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Growing Up Shared: How Parents Can Share Smarter on Social Media—and What You Can Do to Keep Your Family Safe in a No-Privacy World

Stacey Steinberg. Sourcebooks, $15.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9810-4

Steinberg, an Emory law professor and mother of three, offers a helpful guide for parents looking for help navigating the power and perils of online sharing. She emphasizes that social media has many benefits, as it gives users “the space to express, the network to connect, and the power to greatly impact our world,” but also cautions that parents need to balance their own desire to share with their children’s right to and need for privacy. To evaluate how digital connectivity transforms parenting, Steinberg met with pediatricians, mental health professionals, and cybersecurity experts, as well as families. In addition to pointing out risks like image and identity theft, she provides a set of sensible “best practices” including becoming familiar with the privacy policies of the social platforms one uses, setting notifications for when a child’s name appears in a Google search, only sharing content on Facebook groups that aren’t open to the public, being cautious about revealing a kid’s location, and giving children the option to opt out of being included in posts. This thoughtful handbook will resonate with modern parents and provide them with actionable items for more safely and thoughtfully using social media. Agent: Stacey Glick, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Berkshires Farm Table Cookbook: 125 Homegrown Recipes from the Hills of New England

Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner. Countryman, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-68268-452-8

The Bildners present a welcoming paean to the Berkshires, where the husband and wife authors have kept a country home for 35 years. Each recipe is associated with a specific farm, though most were not created by the farmers themselves, who “are often too busy to cook, let alone develop and write recipes.” Dishes range from classics, such as gazpacho, to the more inventive, like a Greek salad pizza topped with Parmesan, feta, olives, and diced cucumber. Interspersed throughout are stories of farms large and small: the 235-acre Berry Patch is pesticide-free, and Cricket Creek grass-fed dairy farm produces seven types of artisanal cheese. The stories make clear that farming is demanding, often not-very-remunerative work: the husband-and-wife team at Hawk Dance Farm made only a few thousand dollars in 2014 (their produce inspired an entry of roasted baby turnips with swiss chard and Dijon). Meat operations are represented with the likes of grilled marinated steak and braised pork shoulder (from the Climbing Tree Farm). Desserts include a cranberry cobbler and a gluten-free kabocha squash cake drizzled with maple syrup butter spiced with black pepper. While there’s little new here, the recipes are solid, and the stories charming. (May)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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A Spirited Guide to Vermouth

Jack Adair Bevan. Mobius, $21.99 (336p) ISBN SBN 978-1-4722-6297-4

Bevan, a British writer and cocktail creator, provides a sweeping view of vermouth in this fun and informative volume. The first 100 pages explore the fortified wine’s backstory, unearthing a history that reaches to the second millennium BC, while also offering an encyclopedic exploration of the most often used botanicals and aromatics. The heart of the book focuses on how best to drink vermouth, drawing from classic guides like Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book and Albert Crockett’s 1934 The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book. For purists, there are suggested brands to drink neat, alongside an appropriate garnish, including Punt e Mes paired with pickled walnut and orange. An extensive cocktail list naturally contains a deep dive into the martini and its many variations; the negroni also receives ample attention with some two dozen adaptations, including the Campfire Boulevardier, enlivened by a smoky Laphroaig (measurements throughout are listed only in metric units). A couple “reverse” recipes put the emphasis on vermouth, such as the soaking wet martini, which has a more than three-to-one ratio of vermouth to gin. The book’s final section turns to food, with instructions for bar snacks and entrées made with the wine, such as vermouth-cured venison haunch. With a blend of dry wit and sweet concoctions, Bevan stirs up a perfect treat for vermouth enthusiasts. (June)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Let’s Bake: A Pusheen Cookbook

Claire Belton and Susanne Ng. Gallery, $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-982135-42-3

