Tag Archives: cookbooks

Real Food for Families

Making healthy choices in the kitchen is essential to your family’s health.  And yet, society is struggling against a relentless storm of less and less home cooking….and more and more processed food.  Don’t give in, and do not follow suit.  Protect your family, and invest in a healthy lifestyle.

I’m a bit crazy about “real” food.  OK, a lot crazy about “real” food.  I love to cook, and I’m pretty obsessed about simple, natural, wholesome ingredients.  I wasn’t always so obsessed though.  Growing up, some of my favorite foods were Zoodles, Fruit Loops, Kraft Dinner, and (gasp!) Cheez Whiz on toast.  It wasn’t until I moved away from home, and started cooking my own meals, that I realized how great it feels to prepare and eat nutritious dishes that actually fuel my body.

Cut scene, enter two kids.  Suddenly, I was responsible for the well-being of two little munchkins, whose bodies were growing and thriving, based on the meals that I was putting in front of them.  Not only that, I felt a renewed sense of duty to be the healthiest possible “me” I could be, in order to ensure my own longevity and health as a mother.  I want to, not only, be able to keep up with my kids, but inspire them as time goes by.

But things get complicated with kids.  You see, cooking for two adults who get excited about, say….grilled eggplant, was easy.  Cooking for two kids under the age of 4?  Extremely challenging.  It’s the pickiness factor that is the most frustrating thing.  Trust me, I know.  Neither of my kids will eat chicken without peanut butter spread on it.  And every time one of them spits out the food I lovingly prepared (“yyyyuuuuuck”), it does hurt a little.  But in the end, I know that if I offer them healthy choices, they will not starve themselves.  And I will be teaching them an important lesson about food, and how it has the power to deliver a healthy life.

Creativity is key with kids.  And cooking is no different.  So when I’m looking for a little inspiration, I wander over to the cookbook section of the library, and take a few books home with me.  Below, you will find a few of my favorites, tried, tested and true:

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake
The creator of the 100 Days of Real Food blog draws from her hugely popular website to offer simple, affordable, family-friendly recipes and practical advice for eliminating processed foods from your family’s diet.

Inspired by Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, Lisa Leake decided her family’s eating habits needed an overhaul. She, her husband, and their two small girls pledged to go 100 days without eating highly processed or refined foods–a challenge she opened to readers on her blog.

Now, she shares their story, offering insights and cost-conscious recipes everyone can use to enjoy wholesome natural food–whole grains, fruits and vegetables, seafood, locally raised meats, natural juices, dried fruit, seeds, popcorn, natural honey, and more.

Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh and Easy Recipes by Catherine McCord
Every parent knows how difficult it is to get to get kids eating happily and healthily. Catherine McCord has the answer: Weelicious! Creator of the wildly popular blog Weelicious.com, Catherine, who honed her cooking skills at Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education, strongly believes in the “one family/one meal” idea–preparing a single, scrumptious meal the entire family can sit down and enjoy together rather than having to act as “short order cook” for kids who each want something different. In Weelicious, she offers dozens of recipes and tips for creating quick, easy, healthy, and fun food that moms, dads, and young children of any age will absolutely adore–from the most persnickety infants to the pickiest grade-schoolers.

The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes
We all know that kids need to eat right and get the nutrition they need to be their best all day long. So why not make lunches that will power their growing brains and bodies? Making lunches at home is a great way to keep your child healthy. Not only does it allow you to nourish your child with the most pure and wholesome ingredients, but it also gives you the peace of mind of knowing what has gone into every bite your little one takes. Full of recipes to suit every age and stage, The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet shows you how simple and easy it is to prepare food that’ll be the envy of the lunch table. The 200+ adorable and inspiring recipes in this book are just as much a joy to make as they are to eat! There are even entire lunchbox meals that are gluten-, soy-, and/or nut-free. Make your own super-delicious, super-nutritious homemade lunches today–it’s guaranteed to be at the top of the class!

