Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Last week, I finished Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward’s memoir about her poor, rural, black southern community, her family, and, most of all, the five young men who died within four years when she was in her mid-20s: her brother, cousin and three friends. Her writing makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping from the corner of the living room in her mother’s trailer or the back seat of her car, absorbing sights, sounds, and scents, sweating and shivering. You feel her ups and downs, fun and grief.

In the middle of the book, I got bored with some of the childhood and teenage tales although I know why they’re there: to provide context and to honor and remember those she lost. I would have preferred a straightforward chronological timeline instead of the way she had one going forward interspersed with one going backward, but she wanted her brother’s death to be the climax of sorts even though it was the first one to occur. And that’s no spoiler, she makes it clear from the beginning what’s going on.

It’s tough to immerse yourself in the overall depression and numbing; racism, scorn, and cruelty of the whites; hopelessness affecting young men who can’t keep up in school, drop out and can’t find jobs; and abandonment by fathers who care more about their own desires than their families.

“We are never free from grief. We are never free from the feeling that we have failed. We are never free from self-loathing. We are never free from the feeling that something is wrong with us, not with the world that made this mess. Death spreads, eating away at the root of our community like a fungus… I carry the weight of grief even as I struggle to live. I understand what it feels like to be under siege.”

I’m grateful for having read it, not lived it, and I’m grateful she has chosen to share her life with us so we can better understand why people have so much pain. You can be on the periphery of the lives of friends and acquaintances going through similar experiences, but having this inside look at someone’s story makes more of an impact. You can see why the cycles of poverty, addiction, and violence exist. It feels like a miracle when someone escapes it. She makes it clear that not everyone in communities like hers is addicted or violent, of course, yet they remain in those communities either because they have no other choice, or because they stay, like she has, to live and love despite the despair and awfulness around them.

Yes, I recommend it. And I’ll read more by her.

I’m finishing up The Leavers by Lisa Ko, a story about a Chinese immigrant mother and son. She’s an intriguing character, one I think about when not reading, and I’m wondering how their story will end. When I want a treat, I’ve been picking up A Life of Spice: Stories of Food, Culture and Life by Monica Bhide. It’s full of delightful stories centered around food.

As of earlier today, these ebooks at Amazon were on sale at $2 to $4—up to an 89% discount—but act quickly if you want a bargain. These deals may only last a day or a week, you never know. If you’re in the browsing mood, check out last week’s ebook sales too—some of those books may still be on sale. Book blurbs are from the Amazon page unless otherwise credited.

Fiction:

Reminder: some of these books may only be on sale a few days so act quickly if you’re interested. Click on the title to get to the Amazon deal.

Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile ($1.99)

I read this for book club and really enjoyed it, plus I learned a bit about sugarcane farming too.

Charley Bordelon, an African American woman and single mother struggling to build a new life amid the complexities of the contemporary South… unexpectedly inherits eight hundred acres of sugarcane land, she and her eleven-year-old daughter say goodbye to smoggy Los Angeles and head to Louisiana. She soon learns, however, that cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley struggles to balance the overwhelming challenges of a farm in decline with the demands of family and the startling desires of her own heart.

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong ($2.99)

Named “a best book of the year” by many and prize finalist. After her father’s Alzheimer’s disease progresses, 30-year old Ruth pulls up stakes and moves home temporarily to help care for him. The timing is fortuitous given that Ruth’s own life has recently gone sideways with a broken engagement and the realization that her life is not what she’d envisioned… Author Rachel Khong finds the humor in painful moments without diluting their importance and brings insight into the absurdity of trying to find balance when even our own minds may send us spinning in circles.

Outline by Rachel Cusk ($3.99, 60% off)

Prize finalist and on many “best of year” lists. Outline takes a hard look at the things that are hardest to speak about. It brilliantly captures conversations, investigates people’s motivations for storytelling, and questions their ability to ever do so honestly or unselfishly. In doing so it bares the deepest impulses behind the craft of fiction writing. This is Rachel Cusk’s finest work yet, and one of the most startling, brilliant, original novels of recent years.

How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life by Sheila Heti ($3.99, 60% off)

Chosen, along with Outline above, as one of fifteen remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write in the 21st century by the book critics of The New York Times. Also on many “best of year” lists.

Reeling from a failed marriage, Sheila, a twentysomething playwright, finds herself unsure of how to live and create. When Margaux, a talented painter and free spirit, and Israel, a sexy and depraved artist, enter her life, Sheila hopes that through close—sometimes too close—observation of her new friend, her new lover, and herself, she might regain her footing in art and life. Using transcribed conversations, real emails, plus heavy doses of fiction, the brilliant and always innovative Sheila Heti crafts a work that is part literary novel, part self-help manual, and part bawdy confessional.

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller ($1.99, 84% off)

Vying to be the most entertaining novel of 2018…an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art… Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite… team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals… a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner ($1.99, 84% off)

Finalist for the National Book Award and named to many “best of” lists. The riveting story of a young artist and the worlds she encounters in New York and Rome in the mid-1970s—by turns underground, elite, and dangerous… an intensely engaging exploration of the mystique of the feminine, the fake, the terrorist. At its center is Kushner’s brilliantly realized protagonist, a young woman on the verge. Thrilling and fearless, this is a major American novel from a writer of spectacular talent and imagination.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf ($2.99, 70% off)

Woolf’s famously tangled modernist masterpiece about the interior lives of a well-to-do British family, and the ways in which the First World War permanently damaged European society… one of the greatest elegies in the English language, a book which transcends time.

notes on reading Men We Reaped, ebook and cookbooks deals

Food & Cooking:

Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes by Nigella Lawson ($1.99, 80% off)

Before she was a Food Network star and bestselling cookbook author, Nigella found her way to Florence, where she learned to cook like an Italian. Indeed, Italian cooking is trademark Nigella: light on touch but robust with flavor… Nigella believes that every ingredient must earn its place in a recipe, and she gives tips and techniques for making the most of your time in the kitchen… Nigellissima is a love letter to the pleasures of cooking—and eating—the way Italians do. With a nod to the traditional but in Nigella’s trademark style, here are recipes that excite the imagination without stressing the cook.

Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly by Colu Henry ($1.99, 89% off)

Here are more than 75 sophisticated, weeknight-friendly pasta dishes that come together in the same amount of time it takes to boil the water. As much a mindset as it is a cookbook, Back Pocket Pasta shows how a well-stocked kitchen and a few seasonal ingredients can be the driving force behind delicious, simply prepared meals.

Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking by Jessica Koslow ($2.99)

Eater’s 2016 Cookbook of the Year. Food that surprises us and engages all of our senses—it looks good, tastes vibrant, and feels fortifying yet refreshing… Koslow shares 100 of her favorite recipes for health-conscious but delicious dishes, all of which always use real foods—no fake meat or fake sugar here…an entirely new kind of cookbook and approach to how we are all starting to think about food, allowing readers to play with the recipes, combining and shaping them to be nothing short of everything you want to eat.

Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine by Sarah Lohman ($1.99, 83% off)

A young historical gastronomist named Sarah Lohman discovered that American food is united by eight flavors: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG, and Sriracha. In “a unique and surprising view of American history…richly researched, intriguing, and elegantly written” (The Atlantic), Lohman sets out to explore how these influential ingredients made their way to the American table.

Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles: Letters to Helen Evans Brown by James Beard ($2.99)

Renowned culinary master James Beard and his dear friend, chef Helen Evans Brown, shared both a love of food and a keen insight into the changing palate of American diners. In this twelve-year, bicoastal epistolary exchange of three hundred letters, Beard and Brown offer not only tidbits of indispensable culinary guidance but also two fascinating perspectives on cooking. Whether swapping recipes for dishes like chocolate crepes and roast duck, trading descriptions of delicious meals, or exchanging stories about their travels, Beard and Brown bring their world to vivid life, and their letters provide a unique snapshot of a culinary love affair that is guaranteed to delight epicureans of all stripes.

notes on reading Men We Reaped, ebook and cookbooks deals

Nonfiction:

These books were on sale as of Monday morning, but may not be on sale for long—act quickly.

Stars Between the Sun and Moon: One Woman’s Life in North Korea and Escape to Freedom by Lucia Jang ($1.99)

Born in the 1970s, Lucia Jang grew up in a common, rural North Korean household… However, there is nothing common about Jang. She is a woman of great emotional depth, courage, and resilience… Driven by starvation—her family’s as well as her own—Jang illegally crossed the river to better-off China to trade goods. She was caught and imprisoned twice… In a dramatic escape, she was smuggled with her newborn to China, fled to Mongolia under gunfire, and finally found refuge in South Korea before eventually settling in Canada. With so few accounts by North Korean women and those from its rural areas, Jang’s fascinating memoir helps us understand the lives of those many others who have no way to make their voices known.

A Natural Woman: A Memoir by Carole King ($3.99, 66% off)

Carole King takes us from her early beginnings in Brooklyn, to her remarkable success as one of the world’s most acclaimed songwriting and performing talents of all time… A Natural Woman chronicles King’s extraordinary life, drawing readers into her musical world, including her phenomenally successful #1 album Tapestry, and into her journey as a performer, mother, wife and present-day activist.

Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by Andra Watkins ($0.99, 85% off)

Watkins needed a wingman to help her become one of the only living persons to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days. After striking-out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father… As Watkins trudged America’s forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late.

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander ($3.99, 60% off)

Pulitzer Prize finalist. Alexander tells a love story that is, itself, a story of loss. As she reflects on the beauty of her married life, the trauma resulting from her husband’s death, and the solace found in caring for her two teenage sons, Alexander universalizes a very personal quest for meaning and acceptance in the wake of loss… an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the priceless gift of human companionship.

How to Make a French Family: A Memoir of Love, Food, and Faux Pas by Samantha Vérant ($2.99, 75% off)

Take one French widower, his two young children, and drop a former city girl from Chicago into a small town in southwestern France. Shake vigorously, and voilà: a blended Franco-American family…heartwarming and sometimes hilarious story of the culture clashes and faux pas that, in the end, add up to one happy family.

Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters by Daniel Mallory Ortberg ($2.99, 75% off)

Hilariously imagined text conversations—the passive aggressive, the clever, and the strange—from classic and modern literary figures… a witty, irreverent mashup that brings the characters from your favorite books into the twenty-first century.

Looking for more e-cookbook and ebook deals? Check out last week’s list, some of them are still on sale.

Creative Commons licensed photos by Jim Cooke (lighthouse) and Jorge Zapata (pasta) on Unsplash.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you!

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Local strawberries are starting to appear. I received two quarts of strawberries in last week’s Produce Box delivery, and saw on Facebook that our nearest strawberry farm is opening this weekend. To celebrate the season I made strawberry bread on Sunday morning. Next time, I might add a streusel topping.

In the afternoon, I put a corned beef in the oven. I don’t corn my own beef, not yet anyways, but I do add a bunch of additional spices to the top since the packet that comes with it is mostly mustard seeds. My additions are: black pepper, allspice, coriander, cloves, cayenne, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves.

Alongside, I serve cabbage sautéed with bacon, onion, carrot and garlic as well as rutabagas mashed with butter, milk and maple syrup.

On Tuesday, I made gnocchi with mushrooms and feta cheese. I added tatsoi to the mix as well. It was tasty and fast. And aren’t gnocchi the ultimate comfort food? I ate the leftovers for breakfast the next two mornings.

I wanted something quick and easy for Thursday because I had to make the salad too. We eat salad every night. When it runs out one night, the person making dinner the next night makes a big bowl of it—enough to last a few nights. Somehow it works out evenly and neither one of us is stuck making it several times in a row.

Our nightly dinner salad always includes lettuce and spinach (and maybe other greens depending on what’s in the CSA) plus lots of cucumbers, radishes, carrots, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets and sweet onion. We get a few servings of vegetables before we even start eating dinner.

I made my old standby, flounder with spiced breadcrumbs plus roasted cubes of sweet potatoes. We love that fish recipe, so full of flavor. I had some leftover cabbage as the official vegetable for the night.

Last night I made salmon with sorrel sauce. Sometimes I’m too ambitious on Friday nights. I have more time on Fridays but I rather spend some of it having happy hour with my honey, feet up with a beer or wine at hand. But once I start chopping, I’m okay with my choice.

I started out with a recipe but quickly realized it wasn’t for me—too fussy—so I winged it. First, I pan-roasted the salmon, starting it skin-side down in a cold oiled pan so the skin wouldn’t seize up, and set it aside when it was done. Added butter to the pan to sauté minced shallots seasoned with salt, then added white wine and let it reduce. In went diced tomatoes, let them melt. Then heavy cream alongside thinly sliced (chiffonade) sorrel leaves. Wait for the sorrel to wilt and the sauce to thicken a bit. Back in goes the salmon along with a few tablespoons of butter. Exquisite! We couldn’t get enough of that sauce.

Sorrel is a spring treat—a photo of red-veined sorrel is below. The leaves have a bright, almost lemony flavor. It would taste good in a salad mix too. You might find it at the farmers market, I’ve never seen it in my stores but maybe yours are better. Alongside the salmon I made collards sautéed with bacon, onions, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, and garlic with some chicken broth. And I roasted cubes of butternut squash sprinkled with cayenne, smoked paprika, cinnamon, coriander and sea salt. We had a lot of flavors going on but the salmon with sorrel sauce was the star.

sorrel, menus, recipes, ebook deals

On My Menu

Growing up, we had hot cross buns every Easter. I didn’t realize they’re actually a Good Friday treat. If I have time and am feeling ambitious later today, I might make some. I couldn’t find currants in my local Food Lion or Lowes Foods so I’ll have to go with golden or regular raisins (or both) instead.

Tomorrow, we’re heading to my step-daughter’s house for Easter dinner. We’re tired of turkey and ham so I’m bringing a side of sockeye salmon with citrus pesto and she’s making stuffed shells. I’m also making sautéed asparagus with red and orange bell pepper, ham, leeks and/or red onion, lemon zest, and flat-leaf parsley. I’m not following a recipe, instead I’m aiming for a colorful dish with bright flavors.

