The Southern Foodies Guide to the Pig
By Chris Chamberlin
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN#978-40616-0503-2 Ebook
527 pages

Back Cover: Chris Chamberlain, author of the popular The Southern Foodie Cookbook, takes you back to the South for a tour of the restaurants that make the best pig dishes.

When Ben Franklin lobbied his fellow founding fathers to consider the wild turkey as our young country’s national symbol, perhaps he should have considered the pig. Arguably the most democratic of all proteins, pork is welcome across the country from a gourmet pork belly dish on the menu of the toniest Charleston bistro to a whole hog roasting in a hole dug in the sand of a beach in LA (Lower Alabama).

Pork is also uniquely democratic in that it is a meat that is welcome at every meal. The old saw goes that when considering a breakfast of bacon and eggs, “the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.” While you may occasionally see a breakfast steak on the menu, the pig is the star of the morning meal. A thick-sliced smoked bologna purchased from a gas station deli in rural Tennessee is the perfect working man’s lunch, unless you consider the ultimate demonstration of the nose-to-tail versatility of the pig, a snoot sandwich made from a boiled hog’s nose slapped between two slices of white bread. Feel free not to consider that for too long…

The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig takes you on several journeys. An anatomic survey of the pig introduces readers to all the parts of this versatile animal and teaches procedures and recipes to prepare all sorts of wonderful dishes. A geographic tour of the Southern states will showcase restaurants in the region that have particular talents when it comes to pork. The chefs and pit masters have shared some of their most sacred secrets, the actual recipes for the best pork, barbecue and bacon dishes that emerge from their kitchens. Finally, since man cannot live by pig alone (unfortunately), there is also a selection of recipes that are great accompaniments to the pork dishes contributed by the fifty Southern restaurants that are featured.

So feel free to keep a copy of this book in your glove box to help you find the best place for an elegant meal in Atlanta or that hidden gem of a barbecue joint in Kentucky. Or get this book a little dirty in the kitchen as you take your own tour of the South’s best pork dishes while you plan your meals for the week. Either way you use it, it’s a journey well worth taking.

ABOUT AUTHOR: Chris Chamberlain is a food and drink writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has lived his entire life except for four years in California where he studied liberal arts at Stanford University and learned how to manipulate chopsticks. He is a regular writer for the Nashville Scene and their "Bites" food blog. He has also contributed to the Nashville City Paper, Nashville Lifestyles magazine, 2001 Edgehill and at

REVIEW: This is not your typical cookbook, it’s so much more. I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that had me look at a pig in a whole new way. 

The author states, “This book will take readers on several different journeys’. First an anatomic survey of the pig…will introduce readers to the individual parts of this versatile animal, and you’ll learn procedures and recipes to prepare all sorts of wonderful dishes (I found this interesting and very helpful)

 ….then a geographic tour of Southern states showcasing restaurants in the region that have particular talents when it comes to pork… the contributing Chef’s include world- championship competition barbecue pit Masters, other champions and some Chef's seen on TV…recipes in the cookbook range from down-home to upscale, simple to complex, demonstrating the myriad ways that the pig can contribute to the Southern kitchen but all of them have been scaled and edited to make them appropriate to try in your own home kitchen…There are recipe contributions from fifty southern restaurants ... and some from favorite chefs across the South.”

I liked the “Pig Tale” segments. They gave nuggets about pig history and the origin of popular phrases like, “Sweating like a pig,” “Pig in a poke” and several others. It was interesting to learn about the fifty restaurants and the dishes they are known for. The author shares a little bit about the restaurant's history and the Chef's, why it was chosen; their profile, address, website, etc. Also included is an insider tips segment giving pointers for when you do visit the restaurant. I like that the author included the page number of the recipes from the restaurant for easy reference.

I really enjoyed this book on a number of levels which include beautiful color pictures enhancing this journey through the Southern states and their use of the pig. The recipes are broken down into different segments. The first is Drinks; I want to try the Mint Ice tea, and Watermelon strawberry lemonade (there are many more) Then Breakfast, I wanted to first try the Bacon and potato Casserole and Country ham and red-eye gravy. In the Bread section; Sweet Potato biscuits with pecans, Bacon and Cheddar Biscuits and Bacon-crusted cornbread look good. Under Soups and Salads Bar-B-Q Brisket Chili, Brunswick stew look good. Sides there are the Pan-Fried Mac and Cheese with kale; Crescent Pie and Sausage company sound good. Entrees I want to try Gulf shrimp with Tasso cream sauce and old fashioned cornbread, Bacon meatballs and BLTA Bites and Loui’s Shrimp and Grits with bacon. Then last but not least Desserts; Bacon Peanut Butter cookies, Candied bacon and white chocolate coconut bread pudding, Sweet Tea Pie. There are so many great yummy sounding recipes to try in this amazing book. I can’t wait to dig into making the recipes I mentioned and the many I didn’t. You will too!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine


From NOW until the End of the year 2014 once we achieve 2,000 LIKES (and subsequent increments of 2,000 on our Book Fun Magazine FB page  
we will DONATE $100.00 to a needy family of your choice.