Little Bento by Michele Olivier
Your challenge: Packing a healthy lunch for your picky little eater. Your solution: The bento box! Little Bento is your ultimate bento guide to planning, preparing, and assembling yummy, wholesome, easy bento box lunches that your kids will actually eat. Say “buh-bye” to the stress of getting your kids to eat, and “hello” to the deliciously simple bento box with:

Over 100 seasonally-inspired bento recipes and 32 photos of fully-assembled bento boxes for easy guidance Expert guidance from mom, food blogger, and bestselling author of Little Foodie, Michele Olivier, who shows you how to make balanced bento meals using the #1 selling kids’ lunch box A weekly bento meal planning worksheet with helpful tips for planning your bento lunches in advance Quick reference bento ingredient lists assist in making safe decisions for food sensitive or allergic eaters.

How to Feed a Family by Laura Keogh
What could be more important to parents than a healthy, well-fed family? As two urban, working moms, Ceri Marsh and Laura Keogh learned quickly how challenging healthy meal-times can be. So they joined forces to create the Sweet Potato Chronicles, a website written for, and by, non-judgmental moms, packed full of nutritious recipes for families.

In the How to Feed a Family cookbook, Laura and Ceri have selected their very favorite recipes, to create a collection of more than 100 for all ages to enjoy. These are recipes that are tailored specifically to families: they are simple, fast, easy-to-follow, and use ingredients that are readily-available at your local grocery store. Ceri and Laura unveil their tried, tested and true tricks for turning nutritious, sophisticated dishes into kid-friendly masterpieces, that will guarantee you success at meal-time, time and time again.

~ Lindsay


Cookbooks still #1!


Do you love browsing through cookbooks? You’re not alone! Cookbooks are consistently in the top ten subjects that are checked out at Winnipeg Public Library and are usually in the number one spot. Cookbooks currently make up 11% of Winnipeg Public Library’s non-fiction circulation – more than Psychology at 6% and Diet and Fitness at 4%. Fortunately, there are  a lot of new cookbooks being published and the Cookbook clubs couldn’t be happier! Here’s  a look at some of the new titles available at Winnipeg Public Library.

Cheryl made the Breakfast Crepes and Wonton soup from Cheryl pancakesGwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy. Both of the recipes were simple to make and delicious. cheryl soupThis book would make a great coffee table book, as it contains a lot of beautiful pictures of Gwyneth and her family, as well as the food. (A trend we’re noticing with more of the celebrity cookbooks.)

Shirley already owns all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks, so she had to purchase her latest, Cooking For Jeffrey. Rosie also decided to review this cookbook and made Rosie appthe Camembert and Prosciutto Tartines, using tortillas instead of crusty bread – delicious! She also had a look at Alton Brown’s Everdaycook – a really fun book to read. It reads just like Alton talks on his popular TV shows. The Cucumber Lime Yogurt Pops call for 1 tsp. chile powder, but Rosie cut that in half and they still had a nice kick to them.

Star Chef Recipes features several celebrity chefs, with nice pictures and simple, easy to follow recipes. Jackie Chorizo MeatballsJackie made the Chorizo Meatballs, Jackie Stuffed Mushroomswhich can be served as a main course or as an appetizer. The stuffed mushrooms were easy and delicious, but could use a little less Herb d’Provence in them.

The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz tries to do it all – Japanese, Italian, Nadene soupGluten Free – all with a healthy twist. Oz uses a lot of fresh ingredients and offers good substitution options. Nadene made this really quick Kale, Sausage and White Bean soup for her family.


Ed would recommend you check Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook out of the library instead of buying it. Ed chiliThe traditional Texas Chili contains no beans or tomatoes and involves making your own chile powder by re-hydrating dry chiles. It was ok, but Ed prefers the Home Sick Texan’s recipe.

Linda ThaiLynda and Maureen loved Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings. “All of the recipes we tried turned out fantastic and tasty. Chrissy has a refreshingly irreverent writing style with humorous, interesting comments about each recipe. Linda saladShe may be a supermodel but she’s got the appetite of a lumberjack, apparently.” They tried several recipes, including Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp Summer Rolls, Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice and the butter Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese and Cayenne Candied Walnuts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow To Bake Everything by Mark Bittman is true to it’s title, providing lots of information and 2000 recipes! Dianne tried the Cornbread with Cheddar Cheese and Jalapenos and liked all of the different variations Bittman gives for his recipes. She also reviewed Oprah Winfrey’s latest book, Food, Health and Happiness and made the Turkey Burgers, which were well received.