I often look at farm-to-table restaurants for menu inspiration. I saw “soubise” on one of those menus and got curious. The term seemed familiar but I couldn’t remember what it meant. It turns out soubise, traditionally, is an onion-béchamel sauce, or it’s made with cream, and some people add rice. Since I have leeks and spring onions in the frig, I’ll make chicken soubise this week. I’ll rely on leftovers for my sides: collards, sweet potatoes and butternut squash. Classic French and classic North Carolina.

No other menu plans yet, but I’ll report back next week on what I end up making.

spring onions, menus, recipes, ebook deals

eCookbooks and Food eBooks Deals

You can never have enough cookbooks, I believe that still, much to Jim’s distress. Act quickly if any of these interest you, ebook deals sometimes only last a day or a week. Click on the title to get to the Amazon deal.

Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen ($1.99, 89% off)

Raleigh’s favorite chef and multiple James Beard Award winner… Ashley Christensen is the new face of Southern cooking, and her debut cookbook, Poole’s, honors the traditions of this celebrated cuisine, while introducing a new vernacular—elevated simple side dishes spiked with complex vinaigrettes, meatless mains showcasing vibrant vegetables, and intensified flavors through a cadre of back-pocket recipes that will become indispensable in your kitchen…Poole’s is also the story of how Christensen opened a restaurant, and in the process energized Raleigh’s downtown. By fostering a network of farmers, cooks, and guests, and taking care of her people by feeding them well, she built a powerful community around the restaurant.

Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking by Jessica Koslow ($2.99)

Eater’s 2016 Cookbook of the Year. Food that surprises us and engages all of our senses—it looks good, tastes vibrant, and feels fortifying yet refreshing… Koslow shares 100 of her favorite recipes for health-conscious but delicious dishes, all of which always use real foods—no fake meat or fake sugar here…an entirely new kind of cookbook and approach to how we are all starting to think about food, allowing readers to play with the recipes, combining and shaping them to be nothing short of everything you want to eat.

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters ($2.99, 78% off)

The New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America’s most influential restaurant…Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, she was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, Coming to My Senses is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman’s evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles: Letters to Helen Evans Brown by James Beard ($2.99)

Renowned culinary master James Beard and his dear friend, chef Helen Evans Brown, shared both a love of food and a keen insight into the changing palate of American diners. In this twelve-year, bicoastal epistolary exchange of three hundred letters, Beard and Brown offer not only tidbits of indispensable culinary guidance but also two fascinating perspectives on cooking. Whether swapping recipes for dishes like chocolate crepes and roast duck, trading descriptions of delicious meals, or exchanging stories about their travels, Beard and Brown bring their world to vivid life, and their letters provide a unique snapshot of a culinary love affair that is guaranteed to delight epicureans of all stripes.

Looking for more e-cookbook and ebook deals? Check out last week’s list, some of them are still on sale.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

I didn’t make as much time as I would have liked for books this week, so I’m still reading these three:

Next week, I’ll let you know what I thought of them.

As of earlier today, these ebooks at Amazon were on sale at $2 to $3—up to an 89% discount—but act quickly if you want a bargain. These deals may only last a day or a week, you never know. If you’re in the browsing mood, check out last week’s ebook sales too—some of those books may still be on sale. Book blurbs are from the Amazon page unless otherwise credited.

Fiction:

Reminder: some of these books may only be on sale a few days so act quickly if you’re interested.

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline ($2.99, 76% off)

A stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World…Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists. Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan ($1.99, 85% off)

National Book Award Finalist, winner of many other awards and named to many Best of lists…When brothers Tushar and Nakul Khurana, two Delhi schoolboys, pick up their family’s television set at a repair shop with their friend Mansoor Ahmed one day in 1996, disaster strikes without warning. A bomb—one of the many “small” bombs that go off seemingly unheralded across the world—detonates in the Delhi marketplace, instantly claiming the lives of the Khurana boys, to the devastation of their parents. Mansoor survives, bearing the physical and psychological effects of the bomb…Mahajan writes brilliantly about the effects of terrorism on victims and perpetrators, proving himself to be one of the most provocative and dynamic novelists of his generation.

Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier ($1.99)

Meet Ella Turner and Isabelle du Moulin—two women born centuries apart, yet bound by a fateful family legacy. When Ella and her husband move to a small town in France, Ella hopes to brush up on her French, qualify to practice as a midwife, and start a family of her own. Village life turns out to be less idyllic than she expected, however, and a peculiar dream of the color blue propels her on a quest to uncover her family’s French ancestry. As the novel unfolds—alternating between Ella’s story and that of Isabelle du Moulin four hundred years earlier—a common thread emerges that unexpectedly links the two women. Part detective story, part historical fiction, The Virgin Blue is a novel of passion and intrigue that compels readers to the very last page.

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean ($2.99)

A deeply lovely novel that evokes with uncommon deftness the terrible, heartbreaking beauty that is life in wartime. Like the glorious ghosts of the paintings in the Hermitage that lie at the heart of the story, Dean’s exquisite prose shimmers with a haunting glow, illuminating us to the notion that art itself is perhaps our most necessary nourishment…Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina’s grip on the everyday. An elderly Russian woman now living in America… Vivid images of her youth in war-torn Leningrad arise unbidden, carrying her back to the terrible fall of 1941, when she was a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum and the German army’s approach signaled the beginning of what would be a long, torturous siege on the city. As the people braved starvation, bitter cold, and a relentless German onslaught, Marina joined other staff members in removing the museum’s priceless masterpieces for safekeeping, leaving the frames hanging empty on the walls to symbolize the artworks’ eventual return. As the Luftwaffe’s bombs pounded the proud, stricken city, Marina built a personal Hermitage in her mind—a refuge that would stay buried deep within her, until she needed it once more.

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund ($1.99)

Sena Naslund’s epic work of historical fiction [uses]…Melville’s Moby-Dick as looking glass into early-19th-century America. Through the eye of an outsider, a woman, she suggests that New England life was broader and richer than Melville’s manly world of men, ships, and whales…Una…flees to the New England coast from Kentucky to escape her father’s puritanism and to pursue a more exalted life. She gets whaling out of her system early: going to sea at 16 disguised as a boy…Una returns to land to pursue the life of the mind…Naslund exposes the reader to the unsung, real-life heroes of Melville’s world, including Margaret Fuller and her Boston salon, and Nantucket astronomer Maria Mitchell. There is a chance meeting with a veiled Nathaniel Hawthorne in the woods, and throughout the novel the story brims with references to the giants of literature: Shakespeare, Goethe, Coleridge, Keats, and Wordsworth.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain ($2.99)

I enjoyed this one—a book club read. Named to many Best of lists that year.

A beautiful portrait of being in Paris in the glittering 1920s—as a wife and as one’s own woman…A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures the love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley…Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

ebook deals - fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks

Food & Cooking:

Caveat: Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen ($1.99, 89% off)

Raleigh’s favorite chef and multiple James Beard Award winner… Ashley Christensen is the new face of Southern cooking, and her debut cookbook, Poole’s, honors the traditions of this celebrated cuisine, while introducing a new vernacular—elevated simple side dishes spiked with complex vinaigrettes, meatless mains showcasing vibrant vegetables, and intensified flavors through a cadre of back-pocket recipes that will become indispensable in your kitchen…Poole’s is also the story of how Christensen opened a restaurant, and in the process energized Raleigh’s downtown. By fostering a network of farmers, cooks, and guests, and taking care of her people by feeding them well, she built a powerful community around the restaurant.