HELP us get the word out and make someone’s Christmas Bright.  LIKE our FB Page and SHARE this on your wall – (We have $500.00 committed to this effort – but we Need your help! PLEASE consider sharing this post today on FB and your blog!

THANKS for your Consideration and your HELP!


YOU ARE A BLESSING - Help us bless others!

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
 FB Pg  


 ABOUT AUTHOR: Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more at   

Author Amanda Cabot invites you to step into a place away from the pressures of the day. You might be surprised by what you find at Rainbow's End. 

You have mentioned to me that you love traveling. What was your most memorable trip? What made it special for you?

Without a doubt, it would be the trip my husband and I took to Australia to celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary.  Not only was this a special time in our lives, but I had the opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream of seeing kangaroos in the wild. 

Mother ‘roo and joey grazing on the golf course near the Barrier Reef.
We started the trip with a few days of relaxation on the Barrier Reef, recovering from jet lag and getting our first sight of roos.  As we snapped pictures of them on the golf course, one of the staff approached us, asking “What part of the States are you from?” 

We hadn't spoken to the man, so it wasn't our accent that betrayed us.  It was the fascination with what the locals considered nuisances.  They weren't nuisances to us.  They were a major attraction.  Not only did we see roos there and along the roadways, but when we were picnicking in one of the national parks, a couple kangaroos decided to share our lunch, poking their heads into the basket.  But kangaroos weren't Australia’s only appeal.  In addition, there were koalas, gorgeous scenery, delicious food and friendly people.  It was truly a trip of a lifetime.
A young koala doing what koalas do best – sleeping – in the Lone Pine Sanctuary near Brisbane.
In your travels have you learned something new about the history of our country. In all the research you've done about our country what did you uncover that surprised you? Fascinated you?

Before I took my first trip to the Texas Hill Country, I wanted to learn more about the places we’d be visiting.  Like most Americans, I knew the area had been settled by German immigrants.  What I didn't know was that there were Latin Settlements, towns where scholarly discussions – in Latin, of course – took precedence over farming and other life-sustaining activities.  As you might guess, those settlements didn't last too long.  It’s been years since that trip, but I’m still intrigued by the idea of those decidedly impractical scholars.  Who knows?  They may find their way into a book someday.

Which form of transportation do you like best when traveling Airplane, Car, Train?

There’s no question about this one: car.  While there are some limitations – it was obviously impossible to get to Australia in an automobile – there are many advantages.  For me, the major advantages include the flexibility of being able to leave whenever we want rather than being tied to an airline’s schedule and the ability to take detours when we find interesting things along the way.

Amongst all the places you've been is there a place you went to and thought, “This location is definitely going into one of my books – I can’t wait to share this with my readers?”

I’m so glad you asked that, Nora, because there was one place that resulted in not one but three books.  The first summer we lived in Cheyenne, my husband and I took a day trip to Fort Laramie.  I’d always been intrigued by stories of wagon trains and the pioneers who left everything behind to find a new life and couldn't wait to see the place that was a major milestone on all the journeys west.  Fort Laramie was so different from my mental picture!  There was no stockade with guard towers on the corners, no wooden buildings.  Instead, it reminded me of a New England town with houses around the center green.  And when I saw the pictures of officers’ wives in their fancy clothes and parasols walking along the sidewalks, I knew there were stories to tell.  The Westward Winds trilogy beginning with Summer of Promise was the result. 

OFFICERS' ROW at Fort Laramie

The white building (in the picture above - with the staircase is Old Bedlam, the bachelor officers’ housing, and one of the oldest buildings in Wyoming.  You can guess how the building received its nickname.
PARADE GROUND at Fort Laramie

The parade ground at Fort Laramie pictured above and the two-story building on the right in the foreground is the cavalry barracks.  The brown and white building on the right in the background is the sutler’s store, sometimes referred to as the post trader’s store.  No matter what it was called, it was an important stop for residents and travelers alike, the only place to buy provisions for many miles.

