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“Antoni: Let’s Do Dinner” by Antoni Porowski; “Everyone’s Table” by Gregory Gourdet

Summer’s intensely hot, humid days are on the way out, much to my relief. I’m an autumn person; I live for cooler temperatures, gentler sunlight, and the changing colors of leaves. Yet I find it bittersweet that the bountiful growing season is winding down. Still, there are goodies to be found at area farmer’s markets, which is convenient because I’m continuing to seek inspiration from the cookbooks that grace the shelves of the Joplin Public Library.

As a fan of the Netflix series “Queer Eye,” I was excited to see that the show’s food and wine expert, Antoni Porowski, has released a new book. “Antoni: let’s do dinner” is the second cookbook by the author. It’s brimming with dishes that come together easily, a handy trait during these busy fall days.

The chapter titles are fun – “Swim Team” is devoted to seafood – and contain recipes that appeal to an array of tastes.

My favorite chapter was “Break an Egg.” I tagged almost everything in it to try at some point. Cheesy Polenta with Eggs, Mushrooms and Thyme would make for a satisfying, fast dinner. The Masala Spinach Omelette intrigued me, with its use of mustard seeds and mango chutney. And who doesn’t love pizza? You might consider the Breakfast-for-dinner Pizza with Eggs, Zucchini and Spicy Salami.

Being a fan of pasta, I also gravitated toward the “Carb Comas” section. There was a Rigatoni alla Vodka dish that uses Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream for a healthier touch. And if you can find decent tomatoes this time of year, I’d give the Penne with Fresh Tomato Sauce, Burrata and Herbs a whirl; personally, I love a raw tomato sauce, and I’m crazy for burrata.

Craving meatier fare? Sink your teeth into the Strip Steak with Harissa Butter & Parsley Salad. Or try this spin on a classic dish, Lamb Lollies with Mint Gremolata. If poultry is more your thing, turn on the oven and throw together the Sheet Pan Chicken with Rosemary & Grapes.

I enjoyed flipping through “Antoni: let’s do dinner.” I appreciate the approachable nature of the recipes, which rely on easily acquired fresh ingredients and pantry staples. And the author pulls in flavors from other countries, from Vietnam to Turkey to Poland, so you have an opportunity to expand your palate.

But if you’re looking for a cookbook with a bit more depth, might I recommend “Everyone’s Table” by Gregory Gourdet?

I realized this was a deeply personal work for “Top Chef” star Gourdet when I read the introduction, entitled “A Recipe for Change.” Across several emotional pages, he shares with readers his Haitian roots, details his battles with addiction and describes his journey to better health through diet and exercise.

This cookbook’s subtitle is “Global Recipes for Modern Health,” which clues you in to the fact that the author has created dishes free of gluten, dairy, soy, legumes and grains. Wait – don’t run away! You’re in for a treat, I promise. Within the pages of “Everyone’s Table” are tempting recipes. Whether you are vegan or follow a paleo diet, there is something here for you.

I consider myself well-versed in meatless, dairy-free cooking, but Gregory Gourdet taught me a few things. As a long-time vegetarian, I miss a classic Caesar salad, so I’m always on the hunt for flavorful, anchovy-free versions. Gourdet features a Power Greens and Herbs with Caesar-Style Pine Nut Dressing. Pine nuts! I never would have considered that! And I love the use of leafy greens such as spinach, collards, chard and kale.

Tomato soup is my jam, one of my favorite comfort foods. I have my old faithful recipe, but I’m forever on the lookout for new versions. “A Recipe for Change” offers up Tomato-Hazelnut Milk Soup with Garam Masala. I’m all about hazelnuts but had not thought of using hazelnut milk. And I love the addition of garam masala, which jazzes up a traditional soup.

Are you a snacker? Put down the Cheez-Its and try the Creamy Cashew Dip with Jalapeno and Seedy Seaweed Crackers. These homemade crackers feature such powerhouse seeds as chia and flax, along with sunflower seeds.

But, wait, I promised there was something for everyone here. Step away from the vegan dishes and get carnivorous, if you like. There are chapters that feature recipes such as Spicy Sauteed Shrimp with Scallions, Cashews and Pineapple; Chicken Roasted over Root Vegetables with Ginger and Rosemary; and Spice-Crusted Pork Chops with Cherries and Oregano.

I can’t say enough good things about “A Recipe for Change.” It’s inclusive, encompassing many types of diets, and contains diverse, healthy recipes that are far from boring. I admire the author’s honesty and willingness to share his personal story. And the photographs are gorgeous – beautifully framed, colorful, and appetizing.