The Happy Cookbook by Marg 1Lola Berry offers a whole foods approach to cooking, with gluten-free recipes, minimal dairy and no refined sugars. Margaret tried the stuffed mushroom caps, which tasted really good…with the addition of some bread crumbs.

After borrowing Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook from the Library last year, I ended up buying it, so I wasn’t surprised that I Carole macaroonshad to buy her second book – Oh She Glows Every day! Liddon provides excellent plant based recipes that have become staples in our house. I recommend the Fusilli Lentil Mushroom Bolognese, with roasted red peppers, mushrooms and Tahini, which adds a nice creaminess and flavour. We’ve also made the Shepherd’s Pie several times and my new favourite – Vanilla Bean Coconut Macaroons.

Well, are you anxious to get cooking? Borrowing cookbooks from the library is an excellent way to try before you buy. Happy cooking everyone!










Fermentation 101: A Cook Book Club Update

Fermentation is a process that dates back more than 6,000 years, when it was likely used by our ancestors to make alcoholic beverages and preserve food. Fermented foods are enjoying a renaissance.  Examples include making alcohol from fruits and grains, kombucha from tea and sugar, kimchi from vegetables, yogurt or kefir from milk, and sauerkraut from cabbage.

fermentationfort garry

Danielle Nykoluk promoted the benefits of fermented  foods at a recent Taste Buds Cook Book Club meeting at the Fort Gary  Library. Danielle is a founder of The Real Food Revival which offers traditional food skill-based workshops for folks who want more choice and control over their health and the health of the environment. She demonstrated how to make the health-supporting elixirs kombucha (a fermented tea) and kefir (a tangy drink made from fruit of milk) or a fraction of the cost at the grocery store.

What is fermentation? In a nutshell it is the use of beneficial bacteria and yeast to preserve food and beverages. In scientific terms, yeast, moulds, or bacteria convert sugar and other carbohydrates to acids, gases, or alcohol.

Not only does fermentation preserve foods and enhance flavour, fermented foods are good for digestion. Eating these foods actually improves the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the gut. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of eating pre- and pro- biotic foods, which help to improve digestion and regular bowel function, enhance the immune system, ease anxiety and alleviate allergies.

For more recipes and instructions on how to make your own homemade fermented foods such as bread, cheese, yogurt, beer, pickles and other foods, check out these books:


The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

An in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world by a leading expert in the field.


Ferment Your Vegetables

A fun and flavourful guide to making your own pickles, kimchi, kraut and more.



Fermented Foods for Health 

Use the power of probiotic foods to improve your digestion, strengthen your immunity and prevent illness


Join the growing movement of home fermenters and get great taste and good health with probiotic foods.


Have an Earth Day Treat

Since the launch of Earth Day in 1970 the fight for a clean environment continues with  increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. Fortunately awareness has increased as well and many take action to help relief the pressures on our one and only home. Recycling, taking public transportation, walking, biking, looking for more energy efficient solution in everyday life, reducing consumption and much more has become increasingly more popular. It’s serious business. So it’s time to reward yourself with an earth-friendly treat. Whether you make it yourself or have it made for you, I hope you will find just the right one. And if you do, why not treat yourself more often?

Let’s start with my very favourite book,  150 Best Vegan Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. My family and I love muffins, not just for their taste but also for their versatility. They come together and bake up so quickly that even people, who are very busy and/or lack baking experience, can whip up a delicious treat in no time. Muffins are great for breakfast, to put in a lunchbox, bring to a sick friend, share at a potluck or donate to a local charity bake sale. In the unlikely event that there are any left they can just go into the freezer to be enjoyed later. There is a muffin for every occasion and every time of year in this wonderful book. You will find sweet muffins to be enjoyed with ice cream or savory ones to accompany a soup or a stew. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the habit of eating dairy, egg, or cruelty free; there will be at least one favourite muffin recipe for you.