Can you give us a peek into what book you’re working on now? When will it be out?

I just finished the copy edits for In Firefly Valley, the second of the Texas Crossroads series, which will be released next May.  Although it can be read as a standalone book, readers who fell in love with Rainbow’s End, the dilapidated resort that’s at the center of At Bluebonnet Lake, will be happy to know that I've heard their requests to know what happens next.  In Firefly Valley continues the story of both Rainbow’s End and some of the characters they've grown to love through Bluebonnet.   Readers will have a chance to meet Marisa, a woman whose career has imploded, and Blake, a writer suffering from what feels like a terminal case of writer’s block, as well as learn what’s in store for Kate and Greg, Lauren and Fiona, Carmen and the rest of the Rainbow’s End crew. 

Do you have places on your bucket list you’d still like to go to? Please share some of those places and what you’d like to see there?

I’m a great fan of national parks.  (And, yes, the presence of Yellowstone is one of the reasons I moved to Wyoming.)  Although I've been fortunate to have been able to travel to many of them, Yosemite and Crater Lake are still on my ‘must visit’ list. 

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?

Trumpets.  There’s something so majestic about a trumpet fanfare. 

There are so many types of weather – which are your favorite? Which do you try to avoid?

Spring is my favorite season, so it’s probably no surprise that I like cool clear days, preferably with low humidity.  I try to avoid excessive heat and humidity, since they sap my energy.

Name two jobs that you've had that might surprise people?
My first job was the distinctly unglamorous job of a clerk at a Laundromat.  Although there were good things about it, including the variety of customers I met, cleaning washing machines and mopping floors was not my idea of fun, especially since I was expected to wear a dress to work.  My second job was feeding the animals in a biology lab during college.  Are you picturing mice, rabbits or even monkeys?  Wrong.  The animals were hydra, fresh-water animals less than half an inch long.  They ate brine shrimp, which I had to scoop out of a tank, wash and then ladle into the hydras’ tanks.

What is your favorite holiday? Why?

Easter.  Besides the joyous message of a risen Christ, when I was growing up, it was one of the best celebrations my family had.  The entire family would attend Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services.  After the solemnity of those days, it was pure joy to put on our Easter finery and attend an early morning service, then come home to a special breakfast followed by an Easter egg hunt.  In addition to Easter baskets with candy and small treats, we had the fun of searching for the candy eggs  my parents had hidden throughout the house the night before.  My father, in particular, was creative in his hiding places, putting eggs on window ledges, inside lampshades and behind knickknacks, resulting in a hunt that was fun for all four kids.  I still smile at the memory of those days.

What has been your favorite book club experience? What made it so much fun?
This is a difficult question to answer, because there have been a number of great book club experiences, but if I had to choose only one, it would be the day I met with the Novel Book Club in Eaton, CO.  Not only did I meet a great group of women who share my love for books and who contributed to a spirited discussion of Scattered Petals, but they provided what they called a salad lunch.  If the word ‘salad’ conjures images of nothing more than greens, I wish you could have been there.  We had everything from pasta, noodle and fruit salads to one made with popcorn.  Yes, popcorn!  And then there were the desserts.  It was such a fun day, enjoying good food and conversation with women who soon became friends.  Isn't that the essence of a good book club?
Nora: This does sound like fun! Wish I were there!

Thanks so much for stopping by and letting us get to know you better Ananda. Looking forward to you sharing pictures from your travels. I’m excited about your new book. TBCN is having a contest where readers can have a chance at winning a copy of AT BLUEBONNET LAKE. It started on November 20th and runs until the end of the month.

It’s FREE to JOIN – Must join to participate!!

 It’s easy.

Nora :o)
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! 



CLICK on this LINK to take you to 
The Book Club Network site 

CLICK LINK on the FRONT PAGE of TBCN to ENTER the Drawing. 
You must be a member to participate. It's FREE and EASY!!


Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! 


Bread Revolution
By Peter Reinhart
Published by Ten Speed Press
249 Pages

Back Cover: Renowned baking author and instructor Peter Reinhart has always been on the forefront of the bread movement—from his seminal work, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, to today. In Bread Revolution, he explores the cutting-edge developments in bread baking, with fifty recipes and formulas that use sprouted flours, whole and ancient grains, nut and seed flours, alternative flours (such as teff and grape skin), and allergy-friendly and gluten-free approaches.

