Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Weekends with Giada.." by Giada De Laurentiis ~ Quick Delicious Food=More Reading & Loving Time!

"Weeknights with Giada: Quick & Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner"
Published by:  Crown Publishing Group
Pages:  240
Illustrations: 95 with color photos

This book will not be released until March 2012
but is available for pre-order

Giada De Laurentiis is beautiful, and she hasn't let that stop her. She has a simple spirit that places its center firmly in love of family, home and food. Bravo, Giada!

With this new book, Giada offers only recipes that can be put together after coming home from a long day at work, when time is of the essence, and special moments spent with the ones you love are most important.  I found the recipes refreshing!  It was especially gratifying to know that I could use some otherwise "cheat" methods and still come up with gourmet meals that were quick, easy and drop dead delicious.

Versatility is the name of the game in this cookbook.  What I found surprising was the ease with which Giada slips into her mommy mode, giving us go-to ingredients that we can easily keep stocked for quick make up meals.  I've always been afraid to admit I use canned and frozen goods to plump up my gourmet dinners!  But, in this cookbook, Giada claims them proudly as time savers, and tells us how to use them to the best advantage, reassuring us all the way that every one's going to adore the results!  I have to love that girl for this affirmation alone.

Another thing I thought Giada blazed the trail on is recommending a "Meatless Monday" menu.  Her point is that it's an effort toward health; however, I'm taking it a step further in saying that it's an effort toward extending the food we share with our planet.  Giada recommends using "quinoa" as a main ingredient on these nights saying, "it's a nuttier texture than rice, higher in protein and works beautifully with "purple Peruvian" potatoes (who knew!), green peas, black olives, fresh herbs, lime juice and a little grave." Hmmmm   We can try, right?

What I mostly want to share with you about this book, which you absolutely must, must have in your cookbook collection, is that Giada doesn't skimp on the richness of her meals.  The flavors are there, the herbs, the cheeses, the sausages and seafoods, sauces, the thick breads and the gorgeous fruits and veggies...and the way she combines them is genius. Wait 'til you see these recipes.

I suggest a tall glass of beer and a couple of thick slices of sourdough bread smeared with EVOO and Feta (that's just me talking, of course) before you sit down to read this cookbook.  And have some back ups to go along with that; possibly some very choice salami and kalamata olives, because you're going to be hungry just looking at the pages of this book.

I appreciated that Giada's recipes are made to serve 4-6, which is about the right number of people in today's small family. Such easy recipes allow for doubling them if necessary. No matter how you choose to make them, these will result in gourmet meals that you and your family will keep forever.  Also, do you have an indoor grill pan? If not, better get one.  :]

Highly recommended.

5 so succulent stars


My favorite recipes:

Antipasto Calzone
Asparagus with Herbed Goat Cheese Soup
Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino Soup
Caramelized Onion, Chicken and Pink Grapefruit Salad
Couscous with Watermelon, Arugula (Watercress) and Feta Cheese
Grilled Pork and Fontina Sandwiches
Fried Smashed Potatoes
Black Forbidden Rice w/Shrimp, Peaches & Snap Peas
Pirate Pasta
Sweet & Spicy Greek Meatballs

I warned you!  :]

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emily Dickinson the Cook! She Wrote Poems Midst Chocolate Wrappers....

I saw this article in the NYTimes and thought you might like to read it.  It seems our dear Emily was not only composing poems about bees but she was also making good work of their honey!  Here's the article and a coveted recipe, as far as I'm concerned:

