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Art Makers: Empowered Embroidery

Amy L. Frazer. Quarto, $21.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-63322-884-9

Illustrator Frazer brings a feminist flair to embroidery in her winning debut that “honors the lifetime and work” of such feminist trailblazers as Eleanor Roosevelt, Frida Kahlo, and Harriet Tubman. Frazer starts with the basics, instructing on fabric, threads, embroidery needles, and tool kit must-haves. The author then guides the reader through the process of drawing a portrait suitable for embroidery, beginning with a creative sketch, and transferring it to a clean line drawing. In capturing each woman, Frazer encourages readers to dig into biographies and quotations to “feed your brainstorm and sketching.” Each project offers a pattern if readers don’t want to draw their own: a colorful Kahlo embroidery is broken down into steps for her hair, eyes, mouth, and floral crown; and a portrait of Maya Angelou offers tips for finishing a project and how to keep the backside of a project neat. Frazer focuses on individual artistry: “capturing someone’s exact likeness isn’t necessarily the goal here. The objective is to capture what these women mean to you.” Embroiderers looking to push their creativity will be rewarded by these projects. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/15/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Veggie from the Start: Easy Vegan and Vegetarian Foods for Babies and Up—Perfect for Baby-Led Weaning Families

Rachel Boyett. The Experiment, $18.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-61519-691-3

Little Veggie Eats blogger Boyett offers a no-fuss guide on how to feed the youngest of eaters a vegetarian diet. Along with adorable pictures of cute babies with chubby cheeks, the charming cookbook is packed with practical advice (“A little bit of time invested in prep goes a long way”), helpful tips (“roll your baby’s portion into balls”), and creative-yet-doable recipes fit for babies transitioning to solid foods as well as for older kids. A chapter on snacks and mini meals offers child-friendly treats such as chickpea crackers and sweet potato thins. The grain bowls section is wide-ranging and features a satay bowl and a Mexican bowl. Among the desserts (notably, none have sugar added) are a mango chia jam and a berry compote. Easy-to-read charts, detailed shopping lists, and a handy weaning timeline round things out. This wide-ranging collection of healthy recipes is a great resource for parents who are eager to get their kids to eat more vegetables. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 01/15/2021 | Details & Permalink

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My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water

Betty Liu. Harper Design, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06285-472-8

Blogger Liu debuts with an impressive collection of Shanghainese recipes inspired by her family’s cooking. Following the cuisine’s tradition, Liu organizes chapters by season, with stews and citrus in winter and chilled dishes and green teas in summer. Liu celebrates regional preferences for seafood and pork in dishes such as scallion-roasted fish and pork-stuffed fried dough (whose sauced exterior she describes as “wrinkly like a soaked cloth”), and champions buns and dumplings as well. Common among many of the recipes are techniques of steaming, braising, and saucing with a glaze of soy sauce, wine, and sugar. Her cooking tips (such as preserving the color of bright purple eggplant by soaking it in vinegar before cooking) prove valuable for making fare that’s both gorgeous and delicious. Woven among the recipes and photos are tales from her cooking adventures, such as foraging for wild bamboo near the city of Hangzhou for her oil-braised spring bamboo recipe. This handsome work is perfect for lovers of Chinese cuisine and for home cooks of all stripes. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/15/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Creative Crochet Projects: 12 Playful Projects for Beginners and Beyond

Stephanie Pokorny. Landauer, $14.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-947163-63-8

Crocheting should be fun, writes Pokorny, creator of Crochetverse.com, in this whimsical debut. She offers 12 projects of varying difficulty, each of which emphasizes a different aspect of crocheting to help build skills. Pokorny begins by explaining basics such as yarn weights and fiber content, and offers a size chart of different crochet hooks. She also explains gauge (a system of measuring the number of stitches and rows in each piece of crochet that allows crafters to compare their tension with that of the person who designed the pattern) and lays out how to fill a basic tool kit. Beginner projects include scarves that that employ finger crochet, while more involved accessories include a “Squiggles McGee Hat” that uses tube construction, and the “Asymmetric Owl Wrap,” complete with an Owl-head hood, which calls for special stitches. Handmade toys include a scarf that folds into a hamburger toy, and a sliceable watermelon that makes use of the half double crochet spike. This lighthearted guide is perfect for crafters looking to infuse a bit of playfulness into their crocheting. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 01/15/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Mend It, Wear It, Love It: Stitch Your Way to a Sustainable Wardrobe

Zoe Edwards. DK, $14.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-7440-2680-1

Fast fashion had its moment, but it’s time for that moment to draw to a close, writes blogger Edwards in this crafty debut on building “a healthier relationship with our wardrobes.” Rather than buy new clothes, Edwards encourages readers to mend the ones they currently wear. She starts with instructions on creating a hand-sewing kit and a demystification of sewing machines, showing beginners how to thread and get the tension right. Edwards also dispenses tips on laundry and clothing storage so that every sweater, T-shirt, and pair of jeans can live its longest life. Mending projects include repairing a hem, fixing a hole, and, “for additional strength and beautification,” Japanese sashiko-style stitching, which incorporates decorative stitches on top of patches. Edwards also offers instructions on removing sleeves, lengthening a hem, and adding ruffles. Throughout, color photographs of personalized garments show Edwards’s projects in action. This primer on reworking old clothing is a must-read for stylish thrifters. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 01/15/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Parenting in a Pandemic: How to Help Your Family Through COVID-19