A new generation of bakers and millers are developing innovative flours and baking techniques that are designed to extract the grain’s full flavor potential—what Reinhart calls “the baker’s mission.” In this lushly photographed primer, Reinhart draws inspiration from these groundbreaking methods to create master recipes and formulas any home baker can follow, including Sprouted Sandwich Rye Bread, Gluten-Free Many-Seed Toasting Bread, and Sprouted Wheat Croissants.

In many instances, such as with sprouted flours, preferment’s aren’t necessary because so much of the flavor development occurs during the sprouting phase. For grains that benefit from soakers, bias, and sourdough starters, Reinhart provides the precise guidance that has made him such a trusted expert in the field.

Advanced bakers will relish Reinhart’s inventive techniques and exacting scientific explanations, while beginning bakers will rejoice in his demystification of ingredients and methods—and all will come away thrilled by bread’s new frontier.

REVIEW:  I love bread! I was thrilled to receive a review copy of a book that took me on the journey of the bread revolution. It was fascinating to read. I had never given any of this a thought. The question was asked the author, “Is Bread Dead?” It seemed that way when the Atkin and South Beach diets were all the rage. The author said the bread industry took a big hit but exciting things came about. He says, “There are a lot of theories about diet, wheat, grains, and carbohydrates floating around, and not surprisingly, they all seem plausible. And like it or not, bread is getting the blame for a lot of ills.”

I was relieved to read this from a professional bread makers’ perspective. All these different theories are mind boggling to me; this author is a renounced baker, author and instructor, who has always been on the forefront of the bread movement. In this book he explores “….cutting edge developments in bread baking. He has 50 recipes and formulas that use sprouted flours, whole and ancient grains, nuts, and seed flours. He’s also the author of many books one of which is The Joy of Gluten Free and Sugar Free baking.”
This author answers the question, Is Bread Dead? He says, “There is an opportunity here. It’s time to focus on whole grain breads and make them as good as the Artisan loaves. This is the future….Now we are in the middle of the gluten-free movement.” Bread baking and flours are taking another morphing development. The author goes on to say, “The frontier at hand is sprouted grain flour …”” He explains how this flour came about; the process in which it is created and its benefits. It was very interesting.

I had never heard of sprouted flour before. I found it at Sprouts grocery store. I bought a 5 pound bag of whole wheat sprouted flour; it cost $10.00. I made the Sprouted Wheat Pancakes and Banana Quick Bread. My family really liked both. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and the fact the flour was light. When I’ve used whole wheat flour in the past I had to mix in another flour to lighten up the dish. It had a really good taste and I didn’t feel like it was weighing heavy in my stomach. My family felt the same way.

I liked reading the section that had answers to 25 most asked questions about making bread; they ranged from “what’s the best way to scoop flour so that a cup is likely to match the listed weight?” To “Can sprouted, gluten-free flours made from grains be substituted for nut and seed flours in these recipes?”

This author goes through tools needed to make the breads in this book and a glossary of words uses in the book. He says, “I’ve listed important terms in the glossary because these terms have a number of definitions’ or have been used in other books in different ways, the following definitions clarify how the terms are used in the book.” I found this helpful.

I loved the color photos of the bread through the whole book but what I especially enjoyed were the step by step photos they had of techniques and methods he was explaining to readers about working with dough and starters.

This book expects that you’ve worked with dough before but it’s not so advanced the average person couldn’t read the book, look at the pictures and get up to speed. (It will take practice but it’s doable) If you are a bread lover like me you will enjoy reading about bread and making it!

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine


Fred St Laurent Speaking, "We are trying to focus our branding for the magazine and if you have a moment, are a friend of mine and Nora's please drop in and support the new Book Fun Magazine Facebook page We plan on offering contests and coupons here that we will not be doing anywhere else! 




We have 476 books to assign, a pound of Abundant Life 
 Coffee to give away, 10 Christmas DVD prizes to award 
from Destiny Image and a wonderful T-Shirt from our 
newest sponsor Royal Kingdom Clothes!

Do not miss this event!!!! 

Go To at 8p.m. 

You must Join to participate (It's FREE and EASY).

