Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Our October/November Pick: The Patriarch by Martin Walker

Our next Cook the Books Club pick, for October/November, is The Patriarch by Martin Walker. Martin Walker has written an engaging series of mysteries, all of which are international best-sellers.  Set in the Dordogne region of France, he manages to enfold political and social issues, with romance, fine wines from the area and enticing food, to create a reading delight.  I have been enjoying his books for a few years now, and wanted to share at least one with Cook the Books,especially for all their culinary appeal.

The Patriarch is one of his best and a more recent addition to the oeuvre.  Benoit Courreges, known popularly as Bruno, is Walker's charming protagonist.  The Chief of Police in the small French town, St. Denis, he is a true Renaissance man: gourmet cook, wine enthusiast, a gardener, including his orchard of truffle oaks, a hunter and forager, able to produce his own jams, confits, pâtés, sausages, ham, etc.  All that and he manages to solve the area's crime, settle domestic disputes, ride his horse with lovely ladies and more.  What a guy! I find him quite inspiring.

In this novel, Marco Desaix is known as "The Patriarch", an iconic hero of the French Resistance, fulfills a boyhood dream of Bruno's, inviting him to a lavish birthday celebration being held in his honor.  Of course there is a murder connected with the event, which has political overtones, intrigue, mysterious parentage and inheritances.  Then there is the animal rights activism going on, with outraged hunters and pâté producers.  Politics on a local French level.  

Submissions for this round of Cook The Books are due by end-of-the day Thursday, November 30, 2017. Anyone can join in - just by reading the current selection, preparing a dish inspired by its contents, and writing about it. Let me know when your entry post is up by commenting on this post and/or sending me an email at: claudiariley@yahoo.com. 
New to Cook the Books? Welcome! Check out our About and Guidelines pages or leave a question in the comments on this post 


Farmer Boy: The (Delicious) Roundup!

What fun it was reading all of the Cook the Books posts for our August/September selection, Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (The announcement post is here) For some it was a reread of a childhood classic and for others, it was the first time--but everyone who joined in found some delicious inspiration.

Here are the mouth-watering submissions for Farmer Boy. Like Almanzo, we definitely loved our apples this round! Each post links back to the individual blog and to the Farmer Boy inspired dish, so if you haven't had a chance to see all of the entries, please stop by the posts to see each person's thoughts on the book and more about their recipes.

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla said, "I certainly don't remember there being so much food in these books. But Almanzo was constantly hungry. And his mother was constantly feeding him! "It takes a great deal to feed a growing boy," Mother said." Camilla made Sweet Mellow Baked Beans with bacon, coffee and molasses, saying, "the dish that inspired me was baked beans. Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth..." 

Terri of Our Good Life said, "When I learned that we would be reading and cooking from Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was so excited. I literally have read this book hundreds of times. Although many might say this is their least favorite of the Little House books, it is most definitely my favorite.  ... Terri found her inspiration in the Wilder siblings making ice cream in the ice house and made her modern version of Dairy Free Homemade Ice Cream.

Claudia of Honey From Rock enjoyed reading the book saying, "Talk about going back to the land.  We have come so far from that sort of life. Refreshing to read about." Claudia found plenty of inspiration, "So many good things were mentioned, among which was Bird's Nest Pudding, something I'd never heard of, even though it is an old time American dish. Also called Crow's Nest Pudding, it featured in an early White House cookbook, as well as the Little House Cookbook, and was served variously with sweetened cream, a tart sauce or maple sugar." 

Debra of Eliot's Eats said. "I was amazed (amazed, I tell you) as to the amount of food in the book. It seems like Almanzo’s memories and recollections (from which his wife based this novel) always revolved around food." Debra found her inspiration in one of Almanzo's favorites, "Almanzo said that what he liked most in the world was fried apples ’n’ onions." About her own Apples 'n' Onions, Debra said, "This was a very delectable dish, in between a savory side and a dessert. In fact, The Hubs had two servings for dinner. I am now thinking of a onion-apple pie and  a Thanksgiving dish with a bit of bacon. Wouldn’t that be crazy delicious?"


Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm listened to the audio book for her reread saying, "I listened to this book way back in July, while floating in the pool with my sister in law, Mary. She enjoyed the book as much as I and we would turn it off and discuss different aspects of the story as they came up." Wendy was inspired by the description of Almanzo's mother's Apple Turnovers. She said, "Tender spiced apples enfolded in a flaky, golden crust made for perfect little turnovers that I'm sure Almanzo would be drooling over."

