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Living Within the Wild: Personal Stories & Beloved Recipes from Alaska

Kirsten and Mandy Dixon. Alaska Northwest, $34.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-513-26437-0

The Dixons (The Tutka Bay Lodge Cookbook), a mother-daughter chef duo, combine fascinating stories and delicious food in an enticing work inspired by their Alaskan adventure lodges. Drawing from their experience of having cooked for guests for more than 30 years, the Dixons transport readers to snowy southcentral Alaska, walking them through their favorite seasonal dishes. In spring, that means wildflower semolina pancakes, while come summer, it’s shrimp honey puffs and fire-roasted fish collars. Autumn is welcomed with black garlic yolk and honey pasta, and winter’s made a little cozier with cast iron sweet potato cardamom bread. Notable recipes include a tasty seaweed and nutritional yeast popcorn seasoning, savory spiced lentil doughnuts, and a spruce-tip buttermilk cake (flavored with the “bright green new buds” that surround the lodges in early spring). Main courses highlight the versatility of salmon—it shines in such recipes as spicy rice dumplings with smoked salmon, and salmon scotch eggs—and local game, such as reindeer braised in a stew with dark beer. “We want others to ‘feel’ our love of the place... like they might through a poem or a story or a song,” the Dixons write. Home cooks wanting to bring the outdoors in, or those simply looking for an escape, will cherish this heartfelt work. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Bress ’n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer

Matthew Raiford, with Amy Paige Condon. Countryman, $30 (240p) ISBN 978-1-682-68604-1

Chef and farmer Raiford shares an array of simple and soulful family recipes that were six generations in the making, in this beautiful debut. Inspired by his Gullah Geechee heritage, Raiford lays out dishes that double as a tribute to his great-great-great-grandfather, a freed slave who purchased his family’s Georgia farm in 1874. Among the many meals that can be made in a single vessel are coastal paella, with a hint of saffron, and rabbit fricassee, which is enhanced with bacon and shiitake mushrooms. For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s an oyster roast, pig roast, and a Lowcountry boil with crab, shrimp, and sausage. Those in search of fancier fare will appreciate the rose petal quail, with a syrup made from fresh rose petals and prickly pear, and, for dessert, the author’s influences mesh to produce Strudel with Almost Rum Syrup, “a marriage of a traditional Southern biscuit and a Bavarian pastry.” Skillfully showcasing the flavors of a resilient culture, these recipes are as enlightening as they are delicious. (May)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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The Principles of Pretty Rooms

Phoebe Howard, with Andrew Sessa. Abrams, $40 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4197-4385-6

Interior designer Howard (Coastal Blues) demonstrates ways to create serene, inviting environments in this eminently practical guide. The projects stem from Howard’s principles of “pretty rooms,” among them embrace symmetry, reduce color contrasts, mix old and new, use upholstered pieces, decorate walls with art and mirrors, focus on creating softness and pools of light, and plan carefully. Howard then puts the principles into practice, offering city, country, and beach versions. The city assortment includes two Atlanta homes: a light-filled pied-à-terre done in shades of white and cream, and a four-story townhouse packed with richly textured fabrics such as alpaca and mohair (plus a spa-like bathroom). Country is decidedly elegant, with a Hamptons retreat done in pale blues with painted furniture, and a Tennessee farmhouse in shades of green. The most appealing designs are found in the beach section: in Florida, sophisticated whimsy in a nostalgic Palm Beach cottage, and beach-meets-modern in Atlantic Beach, with clean lines and a central ocean view. The gorgeously styled full-bleed photos will inspire readers to redecorate, if only mentally. For those who prize pretty, Howard’s delightful handbook is the place to start. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy: The New Science for a Safe Birth and a Healthy Baby

Susan J. Fisher. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-358-40907-6

