Archive for the ‘food book giveaways’ Category

Mollie Katzen: Get Cooking Author Dishes

March 4, 2010

Mollie Katzen is perhaps best known for her whimsically-illustrated, hand-lettered vegetarian classics Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

The author of a trio of popular children’s cookbooks, Pretend Soup, Honest Pretzels, and Salad People, Mollie played a major role in mainstreaming a plant-based diet in modern American kitchens.

Inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2007, Mollie’s most recent book, Get Cooking, was recently nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals Award.

I’ve interviewed Mollie for articles about feeding children, where her trademark warm and wise approach to cooking comes through.

She hopes her latest book will encourage eaters everywhere to fall in love with the fine art of making a home-cooked meal.

To enter the Get Cooking giveaway leave a comment here.

1. What inspired you to write a cookbook for beginners?

Lots of people asked for it and I like to write books people need.  My son, who is 25, had just moved to his own small apartment in New York City and he and his friends wanted to know how to make simple but satisfying dishes.

So I wanted to do a book that would appeal to young adults who are just setting up their own homes and older adults who hadn’t learned to cook but wanted to now. This book has also found an audience with both the newly married and the freshly divorced. Sometimes you fill a need you weren’t expecting to find.

Learning to cook is key to many human needs: nourishment, health, economic and environmental sustainability, and a quality social life.

A lot of people simple can’t afford to eat out but they want to enjoy the pleasures of the table with a delicious home-cooked meal, a good bottle of wine, and great company. I wanted to help make that happen.

2. This is your first solo cookbook with meat dishes. Why that departure for you?

I include beef, chicken, and fish recipes in Get Cooking because people asked how to cook some classic meat recipes. Beginning cooks often want to know how to roast a chicken, make hamburgers, or pan-fry fish.

I’m not an ethical vegetarian or a crusader for a no-meat diet. I have eaten small portions of animal protein for quite some time. I’ve never prescribed a vegetarian-only diet or spoken out against eating animals.

I do eat a mostly vegetarian diet and I do think most Americans need to learn how to eat less meat in their diet. But I’m not dogmatic about it.

3. I’ve noticed you’ve recently embraced social media. What do you think of Twitter?

My book publisher wanted me to tweet, to reach a younger, wider audience. I resisted it for a long time and then I grumpily, reluctantly started to do it.

It took me a while to find my voice but now I tweet about five times a day. I see it as a way to be of service to my readers. I like to offer useful information, cooking encouragement, and share recipes.

I see my role as a kind of cheering squad for home cooks everywhere. I don’t write tweets telling people I just made a cup of coffee.

And I’ve found Twitter a very supportive community. In January I was featured in a Newsweek story about people who betrayed their vegetarian base. But I was never interviewed for the story and there were a lot of mistakes and misconceptions about my beliefs in the piece.

I received a bunch of hate mail following its publication. The Twitter community provided a lot of support and understanding during a very difficult time for me.

4. What’s next?

I’d like to do a Meatless Monday cookbook. Most Americans do need to find ways to reduce the amount of animal protein in their diets.

I’d also like to do another cookbook illustrated with my graphics or drawings.  For me, the visuals are as much a part of the recipe as the words. My son tells me, rather bluntly, that today’s generation of cooks don’t want to see hand-lettering like in the Moosewood Cookbook.

But I think there’s still room for me to express myself in my preferred visual mediums. I’m working on an idea for a book with recipes that have just five ingredients. There are similar books out there, but I’d put my own spin on it. It would feature a lot of vegetables and it might be the perfect forum for my art.

5. What motivates you, after almost 35 years of publishing cookbooks, to keep writing them?

I really care about people being able to cook. It’s so important to have those skills.

That’s why I like the work I do at Harvard University with young students as part of the Food Literacy Project.

Part of the thinking behind the project is that the university wants to turn out bright, well-rounded, citizens who have cooking skills and know how to be at a table.  A lot of what happens in the world happens at the table, whether it’s business, or the sharing of ideas, beliefs, and values, or simple social interaction.

It’s really important to me that we keep the table as part of home life.

Photo: Lisa Keating

Book Giveaway: Get Cooking

February 27, 2010

What vegetarian doesn’t have a dog-eared, food-stained copy of the Moosewood Cookbook in her cookbook stack?

I’m also a fan of best-selling, award-winning author Mollie Katzen‘s  cookbooks for kids: Pretend Soup, Honest Pretzels, and Salad People.