Belton, creator of the Pusheen internet cartoon character, and chef Ng celebrate 10 years of the “plump tabby cat” in this adorable and intricate collection of 40 Pusheen-themed baked goods. Catering to bakers at all experience levels, the authors label the difficulty for each recipe, which are each formed into various Pusheen likenesses: some of the easier recipes include Pusheen butter cookies and pastel cheesecake cups, while more difficult ones include Pusheen doughnut chiffon cake and meringue cookies. The steps for each recipe are thorough and oftentimes accompanied with helpful photos (for the Pusheen panna cotta, they show readers how to pipe chilled panna cotta into jars to create Pusheen’s ears). There are also Asian-inspired desserts, such as dango (Japanese sweet dumplings served on skewers) and mooncakes. Included are several templates that readers can use to create Pusheen’s silhouette for many of the recipes, such as Pusheen-shaped pancakes (they instruct readers to fold and shape a piece of aluminum foil as a pattern) and a roll cake (with the use of a Pusheen template to create a “fabric-print look” on the cake’s exterior). This is ideal for Pusheen fans and bakers looking for a challenge. (June)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Chinese Food Made Easy

Ross Dobson. Murdoch, $22.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-911632-71-9

Australian Dobson (King of the Grill) delivers a cleverly designed introduction to making Chinese cuisine at home. He suggests a limited pantry of fresh ingredients (ginger and garlic), two types of soy sauce, canned and dried items (water chestnuts, dried shrimp), and spices (star anise, Szechuan peppercorns) before moving on to recipes for favorites such as hot and sour soup and Peking duck. Headnotes are informative but brief—more coaxing than lecturing—and preparation and cooking times are indicated as well, as are substitutions for harder-to-find items (for instance, use parchment packets rather than dried lotus leaves for steaming sticky rice). A final chapter on basics includes instructions for crafting dumpling dough (though Dobson suggests store-bought wrappers can also be used). Interspersed among the recipes are illustrated sections that show ways to use a common ingredient (for example, hoisin sauce can be made into a dipping sauce or a marinade for pork skewers) and provide more details about a common technique, such as chopping a chicken with a cleaver. A chapter on sweets includes candied walnuts and mixed fruit served in watermelon rind. Home cooks will appreciate the ease of this compact, accessible volume. (June)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Houseplants for All: How to Fill Any Home with Happy Plants

Danae Horst. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $20 (208p) ISBN 978-0-358-37994-2

Horst, owner of the Los Angeles “plant styling studio” Folia Collective, offers an encouraging if basic guide to using plants as home decor. Her central suggestion is “styling with the plants in mind,” based on her own experience; after years of being an enthusiastic but “black-thumbed” plant owner, Horst had a “breakthrough” after choosing “plants based on what they needed rather than just how I wanted my home to look.” Stressing the need to realistically assess light (“the most essential need”) and humidity levels in one’s house, Horst helps readers select which of five possible “environment profiles” their home falls into, with specific plant recommendations for each—for bright and sunny spaces, for instance, she recommends a Monstera deliciosa, or split leaf philodendron, and for “lower light spaces,” an Asplenium, or bird’s nest fern. She gives guidance on topics including propagation, “a great way to share plants you love with friends and family,” and on styling points such as choosing planters (she advises sticking to a restricted color palette, and varying container shape and size “to avoid the matchy-matchy vibe”). Horst’s accessible primer will resonate with Instagrammers interested in creating lush backdrops, if not more dedicated horticulturalists. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Amigurumi Style Crochet: Make Betty and Her Cat Bert and Dress Them in Vintage-Inspired Crochet Doll’s Clothes and Accessories

Cara Medus. White Owl, $19.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-5267-4727-3

This little slip of a book from crochet designer Medus will delight crafters. Using the Japanese style of amigurumi, which involves “working in a spiral without closing off each round with a slip stitch,” Medus presents plans for creating two dolls, Betty, a “1950s housewife, stylish to a tee” and her cat, Bert, along with accessories for both. Crocheters should have intermediate to advanced skills and experience with amigurumi before tackling either project. Bert, in particular, requires considerable coordination and crafting-savvy. His accessories couldn’t be cuter, or at times, more daunting to source —to make his collar, for instance, crocheters will have to secure jump rings from a jewelry supplier and a miniature toy bell, among other supplies. Medus provides shortcuts that make creating Betty somewhat easier. Betty can don one everlasting hairstyle instead of several removable ones, and crocheters can choose to make Betty’s undergarments removable (more difficult), or just switch colors and crochet the bra and panty set directly onto Betty’s form. It’s this attention to detail that makes the book enjoyable. With 150 color illus. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 05/29/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Last High