It's a "LIVE" CHAT and crazy fun. We have so much to 




Nora :o)

TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network Blog
Book Fun Magazine 


The Butterfly and the Violin
By Kristen Cambron
Published by Thomas Nelson
336 Pages

Back Cover: Sera James spends most of her time arranging auctions for the art world’s elite clientele. When her search to uncover an original portrait of an unknown Holocaust victim leads her to William Hanover III, they learn that this painting is much more than it seems.
Vienna, 1942. Adele Von Bron has always known what was expected of her. As a prodigy of Vienna’s vast musical heritage, this concert violinist intends to carry on her family's tradition and play with the Vienna Philharmonic. But when the Nazis learn that she helped smuggle Jews out of the city, Adele is taken from her promising future and thrust into the horrifying world of Auschwitz.

The veil of innocence is lifted to expose a shuddering presence of evil, and Adele realizes that her God-given gift is her only advantage; she must play. Becoming a member of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz, she fights for survival. Adele’s barbed-wire walls begin to kill her hope as the months drag into nearly two years in the camp. With surprising courage against the backdrop of murder and despair, Adele finally confronts a question that has been tugging at her heart: Even in the midst of evil, can she find hope in worshipping God with her gift?

As Sera and William learn more about the subject of the mysterious portrait Adele they are reminded that whatever horrors one might face, God’s faithfulness never falters.

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that introduced me to Kristy Cambron and her moving and brilliant debut novel. This book has two engaging story lines seamlessly interwoven creating a powerful read. I sure wish my history books in school were as riveting as this novel; I might have done better on my tests. This story and it's characters are unforgettable.

The story opens with Sera James owner of a Manhattan art gallery. She is obsessed with finding an original Holocaust Era painting of a girl Sera had seen as a child in Paris. Sera and her assistant have been searching diligently for two years and have finally come across a lead. Sera says to Peggy, “Let me get this straight, we found a painting by chance, but it’s not the original. And though it happens to be an image of our long-lost girl, it’s not for sale. The owner won’t take money for it?” Sera James asks her assistant to connect her with William Hanover, CEO of the family company. William flies Sera out to California to discuss the painting. Once she’s there a family member tells Sera, “There’s only one thing standing between my family and our inheritance, and that something is the painting…. You just happen to be searching for the painting whose owner is set to inherit the entire hundred million dollar Hanover estate.” 

William wants to pay Sera a finder’s fee for her help in locating the painting their family desperately wants to locate. William and Sera have more in common then they realize. Sparks start to fly as they begin their research but both hesitant to make any moves in the romance area until their mission’s accomplished. I liked how William and Sera would uncover information and/or events leading them closer to the painting; then the author would show the reader the event played out in the past through Adele’s young eyes. It was powerful.

History happens to individuals everyone in the concentration camp has a story. This was Adele Von Bron’s story of how her and Valdimir Nicolai helped Jews escape to freedom. It’s also a story of how they were captured and sent to a camp. Both of these young people met at the Philharmonic; Adel played the violin and Valdimir the cello. They were both drafted to use their talents in the Orchestra in Auschwitz-Birk in 1943.

The mystery William and Sera tried to uncover was why Adel was in the camp in the first place. She was Austria’s sweetheart and shouldn't have been there. Another mystery was William’s grandfather, Edward Hanover and why he had a copy of this Holocaust Era painting. He had never been in a camp.

The characters past and present jumped off the pages and into my heart. I was captivated by young Adele and Valdmire’s heroic love story.  I was surprised just as they were at how quickly life changed for these young ones. I liked how the author blended both stories and how the mystery was solved. It connected the dots for everyone involved in a unique way. This novel shows how hope can sprout up in the most unexpected places (like in the middle of a concentration camp) and how it can thrive in darkness given a chance.

This story showed me how using the gifts we've been given by God can be hard at times but must be used as an act of worship for our spirits to survive and thrive. The enemy has no place in our heart when we worship the one who created us and is the lover of our soul. 

Omara Kraus was the mother figure and mentor for the girls in the Orchestra. She helped the ladies survive life's challenges one day at a time. She told the girls and especially Adele that "the only thing we could do in this evil place is give our worship to God." She told Adele, “Beauty can rise above evil.” 

Omara gave the girls and Adele this scripture to give them hope; something to hang on to, Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” 

Adele thought about her mentor and how she helped her to face unbearable situations. Adele would stand tall and honor God with her gift. "For the first time in her life Adele felt beautiful in her weakness…feeling God’s strength uplifting her from all sides.”