Emily Dickinson, Sweet Genius

Emily Dickinson in an undated photo.Amherst College LibraryEmily Dickinson in an undated photo.
Whatever you happen to think about when you think about Emily Dickinson, it’s probably unlikely that what first leaps to mind is an image of the Belle of Amherst stuffing her face with cake.
In the public imagination, at least, this spectral titan of American poetry comes across as a figure of austerity, mystery, luminosity, seclusion. Somehow it’s hard to envision her even eating a meal, let alone taking delectable pleasure from it.
But as with many things about her, the truth is richer and more fascinating than the cliché. Emily Dickinson, it turns out, was totally into baking.
In fact, at a reception on Thursday evening in Battery Park City, New Yorkers will get to sample a slice of one of her favorite treats. Manuscripts, letters and fragments from the poet’s life are going on display at the Poets House, many for the first time, and among them is her handwritten, bare-bones recipe for coconut cake, which a local poetry collector and avid baker named Carolyn Smith is conjuring up for the event.
Ms. Smith has made six of the cakes, which she baked at 350 degrees for a little over an hour. Admittedly, she didn’t have a whole lot of data to go on; the recipe itself is really just a list of ingredients: 1 cup coconut, 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs, 1/2 teaspoon soda and 1 teaspoon cream of tartar.
Emily Dickinson's coconut cake recipe. President and Fellows of Harvard College Emily Dickinson's Coconut Cake Recipe.“It looked like it was probably similar to a pound cake, so I treated it like a pound cake,” Ms. Smith, 69, said on the phone. “It’s a very dense cake, and it’s not too cloyingly sweet, which is nice.”
Just hearing about that coconut cake leads to a fresh perspective on how Emily Dickinson lived and worked. Pay a visit to the Web site of the The Emily Dickinson Museum, and you’ll learn that the poet seemed to do a lot of her writing and thinking in the kitchen, even at one point scrawling stray lines of verse on a wrapper of Parisian baking chocolate.
“Emily Dickinson was known as quite an accomplished baker,” said Alexandra Mann, the publicity and marketing coordinator for Poets House. “She won a competition for her rye bread and was known to have often sent baked goods to friends and family for all sorts of occasions. In fact, some of the letters on view in this exhibition were sent along with baked delicacies that she made.”
Could it be? Did this woman whom we’ve been led to think of as a prim ascetic actually have a vibrant epicurean streak? “The tradition was that she and her friends would dip the coconut cake into a little sherry,” Ms. Smith said. “So that’s what we’re doing tomorrow night.”

I don't know what you'll be doing this weekend, but I can tell you that I'll be attempting to make Miss Dickinson's Coconut Cake, and I'll be dipping into as fine a sherry as I can purchase.  Or, as fine as I can send my Hub to purchase, as the case may be!

And, I'll be reading her poetry.


"Last Minute Knitted Gifts" by Joelle Hoverson ~ Simplicity Made Beautiful

Published by:  Open Road Media/Abrams
Pages:  107
Release Date:  September 13, 2011
Now in Ebook format


Today's knitters are chic, smart-and busy. Although they love to knit and enjoy making gifts for family and friends, they're constantly faced with the challenge of finding enough time to actually finish what they've started. Last-Minute Knitted Gifts solves this problem. Joelle Hoverson, owner of Purl, the hip knitting supply store in downtown Manhattan, has designed more than 30 fun, fresh, beautiful patterns, most of which can be made in less than ten hours—some in as little as two! Known for her keen sense of color, Hoverson includes instructions for classic gifts like baby booties and bonnets, sweaters, and scarves, plus imaginative options like a cashmere tea cozy, a felted yoga mat bag, floor cushions, and a poncho—surely something for everyone on the gift list. And to make each present extra-special, Hoverson offers easy tips on how to incorporate knitting and other yarn embellishments into the gift wrap.

Perfectly awesome video of Joelle and her work:  Found on Open Road Media at:

The Dame's Review :

This is a book radiant with color.  How I would love just to spend a few days in Joelle's shop, wandering around, touching the yarns, pulling colors and learning to knit a couple of her patterns.  The way she's written this particular book gives it not the urgency one might think is needed if you're making a "last minute" gift, but a kind of serenity and assurance that all is well.  So, that makes it just plain entertaining.

Oh, just kill me now, Sleeping Beauty!  I'm going for the sharp needles!
Because time is spent here helping us understand color, color relationships, substitutions of color and yarns; and about which needles will produce the product we hope to achieve.  We get a good idea about felting, fluffing and fancy yarns, along with the basics of knitting from a pattern.  While this book is easy on the eyes of any stage knitter, it's also filled with good, solid information that can be a reference any time.