Joplin Public Library has an amazing cookbook collection, with something for everyone. “Atoni: let’s do dinner” and “Everyone’s Table” are but a couple of the newer additions. Come by and explore what we have to offer!

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“Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking” (Einat Admony and Janna Gur) by Lisa E. Brown

Do you know what a shuk is?

I must admit that the term was new to me when I came across a cookbook here at the Joplin Public Library. Thankfully, the opening pages of Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking by Einat Admony and Janna Gur define the term in detail. Simply put, a shuk is an open-air marketplace in towns and cities where Israelis flock to buy produce, meats, spices, and so on.

Although I was previously unfamiliar with the term “shuk,” I’m no stranger to food from Israel and its neighbors. In fact, being fond of “appetizer” meals, I’ve been known to put together a platter of pita, labneh (a tangy, yogurt-based cheese), za’atar-spiced tomatoes, baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) and hummus (chickpea dip) for dinner. Needless to say, I was eager to delve into this cookbook!

If you are new to Israeli cooking, never fear. Shuk is very user-friendly.

There are excellent glossaries that cover popular ingredients, from tahini (sesame paste), to preserved lemons, to the above-mentioned za’atar, a mixture of herbs, sesame seeds and the delightfully sour, beautifully colored sumac.

And if you are worried about where to find the more exotic ingredients in our area, never fear. Fox Farm Whole Foods carries many of them, and there’s always the Internet. Many of the vegetables can be found at area farmers markets such as Joplin Empire Market and Webb City Farmers Market – in season, of course.

The photographs are gorgeous, a feast for the eyes and a temptation to the stomach. So colorful and zesty, they leap off the page and invite you to try the dishes.

One of my favorite aspects of Shuk is how it highlights individual shuks, exploring them with images and words. It offers helpful hints on the story behind the shuks, the vibe and when to visit. As someone who loves to travel, it brings home the local flavors and colors of Israel.

And the recipes. I can’t neglect to mention the recipes!  So much yum and goodness for all palates.

I went through Shuk page by page, marking recipes that I wanted to try with little bits of paper. And there were many of them!

I was intrigued by the Israeli Salad. For years I have relied on the Israeli za’atar salad recipe from one of my old Moosewood cookbooks, but Shuk’s includes carrots, which I never would have thought of adding. I’m sure this particular vegetable brings a crunchy sweetness to counterbalance the tartness of the lemon juice and sumac.

And then there’s the Quinoa Tabbouleh with Kale and Dried Cranberries. I love traditional tabbouleh, in all its tomatoey, herby goodness. But it’s a summer salad, and I try to cook seasonally. However, making it with kale and cranberries makes it perfect for fall and winter.

Much to my delight, there were multiple pages covering that gorgeous nightshade vegetable known as eggplant. I adore eggplant. (It’s not for everyone, I agree, but I would contend that if you don’t like it, you just haven’t had it prepared the right way.) Here there are recipes for basic dips and spreads, as well as an intriguing Sweet and Sour Baked Eggplant.

And the humble chickpea gets its due, as well, along with its partner in sesame goodness, tahini. Did you know that if you soak and boil dried chickpeas with a little baking soda, it can transform your hummus into something especially silky and smooth?

Looking for meatier fare? There are dishes that utilize chicken, seafood, beef and lamb.

And we can’t forget the desserts! The tahini shortbread cookies sound delicious, and I also tagged a recipe for Fresh Orange Pound Cake that I fully intend to try.

I’ve just touched on a handful of reasons why Shuk is a terrific new addition to the world of cookbooks, but see for yourself. You can find it shelved with the new non-fiction at the Joplin Public Library.

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“The New Frontier: 112 Fantastic Favorites for Everyday Eating” (Ree Drummond), by Lisa E. Brown

Do you have any authors that seem like old friends? You read their works over and over, or eagerly await their next release. My oldest author friend is Jane Austen; I’ve been reading her since I was 12, and have yet to tire of her.

But my newest old author friend is blogger, Food Network personality, photographer and cookbook author Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman. I always look forward to her next cookbook, and it’s a pure pleasure poring over the colorful photographs, chatty introductions, and mouth-watering recipes. Her latest cookbook is entitled THE NEW FRONTIER: 112 FANTASTIC FAVORITES FOR EVERYDAY EATING.

Ree Drummond’s books are accessible to cooks of all levels. Before you even get to the recipes, she includes a list of equipment she uses in her food preparation. I know my way around a kitchen, so it seems pretty basic to me, but not everyone has experience with Dutch ovens or food processors. She also includes a section entitled Instant Pot 101, as well as labels she applies to her recipes, from “lower-carb,” to “freezes well,” to “indulgent.” And as she does in all her cookbooks, she includes step-by-step photographs that I find helpful.