So I was pleased to hear that the warm and whimsical writer has penned a guide to getting started in the kitchen called, aptly enough, Get Cooking: 150 Simple Recipes to Get You Started in the Kitchen.

In her introduction, Mollie notes the irony that interest in cooking is at an all-time high. People everywhere love watching cooking shows and competitions. (Michael Pollan covered this phenomenon in a piece for the New York Times Magazine called “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch.”)

Folks are eating up a steady diet of food blogs and food films. Talk about takeout, new restaurants, street eats, food produce and products permeates everyday conversations.

What’s missing in all this chatter? The art and craft of cooking.

So in her latest book, Mollie, a natural food chef  before the term was even coined, hopes to fill that void with what she calls “150 delicious, doable recipes that even the most inexperienced person can walk into any kitchen right now and make for dinner.”

She’s also moved beyond the produce stand and includes chicken, fish, and meat dishes (though there are oodles of veggie offerings and many recipes can be adapted for vegetarians or vegans.)

So, calling all wannabe cooks: This is the book for you (or the wannabe cook in your life, or perhaps even the person you want to be a wannabe cook). Lots of non-intimidating ideas to get the kitchen newbie — or even a seasoned home cook — going, with sound advice about recipe reading, basic gear, and knife skills.

The author covers simple soups, salads, main meals, sides, and desserts designed to expand a beginner’s repertoire. And her “get creative” sidebars offer loads of options for playing with the basic recipe.

I particularly like the sound of Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, Wilted Spinach Salad with Hazelnuts, Goat Cheese, and Golden Raisins, Chickpea and Mango Curry, and Cherry Clafoutis.

One quibble: The photos don’t do the food justice; they’re a bit bland and lifeless. They’re not the kind of food shots we’re accustomed to seeing in cookbooks, food sites, or glossy mags. Perhaps the author was going for authenticity over visual excitement. (I attended a food photography session where folks were advised to use fake cream over the real thing ’cause it looks better in a photo. Oh my.) Regardless, Katzen’s enthusiasm and passion for food shines through on the page.

Read a review. Visit the get cooking website. Check out sample recipes, such as Vegetable-Tofu Stir-Fry with Orange-Ginger Glaze.

To win a copy of Get Cooking leave a comment below about what skill, technique, or dish you’d like to learn. Entries must be received by Friday, March 5, PST by 10 pm. Winner chosen at random.

Update: Wow! Mollie Katzen is clearly onto something. It seems like loads of folks want to get cooking, judging by the response to this giveaway, my most popular to date. The copy of Get Cooking, chosen at random, goes to Karen Pochodowicz. But wait — for all you budding chefs who want to learn knife skills, take a look at Mollie’s video tutorial and find sample recipes from the book here. And check back later this month for my March book giveaway.

Book Giveaway: Food Rules

January 27, 2010

Does the award-winning, best-selling author Michael Pollan and his new eater’s manual Food Rules need any introduction?

The haiku version: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.

For more on the evolution of Pollan’s latest book, read my recent blog post on Berkeleyside, reprinted yesterday by Civil Eats.

Or tune in today when the good food guru makes an appearance on Oprah, on a show devoted to food issues called, Before You Shop Again: Food 101 with Michael Pollan.

Here’s what I like about this little guide: It’s full of common sense. It’s not preachy or dogmatic.  It’s doable. And it’s all delivered in “cultural blips that stick in your head,” to quote the New York Times Magazine contributor and University of California, Berkeley, professor himself.

Think short, simple, catchy, often funny, nuggets of nutritional wisdom for consumers about consuming:

#18: Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.

#36 Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

My 11 year old read Food Rules over dinner, got it, agreed with most of it, and it got us talking about food and meal times in a different way.

That’s the beauty of this book. It’s just a slip of a thing, a glorified pamphlet really, but it could be the starting point to a healthy, lifelong relationship with food.

Do you have a food rule you think belongs in this guide?

Share your idea for a chance to win an autographed copy of Food Rules.

Alternatively, come up with a different title for this manual. When I hear the word “rules” my rebellious nature kicks in. Why not “pearls” or “gems” or even “wisdom”? Got a better title? Bring it on below.

Comments close at 10 p.m. Pacific Time next Wednesday, February 3. Winner chosen at random.

