So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu


No, I’m not closing the blog again already; I have far too many goodies lined up for you in the future. It just so happens that I’ll be away from the (or any, really) keyboard until late May, so there won’t be new posts until then. To get you through the waiting period, I may post a couple of older reviews I’ve done elsewhere. Meanwhile, I promise to put any downtime I may have to good use, so expect fresh reviews upon my return!

Review: “Plants Taste Better” by Richard Buckley

It may be that the mojo is strong right now, or perhaps I’ve just been lucky with selections, but I have reviewed some great cookbooks recently. Richard Buckley’s “Plants Taste Better: Delicious plant-based recipes, from root to fruit” stands out even among those. Before I continue with what this book is, I should perhaps spend a moment explaining what it is not, from my perspective as someone who loves spending time in the kitchen and is always eager to try new recipes. This book is not for cooks who prefer to take as little prep time as possible. Yes, there are a few recipes that will accommodate you, but the majority will seem like frustrating exercises. Buckley features quite a few recipes whose individual parts must be made in advance, and even though that sometimes means up to days in advance, I realize a good number of casual or busy cooks won’t want to bother.

So, who is “Plants Taste Better” for? Anyone who enjoys recipes that feature commonplace ingredients with a twist and beautiful presentation. Cooks and gourmands who love to tickle the taste buds and don’t mind a little extra effort. One refreshing feature of the recipes is that the ingredient lists are generally relatively short to moderately long.

Buckley begins by offering a bunch of no-nonsense, down to earth advice on cooking, combining flavors, and choosing and buying produce. Unlike most other chefs, he offers a word of wisdom on using salt and cayenne pepper properly, as well. He spends some time explaining what exactly ‘umami’ is and how one can achieve it when cooking. Finally, he goes over essential and nice-to-have kitchen equipment.

The book is divided into Snacks; Soups, Pates, and Light Lunches; Salads; Mains; Desserts; and Breads. The recipes are frequently amended by helpful hints. Nothing is left to chance for those who enjoy stocking their pantry, fridge, and freezer with homemade essentials: From making stocks and pickles, a variety of garnishes like spiced nuts and dukkah, to making pasta (with photos to help with more complicated shapes like tortelloni and an entire section on making perfect gnocchi), oils, butters, and milks, the options are virtually endless. I was particularly impressed with the fact that the Breads chapter begins with a sourdough rye bread, something I have tried to find in our area for ages.

So, is this a must-have? If you feel about food and its preparation as I do, then definitely. More timid cooks may be happy to know that every dish is featured in a photo, as well.

“Plants Taste Better” is published by Quarto Publishing Group – Jacqui Small. I received a free copy for review via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

Great Expectations

Here we are, another day, another blog. I had gotten lazy on the personal blog for some time, but then I started reading short stories which led to crime fiction which led to poetry which led to poetry guides, and many moon and even many more book purchases later, I need a good home for my reviews. So this is it. What can you, the reader, expect? Well, I am not a professional reviewer. I write what I think about a book, including weird grammar and misspellings, because I notice those, even when I try not to. My preferred genres include travel books, cookbooks, mystery novels, thrillers, adult literary fiction, fiction for young people, biographies (especially about or by musicians), short stories, and poetry. That doesn’t mean I don’t read anything else. But most of what occupies my nightstand… and my end table… and my dining table… and the bathroom… you get the idea… belongs to one of the genres I have just mentioned.

If you would like me to review a book of yours, please contact me via Netgalley or email me at vyvienn(at)gmail(dot)com. You can find many older examples of my reviews on Netgalley, Amazon, and Goodreads. Just be aware that I take the honest review idea seriously: I am equally likely to say what I didn’t like about a book as what I did like. So if you are merely looking for accolades, Kirkus Review might be more up your alley.

What do I expect from you, dear readers? I expect that sometimes you will disagree with my review, possibly violently so. While that is your right, I will not tolerate comments that are personally insulting to me, authors, or other readers or commentators. Netiquette may seem terribly 1998 at this point, but I insist on good manners around here. If you’ve read a book and are curious if I have, too, and what I thought about it, you can certainly ask or even suggest what I should read next. Just let me warn you right now: the waiting list is quite long already and likely to grow a bit longer by next month.

From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. (…) On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.

Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn