Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Leftovers (Tom Perrotta)

Tom Perrotta is the king of novels about suburbia. He is probably best known for Election, on which the movie starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon was based. In The Leftovers, Perrotta brings us yet another experience in suburbia, this time of the biblical variety.

People are going about their business on an ordinary day. Suddenly, many people just disappear in what most believe was the Rapture. However, the people who were "chosen" are not the people you would think. The Leftovers is the story of the people who stayed behind. Nora went into the kitchen during dinner and came back to find her entire family had gone. Kevin, Laurie, Jill, and Tom survived with their family intact but completely ruptured. Laurie goes with her friend, who lost her daughter, to join a cult. Tom begins to follow a brainwasher. Kevin and Jill just try to live their day-to-day lives together knowing that they are irreparably changed.

While I was writing this, I know that the premise sounds very hokey. In lesser hands, I would be scared to read a novel like this. However, Perrotta has proven time and time again that he is the master of small-town life. He places a super-human event like the Rapture into suburban life and makes his characters meticulously pick up the pieces.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Comfort Food Fix (Ellie Krieger)

I am an Ellie Krieger fanatic, so reviewing this book is really a no-brainer for me. Ellie is the star of the Food Network's Healthy Appetite. On a TV network where you have the likes of Paula Deen and Guy Fieri, finding recipes for healthy, delicious food can be hard to come by. Ellie is a welcome respite in the land of supersizing fries for 39 cents and eating meatballs the size of your head. She has a knack for putting together simple everyday ingredients you can find at any grocery store to make something delicious.

Ellie's third cookbook, which should be another bestseller, is Comfort Food Fix: Feel-Good Favorites Made Healthy. In it, she takes Grandma's dishes and other foods that normally have a very high caloric count, and makes them healthier. From breakfast to dessert, and everything in between, Ellie's 150 recipes will have you salivating. I have already made the Lemon-Dill Pita Chips for a snack, the Quick Marinara Sauce (If you are still buying Ragu, you don't know what you are missing.), and the French Bread Pizza. Tomorrow, we are having the Garlic Breadsticks with spaghetti. How does Double Chocolate Bread Pudding sound? Ever think Chicken Parmesan could be healthy for you? It can! And it can be crispy too!

If you are thinking that you could not make the above without some sort of "disgusting" health-food ingredient, you are incorrect. The only think you need to do to make Double Chocolate Bread Pudding healthier is use half whole eggs and half egg whites, use dark chocolate, and use whole-grain bread. There is no tofu in sight.

I do realize that color cookbooks are expensive to make, but I would have preferred to see a photo of all completed recipes. You do not get a picture with every one. Those you do get are beautiful. However, even without a picture, if you follow the recipe to a "T", I guarantee that you will come out with something absolutely delicious. Thank you again, Ellie!


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