Lynda of Reviews, Chews & How-Tos found that "There is certainly no shortage of food inspiration in Farmer Boy! It is basically an homage to abundant food (and hard work, and the joys of farming - but mostly food and vast quantities of it)." Lynda found inspiration in Almanzo's favorite Apples 'n' Onions, and made it part of a tasty dinner saying, "For our table, I served it along with Pork Tenderloin (they would have had pork, although I don't know that tenderloin was a cut used at the time - chops or a small roast would also work here), and I added potatoes to the saute, mainly because I had a few potatoes that needed to be used."


This was a first time read of the book and author for Simona of Briciole, "It was an interesting read, giving me a glimpse into some of the literature people my age were exposed to during their childhood and a view into rural life and related activities in an age and place quite removed from mine." Simona found inspiration for her Apple Tart in the book's message of not wasting food, in apples and in pie saying "Almanzo likes all pies. I have nice memories of the first apple pie I tasted, during my first stay in the UK, homemade by my landlady with apples from her garden. Being Italian, my preference goes to crostata, the traditional Italian tart."

Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures found Farmer Boy "in addition to being a wonderful book to share with my kids (I loved the Little house book when I was little), it is also packed full of foodie inspiration – and so so much of it revolves around apples! I love it!" Amy made Apple-Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal saying, "In the book, Almanzo’s mother often serves apples (I still want to try my hand at Bird’s Nest Pudding) and oatmeal every day at breakfast for her hard-working family. So I made this healthy baked oatmeal (with a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce if you please) that would be sure to hold over even hard-working farm children!"

Finally at Kahakai Kitchen, I too jumped onto the apple bushel and took inspiration from the fruit, as well as all of the jams and preserves Almanzo's family put up (and really, I was just too lazy to make a pie!), making a really yummy Caramel-Apple Jam. I served the jam on fresh sourdough bread, spread with good butter, along with slices of Tillamook cheddar cheese. It was like the illusion of eating apple pie and cheese like Almanzo--but without having to bake. ;-) I really enjoyed rereading Farmer Boy (especially doing it with my CTB friends) and confirming just how much delicious food was in it.

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this round! I believe that I have included all of the submissions that I received by email or by comments on the announcement post, but if I missed anyone--please do let me know. 

If you love food, books, and foodie books, please do join us for October/November when we will be The Patriarch by Martin Walker, a France-set foodie mystery, hosted by Claudia of Honey From Rock.


Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Our August / September 2017 Pick: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Coming off of a spate of foodie memoirs, it's my pleasure to kick off our grouping of foodie fiction books, with Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, our Cook the Books August/September 2017 selection. 

Like many children growing up in the United States, the Little House on the Prairie books were a big part of my childhood. They were favorites of my mom, who loved pioneer stories and she read them to and with us over the years. The television series first came on when I was in elementary school and it stayed on the air into my high school years--so I definitely grew up with the stories and the characters. 

When I was younger, I was not that interested in the character of Almanzo Wilder--much preferring the stories with Laura as a young girl and life with the Ingalls family and so Farmer Boy is the book I am least familiar with out of the nine books in the series.  A few months ago I was exchanging foodie book recommendations with friends on a favorite book site and someone brought up Farmer Boy and what a great foodie book it was. That sentiment was shared by a few different people and I decided I needed to reread this children's classic and the surest way to make it happen was to select it as my Cook the Books pick. 

Farmer Boy is the second book of the Little House series and was first published in 1933. It is the only book that does not focus on the childhood and life of Laura Ingalls and instead focuses on the childhood of her future husband, Almanzo Wilder. Set in the 1860s in upstate New York, before Laura Ingalls was even born, it begins just before Almanzo's ninth birthday and details life on the Wilder family's farm. Almanzo is pretty much constantly hungry and apparently quite the foodie, so I think we'll have a lot of fun exploring the food and recipes of America in the 1860s as we step back into childhood with this selection. I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

Submissions for this round of Cook The Books are due by end-of-the day Saturday, September 30, 2017. Anyone can join in the fun by reading the current selection, preparing a dish inspired by its contents, and writing about it. Let me know when your entry post is up by commenting on this post and/or sending me an email at: debinhawaii@gmail.com. 
New to Cook the Books? Welcome! Check out our About and Guidelines pages or leave a question in the comments on this post 



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: the Roundup

It's time for the roundup of Cook the Books' Club June-July 2017 edition for which we read the novel Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von Bremzen.