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters ($2.99, 78% off)

The New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed memoir from cultural icon and culinary standard bearer Alice Waters recalls the circuitous road and tumultuous times leading to the opening of what is arguably America’s most influential restaurant…Moving from a repressive suburban upbringing to Berkeley in 1964 at the height of the Free Speech Movement and campus unrest, she was drawn into a bohemian circle of charismatic figures whose views on design, politics, film, and food would ultimately inform the unique culture on which Chez Panisse was founded. Dotted with stories, recipes, photographs, and letters, Coming to My Senses is at once deeply personal and modestly understated, a quietly revealing look at one woman’s evolution from a rebellious yet impressionable follower to a respected activist who effects social and political change on a global level through the common bond of food.

The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila ($2.99, 57% off)

The Homemade Pantry was born of a tight budget…On a mission to kick their packaged-food habit, she learned that with a little determination, anything she could buy at the store could be made in her kitchen, and her homemade versions were more satisfying, easier to make than she expected, and tastier.

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong ($1.99)

New York Times bestseller and one of the most praised Korean cookbooks of all time, you’ll explore the foods and flavors of Koreatowns across America through this collection of 100 recipes.

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin ($1.99)

In this delightful celebration of food, family, and friends, one of America’s most cherished kitchen companions shares her lifelong passion for cooking and entertaining. Interweaving essential tips and recipes with hilarious stories of meals both delectable and disastrous, Home Cooking is a masterwork of culinary memoir and an inspiration to novice cooks, expert chefs, and food lovers everywhere.

The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes by Dale DeGroff ($2.99)

The first real cookbook for cocktails, featuring 500 recipes from the world’s premier mixologist, Dale DeGroff…The Craft of the Cocktail provides much more than merely the same old recipes: it delves into history, personalities, and anecdotes; it shows you how to set up a bar, master important techniques, and use tools correctly; and it delivers unique concoctions, many featuring DeGroff’s signature use of fresh juices, as well as all the classics.

ebook deals - fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks

Nonfiction:

These books were on sale as of Monday morning, but may not be on sale for long—act quickly.

American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant by Ronald C. White Jr. ($1.99, 86% off)

On many Best of 2016 lists…Winner of the William Henry Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography. Finalist for the Gilder-Lehrman Military History Book Prize… White, a biographer exceptionally skilled at writing momentous history from the inside out, shows Grant to be a generous, curious, introspective man and leader—a willing delegator with a natural gift for managing the rampaging egos of his fellow officers. His wife, Julia Dent Grant, long marginalized in the historic record, emerges in her own right as a spirited and influential partner. Grant was not only a brilliant general but also a passionate defender of equal rights in post-Civil War America. After winning election to the White House in 1868, he used the power of the federal government to battle the Ku Klux Klan. He was the first president to state that the government’s policy toward American Indians was immoral, and the first ex-president to embark on a world tour, and he cemented his reputation for courage by racing against death to complete his Personal Memoirs.

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee ($2.99)

An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom. As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal communist regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realize that she had been brainwashed her entire life…Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.

The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 by Richard J. Evans ($1.99)

An Economist Best Book of the Year… covering the period from the fall of Napoleon to the outbreak of World War I. Evans’s gripping narrative ranges across a century of social and national conflicts, from the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 to the unification of both Germany and Italy, from the Russo-Turkish wars to the Balkan upheavals that brought this era of relative peace and growing prosperity to an end. Among the great themes it discusses are the decline of religious belief and the rise of secular science and medicine, the journey of art, music, and literature from Romanticism to Modernism, the replacement of old-regime punishments by the modern prison, the end of aristocratic domination and the emergence of industrial society, and the dramatic struggle of feminists for women’s equality and emancipation. Uniting the era’s broad-ranging transformations was the pursuit of power in all segments of life, from the banker striving for economic power to the serf seeking to escape the power of his landlord, from the engineer asserting society’s power over the environment to the psychiatrist attempting to exert science’s power over human nature itself.

On sale today only – The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom by Nancy Goldstone ($2.99)

Set in magnificent Renaissance France…Catherine de’ Medici was a ruthless pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for thirty years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous “Queen Margot,” was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control. When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family…Goldstone’s narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, inter-national espionage, and adultery form the background to a story that includes such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus.

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner ($1.99, 77% off)

Former New York Times Book Review editor and linguistic expert O’Conner…updates her bestselling guide to grammar, an invigorating and entertaining dissection of our ever-evolving language…With new chapters on spelling and punctuation, and fresh insights into the rights, wrongs, and maybes of English grammar and usage, Woe Is I offers down-to-earth explanations and plain-English solutions to the language mysteries that bedevil all of us.

Looking for more e-cookbook and ebook deals? Check out last week’s list, some of them are still on sale.

Creative Commons licensed images by Mike Licht: Blogging in the Afternoon, after Edouard Manet, and A Pompeian Beauty, Blogging, after Raffaele Giannetti on Flickr.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you!

Regular readers, ahem, Mum, you may be thinking to yourself, doesn’t she usually publish her Kitchen post on Fridays? Why yes, that’s correct, but I’m doing it on Saturdays from now on because I need to work, not play, on Friday mornings. But Saturday mornings are all mine and, besides hiking, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than plan menus.

I’ll publish On My Bookshelf, my list of recommended fiction and non-fiction ebooks deals, on Mondays instead of Saturdays. But since we’re in my virtual kitchen, I’ve included a list of great deals on e-cookbooks at the end of this post.

In My Kitchen

I’ve had two Produce Box deliveries since my last Kitchen post. I’m impressed with the quality and portions. I still have a ginormous head of cabbage in the frig from last week’s delivery, but I’ll be taking care of that soon, or at least half of it, it is huge. Yesterday, I received lion’s mane mushrooms (more on that later), tatsoi, kale, collards, Murasaki sweet potatoes (purple skin and white flesh), salad greens, two quarts of strawberries and a package of Carolina Kettle’s Cozumel Jalapeño Queso Kettle Chips as a treat for Jim.

We ended up not being home for dinner last Friday night so I made my first Irish dinner on Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day. The Brown Soda Bread was a bust. For one, I took it out of the oven too soon although it looked and felt done. I even tested it with a toothpick (which came out clean). But, two slices in and the dough was still mooshy. Plus, it was bland. Maybe I should have increased the salt or added raisins. I’m tempted to try the recipe again but life’s too short for bland bread. Moving on!

The Fish Chowder, on the other hand, was exquisite, one of the best I’ve ever had, and no wonder with its salmon, cod, smoked salmon, shrimp (American, of course) and mussels. I found the recipe in one of my cookbooks, Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food. I used half a pack of frozen, cooked mussels (no shells) and substituted clam juice for the fish stock but otherwise stuck to his ingredients—although I wasn’t weighing so I may have used more than he suggested.

