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Thea J. Willgress "www.sweetthea.com" (Surrey BC)
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HarperCollins Practical Gardener: Kitchen Garden: What to Grow and How to Grow It
HarperCollins Practical Gardener: Kitchen Garden: What to Grow and How to Grow It
by Alan R. Toogood
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent resource, stuffed with specific information, March 29 2009
I am not a gardener, but still found this book to be quite useful. I bought it when I worked at Sooke Harbor House, one of the world's top hotels with a gourmet kitchen that focuses on using only seasonal local and natural ingredients.

This book is an excellent resource, stuffed with specific information about vegetables, herbs, fruit and edible flowers. I found it very handy to know when I can get fruit from a plant twice in a year, what parts of some plants are edible, what seasons things were available, and how weather would affect the flavor and usability of upcoming crops.

There is a lot more detail in the book that i have never used: managing plant beds, crop rotation, pruning tips and other cultivation tips and guidelines, so it would be very useful for a gardener. For me it was quite a good resource, and I recommend it to anyone who has the same interests.

The Get with the Program! Guide to Good Eating: Great Food for Good Health
The Get with the Program! Guide to Good Eating: Great Food for Good Health
by Bob Greene
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.64
81 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars 'Eat sensibly and exercise' is his message. Gee, really?, March 29 2009
Working long hours in a kitchen can be hard on my system; sometimes I seem to have no time to exercise , constantly eating things that make me feel unwell, or guilty; inevitably this leads to one of my 'health kicks' - I exercise steadily and paying strict attention to my diet.

When Bob Green became famous as Oprah Winfrey's trainer and exercise physiologist, I picked up a cheap used copy of this book on Amazon. As both a food book or a self-help book it doesn't offer anything particularly new or interesting - "Eat sensibly and exercise" is his message. Gee, really?

It is a simple book, with simple recipes and basic food wisdom. It didn't really teach me anything, just helped me stay focused for a while on my own commitment to a better diet and regular exercise, which isn't a bad thing.

The Lake House Cookbook
The Lake House Cookbook
by Trudie Styler
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from CDN$ 4.90

2.0 out of 5 stars vanity project not worth owning, March 29 2009
One of those classic Christmas moments we have all had - "Gee, thanks!" I had tried to smile brightly when I was given this cookbook for a present. Given in the spirit of the holiday, and I was obviously expected to be delighted to have received such a thoughtful gift.

Sting and his wife Trudie, both born and raised in the city, had become gentleman farmers, moving to the Lake House manor with its sixty-acre organic farm, and were rhapsodic about their new connection with the earth. I can just imagine Sting, coming home from a 50 city tour with his easy listening jazz band, putting on the overalls and going out to pull weeds... right. Ok, so I am a pessimist about all that, but I did try to give the book the benefit of the doubt, and read it without too much bias..

Nah, that didn't work. This book is so obviously a vanity project, even the family chef couldn't save it. Both recipes and pictures are very average, with nothing special or even vaguely interesting. I have cooked long enough to know this is a pile of poop that should be avoided..

Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker's Atlas
Flatbreads & Flavors: A Baker's Atlas
by Jeffrey Alford
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.55
36 used & new from CDN$ 14.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only own one book about bread, make sure it is this one, March 29 2009
What a clever idea - a Baker's Atlas that takes you around the world exploring all the different variations of bread - fougasse, matzoh, pizza, chapati, bannock, pita, lavash, focaccia, dosa, tortilla, injera, naan, whole wheat skillet breads, and so many more - I had no idea there were so many flatbreads out there!

This is a wonderful book, my definitive book on breads. I love it's range, the quality of its recipes, and its vision - it even includes sauces and stews, chutneys and spreads that you would sop up with the regional breads. Mushan Pork and five lentil stew, bean soup and tomatillo salsa, pomegranate and meatball soup - I could go on, and on, and on. Fantastic.

The recipes are detailed, and in-depth; the authors thoroughly know their subject, and tell us about their travels around the world doing research, making this ring authentic on every page. If you love ethnic foods this is a must - don't take my word for it, the James Beard Awards picked it as Cookbook of the Year, and it truly deserves that award.

If you only own one book about bread, make sure it is this one. Enthusiastically recommended.

The Way to Cook
The Way to Cook
by Julia Child
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 54.26
41 used & new from CDN$ 22.95

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars instructional, helpful, with solid advice, March 29 2009
This review is from: The Way to Cook (Hardcover)
What can I say about Julia Child? This is really dated now, of course; kind of a lowbrow "Joy of Cooking", but still a very thorough cooking reference.

Julia is very fastidious in exploring the details on every topic she covers, and she provides a ton of useful tips that you don't really find in other books.

For example, there is a whole section on shellfish, including such important details as how to take the beard from mussels. If I am ever in doubt on how to stuff and truss a turkey, or how long to cook it, I go straight to "The Way to Cook".

This book is instructional, helpful, with solid advice; and for the rare time you may want to cook your guests a ring of ham, this is the bomb!

