Posts Tagged ‘Cookbook’

copyright 2013 heather santos

So excited to share with my dear readers about the community cookbook that the local food bloggers put together!  Right about now the press machines are getting primed to crank out hundreds of copies of our beautiful collaboration.

Addie Broyles is the mastermind behind this project.  There is something about a real book, a tangible chronicle that will become a foodie time capsule, which is lacking from the on-line food love affair we all share.  Addie had a vision and asked the other Austin food bloggers (dare I say writers?) to join her in this huge undertaking.  I loved the idea and jumped in, a bit over zealously too, Addie had to remind me she was only asking for two recipes in the first round.  I was madly entering anything I’d ever scribbled down in my kitchen notebook hoping one shred of it would end up in the book.

I still don’t know for sure what made the cut, but at least one recipe did.  Wouldn’t you like to find out what it was?  Don’t you want to see what a bunch of volunteers can pull together on short notice?  Well, I’ll give you that chance.  I’m giving away one copy of the book to one lucky reader.  The best part is that I’m willing to mail this cookbook anywhere! Hurry, contest closes April 30th!


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This might sound strange to the average go-abouter, I read cook books.

What else would you do with a book?  Eat it?

Well, no, not exactly.  What I mean to say is… I read cookbooks like they were a novel.  Most have chapters dividing the courses or main ingredient, just as a novel strings you along the story with each passing chapter.  The clash of characters occurs when you come across a recipe that just doesn’t make sense and is not appetizing at all (every cookbook has at least one of these, you can’t please everybody!).  The happy ever after comes with the dessert you fall in love with and won’t live without for the remainder of your days standing in a kitchen.

There are two designated spaces for my small, but growing, collection of cookbooks.  The kitchen shelf and my bedside drawer. 

5 Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson -- amazon.com

It occurred to me last night while thumbing through Claire Robinson‘s book that what I’m doing is probably not normal.  How many people climb into bed, get all cozy and warm, then quietly slip a cook book from its hidden resting place and proceed to read recipes while trying to contain drool. Not to mention late night hunger monsters hiding under the bed who heard the crack of a binding belonging to my culinary tome of the week.

I’ve even used my nocturnal habit as a teachable moment for Big Brother.  He asked me what I was doing and I shared my cookbook, Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat, with him.  This book is an oddity among the glossy illustrated cookbooks I have.   If you haven’t watched Nigella on television you might not understand the tone of this book.  Nigella writes her recipes closer to conversations you would have with her, rather than precise mechanical instructions for meal preparation.  The lack of images will perhaps let your mind see the outcome of the dish instead of being lead to believe your poussin should look as it is represented by the book.  There are several recipes designed for the single diner, which sould be easily extrapolated for larger parties.  Her section for children’s meals were especially of interest to me, being a mom of two little ones.  You won’t find many hot dogs or PB&J sammies in here!

How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food by Nigella Lawson -- amazon.com

Meanwhile, Big Brother amazed me with his word recognition skills…





and on he went, reading the words to me and smiling after each one.  My heart skipped along with the pronunciation of each syllable.  Would he share my passion for food when he grows up?

Do they have cookbooks at the city library? I later pondered.  That could get around my lack of cash flow for frivolous expenditures such as yet another cookbook.  There are so many cultures in the world and I want to learn about them through the food they eat, prepare, and share. 

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

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Claire Robinson, Food Network Chef, is introduced by Central Market at the Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival included a cooking tent hosted by Central Market, this was the setting of Claire Robinson‘s presentation.

Claire showed the audience how to prepare a roast chicken with fennel and onions, as well as a flourless chocolate cake (I will try this for Sierra’s birthday party!).  Her style is informative and laid back at the same time.  A warm energy surrounds Claire.

Her family once lived in Dallas and Houston, this festival was her first visit to Texas since those childhood days.  Claire lovingly commented that Texas is hot and everything really is bigger here!