If cookies are more your thing, this book is for you.  Vegan Cookies: Invade your Cookie Jar  by Moskowitz and Romero has the most delicious, easy to follow cookie recipes this side of your grandma’s. I can guarantee that nobody will know they don’t contain eggs etc. The excellent instructions make it easy to create fabulous texture and taste, and your cookies will most likely look just like the photos in the book, which are so beautiful your mouth starts to water just by looking at them. This book is proof that vegan baking can be out-of-this-world, mouthwatering delicious. There is also a whole section explaining ingredient substitution, troubleshooting recipe issues, comparing various types of flour and other ingredients, all of which is very useful when experimenting with other recipes. Although, I don’t think you would have to, because this book will keep you busy for a while.

Do you have an ice cream machine? If so I highly recommend  Dairy-Free Ice Cream by Kelly V. Brozyna. This book is filled with delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. The Swiss Almond looks great as does the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk and the Pumpkin Ice Cream. There are recipes for frozen yogurt made with coconut and cashew milk as well as sherbets and pops. All the bases for dairy-free treats are covered and there are useful hints throughout. If you have experience with making ice cream not using an ice cream machine, many recipes in the book can be modified. With summer not so far off it’s time to start experimenting with some cold treats. But then again, who says that ice cream is just for summer?

Speaking of summer… when it’s blistering hot outside, firing up the oven doesn’t sound very appealing. But it doesn’t mean that you have to forgo cakes, pies, and bars altogether. The book Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily Euw takes care of all that with no baking involved. Even if you’re skeptical looking at the title, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour by checking out  this book. Just look at the amazing photographs! Cream cakes, cheesecakes, lava cakes, Black Forest Cake! Need I say more? Even better, these recipes are uncomplicated with easy ingredients and stunning results, which are sure to impress anybody who gets the chance to enjoy one of these wonderful delicacies. Go ahead wow your friends and family! If you like you can also have a peek at Emily’s blog http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/

Chocolate-covered Katie by Katie Higgins. It all started when Katie Higgins, a total chocoholic, developed her own naturally sweet treats and put the recipes on her blog http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/ . Soon millions followed her online and were clamoring for a book featuring  her delicious creations. Katie obliged. And here it is! If you have a sweet tooth, you will be instantly hooked. There is not much more to say other than this book proves that having a sweet tooth can be healthy and there is no harm in having your dessert and eating it, too.

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson. So why not meet and share an earth-friendly treat with somebody this Earth Day? Enjoy!


What’s Cooking at Westwood: a Second Successful Year of Feasting!

In its second year, the What’s Cooking at Westwood? Cookbook Club met 10 times, reviewed 54 cookbooks, tasted 80 recipes, and drank countless cups of tea. Though the club includes seasoned (pardon the pun) cooks and novices alike, every meeting held a new taste or technique. For a second year, we tried new things and made new friends.

Carla made this delicious Warm Berry Sauce from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison

Carla made this delicious Warm Berry Sauce from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison

Our final meeting was a potluck, as it was last year. This year, members had a choice of making their favourite dish from the year or trying a new dish from a celebrated cookbook. In usual What’s Cooking fashion, the final potluck was a wonderful assortment of savory and sweet. We tasted spinach quiche, beer rosemary bread, mandarin orange salad and caprese salad to start. To finish we sampled from peach dumplings, cheesecake brownies and rhubarb hand-pies. It was a wonderful culmination of an exploratory culinary year.

As we enjoyed our final feast, we discussed favourite cookbooks and laughed about the meetings of 2014-2015. Highlights of our discussions were food politics, the food we ate growing up, individual cooking techniques, and in one instance, a “spirited” debate about the “correct” recipe for peanut butter cookies. We are all looking forward to another tasty and exciting year of What’s Cooking at Westwood when we resume in September.

Happy summer cooking!


Summertime Pairings

Summer is upon us and with warmer weather my thoughts turn to good food and reading on the patio. There is nothing more exquisite than relaxing in the sun with a crisp, cool glass of Riesling or a chilled lager and reading a book while your dinner cooks slowly on the barbecue. With this in mind, I offer up some pairings for your literary and gastronomic enjoyment.