If you’re stuck for suggestions, here’s a tip: While researching this book, Pollan asked readers of the Times blog the Well to pass on ideas. He got, oh, about 2,784 responses (and counting), some of them quite funny:

Only put one meat on the pizza.

Don’t eat anything bigger than your head.

Never eat sushi from a convenience store.

Don’t buy your food where you buy your gas.

Bonus points if you pass on some kitchen wisdom that makes me laugh.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, what’s Pollan’s guiltiest pleasure?

French fries. But don’t sweat it, he’s got it covered with:

#39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Update: Apologies for my tardiness in following up on this contest. I was out of Internet range for three days and then felled by illness. But I’m back in the saddle today (sort of) and happy to announce that the randomly chosen winner of Food Rules is Heidi Bokor, #14 of more than 40 entrants. Thanks to all for playing — and for great title suggestions, such as Small Bites and Bites of Wisdom, along with all the food rules folks shared below. Look for future food book giveaways coming soon.

Cool Cuisine Author Advocates Green Grub to Save Globe

January 14, 2010

Laura Stec combines her passion for the planet with a love of food in her efforts to promote green cuisine — eating healthily and well while treading lightly on Mother Earth.

And she’s got the cred to back up her good intentions.  Laura trained at the Culinary Institute of America, School of Natural Cookery, and (now closed) Vega Macrobiotic Study Center, and did stints at several restaurants before launching her own Bay Area-based personal chef/catering business.

Her green-cuisine clients include Google, Harvard University, Ralph Nader, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Kaiser Permanente Medical Group hired Laura as a culinary health instructor and she’s worked for more than a dozen years with Acterra, a local environmental organization.

Laura believes that we can help our fragile planet by paying attention to what’s on our dinner plates. In classrooms and corporations she educates eaters of all ages on how to make eco-friendly food choices.

Last month’s book giveaway Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming generated lots of entries; I thought readers might like to learn more about the author’s philosophy and how to limit their carbon footprint in the kitchen.

1. What exactly is a cool cuisine?

Cool cuisine reduces your overall impact on the earth’s ecology by using less animal products, processed foods, bottled water, and food and packaging waste, and using more fresh, organic, seasonal, and locally grown foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

2. What prompted you to pen Cool Cuisine?

I had an “NPR driveway moment” in 2006, when I heard about a report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, called Livestock’s Long Shadow. I learned that conventionally raised cattle are responsible for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, making livestock a substantial part of the global-warming problem. I couldn’t get out of my car until I heard the whole report.

Then the words, “Global Warming Diet” popped into my head. I ran into the house to Google the term and found only one reference.

3. Many readers already take environmentally-conscious measures on the food front — buying from farmers’ markets, growing their own, composting, recycling, carrying a reusable tote, and eschewing bottled water. What can people do to step it up a notch?

A lot of people are over-educated about this issue and undernourished. By that I mean most people’s culinary knowledge is limited, so I recommend that they focus on learning more about what and how TO eat, such as how to cook different whole grains, instead of getting caught up on what NOT to eat, like eliminating meat from their diet.

Learning techniques such as how to cook vegetables correctly to maximize taste and nutrients, which means keeping water far away from vegetables, so roast, grill, or saute rather than boil or steam, can help increase motivation, satisfaction, health, and culinary joy.

It’s also important to learn how to flavor foods with herbs, spices, artisanal salts, and other seasonings in place of animal fat. And experiment with less common whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, or millet and different cooking methods for these grains, such as baking, toasting, or pressure-cooking.

Stock a condiment plate with seasonings such as toasted sesame oil, nori shakes, nutritional yeast, green Tabasco Sauce–whatever you like. I call a condiment plate salt and pepper with a college education.

4. What’s your biggest eco-unfriendly guilty pleasure?

Travel by airplane.

5. Can you care about the future of the planet and still eat meat?

Absolutely. Hooved animals have a vital role in the health of the environment. I was a vegetarian for 17 years and I basically still am for environmental reasons. I rarely eat meat but I don’t judge others’ choices. I do recommend people cut their meat consumption and buy local, grass-fed, pasture-raised meats and dairy products for their health and the health of the planet.

6. Where do you see hope that we may actually be able to, as you say, take the bite out of global warming?

The average eater is motivated by pleasure. As unfortunate as it is, many of us don’t like being involved in environmental or political issues, but ALL of us like food. Not everyone votes, but everyone eats.

