Visual Aids: A Guide to Helpful Cookbooks

I’m quite the newbie when it comes to graphic novels, so you can imagine my struggle when this week’s topic was chosen, but after mulling it over I realized, what’s more visual than a cookbook!? From full-page photographs to detailed diagrams, there’s not a single cookbook that doesn’t have at least one visual aid. So, for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Broke and the Bookish), I decided to share my favorite books on almost everyone’s favorite topic: food!

But first, do you have a graphic novel you’d recommend reading? I can’t wait to see everyone’s TTT this week – my TBR needs help!

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Food Anatomy: The Curious Pars & Pieces of Our Edible World by Julia Rothman: A beautifully illustrated fact book on the history of food and the different types of food we eat. From the various ways of cooking an egg to the different types of cabbage… her book is as gorgeous as it is informative!

Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain: In his latest cookbook, Bourdain shares his favorite recipes to make for the family. Between lengthy discussions on the ins-and-outs on burger making and whether or not you should use a fork to make scrambled eggs, there’s an amazing how-to on Thanksgiving, complete with photographs and step-by-step instructions from pre-cooking to scheduling to gravy to presentation… he has it all!

The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook by Natalie Eve Garrett: An illustrated collection of personal, food related stories, illustrations, poems, cartoons and more from favorite artists and writers around the globe. This was such a treat to read!

Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten: Ina Garten is one of my favorites, and even though I rarely cook one of her recipes, her cookbooks are a wealth of knowledge. In her latest, Garten shares her favorite meals to make for her family along with an intimate look at their relationship – they have such an adorable meet-cute!

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One to Five: One Shortcut Recipe Transformed into Five Easy Dishes by Ryan Scott: A great guide to mastering one simple recipe, like roasted chicken, and turning it into five different meals. From Chicken-and-Cornbread Tamale Pie to Lesley’s Biscuit Chicken Turnovers, his recipes will leave you hungry for more!

Cooking with Mary Berry by Mary Berry: If you consider yourself a novice or intermediate cook, then this is the book for you. Complete with full-color photographs and step-by-step how-tos from egg basics to different techniques for cooking meat, her book makes it easy-peasy to learn and put new skill into practice. Oh, and the desserts!

Cake Magic!: Mix and Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations by Caroline Wright: Speaking of dessert, my list wouldn’t be complete without a book on cake! Cake Magic is your complete guide to the art of cake, from simple layers to rich fillings to sweet frostings, you’ll see just how easy it is to pair up and switch up your layers.

Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge by Trine Hahnemann: Hygge is more than just a word or a feeling, it’s a complete lifestyle, making comfort a priority in your everyday life be it by lighting a candle or preparing a traditional home cooked meal. Scandinavian Comfort Food is more than a study on traditional Scandinavian recipes – it’s a collection of the author’s favorite recipes, passed down from one generation to the next, emoting a feeling of family and comfort.

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Cook’s Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of Our Favorite Ingredients by The Editors at Cook’s Illustrated: From pork shoulder to whole chickens to quinoa, this book covers it all! Each chapter highlights a specific ingredient, revealing the science behind popular cooking techniques as well as tips to unlock even more flavor – complete with diagrams and full-color photographs.

The Tea Book: All Things Tea by Louise Cheadle: If you’ve ever wondered who drinks the most tea or about all the different types of tea, or even the different ways to make tea, this is the book for you. Complete with full-page infographics, illustrations, maps, tealicious photographs, recipes, and travel guides, The Tea Book covers it all!

What are your favorite cookbooks? Do you have a graphic novel to recommend!?



[TBR Check-In] What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? Is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, a great place to meet up and share your reading plans for the week. I love finding new blogs and new books – so a link-up that helps me do both? Sign me up!


The past week has been a difficult one to swallow. Personally, I strive to keep my opinions to myself, be that political or religious, but after recent events, it’s near impossible to stay quiet. While not an expert on immigration, I understand the difficulties involved, especially when considering the safety of an entire country, but to ban entrance when refugees already face a rigorous vetting process is extreme. It’s especially hard-hitting after reading The Lightless Sky by Gulwali Passarlay, a true story of a twelve-year-old refugee’s escape from Afghanistan. His story leaves a remarkable impression: the endless months spent hungry, facing imprisonment, cruelty, and the sheer terror of not knowing what was next, if he’d finally find a way to reach England, and above all, be allowed to stay, to start over. His story isn’t singular, in fact he’s one of millions searching for safety, risking it all for a life without persecution. Considering the numbers, The United States admits such a small percentage of all refugees, unlike Turkey, Germany, or France – where so many live below the poverty line in camps such as the Calais Jungle. As a country of immigrants, it’s our responsibility to help as many as we can, and as safely as we can – surely, there’s an answer to our security woes, but ordering an immigration ban isn’t it.