Julia Child is one of the best known television chefs and one of the first to bring French cooking into the homes of everyday North Americans. Mastering the Art of French CookingIn 1961, she published, along with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and volume two in 1970. These marvelous books provide detailed instruction on how to prepare classic French dishes from beginning to end. The book also offers instruction on kitchen equipment and knowledge of ingredients. Julia also had a long running (1962-1973) TV series called The French Chef in which she prepared many of the recipes from her books.

To accompany your French dining experience I suggest pairing with the novel The Two-Penny Bar by Georges Simenon.

TwoPennyInspector Jules Maigret is a fictional French Inspector with the Paris Constabulary. Always with a pipe in mouth and hat on head, he roams Paris, France and sometimes Holland solving various crimes. While on his sojourns he takes time to sit down for a meal or drink whether it is oysters and white wine or a beer from a local pub.

Just before leaving for his holiday, Maigret visits a condemned man who tells him of a murder he witnessed six years before. He also tells Maigret of a bar the murderer liked to visit. This sets Maigret off on a chase that will have him meet an Englishman, haberdasher and coal merchant.

BeerliciousTraveling back across the Atlantic to our own yards, the barbecue is a versatile and fun way to prepare a summer meal.

For those carnivores among you, I offer Beerlicious: The Art of Grillin’ & Chillin’ by Ted Reader. GQ magazine calls Reader the “Crazy Canuck BBQ Kingpin”. Each dish in his book is either paired or prepared with a good quality beer that adds flavour to or accentuates the dish as you eat.  Try the Brooklyn Lager BBQ smoked pulled pork with green apple slaw.

Canadian Living Barbecue CollectionIf essential roughage is more to your liking, Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection: The Best Barbecue Recipes from our Kitchen to your Backyard and The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit both provide an excellent selection of tasty veggie recipes. From The Barbecue Collection comes barbecued stuffed tomatoes, a delicious mixture of diced tomato, croutons, Parmesan cheese and parsley all stuffed into a hollowed out tomato. The Grilling Book will wow your taste buds with dishes like onion steaks. Thick juicy slices of Walla Walla, Vidalia or Maui onions brushed with a mixture of olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, thyme and Worcestershire sauce.

BadMonkeyTo accompany the flair of a BBQ dish, I am going to suggest a novel by Carl Hiaasen. Many of his novels usually involve the seedier underside of Floridian life and, to me, are never boring. I discovered Bad Monkey by browsing the shelves looking for interesting book covers. Nothing says “read me like a monkey wearing a pirate hat on the front cover. I soon learned of a voodoo lady, really bad monkey, severed arm and former detective on roach patrol (health inspector).

HogfatherFor the last course I have a seasonal selection that comes a little early. I recently reread Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. I think this is one of his best and funniest novels. The story takes place in Pratchett’s Discworld universe and centres on the Hogfather, Ank Morpork’s version of Father Christmas. A group of beings, called the auditors, have hired an assassin, Mr. TeaTime, to inhume the Hogfather. Death, his granddaughter, and Death’s assistant, Albert, join forces to keep the Hogfather safe.

Nigella ChristmasTo help you with your seasonal table, Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities provides a wonderful array of easy and sinfully good recipes to make the season festive. Offering traditional choices such as puddings, roast turkey (my favourite), and plenty of vegetarian options, Nigella also gives advice on cooking ahead to make the holiday season a little easier. Like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and (did I already mention?) sinfully delicious.


Reading for the Long Weekend

The May long weekend is here! A time for gardening, sunning, camping, hiking, partying, sleeping, cycling, reading, and more (Okay some of that is dependent on the weather!). Whatever you have in mind to do this ‘unofficial’ start of Winnipeg summer, I hope it contains some form of rest. Even when we are trying to relax our mind can easily race — overthinking some troubling  issue or another. I find reading is a great way to leave my usual ways of thinking aside, and focus on another, usually more interesting, narrative. Give regular thinking a break!

But what to read this long weekend? I compiled a random set of books (and movies) that contain only two unifying threads: the title has the word ‘weekend’ in it and the item is borrowable from Winnipeg Public Library. As you may discover, having ‘weekend’ in a title doesn’t guarantee a book about relaxing with a mug of coffee and a purring cat in the sun room. Not that that’s a bad thing. ‘Weekend’ is a portal into many interesting worlds.


