EPISODE 7: Obscure Treasures of Southeast Asia, the Barefoot Contessa, and a Reason to Dust / Pan-Roasted Duck & Pumpkin Nut Seed Loaf

The Level Teaspoon can be found on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play – or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” on any other podcast service you may use.   You can also hear it through your browser at The Level Teaspoon site.

 

Review titles:
    

The Adventures of Fat Rice: Recipes from the Chicago Restaurant Inspired by Macau, by Abraham Conlon, Adrienne Lo, and Hugh Amano (10 Speed)
Cooking for Jeffrey, by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter)
Effortless Entertaining Cookbook: 80 Recipes That will Impress your Guests Without Stress, by Meredith Steele (Page Street Publishing)

 

Noteworthy titles

Far Afield: Rare Food Encounters from Around the World by Shane Mitchell and James Fisher (photographer)  (10 Speed)
American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes behind More than 125 of our Best Loved Cakes, by Anne Byrn (Rodale Books)
Nourishing Meals: 365 Whole Foods, Allergy-Free Recipes for Healing Your Family One Meal at a Time, by by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre (Harmony Books)

   

 

This Week’s Recipe Tests!
Book tested: Appetites, by Anthony Bourdain
Guest: Miranti Kisdarjono

Miranti, a self-described “rogue chef, style maker, and stage ham,” is an Indonesian native and a Brooklyn transplant who has many lives. Fashion design took her to New York City and the performance art world took her to the glamour and grit of its underground. Recently she won an episode on the recent new Food Network show Cooks vs. Cons, a cooking competition pitting pro chefs against  talented amateurs . This win prompted her to create a platform for herself where she can combine the three passions, design style, performance and cooking. Please follow her upcoming website www.joyoffeasting.com where she talks about food from personal stories and cross cultural points of view. Also follow her on Instagram @thejoyoffeasting to get visual stories and video clips.
Book tested:  The Alternative Baker, by Alanna Taylor-Tobin
Guest:  Denny Moyes
Denny is a set designer for TV, movies and theater and, he says, he owe his cooking skills to his mom, Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet), Julia Child, and Alton Brown.

Episode 7 Music

“Valse em F Menor,” byAlexandre Bateiras
“Lobby Time,” by Scott Holmes
“A New Day,” by Scott Holmes
“Sidewalk Shade,” by Kevin MacLeod,
“Lagoa v2,” by Kevin MacLeod

Episode 7 sound effects
Sound effects by GB01, acertingart, Taira Komori. . .and others hosted at freesound.org, soundbible.com, and looperman.com, as well as my own recordings.

The Level Teaspoon’s theme music:
Não me touques, performed by The Bees Knees International Café Orchestra

Hear it all on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” any other podcast service you may use!

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EPISODE 6: Danish Comfort Food, the New Soul of Harlem, and Pies All Around / Korean Seafood Pancake!

The Level Teaspoon can be found on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play – or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” on any other podcast service you may use.   You can also hear it through your browser at The Level Teaspoon site.

 

Review titles:

    

Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge, by Trine Hahnemann (Quadrille Books)
The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem, by Marcus Samuelsson (HMH)
The Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Filling, and Life, by Kate McDermott (Countryman)

 

Noteworthy titles

Eat it Up! 150 Recipes to use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the food You Buy by Sherry Brooks Vinton (Da Capo)
The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs: An Essential Guide to the Flavors of the World, by Padma Lakshmi and Judith Sutton (Ecco Press).
The Lobster Cookbook: 55 Easy Recipes: Bisques, Noodles, Salads, Soups, Bakes, Wraps, Grills And Fries For Every Day Eating, by Jane Bamforth (Lorenz Books)

   

 

This Week’s Recipe Test!

Book tested: K Food: Korean Home Cooking and Street Food
Guest: Vishnu Hoff

“I work in medical research, specifically ophthalmic research, at a hospital in Manhattan. My work used to involve taking photographs of retinas for diagnostic purposes, and surgical video in the O.R. for teaching purposes. These days I work more on textbooks, educational websites, and helping to produce professional meetings for various sub-specialties such as glaucoma.