By choosing cool cuisine, people are getting better tasting, more nutrient-dense food, with a side dish of environmental caretaking. Food is a powerful tool. Having said that, people do feel a broader connection to the earth and their role in protecting it these days. Both these things give me hope for our future.

7. Any final advice for folks interested in adopting a cool cuisine approach to eating?

Don’t guilt trip yourself — or anyone else — out of doing things; instead explore cooking and eating in new ways. And “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” wise words from French philosopher Voltaire.

Take small steps when making changes in your diet as you learn what foods you enjoy eating and cooking, two of our most primal human pleasures. Along the way, you’ll get even more satisfaction knowing it’s good for the earth as well. Have fun with it.

Readers: Would you agree?

Book Giveaway: Cool Cuisine

December 30, 2009

Here’s a concept: Eat well and help prevent climate change at the same time.

That’s the premise behind Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming, an easy-to-digest account about our overheating planet that focuses on solutions to the problem and includes culinary tips and techniques designed to mitigate global warming.  Written by environmental activist and chef Laura Stec, with climate change scientist Eugene Cordero, Cool Cuisine could come in handy for folks who want to begin the new year by eating better and impacting the earth less.

The guide (think manifesto rather than cookbook) includes recipes of the “eat more plants” variety, such as Grilled Persimmon Salad with Maple-Spiced Walnuts, Spinach, & Frisee and Spring Barley Risotto with Asparagus, Dill, & Fresh Artichoke. Each chapter includes a practical page with ideas designed to trigger discussion for book club or potluck purposes, along with field trip suggestions, film and book recommendations, and tips for taking small steps towards eating and cooking in a more environmentally-friendly manner.

Cool Cuisine also has helpful hints on making a basic sauce, stocking a condiment plate with lesser known items (gomashio and umeboshi vinegar for starters), selecting salts, and cooking with whole grains you may not have heard of like hato mugi (Job’s tears) and emmer (farro).

Read a review here.

It’s naive to think changing your diet can stop global warming, of course. But limiting or cutting out beef consumption, buying local, seasonal, organic produce, drinking tap versus bottled water, reducing food waste, and increasing food-scrap composting can help lower your food-related carbon footprint — and is better for you to boot, say the authors.

Tell me one thing you do on the food front to help fight global warming to be in the running to win a copy of Cool Cuisine.

Submit your entry by 10 p.m. PST on Wednesday, January 6, and I’ll pick a winner at random from the suggestions shared below.

Full disclosure: Lots of chatter in the blogosphere of late about freebies, and even rules and regulations on accepting swag from the FTC.

So here’s my ad hoc policy on such matters, in case you were wondering: I give away books because I’m an avid reader and firmly believe in the good karma inherent in sharing the printed word with others.

Some books come my way as comps from publicists or agents, some I buy, some are gifts from author friends. For a book to meet my giveaway criteria it needs to be a terrific read, explore a compelling concept, and/or offer innovative recipes.  In short, I only offer contests for titles I think my readers (that’s you) may find useful, entertaining, or both.

Oh, and my bias, if I have one: You’re unlikely to see bestsellers in the giveaway mix, since you can find those tomes easily enough yourself and I prefer to showcase writers who may fall under the radar.

That work for you? Thought so, feel free to enter below.

Update: Sorry to keep you all waiting, been a busy couple of days. Loads of great comments by folks doing their bit to help the environment. A copy of Cool Cuisine, chosen at random, goes to Sue Hutchison.  Sue I’ll email you to get your snail mail details.  Check back later this month for more from author Laura Stec and another book giveaway. Thanks to all for playing — and for your excellent ideas.

Book Giveaway: My Nepenthe

November 13, 2009

It’s always tricky to write about a pal’s book, you don’t want to come off sounding like a fawning friend, frankly.

So, in the case of My Nepenthe by Romney “Nani” Steele, I’m going to let others hand out the praise. Sunset describes Nani’s cookbook-cum-memoir as “a valentine to one of the most beautiful places to eat in the world.” Michael Pollan calls it “a very special book about a very special place.” And epicurious just named it the best American regional cookbook of 2009.

If you know Big Sur, home to the iconic Nepenthe restaurant, the area and the eatery need no introduction. If you’re not familiar with this small, rural California Central Coast enclave perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean then you should add it to your list of places to visit before you die. Really.