Kelly Fradin. Kelly Fradin, $5.99 e-book (156p) ASIN B08DDLJ96J

Fradin, a pediatrician, weaves research, professional experience, and personal anecdote in this encouraging guide to making the myriad decisions required of parents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Frandin first offers an overview of Covid basics, such as how the virus spreads and is diagnosed, and then addresses kid-specific matters: she describes the likelihood of children contracting the virus (much less than adults), dispels myths about the potential for long-term damage to children, outlines mental health risks (for both kids and parents), and offers considerations for children with special health-care needs and for pregnant women and teens. Fradin also draws on her personal experience as a mother of two, as in a chapter about newborns in which she describes her infant son getting a common virus, and in facing such conflicts as whether to send children to school or day care and how to safely include grandparents in a child’s life. Fradin’s tone is supportive: “Even if you are holed away protecting your family, you aren’t alone and there are resources available to you.” This timely collection of nonjudgmental guidance is sure to offer parents solace. (Self-published)

Reviewed on 01/15/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food

Brandon Jew with Tienlon Ho. Ten Speed, $40 (304p) ISBN 978-1-98485-650-0

Chef Jew brings food from his Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurant to the home kitchen in this formidable collection of 90 recipes that elevate homestyle Chinese American cooking with rigorous professional cooking techniques. His section on soups includes oxtail soup and a classic hot and sour soup, while vegetable entrees offer a tasty Taiwanese style eggplant. Among the small bites is a delicate prawn toast, while the lengthy meat and barbecue chapter has a poached chicken galantine and a roast duck. Jew’s desserts are particularly inventive, with a banana black sesame pie and frozen whipped honey. The food is unapologetically complex restaurant fare, and many recipes require equipment not found in many home kitchens (one for potstickers, for example, calls for a juicer and a meat grinder) while others are multiday affairs (barbecued pork buns take four to five days). The techniques can also be daunting (Jew suggests oil-blanching is best accomplished with two separate woks). But, for home cooks who are up to the task, this is an exciting challenge well worth taking. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/15/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Sushi Party: Kawaii Sushi Made Easy!

Ken Kawasumi. Tuttle, $15.99 (96p) ISBN 978-4-80531-590-3

In this charming recipe collection, chef Kawasumi delves into Kawaii, the art of making sushi into cute, decorative shapes. He includes thorough instructions, including how to cook rice to the perfect level of chewiness, work safely with raw seafood, balance the correct proportion of rice to nori, and use a sushi mat for rolling. The dyeing of white rice is achieved with such ingredients as mentaiko (pollock roe marinated in a chili pepper sauce) and nozawana-zuke pickle, which provides the pink and green hues of a charming “sushi wedge” that resembles a slice of watermelon, complete with “seeds” of black sesame. A chapter on animal-shaped rolls includes monkeys with pickled carrot noses and smiling dolphins crafted from fish cakes. There are also beautiful chirashizushi, or miniature paintings, with shallow boxes of rice acting as the canvas; notable among these is one that features a fiery sky of fish roe surrounding a Mount Fuji made of mackerel. This appealing cookbook will delight those looking to add a creative twist to their kitchen routines. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/08/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Cook This Book: Techniques That Teach and Recipes to Repeat

Molly Baz. Clarkson Potter, $32.50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-59313-827-4

Recipe developer Baz delivers an exciting crash course in cooking fundamentals via 95 recipes that don’t “ask too much of the home cook.” The book begins with a list of “Molly’s Golden Rules,” which includes tips like “read the recipe first” and “season as you go,” and ends with Baz’s rundown of fundamental cooking techniques such as poaching, searing, sauteing, and roasting. In between are the recipes, organized by ingredients. Meat lovers will enjoy milk-braised chicken legs with bacon, beans, and kale, and a sumptuous tomato-braised brisket. Seafood options include seared scallops in curried butter, and there are plenty of pasta dishes, such as zesty orzo a limone. Desserts offer a black sesame shortbread and a sweet and salty miso apple tart. Baz’s tone is encouraging, and she packs in helpful resources, such as charts on texture and flavor, checklists to review recipe results, and lists for keeping one’s “arsenal of yummy condiments” stocked. Readers who don’t know their way around the kitchen will appreciate the QR codes that appear throughout, which link to video tutorials on such tasks as chopping onions and prepping shrimp. Novice home cooks would do well to have this on the shelf. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 01/08/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Wild Sweetness: Recipes Inspired by Nature

Thalia Ho. Harper Design, $30 (240p) ISBN 978-0-06295-842-6

Butter and Brioche blogger Ho offers 95 delicious dessert recipes inspired by the natural world in her innovative debut. The recipes call for ingredients uncommon to most pantries, and home cooks who stock up on the herbs, dried berries, flower petals, and fruit liqueurs that are infused into the desserts will find some striking variations on classic options. Herbes de Provence is the star of an almond tea loaf, ground sumac is used in a buckle, and ras el hanout features in a s’mores pie. Fans of white chocolate will appreciate its use in an ice cream that incorporates the piney notes of juniper and rosemary along with the tartness of fresh peaches and ginger. Beautifully photographed scenes of misty woods lend atmosphere to recipes that are roughly organized by season: a beetroot mudcake and winter citrus cake ring of chillier months, while sea salt violet cupcakes, and a fig and boysenberry frozen yogurt tart sing of summer. Fans of Ho’s blog will be happy to see its vibe translates well to print, with plenty of affirming aphorisms (“Come in with a good intention, and leave everything else behind”) sprinkled throughout. This tasteful guide to off-the-beaten-path confections enchants. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 01/08/2021 | Details & Permalink

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