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The Sunday Night Book: 52 Short Recipes to Make the Weekend Feel Longer

Rosie Sykes. Quadrille, $19.99 (152p) ISBN 978-1-84949-965-1

Chef Sykes (The Kitchen Revolution) makes her sharp debut with a year’s worth of cozy Sunday suppers. A soothing way “to extend the joys of the weekend,” she writes, is by enjoying an “easy knock-together meal” with family and friends. Chapters are broken into go-to comfort foods—for example, “On toast” includes toasts topped with anchovy butter, parsley, and shallots, perhaps, or shrimp sautéed with whiskey. “Excellent eggs” boasts scrambled eggs with black pudding, and “A bowl of pasta” includes fregola with bacon and peas. Sykes’s casual voice adds to the relaxed vibe; for spiced rice and lentils, she writes, “Give all the ingredients a couple more minutes of getting to know each other before adding the remaining tablespoon of oil.” Sykes references the friends, family, and faraway lands that inspired the dishes—including “Jack’s Life-Giving Soup,” from a friend of hers, and her Kiwi mom’s bacon and egg pie. Some potentially hard-to-find seasonal or regional ingredients occasionally appear, but nothing a substitution (which Sykes reliably recommends) or trip to a specialty market can’t fix. This is perfect for any home cook wanting to stop the world and melt into a languorous Sunday evening. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

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What We Didn’t Expect: Personal Stories About Premature Birth

Edited by Melody Schreiber. Melville House, $18.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-61219-860-6

Premature birth is given a moving consideration in this rich anthology from journalist Schreiber. Seventeen essays capture the “range of medical and cultural experiences” around premature birth: In “The Other Side,” Sara Cohen, a NICU nurse, writes of her confusion while in labor (“I was not a NICU nurse in that moment. I was a mother in premature labor”); in “An Aunt in Your Corner,” Maria Ramos-Chertok recalls the “paralyzing fear and dread” she felt while visiting her sister’s premature twins, one of whom dies. U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, in “My Cross-Continental Miracle,” describes trying to reach an adequately equipped hospital before the early birth of her child while back in her native India, an experience she calls “one more arrow in my quiver of reasons” to advocate for Medicare for All. Despite the often troubling emotions covered, this collection will predominantly leave readers with a sense of inspiration and gratitude, as summed up by Jayapal when she writes that pain or fear are “usually drowned out by the (mostly) joyful chaos” of life with a new child. Any parent struggling with the fear and uncertainty that can accompany premature birth will find comfort and inspiration. Agent: Eric Smith, PS Literary. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Wild Kitchen: Nature-Loving Chefs at Home

Claire Bingham. Thames & Hudson, $35 (224p) ISBN 978-0-50002-301-3

Journalist Bingham, a former editor at Elle Decoration, satisfies in this compendium that reads like a cookbook but has the look and feel of a décor magazine. Recipes abound, but the focus is on the design of chefs’ home kitchens, which reflect a range of culinary aesthetics. All are inspired by nature and art, such as Guardian food columnist Palisa Anderson’s kitchen, which features shelving crafted from reclaimed wood; Australian chef Darren Robertson’s beach home, which features abundant natural materials; and Danish chef and stylist Mette Helbaek’s indoor “kitchen garden.” A recipe (in metric and imperial measures) and cooking tips accompany each chef-and-kitchen profile. Some tend toward the fanciful, among them shiso rice studded with umeboshi plums, elderflower fritters, and a shiitake dashi with scallops. Others may be hard to reproduce in the average home kitchen, as with Irish chef Cliodhna Prendergast’s pancake feast, which calls for foraged spruce tips as part of the homemade syrup recipe. On the tips front, Anderson’s technique of rinsing produce using the top rack of a dishwasher is delightfully fresh, fun, and inspired. This is a true kitchen voyeur’s delight. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Clean Mind, Clean Body: A 28-Day Plan for Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Self-Care

Tara Stiles. Dey Street, $24.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-294731-4

