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review 2019-10-16 17:18
The Tuscan Sun Cookbook
The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen - Frances Mayes,Edward Mayes
I do love my cookbooks! When a message about cookbooks, popped into my inbox, I immediately started looking at my local library to see if they had any of them, as I like to sample them before I actually buy them. They had 4 of them so I felt very lucky. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook looked promising but I wondered how complicated the recipes were and how exotic the ingredients might be, but I remained hopeful. After looking through the book though, I was surprised at my finding.
 
First off, let me say, that the pictures inside this book are beautiful. Imagine a nice summer day, you’re in the hills of Italy enjoying lunch with your friends. A photographer has stopped by to take some shots and now, those pictures are inside this book. Although there aren’t pictures of every recipe in this book, the ones that are there, look very appealing.
 
Each recipe does come with how many it serves, the ingredients list and step-by-step instructions. Accompanying each recipe, is a small paragraph or two that describes a bit about that recipe. The book consists of recipes that would actually be served in Tuscany according to the authors. The book is broken up into many sections. The Essential section had a few recipes that I enjoyed. Tomato Sauce (with bay leaves -I love bay leaves!), a Soffritto (looks delicious), Besciamella, a Brine, and Pesto. The Antipasti section contained appetizers. The Primi section was pasta and it began with making pasta and Giusi’s Ragu which looked nice and hearty. Angry Pasta? Oh yes, black olives and red pepper flakes made this recipe stand out. Lasagne with Ragu, using the same ragu, as mentioned before but adding it to a lasagna. Next was the Second section which was meats and I found Chicken Under a Brick and Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes. The Contorni section was salads and vegetables and the last section was Dolci which consisted of desserts. There is an Aperitivi E Digestivi section which is the closer for their meals: the bitter elixirs. There are 2 recipes in this section (Nocino and Riccardo’s Limoncello) which accompany the author’s comments on this topic
 
What I didn’t find in this book was exotic ingredients or complicated recipes. That was a win for me. I did come across some new words, such as Fascicles of Summer Vegetables but as the author pointed out in their paragraph, fasces in Latin actually means a bundle of iron sticks. The author continued on in their comments, talking about Emily Dickinson’s fascicles of poems. Strawberry Semifreddo? I’d never heard of Semifreddo before but I learned that this dessert is not gelato or sorbetto but that it’s easy to make and doesn’t require a fancy machine. I did find some recipes that wouldn’t work for me but might for others. Recipes that included ingredients like fish, lamb, veal, and rabbit.
 
All-in-all, this cookbook was a great find for me. If you’re into Tuscan dishes or want to try something different, this is one cookbook you should check out.

 

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review 2019-10-11 15:15
She's The Real Deal!
The Italian - Ann Radcliffe

I'd heard Ann Radcliffe was essence of Gothic, so I took the trip to 1797 to see what that means (novel actually takes place around 1758, mainly). I was given a twisty, emotionally harrowing thrill-ride. Sure, you can already assume that Elena is not going to emerge as warrior-woman who takes over the heroics from her true love Vincenzo, when villains - on behalf of Vincenzo's snobby family - do everything they can to stop the impending wedding. But it's not like he is any more effective, for most of this awful adventure. This couple could be on the altar, ready to recite vows, when there's a church-invasion by masked marauders specializing in all the usual hench-stuff...assault, separation, incarceration, and - reserved for Vincenzo - trumped up charges and torturous interrogation by the Inquisition. Really...every time the honeymoon seems about an hour away, a couple seconds later he doesn't know where she is, and she is tying herself in Gothic-damsel knots wondering if he's alive.

 

As hinted, the real treats for me were the strange twists cropping up in the latter part of the novel. I expected mainly straight-line thrills and obvious, in-your-face mayhem with plenty of shrieks stifled by hairy hands over mouths, and it would all be fun in a "no real puzzles, please, we're Gothic" way. But I loved getting blindsided, by a twist that maybe some readers may have seen coming; I did not, and was delighted...and it was really cool that all this leads to the reader having a leg-up on certain character who still operated with a major misconception now not shared by anyone enjoying the book. I loved that! "Ha-ha, you're not in the loop, dude, and it's compelling you make choices based on something that I know now is wrong.".

 

The style is in no way off-putting, for a dusty old potboiler, and though I can't say it doesn't drag a bit here and there, it's actually the language, the lively prose, that carried me through the "let's stop and angst awhile, we're Gothic" parts.

 

I can now recommend, wholeheartedly, not one but two wonderful novels from the very very late 18th Century: Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown (1798), and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe (let's back it up a year! 1797!). Great, creepy storytelling goes back a ways, eh?

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text 2019-10-09 13:29
Halloween Bingo 2019: Tenth Extra Square
Ladyhawke - Joan D. Vinge

 

I'd been planning to only get to this one after Lehane's The Given Day, but I couldn't sleep last night and there it was right next to my bed ... and a few hours later I'd finished the whole thing; so here we are.  (In my defense: It's a movie novelization, so it's not that long to begin with.  And yes, afterwards I slept just fine, thank you.)

 

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url 2019-10-07 08:19
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text 2019-10-03 15:17
Reading progress update: I've read 118 out of 463 pages.
The Italian - Ann Radcliffe

Elena kidnapped and imprisoned in a nunnery - Vivaldi trying to find out where she is. now he has a trail to follow, but apparently there will be obstacles...danger.

 

Father Schedoni - who is apparently considered to be one of the author's great antagonists in any of her books - is certainly a first class stinker, I would say.

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