She lives in New York with her dog, Newman, who shares her tiny kitchen akin to the size Julia Child used to write Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She started out on Food Network as production staff for Michael Chiarello.  There was also a time that she was working with Martha Stewart and had a whisk thrown at her.  Claire survived to go on to host her own show, 5 Ingredient Fix.  The first few seasons of 5 Ingredient Fix were shot in a friend’s kitchen. Her friend received some upgraded appliances and she continued shooting there until the current season (5) where a set has been built for her show.

Claire Robinson in Austin Texas

Chef Claire Robinson explains how to roast a chicken

One of her favorite restaurants in NYC is Ippudo (Japanese noodles).
Claire is planning to run a marathon in the spring, she has already completed a half-marathon. It’s no wonder she can stay that petite!

Yours truely and Claire Robinson

Having the opportunity to meet Claire was the highlight of the whole weekend.  She is very friendly and encouraging.  Thank you Claire for visiting Austin!

MORE: Paula Deen at the 2011 Texas Book Festival

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I caught a nugget of a story on NPR this week that Alton Brown was coming to the Texas Book Festival this weekend, as soon as I got home I headed online.  I was going to meet him, and had to start setting the plan in motion to make it happen.

With two kids, going to an event, such as a book signing, seems completely out of the realm of possible.  I called my friend to babysit, no answer, I left a message hoping she would be free Saturday.  My mother-in-law is a school teacher, and avid reader, so naturally I thought she would want to attend the festival.  The day before the festival she sent me a reply…  definitely interested

The book signing was hosted at Central Market (all Austinite foodies have shopped there, I would gander often even) by Barnes & Noble, the sponsor for the event.  We arrived 45 minutes prior to Alton’s presentation to find a very long and rapidly growing line of other adoring fans.

We finally saw the start of the line!

There was a volunteer relaying the questions and answers down the line, my hubby called it an “1847 loud-speaker”.  They should have set up speakers outside so that those of us fortunate enough to stand and wait over an hour could reap some benefit.  Apparently, there were free tickets sold two weeks prior.  I had no clue!  There was nothing at Barnes & Noble (I was there about that time buying hubby his birthday present).  Where was I supposed to be looking for these “tickets”?  Many of the other fans stuck outside with us shared the same questions and frustrations.  The event volunteers did bring free bottles of water, which helped a bit.  If this event were held at the festival, there would be a tent with speakers so that those of us in the back could perhaps listen to what the almighty Alton had to say. 

The volunteers managed to propagate a few hints of the Q&A: Alton’s favorite episode is Oatmeal: Part 2 aired recently, the next book will be a children’s book because his daughter likes Harry Potter, the next possible show on Food Network will be about hunting, and something about brains.  When asked what show we should watch, Alton responded re-runs, then his DVDs, then read the books and turn off the TV.  I would have asked, who is your favorite Iron Chef and why, who or what inspires you, if you cook for your daughter what does she prefer you make for her?  If only I had a magical ticket.

My little trooper

The kids were surprisingly well-behaved, I was thankful to have everyone tagging along to help out.  Baby Sister was passed around to keep her occupied.  Big Brother was treated to a pop from a restaurant along the side lines.  After waiting for over an hour, all of the guests with small children were escorted inside the building to the front of the line.  Thank you!  Whose ever idea that was, thank you very much!  Consequently, once moments away from meeting Alton in person, Baby Sister goes squirrely and Big Brother is turning up his annoyance level.  How do they know this is the coolest day in a long time for mommy?  Happiness radar comes with every well equipped child, that’s how.  We managed to keep everyone preoccupied long enough.

Walk the Baby

Push Big Brother

We reached the front of the line.  I start freaking out.  OMG, that’s Alton… What do I say?  Do I smell bad? 

Made it to the front of the line!

All I could get out was, it’s so nice to meet you!  Alton replied, it’s nice to meet you too.  Of all the books I’ve signed, Heather is the only name that you can only spell one way. 

Alton Brown

Alton was very nice, I’m sure by the time we met him he was getting a little tired.  I blacked out mentally and can’t tell you what else we exchanged.  My hubby told him that we love watching the shows.  I think Grandma got a word in too, just don’t ask which one. 

I left on cloud oatmeal, signed book in hand.

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