While it is “widely acknowledged in our culture that the mind and body are interconnected,” most busy modern lives are out of touch with the “mind-body connection,” advises Stiles (Strala Yoga) in this thoughtful guide. Stiles focuses her four-week plan on enhancing this connection, and each week has a goal—the first is “Mental Cleanse,” followed by “Spiritual Detox,” and in these two weeks, Stiles advises decluttering, limiting technology use, and meditation. “Change the Way You Eat,” marks week three, which offers enticing recipes such as Kitchari, an Ayurvedic dish made from mung beans, and week four is “Change the Way You Move,” which works movement into everyday life; these sections feature photographed yoga poses one can fit into a busy schedule. Stiles offers personal stories, as well—for instance, she tells of having a miscarriage, to illustrate that healing can take time, and details the efforts she and her husband, who is also her business partner, have made to achieve a healthy work-life balance. A closing “Daily Wellness Routines” section provides tips for making these changes stick past the four weeks (for example, morning tai chi and evening reflective journaling). Readers interested in a more mindful lifestyle will want to give this a look. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution

Roxana Jullapat. Norton, $40 (352p) ISBN 978-1-32400-356-4

Jullapat, owner of the Friends & Family bakery in Los Angeles, serves up recipes that employ eight “mother grains” in this delightful work. A chapter is dedicated to each grain—barley, buckwheat, corn, oat, rice, rye, sorghum, and wheat—each of which begins with a study of that grain’s history (“rice toes the line between mundane and mystical”) and the forms in which it is available (barley comes as flour, berries, and a malt syrup that can be used, for instance, in a caramel topping for almond bars). Instructions—including those for home-milling flour—are thorough and use metric weights, and the author sets up schedules for more complicated projects, like chocolate babka with rye streusel. Jullapat doesn’t cut corners, insisting on homemade raspberry jam for a chocolate raspberry tart with a buckwheat crust. Flavor profiles run the gamut, from sweet Persian New Year rice-flour fritters with cardamom and rosewater to Finnish-style rye bread. Jullapat also pays homage to California with Sonora wheat croissants that can be split, filled with a halvah mixture, and baked. Homey choices include chocolate chip cookies made with seven of the eight grains, and spelt pretzels poached in beer. This compendium triumphs by making grains feel anything but stodgy. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Food of Oaxaca: Recipes and Stories from Mexico’s Culinary Capital

Alejandro Ruiz and Carla Altesor. Knopf, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-0-52565-730-9

In this celebratory cookbook, chef Ruiz showcases more than 50 recipes that display the “enormous gastronomic wealth” Oaxaca has to offer. He divides his recipes into three sections: the first part focuses on the food Ruiz’s family made during his childhood, such as corn tortillas and bean tamales; the second features seafood recipes inspired by the Oaxacan coast, like margarita scallop cocktails and pescadillas (fried tortillas stuffed with tuna); and the last consists of dishes from his restaurants, among them ceviche-stuffed chile in passion fruit salsa, and Oaxacan chocolate mousse. Some dishes require ingredients that may prove hard to find, such as the herb chepil, or offputting, as with chapulines (grasshoppers) for grilled steaks with chapulin salsa. Along with the recipes are essays that add vibrant cultural context (on cacao: it was once used as currency in Oaxaca, and today hot chocolate is the traditional drink first served to guests at a wedding), and a list of recommended restaurants. This is perfect for experienced home cooks looking to try their hand at Oaxacan fare. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Family Style: Shared Plates for Casual Feasts

Karen Tedesco. Page Street, $21.99 (168p) ISBN 978-1-64567-116-9

Familystyle Food blogger Tedesco debuts with a winning collection of 60 recipes to feed a family. Emphasizing a mix-and-match philosophy in which a variety of dishes are placed on the table so everyone can stock their plates as they wish, Tedesco elevates family-style eating far beyond the traditional casserole. Recipes are infused with international flavors, range from rustic to refined, and star whole food ingredients. On offer for “Bites and Salads to Share” are creamy hummus, black bean tostadas, and various salads featuring kale, lentils, goat cheese, and chickpeas. “Meaty Mains” include a stovetop paella, harissa chicken thighs, and stir-fried pork with rice noodles. “Seafood to Savor” presents clams and artichokes served atop toasted orzo, while beef short ribs braised in red wine is one of the “Slow-Cooked Suppers.” Butternut squash and sage ravioli and pappardelle with wild mushroom ragu round out the “Pasta: From Everyday to Elevated” chapter while “Beautiful Bowl Meals” includes a notable curry-spiced red lentil soup. Easy desserts such as dark chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies round things out. Home cooks will enjoy this wide assortment of flavor-packed, go-to family fare. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/30/2020 | Details & Permalink