For 60 years Nepenthe has served comfort food with a view to locals, travelers, and tourists. And so much more: for the artists, nature lovers, spiritual seekers, writers, and wanderers who stop by, this magical spot transcends what comes out of the kitchen.

In My Nepenthe Nani, 44, a writer, chef, and food stylist, reveals the colorful back story to this family restaurant, founded by her grandparents Bill and Lolly Fassett, including the unorthodox life they lived, the eclectic boho community they cultivated, and Nani’s own foray into running Cafe Kevah as a European-style eatery with slow food sensibilities located on the same site as the “House of No Sorrow.”

romney.steele.2If you’re curious to find out more, read my Q&A with the author over at the hyper-local site Berkeleyside.

To win a copy of this visually lush book, filled with 85 restaurant recipes tweaked for the tastes of today’s home cooks, leave a comment about a special place  — and a local eatery that adds to the area’s charm. Submit your entry by 10 p.m. PST on Friday, November 20 and I’ll pick a winner from the suggestions shared below.

Update: Thanks to all who entered — you guys made me hungry for places both near and far. So many great suggestions I couldn’t decide, so I put your names into a pot (my desk is next to my kitchen) and the winner, chosen at random is: Christine, for her suggestion of the worldly Vagabond in San Diego. Congrats. an autographed copy of My Nepenthe is on its way to you. Look for another book giveaway in December.

To whet your appetite, a few recipes from the pages of My Nepenthe follow.

Pappardelle with Chanterelles

Serves 4

½ pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms
1½ tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot or small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed
²⁄³ cup vegetable stock or water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 to 12 ounces dried pappardelle pasta or other wide pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for passing

Considered gold by the culinary world, found chanterelles were a regular part of my grandmother’s Sunday night dinners and were
often featured in the Thanksgiving meal.

Gently clean the mushrooms with a dry brush. Avoid soaking in water. Trim any dry stems. Slice the mushrooms into ½-inch pieces.

Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, and thyme and sauté until the mushrooms are browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are just tender. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta in a colander.

Add the pasta to the mushrooms in the skillet along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the butter.

Cook over moderately high heat, tossing the pasta to coat and adding pasta water to moisten if needed, until thoroughly coated.

Stir in the parsley and lemon zest.

Divide the pasta among 4 warm plates and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Pass additional Parmesan separately.

Chopped Salad with Roquefort Dressing

Serves 4 to 6

Roquefort Dressing

2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried mustard
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 to 6 ounces Roquefort cheese
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup canola or safflower oil

Chopped Salad

2 heads romaine lettuce
1 head green leaf lettuce
4 to 6 cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing:

Combine the garlic, basil, oregano, mustard, pepper, sugar, and salt in a clean glass jar.

Crumble the cheese and add to the jar. Add the vinegar and oils.

Cover and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

You will have more than enough dressing; refrigerate any extra.

For the salad:

Wash and thoroughly dry the lettuces, trimming the ends and discarding any bruised leaves.

Tear into bite-size pieces and place in individual chilled bowls. Top with the desired amount of dressing, making sure each salad has
plenty of blue cheese chunks. Add the cherry tomatoes and grind black pepper over the tops.

nepenthe.fabric.slice

Pumpkin Spice Cake (Bohemian Wedding Cake)

Makes 1 (9-inch) cake, serving 10 to 12

1 cup whole-wheat flour (not pastry flour)
1 cup unbleached white flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1½ cups brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (about 1¾ cups)
¼ cup molasses
¾ cup raisins
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Sour Cream Frosting:

½ cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, knocking out any excess flour.

For the cake:

Combine the whole-wheat flour, white flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl: stir together the oil and brown sugar, mixing well. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Mix in the pumpkin puree and then the molasses.

Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the raisins and walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake about 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted  in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert and cool completely.

For the frosting:

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.

Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and mix well. It should be thinner than a typical cream cheese frosting.

Place the cake on a cake plate. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top and all over the side. Freeze any leftover frosting, or reserve for muffins or cupcakes.

— All Recipes From My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur by Romney Steele/Andrews McMeel Publishing

Photo of Romney Steele by Doug McKechnie

Cookbook Giveaway: The Gastrokid Cookbook

October 29, 2009

This month’s book giveaway, The Gastrokid Cookbook: Feeding a Foodie Family in a Fast-Food World, comes to us from two dedicated foodie fathers who are determined to keep things interesting in the kitchen after children enter the dining picture.

