Author Archives: theselftaughtcook

Review: Starting from Scratch by Patty Kirk

Starting from Scratch: Memoirs of a Wandering Cook

A captivating memoir from a cook who’s traveled across the globe cooking, startingfromscratchtasting, and enjoying good food.

 

Patty Kirk has always loved food: eating it, cooking it, sharing it, talking about it. At six, she scrambled the last of the family’s vacation provisions over the camp fire and concocted a delicacy-eggs with bacon and onions. Overnight she became the family cook and discovered a lifelong passion for cooking that accompanied her through decades of roaming and finally to the farm in Oklahoma where she now lives. Starting from Scratch narrates Kirk’s wanderings in the U.S. and abroad from a culinary perspective, sounding the spiritual, political, and emotional depths of Brillat-Savarin’s famous observation, “Tell me what you eat; I’ll tell you who you are.” In this candid and engaging food memoir—complete with recipes!—good food beckons from the past as well as the future: surrounding us, eluding us, drawing us, defining us.

  • Hardcover, 288 pages
  • Published January 1st 2008 by Thomas Nelson
  • Original Title:  Starting from Scratch: Memoirs of a Wandering Cook
  • ISBN:  078522047X (ISBN13: 9780785220473)
  • Edition Language:  English
Patty Kirk is the author of “Confessions of an Amateur Believer” and subsequent books on topics ranging from food memoir to her lifelong struggle to sense God’s presence. Raised in California and Connecticut, she spent her early adult years abroad and now lives on a farm in Oklahoma and teaches writing just across the Arkansas state-line at John Brown University, where she is Associate Professor of English and Writer in Residence. She and her husband, Kris, have two college-aged daughters, Charlotte and Lulu. Patty’s passions are cooking, gardening, watching birds, and running on the back roads.
My Review . . . 
Have you ever been happily wandering through the bookstore when, suddenly, a book you have never heard of, written by an author you have never heard of, catches your eye and you know you have to have it?  This is how “Starting from Scratch” came to be mine.  This book, part memoir/part cookbook, has been one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve experienced in a long time.  I couldn’t put it down, yet I wanted to stop and savor it like a good meal.
The way the author remembers and shares her food memories resonated with me on a very personal level.  When she talks about the foods cooked and eaten by her family during her childhood, I was reminded of the ’70s-style foods from MY childhood.  As she shared her food memories from her travels, I remembered foods that I have discovered while traveling.  When she discusses the difficulty of replicating lost recipes, I thought of the foods cooked by my grandmothers that I can’t quite duplicate today.  In short, this is a book, written by someone who has a deep respect for food, to be enjoyed by those of us who share her relationship with food.
If I had to describe this book with one word, it would be….delicious.
5 stars

Pressure Cooker #InstantPot Carne Guisada

Have you joined the crowd and purchased a multi-cooker?  I have!  I don’t know what I ever did without this little wonder.  There are several brands, including one sold on TV, but the most well-known is the Instant Pot.  I bought a  Magic Chef and it is exactly the same.  Aside from making sure that the one you purchase has the features you require, the most important thing to remember is that all brands have a removable, inner pot.  Some, such as the Instant Pot and the Magic Chef, have a stainless steel pot, while other brands have a non-stick pot.  I understand the allure of the non-stick, but I have heard several accounts of the Teflon coating peeling off into the food, so you might want to think about that before making a purchase.

Because so many have purchased the Instant Pot, it has become almost a generic term at this point.  You know, like saying, “You want a Coca-Cola?” when you’re actually just offering a soft drink.  I don’t know; maybe it’s a Southern thang.  Anyhoo, because so many say Instant Pot for all brands, I decided to use #InstantPot in the title.  This recipe should work with any basic multi-cooker, though.

There are websites and Facebook groups dedicated to cooking with one, and I recommend checking them out.  They are especially good when you’re a newbie. We have had ours long enough that it’s time to move away from the safe recipes and start adapting our favorites to use in the multi-cooker.   So, I give you my adaptation of Carne Guisada.

Pressure Cooker Instant Pot Carne Guisada
Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs. beef stew meat
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 packet Sazon
  • 2 Tbsp Adobo
  • 2 Tbsp onion powder
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 3-5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 8 oz. Goya Spanish-style tomato sauce
  • 2 C beef broth
Direction:
  1. Toss meat with 2 Tbsp olive oil and dry seasonings. Set in refrigerator at least 1 hour (overnight is better).
  2. Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in inner pot; brown meat on Sear/Saute setting (depends on brand of cooker).
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Cook on Manual for 35 minutes.
  5. Allow NPR for 5 minutes, then do QR.
  6. Serve with white rice.

Music to cook by . . . 