For each contribution (given in order of publication), I will give you the official information (author, blog name and post title) and a brief quote from it — a teaser that will entice you to follow the link and read the details of how the reading inspired the activity in the  kitchen.

Now, please, make yourself comfortable, then follow me on a literary / culinary journey to the other side of the world.

"I actually felt this was three distinct books - one about her family, one about her and her food, and one about Russian history - and they didn't mesh very well in my mind... But I did like her writing style... I was inspired to make a meal out of it. So, on my way home from the courthouse, I stopped at the market to pick up what I needed for two different dishes. I was intrigued by the Salat Olivier she shared because I have never put apples and fresh cucumber in a potato salad before... Very popular in Caucasus region, there are slight variations [of Chanakhi] from Azerbaijan to Georgia. And though this dish is traditionally baked and served in individual clay pots, I cooked it in a Dutch oven."

"Perhaps it was the narrator, perhaps it was the writing.  Probably it was a bit of both.  Once the storyline started dealing with Anya and her life, her feelings, her impressions... it got much better. The best thing about this audible memoir was the pdf file of recipes that were included... Anya's version [of Borshch] contains meat, kidney beans and apples none of which I have ever had in a Borscht before.  This is more of a stew actually than the soupy Borscht of which I was familiar.  I have to say that it was absolutely delicious and I can see why Nataliya missed it so badly.  This is much more work than the other beet soups I have made and worth every moment of it." 

Simona of briciole (your host) prepared Mushroom and Egg Salad

"Von Bremzen describes her and her family's life in the context of the political changes in Russia, the Soviet Union, then Russia again. Her style of writing is engaging — with the right balance of humor and seriousness. The food she describes is intriguing: even when we don't feel like we want to taste it, the emotional context comes alive in her words... Towards the end of the book, she talks about writing Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook ... I had already put that book in my wish list, after browsing it in search of the recipe for a Russian dish. At this point, I was ready to get it."

"In the book, the author strives to meld a history lesson, memoir, and food into a seamless, touching story. Instead, the book read like a dry textbook, followed by a memoir with too many people to keep track of... However, I did get my foodie inspiration in the form of Borscht, which is mentioned several times as a warm winter meal and once as a light, chilled summer meal... I made my recipe for chilled borscht and served it hot for dinner (oh my gosh amazing!), then I served the leftovers chilled the next day for lunch (meh). Yeah, the amazing soup was not quite as amazing served chilled.  I nibbled the cucumber pieces out of my bowl, then stuck it in the microwave.  Much better!"

Terri of Our Good Life made Salat Olivier

"I can't say I loved the book, I kept losing the story of interest to me in the deluge of Russian history as seen by the author as a child, teen and grown up. What I did love, however, was the role that food, or the lack of it, played in her life. What I loved about the book was the apparent deep connection that the author has with her mother and how they developed their relationship over food. This resonates with me, as I am often asking my mom to share recipes from my childhood with me... It was an easy choice for me to choose this dish.  First, my maiden name is Oliver and our family loves my mom's potato salad.  It has a similar base of potatoes, boiled eggs and mayo." 

"My sister and I both read this book.  She loved it and thought it was hilarious. I wanted to love it and think it was hilarious. Although I enjoyed the book and am glad it was a CTB feature, I felt like I was reading more of a history book than a memoir of 'food and longing'... As her story becomes her own and she and her mother emigrate to the US, I became more responsive.  I even thought her description of her early childhood in the USSR as a bit witty, ironically enough... I could have done borscht or madeleines  or gefilte fish or a number of the other recipes mentioned in the book. But instead… drum roll, please… you know I made a cocktail."