On the side, we had Colcannon—potatoes mashed with kale, spring onions, milk and lots of butter—a recipe from The Country Cooking of Ireland. The chowder made an encore appearance a few nights later along with some spicy collard greens sautéed with onion, garlic and ham. And the colcannon returned in a couple different disguises.

Sunday morning we had an Irish breakfast: fried eggs, local breakfast sausage thanks to the Produce Box, baked beans, sautéed cinnamon maple apples, and colcannon cakes. I added a bit of flour to some of the leftover colcannon and turned them into patties which I fried in butter. I was hoping for some brown soda bread toast with jam but the loaf was in the compost by that point.

Tuesday, I made Shepherd’s Pie, a recipe using ground lamb from The Irish Pub Cookbook. Instead of regular mashed potatoes, I topped it with leftover colcannon. I loosened up the colcannon (kale and all) with some of the juice from the ground lamb mixture as it was cooking, put it in a ziplock, and piped it around the circular baking dish. It looked pretty cool. Leftover spicy collards on the side.

We had leftover Shepherd’s Pie on Thursday along with broccoli rabe sautéed with onions, garlic and grape tomatoes. I thought I made enough broccoli rabe for two nights but Jim stood over the stove after dinner polishing it all off.

On Friday night my attention was focused on the lion’s mane mushrooms (see photo below) I received in my produce box—they supposedly taste like lobster or crab when cooked. I remember when I worked at McCormick & Schmick’s we’d get a mushroom from Oregon that did taste like lobster so I figured this would be similar.

Researching online, I found conflicting instructions: dry pan vs oil in the pan, lid vs no lid, when to add butter, cooking times, etc. I can report that you should use a dry pan (I didn’t), no lid (I put a lid on it) and cook them for a long time on each side before adding butter (I added butter way too early). My mushrooms soaked up the oil and butter and didn’t release their natural liquid or the additional oil/butter probably because they were already too far gone in the cooking process. We didn’t detect any seafood flavor because we mostly got oil and butter. Fail. I will try again because you could tell they had potential. It was a fun experiment all the same.

We had the mushrooms first before our salad because we wanted to try them right off the stove while they were still warm. The rest of the meal was a hit: my standard Pork Milanese and a new take on kale. I sautéed onions, garlic, dried apricot slivers, sliced almonds and Turkish seasoning from Penzey’s, and then added the kale to the pan along with a little water.

lion's mane mushrooms

On My Menu

Jim loves corned beef and cabbage so we always have it on his birthday, New Year’s Day. I don’t boil corned beef or cabbage, egad, instead I slow roast corned beef in the oven and sauté cabbage, so much better. This year I originally bought a smaller corned beef than usual for his birthday, but then decided I should get a bigger one to ensure plenty of leftovers. So I still have the smaller one in the freezer—well, by now it’s defrosting. We’ll have that tomorrow with sautéed cabbage and mashed rutabagas.

This gnocchi with mushrooms and feta cheese recipe has been calling my name. I’ll add tatsoi to the mix to make a one-pot meal for Tuesday.

Thursday, we’ll have salmon along with collards and sweet potatoes. Maybe I should add some barbecue sauce to the salmon to make it a completely North Carolina (and Alaska) meal.

I have the shrimp and mussels I didn’t use last weekend in the freezer so for Friday I’m thinking about a spring quinoa paella with shrimp, mussels, asparagus, peas, red bell pepper and whatever else I think should go in the pan. The recipe I linked gave me the idea for making a paella with quinoa—I can imagine Spaniards wincing right now—but I probably won’t stick to it, as you can see.

I’ll report back next week on what I end up making. If Jim doesn’t wolf down all the corned beef, we’ll have leftovers for another night and everything will get pushed back a day or two.

part of last week's delivery from The Produce Box

e-Cookbooks and Food Books on Sale

Caveat: Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making by Alana Chernila ($2.99, 57% off)

The Homemade Pantry was born of a tight budget…On a mission to kick their packaged-food habit, she learned that with a little determination, anything she could buy at the store could be made in her kitchen, and her homemade versions were more satisfying, easier to make than she expected, and tastier.”

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong ($1.99)

“A New York Times bestseller and one of the most praised Korean cookbooks of all time, you’ll explore the foods and flavors of Koreatowns across America through this collection of 100 recipes.”

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin ($1.99)

“In this delightful celebration of food, family, and friends, one of America’s most cherished kitchen companions shares her lifelong passion for cooking and entertaining. Interweaving essential tips and recipes with hilarious stories of meals both delectable and disastrous, Home Cooking is a masterwork of culinary memoir and an inspiration to novice cooks, expert chefs, and food lovers everywhere.”

The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes by Dale DeGroff ($2.99)

“The first real cookbook for cocktails, featuring 500 recipes from the world’s premier mixologist, Dale DeGroff…The Craft of the Cocktail provides much more than merely the same old recipes: it delves into history, personalities, and anecdotes; it shows you how to set up a bar, master important techniques, and use tools correctly; and it delivers unique concoctions, many featuring DeGroff’s signature use of fresh juices, as well as all the classics.”

Looking for more e-cookbook and ebook deals? Check out last week’s list, some of them are still on sale.

Creative Commons licensed images of lion’s mane mushrooms by Henk Monster on Wikimedia Commons.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. If you’d like to get into the Irish spirit, check out the post I published earlier this week, On My Irish Bookshelf. It includes a list of recommended ebooks by Irish authors—historical fiction, fiction, non-fiction and cookbooks.

If you haven’t read Kindred by Octavia Butler, do it. This is one of those books that stays with you, so well done. And its premise is so g-d frightening, yet that was life for many. Makes you think. I finished it last weekend and plan to write more about it before it releases its grip on me.

I also finished Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. I can only imagine how many people have left Iran in despair for their home country—and in fear of their lives. Hope? Not for the author who, I found out, now lives in London because her country is run by a bunch of Neanderthals. So sad, such a waste.

Next on my reading list…

  • The Leavers by Lisa Ko: “Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.” (2017 National Book Award finalist and on many “best books” lists)
  • A Life of Spice: Stories of Food, Culture and Life by Monica Bhide: “[Cookbook author] Bhide explores her romance with food. The essays in this book show how food affects all the areas of our lives: family, friends, love, culture, faith, and more. They capture the delights of cooking as wooing and of food as nurturer, and the sadness of the heartbreak kitchen.” (only $2.99)
  • Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward: “Two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward contends with the deaths of five young men dear to her, and the risk of being a black man in the rural South.”

As of earlier today, the ebooks listed below were on sale at $2 to $4 on Amazon—up to an 80% discount—but act quickly if you want a bargain. These deals may only last a day or a week, you never know. If you’re in the browsing mood, check out last week’s ebook deals too—some of those books may still be on sale.

fiction nonfiction cookbook ebook deals

Fiction:

Reminder: some of these books may only be on sale a few days so act quickly if you’re interested.

Idaho by Emily Ruskin ($1.99)

I read this for book club. My love for this book snuck up on me. Although I had trouble with the protagonist Ann at the beginning, I ended up caring about all of them in the end. Bonus: the writing is beautiful.

