Saturday, May 25, 2013

COOKBOOK REVIEW: The Gardener & The Grill by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig

This coming Monday is Memorial Day in the US--a National holiday of remembrance and respect for the men and women who died while in service to our nation [traditionally May 30 but observed on the last Monday in May since 1971]. Many towns will hold parades on Monday in honor of these men and women and adorn their graves with American flags and flowers, traditionally red poppies. Memorial Day weekend has also come to be the unofficial start of the summer season, bringing family and friends together for the first backyard barbecues of the season. If you're getting your grill fired up for the season and looking for some inspiration, I have a cookbook recommendation for you: The Gardener & The Grill by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig.

The full title of this cookbook is The Gardener & The Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill, which pretty much describes exactly what this cookbook is all about. Whether you have your own backyard vegetable garden or you harvest your seasonal produce at your local farmer's market, you will find an abundance of recipes in this cookbook that you're going to just have to make this summer. Recipes will appeal to vegetarians and flexitarians alike.

(A "flexitarian" = an individual who is not vegetarian, but traditionally eats less meat than typical omnivores. A bit of trivia: "flexitarian" was first introduced to the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate dictionary in 2012. [])

The Gardener & The Grill is loaded with great tips, recipes and ideas for grilling with chapters for the following:

Flatbreads and Pizzas
Soup & Salad
Meat, Poultry & Fish
Vegetable Sides
Fruits & Desserts

The book opens with a short primer on grilling techniques. Not a very elaborate primer, but techniques such as grill roasting, indirect grilling ,planking, plant-roasting, smoking and stir-grilling (using a metal wok on the grill grates) are discussed. Then the fun starts with the Pantry chapter. This chapter is brimming with inspiration. So much so that I think your grilling style will be transformed from ordinary to EXTRAordinary by the recipes in this chapter alone. There are recipes, ideas and tips for making your own seasonings, salts, marinades, dressings, dipping sauces, bastes and flavored butters. I want to try all of them!

After the pantry chapter come the grilling recipes that focus on fresh, seasonal (mostly summer) vegetables, herbs and even fruit that many of us grow right in our own backyards or buy at our local farmer's market. If you love vegetables or simply want to make them more enticing for you and your loved ones, this cookbook is just what you need to spice up your summer menus. Here's a list of things I love most about this cookbook:

  • Recipes or instructions for making just about everything in this cookbook from scratch, even down to the homemade corn tortillas, flatbreads, naan and pizza dough. 
  • Tips for container gardening, raised bed gardening, companion planting, how to prep produce for grilling and even using edible flowers in recipes. 
  • Recipes are simple with only a few ingredients, yet have gourmet flare. 
  • Recipes are healthfully plant-based and promote sustainability.

Each and every recipe in The Gardener & The Grill appeals to me, but if I had to design a menu using one recipe from each chapter, I'd go with the following:

Chard-Wrapped Goat Cheese on the Grill 
Herb-Stuffed Afghan Flatbread 
Smoked Tomato Bisque 
Tandoori Turkey Burgers with Grilled Red Onions and Tomatoes
     OR Peppered Tuna with Grilled Peach, Red Bell Pepper and Onion Relish 
Charred Green Beans with Lemon Verbena Pesto 
Grilled Cantaloupe Rings with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
     OR Skewered Strawberry & Marshmallow S'mores 

Sounds delicious, right? I can't wait to try these recipes! I think I might just make the strawberry s'mores this weekend if it stops raining and I can actually get a fire going to grill the berries and marshmallows!

I borrowed The Gardener & The Grill from the library, but I'll be adding this one to my kitchen bookshelf for sure!
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Weekend Cooking, a weekly blog event hosted by Beth Fish Reads. Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food related post to share--a food related book review (fiction or nonfiction), cookbook review, movie review, a recipe, random thoughts, gadgets, food quotations, photographs, etc. Please visit Beth's blog for more information and join the fun! 

Note: your post does not have to be posted on the weekend, but do visit Beth's blog over the weekend to link up your post. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What's New?

Why is it so hard to jump back into blogging after just a few short months of poor blogging stride? It seems the longer you go without regular blogging, the harder it is to just get going again. Well, to get going again, I've thrown together a set of lists. One is a list of things that are bugging me right now--mostly relating to blogging or my lack thereof, and the other is a list of things I'm pretty excited about lately. Nothing Earth shattering on any front.. just.. well, life. It happens. Oh and I also threw in two of my favorite photos from last week (taken with my iphone 4S). I think they're super adorable and I hope they make you smile as they did for me. :)

I took this photo last Friday morning while out on an early weekday morning bike ride. It was the cutest, coolest blimp I've ever seen in my life! Just darling. It made my day. ;)
It's a Despicable Me Minion blimp!
Things that are bugging me right now: 

  • Not blogging regularly OR keeping up with your blogs. 
  • Admitting that I'm not very good at read-alongs. Anna Karenina, The Winter Sea, Stardust and now The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I've not kept up on a single one of them, although I at least eventually finished The Winter Sea and Stardust, even if not on schedule. Currently working on Wind-Up, which I am determined to finish this month. It's long. And weird. And of course the read-along is over already.
  • I haven't written reviews for some really good books I've read lately. Unless you happen to visit me regularly on goodreads, you probably have no idea of what I've even been reading! 
  • I've barely participated in weekend cooking at all this year. I miss it! 
  • I've stopped chiming in with Joy's Reader's Workouts. I haven't even been logging my workouts on my little fitness journal blog, See How She Runs very well lately, either. 
  • I still haven't written a post on my fabulous little trip to Iceland back in March. 
  • It looks like I'm not going to get around to re-establishing my backyard vegetable garden AGAIN this year. And the deer are already munching the perennials that are barely a foot tall. Do I even want to battle them for a few handfuls of tomatoes? I don't know if it's even worth it. 
  • Finally, I'm not happy with my body image lately. I exercise all the time and eat healthy foods. Unfortunately I also love sinful foods such as baked treats and ice cream. Even homemade and made with natural ingredients, these foods do not promote weight loss. Duh. I know this. I even know what to do. I just need to find the discipline to put my money where my mouth is and practice what I preach. I'm really tired of being in this place. 