Hugh Garvey, features editor at Bon Appetit, and Matthew Yeomans, who writes about eating for a slew of major magazines, have kids who eat blue cheese, grilled octopus, bibimbap, and anchovy-stuffed olives.

But don’t let that scare you away, Garvey’s son is a choosy chowhound and the recipes in these pages are simple, wholesome fare you could imagine getting on the table after a day’s work. Check out this Chicago Tribune review for more details.

I can vouch for Roasted Chickpea Bruschetta, Ravioli with Brown Butter, Sage & Parmesan, Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes, and Violet’s Crumble. And the line notes will put you at ease, like this one accompanying the Parsley and Pine Nut Pasta Sauce recipe: “Here’s a quick sauce that came, as many of our recipes do, from necessity and an understocked pantry.” Can you relate?

The book includes 10 rules for reclaiming the family dinner table, including this one: Never call a kid a picky eater. If I had a quibble, it’s the name of the book that’s a tad off-putting to me, but that may be cultural. The dads coined the expression, which also graces their Web site, as a way to describe a child with gastronomy (the study of food) awareness, who is sometimes the offspring of foodie parents.

Where I grew up, “gastro” describes a stomach ailment (short for gastroenteritis), so a Gastrokid sounds to me like a child who has diarrhea. Sorry, guys, I don’t think I’m alone in this association.

But that’s a minor point. To win a copy of this otherwise appealing book submit your favorite, quick, easy-to-prepare, kid-approved, adult-friendly, delicious dinner dish by 10 p.m. PST on Thursday November 5 and I’ll choose an inspiring example as the prize winner. So start sifting through your best recipes.

Update: Thanks to all for sharing their go-to recipes for simple, satisfying suppers. Some great suggestions to add to your repertoire. The copy of Gastrokid goes to Cee for her Chickpea Curry (scroll the comment section for details), which sounds like a one-pot wonder. Cee: Send me your contact details and I’ll ship the book off to you.

Thanks to everyone for entering this contest and check back later this month to win a copy of the beautiful new cookbook My Nepenthe.

Recipe Guide Giveaway: My Lunch Box

September 21, 2009

my.lunch.boxIf you’re like many parents, a few weeks into the new school year you’re probably desperate to come up with some different lunch ideas that your kid will eat, don’t take too long to make, and cover the nutritional bases.

Help is on its way. Check out my recent blog post which includes suggestions and links for spicing things up on the school lunch front. Since I penned that post, I’ve discovered a couple of other resources you may want to look at. Eating Well put together a big back-to-school recipe guide, including creative ways to add brain-fueling foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, and beans. And in partnership with Whole Foods, school lunch reform advocate Ann Cooper launched thelunchbox.org, an online toolbox for improving lunches served up by school districts across the country.

If you’re after more lunch box recipes then this contest is for you. Share your most successful school lunch idea in the comment space below and you’ll be in the running to win a free My Lunch Box: 50 Recipes for Kids to Take to School by Hilary Shevlin Karmilowicz, a former chef, and current cooking teacher and mom, with illustrations by Rebecca Bradley.

Like a lot of products marketed by Chronicle Books, My Lunch Box comes in a clever (or gimmicky, depending on your perspective) package.  (Full disclosure here: I’m the author of City Walks: Sydney, one of Chronicle’s guides in the popular travel deck series.) In this instance, the material is presented in the form of a recipe card box, not a traditional cookbook. It’s the sort of thing that could easily fit on a kitchen counter for when you or your child need a little lunchtime inspiration.

Inside you’ll find new spins on old standbys like Swirlin’ Twirlin’ Pinwheels (think PB&Js in easy-to-eat shapes) and Fruity Cheese Kabobs, along with some unexpected offerings such as Fill-‘Er-Up Frittata, which calls for asparagus,  and Zucchini Cupcakes (with avocado, which apparently keeps these wholesome treats ultra-moist).

One quibble: There’s an emphasis on short-cuts — canned beans, store-bought salad dressings, hummus, and salsa — but there’s nothing to stop you or your kid from making these items from scratch, if you have the time and desire.  The kit also comes with 15 blank recipe cards for family favorites and a bunch of stickers that say things like “Delish” and “I made this on ______,” which may help keep kids engaged in the lunch-packing process. Read a review on Epicurious.