THE NEW FRONTIER is also user-friendly in its organization, with chapters starting with “Breakfast” and ending with “Desserts.” In between you can find recipes for “Snacks and Starters,” “Drinks,” “Small Sweet Bites,” even “Meatless.”

I’m not big on breakfast food, but the prospect of her “Carrot Cake Baked French Toast,” made with multigrain bread, pecans and carrots and slathered with a cream cheese glaze, had me salivating. I’ll definitely be trying that one! And I liked her spin on a diner classic: “Bacon, Kale and Tomato Sandwich.” That would pair nicely with a steaming bowl of homemade tomato soup (which Drummond has a fantastic recipe for on her blog and, I believe, in one of her previous cookbooks), although I would substitute tempeh bacon to suit my vegetarian ways.

I’m always looking for something to make when I host parties or attend a potluck, and I think I found a new snack to offer guests: “Goat Cheese Truffles.” They seem super easy to make and add a touch of casual elegance to a gathering.

Like adult beverages? Drummond offers up a selection. I love a good Bloody Mary, and her “Caprese Bloody Mary,” set off with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls and basil, then finished with a balsamic glaze, is right up my alley, combining one of my favorite drinks with my favorite salad. By the way, if you abstain from alcohol, the author frequently provides non-alcoholic variations of her drinks.

As someone who adheres to a meat-free diet, I’ll shy away from covering the chapters about chicken, beef and pork, and seafood. Suffice it to say, the recipes are varied and seem simple to make. If you eat meat, there should be something for you in THE NEW FRONTIER.

Bear with me while I review her section on meatless meals. The “Street Corn Soup” sounds deliciously flavorful, although it will probably have to wait until corn season rolls around next summer. Drummond is branching out with some of her ingredients, such as with the “Grilled Halloumi and Vegetables.” Halloumi is a briny, firm cheese that holds up well to heat, and I just happen to have some in my refrigerator, thanks to a trip to Trader Joe’s a while back. I see this recipe in my immediate future. Finally, there’s the “Kung Pao Cauliflower,” which gives me an excuse to use one of my favorite Asian ingredients, chili paste. And I will probably add some tofu to this dish for some protein.

Looking for something sweet to balance out the savory? THE NEW FRONTIER has that covered, with “Butterscotch Lava Cakes” and “Caramel Pecan Cheesecakes.” Me, I’m going to try the “Peanut Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Chunk Cookies” and the “Caramel Apple Quesadillas.” Yum!

If you’re seeking ideas to please the pickiest of eaters, you might check out the selection of Ree Drummond’s fun, friendly cookbooks that the Joplin Public Library has in its collection, including her latest. The title has a few holds on it, so you might want to jump on the list if you can’t wait for it to appear on the shelf.

And with that, I wish you happy times in the kitchen!

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“Stonewall: A building, an uprising, a revolution” (Rob Sanders and Jamey Christoph), by Lisa E. Brown

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1969, many significant events in U.S. history happened, among them the Moon landing, Woodstock, and the Manson murders. But the one that is foremost in my mind and in my heart is the Stonewall riots, when LGBTQ+ individuals fought back against legalized harassment and oppression by demonstrating against police raids in New York City.

Although this story has been told many time before, in different formats and styles, author Rob Sanders and illustrator Jamey Christoph delve in again, with their marvelous storybook, “Stonewall: A building, an uprising, a revolution,” found in the Children’s Department of the Joplin Public Library.

Sanders and Christoph’s approach is to highlight the history of both a structure and a liberation movement, in words and images.

Originally built in Greenwich Village in the 1840s as stables to house the horses of wealthy New Yorkers, the two buildings witnessed the eventual flight of the affluent uptown, the arrival of immigrants, and the rise of the Village as a cultural center of New York City before being joined together as first a restaurant and then later a nightclub, the Stonewall Inn.

Through the years, the Village became a haven, “a place where you could be yourself and where being different was welcomed and accepted.” Musicians, writers, and artists of all ages, religions and races brought creative energy to the district. And gay men and women were welcome in the Village, “a home for people who were told that they didn’t fit in or belong.”

In 1967, the Stonewall Inn opened, providing a place for gay men, lesbians, transgender people, drag queens and many other individuals to socialize. But the nightclub was not a completely safe haven: Police raids, fueled by laws that persecuted and prosecuted those who were gay or wore the opposite gender’s clothing, were common, culminating in detainments and arrests.

But in the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, something changed. Stonewall patrons, angry at and frustrated by the harassment, had had enough. They rose up and resisted the police. For several days, crowds demonstrated and fought back. The Stonewall Uprising had started, and it was the birth of the modern gay-rights movement.