Evelyne of Culture Eatz made some Ukrainian Cheese-Filled Crepes (Nalysnyky)

"Anya weaves in her memoirs with family tales starting pretty much after the fall of the royal family to modern history. She covers family stories dating back a few generations all the way to her immigration to the US. But the book is super heavily dosed with historical facts, more like a scholarly book. Since I had a personal interest, I just devoured all the information... Nalysnyky are thin Ukrainian golden crips crepes rolled up with a cheese filling that can be either sweet or savory. This savory version is made with a few snippets of fresh dill. Once the crepes are rolled up, they are cut into three sections and layered in a dish before a quick baked stint in the oven. And don’t forget to lubricate each layer with a healthy dose of butter."

"The book was a bit tough to get through with all the Russian words and especially its references to obscure public figures. But the stories about her family and experiences were fascinating, especially her adventures in the kitchen with her mother. She recounts in Chapter Six that the 60’s were remembered by Russians for one of the worst crop failures of an era... People spat at piles of canned corn, saying 'all corn and no bread'... Quite a difference from my annual obsession with fresh corn picked that day at my favorite farmstead. Whenever I go to one of our neighborhood summer gatherings, I make sure to bring my Indian corn pudding casserole... It feeds a crowd and in fact is an easy dish to make dish that can be baked in advance and reheated."

"The book picked up its pace for the second half and I enjoyed it much more, through to the end--which included a recipe for each decade. I think foodies who are also history buffs, will enjoy Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking the most. Since I am not that familiar with Russian food and culture as compared to other countries, I'm glad we read the book and I walked away learning a lot--always a bonus... Traditionally, Okroshka is made with kvass, a rye-based fermented drink that is obscure here in America but yogurt or kefir, which is very easy to find nowadays, are great substitutions to add that fermented tang to this soup."

Claudia of Honey from Rock prepared Salat Olivier

"Anya held a secret fixation with Lenin, despite her mother's anti-Soviet hatred of all he stood for. However as a child she considered herself a 'Mature Socialist'. That whole story is the funniest bit in her memoir.  At the age of 9-10 years old, a 'proper black marketeer' she is bartering bits of Juicy Fruit gum and M&M's for money, services and favors, and eating at a nice restaurant from her proceeds, instead of attending a 'silly ballet' class... There was so much I would like to try as far as food...  What I did settle on was the Soviet-style Potato Salad, Salat Olivier.  Though just substituting our own breadfruit - very potato-like, for the potatoes, celery instead of cucumber, and added some radish. Also left out the apple, as that was not traditional anyway, but an addition by Anya's mother." 

A great Thank you! to everyone who joined in this edition of Cook the Books.

I believe all the submissions I have received are presented in the roundup. However, mishaps are part of life, so if you find anything missing or in need of amendment anywhere in the roundup, please do let me know.

And now, I’ll turn things over to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen who will host the August-September edition in which we will read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Arrivederci a presto!

Simona, of Briciole

Friday, June 30, 2017

Announcement: Our Next Four Selections

The last round of Cook the Books found us in a memoir-palooza (Stir, Dinner with Edward, Life from Scratch and Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking). 

This round has us going back in time a bit and incorporating a few history lessons perhaps along the way.  Our next four selections include a novel set in the time of Cortés in The New World, a cherished remembrance from Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a historical novel of ancient Rome. We've thrown in a mystery set in the French countryside for good measure.  

Deb (Kahakai Kitchen) is sparking a lot of memories for some of us, I'm sure, with her pick of Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder have been read and beloved by children and adults for decades. Published from 1932 to 1943, the nine Little House books were based on the author’s life growing up as a pioneer from childhood through adulthood and they spawned the popular television series that ran from the mid 70s through the early 80s.
Farmer Boy is the second book of the series and was published in 1933. It’s the story of Laura’s husband Almanzo Wilder, who grew up on a farm in upstate New York, far from the little house Laura grew up in. I was inspired to pick it for my round because of an online discussion of foodie books where someone mentioned how much food was in it. I didn’t remember the food being so prominent, so I decided to read it again and thought it would be great to do it in the company of my Cook the Books friends. Since Cook the Books began in the fall of 2008, we have only read two children’s books--The Little White Horse in 2009 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2012, so I think it’s time to go back to our childhoods for this classic book.

Whether you are reading Farmer Boy for the first time, or revisiting it with your foodie goggles on, I hope you join us for a fun round. 

Deadline for this selection is Saturday, September 30, 2017.

