The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

Title:  The Kitchen Counter Cooking School – How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

Author:  Kathleen Flinn

Genre:  Cooking; Memoir

Published:  September 2011 – Viking

About: (back of arc) After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, writer Kathleen Flinn returned with no idea what to do next, until one day at a supermarket she watched a woman loading her cart with ultra processed foods. Flinn’s “chefternal” instinct kicked in: she persuaded the stranger to reload with fresh foods, offering her simple recipes for healthy, easy meals.

Inspired, Flinn rounded up nine novices from varying backgrounds who were insecure about their cooking skills. After kitchen “makeovers” and a series of basic cooking lessons where they learned to wield knives, trust their taste, and improve their food choices, the women found a common missing ingredient – confidence.

My take:  I wish I’d had this book when my kids were young. I think I would have made more informed choices instead of opting for convenience. My food choices have been better over the years but there’s still room for improvement. This book is going on my kitchen bookshelf for quick reference. I’m also going to search out a knife skills class in my area. That seems to be the one aspect that all nine students valued most. It gave them confidence. Flinn explains what to look for in a chef’s knife: how it’s made, how it should feel in your hand, etc.

There are basic recipes scattered throughout the book and I plan to try most of them. After reading about specific lessons I feel like I can braise meats, make soups, sauces, vinaigrettes, and cut up or roast a whole chicken. Seriously, I have never roasted a whole chicken – but I will now! That’s a testament to The Kitchen Counter Cooking School – it made me feel like I could do this.

A few months after the classes ended Flinn visited the students to see how they were doing in terms of making changes in their cooking. It was interesting to see how they incorporated what they’d learned into their lives.

I recommend this book to fans of cooking, memoirs, and anyone who needs inspiration to make positive changes in the kitchen as well as the grocery store.

Source:  Viking via Goodreads First Reads

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Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Title:  Until There Was You

Author:  Kristan Higgins

Genre:  Chick Lit; Contemporary Romance

Published:  October 2011 – HQN Books

About:  (Pub. synopsis) Posey Osterhagen can’t complain. She owns a successful architectural salvaging company, she’s surrounded by her lovable, if off-center, family and she has a boyfriend—sort of. Still, something’s missing. Something tall, brooding and criminally good-looking…something like Liam Murphy.

When Posey was sixteen, the bad boy of Bellsford, New Hampshire, broke her heart. But now he’s back, sending Posey’s traitorous schoolgirl heart into overdrive once again. She should be giving him a wide berth, but it seems fate has other ideas….

My take:  Sounds like another fun Kristan Higgins novel, doesn’t it? Well, it is that and more.

Higgins’ trademark humor and sympathetic heroine-with-a-wacky-family are definitely there but, in my opinion, the true star of Until There Was You is Liam Declan Murphy.He is not your run-of-the-mill former bad boy. Liam Murphy is a complex man. He is also a widower with a teenage daughter. He’s just trying to be a good father and make a home for his daughter. I loved that Higgins revealed his layers throughout the entire novel and not in one pat description.

Posey is an ordinary young woman who wants to find what seems so easy for her brother and cousin – someone to love. She is such a relatable character that it was easy to cheer her on. What she finds is that her impression of people and events (present and past) may or may not have been accurate. That knowledge makes all the difference to Posey and her life going forward. Until There Was You  is charming and heartwarming. I really enjoyed it.

Recommended to fans of Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, and Kristan Higgins.

Source:  HQN

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You Don’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl by Celia Rivenbark

Title:  You Don’t Sweat Much For A Fat Girl

Author:  Celia Rivenbark

Genre:  Humor/Essays

Published:  August 2011 – St. Martin’s Griffin

My take:  If you like snarky and humorous essays with a southern perspective you’ll want to read this collection. It made me laugh – a lot.

From the one about Where will all those Chinese boys find wives when they’re ready to marry? to What if the Cash Cab joins the expected fleet of space taxis taking fares to some planet? – I enjoyed the giggle-fest.

Each essay starts with a kernel of wisdom and explodes into wacky hilarity. Having raised two daughters I loved the final essay: Teen Angel. It’s about raising teens in the texting/facebook era. Funny (and scary and true) stuff.

Source:  Publisher via Goodreads First Reads

Guest Post: Jodi Thomas – The Comforts Of Home

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Jodi Thomas. I’ve enjoyed her Harmony series so I’m anxious to read the latest installment: The Comforts of Home (on sale Nov. 1st).  So, without further ado, here’s Jodi!

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As fall settles in around the Panhandle of Texas, I’m getting excited about THE COMFORTS OF HOME coming out Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011. My favorite time of year is fall with the cool nights and sometimes rainy days. The perfect weather to curl up with a book.

When the people of Harmony began to sit down and tell me their story (in my head) I found one quiet woman fascinating from the first. At a time in her life when she was young and should have been going out on dates and having a ball, she was silently  working at the post office without one person she called friend. The story whirls around with people falling in love, breaking up and living life, but in the corner of my mind, Ronelle Logan waited for her story.

People in general frightened her. One by one they were terrifying.  Chapter 2, The Comforts of Home

In the opening of THE COMFORTS OF HOME she is about to meet a man who will petrify her at first and awaken her to life as they talk.

I love writing and plan to do it as long as stories come. Writing is hard work and I often think the story will never be as bright as it is in my mind. Then I remember that someone asked Mark Twain about his wonderful stories and he said “You should have seen it in my head.”

So, order, or borrow, or download my story, cuddle up in your favorite chair and come along with me on a journey that will make you feel at home in Harmony.

Jodi Thomas

http://www.jodithomas.com

http://www.facebook.com/JodiThomasAuthor

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Jodi ThomasJodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today best-selling author of 34 novels and 11 short story collections. In June 2011, WELCOME TO HARMONY won a RITA, the highest award for contemporary fiction. Jodi currently serves as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.
Thanks for visiting, Jodi. My review of THE COMFORTS OF HOME will post November 2. I hope everyone will come back to see what I think.  
There will be a giveaway!