I consider myself a democratic food snob- I will try just about anything in pursuit of good food. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. This is obviously a wide open area with many definitions since everyone thinks their food is “good food”. I’ve often found that they’re right- there’s a lot of good food out there as long as you’re willing to search for it. Sadly, there’s also a LOT of bad food, and I cannot and will not waste my time on McDonalds and its ilk. For me the starting point for good food is it has to be real, as in not manufactured in a factory, not made from over-processed ingredients, etc. I think the test of a culture’s food is its street food- if they can do that well, they’re off to a damned good start!”

Episode 6 Music

“Skye Cuillin” by Kevin MacLeod
“Fast Talkin” by Kevin MacLeod
“Dueling Duality” by Cullah
“Happy Happy Game Show” by Kevin MacLeod
“Tripède,” by Thiaz Itch

 

Episode 6 sound effects
Sound effects by mshahen, lonemonk, weaveofk, samkolber, shotgunpicker, FoolBoyMedia, yummie . . .and others hosted at freesound.org, soundbible.com, and looperman.com, as well as my own recordings.

 

The Level Teaspoon’s theme music:
Não me touques, performed by The Bees Knees International Café Orchestra

 

Hear it all on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” any other podcast service you may use!

EPISODE 5: A Mad Scientist, Chicken Adventures, and Something New from North Dakota

The Level Teaspoon can be found on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play – or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” on any other podcast service you may use.   You can also hear it through your browser at The Level Teaspoon site.

Review titles:

   

Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, by Alton Brown (Ballantine)
Adventures in Chicken, by Eva Kosmas Flores (HMH)
Molly on the Range, by Molly Yeh (Rodale)

 

Noteworthy titles

The French Chef in America: Julia Child’s Second Act by Alex Prud’homme (Knopf)
The I Heart Naptime Cookbook: More than 100 easy 7 delicious recipes to make in less than one hour, by Jamielyn Nye (Grand Central Publishing).
¡Cuba!: Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen  by Dan Goldberg, Andrea Kuhn, and Jody Eddy (10 Speed)

   

 

This Week’s Recipe Test!

Book tested: LEON Happy Salads

Guest: Ivy Mabius

“I am an artist/designer who designs homes and businesses. I do complete commissioned murals, canvas paintings, ceramics and photographs when not running after two boys, two mastiffs, two rabbits, two sheep, two goats and 13 chickens.

I learned to cook seriously in two places. The first was in Brussels, Belgium from a then-boyfriend’s mother, Claudine Arnoldy, an amazing chef who never made the same thing twice.  The second city where I learned to cook was our culinary and cultural capital of the USA – New Orleans!  I designed many restaurants in New Orleans, notably Brigtsen’s Restaurant,  where she was hired by chef Frank Brigtsen – one of New Orleans’ best chefs and a prodigy of Paul Prudhomme’s.

I have always loved to cook.  My mom always made us delicious home cooked meals and now I have the opportunity to do the same for my family.  Family meal time is a priority to us as a family.  Having a small organic farm helps my overall recipe execution.”

 

Episode 5 Music

“Ultra Swing” by MrJuan
“Local Forecast” by Kevin MacLeod
“Swing Gitane”  by the Underscore Orkestra
“New Town Klezmer” by the Underscore Orkestra
“The Devil’s Dance” by Cuban Cowboys
“Lost in the Stars” by Kurt Weill, performed by Ivy Mabius (vocals) and Susie Chang (piano)

Episode 5 sound effects

Drum Roll with Cymbals Crash Copyright 2013 Iwan Gabovitch, CC-BY3
Opening a soda can by Taira Komori
Baby wail by BoilingSand

…and others hosted at freesound.org, soundbible.com, and looperman.com, as well as my own recordings.

 

The Level Teaspoon’s theme music:

Não me touques, performed by The Bees Knees International Café Orchestra

 

Hear it all on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” any other podcast service you may use!

EPISODE 4:  Nerd Heaven, The Awkward Oversight, and Soups to Share

The Level Teaspoon can be found on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play – or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” on any other podcast service you may use!   You can also hear it through your browser at The Level Teaspoon site.