Claudia's (Honey from Rock) pick for October/November is The Patriarch by Martin Walker. Martin Walker has written an engaging series of mysteries set in the Dordogne region of France, into which he manages to fold political and social issues, with romance, fine wines from the area and enticing food, all are international best-sellers.  I have been enjoying his books for a few years now, and wanted to share at least one with Cook the Books, for all the fabulous food and wine included.
The Patriarch is one of his best and a more recent addition to the oeuvre. Benoit Courreges, known popularly as Bruno, is Walker's charming protagonist.  Chief of Police in the small French town of St. Denis, he is a true Renaissance man, gourmet cook, wine enthusiast, gardener, including his orchard of truffle oaks, a hunter and forager, able to produce his own jams, confits, pâté, sausages, ham, etc.  All that and solve the area's crime, settle domestic disputes, ride his horse with lovely ladies and more.  What a guy! I find him quite inspiring.

In this novel, Marco Desaix is known as "The Patriarch", an iconic hero of the French Resistance, fulfills a boyhood dream of Bruno's, inviting him to a lavish birthday celebration being held in his honor.  Of course there is a murder connected with the event, which has political overtones, intrigue, mysterious parentage and inheritances.  Then there is the animal rights activism going on, with outraged hunters and pâté producers.  Politics on a local French level.  

Deadline for contributing your post is Thursday, November 30, 2017.

Debra (Eliot's Eats) chose The Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King for December/January.  Set in ancient Rome, the plot revolves around Thrasius, a slave that is coveted by many masters because of his culinary prowess.   This is a tale of intrigue, power, and obsession as Thrasius' master, Apicius, is determined to become the culinary adviser for Caesar.   He sees his new slave as the key to his success.   (Apicius is a historical figure that lived during the First Century AD.  He was known as a gourmand and epicurean.)
I read the first two chapters as a sample on my Kindle and was hooked.  I ordered the entire book right away.  For an interesting discussion of this book and ancient Rome, you might want to listen to "What Did Ancient Romans Eat? New Novel Serves Up Meals and Intrigue" (The Salt, April 28, 2017).  

The deadline for Feast of Sorrow is January 31, 2018.

Simona (bricriole) is hosting The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie.  Fans of the fascinating Sidney Chambers know Runcie as the author of six volumes of stories featuring the Vicar of Grantchester (who then becomes Archdeacon). The Discovery of Chocolate (2001) is the first novel published by the British author, who started his career as screenwriter, director and producer.
In this historical novel, love sets young Diego on a journey to the New World with the conquistador Cortés. In Mexico, Diego discovers the delights of chocolate, which was then a beverage. Drinking chocolate has a "funny" effect on Diego, which allows the novel to span not only continents but also centuries.

On his website, the author says a few words about the novel's genesis:  
I had originally planned to write a series of short stories, one for each century, connected by chocolate but with different characters and different moments in time. But then I thought that they might be able to have the same narrator, a character who travelled through history, and across all the stories...
It would be a novel about the need for readiness, and for acceptance. It would be about the need for calm, and the ability to look death in the face without fear...
So these became my basic ingredients. Life and death, love and chocolate.

If this morsel tempts you, grab your favorite chocolate bar or truffle and join us for this edition of our virtual book club, which will span the months of February and March 2018.

Deadline for contributing your post: Saturday, March 31, 2018.

Remember that membership is open to anyone and we hope you join us by reading these selections and creating inspired recipes.  For more information about participating, click here.  

As always, specific announcement posts can be found at Cook the Books as the year marches on.

To recap:

August/September:   Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen)

October/November:  The Patriarch by Martin Walker (hosted by Claudia at Honey from Rock)

December/January:  The Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King (hosted by Debra at Eliot's Eats)

February/March:  The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie (hosted by Simona at bricriole)

Happy reading!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Our June/July Cook the Books Pick: Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

Winner of three James Beard awards, a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure magazine and the author of five acclaimed cookbooks, Anya Von Bremzen grew up in a communal Moscow apartment where eighteen families shared one kitchen. Then, she and her mother fled Brezhnev-era Russia and arrived in Philadelphia. There, they missed the celebration of food that was taken for granted in America. 

"Mom and I both grew up within a triumphalist, scarlet-blazed fairy tale of socialist abundance and glorious harvests. Our experiences, though, featured no happy kitchens enveloped in an idyllic haze of vanilla, no kindly matriarchs setting golden holiday roasts on the table. Tea cakes rich in bourgeois butter? I do have such a memory ... It's of Mom reading Proust aloud in our Khrushchevian slum; me utterly bored by the Frenchman's sensory reveries but besotted with the idea of the real, edible cookie. What did it taste like, that exotic capitalist madeleine? I desperately wanted to know."

