Food and Writing

What a person eats reveals a great deal about them. This is probably why the TV show “Iron Chef” used a quote by French epicurean Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”

Food is also an important indicator of place, time and culture. Therefore, writers can’t afford to be sloppy when it comes to literary diet. Readers are ready to cry foul when they spot a food-based blunder. For example, a friend recently complained about a scene in a novel where the main character, supposedly a New Orleans native, prepared coffee. Herself a native, she claimed no one in the Big Easy would make coffee that way.

I recently went through a delightful BBC TV series called “Supersizers.” During the course of each episode, the hosts, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins, would spend a week living and dining according to the customs of a given time period. Done with tongue-in-cheek humor, the hosts were nonetheless quite serious about being authentic, particularly in terms of cuisine.

I highly recommend this series to readers and writers of historical fiction. It’s easy to glamorize the past, but it’s the elements of realism that make a story come to life. One awful reality the Supersizers had to face was not drinking water for a week. Instead, they had to subsist on wine and beer. Imagine that. Now, write about it.

“Supersizers” is available on Hulu Plus with a paid subscription. You can also find several episodes on the Supersizers YouTube Channel.

Today on Amazon, I found a free-for-now book about First Century food. It looks really interesting, great for readers and writers interested in that time period.

  At Table with the Lord – Foods of the First Century by E. G. Lewis
Relying upon the Bible and extensive research for his popular Seeds of Christianity™ Series, E. G. Lewis presents an interesting and informative study on foods, cooking and day-to-day life in the early Christian era. All major food groups are covered with specific chapters on Spices & Herbs, Fruits & Nuts, Grains, Vegetables, Salad Greens, Fish & Fowl, Meat, Milk & Cheese, Sweets and Sweeteners, and even one on What They Didn’t Have. Includes bonus chapters on Aviculture, Apiculture, Ancient Beers and Wines, Olive Oil, Manna, the Gladiator’s Diet and lots of Recipes you can try at home.

Description provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found this book via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

This freebie is a limited time offer and there is no guarantee it will still be free when you click on the link. Grab it sooner rather than later.

Healthy and Delicious

Free Today on Amazon

I love food, especially when it occupies the wonderful strata of tastes good and is good for you. I’m not interested in dieting, but I am concerned about how much processed food is in my diet, and how the ingredients in that food affect my health.

Just so you know, this post has nothing to do with New Year’s resolutions on losing weight. A friend recently had a health scare that was related to high cholesterol. This got me thinking about what changes I can make to my diet without sacrificing taste.

My husband and I bought a three-tiered steamer and began experimenting with steaming our food rather than baking or frying. We had mixed results, some good, some gloop. We’ve replaced butter with olive oil or canola oil in many recipes, and that’s turned out quite well.

And, of course, I searched through the Kindle cookbook collection. I’ve found two books that I consider real gems. Neither one is free, but both have great recipes.

One is a short eBook that contains a base recipe for making your own instant oatmeal mix. You might think the price ($1.99) is too much, but for me, it’s been worth its weight in digital gold. I’ve always loved the idea of instant oatmeal, but hated the processed ingredients and the waste of those little bags. Instead, I use the base recipe and have fun at Whole Foods going through the bins and deciding what will go in my oatmeal. Yes, it’s time consuming, messy and more expensive than buying a box off the shelf, but it also tastes a lot better.

The other is a vegan cookie recipe book. It’s informative, funny and has color photos guaranteed to make your mouth water. Download it to a tablet if you can. Most of the recipes have ingredients you can find in your pantry or easily pick up at the local supermarket. Best of all, the cookies are delish! The author, Kelly Peloza, has a blog on vegan cooking and living that makes for good reading.

Today, I found a couple of free-for-now cookbooks that look interesting. My only complaint is that both use the word “skinny” in their titles. Skinny is such a loaded word, but the recipes looked promising so I grabbed them and listed them below.

Here’s to healthy living and tasty eating!

  The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur by Kelly Peloza
Not Free. $0.99
Kelly Peloza started experimenting with vegan baking as a high school student, blogging about her vegan adventures all the while. Her amazing recipes and gorgeous photos drew a crowd of eager readers who have been begging her for a cookbook ever since. Now an energetic, spunky college student, her book is finally ready for her anxious audience. From double peanut butter sandwich cookies and coconut caramel butter cookies to raspberry almond cookies and inside out peppermint patties, these delicious and imaginative recipes are sure to inspire bakers of all ages.

  Make Your Own Instant Oatmeal Mix by Beckett McKay
Not Free. $1.99
With people’s burgeoning interest in taking back control of their family’s food supply, learning how to do things themselves (like they used to do in the old days!) is an important first step. In the “Wait, What?? I Can Do That?” e-book series, Beckett McKay will detail how to make your own pantry staples and other necessities, show you how you can cut out the mass manufacturing middle man, and put the ingredients in your family’s diet back in your own hands.