I have to say that I had a hard time resisting the precious bonnets and cotton caps in this book.  Oh, my, they made me want to call my children and beg for new grandchildren!!  But, the color crunched big kids caps are just as delicious and are perfect for all ages.

The drawstring pouch on the cover of the book is simplicity and beauty in one.  It can be used as a bride's purse, a gift bag, a jewelry pouch and a place to store secret, small treasures or memorabilia.  Joelle suggests stitching it with alpaca and silk, "a soft, luscious drape and a lustrous sheen."  But, I can also see beads, pearls, silk ribbons accessorizing...  Leave it to me to take the simplicity away!

Without putting too fine a point on it, this book is a good little addition to your knitting and crafts collection.  The directions, glossary and darling designs make it a keeper for reference and to "go to" often.

5 multicolored blended stars


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Maman's Homesick Pie" isn't all you'll find in this moving memoir and recipe book!

Published by:  Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Pages:  250
Genre:  Memoir


For Donia Bijan’s family, food has been the language they use to tell their stories and to communicate their love. In 1978, when the Islamic revolution in Iran threatened their safety, they fled to California’s Bay Area, where the familiar flavors of Bijan’s mother’s cooking formed a bridge to the life they left behind. Now, through the prism of food, award-winning chef Donia Bijan unwinds her own story, finding that at the heart of it all is her mother, whose love and support enabled Bijan to realize her dreams.

Donia Bijan graduated from UC Berkeley and the Cordon Bleu.  After presiding over a number of San Francisco's acclaimed restaurants and earning awards for her French-inspired cuisine, she ran her own restaurant, L'Amie Donia, in Palo Alto for ten years.

The Dame Savors This One:

This is a memoir to savor.  It's a breath-taking account of a young woman who lived the life of a cherished and richly encompassed child of the world at large.  I became spellbound by Donia Bijan's life story immediately, and found myself holding my breath as I grasped her book, not wanting to read it slowly, but speeding through its pages like a delicious crepe filled with Turkish coffee ice cream.

While Ms Bijan's memoir is captivating in and of itself, her exotic recipes included at the end of chapters are both slightly tipped with the savory and screaming to be tried in one's own kitchen.  I can hardly wait to try her Cardamom Honey Madeleines.  Proustians everywhere know of his love affair with Madeleines to begin with, so her distinctive twist of cardamom with trying out farmers' market honeys makes this recipe irresistible to me. We have a great farmers' market in Naples.
Not to mention that I have a fabulous Madeleine pan I've never used!

What I found intriguing among so many things about this memoir is the tone of her literary "voice."  I suppose I expected a lilting celebration of food and family...a "warm and inviting kitchen" experience as expressed on the cover review.  Instead, Ms Bijan's telling of her past life as a refugee from revolutionary-torn Iran, to the shores of a hip and culturally shocking San Francisco, and an unimaginably glorious but difficult training in the bowels of kitchens in Paris, France, is somewhat maudlin.  It's reflective.  I found it a surprise, and a powerful memoir for that reason.

Food, studying the art of food preparation and restauranteering isn't what's important in her memoir, it seems to me.  What is important is the underlying story of trials, family obligations and examples of dedication to others, of loving and sharing gifts through food, of finding wholeness within the simplicity of homemade and close-to-home foods and ingredients that are discovered.  Food was the life-blood of Donia's family. It is also the foundation of her heritage,where she is today, and where her son and future generations are going.

It was significant to me that her mother was not only a central figure in Donia's learning the importance of food and cooking, but she was a strong role-model: a midwife, a women's liberation advocate, a tireless volunteer in wartime, a teacher, a woman of grace and celebration, a needlewoman, a mother and devoted wife.  Her mother didn't show her the example of taking the easy road in life, of failing to show up and give ones best efforts.  It's obvious in Donia's life.

I highly recommend this book of many trips through a life that's magical and meaningful.  There is much I've left out because there's so much in this memoir, beautifully told, never boring--quite the opposite--like a teatime set with Brussels lace on a silver tray holding lemon tea steeped in a china pot draped in a knitted cozy...side served with a plate of freshly baked cardamom Madeleines; this book will be in your hands until the last perfect word is read.