"It was my mother, my frequent coconspirator in the kitchen and my conduit to our past, who suggested the means to convey this epic disjunction, this unruly collision of collectivist myths and personal anti-myths. We would reconstruct every decade of Soviet history — from the prequel 1910s to the postscript present day — through the prism of food. Together, we'd embark on a yearlong journey unlike any other: eating and cooking our way through decade after decade of Soviet life, using her kitchen and dining room as a time machine and an incubator of memories. Memories of wartime rationing cards and grotesque shared kitchens in communal apartments. Of Lenin's bloody grain requisitioning and Stalin's table manners. Of Khrushchev's kitchen debates and Gorbachev's disastrous antialcohol policies. Of food as the focal point of our everyday lives, and — despite all the deprivations and shortages — of compulsive hospitality and poignant, improbable feasts.”

In Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food & Longing Von Bremzen tells a fascinating story of life and foods interspersed with historical references that come from within a composite, complex country going through monumental political and social changes in a relatively short period of time. 


Deadline: Monday July 31, 2017

Remember that anyone can participate in Cook the Books, simply pick up a copy of the selections from your local bookstore or library, take inspiration from said reading, cook and post an inspired dish. We look forward to having you read and cook along with us in 2017. New participants are always welcomed with open arms! (Leave a comment here or check out our Guidelines page if you have any questions.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Life from Scratch Round Up

It was a pleasure for me to host this round of Cook the Books with Life from Scratch  by Sasha Martin.  You see, Martin is a local writer (hailing out of Tulsa, Oklahoma), she's a food blogger (Global Table Adventures), and I got to personally meet her and write with her at a food writing symposium (Pen, Paper & Fork).   I was in awe.

I do have to say that it was difficult for me to forgive Martin's mother with all the life experiences she threw at her daughter, but after meeting the author and understanding her road to forgiveness and acceptance, I have a new appreciation for Life from Scratch.   

The reviews were mixed from the CTB membership with quite a few disliking the mother or expecting a food-blogger-adventure story.   Globally though, we all took inspiration and cooked from the following countries:  Argentina, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Georgia (the country, not the US state), Italy, Sri Lanka, and Zambia.  There were two posts inspired from Martin's own roast chicken recipe as well.  

Since Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm was the first to post up, I will start in reverse alphabetical order.  Here is Wendy's Ifisashi Zambian Peanut Stew. (Wendy took her recipe from  "a Lenten handout from CRS... and knew it was perfect for this memoir about cooking around the globe.")
Wendy enjoyed Life from Scratch:
I loved Sasha's story of the flawed mother that she loved unceasingly.  Of her struggles trying to adapt and accept her "new family". Of her tragic losses in life and finally of her discovering her self-worth with the assistance of a good man, the demands of motherhood and the solace of the kitchen.
CTB co-host, Deb from Kahakai Kitchen, got her post in under the wire.  I am so glad she was able to post up her delicious White Dal Curry from Sri Lanka.  (Deb found this recipe on Martin's blog.)
Deb mentions she had a hard time with the first half of the book because of the depressing subject matter.  "Martin's writing won me over in the end, and the later part of the book as she finds her place in the adult world and begins cooking her way through the recipes of the world was more enjoyable--even as she worked through her fear of abandonment and other issues of her childhood."  