This author captured the essence of this very thing happening in the middle of the unimaginable. Reading about that moment touched the core of my being! It’s a book I won’t soon forget. I was first drawn in by the beautiful cover and then quickly hooked by the powerful story and it's characters. It’s the first book in the Hidden Masterpiece series, the next book in this series A Sparrow in Terezin will be released April 2015. I’m looking forward to reading the next book by Kristin who has just made it to my favorite author list. She'll be on your list too!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network
Book Fun Magazine


My Perfect Pantry
By Geoffrey Zakarian
Published by: Clarkson Poter
304 Pages HB

Back Cover: Chef, restaurateur, and Food Network Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian knows that the pantry is the backbone of any kitchen and the place from which every great meal starts.

Forget exotic condiments and specialty foods. With a working base of 50 readily available ingredients, from oats and honey to almonds and canned chickpeas, you will always have the makings of a delicious home-cooked meal. Whether cooking in his world-class restaurants, onIron Chef, or judging the offerings on Chopped, Geoffrey knows every great meal starts with a trip to the pantry first for inspiration. In My Perfect Pantry, Geoffrey shows you how to use your pantry to jump-start any meal. When you bring home your fresh produce and proteins, you’ll have 150 recipes at the ready, and many of these can be made with pantry ingredients alone.

You’ll see a simple can of beans as a Smoky Black Bean Bisque or coconut milk as Spicy Coconut Tempura Shrimp. Standard back-of-the-cupboard fare like almonds become crispy crust on a broiled pork chop; peanut butter lends itself beautifully to a spicy slaw, cider vinegar gives great flavor to a chicken main as well as to donuts, and mustard transforms a a pot roast. Throughout, you’ll find quick but ingenious tips for each of the 50 ingredients, like how to use Earl Grey teabags to infuse ice cubes or a syrup for French toast

REVIEW: I’m thankful for the review copy of a book that allowed me to peek into how Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian sets up his kitchen. Here is what he says about pantries, “The pantry is the backbone of a kitchen-the place on which every meal hinges. Serving as the tireless workhorse that supports the creation of all dishes. And the unsung hero that allows fresh seasonal ingredients to sing; the pantry has a very specific character, size and even scent in each and every home. No two are alike. But no matter, each pantry is the starting block for any meal. And all starting blocks need a solid foundation.”

The Chef suggests stocking up on specific essential spices in small quantities and replacing them at least once a year; to keeping things fresh. He first lists nineteen essential spices in alphabetical order, starting with Allspice. I liked that they included a two page color spread of all the spices he mentions pictured in small containers with the names of the spices bolded underneath the container. I found this helpful to see what the ingredients looked.

The Chef then goes on to list fifty basic essential items everyone should have in their pantry. They too are listed in alphabetical order starting with Almonds and ending with yeast. Chef Zakarian tells about the item first one is  Almonds – where it comes from, how they are sold in the store listing the different forms you might encounter (he did the same with the spices). Tips on storing and other helpful tips. Then there are three very different recipes that have almonds in them. They are 1. Almond-crusted pork chops with apples 2. Grilled Salmon with Almonds Tarragon Romesco 3. Chocolate Almond Bark. Ingredient number 42 is Tea – Earl Gray 1. Earl Grey Iced Tea with Iced tea cubes 2. French Toast with Earl Grey Syrup 3. Bomboloni with Earl Grey Cream. (there are so many creative and fun dishes inside this book there are three for each item mentioned).

I really like how this cookbook is set up. I love the fact that each ingredient listed has three recipes and a color picture of the finished product. I also appreciated that the three dishes are all pictured – it’s visually appealing to have them all together - then he goes on to the next essential ingredient and recipes. I like how he gives each ingredient and recipes their time to shine.

This reminded me of the show chopped where they have the Chef’s open a basket to reveal all the ingredients inside – then they have to be creative with the ingredients in thirty minutes. I feel with this book I might have a chance to create an amazing meal with each ingredient Chef Zakerian lists and do it at my leisure – not under the pressure of 30 minutes. I feel with this book I can begin to think outside the basket; and use every day ingredients in fresh and creative ways my whole family will love.

Chef Zakarian goes on to say, “I find that having a well-stocked, well-cared-for pantry makes all the difference in the end result. I have a saying, “I would rather be looking at it then for it.” …you don’t need a large pantry to have success in the kitchen…I have a strong belief in the basics. I like natural ingredients prepared in ways that enhance their inherent flavors…I don’t keep an overly stocked refrigerator and freezer, and I try to get to the grocery a few times a week for anything fresh…you can definitely cook without a refrigerator, but it is nearly impossible to create a meal worth eating without a pantry.”