Ann and Wade have carved out a life for themselves from a rugged landscape in northern Idaho…With her husband’s memory fading, Ann attempts to piece together the truth of what happened to Wade’s first wife, Jenny, and to their daughters. In a story written in exquisite prose and told from multiple perspectives—including Ann, Wade, and Jenny, now in prison—we gradually learn of the mysterious and shocking act that fractured Wade and Jenny’s lives, of the love and compassion that brought Ann and Wade together, and of the memories that reverberate through the lives of every character.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry ($1.99)

An Irish author, Sebastian Barry is a two-time Booker award finalist.

Barry revisits County Sligo, Ireland, the setting for his previous three books, to tell the unforgettable story of Roseanne McNulty. Once one of the most beguiling women in Sligo, she is now a resident of Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital and nearing her hundredth year. Set against an Ireland besieged by conflict, The Secret Scripture is an engrossing tale of one woman’s life, and a poignant story of the cruelties of civil war and corrupted power.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar ($2.99, 78% off)

What if Virginia Woolf’s sister had kept a diary?…a spellbinding new story of the inseparable bond between Virginia and her sister, the gifted painter Vanessa Bell, and the real-life betrayal that threatened to destroy their family. Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as “an uncanny success” and based on meticulous research, this stunning novel illuminates a little-known episode in the celebrated sisters’ glittering bohemian youth among the legendary Bloomsbury Group.

The Secret of the Nightingale Palace by Dana Sachs ($1.99)

I read this in the fall and enjoyed it. It’d make a good movie, but which one would get the Oscar?

After her husband dies from leukemia, Anna agrees to help hard-to-please Goldie [her rich grandmother] to bring a collection of valuable Japanese art from New York to California. Harboring a decades-old secret that could change Anna’s life forever, Goldie must learn to let go of her past so her granddaughter can move on and discover happiness and love. With a narrative that alternates between early 1940s San Francisco and the present day, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace is a beautiful story about the enduring power of love and family.

Villette by Charlotte Brontë (Oxford World’s Classics, $3.03)

“I am only just returned to a sense of the real world about me, for I have been reading Villette, a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre.” ~George Eliot

That’s high praise from the author of Middlemarch and other classics. I look forward to reading this one since I absolutely loved Brontë’s Jane Eyre (only $2.72).

Lucy Snowe, in flight from an unhappy past, leaves England and finds work as a teacher in Madame Beck’s school…Strongly drawn to the fiery autocratic schoolmaster Monsieur Paul Emanuel, Lucy is compelled by Madame Beck’s jealous interference to assert her right to love and be loved. Based in part on Charlotte Brontë’s experience in Brussels ten years earlier, Villette (1853) is a cogent and dramatic exploration of a woman’s response to the challenge of a constricting social environment. Its deployment of imagery comparable in power to that of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and its use of comedy—ironic or exuberant—in the service of an ultimately sombre vision, make Villette especially appealing to the modern reader.

fiction nonfiction cookbook ebook deals

Food & Cooking:

Caveat: Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

Check out my post, On My Irish Bookshelf, for a bunch of Irish cookbooks still on sale.

For a completely different direction…I don’t know anything about these cookbooks so you’re on your own, but at these prices, they’re worth the risk if you like cooking Thai, Chinese or Mexican.

Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Leela Punyaratabandhu ($1.99)

Pok Pok – The Drinking Food of Thailand: A Cookbook by Andy Ricker ($2.99)

The Essential Wok Cookbook: A Simple Chinese Cookbook for Stir-Fry, Dim Sum and Other Restaurant Favorites by Naomi Imatome-Yun ($3.82)

Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak ($1.99)

Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails and More by Sara Deseran ($1.99)

Nonfiction:

These books were on sale as of Saturday morning, but may not be on sale for long—act quickly.

Fractured Emerald: Ireland by Emily Hahn ($1.99, 80% off)

Emily Hahn was an American journalist and author. Considered an early feminist and called “a forgotten American literary treasure” by The New Yorker magazine.

In a magisterial combination of historical research and keen personal observation on the scene, Emily Hahn gives us a view of the whole of Ireland and its history, from the legends of the great kings and the heroes of myth to the Saint who converted Ireland to Christianity many centuries ago to modern times. She details the trials and tribulations of a conquered people as they rebel against their exploiters and fight and die for independence, eventually achieving their goal but only at the price of a bitter partition that haunts the country to this day [1971]. Hahn’s breadth of vision and acute sense of the telling detail paints the big picture while also pinpointing the small but important moments.

Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman ($2.99, 73% off)

The relationship between Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew, western rancher’s daughter and Brooklyn girl—transcends party, religion, region, and culture. Strengthened by each other’s presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all women. Hirshman’s dual biography includes revealing stories of how these trailblazers fought for their own recognition in a male-dominated profession—battles that would ultimately benefit every American woman. She also makes clear how these two justices have shaped the legal framework of modern feminism, including employment discrimination, abortion, affirmative action, sexual harassment, and many other issues crucial to women’s lives.

Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature by Dorothy Allison ($1.99, 80% off)

Dorothy Allison is known for her bold and insightful writing on issues of class and sexuality. In Skin, she approaches these topics through twenty-three impassioned essays that explore her identity—from her childhood in a poor family in South Carolina to her adult life as a lesbian in the suburbs of New York—and her sexuality.

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda Garelick ($1.99)

I read this last year and enjoyed learning about Chanel and taking in the history along the way. She had quite the life, but settle in, the book’s a long one.

Certain lives are at once so exceptional, and yet so in step with their historical moments, that they illuminate cultural forces far beyond the scope of a single person. Such is the case with Coco Chanel, whose life offers one of the most fascinating tales of the twentieth century—throwing into dramatic relief an era of war, fashion, ardent nationalism, and earth-shaking change—here brilliantly treated, for the first time, with wide-ranging and incisive historical scrutiny.

The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas ($2.99)

When she witnesses her housecat, Rajah, effortlessly scare off two fully-grown deer, acclaimed anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas starts studying the links that bind the feline family together. Immersing herself in the subtle differences of their social orders, feeding behaviors, and means of communication, Thomas explores the nature of the cat, both wild and domestic, and the resilient streak that has ensured its survival over thousands of years.

Creative Commons licensed photos by Elias Ehmann (Cliffs of Moher, Ireland) and David Brooks (abandoned building) on Unsplash.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you!

Maybe it was reading (and loving) The Heart’s Invisible Furies by Irish author John Boyne or transcribing my journal from a trip to Ireland long ago, but I’ve been in an Irish mood lately—just in time for St. Patrick’s weekend. If you want to get in the mood, earlier this week I published On My Irish Bookshelf—a collection of recommended ebooks (including several good cookbooks) on sale by Irish authors.

I’ve been listening to Celtic playlists on Spotify, stocking up on Guinness and Bailey’s, and planning Irish menus for tonight and Sunday. If you’re looking for dinner inspiration, here are some recipes I made this past week and a few I may try in the coming week.

By the way, on Saturday mornings I’m publishing my list of recommended fiction and non-fiction ebooks on sale in a separate post, On the Bookshelf. But since we’re in my virtual kitchen, I’ve included a list of great deals on e-cookbooks at the end of this post.