5 delicious stars


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Shepherd's Pie~Haunts of New England/Boston Visiting Me!

Absolutely, New England must have been giving me a haunt tonight as I was craving a taste of Shepherd's Pie and sent my poor hub off to shop for fresh lamb!

He came home and ground it for me giving this pie a fresh and yummy flavor that hit the spot while I watched the 2nd episode of "Once Upon A Time."

Recipe As Follows :

Ingredients~ The mashed potato topping:
2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp. half and half or almost 1/4 c. milk
3 Tbsp. butter (or more if you dare!)  Often, I dare... :P
Salt to taste

The Pie Ingredients~
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil to coat pan
1 3/4 to 2 lbs. combination of ground lamb and ground sirloin  ( I err on the side of more lamb)
1 carrot peeled and chopped into pea-sized pieces
1 onion chopped
Mediterranean seasoning spice ~ a shake
salt and Montreal Steakhouse Pepper  (I know, it's too specific...)

Create a roux:
3 Tbsp. butter
2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 C. beef broth (hot)
1/2 can Tomato soup (Campbell's)

1/2 C. or a couple of over-flowing handfuls of frozen peas
A handful of cheddar or Jarlsberg cheese if you like

Boil and mash potatoes including the ingredients above.
Set aside to keep warm. If they thicken too much in the waiting, add a little warm milk.

While potatoes cook; put EVOO in pan to med. high heat and brown meat combo.  Season accordingly.  Spoon away fats if they get too much.  Add chopped carrots and onion and keep browning mix.  Cook veggies w/meat another 5 mins. stirring frequently. 

In a second skillet make your roux from heating butter over medium heat until melted, then adding flour and mixing until you get a fairly thick, light brown "gravy."  Using a whisk, swirl in the broth and tomato soup.  Allow the roux to thicken as you whisk it about a minute and then pour it into the meat mixture and blend. You want the roux to be the consistency of a heavy cream. Toss in the frozen peas and blend.

Fill a lovely casserole with the meat mixture, spoon your hot mashed potatoes on top, covering the meat like a blanket.  Then broil until the potatoes are browned on top.  You can put cheese on the potatoes if you like.  My children loved it with  melted cheese, but I don't bother.

Time required:   Prep to Oven~ 20 mins.
Serves:             5-6  if you have bread and dessert
Beverage:         Good w/ Burgundy or
                         non-alcoholic Cranberry/Gingerale Fizz

What's haunting your dinner table right now???


Friday, October 21, 2011

"Classic Elite Quick Knits" ~Royal Empress Shawl knit w/ 30% silk & 70% merino yarn is Lucious!!

Published by:  Taunton Press
Pages: 213 with Pictures
Genre:  Home and Garden, Crafts

Sharing a historical perspective:

I have to share with you one of the side-bar interesting things about Classic Elite Yarns.  It's now owned, managed and staffed for the most part by women!  How refreshing, and how appropriate for a company whose focus is to put beautiful yarns into the hands of women who then create gorgeous fabrics, gifts and home goods from them.  

In addition to being focused on the distribution of yarn purchased from international and domestic mills, Elite writes and manages pattern designs; and, most interestingly, it's still housed in the historic, original mill site in Lowell, MA, beside the Merrimack River.  I've been there, and contrary to what the mind may imagine, this is a relatively small mill building considering, with a mixed history of manufacturing, toil and hardship.  I'm glad the Lowell mill has evolved to some good in the hands of women.

As an aside, a really memorable and gothic book about New England mills and a young woman working in them is: "The Madness of A Seduced Woman" by Susan Fromberg Schaefer. 

My Review of "Classic Elite Quick Knits":

More than all the excellent directions, pictures of models and patterns that grace the pages of this book, I want to talk about some of the yarns and items knitted.  If you're a knitter, the quality and timelessness of Classic Elite Yarns is already familiar to you.

This book is divided into sections having to do with small projects, but they are so beautifully detailed that nobody would imagine they have only taken a few hours to produce.  Using the most exotic of yarns, coupled with easy patterns that only look difficult, the results are amazingly quick knits worthy of bragging rights! 