The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray
“Who doesn’t dream of writing a novel while holding on to a day job. Ray and coauthor Bret Norris can help readers do just that, with this proven practical and accessible step-by-step guide to completing a novel in just a year’s worth of weekends.”

index.aspxWeekend Cooking by Ricardo Larrivée
“Indispensable inspiration for weekend chefs. This welcome edition has 140 recipes, with wine recommendations, dedicated to weekend gatherings…The recipes are straightforward yet allow for improvisation.”

Learn to Play Golf in a Weekend
by Edward Craig

“Anyone wanting to take the direct route to mastering golf will appreciate this professional, no-nonsense book. Complete with straightforward, jargon-free instructions, it leads readers through all the basics of the game with the aim of producing competent players in just two days.”

the_long_weekendThe Long Weekend by Julie Ellis
“A group of old friends, who knew each other during the war, are reunited. They are all, in their different ways, involved in the arts. But when the Hollywood big-shot turns up, full of his success, the others start to ponder what they’ve accomplished or haven’t.”

Llearntodrawearn to Draw in a Weekend by Richard S. Taylor
“Perfect for beginners and leisure artists, this book guides the reader from the most basic shapes and objects through to fully developed and varied projects. Readers will find encouraging advice and instruction for a variety of drawing media, including graphite pencils, colored pencil, Conte, pastel charcoal and more.”

mad_weekendMad Weekend by Roddy Doyle
“Dave, Pat and Ben have been best friends since they were kids. They do everything together, and they all love Liverpool FC. On a trip to see their favourite team in action, they have a few too many drinks before the match. But when it is time to leave for Anfield, Ben is nowhere to be found.”

outdoor_wood_projectsOutdoor Wood Products: 24 projects you can build in a weekend by Steve Cory

“…24 projects for the backyard and garden that can be completed with basic DIY tooling, inexpensive materials, and beginner skills — and that should take no more than a weekend to build. (Some) projects are constructed from reclaimed or recycled wood.”

weekend_handmadeWeekend handmade: more than 40 projects + ideas for inspired crafting by Kelly Wilkinson
“…author Kelly Wilkinson encourages readers to celebrate the joy of crafting, both for the satisfaction of making something by hand, and because the finished items serve as reminders of time taken to slow down and create – no matter the day of the week.”

Wow, this is a long “weekend” title:

The Citizen Kane crash courseindex-1.aspx in cinematography: a wildly fictional account of how Orson Welles learned everything about the art of cinematography in half an hour. Or was it a weekend? by David Worth
“This book brings to life the 60-plus year urban legend of the infamous weekend between Orson Welles and the Oscar winning cinematographer, Gregg Toland (Wuthering Heights, Citizen Kane). Guaranteed to provoke controversy as it instructs and entertains…”

index-2.aspx60 Easy Suppers: enjoy deliciously tasty recipes for midweek meals and relaxed weekend dishes, shown in over 280 step-by-step photographs by Leicestershire Wigston
“These delicious supper recipes are perfect for anyone with a busy life who enjoys good food without effort. Packed with dishes that are both easy to prepare and easy to serve, this is a highly practical book full of recipes. Chapters include vegetable dishes, rice and pasta, pies, fish and shellfish, and poultry and game.”

index-3.aspxA Weekend with Degas by Rosabianca Skira-Venturi
“The nineteenth-century French artist talks about his life and work as if entertaining the reader for the weekend. Includes reproductions of the artist’s work and a list of museums where works are on display.”


index-1.aspxThe Lost Weekend (DVD) directed by Billy Wilder
“The heartrending Hollywood masterpiece about alcoholism, depicting a single weekend in the life of a writer, who cannot believe he’s addicted.”


These last two unfortunately are not currently found in WPL’s collection. But I have made requests that they someday will be. They sound intriguing.

Tthe_long_weekendhe Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan
“Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with a man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn’t know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive? This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night.”

the_lost_weekendThe Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson
“So powerful and understanding that many readers will find themselves riveted to their chairs until the end… A mystery story, a horror story and a revelation of the forces that can move a man; a journey into fear, into the abyss.”