If we can say anything about Martin's mother, I think we can say that she did the best she could with what she had.  Obviously, she tried to feed her children as well as she could with as much food culture as she could manage.   Delaware Girl Eats recreated Martin's mother's recipe for Torta di Riso (or rice cakes).
I love that Cathleen used mini bundt pans for her rice cakes.   She presents this dish by writing:  
This is a simple dish prepared by the author’s mother and grandmother, both practical and economical as it uses readily available ingredients. Author Sasha said that she found the recipe for grandma's torta di riso, carefully penned in blue, green and purple ink.  Her mother's handwriting was neat, legible and determined.  It inspired her I think.
Culinary Adventures with Camilla was already familar with Martin and her blog.  In fact Global Table Adventures was the catalyst for Camilla and her own family starting Culinary Adventures.  Camilla and her kitchen elves whipped up Khachapuri , a cheese bread from the country of Georgia.  Her family likes this dish on a heavily herbed dough and topped with an egg.
Camilla was also struck by the forgiveness theme and writes, " I think, for Sasha, forgiveness is more about acceptance."  She does recommend the book to others though.
There were times when the memoir was tough to read, difficult in its rawness. Sasha cracks open her life and the reader's heart is wrenched right along with hers. But it's also a wonderful story. I hope you'll read it.
Claudia, another CTB co-host from Honey from Rock, was a bit annoyed by the mother as well:  "one would have thought that a woman with 'Mom's' independence of mind, and spirited personality would have tucked her kids into their car, with all essentials and split for the West Coast or somewhere in between, rather than give up her precious children."  Claudia chose to focus on Martin's time in France and whipped up some Mango Crepes.  
Despite her displeasure with Martin's mother, Claudia writes:  
All that aside, and two thirds of the book in, we come to a point of, "Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,"  I loved the whole concept of  her Global Table Adventures, cooking right through the countries of the world, alphabetically.    I would like to give that a try myself, maybe take the remainder of my life, certainly no rush if you're not planning a book from it.
Next up, let's travel to Denmark for (wait for it) Danish!  And, welcome to a new member with Reviews, Chews & How-tos.  Lynda creates a recipe from her own mother's archives:  Almond Pastries.  

I thought Lynda was spot-on with her summation of this book:
At times, this memoir was very painful to read, but I appreciated  the ambivalence that didn't attempt to make her mother's choices sound better than they were, or to write her off as merely the villain of the story. Others in her life are also depicted fairly - the pain they caused is described, but through her words, those that might be offered compassion are granted it.
Bulgaria is our next stop with Evelyne at Cultureatz.  She made a batch of Kompot, a drink that is "common in most of the Central and Eastern European countries, as well Central Asia. And no, it has nothing to do with apple compote (a.k.a applesauce). In fact kompot is something you drink! It is a sweet beverage that can be served hot or cold."

Evelyne was excited about this book and the international food blogging experience which is right up her alley.  She points out, however, that "the writing process of the author took her down a very emotional path resulting from her less the typical family nucleus upbringing. But honestly the book was way more about her therapeutic process then about recipes from around the world. As a matter of fact only 13% of the book is really dedicated to her world cooking blog project. "

A good roast chicken recipe is evident in most cultures and Amy's Cooking Adventures recreated Orange and Herbed Roasted Chicken, a dish that Martin makes for her future husband.
Amy concisely and perfectly sums up the book's theme:  
Her past eventually brought her on a mission to cook across the world from a-z and chronicle her adventures on her blog.  It’s an amazing story of perseverance in many ways, from overcoming the struggles of her childhood to the huge cooking a-z project she undertook (with an infant, no less!)
Fellow CTB co-host, Simona from briciole, was also inspired by Martin's roast chicken recipe.  She whipped up her take on the recipe (using herbs from her own garden and Meyer lemons instead of oranges) and then combined the chicken with fresh asparagus to create Roasted Chicken, Asparagus and Avocado Salad.

Although the writing didn't shine for Simona, I am glad she treated us to this inspired salad.
The recipe I am sharing is the result of a combination of events: I had leftovers asparagus, besides leftovers from the roast chicken described above and I was by myself. The result was so good that I made the salad again the following day, grateful that the chicken had been large enough to provide me leftovers for another salad.
Of course, even as the host of this round, I was almost the absolute last to post.   Since we are still on our healthy eating kick, I went with a salad-like dish, an Argentinian recipe from the book.  Martin based her recipe on Chef Francis Mallmann's.  Here is my take on Roasted Acorn Squash Salad with Arugla and Chèvre.  

Martin had me on the first page with her T.S. Eliot quote from "The Little Gidding,"  Since forgiveness was the connection for most of us (or the lack of forgiveness), I will end this round with another bit of Eliot wisdom.
After such knowledge, what forgiveness? ("Gerontion"---T.S.Eliot)

Thanks for everyone who participated and thank you for the globally inspired recipes.

Cook the Books will complete this grouping of books with yet another memoir.  Simona at briciole is hosting the June/July selection, Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya Von Bremzen.