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This week I’ll be seeking comfort from a suite of audiobooks including Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin and The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – both perfectly timed library holds! I’ve already started The Bear and the Nightingale in print, but I can’t resist such a promising audiobook. In print, I’m still working on Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeliene Thien – the story slowed around the halfway mark, but hopefully it’ll pick up soon!

What are you reading?



[Links To Love] January Favorites

Here in Houston, the start to the year has been wildly unpredictable – one day hot, one day cold, one day flooded, the next a city-wide wind tunnel… but lucky for us, all the good days have been on the weekends! On one of our best weather-weekends, we caught an amazing deal for the Houston Zoo Lights – something I’ve always wanted to see, and let’s face it, it’s NEVER too late for Christmas lights! If you’re ever in Houston during the holidays, it’s definitely worth a visit. I also went to a reading by Zadie Smith, hosted by Houston’s own Brazos Bookstore – I’m surrounded by a constant flow of community events (a lot of them free!) and this year, my main goal is to take every advantage of living in the city by going to as many events as I can. Next month: Amor Towles!!!

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

A Winter Soup: I’m in love, love, LOVE with this Smoked Sausage and Black-Eyed Pea Soup by Aunt Bee’s Recipes. I’ve never in my life cooked with dried beans – I’ve always thought, who has the time for that… it must take forever… but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s so easy! And delicious!

Homemade Butter: That’s right, I made my own butter, and it couldn’t have been any easier! My parents found the Martha Stewart Collection Butter Maker while out holiday shopping, and just couldn’t resist getting it for me, perhaps as a joke, but I love it! And to tell you the truth, all you really need is: A) heavy whipping cream (left to room temperature for 6 to 8 hours) B) a jar and C) a cheese cloth or strainer to cover the jar. After the 6-hour mark, pour the cream into the jar, cover, and shake for about 2 to 3 minutes – you’ll know exactly when the buttermilk has separated. Cover the jar with cheese cloth to pour out the buttermilk and voila, you have butter!

A Series of Unfortunate Events: I love this series! One part of me is sad I missed out on the series growing up, but the other part is over-joyed, the audiobooks are such a treat for those long, busy work days. Going into the Netflix series, I had some doubts on the casting, especially whether Neil Patrick Harris would be a silly Olaf or actually ring true to the character’s dark nature, but I’ve been convinced! Besides the singing, he’s the perfect Olaf.  In addition to watching the new series on Netflix, I love catching up with one of my favorite booktubers, Cece from Problems of a Book Nerd, who discusses the series on her channel.

A New Link-Up: After being a long-time lurker, I finally decided to join the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading link-up hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. I love seeing what everyone is doing and reading every week, and it’s been a great chance to find new bloggers with similar reading tastes.

What have you been loving lately?


[Recently Read] A Battle of the Cookbooks

I love to cook. It’s more than just a necessity – cooking to me is meditation, a time to zen out and relax, and more than anything, a time to play! Especially when trying out a new recipe. Whether a new take on an old classic, or a new recipe entirely, the best way to make the most of your meals is by a little research. If I’m not cooking (or reading), I’m most likely watching the Food Channel or perusing a cookbook. There’s always more to learn – it’s amazing how even the smallest tips make a huge impact on your final dish. Here are a few I’ve read lately:


Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

Ina Garten is one of my favorites, and even though I rarely cook one of her recipes, her cookbooks are a wealth of knowledge. A huge trend in the cooking world lately is a focus on home cooking, revealing the recipes some of the most famed chefs like to make for their families, and Ina Garten is no exception. In Cooking for Jeffrey, Garten shares some of Jeffrey’s favorite meals along with a more intimate look at their relationship – they have the most adorable meet-cute! As a woman, this book is especially important. Cooking is often viewed as a wifely duty, but in Cooking for Jeffrey, Garten is able to escape the usual trope by focusing on her love for others. Garten cooks for her family not because it’s her domestic role, but because it’s her passion, and why not share that with the person she loves most? I particularly loved her recipes for “16 bean” pasta e fagioli and dark rum southsides (what’s a cookbook without a cocktail recipe?).