Enjoy your weekend!
– Lyle

List: Books to read on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53AM

Saturday March 14, 2015 (at least for countries that are willing to write out dates in that order) is “perfect Pi day.” Why perfect? Because at 9:26:53 AM, the date and time match the number pi [π] to nine decimal places: 3.141592653.

Pi day is a day for two things: celebrating math, and eating pie. Why? Because both are awesome! Happy eating, fellow nerds!

[π] : A Biography Of The World’s Most Mysterious Number 

We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren’t told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present.


Pie : 300 Tried-and-true Recipes For Delicious Homemade Pie 

Pie is the most comprehensive and accessible book ever written on the subject of American pie. An instructive, anecdotal chapter walks home bakers through pastry making how to’s. Answers to questions home bakers want to know. The only resource a home baker needs.


Why Pi? 

This entertaining follow-up to DK’s popular Go Figure!, Why Pi? presents even more mind-bending ways to think about numbers. This time, author Johnny Ball focuses on how people have used numbers to measure things through the ages, from the ways the ancient Egyptians measured the pyramids to how modern scientists measure time and space.


Pie It Forward : Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, & Other Pastries Reinvented 

“It’s a conundrum I can’t understand. Someone’s hankering for pie; you can see the pie-longing in their eyes. They want a delicious flaky crust, something with buttery overtones. They want fresh fruit – not a vague whisper of berry in a butter cream, but overt chunks of apple, discernible bites of berry. But it’s just not done. You don’t serve pie at special events like fiftieth birthdays, dinner parties, silveranniversaries, or, God forbid, at a wedding. To which I reply, ‘Bullpuckies.'”


Alligator Pie 

Alligator pie, alligator pie, 
If I don’t get some I think I’m gonna die.
All the favourites you remember from your own childhood are recaptured in this collector’s edition: “Wiggle to the Laundromat,” “Bump on Your Thumb,” “Peter Rabbit,” “Psychapoo,” “Billy Batter” and all the wonderful poems you treasured as a child are here for your child to love, too.


The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes From The Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop 

This stunning collection features more than 60 delectable pie recipes organized by season, with unique and mouthwatering creations such as Salted Caramel Apple, Green Chili Chocolate, Black Currant Lemon Chiffon, and Salty Honey. With its new and creative recipes, this may not be you mother’s cookbook, but it’s sure to be one that every baker from novice to pro will turn to again and again.


The Pie And Pastry Bible 

The Pie and Pastry Bible is your magic wand for baking the pies, tarts, and pastries of your dreams — the definitive work by the country’s top baker. More than 300 recipes, 200 drawings of techniques and equipment, and 70 color pictures of finished pies, tarts, and pastries.


Sir Cumference And The Dragon Of Pi : A Math Adventure 

Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and Radius are back in their second Math Adventure! This time, a potion has changed Sir Cumference into a fire-breathing dragon. Can Radius change him back? Join Radius on his quest through the castle to solve a riddle that will reveal the cure. It lies in discovering the magic number that is the same for all circles.


175 Best Mini-pie Recipes : Sweet To Savory 

Mini pies are one of the most popular trends in baking, leading the way in the mini-dessert craze. Everyone loves these adorable, fun-sized desserts and savory morsels that are perfect whether on the go, hosting an elegant party or just snooping for after-school snack ideas.


Cinnamon, Spice & Warm Apple Pie : Comforting Baked Fruit Desserts For Chilly Days.

Nothing beats a home-baked fruit dessert served warm from the oven. Whether bubbling up with delicious juices, fragrant with spices, or encased in crisp buttery pastry, fruit desserts are comfort food at its very best.

Operation Tender Trap


Without Valentine’s Day, February would be …well, January.  Jim Gaffigan

Can you feel the temperature rising as the countdown to Valentine’s Day begins? As a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Love your mission is to show your partner and/or family how much you really care. With less than 2 weeks to prepare an ambush you need some ammunition for your love arsenal.

Did you know that preparing food for someone is a significant act of love? Why not cook up an intimate dinner for your dearly beloved(s)?

