Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion… A Review

Want a fun, light-hearted read with a good dose of sweetness? A romantic comedy with quirky memorable characters? The Rosie Project by Gaeme Simsion is just that and more! I devoured it in a couple of days and enjoyed every minute of it and wanted more (and I'll get more because there's a sequel coming out!).

Don Tillman is a professor of genetics and is looking for a wife. The problem is that conventional dating is not working very well. Don has some peculiarities that make him seem a bit eccentric. He has difficulty in social situations, has a schedule that he must adhere to (down to the minute!), and has a hard time with expressing his emotions. Don suffers from an undiagnosed case of Aspergers. But when he devises a rigid questionnaire to meet the woman of his dreams, Rosie comes along and turns Don's world upside down.

Rosie is everything not acceptable on the questionnaire! (she smokes, she drinks and a zillion other things as well... except maybe her BMI does measure up). But when Rosie needs a geneticist to help find her biological father, Don becomes her knight in shining armor… and eventually someone realizes that the questionnaire may not be the best way to find a mate.

Great characters, a heart-warming story, and wonderful writing! A quirky love story ready to melt the most jaded reader. A Charming tale of true love! My recommendation…. READ IT!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Sunday Salon and Sunday Cooking with… Down South by Donald Link (A Review and RECIPE!)

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's that one day of the week we talk BOOKS! And today I want to share a wonderful cookbook! Way back when I was growing up, Sunday's use to be family and food. A big Sunday dinner with family and friends to share the hours with. Things are a bit different now, but I still think of Sunday as a day for cooking, and what better way to spend it virtually then with our heads in a cookbook! Not only am I sharing the cookbook, BUT a great recipe the publisher gave me permission to share. A recipe I tried out to see just how good these recipes were. At the very bottom of today's post, you can see some of the photos from the "cooking journey"...

OMG, talk about gorgeous covers and that's not where it stops! Absolutely beautiful food photography all throughout the book AND mouth watering, easy to follow recipes to boot!

When I first picked up Down South by Donald Link and Paula Disbrowne, it was love at first sight. The cover was gorgeous, the book itself had a nice heft to it and of course, the recipes were something my Southern boy at home was going to enjoy- " a collection of remembrances and recipes meant to make you hungry, make you laugh, and convey what it's like to be both a chef and an eater in today's South."

Down South starts out with "Drinks", such as a Chuck Berry made with fresh blueberries and Prosecco, or an Antiguan Julep made with rum and Simple Syrup (also included as a recipe). Then we move on to "Cocktail Parties", with appetizers that are tempting just reading about them. There's Parmesan Bacon Gougeres, Crab Louis with Toast Points, and Shrimp Remoulade, which can be either an appetizer or a light meal (this is the recipe we made to give this cookbook a tryout and did it pass with flying colors!! psst… I'm going to share this recipe with Ya'll!) And we cannot forget about the Spicy Roasted Peanuts! It's a take on the spicy boiled peanuts you'll find everywhere down South, and if you've never had them, you need to drive there to have some!

Then we move to the main courses… "Cook it Outside", grilling and some smoking, with recipes such as Chicken Chivito Sandwich with Ham and Olive Spread, made with boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, and smoked ham or Grilled Chicken with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce. "Roast, Braise, Simmer and Fry" with recipes including Smothered Chicken, Tupelo Honey-Glazed Ham and Guinea Hen Gumbo. "Heads, Feet, Necks and Bones" with recipes for how to make your own Breakfast Sausage, Pork Rillons, and Beef Short Rib Sugo. "Seafood from the Gulf and South Atlantic", including recipes for New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp, and Crisp Fried Frog Legs.

We wrap up the cookbook tour with… "Fresh, Seasonal Southern Sides", including Smoked Ham and Rice Salad, Ham Hocks and Crowder Peas, and Cajun Macaroni Salad. And of course desserts, or "Southern-Style Sweets" including Salted Caramel Peanut Brittle Ice Cream, Spiced Apple Pecan Bread and Banana Pudding with Moonshine Whipped Cream.

Each chapter has an introduction to the particular types of recipes and the foods involved, and the story behind them. There's a little tidbit or "introduction" to each recipe too, talking about its origins, a cooking tip on preparation or buying, or how it's related to Southern cooking. It's another reason why this is so much more than your average cookbook. Down South is packed with Southern Charm. It's good food, a good story and rooted in great tradition. It's an oversized cookbook with large enough print to read the recipes with ease. AND the recipes are easy to follow with fully explained directions. Nothing too hard here, with ingredients that should be easy to find too. Want to see for yourself?! Follow this link to read the FIRST CHAPTER!

