Straight Up Tasty

9780385344487

Adam Richman—you might know him as the host of the TV shows Man v. Food and Food Fighters. Yes, Richman has tried his share of crazy foods in his day. But I know him as the author of Straight Up Tasty, a cookbook of unique (though not Fear Factor) recipes inspired by his trips to diners across the United States and created by the author himself.

As a wannabee-artist, what I love most about this book is its visual appeal. Each page makes me feel like I am treasure-hunting in my grandma’s recipe box or finding the special recipes taped to every diner kitchen’s walls.

But the recipes themselves are a quick tie for my appreciation. When I cook, I love to take traditional foods and add just a little something to make them extra special. And that is exactly what this cookbook does. From “Pesto Egg Salad” (page 107) to “Smoked Paprika Onion Rings” (page 163) to spiced corn on the cob (pages 166-167), the food inside this book is delectable. What especially wins my favor is the section on using leftover holiday candy. Next time my family experiences a glut of Junior Mints, I know right where to turn: “Chocolate Mint Blizzard Shake” (page 194).

Each section of Richman’s book (“Breakfast,” “Let’s Do Lunch,” “Snacks and Small Plates,” “Dinner,” “Sides and Salads,” “Sauces and Condiments,” and “Sweets”) begins with a short, quipy introduction and a table of contents, making browsing more convenient and doable. Several times throughout, Richman provides recommendations for restaurants that “fit the bill” for delicious burgers, breakfast feasts, and more.

Overall, Straight Up Tasty is a very useful book—for cooks, for the hungry, and for those who wish to find a gift for their mother.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

The Smell of Cured Meat

The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook

When I opened the pages of The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook, ironically, the smell of smoked meat greeted me. Perhaps it was the detailed photographs that suggested the smell, or maybe it was deliciously quaint-feeling binding of the book itself–but whatever it was, I was convinced that there was something yummy about the very aroma of the book.

Not being a cottage-industry-type person myself, I was a bit skeptical about the value of the book in my own life. But the book caught my attention when I finally noticed the name of the author: Steven Lamb. Lamb. With a last name like that, I was sure that this author was either curiously funny (and perhaps using a pseudonym) or heir to a long line of curers and smokers who came to be named by their profession. Either way, it was intriguing. And what was even more intriguing was the history that he provided in his introduction to the book (pages 14-17). Who knew that “the Inuit people of northern Greenland” cured meat ages ago or that salami is the Italian word to describe any type of smoked meat, not just the round slices pre-packaged in the local deli (pages 14, 16)?

While I will probably will not get involved in curing and smoking meat, those interested in doing so will find this book a valuable resource. Recipes abound in its pages, alongside descriptions of necessary machinery and detailed diagrams of parts of meat. (For the hard-core curer, there are even instructions for building a cold smoker.)

This book is not for every shelf in America. But it is for some. And I think that those curers and smokers who do purchase it–whether rookies or the more experienced–will find it helpful.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.