In My Kitchen

In my last post, I was telling you about the Home Chef gift card we received from Jim’s son and daughter-in-law. We had the second meal of the delivery, Chicken Fajitas, last Friday. After a busy day, I appreciated the little effort it took to throw dinner together. We started with a big homemade salad and skipped the usual vegetable. I added sliced avocado to the nicely spiced fajitas.

Would I try Home Chef again? Sure. I haven’t canceled my subscription although I’m skipping the next few weeks—you have to select “skip” otherwise they automatically send you two meals each week. It’s a good option for crazy weeks when I don’t have as much time to plan menus, shop and cook. But I do enjoy winding down while cooking and at $25/night, it’s a bit more than I’d like to spend for dinner so it would never become a regular thing. I might investigate other home delivery meal plans to find one that uses more sustainably sourced foods—no fish from China—but that would probably be even more expensive.

If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve had ingredient sourcing frustrations lately. Finally, last Friday I drove 20 minutes to Harris Teeter and found celery root, endive and fennel so I could make my long-awaited sides. I also found monkfish at a deep discount—poor man’s lobster!

Sunday night, I made Monkfish à l’Américaine, one of my favorite recipes. I first saw Boston chef Jasper White make it on an old Julia Child TV show, the one where she invited “master chefs” into her kitchen, and that’s the recipe I make. On the side, we had Braised Endive and Fennel Gratin with Cranberries, so good and worth the wait, and sautéed kale.

I made enough for leftovers on Tuesday. Last night, we had Pork Chops with Cranberry-Thyme Sauce, another kitchen regular. Every year, I stock up my freezer with bags of cranberries when they make their supermarket appearance in the fall just so I can enjoy dishes like this year-round.

On the side, we had Celery Root and Potato Mash. It’s been so long since I’ve cooked with celery root (aka celeriac) that I forgot how much celery flavor it brings to a dish. Duh, I know. Well worth seeking out. I did a 2:1 celery root/potato ratio. I added a few chopped garlic cloves to the water as the root veg were cooking, and stirred in butter, warm milk and chopped celery root leaves after mashing. I also roasted broccoli for our green side.

celery root - menu ideas and cookbooks on sale

On My Menu

Today, I’m getting my first Produce Box delivery. My regular CSA from Chickadee Farms doesn’t start until April and I’ve been jonesing for more fresh local produce than the limited selection at my every-other-Saturday farmer’s market. I decided to give Produce Box a try until the CSA starts and then, if I like it, use it to supplement our share. Plus, they offer more than produce—I’m getting local breakfast sausage and bagels delivered too. Do you know how hard it is for a Yankee to find a decent bagel around here?

Today’s work to-do list is ridiculous but I’m hoping to finish early so I can make Brown Soda Bread from Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food. I’m sticking with Dundon for the main too: Arthurstown Fish Chowder which includes shrimp, smoked salmon, cod, salmon and mussels. Yes, it is an Irish celebration! On the side, Colcannon which is basically a mash of greens (kale in my case), potatoes and scallions. I’m following the recipe in Colman Andrew’s The Country Cooking of Ireland. And, if I have time, and I should since this won’t take long, Pea Purée from Rachel’s Irish Family Food.

My plan for Sunday is ambitious starting with elements of an Irish breakfast: fried eggs, breakfast sausage (from the Produce Box), soda bread, Colcannon Cakes (another Colman Andrew recipe), and baked beans. Skipping the traditional blood and white puddings as well as the broiled tomatoes. I’ve got a few sad-looking apples I’m planning to sauté with cinnamon, maple sugar and butter which will go nicely on the side.

Our feast on Sunday night will include Shepherd’s Pie made with lamb, of course, love lamb. I’m referring to a Colman Andrew’s recipe and a recipe from The Irish Pub Cookbook to make this one. I’ve got a good recipe for a shepherd’s pie made with turkey and sweet potatoes if that’s more your thing. And the indulgence continues with Cabbage with Bacon and Cream from Rachel Allen’s cookbook.

No plans yet for the rest of the week except I’m counting on leftover pie. By this time I’ll have already used the kale and cabbage from my Produce Box delivery but will still have collards, broccoli rabe and rutabagas. I also ordered leeks (they’ll find a place), and Bibb lettuce and spinach for salads.

I’ll report back next week on what I end up making.

cabbage - menu ideas and cookbooks on sale

e-Cookbooks and Food Books on Sale

Caveat: Ebook sales like these sometimes only last a day or a week, so act quickly.

Check out my post, On My Irish Bookshelf, for a bunch of Irish cookbooks still on sale.

For a completely different direction…I don’t know anything about these cookbooks so you’re on your own, but at these prices, they’re worth the risk if you like cooking Thai, Chinese or Mexican.

Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Leela Punyaratabandhu ($1.99)

Pok – The Drinking Food of Thailand: A Cookbook by Andy Ricker ($2.99)

The Essential Wok Cookbook: A Simple Chinese Cookbook for Stir-Fry, Dim Sum and Other Restaurant Favorites by Naomi Imatome-Yun ($3.82)

Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak ($1.99)

Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails and More by Sara Deseran ($1.99)

Looking for more deals? Check out last week’s list to see if any of those are still on sale.

Creative Commons licensed images of celery root and cabbage in the field from Pixabay.

Amazon book links are affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission on any sales that result from clicking. Thank you.

Since St. Patrick’s Day (and weekend) is only a few days away—let’s get into the Irish spirit. I’ve got lamb and salmon on my shopping list, brown soda bread on my mind, Guinness in the refrigerator and a bottle of Bailey’s waiting for the right moment.

My Irish spirit is strong since I’m three-quarters Irish, although my Dad would insist I claim my distant Scottish heritage too. Have it your way, Dad: I’m three-quarters Celtic.

The Irish are renowned for story-telling. And gabbing incessantly, yes, that too. Words are our business and pleasure. Here for your pleasure is a list of ebooks by Irish authors that are on sale now.

Some of these books may only be on sale a day or a few days so act quickly if you’re interested. Book descriptions are from the Amazon sales page unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to see more deals, check out my earlier Bookshelf posts.

Classics:

You can find any classic ebook for less than $2 on Amazon but it won’t be from a reputable publisher and it won’t include an introduction or critical notes unless it’s on sale. The ones listed below pass muster.

Dubliners by James Joyce (Modern Library, $2.99)

Devoted Ladies by Molly Keane (Virago, $4.99)

Happiness and Other Stories by Mary Lavin (New Island, $4.99)

Mary Lavelle by Kate O’Brien (Virago, $4.99)

Here’s an article about Irish women writers who don’t get as much attention as the big boys.

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (Oxford World Classics, $3.74)

The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays by J.M. Synge (Signet Classics, $1.99)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Penguin Classes, $5.28)

ebooks by Irish authors on sale

Historical Fiction:

Ireland by Frank Delaney ($2.99)

Delaney’s fictionalized history of his native country, an Irish bestseller, is a sprawling, riveting read, a book of stories melding into a novel wrapped up in an Irish history text. In 1951, when Ronan O’Mara is nine, he meets the aging itinerant Storyteller, who emerges out a “silver veil” of Irish mist, hoping to trade a yarn for a hot meal. Welcomed inside, the Storyteller lights his pipe and begins…Past and present weave together as Delaney entwines the lives of the Storyteller and Ronan in this rich and satisfying book.

