Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Blue Zones American Kitchen by Dan Buettner

Good morning, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Dan Buettner's The Blue Zones American Kitchen: 100 Recipes to Live to 100

Many of you might already be familiar with "Blue Zones." After all, this is only the latest title from Buettner about such. 

If you aren't familiar, blue zones are areas Buettner and National Geographic have determined are areas where people live longer. And they attribute this to diet. It's the same philosophy behind other diets as well. And I use diet here not in the crazy fasting or trendy lose weight quick methods but rather in the overall habit of a person's eating. 

Plant based, whole food diets have been proven to be better for your health. They promote heart health and overall wellness. 

Sure, you could go plant based and subsist on french fries and potato chips, but that's not what they mean. Nor is that what this cookbook is all about. 

In this latest, Buettner has focused strictly on the Americas, collecting recipes from home cooks, chefs, and even historians. The result is a collection of recipes and stories that are both appealing and fascinating!

Sections are broken into: Indigenous, Native, and Early American; African American; Latin American; Asian American; and Regional and Contemporary American. There are also guidelines and bios on the contributors. 

But what about the recipes?! I know, as a cookbook junkie it's really the recipes that count! And as someone who has recognized that I need to make healthier decisions (due to family history and other components), the recipes are an even bigger factor!

Paired with fabulous photography, the book is a collection of truly appealing and approachable recipes that can be made (with a few exceptions) with easy to find ingredients and techniques/methods most home cooks will be comfortable with. And while the book isn't necessarily focused on seasonality, it's clear that many of the contributors count this as a factor in creating the recipes. 

In the Indigenous section, for example, the very first recipe in the book is a fantastic recipe perfect for combatting the doldrums of winter: Baked Acorn Squash with Berries (dried blueberries and fresh cranberries)!

The African American section, which does call for Carolina Gold Rice (easy to find online) has multiple recipes particularly suitable for New Year's Day (minus the pork): Hoppin' John With Carolina Gold Rice and Sapelo Red Peas (an heirloom field pea that can be substituted with black eyed peas) and the Spicy Cabbage Salad or you can go an even cozier route with The Last Meal: Sweet Potato and Black-Eyed Pea Soup (paired with the cabbage salad, of course). 

As someone who has a particular affinity for seafood, the Latin American section offered a recipe I admit was the very first to draw me as a must make: Hearts of Palm Ceviche (hearts of palm are wonderful and are not used nearly as much as they should be!). There's also a Jicama "Scallop" Aguachile that's truly amazing!

The Asian American section is a bit of a catch-all, featuring Vietnamese, Indian, Filipino, Korean, etc (there's a lot included in this section, which would be my only complaint as I think each one could fill a chapter themselves!). And while I don't have much of a sweet tooth, the Brown Rice Pudding with Nuts and Cardamom called to me immediately! (I adore rice pudding!) Mayak Gimbap (which no longer intimidate me after making some from Eric Kim's Korean American) and Kimchi Pancakes are two of my favorite easy Korean dishes. And of course there's a Miso Ramen that I think you might find yourself craving on the regular!

Finally there's the Regional and Contemporary American section, which features, amongst others, Cajun recipes! There's no way I can pass up trying plant-based Cajun food. I joke, a lot, but for various reasons it's a cuisine that doesn't necessarily feature much by way of vegetarian or vegan food. And yet, there's a Mushroom Etoufee that's much easier to make in landlocked Colorado than the traditional crawfish! And since it's winter and I'm a fan of all things comfort food, the Modern Borscht is next on my list to make :)

All in all, I think this is a perfect cookbook for anyone looking to go plant based, anyone even remotely interested in adding more plant-based dishes to their meal rotation (me), and especially anyone under the false impression that plant-based meals can't be as exciting and tasty as the dishes they're used to!

Huge thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on the tour! The Blue Zones American Kitchen is out now!

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Bookshop.org

Monday, December 5, 2022

A Deadly Covenant by Michael Stanley

Happy Monday, everyone! Today I'm a stop on the Random Things tour for the latest Detective Kubu mystery, A Deadly Covenant!

A water pipeline could mean great benefit for a the small village in Botswana. But when bones are discovered at the proposed site, the project comes to a screeching halt. 

Detective Sergeant Kubu is sent to the scene along with a pathologist, to observe the recovery. Or at least that was the plan. It doesn't take long for them to realize there are in fact nine bodies at the site. And by all appearances the remains of Bushmen. The fact that the remains are bones means they've been there for some time, but a mass grave definitely warrants investigation. 

Unfortunately, the mass grave isn't the only problem in the area. Kubu learns of not one but two men who went missing right around the same time in the mid 70s and decides to look into the case. But there are more immediate concerns when a local man is murdered in what appears to be a burglary gone wrong. Neither case is exactly under Kubu's purview, but the locals seem determined to settle the blame on a man who very well may be innocent. 

This is the second book in the prequel series featuring a rookie Detective Kubu, following Facets of Death

This is really such a fun series! Whether you've read the early books from later in Kubu's career or are completely new to the books, A Deadly Covenant is a fabulous read!

These particular prequels are set in the 90s, early in Kubu's career. He's still learning the ropes and not quite the pro he'll become. But he is still more driven and more observant than many in his line of work!

One of the many things I adore about this series is Kubu's sense of justice. In this particular outing, when a Bushman appears at the crime scene and is later used as a scapegoat, Kubu is one of the ones determined to see the man freed. Not only does he suspect the man is innocent, but he quickly realizes the local police are willing to do whatever it takes to close the case quickly and easily, without worrying about evidence that goes against their theory. 

Of course politics play a big role as well—both local and wider. The treatment of the Bushmen is already fodder for international news and the story of a massacre and mass grave only make things worse. 

And that's literally just one small facet of what occurs in the book! A huge part of the fun is watching how the story unfolds as the authors weave together multiple threads to form a suspenseful and fascinating mystery!

Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip never fail to amaze me and never disappoint either!

A Deadly Covenant is out in the UK on December 8 from Orenda!