Kitchen Experiments for Lessons in Chemistry


Our latest book selection for Cook the Books Club has been Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, hosted this round by Debra of 
Eliot's Eats.   From the Publisher:

"Meet Elizabeth Zott: “a gifted research chemist, absurdly self-assured and immune to social convention” (The Washington Post) in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show."

 I found the book somewhat enjoyable, occasionally interesting and sometimes annoying.  Interesting historically in a sad way, with a look at how professional women have been treated in the past.   Annoying, hypocritical really, in the sense that "scientists" as well as authors, artists, engineers, etc. understandably, very much dislike having their work and inventions, or designs appropriated by others.  As happened in the novel.  Actually it's a criminal offense.  Yet they can look at the beauty, purpose and design all around us and assign it to random chance. Ha.  Also, I found it highly unlikely that her cooking show would have become popular in the early1960s.  What did become popular then was Julia Child's cooking show. 

There is a lot of hypocrisy in the world and always has been, not just in the arena of women's rights.  At least Garmus' novel was thought provoking and even occasionally humorous, despite the improbable and sometimes fantastical side.  I loved Elizabeth's dog, 6:30.  When Calvin died, "he sensed her death wish, and because of it, had been on suicide watch all week." Like her daughter, the dog is rendered almost magically intelligent and gifted.


Chianti and Cannelloni

Another new series!  And, I love when it's a good one.  This novel involves a former NY Homicide detective who retires to Italy, and of course, gets involved in solving a homicide!  Who would have guessed?  But there are enticing mentions of delicious local food and wine, with a fine development of characters and plot.  More here from the Publisher's Weekly: 

"At the start of this vibrant mystery from Trinchieri (The Breakfast Club Murder as Camilla T. Crespi), retired Bronx policeman Nico Doyle is having breakfast one morning at the run-down farmhouse he has rented near the town of Gravigna, Italy, his late wife's hometown where he's recently settled, when he hears a gunshot in the hills. When Nico investigates, he comes across the body of a man whose face has been obliterated by a shotgun blast. The victim's Michael Johnson running shoes suggest he's an American. Salvatore Perillo, the carabinieri officer who takes charge of the case, says on learning Nico was once a homicide detective: "I've dealt with only a single murder in my career. Holy heaven, New Yorkers must have murders every day." Nico agrees to assist Perillo, despite his dislike of working homicides. 

Enticing descriptions of food and wines, an introspective protagonist with an unusual background, and an intricate plot that weaves its way amid past peccadillos combine to make this a winner. Readers will eagerly await Trinchieri's next."   

Unfortunately, there are so far only two books after this one in the series.  However she has also written under her nom de plume,  Camilla T. Crespi.  So there is that.  

I was going through another library book, One, Jamie Oliver's latest, for which I had been on quite a long wait list.  I made a dish from his cookbook to go with this post, which he calls Crazy-Paving Cannelloni.  Was quite yummy, and we both liked it a lot.  Plus, crazy easy!  But,  a reminder, I really, really need to get out that unused pasta machine and experiment! 


It All Started with Halo-Halo


I first read about this popular, in some places, dessert, Halo-Halo, in my copy of Filipinx, Heritage Recipes from the Diaspora, which I reviewed  and posted about last year. Then just recently, after experimenting with various versions of the treat, I wanted to do a post on it, but with a Filipino authored book to go along with my post. Well, searching the internet for authors, preferably of cozy mysteries, brought me to: Arsenic and Adobo, by Mia P. Manansala.  Which book, luckily I enjoyed very much.  Also, her covers are so striking! From the Publishers:

"The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes-one that might just be killer.... When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She's tasked with saving her Tita Rosie's failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case."  And from the Publisher's Weekly:

"Lila Macapagal, the narrator of Manansala's outstanding debut and series launch, notices two unwelcome customers at Tita Rosie's Kitchen, a Filipino restaurant run by her aunt in Shady Palms, Ill., where Lila has moved after a devastating breakup with her fiancé. Ed Long, the restaurant's landlord, is trying to close the place down, and Long's stepson, Derek Winter, a steady customer, consistently writes negative reviews about its cuisine on his blog....... Chock-full of food lore, this delicious mystery will leave readers hungry for more of the adventures of Lila, her friends and relatives, and her chunky dachshund (who is named after a kind of short, fat sausage). Cozy fans are in for a treat.