Monday, October 29, 2012

My Well-Seasoned Journal

Thought I would add a journal to the blog so that I can record some of my thoughts...I'll try to keep it up on a regular basis.

October 29, 2012 - Thinking about Thanksgiving already...

I'm expecting a slow week here at A Well-Seasoned Life headquarters. I'm not waiting on any outstanding e-mail or review material. My goal is to get several reviews written and posted this week. As far as testing recipes for reviews, I have to cook out of four cookbooks to be done with the fall cookbook review season. My husband will be happy to know that three out of the four recipes are NOT baked goods. I find myself agreeing with him - I have had enough of sweets for a while. Didn't think I would ever say that!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I normally spend the day with my extended family but I'm thinking this year will be different. I'm considering spending it at home with my husband and kids. We'll smoke a turkey and I'll prepare a few sides and a couple of dessserts.

Here's what I'm planning:

Shrimp and Grits Dressing from Southern Living - I've made this twice before and it is DELICIOUS!! I highly recommend it.

Crabmeat-and-Oyster Dressing from Southern Living - Again, I've made this one before, too, and it is also WONDERFUL! I don't really know why this is called a dressing since it's really a rice dish but who am I to judge. In the past, I substituted shrimp for the oysters, but if I decide to cook both of these, I'll go with the recipe as it's written and add oysters.

Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Pie from Southern Living - I haven't made this particular recipe before but it looks delicious, doesn't it? I adore pecan pie and have made several different ones and shared them here on the blog. So, I want to give this one a try.

So, are you thinking about Thanksgiving yet? What are your Thanksgiving tradition? What do you have on your menu this year? I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Look Inside "The Picky Palate"

The Picky Palate
by Jenny Flake
Wiley & Sons

Is it OK to admit that this cookbook was my introduction to Jenny Flake and Picky Palate? I think it's OK because that means that you will get my unbiased opinion of this cookbook, The Picky Palate Cookbook. If you're already a fan of Picky Palate, you're going to love this cookbook. And, if you're new to the world of Picky Palate, you're going to love this cookbook, too.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quick Chicken and Artichokes from "Too Hot in the Kitchen"

Quick Chicken and Artichokes

I've never considered myself a "light" cook. In fact, I've never been attracted to light cookbooks just because I thought that light recipes consisted of steamed veggies and sugar substitutes. But, when I flipped through Holly Clegg's Too Hot in the Kitchen, I was surprised to find so many recipes that attracted me and I realized that I do cook fairly lightly (most of the time).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Toffee and Brown Sugar Rice Krispies Treats

Toffee & Brown Sugar Rice KrispiesTreats

Believe it or not, there was a world of television chefs before the Food Network came along and elevated chefs from public television personalities to international superstars.

As a child, I remember sitting in my parents’ living room on Saturday afternoons watching PBS’s block of cooking shows. My parents and I loved watching Nathalie Dupree, Jacques Pepin (who could forget the shows featuring his doe-eyed daughter, Claudine Pepin), Martin Yan (he can cook), and the legendary Justin Wilson. “I’m glad for y’all to see me. I gua-rone-tee!”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reintroducing Myself and My Well-Seasoned Life

Sometimes, inspiration comes when you least expect it and you didn’t even know you needed to be inspired. Two summers ago, my son asked me what I dreamed of becoming when I grew up. I told him that I had dreamed of becoming a writer. His eight years on this Earth had turned him into quite the pessimist: “A writer?!? Who would read it?” A couple of weeks later, he brought up the subject again. “What was that dream you had, the one that never came true?” And, for the first time, I wondered how I would ever be able to encourage my children to follow their dreams if I didn’t at least attempt to follow my own.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Mini Donuts": Review and Recipe

Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your "Hole" Day
by Jessica Segarra
Published by Adams Media

So far, this has been a wonderful fall with beautiful weather and cool new cookbooks. It makes this hobby known as blogging so fun and interesting. I never know which cookbooks will arrive at my door. And, I was really, really excited to find this one on my doorstep. It had been on my Amazon wish list for a long time, but, to my surprise, the publisher sent me a copy of it to review and I almost screamed out loud when I saw it! Eek!!

