

Decades of fad diets have missed the fact that “additive by additive, food has become a strange imitation of itself,” according to this zippy and fascinating survey. Science journalist Schatzker (The Dorito Effect) argues that by attempting to alter foods for weight loss, food companies have instead created “the perfect conditions” for obesity. Schatzker begins with a comparison of how the governments in Italy and the U.S. reacted to the revelation that a disease, pellagra (which struck the Southern U.S. specifically), was caused by a vitamin deficiency. This discovery led to a 1941 federal government decree that flour be enriched with B vitamins, and thus began the downfall of the American diet. The 1950s saw a boom in modified starches and artificial fat replacers, and since then, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and fats, and additional vitamin and mineral enrichments have “disrupted the brain’s ability to sense nutrients” and led to high rates of obesity. Meanwhile, Schatzker notes, the Italians set out a program of baking bread in communal ovens and encouraged the poor to raise rabbits for meat (the yeast in their unfiltered wine contained niacin, too, which didn’t hurt), and as a result, in northern Italy, where pellagra was endemic, there is an 8% obesity rate, compared to 47% in Mississippi. Schatzker supports his case with copious research from the fields of food science, psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral economics. (The quirky anecdotes, such as those about Goethe’s travels in Italy, are a nice bonus.) This is a real eye-opener. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids in an Unjust World

Traci Baxley. Harper Wave, $27.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-308236-6

“I totally understand that each of you wants what’s best for your children... but Social Justice Parenting means you also want (and take action toward) what’s best for all children,” writes education professor Baxley in her powerful debut. Her program for raising children so that they can recognize injustice and work to change it consists of five parts: reflection, open dialogue, compassion, kindness, and social engagement. Through anecdotes from her life, Baxley explains how to use those principles to reject racism (“Learn something new. Acknowledge the fear”), become an ally (a friend of Baxley’s who said something racist was corrected and accepted the criticism with humility), and teach kindness to children (parents must make it a value in their own lives, and kids will reflect it). She offers exercises, too, such as creating a shared journal to better communicate with a child, and gives modeled dialogue for conversations about death, sexual assault, and homelessness in one’s community. Baxley shines in her ability to be encouraging without being judgmental: “If this seems like a lot to take in, let me tell you that it’s okay to start with small steps.” This hopeful guide inspires. Agent: Lynn Johnston, Lynn Johnston Literary. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Life Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top: A Baking Book

Vallery Lomas. Clarkson Potter, $29.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593137-68-0

Great American Baking Show winner Lomas debuts with an inspiring collection that combines life lessons, family lore, and behind-the-scenes peeks at the reality show world with more than 100 indulgent recipes. In inviting prose, she recalls how she first learned to bake as a law student facing a tough job market before being cast in the third season of The Great American Baking Show. When the season was pulled off the air after a few episodes because of a #MeToo accusation against a judge, Lomas picked herself up and marched toward her goal of becoming a professional baker. She shares favorite recipes from her stint on the show, as well as bakes inspired by her native Louisiana and time spent in France, California, and New York. A cookie section features rich chocolate mint moon pies, while a chapter devoted to cakes is headlined by Lomas’s grandma’s Million Dollar Cake, featuring rich vanilla layers infused with crushed pineapple. Multiple food cultures receive a nod, sometimes in the same recipe; Zulu Babka adds a New York gloss to the traditional Mardi Gras king cake, and zesty lemon-honey madeleines pay homage to a summer trip to France. Meanwhile, helpful tips offer pointers on everything from making biscuits to “win[ning] a reality show.” Aspiring baking champs need look no further. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes

Abra Berens. Chronicle, $35 (464p) ISBN 978-1-797-20713-1

In this highly informative work, chef Berens (Ruffage) showcases the potential of cooking with grains and legumes. “The perception of whole grains seems to still be of leaden health food, endless cooking times, and cud-like chewing,” writes Berens. She debunks this misconception with more than 140 recipes that celebrate the “underappreciated staples... in their unprocessed (and often savory) state.” After guiding readers through “some things to know”—including how to mitigate “swings in gas”—she begins with a chapter of condiments, featuring vinaigrettes, pickles, and sauces such as lemon tahini or garam masala yogurt. In a hearty section on legumes, the bean family is outlined alongside helpful grids and flavor formulas that show cooks how to build versatile and vibrant dishes such as stewed Cannellini beans with saffron sofrito, or how to enjoy “a week’s worth of black beans without any boredom.” Grains get their due in a number of imaginative recipes, including gnocchi made from oats, barley doughnuts, and stewed frekkeh (a cracked wheat similar to bulgur). Woven throughout are essays and farmer interviews that present a strong case for increasing the role of grains and legumes in the global food system. The result is a definitive guide rich with flavor and inspiration. Agent: Kari Stuart, ICM Partners. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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The Moon Cycle Cookbook: A Holistic Nutrition Guide for a Well-Balanced Menstrual Cycle

Devon Loftus and Jenna Radomski. Storey, $18.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-16358-6285-0

“Whether your period aligns with the moon phases is neither here nor there... what matters most... is that you feel empowered to reclaim your cycle,” write Loftus and Radomski in this eye-opening guide to mindful eating during one’s menstrual cycle. In 2017, Loftus founded her Moon Cycle Bakery in an effort to “nourish women from the inside out.” Here, she teams up with Radomski, a nutritionist, to recommend foods that support the “hormonal fluctuations” during women’s menstrual, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases, and the seasons that correspond to them (based on traditional Chinese medicine). Their goal: “to share the science of what happens physiologically during this time and give you choices for how to respond... [and] choose the best ways to nourish yourself.” Chocolate-avocado mousse and hazelnut brownies, for instance, contain magnesium and healthful fats to support the production of progesterone during menstruation, while roasted brussels sprouts and a citrus breakfast salad help to detoxify estrogen during ovulation. Interspersed among the recipes are nuggets of helpful nutrition info and ideas for activities (such as gardening) to increase energy when estrogen levels decrease. This will fascinate those who’ve never thought to connect hormonal, mental, and emotional changes with the foods they consume. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook: Beloved Recipes from the Family Behind the Purest Fish Sauce

Cuong Pham with Tien Nguyen and Diep Tran. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-358-41097-3

In this satisfying debut, Pham, founder of the Red Boat Fish Sauce brand, celebrates the versatility of this savory ingredient in a variety of Vietnamese dishes. He starts by sharing the product’s fascinating history: after emigrating from Vietnam in 1979, it took him nine months, including a stint at a refugee camp in Malaysia, to arrive in the United States. Dissatisfied with the “one dimensional” American fish sauce he had to cook with for nearly three decades, he founded his own brand in 2011. Fish sauce appears in several recipes inspired by his mother’s cooking, such as thit ba roi cuon (pork roast) and bò kho (beef stew), as well as in Vietnamese staples like bacon and egg breakfast bánh mì and rau muong xao (morning glory greens with garlic). Pham also demonstrates how fish sauce can work in Western cuisines, particularly in dishes like pasta marinara (“The fish sauce gives it that extra oomph of flavor”) and chicken tinga. While some of these recipes require a considerable amount of time and ingredients not common to many American kitchens (lotus root, sawtooth herb), others can easily be prepared on weeknights, such as shrimp and green beans. This is excellent for umami-heads as well as home cooks looking for a gateway into Vietnamese cooking. Agent: Michele Crim, Miller Bowers Griffin Literary Management. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/13/2021 | Details & Permalink

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