Here are some of my favorites, though you'll have to get the book to see them and choose your own.

The "Royal Empress Shawl" knitted from Magnolia a yarn comprised of 70% merino and 30% silk in the color "Persian Orange." (A soft persimmon color, actually) is for me. This is a rather small shawl with  primary structure and design. It's classic and sophisticated. This was a difficult choice to make!

Capelets: Gorgeous patterns in such unbelievable yarns.  I'm a sucker for capelets as it is, so this book of so many easy to intermediate designs and supple yarn choices is killer. Couldn't we just make capelets all day for everyone we know? Seeing is believing where these are concerned.  Check out the blues!

The hats and mittens are made in designs I haven't seen so beautifully
worked in 40 years of experience. The colors of these hats and mittens are keenly selected for contemporary use. The most attractive of all to me is a pair of fingerless mittens that harken back to the historic ones in the Old Sturbridge Village Shop in MA. Obviously, this design was one worn in historic New England for many reasons.

From blankets and bags the stand-outs to me were the "Irresistible Blanket" for babies cabled in pink Posh a cashmere and silk blend yarn.  I want one for every single one of my grandchildren!  And, the absolutely fabuloso "Sunshine Bag" in 5 colors featured on the cover of this book. Wonder if it would be gorgeous felted!?

In conclusion, I found this book exceptionally good.  It's one I would love to have for my knitting library. Wish I could give you some visuals have to go to your nearest book shop and see them yourself!  

5 stars


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tattered Cover Book Store's ~ Joe E. Recommends "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter" by Jennifer Reese

Title:  Make the Bread, Buy the Butter:  What You Should and Shouldn't Make from Scratch-Over 120 Recipes for Homemade Foods
Published by:  Free Press
Pages:  304

A Note From The Dame :

Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, CO, is one of the USA's best loved shops not only for cookbooks and craft books, but also for all literature.  One of their healthy staff there, Joe E., has recommended this book to everyone.

Here's Joe:

A Snippet From His Recommendation :

"There are a few things Jennifer Reese does in this book that make it particularly indispensable: before each recipe, she tells her story of why she wanted to tackle it. I mean, who has really thought of making their own pop tarts? Once she's done that, generally with the voice of a friend sitting in your kitchen over coffee, she then tells you whether you should make it or buy it, breaks down the cost difference between the homemade and the store bought, and lists whether this project is going to be easy or difficult (often one of the funniest parts of the recipe...) Her recipes are easy-to-follow, and often include diagrams and pictures to get through the more difficult parts.
I would highly recommend this book if you are thinking about embarking on the adventure that is backyard chicken raising. Here, Reese offers a humane and very funny look at what that project brought to her family. I would recommend this book if you, like me, spend a lot of time thinking about what goes into your body and wondering where did so many of these so-called "conveniences" come from, and are they really worth it? I've suspected making my own bread is the way to go for a long time, but in this book, Jennifer Reese cements it for me. Her recipes are tried-and-true, her reasoning makes sense to me, and her personality makes it believable. Buy this book, give it to a friend, make these recipes and watch your world get a little better...."

Please visit Tattered Covers on your next book browsing trip.  It's phenomenal!

And, say "hello" to Joe E. from The Bookish Dame when you stop by!

Thank you for reading my blog.  Please leave any suggestions you have for good cookbooks or craft books you've read lately!


New Orleans ~"Big, Easy Style:Creating Rooms You Love To Live In" by Bryan Batt

Published by:  Crown
Release Date:  October 4, 2011
Pre-release Price:  Available
Pages:  208 including photos

Overview :  (Taken from book)

An enchanting space that’s truly unique calls for a sense of humor, whimsy, and an open mind.
From a charmed New Orleans childhood to a successful acting career on Broadway and the award-winning TV show Mad Men to the opening of his popular Big Easy home furnishings boutique, Hazelnut, Bryan Batt has always turned to home design as a creative outlet.