Review titles:

   

Cook’s Science by Cook’s Illustrated: 300+ Recipes Engineered for Success, by America’s Test Kitchen (ATK)
How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking, by Mark Bittman (HMH)
Soup Swap: Comforting Recipes to Make and Share (Chronicle)

 

Episode 4 Noteworthy titles

Cake Magic! Mix and Match your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations by Caroline Wright (Workman)
The Ultimate Appetizer Ideabook, by Kiera and Cole Stipovich (Chronicle Books).
Knives & Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind their Tattoos (with Recipes)  Isaac Fitzgerald an Wendy McNaughton (Bloomsbury)

   

 

Episode 4 Recipe Tests

 

Guest: Pat Catalano

Pat is a “medical editor who enjoys eating more than cooking, but sometimes it’s just her turn to cook.”

Book tested: Dinner A.S.A.P: 150 Recipes Made as Easy as Possible

 

Guest: Denny Moyes

Denny is the husband of Pat (see above!). By day he is a set designer for TV, movies and theater and, he says, he owe his cooking skills to his mom, Graham Kerr (The Galloping Gourmet), Julia Child, and Alton Brown.

Book tested: Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea by Eric Lanlard (Mitchell Beazley)

 

Episode 4 Music:

“Infrastructure,” by Scott Holmes

“Clean Suit,” by We Is Shore Dedicated

“Kool Kats,” by Kevin MacLeod

“Que te Quiero Yo,” by El Niño del Parking

Sound effects assembled using material from corsica_S. and others hosted at freesound.org.  Other sources include soundbible.com, looperman.com, and my own recordings.

 

The Level Teaspoon’s theme music:

Não me touques, performed by The Bees Knees International Café Orchestra

 

Hear it all on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” any other podcast service you may use!

The Level Teaspoon can be found on iTunesStitcher, and Google Play – or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” on any other podcast service you may use!

You can also hear it through your browser at The Level Teaspoon site.

 

Review titles:

   

The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen, by Yasmin Khan (Bloomsbury)
Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China, by Fuchsia Dunlop  (W. W. Norton)
Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors, by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley)

 

Episode 3 Noteworthy titles
Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes, by Ronni Lundy (Clarkson Potter)
Dandelion & Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs, by Michelle McKenzie (Roost Books)
The Book of Lost Recipes: The Best Signature Dishes From Historic Restaurants Rediscovered
by Jaya Saxena (Page Street Publishing)

    

 

Episode 3 Recipe Tests
mussels-promo-picGuest: Christina Barber-Just

Christina is an editor at Smith College and a former dining columnist for Hampshire Life magazine in western Massachusetts. She makes a mean martini and has a weakness for kitchen gadgets.

Book tested:  Fresh Fish: A Fearless Guide to Grilling, Shucking, Searing, Poaching, and Roasting Seafood,  by Jennifer Trainer Thompson (Storey Publishing)

 

cocktail-promo-imageGuest: Sara Barber-Just

Sara is the English department chair at Amherst Regional High School here in western MA and she loves setting the scene before a dinner party with fanciful linens, show-stopping flowers, and cocktails that make you go, Mmmmmmm.

Book tested: The New Cocktail Hour: The Essential Guide to Hand-Crafted Drinks
by André Darlington and Tenaya Darlington (Running Press)

 

Episode 3 Music:

Avareh by Mamak Khadem
Bossa d’Automne by Thiaz Itch

Sound effects assembled using material from benboncan, audiorichter, saphe, kiddpark, and inspectorj, all hosted at freesound.org.  Other sources include soundbible.com, looperman.com, and my own recordings.

 

The Level Teaspoon’s theme music:

Não me touques, performed by The Bees Knees International Café Orchestra

 

Hear it all on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play or find it by searching for “The Level Teaspoon” any other podcast service you may use!

level-teaspoon-icon-512-x-512It’s here…!!!  After 15 years of reviewing cookbooks in print and radio (and 1 frantic month learning all about podcasting), may I present to you my weekly all-cookbooks all-the-time podcast, The Level Teaspoon.  You can find it on iTunes,  Stitcher, Google Play and others.