Until next time, Happy Cooking!  :)

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
― Pablo Neruda

Review: Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart

 

Accident or Murder?

When the real estate lady’s body is found at the bottom of the stairs in the old murder-is-no-accidentVictorianmansion, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And then a second body is discovered, and the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

 

 

 

 

A. H. Gabhart is the author of Murder at the Courthouse and Murder Comes by Mail. As Ann H. Gabhart, she is the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel SisterSmall Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, and several popular Shaker novels such as The OutsiderThe Believer, and The Innocent. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs. She and her husband still live on a farm near that same Kentucky town. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

 

My Review . . . 

Returning to Hidden Springs is like coming home.  At this point in the series, the recurring characters seem like old friends.  Aunt Lindy is the quintessential small-town schoolteacher, and Deputy Sheriff Mike and Lester Stucker, in my mind’s eye at least, bear a strong resemblance to Andy and Barney.

This is what I would call a “Christian Cozy”.  It’s a good mystery, with plenty of suspense, but no strong language, sexual situations, or excessive violence.  There is an underlying Christian theme, but it isn’t heavy-handed or so theological that readers could be offended by beliefs that differ from theirs.  This is a book for anyone and everyone.  Let’s hope we haven’t seen the last of Hidden Springs.

4 stars

I was given this book by the author for my honest review.

Book Review: Murder Comes by Mail by A.H. Gabhart

 

Murder Comes by Mail (The Hidden Springs Mysteries Book #2): A Hidden Springs Mystery

Doing a good deed never felt so bad

Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn’t particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses–a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn’t last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs’ concerned citizens.

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves–because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

 

 

Buy Now:

 

About the Author….

A. H. Gabhart is the author of Murder at the Courthouse. As Ann H. Gabhart, she is the bestselling author of many novels, including Angel SisterSmall Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, and several popular Shaker novels such as The OutsiderThe Believer, and The Innocent. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs. She and her husband still live on a farm near that same Kentucky town. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

My Review . . . 

The second in the Hidden Springs mystery series, this installment is even better than the first.  Most of the characters from the first novel return and feel like old friends.  For anyone who has ever lived in a small town, these people can seem very familiar.  I love the little details that make them seem so real.  The dialogue between the church ladies on their trip made me laugh out loud as I was convinced I’ve known these ladies in real life.  At one point, Michael swats at a sweat bee while talking to someone.  I don’t think I have ever seen that in a book, but growing up in the South, it’s a very real part of life.  Nice touch!

The plot was tighter this time with quite a bit more suspense.  If each installment is going to be  better than the last, I can’t wait to read the next one.

5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: The Outsider by Ann H. Gabhart

 

The Outsider           THE OUTSIDER

Series: The Shaker Books, Book 1

2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year Finalist

An unlikely love and unwanted gift threaten to destroy a quiet Shaker girl of the 1800s.

 

She thought she was content–until a love from the outside world turned hers upside down.

Gabrielle Hope and her mother joined the Harmony Hill Shaker community in 1807. The community promised stability and devotion that Gabrielle wholeheartedly embraced. But when a local doctor must be brought into Harmony Hill from the outside, he sets into motion a chain of events that will challenge Gabrielle’s loyalty to the Shakers.

As she falls deeper into a forbidden love for this man of the world, Gabrielle must make a choice. Can she experience true happiness in this simple and chaste community? Or will she abandon her brothers and sisters for a life of the unknown?

Soulful and filled with romance, The Outsider lets you live within a bygone time among a unique and peculiar people. This tender and thought-provoking story will stay with you long after you finish the final chapter.

Buy the Book:     Amazon     ChristianBook.com    Barnes & Noble

About the Author . . . 

Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village in Kentucky, Ann H. Gabhart has AnnHGabhartwalked the same paths that her characters might have walked in generations past. Her thorough research provides a convincing and colorful backdrop for The Outsider. Gabhart is also the author of Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy.

Website     Facebook     Twitter     

 

 

 

Review . . . 

As a Kentuckian, the only thing I like better than historical fiction is historical fiction set in Kentucky.  The Shakers are an interesting part of Kentucky’s history, with two villages maintained today as museums.  The author has based her fictional village on Pleasant Hill, the larger of the two.  She has spent several years studying and researching the Shakers, as evidenced in her accurate portrayal of their actions during wartime and their attitudes toward the outside world.  I especially appreciated her depiction of the military in the War of 1812.  Christian fiction writers often shy away from realism, but Ms. Gabhart shows, at least in part, the gritty realism of war in the 19th century.

One of the best things I can say for this book is that the ending was not obvious from the very beginning.  It held my interest consistently until the end. I had to know what Gabrielle’s decision would be.

5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author as a contest prize. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”