The author and illustrator take a simple, honest approach to this crucial moment in human-rights history. Sanders doesn’t flinch from using terms such as “gay,” “lesbian” and “transgender” in his writing, and Christoph features artwork, by turns colorful and muted, of men in women’s clothing and smiling, same-sex couples dancing, holding hands and embracing. The story is told matter of factly, without being sensationalized.

If you’re looking for a similar book, I highly recommend one of Rob Sanders’ other storybooks, “Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag,” which I have previously reviewed in these pages. You can also consult any of the Children’s Department staff for additional guidance.

I also urge you to visit the Joplin Public Library and learn more about the events of the summer of 1969. We have books, DVDs and other resources for all ages that offer entertainment and edification.


Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List (Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise), by Lisa E. Brown

Dogs. I love ‘em.

So when I saw “Stay” featured on the Facebook page of an Oklahoma public library that I follow, I knew I had to read it. Problem was, Joplin Public Library didn’t have this already two-year-old children’s book in its collection. No worries, I simply suggested it for purchase and impatiently waited until it arrived.

Written and illustrated by sisters Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise, respectively, this storybook is subtitled “A girl, a dog, a bucket list.” Lest you think with wording like that that it will be a heartbreaking tale of loss, let me assure you that “Stay” is in fact a sweet story of the special relationship between two friends.

Eli, a big, fluffy, gray and white dog, has been around since Astrid came home from the hospital as a newborn. As Klise puts it, “He was Astrid’s first friend.” He is her protector, her playmate, her pillow. He eats under the table when she eats, and sleeps in her bed.

But as Astrid grows up, Eli grows old. It’s a poignant refrain in the book.

One day Astrid comments on how slowly Eli walks now. After a special day at the park, spent eating popcorn and sliding down a sun-warmed slide, Astrid vows to make a list of the things Eli should do before he gets too old. She forms a bucket list of adventures they can have together.

What’s on Astrid and Eli’s bucket list? Riding a bike. Checking out dog books from the library and reading them together. Going to see “Lassie” in a movie theater. Sleeping under the stars. Taking a bubble bath. Astrid even surprises Eli with something special.

Weeks pass, and Eli continues to age. His vision fades, and he no longer has the strength to walk to the park. But that doesn’t matter, as Astrid and Eli happily spend precious time together.

I will warn you, I shed tears while reading this book. It’s not that “Stay” was sad, per se; it was just bittersweet, and it made me think about the dogs I’ve had in my life, and how I watched them grow old.

There was Charlie, the intelligent and loyal black miniature poodle I grew up with. Then came Costi, the yappy Shih Tzu prone to begging at mealtimes that joined my family when I was in high school. Toby, the first dog I adopted as an adult, was a stubborn, willful Rottweiler-German Shepherd mix who tested my patience but became my whole heart and taught me how to enjoy life again. Molly, a rescue rough-coated Collie was possibly the sweetest dog I’ve ever met. All those dogs are gone now, but I have Buster, my fun-loving Corgi-German Shepherd mix who at 10 years old still likes to jump off the side of the back porch, chase rabbits and tussle with my dog sister, Destiny. But even now Buster is slowing down. His eyes are growing less bright, and white hair is starting to creep into his muzzle. I’m confident he has years left, but I’m still aware of the inevitable passage of time.

I hope you find inspiration in this lovely book, which can be found in the Children’s Department of the Joplin Public Library. Yes, we grow old, as do our animal companions, but there is still much fun to be had together. Embrace the time you have, and make it special. Even the little things you do create lasting memories.

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Cravings: Hungry for More (Chrissy Teigen), by Lisa E. Brown

I must admit that when I received Chrissy Teigen’s first cookbook, Cravings: Recipes for all the Food You Want to Eat, in a subscription gift box, I shook my head. I knew Teigen only as a model and the wife of singer John Legend. But could she cook? I had my doubts, but I dived in and, to my surprise, I enjoyed the book. There were actually recipes I wanted to try, and I became a fan of her chatty, breezy style of writing.

So when the Joplin Public Library recently acquired Teigen’s follow-up cookbook, Cravings: Hungry for More, I promptly put it on hold and eagerly checked it out. I got distracted by work and let it sit on my desk for a couple weeks, but when I finally opened it, I was delighted. And I found several recipes I want to try.

Like savory waffles? Teigen has a Crispy Parmesan Waffle Breakfast, featuring easily homemade waffles with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and served with a Spicy, Buttery Maple Syrup. She had me at cheese and buttery maple syrup. Yum. One note: The buttery maple syrup gets its heat from red pepper flakes, although I would probably use a smallish dollop of sriracha instead.