Is it informative?  Is it authoritative?  You’ll have to judge.  But I promise you won’t find a more irreverent cookbook review podcast anywhere.

WARNING: Listening when hungry may make cause you to eat way sooner than you meant to. Show notes follow.

 

Episode 1 Review titles:

 

Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & The Caucasus by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford (Kyle Books)
ITSU 20 minute suppers: Eat beautiful with noodles, grains, rice and soups, by Julian Metcalf & Blanche Vaughan (Mitchell Beazley)
All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China, by Carolyn Phillips (10 Speed Press)

 

Episode 1 Noteworthy titles

Not One Shrine: Two Food Writers Devour Tokyo by Becky Selengut  & Matthew Amster-Burton  (Thunk Books)
The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes (Oxmoor House)
Ice Cream Adventures: More Than 100 Deliciously Different Recipes, by Stef Ferrari (Rodale  Books)

   

 

Episode 1 Recipe Test

Guest: Mark Lattanzi works by day at 93.9 WRSI, a popular local radio station here western Massachusetts.  The rest of the time, Mark and his wife Cindy grow, make, and experiment with a ridiculous amount of food, much of which has been enthusiastically eaten by me.

Book tested:  Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, by Meathead Goldwyn (Rux Martin/HMH)

 

Episode 1 Music:

Little Lily Swing, by Tri-Tachyon
Ille de Roman Olsun, by Wind of Anatolia
Shange Mountain Song, by Chan Wai Fat

 

The Level Teaspoon‘s theme music:
Não me touques, performed by The Bees Knees International Café Orchestra

Episode 2 Review titles:

   
The Vegetable Butcher: How to Select, Prep, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini, by Cara Mangini (Workman Publishing)

Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes, by Robin Ha (10 Speed Press)

Floyd Cardoz: Flavorwalla: Big Flavor. Bold Spices. A New Way to Cook the Foods You Love., by Floyd Cardoz (Artisan Books)

Episode 2 Noteworthy titles
Cooking with the Muse: A Sumptuous Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary Poetry, and Literary Fare, by Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla (Tupelo Press)

The 420 Gourmet: The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine by Jeffthe420Chef (Harper Wave)

Ethnic American Cooking: Recipes for Living in a New World, edited by Lucy Long

Episode 2 Recipe Tests

Guest: Cindy Tarail

Cindy describes herself as “a community organization and community relations type of social worker.” She works at Cancer Connection in Northampton, which provides free services to those dealing with cancer and their loved ones, everything from support groups and one to one guidance to integrative therapies and creativity and exercise classes. Cindy and her family “grew raising our own meat, dairy, and vegetables, picking wild blueberries and raking clams, and cooking off the grid…given that I’m a gardener, we always come back to the simplest most wonderful meals based on vegetables and herbs, good olive oil and cheeses, and our own eggs.”

Book tested:  Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook, by Theresa Carle-Sanders (Delacorte  Press)

 

Guest: Bill Fosher

Bill Fosher is a New Hampshire farmer raising lamb, beef, pork, chicken, and turkey, and avid home cook. He believes in using good, simple ingredients and techniques to produce flavorful meals. Sometimes quick and dirty, sometimes long and laborious, but usually very tasty. Or spectacular failures. Almost never boring. Yeast confounds him.

Book tested: Master of the Grill: Foolproof Recipes, Top-Rated Gadgets, Gear & Ingredients Plus Clever Test Kitchen Tips & Fascinating Food Science, by America’s Test Kitchen

 

Episode 2 Music:

As the Night Ends, by Laszlo Harsanyi

Gold Rush, by Kevin MacLeod

The Show Must Be Go, by Kevin MacLeod

Latin Rhythm, by Sunsearcher

 

The Level Teaspoon’s theme music:

Não me touques, performed by The Bees Knees International Café Orchestra

level-teaspoon-icon-512-x-512

After 15 years publishing cookbook reviews in print media everywhere (as well as NPR), I’m going to be launching a cookbook podcast next week!  It’s called The Level Teaspoon and will feature cookbook reviews and interviews with ordinary folks testing brand-new recipes.

