[review + giveaway] Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament by Anne Renaud and Felicita Sala

Crisp, crunch, snap, munch.

Pardon me while I lick the salt off my fingers.

Mmmmmmmm, potato chips!

We all love them, but who actually invented them?

Some say it was George Crum, a Saratoga Springs chef working at Moon’s Lake House in 1853. In Mr. Crum’s Potato Predicament (Kids Can Press, 2017), author Anne Renaud and illustrator Felicita Sala serve up a taste-bud-tempting tater tale showing how Crum’s culinary clash with a picky patron accidentally led to the creation of the first c-r-i-s-p-y chip. 🙂

The story you are about to savor is a fictional tale with a helping of truth.

With those appetizing words, we meet George Crum, busy in his kitchen.

He fricasséed and flambéed, boiled and braised, poached and puréed. He made sorbets and soufflés, stews and succotashes, ragouts and goulashes.

Make no spuds about it, George loved what he did and he was really good at it. He had his own restaurant, Crum’s Place, where he and his plum-cheeked waitress Gladys kept customers happy devouring his choice concoctions.

George was considered to be the best cook in the county — until one fateful day, when a certain Filbert P. Horsefeathers walked in and ordered a “heaping helping of potatoes.”

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of love, longing, and liniment cake: a sweet treat from the anne of green gables cookbook (+ a giveaway!)

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)

Raspberry Cordial, anyone?


Have you ever noticed how often the characters in Anne of Green Gables take tea? Apparently it’s the drink consumed most often in the Anne series, with cake and pie topping the list of foods. Of course there’s also apples, preserves (cherry, blue plum, crab apple, strawberry), biscuits, cookies, puddings, taffy and chocolate caramels. Is it any wonder I want to live in these books? 🙂

We had an elegant tea. Mrs. Barry had the very best china set out, Marilla, just as if I was real company. I can’t tell you what a thrill it gave me. Nobody ever used their very best china on my account before. And we had fruit cake and pound cake and doughnuts and two kinds of preserves, Marilla. And Mrs. Barry asked me if I took tea and said, ‘Pa, why don’t you pass the biscuits to Anne?’ It must be lovely to be grown up, Marilla, when just being treated as if you were is so nice.


Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla and Richard Farnsworth as Matthew in the 1985 Sullivan TV series.


For some reason I didn’t read Anne of Green Gables until I was an adult — and not until after I had seen the 1985 television series with Megan Follows as Anne. I immediately inhaled all the Anne books, wishing Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert would adopt me, and that I could have a bosom friend like Diana Barry and a dreamy admirer like Gilbert Blythe. I could picture myself sitting at the Cuthbert kitchen table, pouring from the brown teapot, buttering thick slices of homemade bread, and trying to make conversation with shy Matthew.

Last Fall, when the revised and expanded edition of The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook came out, I decided to reread the original novel, which in turn aroused my curiosity about Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery.


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[review + recipe] Pass the Pandowdy, Please by Abigail Ewing Zelz and Eric Zelz

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Imagine attending a sumptuous banquet where the invited guests are fascinating historical figures from around the world.

Seated to your left, the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II feasts on “tortillas, corn, roast duck, rabbit, turkey, and fruit,” before swigging a dozen gold cups of frothy, spicy chocolate. Ahhh!

To your right, Christopher Columbus tentatively samples an avocado, a few guavas, some peanuts and pumpkin. He’s already devoured all the pineapples in sight. “Got any spices?” he asks.

Up at the head table, the ravishing Cleopatra nibbles on a few apricots and figs before fixing her make-up. Pharaohs must always look their best, after all. Her homemade lipstick made from crushed beetles and ants always does the trick. That, and a few pickles.

In Pass the Pandowdy, Please: Chewing on History with Famous Folks and Their Fabulous Foods (Tilbury House, 2016), author Abigail Ewing Zelz and illustrator Eric Zelz shine the spotlight on 16 cool movers and shakers through the ever tempting lens of food. As Abigail notes in her introduction, “food reflects culture, climate, time period, wealth, and beliefs.” No better way to get to know someone, I always say.

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[sweet review + recipe] A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman and Susan Gal

Please help yourself to a Pineapple Macadamia Bar

On Christmas Eve, millions of kids all over the world will be leaving out cookies and milk for Santa, and many will also provide a few carrots for his trusty reindeer.

Though my family did not do this when I was little, I’ve more than made up for it since. Any holiday tradition involving cookies is fine by me, and Santa deserves the very best. 🙂

Until I read A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman and Susan Gal (HMH, 2017), I didn’t know very much about Santa in the context of other cultures. As an egocentric American, my concept of “cookies and milk” was very generic — a few sugar cookies here, a gingersnap there, chocolate chip cookies everywhere. That’s understandable when you tend to think Santa belongs only to you.

Silly me, Santa belongs to everyone, and he enjoys lots of deliciously different treats (not all are cookies) as he travels hither and yon. Yes, he swigs a lot of milk, but he’s also able to wet his whistle with tea, beer, sparkling cider, eggnog, hot chocolate and wine. Lucky man!

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[scrummy review + recipe] Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story by Nadiya Hussain and Clair Rossiter

Ho, Ho, Ho, jingle jangle jingle – what better way to rustle up a little holiday spirit than with a brand new Nadiya Hussain story-cookbook!

If you’re a fan of The Great British Baking Show/Great British Bake-Off, you know Nadiya as the GBBO Series 6 winner (2015). Ever since then, Nadiya has been racing full steam ahead as an author, columnist, and television presenter, while remaining a devoted mum to her three children..

So far, she’s published two adult cookbooks, one contemporary novel, and now, two children’s story-cookbooks. You may remember when I featured Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story last Fall and baked her Very Berry Breakfast Muffins. I was excited to learn she had published a second children’s book, Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story, which was just released in early October.

Nadiya once again celebrates her love of storytelling and cooking, but this time her focus is on what matters most about the holidays: caring, giving, sharing, family, joy and fun.

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