The Il Fornaio Baking Book: Sweet and Savory Recipes from the Italian Kitchen
The Il Fornaio Baking Book: Sweet and Savory Recipes from the Italian Kitchen
by Franco Galli
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 3.12

4.0 out of 5 stars good pizza and sweets recipes - bread not so good, March 29 2009
I have had this book a long time (mine is the 1993 edition), and since then Il Fornaio has grown from being a single restaurant to an industry leader, with multiple restaurants, books, courses, and other products extolling their expertise in Authentic Italian.

This is a very good book, with a nice range of recipes. There are a few illustrations and pictures, but they are only there as part of the stylistic layout of the book, and don't really offer much help to the baker.

I have tried a lot of these breads, and I am not really fond of them, mainly because of texture, a very important factor for me. They only uses one biga (starter dough), which works well - the bread is very light, airy, translucent with good bubble formation; but it is really soft to my palate, and not enough of a chew - like I said, texture is important to me. As all the crumb is the same, I don't really return to these bread recipes (although I must say it makes an excellent focaccia). (Again, for bread I must refer you to "Flatbreads - a Baker's Atlas", my definitive book for all breads).

What stands out in the Il Fornaio Backing Book is pizza, and all the tasty treats in the sweet section - the biscotti, tiramisu, cakes and tarts are delicious, and so I return to this book, over and over, happily using those recipes.

Those alone make this book worth your time, and worth my recommendation.

Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book
Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book
by Rosenberg
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from CDN$ 2.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an enjoyable book to have around, March 29 2009
This is a fun book, written by someone who obviously loves her cookies! It is the only cookbook I know that uses texture to group the recipes, under such categories as "Cakey Cookies" and "Crispy Chompy!" It has a lot of recipes, with very specific step-by-step instructions, but no pictures.

I have made a lot of these recipes. Some of the cookies that result are good, and some are quite great, exactly as described. There is a nice section on bars, and a really good one on sandwich cookies. I particular enjoy the brownies - the black & white brownies are really good, and the cheesecake brownies (New York Cheesecake Brownies and Sour Cherry Cheesecake Brownies) are absolutely delicious, and worth the price of the book alone.

I can't really say Rosie's Cookie Book is particularly useful to me as a professional, but it is an enjoyable book to have around, and I am sure any home baker with a sweet tooth will have success with it.

Cakes to Dream On: A Master Class in Decorating
Cakes to Dream On: A Master Class in Decorating
by Colette Peters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.23
43 used & new from CDN$ 7.71

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars many of her designs leave me stumped, March 29 2009
Colette Peters has been around quite a while, and can be credited for starting the trend towards big, crazy, wildly-colored, wacky-shaped cakes - man they are something to behold! Her innovative and amusing gravity-defying cakes are definite attention-grabbers, and her techniques are quite interesting.

I have to say, though, that many of her designs leave me stumped - why would I want a cake that looks like stacked box-spring mattresses?

Others are densely designed, packing many ideas and colors onto a single work; I sometimes think she aspires to be the Gaudi of cake. This isn't criticism - my creative style is different, that's all, and I am both bemused and amused by her work. Her influence in cake design is considerable, prodding other designers to creative highs and lows.

I am fond of this book, both for its imagery and her techniques, and respect Colette's bold risk-taking and success. Recommended for those interested in the history of cake art, and aspiring cake designers curious about the range of design possibilities; but not particularly useful for a pastry chef or a home cook.

The Ultimate Candy Book
The Ultimate Candy Book
by Bruce Weinstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.38
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Blah. Supreme suckage., March 29 2009
When you see "Ultimate" in a book title, you can usually infer is American, and probably part of a series. Yep, at the bottom of this cover it says that Weinstein is also the author of "The Ultimate Ice Cream Book" and "The Ultimate Party Drink Book".

I am trying to think of a nice way to say this, but I can't sugar-coat it - this book sucks. It is a compilation of average recipes, all very sugary, without any great imagination. I made the caramel apples recipe - reluctantly using evaporated milk, as it specified - yuk - it should have called for condensed - anyway the apples tasted like old milk. Phooey.

The Crispie Squares recipe you can get off the Rice Crispies box. I don't understand why most American recipes for marshmallows don't use egg whites - seems bizarre to me - but I thought I would give it a try from this book. Blah. Again supreme suckage.

I really wonder if maybe the writer was researching the Party Drink book simultaneously, or even bothered to make most of these recipes. Maybe .. just maybe .. if you had a party of undiscerning kids that would be happy just getting over-amped on sugar, this would be useful book. I most certainly do not recommend it, and will never use it again.

A to Z Bar Cookies
A to Z Bar Cookies
by Simmons
Edition: Hardcover
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars particularly good if you are a home baker with kids, March 29 2009
This review is from: A to Z Bar Cookies (Hardcover)
This is a very good small specialty book, once you get past the whimsical A-Z layout (K is for Keep-Forever Lizzies, U is for Utterly Delicious Bars).

I have used many of the recipes in the book, and they always have worked; good Pecan Squares, Date Bars, Fig Bars, Honey Bars, and especially Mammy's Chocolate Chip Bars. Of course this is particularly good if you are a home baker with kids, as the recipes are nice and simple and always yield sweet and delicious treats.

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