To him, the best rooms are unexpected yet refined and, above all, evoke emotion. He doesn’t think twice about hanging over sized decorations from a Mardi Gras float in an elegant dining room or bringing home vintage etchings of sconces when he was actually shopping for real ones. He believes that a vibrant orange wall can be a neutral backdrop for an antique writing desk and earthy accessories, and that an artist’s whimsical bird’s nest sculpture hung in a lavender entryway couldn’t serve as a better welcome into a cozy abode. New Orleans has taught Bryan so much about how to pull together a space that’s fearless and colorful with plenty of panache. With the city as his muse—its strong roots in history, its celebration of tradition, and, of course, the wild festivities of Mardi Gras—he believes that designing a fabulous, livable home that truly reflects a dweller’s passions need not be intimidating.

Big, Easy Style showcases rooms that make Bryan smile, with pages of rich photography featuring the work of many designers—and plenty of Crescent City interiors—framed by his own entertaining maxims on color, pattern, collecting, living areas, intimate spaces, and more. Explore rooms he’s personally designed and others that inspire him; from an old-world kitchen imported straight from the heart of France to a luxurious Art Deco media room, these homes are enticing and unique, and through their surprising details, completely inviting. 

Decorating your home to reflect your personality and taste takes practice and patience and can be a daunting undertaking, but Bryan proposes that we not worry about making mistakes, that any decision we make is better than no decision at all. With Big, Easy Style, learn how to put aside your hesitation and surrender to the wild side of home design for a big statement that’s easy to achieve.

Let's Meet Bryan!

BRYAN BATT (actor, designer, civic activist, and author) is most recently known for his two-time Screen Actors Guild Award winning performance as “Salvatore Romano” in AMC’s critically acclaimed dramatic series MAD MEN, which has been lauded with awards including Emmys, Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild as well as the Peabody awards.

Bryan is also a designer. He and Tom Cianfichi, his partner of 22 years, are the nationally recognized creative forces behind HAZELNUT, a fine gift and home accessories shop in his home town of New Orleans. HAZELNUT has been featured in the NEW YORK TIMES, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, IN STYLE, FOOD AND WINE, TOWN AND COUNTRY and many more publications.

His debut book, a memoir, or as he calls it, a momoir, “SHE AIN’T HEAVY, SHE’S MY MOTHER,” celebrates his Steel Magnolia / Auntie Mame of a mom and depicts growing up in wildly colorful  New Orleans in the 1970’s. The book has received wonderful notices… “I Loved, Loved, Loved This Book” – Whoopi Goldberg …and was on Janet Maslin’s NY Times top 10 summer read list.

As a Broadway veteran, Bryan’s leading and principal roles include: 2005 revival of LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, SUESSICAL THE MUSICAL, SUNSET BLVD, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, STARLIGHT EXPRESS, and CATS. Off Broadway: FORBIDDEN BROADWAY (Drama Desk Nomination). Theatrically, Bryan is most proud of originating the role of DARIUS in the N.Y. and L.A (Drama Logue Award) productions, as well as the film adaptation, of Paul Rudnick’s ground breaking comedy JEFFREY.

A civic activist, Bryan champions many causes including Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS, Habitat For Humanity, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Human Rights Campaign (Equality and Visibility Awards), the SPCA, The Preservation Resource Center, The Point Foundation, N.O. AIDS Task Force, and Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré.

His next book is a design book for Clarkson Potter entitled “BIG, EASY STYLE” and will be released October 4th.

Bryan (left, back section of picture!) 

The Dame's Review :

"The Big Easy..." is a beautifully written book in addition to being a book with gorgeous photographs of homes in lush details and sophisticated tastes.  Bryan Batt displays his Renaissance man characteristics not only in acting, it seems, but in writing, decorating and presenting himself as an entertaining man-about-town in New Orleans.  This is a book of many surprises, one that you'll be pleased to reference, and have available for friends and family.

I love 1800's period homes.  Having been an interior designer myself, and having owned a few houses in that time period, I know the joys and the challenges they can present.  Mr. Batt has shown them off and led us through those with panache!  It's a real joy to see and read his excitement over the smallest of details that makes a house a home and a room spectacular.

In terms of learning to decorate for oneself, Bryan gives so many practical examples and easy lessons covering such things as:

~  attention to lighting
~  importance and use of paint, which paint co. he uses, and
    some color choices specifically
~  sophisticated small things that enhance
~  how to use a splash of strong color for taste and drama
~  bars that set a mood and sparkle
~  art to bring a home to life

It was particularly heartening to read how much support Bryan gives to clients and readers of his book in the very common area of decorating fright.  Here, I quote him:
"..never make a decision based on fear; one can never be truly stylish without taking a risk or two." 

Regarding our color education and use in our own home design, he urges us to keep our eyes open in nightclubs for colors, in art galleries, museums, books, and when we travel.  In "Big Easy..."  he also shows the gorgeous home of one of his school friend's, a local New Orleans artist, who employs her own artwork and crafts to fill her house with personality and punch. 

 I loved when he wrote:
"...think of this (your powder room, specifically,) as a perfect chance to express yourself and get your ya-yas out!"

So funny, and so true!   He suggests an antique gold enamel paint, a piece of art inspiration, a theme that can set the tone such as; "The Last Emperor" or "The Secret Garden."  I once had a powder room designed around the small mistress eye paintings that were done for noblemen during the Renaissance to carry with them in secret.  These beautiful eyes, peeking out of knot holes of alabaster, exotic woods, agate and the like gave me a jewelled palette from which to decorate that little room for guests.  It was such fun and I called it my "Little Jewelry Box."

With his homebase of New Orleans, his apparently fabulous decorating shop (it has to be spectacular!) called "Hazelnut," with a nod to his beloved mom; and, including the cultural mix of Mardi Gras...Bryan Batt has shared with us his whole heart and gifts in this special book.

It's visually a treat, it's a happy read, it's helpful and it's a reference for interior decorating.  I would recommend it for everyone who loves their home, who wants to gift a loved one or newlywed, or friend; and a decorating professional looking to build her/his reference library.

5 stars


*Oh, and one more thing;  I would love to share with you Bryan's delicious recipe for "Tequila Mockingbird II"  his signature drink for parties, but you'll have to get his book to find out for yourself.  Yum--mie!  I've enjoyed mine while reading "Big, Easy Style:  Creating Rooms You Love to Live In"   Hope you get a chance to enjoy!   Cheers, New Orleans style!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Coffee Lattes for the Fall and Winter~Yummy! Good to read with...

What:  Salted Caramel Mocha
Where:  Starbucks
Why:  To Kill Your Choco/Coffee Cravings
When:  Reading Paranormal Fiction
Really Want To Know??  420 cals

Starbuck's Descriptions Follow:

Espresso and steamed milk, blended with mocha sauce and toffee nut flavored syrup. Topped with sweetened whipped cream, caramel sauce and a mixture of turbinado sugar and sea salt.

The Starbucks Blurb:

Fall is full of drizzles. Drizzles of rain as the air cools, students reluctantly drizzling back to school, emails drizzling into your inbox … but not all drizzles dampen our spirits.

Take for instance the drizzle of buttery caramel layered over sweetened whipped cream on our Salted Caramel Mocha. No rainy day could dampen sitting down with a good book and one of those. So why add the salt? Well, there’s no better way to excite your taste buds than with a little sprinkle of salt just before something sweet.

A tiny bit of our premium sea salt and sugar topping deepens the rich flavors in this luxurious combination specially made to warm up the rainy days of fall.

Did you know?

Salty and sweet flavors are called "appetitive" where bitter and sour flavors are called "aversive.”

The Dame Says :

It's not good to fool with Mother Nature's desires to ease our stress and give ourselves some happy moments of refreshment while reading.  I think it's imperative to have a great accompaniment with Fall reading, especially.  The weather just begs it.  I'm only suggesting this may be a good one.

I've heard rumors that a Pumpkin Spice Latte is the gift of the Fall gods, too.  Which one is that, exactly? Well, here it is:

Espresso, pumpkin-flavored syrup and steamed milk.
Topped with sweetened whipped cream
and pumpkin pie spices.

What's your favorite fall weather drink for reading?

Soon to be Reviewed!

Have a yummy week, weekend, month to come...

