While I enjoyed it, Sisterland is my least favorite of Curtis Sittenfeld's books. Her first book "Prep" was an engrossing memoir-like novel about the adolescent experience and "American Wife" was the witty, bold novelization of Laura Bush's story. With Sisterland, Sittenfeld brings us Daisy and Violent Tucker - adolescent twins of distant parents in a St. Louis suburb. Daisy (who later changes her name to Kate) is the steady boring twin while Vi is irreverent, overweight, and slightly out of control. The novel is told from Kate's perspective as a young adult, married with two young children, with plenty of time revisiting the girls youth and adolescence which fundamentally shaped their adult identities. The problem I had with the novel is that Sittenfeld chose to focus on the more sedate, less interesting sister. This resulted in book with some real lulls, especially in the middle. That said, Sittenfeld certainly brought the drama at the end, bringing some life and oomph to the book in the final pages. This simple veggie a lo mein, while seemingly boring like Kate, is a great weeknight staple with a lot of flavor, and it is a dish Kate eats on the night she decides to let herself lose a little control.
I am little bit late for the July Cover Recipe post, but better late then never! I clearly have a thing for berries an ice cream, because this month I again turned to these fabulous summer ingredients to make chocolate raspberry ice cream sandwiches from the July issue of Food Network Magazine. Not my favorite food magazine - I'll admit it, I am a snob about the Food Network. In spite of this, the ice cream sandwiches are perfect for July and I fancied them a little bit by making my own ganache. The magazine recipe doesn't specifiy ingredients for these and the only homemade piece is the cookies. But that is what is great about these - make these cookies and a million different variations are at your finger tips. Want to make your own ice cream, go for it! Want to make homemade toppings, go for it! Want to combine weird flavors like mint chocolate chip and strawberries - the world is your oyster, do what makes you happy! I went with the cover recipe of the chocolate cookie, fudge sauce, berry ice cream and fresh raspberries. An elegant seasonal choice for July. These cookies are really keepers - they came together easily, taste delicious and froze beautifully. Summer is still here, have fun!
Kate Atkinson's Life After Life was made for this blog. Never before have I been so spoiled for choices for what to make for bookcooker. The novel is set in England, from about 1910 to after WWII and includes countless references to very British sounding dishes - roly poly, rose madder, windsor brown, lump cookies, milk fadge, cabinet pudding, picallili, bakewell tart, iced fancy. The list could go on. In addition, there is a brief detour in Germany - Pfannkuchen, Schokolade, Palatschniken, Schawrtzwalder kirschtorte. How could I possibly decide what to make? I landed on Egyptian pudding, which I think was the first reference in the book to a fabulous English dessert. It was Mrs. Glover, the housekeeper to the Todd family makes after the birth of the book's protagonist - Ursula Todd. The shear volume of interesting British dishes is a result of the novel's unique narrative device - throughout the book Ursula Todd is born, dies and then born again - each time making it a little farther into her life. Atkinson starts over and over again, starting the story from the same place - Ursula's birth, and each time some disaester befalls her. I thought this might bore me (the same stuff over and over again), but it really is a fascinating story every time - a little different every time. The effect of this unique narrative device was truly dazzling, and the Egyptian Pudding rocked too.
I am hoping to start a new feature here on bookcooker, partly as an attempt to get out of my blogging rut! Every month I will make a cover recipe from some food magazine - first up the cover of Martha Stewart Livings June issue - a very simple berry float. It feels a bit like cheating to make this, it is nothing much more than berries, vanilla ice cream and soda thrown together - but it has been impact, both visually and in taste. It is a great easy treat to throw together when you are in the mood for something special and the color scheme obviously works perfect for July 4th or for chearing on Team USA in the World Cup! Yum!