Watch this space!

Yesterday I finished weeding the beans.beans 1

It seemed like such a small thing, in the July jungle of my garden.  June rains had brought forth a high tide of grass, and then a fortnight of drought toughened up the weeds, which sent their sinewy roots deep.  When you pull them, they make you fight for every inch.

“Never weed unless you mulch!” I tell myself each summer; i.e. when you weed, put straw down on the newly cleared patch immediately afterward so the weeds don’t just come back, like the telemarketer who promises to “catch you at a better time”.  But “never weed unless you mulch” had turned into “never weed at all” somehow, as it so often does.

And so the beans, easiest of all vegetables to plant, easiest of all vegetables to maintain, sat stoic amongst a dense mat of spreading weeds.  Carpetweed and purslane, spurge and chickweed.  The beans were coping, as beans do.  They’re not ones to complain.  Anyone can grow beans, which is one reason I plant them.

Their pointed leaves, average-Joe green, drifted above a choking mass of radial foliage no more than half an inch high.  The sun beat down on my neck.  A weak impostor of a breeze stirred the invasive grasses all around.  It would’ve been easier, I realized belatedly, to do this with the garden tools, which sat forgotten in the barn.  Never mind, thought I, pinching the root hubs savagely with my fingertips.  I can cope too.  A drop of sweat trickled down, silently followed by another.

chervil 1I picked my way from row to row, avoiding the pale bean stalks and attempting to spare the chervil – that poor low-growing sidekick with its minuscule, finely cut leaves, all but smothered by the annual predators.  Chervil –  delicate in taste, lacy in habit, thin-stalked and self-effacing – is the canary in the coal mine of my garden.  When the garden’s well looked after, chervil thrives.  This chervil was all but extinct.

I laid the last handful of straw in place, straightened up, and looked around.  Seventeen beds of neglect stared back.  I looked back at the bean bed, a small act of restoration in a wide world of chaos.  I focused, hard, on the pattern of pale straw and bright leaves.  “Whenever skies look grey to me…and trouble begins to brew….I concentrate on you.” I sang it to myself, and only in my mind.

Sometimes it feels like I can only grow one kind of garden: a garden of intentions, with a harvest of reproach.  But the beans at least have no argument with me. For a scorching hour in a month of drought – drought for gardens, but also drought for freelance food writers – I felt gainfully occupied.  Nobody said my idea was unpublishable.  Nobody struggled through 600 stubbornly mediocre words.  Nobody had to make the best of a pitch gone sour.  Nobody needed to be cajoled into doing, or not doing, anything at all.

I slowly made my way back toward the house, passing beneath the grateful shade of the maple, trying out job titles.  T. Susan Chang, seamstress.  T. Susan Chang, occasional fortune teller.  T. Susan Chang, underemployed pessimist.  T. Susan Chang, friend to beans.

I decided I liked the last one best.

Remember that dreadful day in 2009 when you learned that Gourmet magazine was to be no more?  For many of us, it was a low point in America’s food culture.  Reichl, the queen of second acts, was tweeting and publicizing the last Gourmet cookbook in no time, but privately, she was devastated.  The new book chronicles that trying year and the comfort foods that pulled her through it, and I got to have a look at it for the Globe.

Click here to read my review of ‘My Kitchen Year’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version of ‘My Kitchen Year’ review

Meanwhile, the Washington Post asked me to have a look at two new gluten-free books.  It’s an exploding genre.  There’s books for pretty much any kind of gluten-free fare you can imagine, though for obvious reasons gluten-free baking probably remains the top seller.  One was wildly popular blogger Shauna Ahern’s re-imagining of thickened, battered, crusty treats usually off limits to the gluten-intolerant.

The other came from British columnist Susanna Booth, who writes the “Free From” (don’t snicker, now) column for The Guardian. To tell the truth, I would have truly enjoyed reviewing Jeanne Sauvage’s Gluten-Free Wish List, also released last year, most of all.  But as Jeanne is a friend, it was proscribed.

 Click here to read my review of  ‘Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented’ and ‘Gloriously Gluten-Free’ in the Washington Post.

Now cooking

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