  Naturally Skinny: 100 Organic Recipes Under 350 Calories by Samantha Brown
Free Today
Many recipes might be under 350 calories, but are they also completely organic and absolutely delicious? The recipes are clearly laid out with an ingredient list, step-by-step instructions, the number of servings, the calories per serving, the total fat per serving and a clever description that will entice you to prepare it. This comprehensive collection of 100 appetizing organic recipes will keep you and your family satisfied and healthy for a lifetime to come.

  Skinny Pizza by Barbara Grunes
Free Today
Starting with easy-to-make (and store) recipes for basic crusts and sauces, Skinny Pizzas shows you how easy it is to top pizzas with fresh, low-fat, high-fiber vegetables, dairy products, fruits, poultry, meat, and fish–everything from zucchini and pears to smoked salmon. From hearty one-dish meals to pizza snacks, appetizers, party dishes, and even desserts–all slimmed down for today’s healthful lifestyle–home cooks can feel good about serving pizza any time and for any occasion.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Holiday Recipes

Usually Yahoo’s front page links lead to nowhere but a glorified advertisement. But sometimes a link can lead to something fabulous. This is one of those times.

The following link will take you to a page with a slideshow featuring 25 favorite cookie recipes. Each slide contains a photo and the recipe without a lot of hoo-hah. Go here for the recipes.

As an added bonus, the article contained a link to Sunset Magazine’s Ultimate Holiday Cookbook. It looks like a great resource, but be warned, you will face a lot of pop-ups as you click through. If you don’t mind that, check it out here.

Yahoo! also provided a link to a slideshow with recipes for holiday gifts you can prepare in your kitchen. If you like homemade gifts, this could be a great resource. Check it out here.

Enjoy your holiday preparations!

Mushroom Soup, Nordic Noir and Social Justice

This past Saturday was cold and dreary, with the temperature hovering in the mid-thirties all day. Our Internet connection had gone wonky, but no worries as we had plenty to read and a movie to watch. BTW, I really recommend the movie, Headhunters. It’s based on the novel by Norwegian author Jo Nesbo. If you like your Nordic Noir with dark humor and questionable morals, this is for you.

I threw together a mushroom soup that turned out pretty fab. It warmed body and soul on a cold autumn night. Here’s the recipe. I used the typical white button mushrooms, but next time I’ll use a mixture. I’m dying to try this with chanterelle mushrooms. This is a single pot recipe. I used our Le Creuset French oven, which I adore, though any large stock pot will do.

Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

  • Half a cup of butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 can of chicken broth (approx. 14 oz.)
  • Fresh mushrooms (as many as you like)
  • White wine
  • Garlic Powder
  • Dried scallions
  • Herbs de Provence
  • Salt and Pepper

Preparation

  • Take aside about 1/3 of the mushrooms and, using a food processor or blender, chop into a thick paste. Slice the remaining mushroom to your desired thickness.
  • Melt the butter in the pot and let it simmer just a bit
  • Using a whisk, stir in the flour and also allow it to simmer for a moment or two
  • Slowly stir in the milk and bring to a slow simmer
  • Slowly stir in the chicken broth and bring to a slow simmer
  • Add the spices to taste
  • Add one or two splashes of white wine
  • Stir in the mushroom paste
  • Stir in the sliced mushrooms
  • Bring to a boil while stirring
  • Lower the heat, cover the pot, and let the soup simmer for about an hour

Enjoy!

Free Today on Amazon

Looking for more soup recipes? Passionate about social justice? Then do I have a freebie for you!

  Soup and Bread Cookbook by Martha Bayne
The Soup and Bread Cookbook aims to explore the social role of soup through a collection of terrific, affordable recipes from food activists, chefs, and others. This quirky exploration of the cultural history of soup as a tool for both building community and fostering social justice is the result of a brainstorm: eating your way through a pot of soup day after day can get boring — why not get together and swap some with friends? Now neighbors across the country are getting together regularly for home-based “soup swaps.” In Chicago, the arts collective InCUBATE uses soup as a microfunding tool. And of course, soup can be a political statement: the radical volunteers of Food Not Bombs have been providing free vegetarian soup to the hungry as a protest against war and social injustice since 1980. These are just a few examples of the stories Bayne wraps around a collection of delicious, accessible, and tested soup recipes.

Description provided by Amazon

Disclaimers and Disclosures

I found this book via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

This freebie is a limited time offer and there is no guarantee it will still be free when you click on the link. Grab it sooner rather than later.