I can’t wait to try ALL 150 recipes. They have easy to find ingredients, the recipes are eye appealing and the instructions are easy to follow with not a lot of steps.  My husband looked over this book (since we both like to watch Chef Geoffery Zakarian in the cooking channel) and said that he wants to make (not just try) several of these recipes (a win win for both of us). This book is a keeper! I’m excited about the cooking and eating fun my family will have in the months to come! This books a keeper and one I’ll be referring to often.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine


The kitchn cookbook
By Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand
Published by: Clarkson Potter
304 Pages HB

ABOUT AUTHORS: SARA KATE GILLINGHAM is a food writer based in New York City. She is the founding editor of Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn, an award-winning cooking website and online community, which began in 2005. She is also the author of two cookbooks, Good Food to Share and The Greyston Bakery Cookbook.

FAITH DURAND is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of Bakeless Sweets and Not Your Mother's Casseroles. An avid home cook, gardener, and lover of dinner parties, she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband.

ABOUT BOOK: From Apartment Therapy's cooking site, The Kitchn, comes 150 recipes and a cooking school with 50 essential lessons, as well as a guide to organizing your kitchen--plus storage tips, tool reviews, inspiration from real kitchens, maintenance suggestions, 200 photographs, and much more. WITH 18 RECIPES EXCLUSIVE TO THE EBOOK EDITION.

 “There is no question that the kitchen is the most important room of the home,” say Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand of the beloved cooking site and blog, The Kitchn.

The Kitchn offers two books in one: a trove of techniques and recipes, plus a comprehensive guide to organizing your kitchen so that it’s one of your favorite places to be.

REVIEW: This is not your typical cookbook. Yes, it has great yummy recipes inside but it gives you so much more. I’m thankful for a review copy of a book that felt like I was hanging out with an old friend. Let me explain. I grew up in an Italian home where the preparation of food was a family affair. The kitchen was the heart of our home. I have great memories of my whole family cooking together to create amazing meals. This book helps me recreate that memory for my family today.

In the beginning of this book there are several kitchen styles pictured. They discuss how to change, organize and renovate a kitchen. Each family pictured discusses what they were looking for in a kitchen. Some brought a house with the kitchen of their dreams included and others renovated the one they had. It was fun to see the end results; each revealing the heart of their home.

One author states, “First, let’s be clear: You will never be done setting up and caring for your kitchen. This is good news, because the unavoidable nature of kitchens is that they cannot stay pristine and perfect, and there will always be an endless need to add to and edit their contents. The other good news is that there is great joy in creating a kitchen over time, adjusting and revising it to the inevitable changes life will bring.”

I loved the questions these authors asked readers to help them in designing the dream kitchen to fit the needs of their family. The questions are designed to help you create a practical, functional kitchen their whole family would enjoy.

Other sections in this book include “Setting up your kitchen for the way you really cook – 10 Smart storage solutions for any kitchen – Budget kitchen renovation – Flour shining kitchen: 5 ways to grow food in any space – Tools – our most loved kitchen tools. – How to choose good cookware. Then there is a chapter on caring for your kitchen.

Under this section the authors say, “The importance of keeping the kitchen clean and organized, not just for hygienic reasons, but also because this is the room that nourishes you and provides vitality…your kitchen is clean, organized and beautiful now. Here’s how to cook well.”

I like what they also said, “In order to cook well, give up on perfection…nothing we cook will look exactly the same as a picture in a magazine or taste the way our friends dish did. Even a familiar recipe will not offer the same results from one time to the next time you make it.”

I loved to hear this. It gave me hope. There was also a section on meal planning I felt helpful called, “15 Simple ways to help yourself cook more often.”

I enjoyed all the colorful pictures throughout the book. They are beautiful and helpful. In the cooking school section they had step by step pictures. I’m a visual learner and was thankful for the pictures in the section titled, “The Kitchen cooking school – 50 essential skills.” The rest of this book is devoted to recipes. Many of which I’ve seen and wanted to make but didn’t know the name of the dish and/or how to go about creating it.

The authors state ,… “The collection of recipes will get you cooking any meal of the day, any time of the year. After all, we see recipes as road maps to a sure fire dish, gentle suggestions of something to cook and everything in between. One simple recipe will serve all levels of cooks… “ the categories are broken down into morning meals, appetizers, drinks, main dishes, one-bowl meals, sides, salads and desserts.

To my great surprise the last section of the book was called Gatherings. The authors state, “The elements of a good gathering; setting the table, decorating the table, setting the mood for company, how to work with different diet needs of guests, potlucks and buffets for large gatherings.”