I plan to make the Cheesy Polenta with Mushrooms for dinner this week. It looks like a fast, simple after-work meal, with the fanciest ingredient being fresh thyme. The recipe calls for white button mushrooms, though I prefer baby portobellos, or creminis. Really, any mushroom would do. Who doesn’t love mushrooms?

Like Teigen, I love soup. She features a Creamy Tomato Soup with Peppery Parmesan Crisps. I’m always looking for a good tomato soup recipe, and although I think I prefer my old stand-by that uses tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil and oregano, Teigen’s tomato soup is quick and basic. The Peppery Parmesan Crisps are a nicely elegant alternative to my favorite accompaniment, grilled cheese.

Speaking of grilled cheese, I’m most eager to try the Sweet & Spicy Peach & Brie Grilled Cheese. Ideally, I would have come across this recipe when peaches were in season and found at this summer’s farmers markets, but, alas, it’s November and I’ll have to settle for a store-bought peach. I can’t get enough of Brie lately, so this recipe really calls to me. It features a basic ingredient list of butter, bread, Thai sweet chili sauce (probably my favorite condiment), red onion, Brie and one peach. Put them all together, and throw in the skillet. Easy-peasy.

I could go on, but that would just make you and me hungrier.

Aside from the variety of recipes I’m looking forward to trying, there’s much I appreciate about Cravings: Hungry for More. I like Teigen’s conversational writing style, which she displays when she prefaces each recipe. Ingredients for her recipes are easily acquired; it’s all stuff you’d have in your refrigerator or pantry, or could find at your local supermarket or farmers market. This book is definitely a family affair: pictures feature Teigen’s mother and father, husband and children, and several recipes are inspired by her Thai mother. And the food photographs that partner with the recipes look scrumptious.

The Joplin Public Library has both of Teigen’s cookbooks in its collection, as well as an e-book version of Cravings: Hungry for More. If you’re looking for an accessible cookbook and some delightful inspiration in the kitchen, I suggest you check them out.


Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag (Rob Sanders, Illustrated by Steven Salerno), by Lisa E. Brown

Although I don’t read a lot of children’s storybooks, one occasionally catches my eye with its use of artwork or subject. The latter was the case with Pride: the Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno.

This slim volume opens with some brief background of then-unknown Harvey Milk, relating his hopes and the crux of Pride: Harvey dreamed that everyone “even gay people” would have equality. He dreamed that he and his friends would be treated like everyone else. He dreamed that one day, people would be able to live and love as they pleased.

Harvey goes on to find success as a politician, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977 and becoming one of the United States’ first openly gay people elected to public office.

He and his friends plan protests to highlight inequality and unfair laws. Before one such march, Harvey has an idea. Deciding that the gay community needs a symbol, he talks to artist and Chanute, Kan., native Gilbert Baker, who suggests a flag. Gilbert’s vision culminates in the creation of a flag with eight colorful stripes, a rainbow flag.

The flag was first unfurled on June 25, 1978, at the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco. It was â rainbow, as bright and unique as the men and women who walked behind it.

Sadly, five months later, on November 27, 1978, five months after the debut of the rainbow flag, Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone are assassinated by former city supervisor Dan White. That night, there is no flag, no protests, only thousands of silent, grieving people marching with burning candles and mourning the loss of two lives.

Harvey’s death didn’t slow the momentum of the rainbow flag, however.

After a couple alterations “ hot pink and turquoise are removed, leaving six stripes, and indigo is changed to royal blue” the flag is mass produced and begins to appear everywhere.”It was a flag of equality” author Rob Sanders writes. “More and more people began to think of the flag as their flag. And they began to feel pride. They began to have hope.”

A 30-foot wide, mile-long rainbow flag is even carried by 10, 000 people during a New York City Pride celebration in 1994. And on June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court rules that gay and lesbian couples have the constitutional right to marry, the White House is lit with the colors of the rainbow flag.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag moved me. Like many children’s books these days, it doesn’t shy away from tough, potentially divisive topics such as gay rights and death. The writing is as vibrant and inspiring as the colors of the rainbow flag, with strong action verbs and alliteration. It is poignant, as well. The illustrations are colorful and realistic.

By the way, if you’re looking for more information on Harvey Milk, you can find in the adult DVD collection the fine documentary The Times of Harvey Milk or the motion picture Milk for which Sean Penn won a Best Actor Academy Award. The Joplin Public Library also has an excellent collection of LGBTQ+ books for all ages, among them Cleve Jones’ memoir When We Rise: My Life in the Movement

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