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How to Attract Birds to Your Garden

Dan Rouse. DK, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4654-9937-0

The garden is the best place to start appreciating birds, advises ornithologist Rouse in her vibrant debut. She highlights the many ways an average gardener can attract robust birdlife to a space of any size (“birds don’t care whether you live in a flat with a balcony, in a busy street, or in a house with acres of land”), and offers a reason to welcome the creatures: “With many species declining due to lack of space and nesting opportunities, it’s vitally important that we now take birds into our lives.” Rouse outlines basic bird behavior, detailing which types of birds will make a year-round home and which will migrate, and explains feeding habits based on such characteristics as beak size and foot type. Readers will also find plenty of practical tips; guides for building, maintaining, and cleaning feeders and bird houses; and horticultural insight, such as how to organize a garden to protect birds from predators and diseases while enhancing the beauty of the space: “If all parts of the system are working well, both the yard and its wildlife will flourish.” Complete with photos, this comprehensive guide will bring possibility to both aspiring gardeners and hopeful birders. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/23/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Whole Smiths Real Food Every Day

Michelle Smith. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (272p) ISBN 978-0-35816-446-3

Food blogger Smith follows 2018’s The Whole Smiths Good Food Cookbook with this broad, detailed collection of recipes for family meals that are nutritious and easy to pull off. She splits 100 recipes into chapters that include “Five Ingredients or Less,” “One-Dish Wonders,” and “In an Instant.” Two chapters are devoted to make-ahead sauces and meals such as grab-and-go sweet potato hash cups and Hangry Man Turkey ’n’ Taters, because “frozen pizza sucks and is never worth it.” Big flavors are key, notably in dishes such as apple sauce’s “cool big sister” chai-spiced kettle-style apples, sage-flecked pork and maple butternut squash, and a peach-bourbon sipper. Ways to use leftovers are celebrated throughout (like sweet potatoes and pesto chicken), dietary restrictions (paleo, vegan, nut-free, etc.) are conveniently indexed and noted, and all recipes can be made gluten-free. Handy tips abound—for example, defrost meat on a baking sheet to cut thaw time in half, and crumple parchment paper so that it will lie flat. Busy home cooks looking to put together healthy, tasty dinners would do well to pick up this breezy and encouraging book. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/16/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Different Baby, Different Story: Pregnancy and Parenting After Loss

Joann O’Leary et al. Rowman & Littlefield, $30 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5381-2532-8

Nurses Margaret Murphy, Jane Warland, and Lynnda Parker team up with O’Leary, a psychologist, to provide a “journey from loss to hope” in this useful guide for those trying to get pregnant after losing a baby. Balancing communication, hope, and grief, they write, will successfully lead a couple through mourning and new pregnancy. The authors touch on miscarriage, stillbirth, and SIDS, and use testimonials and quotes to show how other parents have dealt with the death of a child. For instance, they write of one woman who gave an ivy plant to her husband after losing their son; the couple still take care of the plant in his honor, 18 years later. Each chapter contains reader questions, practical coping suggestions (such as lighting a candle each year on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, or joining a support group), and closing reflections. The authors also address practical aspects of a new pregnancy, such as a prenatal visit checklist, advice for when to tell others the news, and ways to communicate anxieties effectively with family and friends. The authors’ strength is in their straightforward and comforting tone—“be reassured that, given your history, this is normal behavior”—which will be a balm to grieving readers. This compassionate book will help expectant parents find joy and healing after tragic loss. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/16/2020 | Details & Permalink

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