Obstetrics researcher Fisher debuts with an informative “course in human pregnancy” that brings conversations “out of the dark corners” and into the everyday. While most children have basic knowledge about “where babies come from,” Fisher writes, there’s still a large gap in most conversations about pregnancy and birth, which leaves women less than prepared to advocate for themselves when they become pregnant. Fisher focuses on arming women with knowledge about such topics as preparing for birth (including a detailed list of medical procedures a woman may be asked to make decisions about), a timeline of fetal development, environmental contaminants to avoid, and what to expect during delivery. She also describes such procedures as noninvasive prenatal testing, to help women understand the choices available to them. While she’s not afraid to get into the weeds, she keeps her advice encouraging: “I want you to feel prepared for each step in the process, so that you can take charge of your pregnancy.” This is worth a place on any expectant mother’s bookshelf. Agent: Katherine Cowles, Cowles Agency. (May)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Radical Longevity: The Powerful Plan to Sharpen Your Brain, Strengthen Your Body, and Reverse the Symptoms of Aging

Ann Louise Gittleman. Hachette Go, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7382-8616-7

Nutritionist Gittleman (Hot Times) offers strategies for answering the “distress calls” that bodies issue before progressing into illness and disease in this innovative guide. Rather than taking an “antiaging” approach, Gittleman breaks down the science behind aging, and her advice comes in three parts: the first introduces her seven rules for longevity, which focus on immunity, minerals, and “the gut-brain connection.” Part two tackles environmental toxins and offers a meal plan consisting of unprocessed foods, and the final section covers brain, heart, and joint health. Many of Gittleman’s fixes are natural solutions—“flower remedies,” she writes, are extracts that function similar to homeopathy and can help with “emotional turbulence,” and she recommends broccoli seed oil for improving skin health. She doesn’t skimp on detail—her discussion of at-home toxins is particularly extensive and, at times, overwhelming—and there’s no shortage of resources and exercises to help readers put her advice into practice. Those with a mind for alternative medicine will appreciate the wealth of information on offer. Agent: Coleen O’Shea, Allen O’Shea Literary Agency. (May)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Root: Small Vegetable Plates, a Little Meat on the Side

Rob Howell. Bloomsbury Absolute, $35.00 (288p) ISBN 978-1-472-97646-8

Howell, chef at Bristol, England, eatery Root, debuts with a delectable mix of vegetable-forward recipes. Rather than being vegan or vegetarian, his dishes sometimes include meat, but keep vegetables at the forefront. Vibrant colors abound, especially when beets (or beetroot, as it’s called in the U.K. and here) are added to the mix. A five-day fermentation process brings tang to beets with blackberries, hazelnuts, and seaweed, while walnuts, oats, and four types of seeds provide a crunchy texture to salt-baked beets with turnips, smoked yogurt, and savory walnut granola. A chapter of meat and fish dishes is packed with mouth-watering options, such as fried duck egg on beef dripping toast with ox tongue sauce, and marmite and maple-glazed lamb sweetbreads. Those with less adventurous palates will appreciate the cheese chapter with its toasted fruit loaf served with Tunworth cheese, and several fun desserts like carrot jam–filled doughnuts. (Home cooks should come prepared with a scale that measures in grams, as instructions use only metric measurements.) These bold dishes may be small in size, but they’re big in heart and flavor. (May)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Come On Over!: Southern Delicious for Every Day & Every Occasion

Elizabeth Heiskell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-0-358-24809-5

Heiskell (What Can I Bring?), a Mississippi Delta native and Today show contributor, serves up fun, fast, and filling fare with a Southern twist in this charming guide. In nearly 100 recipes designed to feed a group, she offers dishes styled to suit whatever kind of day one’s having, whether that’s a beach day, weekday, or an occasion for a party. Unfussy weekday dinners feature slow cooker chicken and dumplings and a seasonally inspired Vidalia onion and artichoke casserole. For parties, decadent dips made with crabmeat or crawfish and a beef tenderloin showstopper are joined by cocktails such as Lemon Sparklers (think lemony Prosecco). “Delta Days” dishes star regional favorites, including cheesy corn bread muffins, while seasonal summer recipes celebrate all manner of shrimp dishes. Lunch-box-friendly fare reuses leftover pasta, while simple sweets, such as chocolate or peach and blubbery cobbler, make easy weeknight desserts. Sourced mostly from her “Momma’s” recipe box or torn from the pages of women’s magazines, Heiskell’s recipes aren’t meant to be sophisticated; she even provides shortcuts including canned soups, boxed cake mixes, and frozen produce. Beginning cooks and those looking for a taste of the South will appreciate this entertaining collection’s effortless dishes designed for “any ole dadgum day.” Agent: Stacey Glick, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (May)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Let’s Do This, Folks!: Home Cooking with Lorenzo: Delicious Meals Made E-Z

