Posts filed under Book Reviews

Tiny Food Par-tay

I usually don't care for blogger swag and review copies because it's usually dumb crap like cheetos. There is no world in which I'm going to write a blog post in exchange for cheetos. I have morals and standards people! What I will do is beg, plead and otherwise prostrate myself for a book written by bloggers whom I read regularly. Today I'm psyched to bring you a review of the new cookbook from one of my favorite food blogs Spoon Fork Bacon. Spoiler alert: I love it.

Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park's new book is my favorite kind of cookbook, one written for a specific situation. I like that if I'm looking for something to bring to a party that I not only have a whole book of go-to recipes, I have a book of all super-cute tiny recipes.

I also like this book because it lists food the way I eat it, all fusioned-up. I didn't grow up eating exclusively Filipino food or "american" food for that matter. My family ate everything, chinese, mexican etc and I've always liked mixing it up foodwise.  The first recipe I tested were kimchi deviled eggs with candied bacon. They were delicious and bi-cultural just like me. I felt very emotionally in sync with the deviled eggs. Second bonus? Despite our deep meaningful connection they were still very simple to make. I got all the ingredients at Trader Joes. I had very good intentions of showing you pictures but my egg peeling skills made for some unappetizing looking appetizers. My son and husband were not emotionally in sync with the eggs but this did not prevent them from gobbling them greedily.

Next up I tried out the arepas with guasaca (avocadao sauce). Since I'm currently outnumbered by Colombians in my household arepas were a no-brainer. These were super-easy to make and ready to go in about 30 minutes. Our households chief Colombian/arepa maker was duly impressed by the creation and I could imagine making these in huge quantities for a party and letting people build their own with mixed fillings. Look out for your invite to the Tiny Arepa Party. Wha-what?!

I think the last thing to mention about this book is that it has pictures of every recipe. Some people are very serious cooks who do not need pictures. I am not one of those people. I want a big fat, beautiful picture of each dish to inspire me to get off my duff and make a recipe. Tiny Food Party will inspire you. I want to make it all: caprese skewers, tiny lemon meringue drinks, mini-chicken and waffles. It's all on the to-eat list and my crew and I are scheming about possible tiny-food parties. If you like party food, you will dig this book. It's on bookshelves now, so get to it!

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not compensated or required to write this post. All opinions about the books quality and possible emotional projections of ethnic identity upon deviled eggs are my own.

Posted on October 8, 2012 and filed under Book Reviews, Bossy Pants Recommends.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Awhile back a friend watched me discipline my son. The most delicate way to describe my attitude towards him in that moment might be "exasperated". She looked at us amusedly, him whining, me exhausted and said "Thank you so much for not making it look easy. I really appreciate that you don't pretend it's easy." I think some people might've taken the comment as a backhanded compliment. The kind of snipe that's emblematic of the so-called Mommy wars. I didn't. I knew my friend was sincere. I've treasured that compliment deep in my heart because it brought me comfort to remember that our imperfections can have the same redeeming qualities as our strengths. After reading Dr. Brene Brown's book I think she would agree. Her book Daring Greatly discusses the power of vulnerability, arguing that our avoidance of vulnerability does not help us to avoid disappointment and pain but rather to miss out on opportunities for love, connection, creativity and triumph. At the risk of sounding melodramatic I'd like to state for the record that I would recommend this book unreservedly to anyone and everyone. It is changing the way I see myself, my loved ones and the people who populate my world. It will be a classic that changes the way we understand vulnerability, fear and shame.

Dr. Brown is a reasearch professor in Social Work and has investigated shame and vulnerability over the past decade. Her book balances academic rigor, practical advice and compelling personal stories. While reading this book I wanted to cry and take notes at the same time. It was a very inspiring and unique reading experience.

I could tell you more specifics about the book but I think the following story will tell you all you need to know. Almost immediately after finishing this book I experienced a very difficult and charged conversation that left me dazed. The details of the conversation are not important but vulnerable seems to soft a word to describe how I felt afterwards. I was so upset with myself that I took a walk to collect my thoughts. I ended up jaywalking across two streets directly towards a policeman on a bike. Understandably upset by my blatant disregard for safety/the law/common sense the policeman proceeded to rip me a new one at the stoplight (there were a ton of people around to watch. Bonus!) "What were you thinking? The way you jaywalked is so dangerous AND it doesn't even save any time. What is WRONG WITH YOU?" As he sat there berating me publicly all I could think was "Man, if you only knew. Everything is wrong with me today."

The upside was that the wretched day became a useful pop quiz for practicing the tools in the book, which is exactly what I did after I extracted myself from the policeman's fury. And I don't mean that I did some mumbo-jumbo "affirmation" exercise and then watched TV. I mean that I literally went home after my disaster of a day, sat down with my book and started following the precise instructions of how to deal with the fallout. I struggle with perfectionism and I've often found that the kind of mistakes that led to my no good, very, bad, terrible day land me in a state of paralyzing fear. Not this time. This time I'm doing my best to remember that growth is often uncomfortable and not to fear the discomfort. I'm trying to remember how terrible it is to be the one in the wrong and to remember to be more generous and kind when I'm disciplining my child. I'm trying to be corageous and not run away or obesses about the valuable criticism I've received. Most of all though, I'm remembering that there is a very important action item for each of you:  read this book

This is a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club. All opinions expressed are my own. To join in on the group discussion on Daring Greatly click here.

Posted on September 19, 2012 and filed under Book Reviews, Bossy Pants Recommends.

Incendiary by Chris Cleave

This book is devastating. I started reading it a few days into our stay in Santander and after the first few chapters I was overcome with anxiety that someone was following me in order to kidnap my child. You'll be pleased to know that I shared this "suspicion" with my husband who instead of talking me down like a regular person instead joined me in the crazy. The joys of marriage.

This is an epistolary novel written from the point of view of a working class British woman whose husband and young son are killed in a terrorist attack. I am not a working class British woman but I thought the author was spot on. This picture of a woman whose life and mental health are clearly falling apart felt incredibly real so much so that I'm not sure if I would really recommend this book. For me, it was very upsetting, probably more so because it felt a little close to present reality to ignore. If you are looking for something incredibly well-written in a unique voice I suggest this to you, but be forewarned, its intense.

Posted on July 31, 2012 and filed under Book Reviews, Bossy Pants Recommends.

Taft 2012

Ludicrous and lovely, this is a great summer beach read. It's short, fun and about a president so you can pretend to look down on everybody reading "fluffier" stuff. This book presents an alternative world where President Taft wakes up from some kind of suprise coma in 2012. No time is wasted on the mechanics of why Taft is undead which is great. Who cares? He's back and lumbering his way through a changed world. I found this book to be both funny and thoughtful. Read it now. It's what Taft would want.

Posted on July 30, 2012 and filed under Book Reviews, Bossy Pants Recommends.