Showcase your talents by fashioning a festive setting. Candles, flowers and wine are the usual suspects but you need to sell your artistic side and create a “tablescape”.  Decide on a pink and red theme. Borrow vintage floral patterned plates or scout thrift stores for mismatchedto make the table setting less fussy and more fun.

Enlist your children, nieces and nephews (because it’s their special day too) and construct homemade hearts to scatter over the table. Find lots of ideas for making delightful cards, love tokens and more lovely things for friends and family in:


Valentine Things to Make and Do  




Proclaim your passion with a perfect menu that says “Je t’adore”. Consult some of the following cookbooks:


Valentine Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family



celebrate     Celebrate! by Sheila Lukins





Handmade  Gatherings by Ashley English




Set the mood and stock up your CD player with sexy standards from crooners such as Sinatra or modern troubadours like Buble.







Search Naxos music database for “Valentine Classics” or Hoopla for streaming music by hot new artist Sam Smith . Beware because this may lead to dancing, what George Bernard Shaw called the  “perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”

But can a heartwarming meal, bouquet of flowers or even a kiss convey the depth of your devotion? Cap it all off with the power of words and compose a sonnet dedicated to your heartthrob. Or recite a sure fire love poem from Love Poetry Out Loud 


Give in to the schmaltz. Resistance is futile.


Cookbook Love and Hate

gillmorIn their quest to explore the library’s vast cook book collection, The Taste Buds Cook Book Club held an open meeting at Fort Garry Library with special guest speaker Alison Gillmor. Alison tests recipes in her small but well used galley kitchen for her weekly Winnipeg Free Press column Recipe Swap.  She spoke from the perspective of an enthusiastic but (in her words) occasionally incompetent home cook on the topic of “Cookbook Love and Hate” and investigated what makes a really good cookbook and what separates flash-in-the-pan trends from tried and trusted cookbook classics.

While she rarely buys cook books her collection consists of inherited or gifted titles, some swag and some purchased from the sale bins at Home Sense. Due to a lack of space she ruthlessly culls on a regular basis. Books that do make the cut are well designed with glossy photographs because we “eat with our eyes first.”

Here are a few books that have earned a spot on Alison’s shelf:

feastFeast: Food That Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson

Gillmor is a fan of Nigella’s unctuous, sensuous, earthy approach which conveys her emotional connection with food. Lawson shares what is primal and timeless about feasting. “I am not someone who believes that life is sacred, but I know it is very precious,” she writes in the last chapter about funeral feasts which include comfort food like meatloaf and “heavenly potatoes” to remind the bereaved “that life goes on, that living is important.”

pedantIn The Pedant in the Kitchen Julian Barnes asks “Why should a word in a recipe be less important than a word in a novel?”  Annoyed by vagueness in trendy cookbooks, he wonders what is a “a wineglass full,”  “a glug,” “a drizzle,” “a knob”?  Barnes goes on to chastise a certain young English cook (ahem) for his woolly instructions and general bashing about in the kitchen. While not a cook book, it does give helpful kitchen hints along with witty food writing.

masteringAlison inherited Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child  from her mother and keeps it  for sentimental reasons. Other than “grown up, sophisticated” dishes like beef bourguignon, chocolate almond cake and coq au vin she rarely cooks from it. She fondly remembers her mother’s hostess book which chronicled menus and guest lists, a useful practice that should be revived.

bittmanHow to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is the “hip Joy of Cooking.” While not inspirational (there are no illustrations to make your mouth water) it is a reliable, trusted, go-to reference for making the perfect omelet or pot roast.


bitterBitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor by Jennifer McLagan investigates that complex, sophisticated and adult taste. McLagan has previously researched other misunderstood food groups like Odd Bits which explores nose-to tail cookery and Bones, a reaction to the boneless skinless chicken breast.

As for Alison’s own Recipe Swap column, some of the most asked for recipes include Belgian Bakery meat pies and tortes, Tea Cozy gingerbread, and Tec Voc  butter tarts. While not much of a gadget user, Alison does have a fondness for her ice cream maker, kitchen scale and cast iron frying pans.

In honor of the Queen of “12 Days of Christmas Cookies” the evening culminated with a tea party and sampling of the Taste Buds’ Christmas Cookies. But that is “food” for a future column!