Lorenzo L. Beronilla. Page Street, $21.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-645-67243-2

Beronilla, of Epicurious’s 4 Levels video series, offers 60 simple recipes for inexperienced cooks in his solid if sometimes cloying debut. His goal is to inspire and encourage home cooks to have fun, noting, “there’s no need to be afraid to give anything a try.” Presenting a range of recipes suitable for an array of occasions—from tapas and veggies to meats, seafood, noodles, and desserts—Beronilla covers a lot of ground without compromising flavor. Playfully named (sometimes too much so) dishes, such as Macho Nachos, Lumpty Dumpty Crab Dip, and My Oh My, Pizza Pie, punch up his tapas offerings, while main courses put an American spin on the Filipino recipes he grew up with, such as the Adobo-Wan Kenobi (braised pork “Americanized” with the addition of beer). A tempting Risottlo ’N’ Seared Scallops (cooked “low-and-slow”), easy Ramen Nomadingdon, and lemon shorties with a Filipino-inspired buttery cashew crust lend a rich edge to the offerings. Appetizing as Beronilla’s recipes are, the goofy names wear thin after a while, and his best dishes—such as the grilled carne asada, and pork and shrimp egg rolls—are those that leave the shtick behind and just focus on the food. While Beronilla’s fans will no doubt find much here to love, home cooks can find similar recipes elsewhere in a less gimmicky package. (May)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Opening Minds: A Parents’ Guide to Teaching for Thinking at Home

Selma Wassermann. Rowman & Littlefield, $35 (120p) ISBN 978-1-4758-5953-9

Parents can “become teacher-surrogates in implementing the very essential work of continuing to open children’s minds,” writes education professor Wassermann (Evaluation Without Tears) in this comprehensive if dry guide to filling the gaps created by school shutdowns during the pandemic. She argues that “our long-term survival” may depend on children’s ability to analyze, problem-solve, and innovate. In explaining how to engage and develop a child’s critical thinking skills, she breaks down a dozen “thinking operations.” Observing, for example, helps children make sense of the world, while comparing is a skill that leads to making better judgments. The heart of Wassermann’s guidance comes in the form of hundreds of activities, grouped by reading ability: there’s a list of questions to ask both pre-readers and middle grade students to help them form hypotheses, as well as lists of age-appropriate topics to compare, such as a bear and a pig for the younger group, and TV and radio for the older. Wassermann’s delivery, though, often reads like a textbook (“Parents will need to instruct children orally about the nature of the operation”), and not all of her exercises seem likely to engage modern children, such as asking a child to put an onion in a dish and observe its growth. Still, at its best this an informative deep-dive into what makes children critical thinkers. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Garden Allies: Discover the Many Ways Insects, Birds, and Other Animals Keep Your Garden Beautiful and Thriving

Frederique Lavoipierre. Timber, $24.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-64326-008-2

Lavoipierre, former director of education at Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, focuses on “the pollinators, decomposers, and other organisms that are part of any thriving garden” in her impassioned and informative debut. Instead of viewing such creatures as enemies or pests, Lavoipierre encourages gardeners to accept them as part of the ecosystem and offers advice for creating an “ally-friendly” garden. She helps readers distinguish “good bugs” from “bad bugs” (“pests” are destructive, while pollinators are helpful) and offers information about earthworms, roly-polys, bees, and beetles. Fun facts abound: “over one-fifth of all living species on earth are beetles,” ambush bugs can capture prey over 10 times their size, and centipedes have odd-numbered feet and never 100 of them, despite their name. She also offers tips for plants that will help gardeners protect and care for butterflies, birds, and bats. Her accessible information comes with humor (Ichneumonid wasps are “not icky at all”), and her plea that gardeners appreciate the critters in their soil rings true: “it’s high time,” she writes, “to find new ways to garden and to contribute to the long-term sustainability of our human-managed landscapes.” Gardeners will walk away from this spirited advice finding creepy crawlers at least a bit more charming. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 04/16/2021 | Details & Permalink

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