Gumbo Z'Herbes for Eat Joy


Our current Cook the Books Club read has been Eat Joy, Stories and Comfort Food, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, and this December/January round hosted by fellow Hawaiian co-host, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen

Of course, with any compilation of essays, by various authors, there are going to be some you love, some you really like, a few you don't get all that excited about, and some you might skip over, if not actually dislike.  There were enough here to make for an enjoyable read, to open up a door of understanding with uncomfortable subjects, some new information, and a bit of just good humor.  The first story one I read, No Alzheimer's in India, by Antoine Wilson,  definitely came under the category of humor, as well as new information, which, when I did some research, was actually backed up by medical science.  We all need more turmeric in our diets.

Lovely to have variety and a bit of spice in our reading as well as eating, something to nibble on in between times is a good palate cleanser.  It must be said, many of the recipes were included as illustrative, not meant to be especially wonderful in themselves.  From the Publishers: 

"This collection of intimate, illustrated essays by some of America’s most well–regarded literary writers explores how comfort food can help us cope with dark times—be it the loss of a parent, the loneliness of a move, or the pain of heartache 


A Minestrone to Love in The Summer Villa

Chic lit I suppose, but enjoyable all the same, with good themes and endings.  The Summer Villa, by Melissa Hill brings three young women together in a picturesque, though somewhat run down villa on the Mediterranean sea in Italy.  They are all running away from something in their lives, hoping a change of scene will help.

Six years later, they meet up again, still escaping from what now, once again,  look to be impossible situations; and lives run amuck.  

From the Publishers:

"The Irish Times #1 bestseller! Three women. One summer reunion...

Villa Dolce Vita, a rambling stone house on the Amalfi Coast, sits high above the Gulf of Naples amid dappled lemon groves and fragrant, tumbling bougainvillea. Kim, Colette and Annie all came to the villa in need of escape and in the process forged an unlikely friendship.

Now, years later, Kim has transformed the crumbling house into a luxury retreat and has invited her friends back for the summer to celebrate.

But as friendships are rekindled under the Italian sun, secrets buried in the past will come to light, and not everyone is happy that the three friends are reuniting... Each woman will have things to face up to if they are all to find true happiness and fully embrace the sweet life.

An epic summer read about food, friendship and the magic of Italy,"

I thought a pot of minestrone was the perfect food image for this yummy novel, things thrown together, from past meals, to create something better in the final mélange.  To a base of homemade stock, I added two sorts of leftover pasta, one with pesto clinging to it, moringa leaves, some tomato paste, pieces of duck breast, chickpeas, carrots, onion, garlic and celery.  I added thyme, parsley and sage from my garden, with a jolt of Worcestershire, and was amazed at the fabulous flavors in the end result. Recombining some old leftovers make a new and wonderful Minestrone!

I'll share the goodness over at Weekend Cooking, hosted by the inimitable and Intrepid Reader, Marge, and with Heather for her January edition of the Foodies Read Challenge.  Please visit, check out all the good food and book recommendations.


Comfort Food, Indian Style, from A Recipe for Persuasion

 The novel, Recipe for Persuasion, by Sonali Dev was a very interesting fictional look at life from the perspective of a recently emigrated Indian to America.  Not at all a typical one however.  The novel's protagonist, is from a royal family, with a dysfunctional upbringing, and the assorted issues devolving from that situation.  She faces her own  unforgiveness and wrong assumptions finally, which is always a benefit to life outcomes.  A bit Bollywood, but still an entertaining, romantic and engrossing story.  The Publishers had this to say::

"From the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors comes another , clever, deeply layered, and heartwarming romantic comedy that follows in the Jane Austen tradition―this time, with a twist on Persuasion.

Chef Ashna Raje desperately needs a new strategy. How else can she save her beloved restaurant and prove to her estranged, overachieving mother that she isn’t a complete screw up? When she’s asked to join the cast of Cooking with the Stars, the latest hit reality show teaming chefs with celebrities, it seems like just the leap of faith she needs to put her restaurant back on the map. She’s a chef, what’s the worst that could happen?  Rico Silva, that’s what.

Being paired with a celebrity who was her first love, the man who ghosted her at the worst possible time in her life, only proves what Ashna has always believed: leaps of faith are a recipe for disaster.