"Dead Celebritiy Cookbook..." by Frank DeCaro~Deathly Hallows Never Tasted So Good!

Title:  Dead Celebrities Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from the More Than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen
Published by: HCI
Pages:  385
Genre:  House & Garden, Cookbooks

Book Summary :

If you've ever fantasized about feasting on Frank Sinatra's Barbecued Lamb, lunching on Lucille Ball's "Chinese-y Thing," diving ever-so-neatly into Joan Crawford's Poached Salmon, or wrapping your lips around Rock Hudson's cannoli – and really, who hasn't? – hold on to your oven mitts!

In The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes by 150 Stars of Stage and Screen, Frank DeCaro—the flamboyantly funny Sirius XM radio personality best known for his six-and-a-half-year stint as the movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart—collects hundreds of recipes passed on from legendary stars of stage and screen, proving that before there were celebrity chefs, there were celebrities who fancied themselves chefs.

Their all-but-forgotten recipes—rescued from out-of-print cookbooks, musty biographies, vintage magazines, and dusty pamphlets—suggest a style of home entertaining ripe for reexamination if not revival, while reminding intrepid gourmands that, for better or worse, Hollywood doesn't make celebrities (or cooks) like it used to.

Elizabeth Taylor's Chicken with Avocado and Mushrooms
Farrah Fawcett's Sausage and Peppers
Liberace's Sticky Buns
Bette Davis's Red Flannel Hash
Bea Arthur's Good Morning Mushroom Tomato Toast
Dudley Moore's Crème Brûlée
Gypsy Rose Lee's Portuguese Fish Chowder
John Ritter's Famous Fudge
Andy Warhol's Ghoulish Goulash
Vincent Price's Pepper Steak
Johnny Cash's Old Iron Pot Family-Style Chili
Vivian Vance's Chicken Kiev
Sebastian Cabot's Avocado Surprise
Lawrence Welk's Vegetable Croquettes
Ann Miller's Cheese Soufflé
Jerry Orbach's Trifle
Totie Fields's Fruit Mellow
Irene Ryan's Tipsy Basingstoke
Klaus Nomi's Key Lime Tart
Richard Deacon's Bitter and Booze
Sonny Bono's Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

And many others from breakfast to dessert.

Your Dame's Spicey Review:

"The Dead Celebrity Cookbook" makes you wish you were at a banquet of the dead.  Honestly,  Frank DeCaro tells tales of celebrities and shares their secret, homey recipes in such a way that you want to go "down under" with them.  Alas, it's impossible--to most of us!  For cookbook readers everywhere...this is one for your library.

Mr. Decaro is a funny character, and a gifted writer.  His characterizations and talent for focusing on perfect highlights that show us the nature of famous celebrities, brings a certain bubbly brightness to his cookbook.  When you read his quips and synopses of such celebrities as Johnny Carson and Joan Crawford you can't help feeling they are people you could spend time with over dinner. Let's talk about the recipes.  Man, oh, man!  There are sooo many to try!  As a Southerner, I have to try Johnny Cash's fried okra.  There are pies galore, lots of fish and casseroles.  Yum!  These celebs knew how to cook and entertain friends;  I suspect the gatherings were like family times.  Interestingly enough, many were health conscious; probably in order to keep those beautiful figures.

Set into categories, such as:  Batman Capers, I Lunch Lucy, and Watching A Detective (Cook), just to mention a few, and to give you an idea of how much fun this cookbook is.  The tidbits of information about cast members of famous shows brings back memories!  I loved being reminded about Dinah Shore, Merv Griffin and others... And, having a Bette Davis recipe is practically like gold for a fan like I am.

When all's said and done, I'd kill (die) for this cookbook.  It's a dance with the dead that will stick with you and will offer friends a ghostly conversation at a dead celebrity-based dinner party.  What fun to know so many details of the actors we grew up watching, believing in and loving.  Here's to Frank DeCaro for bringing us this wonderful book...and here's looking at all our beloved celebrities.

How about a Halloween Dinner Party using this crazy cookbook this year!?  Fabuloso!

5 stars for this cookbook keeper!