Cooking with Mary Berry by Mary Berry

Over the holidays, I got obsessively hooked on The Great American Baking Show, judged by longtime food writer and TV presenter Mary Berry. So when I noticed a new cookbook on my library’s listing by Mary Berry – I knew I had to read it! If you consider yourself a novice, or intermediate, this is the book for you. Complete with full-color photographs and step-by-step how-tos from egg basics to different techniques for cooking meat, her book makes it easy to learn and put your new skills into practice with classic recipes such as beef pot roast and chicken cacciatore. But what would a cookbook by Mary Berry be without a section on deserts!? I, for one, can’t wait to try out her recipe for poached pears with blackberry sauce. Yum!


Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge by Trine Hahnemann and Columbus Leth

Hygge is all the rage these days. More than just a word or a simple feeling, hygge is a way of life, bringing relaxation to the forefront of your days in something so small as lighting a few candles or reading the newspaper… or cooking a traditional dish you’ve eaten all your life. Similar to the art of hygge, Scandinavian Comfort Food is more than a study on traditional Scandinavian recipes. It’s a collection of the writers’ favorite recipes, dishes that have been passed from generation to generation, emoting a feeling of family and comfort. Reading the book is an experience of hygge in itself. The writers’ love for their family easily slips from the page like a warm hug, and even though I saved only a handful of their recipes, it was truly enriching to learn about the Scandinavian culture.

What cookbooks have you read lately?


[TBR List] 10 Short Picks You Can Read In A Day

Sometimes when you’re facing a reading slump or in the midst of a long read, there’s nothing better than a short story or novella to jumpstart your batteries. Short and often fast paced, novellas pack a fast punch to the gut, tugging your emotions in the most unexpected ways. And, since this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie (hosted by the Broke and the Bookish), there’s no better time to share my novella TBR list!

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Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter: A lyrical, atmospheric look at grief in the form of a pesky Crow, threatening not to leave until two brothers have come to terms with the unexpected loss of their mother. (114 Pages)

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault: Bilodo lives for his schedule – he delivers his postal rounds and returns home for a solitary dinner, and to steam open undelivered letters for his own reading. Through this, he stumbles on a poetic exchange between the lovely Segolene and Gaston, a master poet, but when Bilodo witnesses Gaston’s death, he takes the chance to write to Segolene himself, impersonating Gaston without hesitation. (128 Pages)

The Trouble with Women by Jacky Fleming: A witty collection of cartoons revealing the buffaloed ideas some of the greatest men in history believed about women. (128 Pages)

In the Orchard, the Swallows by Peter Hobbs: In the foothills of the mountains in northern Pakistan, there is a beautiful orchard, full of swallows and the mesmerizing scent of jasmine, an image that’s sustained a young prisoner for fifteen years, all the while hoping to see the orchard again, or per chance a glance of a swallow. (139 Pages)

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Beast by Paul Kingsnorth:  Isolated and alone in a west-country moor, Edward Buckmaster faces the elements and himself, both equal adversaries, but unawares, he’s also tracked by an unknown creature. (168 Pages)

Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens: As Lore is about to give birth, after refusing an epidural or any modern assistance, her mysterious past is revealed, creating a vivid portrait of childbirth and the emotional turmoil brought with motherhood. (176 Pages)

Mother Sunday by Graham Swift: A dazzling emotional novella flowing back and forth through time as Jane recalls her torrid, seven-year affair with an heir to a neighboring estate. (177 Pages)

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin: An affecting nightmare come to life, Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic with a mysterious young boy by her side, a stranger, a child not her own, and yet he’s earnest to provide comfort as she desperately traces every last memory of her daughter. (183 Pages)

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Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer: Area X is an unexplainable, pristine forest that sprang into existence almost overnight and studied by the Southern Reach, a government agency, for years without any clue to its origin or intent. Now, on the twelfth expedition, four women travel into the unknown, uncovering a poignant and heartbreaking look at humanity’s relationship with the wider world and each other. (195 Pages)

The Solace of Monsters by Laurie Blauner: Created by a grieving father, Mara is just the latest in a series of Maras he’s made. After making her escape, she discovers the world outside, from the forest to the city, hoping to find her own bit of solace in life, her own meaning to life itself. (200 Pages)

What novellas would you recommend?


[TBR Check-In] What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? Is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, a great place to meet up and share your reading plans for the week. I love finding new blogs and new books – so a link-up that helps me do both? Sign me up!

Happy Monday, friends! Living in Houston, TX, the last week has been a crazy ride. Between constant rain followed by flooding, followed by sunshine, and then even MORE rain… why can’t the weather just pick a theme and stick with it? Oh well, it gave me a great excuse to stay in this weekend, cooking up a storm and finishing some long overdue reading. At the end of the day Sunday, I probably spent a total of 6 hours in the kitchen after slow cooking BBQ ribs, making pasta salad, and meal prepping for the week – it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time!

