Chance Encounters

A while back, I was wandering through a gourmet food store in Chapel Hill, NC.  My lovely bride and I were on a quest for candy … and Southern Season has an awesome candy department.  We had decided to spend a small fortune on candy for a “candy bar” at our daughter’s upcoming wedding.  Ah, that’s a different story.  On our way to the candy, we passed by a book signing table.  Let me rephrase … a COOKBOOK signing table.

Now from past posts, we all know your Crazy Cookbook Guy can’t resist a signed book … no matter who signed it or when.  On the used cookbook circuit that could be anybody at any time, usually a nobody from years ago.  I am not a big fan of “celebrity” cookbooks but thumb through them looking for signed copies.

img_7223That “I am not a fan” thing might change.  This signing table was populated by an engaging young woman named Fanny Slater.  The cookbook?  ORANGE, LAVENDER & FIGS.  A couple of years ago, Fanny was the winner of Rachel Ray’s Great American Cookbook Competition.

Book signings can be a lonely thing.  Well, I was there close to the end, but she and her dad were just sitting there looking bored when the half-blind Crazy Cookbook Guy walked up.  We had quite an enjoyable conversation, me hawking my book and her hawking her book.  I guess she won.  I think she was teaching a cooking class just after that. 

Fanny is quite the entrepreneur, catering, book signings, cooking shows, appearances, cooking classes … just reading the schedule on her website tired me out.

The cookbook is very dynamic, full of personal stories and interesting recipes.  I know I usually copy recipes into my reviews but given the cookbook’s status (i.e. currently published … we all know I usually pull recipes from vintage cookbooks) I’ll do nothing more than mention a few that caught my eye.  The personal stories are what drew me in.  I love a cookbook with personal stories.

The recipes are modern but she has a unique take on modernizing  old favorites.  For instance, Spicy Pulled Chicken And Roasted Garlic Soup is a take-off on a classic tortilla soup.  And there are a few eye-catching newbies, like what she calls FAN Sauce.  I guess “FAN” refers to her … I couldn’t quite figure it out but I won’t be surprised to see FAN SAUCE on the shelf one of these days.   I don’t care, it looks delicious.   I can’t wait to try it.

Her Herby Buttermilk Dill Dressing is a healthier reboot of a ranch dressing.  That’s another one I’m going to have to try.  Her Creamy Pulled Chicken Salad and Bacon Wraps is another one … well, I could go on and on.  If I lived next door to her I know I’d weigh 1000 pounds!

img_7224I bought this cookbook several months ago, but I had a problem with cataracts at the time … I kept putting off reading the cookbook simply because I couldn’t read.  For a collector of vintage cookbooks, buying a new one is always an interesting opportunity.  Okay, she was funny and cute and we talked about a lot more than just cooking … like book marketing.  All authors struggle with that.  And it was an opportunity to get a really nice cookbook signed … to ME!  That is actually a unique addition to my collection.  Looks good, right?

Now it is even more special  … Fanny has just announced a new endeavor.  Food Network TV Star.  In January she’ll be part of a new show … The Kitchen Sink!  And to think, I met her when she was just … well, she’s been on TV a lot already, guest shots on Rachel Ray and other shows and she has her own segments on local TV in Wilmington NC … so in my book,  she’s already a star.  More info on Fanny Slater can be found at her website … http://fannyslater.com/

I give this cookbook two thumbs up … if you are looking for a last minute gift idea this year, this might be a good option for you.

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That Crazy Cookbook Guy’s alter ego is Author Thomas Fenske … his latest novel, A CURSE THAT BITES DEEP, is currently available too … another fine gift idea.  More info at http://thefensk.com

 

 

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Lowcarb Cake and Donuts

Okay, let me admit up front, the headline is a total lie, but I thought it was a good intro for today’s cookbook. I picked up Dorothy Horn’s Christmas Treats Cook Book from Guam U.S.A. during this weekend’s monthly quarter sale.  Okay, I guess the title isn’t technically being deceptive. It was indeed penned by Dorothy Horn. It does contain dozens of recipes for Christmas treats. Oh, and, Dorothy is famous as a Guam based food writer. In fact, I’ve been told by a friend from Guam, that Dorothy’s SPAM cookbook is a must (sigh, something else to look for).

But make no mistake, this is not a Guamanian Christmas treat cookbook. It is not a bad Christmas treat cookbook, but it was not what I was expecting. Okay, the bad news is out of the way … there are no low carb cakes & donuts here and there are preciously few Guamanian recipes.

Ah, but it IS a pretty fair little Christmas cookbook.

I Picked four recipes to share.

 These Stained Window Cookies are a version of a cookie we make almost every year in our house, but we call them Cathedral Windows. The “stained glass” effect is due to the multi-colored marshmallows that comprise the bulk of the cookie. They are pretty and delicious but alas, around here brightly colored marshmallows seem to have been forever replaced with pastel. Still nice, but not like they used to be.
This page was a two-fer, mostly because they are at such widely divergent sides of the spectrum of reality.
ITALIAN RUM CAKE … okay, I can see that as a holiday treat. But on the same page with SCRAPPLE? I picked these just because of the complex association of these two recipes in close proximity. Must be a Guam thing.
This last recipe was chosen just for the name … who could resist something with a name like AUNT BEAT’S BORSHCH?  Get it? Beat’s? Borshch was her spelling, not mine. Who knows, it might be Aunt Beat’s spelling.

So, in short, if you want a Guamanian cookbook, get another one.  Sure, I’d still like to get my hands on that SPAM cookbook but for a quarter I guess this one will do.