Now, I like to try out a recipe before making my "final judgement" on a cookbook I'm reviewing, and for that purpose I chose Shrimp Remoulade. I love shrimp and I love trying new sauces and this recipe filled both bills. Shrimp Remoulade is a cold dish. It's in the "Cocktail Parties" section, but it also states in the recipe it can be a light meal as well. How many times have you just eaten shrimp for dinner?! I was game and so was my Southern boy. Courtesy of  the Publisher, Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, I have permission to share the recipe with YOU! Here it is (with my photo)…

*Shrimp Remoulade 
(serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer or light meal)                                            1 Cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon cayenne
10 bay leaves
2 lemons sliced
2 pounds medium-large shrimp in the shell
1 cup Sauce Remoulade (recipe follows)
1/2 head iceberg lettuce thinly sliced                                                      

Combine the salt, cayenne, bay leaves and lemon slices in a large pot with 1 gallon of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp are bright pink and just cooked through, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Immediately pour 2 gallons of ice into the pot and allow the shrimp to cool completely in the poaching liquid. (this should take 5 to 10 minutes) Peel.

Toss the peeled shrimp with the sauce and serve over the lettuce.

*Sauce Remoulade
(makes 1 1/2 cups)

You'll need only a portion of this recipe for 2 pounds of shrimp. The remainder will keep in the fridge for two to three days, and will make a quick mean when tossed with more shrimp or crab, or slathered on a fried fish sandwich.

1/2 cup grated yellow onion
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or chervil
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Use a rubber spatula to combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

*Recipe Reprinted from Down South. Copyright (c) 2014 by Donald Link. Photographs copyright (c) 2014 by Chris Granger. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Since we were making this just for the 2 of us, I tweaked the recipe a little. I made it with only 1 pound of shrimp, and we halved the recipe for the sauce, and had plenty left to enjoy on other food. We also used super hot "fresh" cayenne pepper from the natural foods store, which may or may not have added extra heat to this dish.

Now let me tell you about the flavor… It was delicious! The shrimp absorbed all this wonderful flavor from the poach, and even as you bit into the shrimp, which were cooked perfectly at 3 minutes, and had the wonderful "hot flavored" creamy remoulade sauce on top, you could tell the shrimp had a heat all their own.

My final verdict… A+! If you enjoy cooking, like Southern food, or want to try some Southern cooking, this would be a great cookbook to have. Easy flavorful dishes that will satisfy all your tastebuds! There's something for everyone here. A Big Thank you to Blogging for Books for sending along this cookbook for me to review!

Here are some random photos from our cooking journey with Shrimp Remoulade...

The Final Dish…And it was YUMMY!

*FTC disclaimer… I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest              review.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Sunday Salon and Addicted Reading...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! This is the time of the week we all get together virtually to talk about what we love - Books and reading! This week I've had my head in a book and had to tear myself away to do my "chores", but now that I'm almost done (with the book, not the chores) I'm trying to slow down because I am going to hate to come to the end of this tale… Am I addicted?!

We've all been there… a book that just grabs a hold of you and won't let go. Sometimes it's a book that you've been anticipating, book #2 or the next in a sequel, or sometimes it's a book that is totally not what you expected or better than you expected. There is nothing more satisfying than starting a book reluctantly only to find yourself all wrapped up and having to remind yourself to breathe… and this week I was totally wrapped up in a book that isn't my normal reading, though I do love historicals, and took me to unfamiliar terrain that I just lost myself in. The sites, the sounds, the smells, the way the people lived, the honor among men, all of it swept me up before I realized it and I was hooked.

The setting for the book is the Normandy Conquest. English, Normans, Welsh, Vikings and the like all battling for the English land they all want to claim for their own. The book? The Splintered Kingdom by James Aitcheson, a book I got an email from the publisher about reviewing, and after reading a 60 page sampling of the first book, jumped at the chance to read it.

I haven't quite finished it, but the writing is wonderful. The characters are so well rounded and the landscape is so easy to visualize. Before I read the sample I was a bit apprehensive because Knights, war, and 11th century England are not what I normally would call fun, (mostly the war part not being fun) but this book and this series is terrific! Every free moment I've got my head in this book! I'm addicted...

The great part about this book, besides being able to read it courtesy of the publisher, is that next month James Aitcheson is going on a Virtual Tour and making a stop here!!! I'll be "officially"reviewing The Splintered Kingdom AND HAVING A GIVEAWAY!!! Yes, I have a beautiful hardcover copy of The Splintered Kingdom and another copy of the first book in the series Sworn Sword to giveaway to one lucky Chick with Books reader! All the fun starts Sept.4th! Mark your calendar! But in the meantime…

Let me know what books you have been addicted to lately! Any books surprise you when they swept you away?

Happy reading… Suzanne

FSB Media Book Blogger Directory
my read shelf:
Suzanne's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
First To Read
Reviews Published
Professional Reader
Challenge Participant