What is all the excitement about you may ask? Well, with all the blogs out there, I can't follow all of them. There are only about two of the blogger-turned-cookbook-authors that I can actual tolerate (or enjoy) and one of those is Jessica at The Novice Chef. Jessica has some delicious but simple recipes on her blog so I knew that her new cookbook, Mini Donuts, would be wonderful, too. It is!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Product Review: Edgeware Angle Adjust Manual Sharpener

Edgeware Angle Adjust Manual Sharpener by Smith's

I will admit that I am not the knife sharpener in my house. In fact, I don't notice the dullness of a knife blade until my husband starts to use the knife and announces how dull it is. That may tell you a little bit about my knife skills. My husband sharpens our knives on a sharpening stone that, to be frank, makes my skin crawl to watch. It's like nails on a chalkboard.

So, when I got the chance to test and review the Edgeware Angle Adjust Manual Sharpener by Smith's, I was pleased to find a knife sharpener that I could easily use myself.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Mini Treats and Hand-Held Sweets": Review and Recipe

Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick Up and Eat
Mini Treats and Hand-Held Sweets
by Abigail Johnson Dodge
The Taunton Press 

I don't know about you, but I'm liking the new trend towards mini desserts. It's not that I'm in to small portions, but I like a mini desserts because they allow me to try a variety of desserts. Yes, I'll sample the  whoopie pie and the hand-held pie. One of the newest cookbooks on the market that celebrates the mini dessert craze is Mini Treats and Hand-Held Sweets: 100 Delicious Desserts to Pick Up and Eat by Abigail Johnson Dodge.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"No Whine with Dinner": Review and Recipe

No Whine with Dinner
by Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex

Many of you may be familiar with The Meal Makover Moms. On their website,, the duo of Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex focus on nutrition for the family and inspire readers to get healthy meals on the table. Their cookbook, No Whine with Dinner, focuses on healthy, kid-friendly and kid-tested recipes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Confessions of a Cookbook Nerd

I will readily admit that I suffer from OCD (Obsessive Cookbook Disorder). It’s not that I collect cookbooks, although I do have plenty on my shelves. No, I consider myself a cookbook nerd because I study cookbooks. And, it’s not just cookbooks, but I also study the cookbook industry. I research which cookbooks are coming soon and what are the “happening” trends in the industry. I often visit publishers’ web sites to learn about their books and authors and to see if they’re offering a sneak peek at the cookbook.

Also, I set up an elaborate system of wish lists on such as “Fall 2012 Cookbooks” and “2013 Cookbooks”. I then make notes such as publication dates and the name of the publisher. The books come and go on the lists according to my mood and any inside information that I’ve picked up along the way. I make full use of the “Look Inside” feature on the site. If I “look inside” and don’t like what I see, the book is off the list.

What would make me cut a cookbook from the wish list? Many things factor into my decision such as:

  • If the recipes include lists of ingredients that are long and painful such as specialized or unfamiliar ingredients
  • If I look through the index and can’t find a recipe that interests me, that doesn’t make me want to see the actual recipe
  • If I feel like I’ve seen the contents before in other cookbooks. After all, how many people can publish a recipe for garlic cheese biscuits and claim them as their own? You get the drift…
  • Finally, and I’m not being conceited when I say this, if I feel like I could have written a better cookbook. I think we’ve all read one or two of those…

If the cookbook has already been released and the customer reviews are posted, I always read through those to get a sense of what readers are thinking. However, I’ve found that you have to be wary of the blogger-turned-author reviews because they are inundated with dozens if not hundreds of 5-star reviews from blog readers. I can tell you from owning some of these cookbooks that not all of these 5-star reviews are well-deserved. I always consider the 2 or 3-star reviews because they can be a little more objective since the reviewer doesn’t have the emotional attachment that a blog follower does.

The true test for me in determining the quality of a cookbook is to take the cookbook and dissect it mentally by removing all of the photographs and the personal commentary. Now, what am I left with? Am I left with recipes that are tired or unoriginal and don’t show any inspiration other than a quirky camera angle and an elaborate tablescape? Or, do I have page after page of recipes with checkmarks by the recipes that I just have to try, recipes that take common ingredients and use them in new and original ways? 

Some of you may find the subject of cookbooks boring, but I know there are a few of you out there who share my obsession. Please comment below and let me know which cookbooks you have and love, which ones you hate, and which ones are on your wish list. If I’ve read them, I’ll chime in and give you my opinion on them.

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Moufflet": Review and Recipe

by Kelly Jaggers
Published by Adams Media
There's only one problem I see with this cookbook. I just can't stop baking muffins and now I want to quit my job and bake muffins all day long for a living. Or, maybe I'll quit my job and test muffin recipes for a living. I baked four different kinds in one day. And, the following weekend, I baked two more recipes because I just couldn't get enough of these muffins and this cookbook, Moufflet, by Kelly Jaggers.