This was very useful information to help create an atmosphere of fun, with friends and good food. In the back there is a helpful resource section that lists places to get cooking supplies, ingredients and includes favorite websites for foods.

This was a beautiful hardback book that had so much inside to help you create not only great food but help the reader make the heart of your home healthy for your family inside and out. I love to bake. With the weather cooling I decided to make the dessert dishes. My family and I enjoyed classic chewy brownies, perfected chocolate chip cookies, chunky chocolate cherry oatmeal cookies, and lofty buttermilk pancakes. The instructions were simple to follow with easy to find ingredients. Some of these recipes took longer to make than I’m used to doing because the ingredients needed to rise and/or be in the refrigerator overnight. It took longer but I found it was well worth the wait.

This book would make a great gift. It was fun to read. It was encouraging on many levels. I can’t wait to dig into making more yummy recipes and dream about my beautiful someday kitchen! This book is a keeper.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins
The Book Club Network Blog

Book Fun Magazine

A MADEA CHRISTMAS Movie NOVEMBER 25 on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD

Check out the Trailer it look like more MADEA FUN AHEAD!! 
Just in time for CHRISTMAS!

I'll be posting my review of this movie very soon!

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas –

The Movie Also Available November 25

November 25, laugh out loud with Madea as Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas – The Movie arrives on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital), Digital HD and Video on Demand. This uplifting comedy-drama aims to remind us about the importance of faith and family as we gear up for the holiday season.

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas – The Movie will not only inspire viewers, but have them laughing for hours. In Tyler Perry’s first Christmas-themed film, from a play of the same name, grandma Mabel "Madea" Simmons (played by Perry) gets coaxed into helping a friend pay her daughter a surprise visit in the country for Christmas, but the biggest surprise is what they’ll find when they arrive. As the small, rural town prepares for its annual Christmas carnival, new secrets are revealed and old relationships are tested while Madea dishes her own unique brand of Christmas spirit to all.
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas – The Movie is packed with valuable life lessons, touching on themes like compassion and forgiveness.  The Blu-ray and DVD, including a first look at Tyler Perry’s first-ever animated feature, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Tough Love, and a hilarious behind-the-scenes featurette, will be available for the suggested retail price of $39.99 and $29.95, respectively.
Tyler Perry is an established American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, playwright, and author.  Born into poverty and raised in a household scarred by abuse, Tyler fought from a young age to find the strength, faith and perseverance that would later form the foundations of his work.  Tyler started his career writing plays, many of which later became the inspiration for his film projects and included the introduction of the now-legendary Madea character, played by Tyler himself.  Tyler’s first feature film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, debuted at number one nationwide in 2005. His ensuing films, Madea's Family Reunion, Daddy's Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married?, Meet The Browns, The Family That Preys, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, Why Did I Get Married Too?, For Colored Girls, Madea's Big, Happy Family, Good Deeds and Madea's Witness Protection have all been met with massive commercial success, delighting audiences across America and around the world.   He also starred in the Rob Cohen directed Alex Cross, helped release Academy Award-nominated Precious, and has a role opposite Ben Affleck in David Fincher’s forthcoming film, Gone Girl.  Tyler has also made his mark in the television space, with the TBS series House of Payne and Meet the Browns, in addition to his collaborations with Oprah Winfrey on her cable network, OWN.  Tyler was most recently seen in his 34th Street Film’s production, which he also directed, Single Mom’s Club. A new show for OWN entitled If Loving You Is Wrong, based on the film, will premiere later in the year.

Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, digital distribution, new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. Lionsgate currently has over 30 television shows on more than 20 networks spanning its primetime production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as the multiple Emmy Award-winning Mad Men and Nurse Jackie, the comedy Anger Management, the network series Nashville, the syndication success The Wendy Williams Show and the critically-acclaimed hit series Orange is the New Black

Year of Production: 2013
Title Copyright: Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas © 2013 Very Perry Films. All Rights Reserved. Artwork & Supplementary Materials © 2014 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved​.
Type: Theatrical Release
Rating: PG-13 for sexual references, crude humor and language
Genre: Comedy
Blu-ray Closed Captioned: English SDH
DVD Closed Captioned: English
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Feature Run Time: 100 minutes
Blu-ray Format: 1080P High Definition 16x9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
DVD Format:  16x9 Widescreen (1.78:1)
Blu-ray Audio Status: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

This looks like a fun Christmas movie!! I can't wait to see it!

Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
The Book Club Network blog
Book Fun Magazine