I also had plenty of time to finish reading The Ballroom by Anna Hope, be it a little forced. I was so excited for this one! A romance set in an insane asylum during the Edwardian Era on the moors of England, it couldn’t be more intriguing, but instead I found an improbable romance between two under developed characters, both controlled by a doctor slowly going insane over his obsession with eugenics. Quite a different story, indeed. Nonetheless, the novel raised some interesting questions over an often overlooked topic of history. I also finished several audio books over the  week, including Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. I loved the narrators for both, but especially Eileen Stevens for Dumplin‘! She really brought the character to life for me.

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This week I’ll be reading Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien and The Solace of Monsters by Laurie Blauner. I haven’t read a summary for either yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good reviews for Thien’s novel – which no surprise there, as it was long listed for the Man Booker Prize last year.

What are you reading?


[Filling the Shelves] A Winter Book Haul

This winter’s book haul is a combination of Christmas gifts, gift card purchases, and of course a few titles bought on a whim, because why not? Just before Christmas, I listed the Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under the Tree for me, and amazingly, I got almost all of them!!


Swing Time by Zadie Smith:  I picked up a copy of Swing Time as part of a ticket purchase to her recent reading in Houston. I had high expectations for her going in, and, no shocker her, she exceeded all of them! Zadie Smith is a superb human being aside from being a talented writer – if you don’t have the time for a novel, definitely check out her essays and short stories (all available via internet, for free).

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: Ok, so I might have this on my Kindle, but I still have yet to read it. Hopefully having the hardcover will be the right push!

The Trees by Ali Shaw: I finally have my own copy!! Check out my review, here!

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: A beautifully written tale of two sisters who follow two very different paths in life. I started listening to the audiobook earlier this winter, but I knew from the start that it would be something I’d much prefer to read in print. I’m so glad to add this to my shelves!

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood: A good old fashioned whim – I saw this on sale at Half Price, and there was no avoiding it. I desperately need some Atwood added into my reading.

The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw: More Ali Shaw! His latest novel, The Trees is one of my absolute favorites from 2016, and I can’t wait to dive into his debut! It seems the hardcover version is out of print, but I lucked out when I spotted it in Half Price’s clearance section!!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey: Another author I loved in 2016 was Eowyn Ivey. I’m hoping to see more magical realism than in To the Bright Edge of the World, but even either way, I know it’s one I’ll love!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: There’s no stopping the exclamation points this haul! After reading Station Eleven last spring, I knew I’d need to have it among my collection – it’s guaranteed reread. Check out my review here.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling: My AMAZING boyfriend gifted the illustrated version of the first Harry Potter for Christmas this year. I’ve been wanting to reread Harry Potter for a few years now, and the illustrated versions are the perfect opportunity!


The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani: Such a beautiful cover! I’m not sure if I’ll manage a reread anytime soon, but it’s such a lovely romance. See a review here.

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: Turn down the alarms, the situation has been rectified! I repeat, Lord of the Rings is back on my shelves, thanks to my amazing parents. Now, all that’s left is a copy of The Hobbit!

The Sellout by Paul Beatty: Winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize, this was an obvious choice. Especially at only $7 – Half Price never fails!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: I might already have a copy of the film edition, but you can never have too many copies of A Monster Calls. Besides, now I have one to lend out, because everyone should read this book! Don’t believe me? Read my review here!

The Master & Margarita by Mikhil Bulgakov: Another whimsical purchase, this time at Houston’s very own Brazos Bookstore (pictured above and host to Zadie Smith’s recent reading). I only went in to pick up my ticket for the event, but silly me – you can’t leave a bookstore without a book!

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti: You guys, I won an arc copy through Goodreads!!! I’ve seriously never won anything like this before – I’m beyond ecstatic! Never ignore the Goodreads Giveaways, you can actually win!!


4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster: I also pre-purchased a copy of 4 3 2 1 on Amazon, anticipating the book’s release on January 31st! Archibald Isaac Ferguson is born nearly two weeks early on March 3, 1947 in Newark, New Jersey, but from a simple beginning comes a story of four “simultaneous and independent” Fergusons as four copies of the young boy lead very different lives after leaving the hospital that fateful night. An entirely inventive work promising grandiose prose and an unforgettable story of love, heartbreak, and choice itself, 4 3 2 1 is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017. I typically read a book before purchasing, but I’ve clearly already thrown the rule book out the window at this point, and at 880 pages, I’m going to need more than a 2 week lending period to get through this one. I can’t wait to start!

What’s new to your shelves this winter?