My girls had haircut appointments one evening last week. By the time we got out of the salon, a few of the streets downtown were closed to traffic for a car show. As we walked to our car, we spotted this darling little girl walking her dogs. So incredibly cute! (Her mom is just outside the frame of the photo.)
Just out walking her dogs
at the car show downtown. 
Things that I'm psyched about lately: 

  • Numerous exciting milestones for my girls this season--some have taken place already, but most are upcoming over the next several weeks. For Anna, my 14 year old: being awarded her Girl Scout Silver Award--the highest award a middle school aged scout can earn; her first semi formal dance; an overnight school field trip; her dance recital; and 8th grade graduation. For Maria, my 18 year old: her last school orchestra concert ever (she's been playing the violin since 4th grade!), senior prom, high school graduation and then off to college in September! 
  • Our upcoming summer vacation to some very faraway places. Excited but also a little nervous. More about our destinations soon. 
  • My Bingo card is filling up nicely (one of my 2013 Reading Challenges). I don't know why this makes me so happy, but it feels really good to check off those squares. I've checked off a few more since my update in April and the next update will be around July 1, but I'm making progress! Such a fun challenge. You guys should join in.. if not now, definitely next year. 
  • Speaking of reading, I've decided to re-read a favorite series of mine. Well, re-read the first couple of books in the series that I already read several years ago and then catch up with all the other books before the final book in the series comes out in August. Any idea what this series is?
  • I started using Feedly for following blogs. So easy to use, organized AND best of all? Everything is synced between my laptop and phone so I always know where I left off reading blog posts. I don't accidentally read stuff twice or miss anything! I mostly use it on my laptop, but it's the most fun to swipe and read on the iphone. What reader are you using these days? 
  • Instagram love. I'm having so much fun documenting my days with daily photos and it's also become another social community through which I've met so many fun and interesting people from all over the world. You know how blogging has connected you with people with whom you have stuff in common but you would have never met otherwise? I'm finding the same thing through instagram. It's been great.      
  • Spring has finally sprung around here! I love the warmer and longer days this time of year brings. More time to play outside.. for me this is primarily in the form of biking but also in yard work. I wish I could say I've been playing in the dirt planting and growing things, but at this point, it's mostly been more of the work variety--mowing the lawn and doing some residual clean up from last fall and winter.

So what's new with you? 

Go ahead and share something that's bugging you lately AND one thing that's got you excited too. 

I want to know!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Library Loot LXVIII

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! 

Well it appears my blog has turned into a simple string of Library Loot posts. I guess it's time I admit to myself that I'm a horrible juggling act lately. There's only so many bowling pins one gal can juggle--especially an uncoordinated one like me---before letting a few drop, I suppose. I need to think of a plan to get back into the groove because I miss it. Got any ideas?

In the meantime, here's a quick look at what I brought home from the library this week:

Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.
This is May's book club pick. One that has been on my tbr list for quite some time, but at the same time, not the one I voted for. Only because it is a long one. I'm still working on The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle which is very long and one in which I'm very much behind for the Read-Along. I worry that I won't finish it at all and that will leave me unsettled. However, I will still make a valiant attempt at finishing both of these books this month.


The Dark-Hunters, Vol. 1, 2 and 3 by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
I spotted these manga-style graphic novels of Sherrilyn Kenyon's first couple of Dark Hunter novels at the library and just had to borrow them. I read through all three in 24 hours and had so much fun revisiting this series that I read years ago when I first discovered romance novels. Sadly, my library doesn't have Vol. 4, but I will try to hunt it down at another library. Or just buy it and then donate it to my own library so they have the complete set. It doesn't look like any other volumes have been published in a couple of years. Too bad. They're a cute PG-13 version of the Dark Hunter stories.

Have you read any of these books? 

What have you borrowed from the library lately?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Library Loot LXVII

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! 

My turn on the holds list finally came up so I got my hands on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and am reading that now for April's book club. Oops. Kind of late to the discussion, but I expect to finish reading it in a day or two. I'm about halfway through right now. It's not this superb piece of suspense but it's not terrible either. I think I have what's going on figured out and if I'm right, both Nick and Amy are liars, cheaters and manipulators. Not exactly compelling characters.

Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi caught my eye on the new books shelf (yet published in 2009) in part because of the yummy title, but also because her award winning graphic novel Persepolis has been on my to-read list for ages. So I should really be picking up that novel, but this one is shorter so I thought I'd be more likely to read it right now amidst a busy spring.

The Gardener & The Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig. This delicious cookbook caught my eye at the library at the end of the gardening and grilling season.. . why it's still on the new bookshelf at the library, I'm not sure, but at least it was where I'd spy it again and this time I borrowed it. I've only casually flipped through it as of yet, but upon my cursory review it looks like a winner with a bountiful collection of fabulous recipes for all kinds of dishes to make with the grill. I cannot wait to read it more carefully and make some of the recipes. I would love to review this book for all of you before Memorial Day weekend so you can get inspired with grilling this season.

The 2nd Law by Muse. I fell in love with their single "Madness" the very first time I heard it. I haven't downloaded a Muse song in a while, so when I saw this CD come in to the library, I couldn't resist the opportunity to listen to all the tracks. I'm actually listening to it while I type this! So far "Madness" is my favorite track.

What have you borrowed from the library lately?