Feeling lucky? Submit your lunch tip below by 10 p.m. PST on Monday September 28 and I’ll choose an innovative offering as the prize winner. Just think, only nine more months of making school lunches to go!

Update: Thanks everyone for chiming in with lunch box tips — including notes, cutting food into appealing shapes, and finding ways to keep lunch food cool dominated the suggestions, see below for details. The My Lunch Box guide goes to Karen, who weighed in with the idea of packing couscous in her kid’s lunch. I’m curious if Karen’s daughter eats it unadorned or if she has a recipe for this wholesome grain she’d like to share with us.

Karen, send your contact details to me at: sarahhenry0509 [at] gmail.com so I can ship out the lunch guide to you.

Thanks again to everyone for entering this contest and check back during October for another cookbook giveaway.

Book Giveaway: Farm City by Novella Carpenter

August 31, 2009

In conjunction with the Eat Real Festival in Oakland last weekend, urban farm gal Novella Carpenter hosted an all day soiree at Ghost Town/Goat Town Farm, the one depicted in her very funny food memoir released earlier this summer. I swung by the event, which drew a steady crowd, to see what’s growing in the author’s garden (lots), sample some of Grandma’s peach cobbler, and ask Novella to sign a copy of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. (For the uninitiated — and locavores — she’ll be reading at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley this Sunday.)

So, attention all city farmers and wannabe urban homesteaders: There’s a free, autographed Farm City to the person who writes the most entertaining comment about their endeavors growing or raising their own food in the asphalt jungle (or their fantasies about doing the same).

Do you have a tale to tell about a veggie patch planted in the ‘hood that produced nary a thing to eat? Have you devised innovative strategies to keep metro-dwelling predators at bay? Are you contemplating or already raising bees, chickens, goats — or even a cow — in city limits?

Bring it on. Tell us a witty, eye-opening, or inspiring snippet about city farming and I’ll pick a winner by 10 P.M. PST on Monday, September 7, which just happens to be Labor Day. Happy Harvesting.

Update: Thanks to all for creative comments about the joys and challenges of city farming.  It was hard to single out just one entry but the autographed copy of Farm City goes to….Velma for her planted chicken story (scroll below for details). The author herself judged the comp and Novella noted that she chose Velma because she was moved by the childhood innocence of her tale.

Velma: Send me your contact details and I’ll ship the book off to you. My email is: sarahhenry0509@gmail.com.

Thanks again for playing. And stay tuned for a school food book giveaway later this month.

Book Giveaway: Hungry Monkey

August 4, 2009

Picky eater. I’m one. I’m raising one. Really dislike the term. Can’t we come up with a better way to describe ourselves? I sometimes say “particular” or “quirky” as an alternative to the cliche “picky.” Any ideas, dear readers?

hungry-monkeyThere’s a free, autographed copy of Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton to the person who, in my humble opinion, comes up with the best alternative term for those who are, um, a tad fussy about what they’ll put on their fork.  I can report that the book’s simple little recipe for cumin-ginger carrot coins is a big hit in my home (and prior to this dish my boy would only eat carrots RAW, like all his veggies.) I know, I should have such problems. Plus, the author is funny, about food, kids, and other stuff — including, well, picky eating. Find reviews on his virtual book tour.

Send me your picky eater replacement phrase and I’ll pick a winner by 10 P.M. PST on Sunday August 9.

There’s a post on the picky eater phenomenon pending — with insights you might find surprising. In the interim, read what my friend Paula Spencer says on the subject this week for Woman’s Day.

Update: Wow! Thanks to all for chiming in — and for some terrific alternatives to the term “picky eater.” I may borrow some of these in my post on the subject. It was tough to choose just one but the autographed copy of Hungry Monkey goes to….Nancy for her choosy chow-hound suggestion. It’s witty, fun, and puts a positive spin on a challenging trait.  Some may see it as an oxymoron, but those with choosy chow-hounds know that they can eat a lot — just not a lot of variety, or they’re particular about how the food is cooked, cut, or plated.

Nancy: Send me your contact details and I’ll ship the book off to you. I’m heading out of town today, so if I don’t hear from you soonish I’ll post it when I return next week. My email is: sarahhenry0509@gmail.com.

Thanks again for playing. And stay tuned for another cool food book giveaway in September.