Himself by Jess Kidd ($1.99)

My mother, Herself, a mystery aficionado, liked this one.

In her exceptional debut novel, Kidd explores the dark corners of the human mind in small-town 1970s Ireland, creating a haunting story that moves between the supernatural and the mundane. A murder mystery on the surface, the story digs past the traditional whodunit structure to paint a rich portrait of village life… While the plot hurtles along at a rapid pace, leading inexorably to the heart-pounding final conflict, Kidd injects ample doses of macabre humor and lyrical description in this memorable story from a strange, bold new voice.

The Bogside Boys by Eoin Dempsey ($2.99)

The city of Derry, Northern Ireland, 1972…After witnessing British Army paratroopers shoot 13 people dead on Bloody Sunday, Mick, Pat and Melissa find themselves dragged into a war they never wanted any part of. The Doherty brothers join the IRA…But after another horrific act of violence, Mick begins to rethink the allegiances he has made. He realizes he will have to choose between a promise to his twin brother, his duty to the community he has sworn to protect, and the woman he loves. The Bogside Boys is a meticulously researched, nuanced family saga, set over twenty-five years of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I and the Pirate O’Malley by Robin Maxwell ($1.99)

Two female titans—perfectly matched in guts, guile, and political genius. Elizabeth, queen of England…her troubles are far from over. Just across the western channel, her colony Ireland is embroiled in seething rebellion, with the island’s fierce, untamed clan chieftains and their “wild Irish” followers refusing to bow to their English oppressors. Grace O’Malley—notorious pirate, gunrunner, and “Mother of the Irish Rebellion”—is at the heart of the conflict…Maxwell masterfully brings to life these strong and pugnacious women in order to tell the little-known but crucial saga of Elizabeth’s Irish war.

The Girls of Ennismore by Patricia Falvey ($2.99)

Set in Ireland during the turbulent early 20th century, Patricia Falvey’s sweeping novel explores an unlikely friendship between two girls of vastly different backgrounds, as each tries to overcome the barriers set by class and birthright… A captivating portrayal of life in Ireland—above and below stairs—during the years leading up to the Great War and the Irish rebellion.

The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander ($2.99)

Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man…a masterfully written novel of life within the era’s notorious institutions—and an inspiring story of friendship, hope, and unyielding courage.

In Praise of the Bees by Kristin Gleeson ($2.99)

Ireland 590 A.D. A woman is found by a track, nearly dead from appalling wounds and remembers nothing. Her terror and her injuries are so great that she is given sanctuary in Mother Gobnait’s unusual community of nuns, while all around her a war is being waged in which she is a pawn… A literary novel inspired by real women—complex female characters who strain against the cruel chains and crippling prejudices of a society where no woman has power. Except, perhaps, one.

ebooks by Irish authors on sale

Food & Cookbooks:

Irish cookery is farm-to-table cookery. After flipping through one of my Irish cookbooks, I always end up making a dish to remember.

The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews ($3.00)

This is truly a cookbook that reads like a book with good-looking recipes too. I love the stories in this book—stories about a place or a dish’s origins. After reading this, you’ll know more about Irish cookery than most Irish people.

“Writer Colman Andrews has [an] impeccable pedigree…he ate his way through the high- and byways of this country to put this book together…his eye always cocked for an artisan producer, local specialty, or place featuring good food. The usual chapters on soups, fish, poultry, meats and baking are supplemented by sections on savoury pies, salmon…, potatoes…and a soda bread-focused bread chapter. There are little essays scattered throughout the book on a historical and factual topics…He quotes widely from Irish cookbooks, over 100 of which are mentioned in the extensive bibliography, and recipes from all eras are included.” (BiblioCook)

Rachel’s Irish Family Food: 120 Classic Recipes from My Home to Yours by Rachel Allen ($3.99)

I just bought this and have already marked lots of recipes.

Rachel Allen, the face of real Irish cooking, shares the authentic Irish recipes that bring her family and friends racing to the table…Over 100 recipes that offer the best in both traditional and modern Irish cooking, from new twists on old classics to tried and tested recipes which have delighted many generations in Ireland and are sure to become firm family favorites in your home…Alongside these gorgeous recipes you will find stories, history and insights into Irish life from across all the counties of Ireland.

Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food by Kevin Dundon ($4.99)

“Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food is clearly from [the farm-to-table] tradition of Irish cooking. None of the ingredients used are particularly revolutionary or are the concepts too difficult, but it’s very much Irish classics with a slight twist.” (The Baking Beardy)

My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong ($5.99)

All the ingredients for my favorite kind of cookbook: personal and illuminating introductions and recipe headers, and beautiful photographs for the food and of the land that inspired the food, Ireland.

Armstrong is the chef of several DC-area Irish joints, including Restaurant Eve. His debut cookbook, My Irish Table, explores everything from his Irish homeland to his current career in fine dining….Beyond the breakfast pages, you’ll find a collection of Armstrong’s mother’s dishes; a chapter each on fish, vegetables, and baked goods; a set of celebratory dishes grouped by holiday; and, of course, a section devoted to refined dishes from the restaurant. But this chapter does not dominate the book—Armstrong’s cooking is nothing but approachable. (Serious Eats)

The Irish Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Clodagh McKenna ($1.99)

Both a cookbook and a culinary tour of Ireland, celebrating the diversity and quality of local food….Over 100 recipes range from new takes on traditional Irish favorites to dishes with more Mediterranean flavors, always emphasizing seasonality, local produce and fresh ingredients – the return to slow food.

The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret Johnson ($2.40)

Contemporary Irish cooking means not just a rustic, stick-to-your-ribs Irish Stew with Brown Soda Bread, but also Green Tomato Tarte Tatin, as original and sophisticated as one found anywhere in Europe. The book reads like a tourist itinerary for hungry pub crawlers…and shares history on favorite pubs and their famous and infamous patrons and proprietors. (Publisher’s Weekly)

Bake by Rachel Allen ($1.99)

She shares both the sweet and the savoury sides of baking, whether quick snacks, wholesome breads and pies, exotic cakes and tarts or easy baked meals for friends and family. Fully illustrated with beautiful food photography including step-by-steps to take the mystery out of traditional baking and pastry making. Rachel also offers troubleshooting techniques for common problems and wheat or gluten-free recipes so nobody is left out of the fun.

Nonfiction:

The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield ($0.99)

It began in Ireland in the mid-1700s. The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place devastated civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation-plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness—as well as monks and even evangelical churches—brewed beer that provided a healthier alternative to the poisonous waters and liquors of the times. This is where the Guinness tale began…The tale that unfolds during those two and a half centuries has power to thrill audiences today: the generational drama, business adventure, industrial and social reforms, deep-felt faith, and the noble beer itself.

Creative Commons licenses photos by Nils Nedel and Edan Cohen on Unsplash.