Daniel Kalla. Simon & Schuster Canada, $16 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9698-0

A rash of sudden deaths attributable to a potent new street drug plagues Vancouver, British Columbia, in this serviceable medical thriller from Kalla (We All Fall Down). Julie Rees, who has a checkered past, is holding down two vital jobs—senior physician in a hospital emergency room and at the city’s poison control center. Those responsibilities overlap after four unconscious teens are brought in after taking an unknown drug. Desperate to save the life of one brain-dead girl, Rees violates protocol by putting the patient on heart-lung bypass. That choice, influenced by her failure to save the life of a boyfriend years before, leads to an ethical review instigated by a doctor who happens to be the dead boyfriend’s uncle. Meanwhile, she and her lover, Det. Constable Anson Chen, attempt to identify the poison, which is much more toxic than fentanyl, and its source, even as the body count continues to grow. The authenticity that Kalla, himself a Vancouver ER physician, brings to the hospital scenes compensates only in part for the thinly drawn lead. The upbeat closing twist that results from Rees’s ill-advised decision will please some readers and strike others as too pat. Kalla has done better in the past. Agent: Henry Morrison, Henry Morrison Literary. (May)

Reviewed on 05/22/2020 | Details & Permalink

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La Buvette: Recipes and Wine Notes from Paris

Camille Fourmont and Kate Leahy. Ten Speed, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-984856-69-2

The spunky and encouraging Fourmont, proprietor of La Buvette wine bar in Paris, shares the stories behind the wine and food she serves in this enjoyable cookbook. The upbeat mini-essays in this volume cover such topics as developing a good palate and overcoming wine misconceptions. Recipes are organized loosely and lean toward snacks, though there is a chapter on more robust options that includes a whole chicken nestled in a bed of hay and roasted on the stovetop. Many of the inventive offerings employ just a few ingredients: burrata cheese sprinkled with mandarin peel dust and drizzled with olive oil; canned sardines served with seared lemon halves, sturdy sourdough, and butter; and a sweet spread of cream, sugar, and fromage blanc. Fourmont thrills in both classic desserts (a time-tested chocolate mousse) and new combinations (sablé cookies inspired by a Pierre Hermé tart incorporate cumin, dried apricots, and dehydrated rosebuds). Recipe headnotes often drift into reverie (a dish of clams with sage butter recalls a childhood island visit spent clamming with her brother), and Fourmont fondly describes her wine discoveries (a Fleur de Savagnin, for instance, is “a little like sherry—rich with flavors of hazelnuts, toasted bread, honey, and spices”). Fourmont transports readers to Paris in this pleasant volume of simple recipes. (July)

Reviewed on 05/15/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Science & Cooking: Physics Meets Food, from Homemade to Haute Cuisine

Michael Brenner, Pia Sörensen, and David Weitz. Norton, $35 (304p) ISBN 978-0-393-63492-1

Three Harvard University professors bring their popular class to print in this astute exploration of how and why food recipes do what they do. While the authors note this is “ultimately not a cookbook,” they nonetheless serve up a variety of tasty dishes to exemplify their teachings in the basic principles of physics, chemistry, and engineering. Chocolate chip cookies are deconstructed on a molecular level, the viscosity of cheese sauce is measured, the sticky polymer chains of hydrocolloids prove to be the key to Chinese soup dumplings, and heat plus pressure plus natural sugars add up to a caramelized carrot soup. Along the way are handy tips on how to use the melting point of sugar as a way to calibrate an oven’s heat setting and how to keep pesto from turning brown using heat or lemon juice. Not all the jargon is scientific: in an extended metaphor of why emulsions separate, oil and water are compared to fans of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, providing a clue to the nature of coalescence and the advantages of constructing proper barriers. This is a no-brainer for science geeks who love to cook, and for cooks eager to learn the science behind their meals. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 05/15/2020 | Details & Permalink

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