The Power of Broke by Daymond John

The Power of BrokeI was really looking forward to reading The Power of Broke, but it ended up falling flat for me overall. Daymond John is the epitome of a success story with a wealth of both business and life knowledge; however, the book was just regurgitated information that I have read in previous business/self help books.

For those who don’t know who Daymond John he is the founder of the urban clothing line FUBU (no longer in production) and one of the sharks on the ABC entrepreneur show called “Shark Tank.” He has a wealth of both life experience and business savvy, so if there was a brain to pick about anything that falls under those two categories, it would be him.

The message of the book is when you feel like you are down and out, and your back is against the wall that’s when the best moments/inspiration/ideas take place because you essentially have nothing to lose. I appreciated the message, but it wasn’t something I am a stranger to because I have had my back against the wall plenty of times and came out swinging and winning. The information wasn’t anything new to me because I have previously read books with the same information/message just restated differently.

For those who are feeling like they are down and out, you may find inspiration within the words written in this book; however, for those of us who have been there and done that, it’s almost like passing a college class and being forced to take it a second time.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review

 

Amaro by Brad Thomas Parsons

BoBIn Amaro, Brad Thomas Parsons brings attention to an old world tradition of creating interesting and new flavors of cocktails to a new generation eager to wet their taste buds with something foreign, yet familiar.

Amaro is the simple production of removing flavors from herbs, spices, and other edible foods, and then injecting those flavors along with sugar syrup (or simple syrup as most home cooks and bartenders/mixologist) in alcohol either consume immediately, or to sit while it develops flavor. The production of amaro has a long standing history in Europe, but has increasingly gained popularity in America and countries throughout the world. If you don’t believe me, just head over to Youtube and type in “Tipsy Bartender.”

I loved the history Parsons weaved together in this book because even though it is a tradition founded in Italy, it has made its way here to America in the manner of taking every day alcohol, and adding different flavors such as candy, fruits, spices, or whatever else we can use to spike and add flavor to our mundane vodka or tequila. Not to mention, amaro alone has changed the way alcohol consumers define or want their drinks to be made.

There are plenty of cocktail recipes included throughout the book, but I wouldn’t recommend taking them on unless you have a GOOD grade of alcohol and not the cheap stuff sold in grocery stores. If you are someone who enjoyed the television show “Mad Men” then you will definitely love the look and appeal of this book.

Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Senevirantne

9780804186322

I never really had a desire to prepare gluten-free dishes until I met some new friends a couple of years ago who suffers from celiac disease. Celiac disease is when someone consumes wheat products, and their small intestine cannot absorb the proteins found in wheat properly; therefore, their immune system attacks their small intestine.

I am always on the lookout for gluten-free books, so when I am having dinner parties I can include dishes that are gluten-free. Gluten-Free for Good by Samantha Senevirantne is a book I really love because even though it is a gluten-free book, the recipes are not made of mainly vegan and vegetarian recipes; all the recipes included covers a wide range of dish categories such as breakfast, soups, pizza, and desserts.

One of my greatest fears when it comes to preparing gluten-free dishes is knowing what substitutions I can use in place of wheat products. The author includes a small list of flour substitutions, but I wish she would have included an entire list of gluten free products that can be used since the marketplace now offers gluten-free products such as pasta and beer. I found the substitution list to be too limited and thus can affect the quality of a gluten-free dish if all a person knows is to simply use gluten-free flour.

Beyond that, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the recipes because it does not lock someone with a gluten-free diet into a vegetarian or vegan diet. There are plenty of hearty recipes such as “One-pot chicken thighs with wild rice and leeks” or my favorite desserts “Chocolate and orange cheesecake” and “Raspberry cream tart with pistachios.” One part of the book I found to be limited was the soups category. It was just two vegetarian dishes, and even though I like those types of dishes too, I didn’t want to be limited to preparing those types of dishes.

The food photography is wonderful and the recipes are easy to read and follow along with. The ingredients are not anything you could not find in your local grocery store which is what I like about it. The majority of the recipes take about an hour or less to make which is also a good thing, especially if you are short on time in the kitchen.

Gluten-Free for Good is a good resource to find inspirational and creative gluten-free recipes; however, the background information about gluten-free foods and diet is sorely lacking, and there was absolutely no mention of celiac disease which I think is important for people to know because most people I encounter believe gluten free and celiac disease are two separate entities and they are not which can lead to a lot of misunderstandings. Other than that, it is a good cookbook to keep handy in the kitchen.

The Dim Sum Field Guide

 

The Dim Sum Field Guide is probably the worst choice I could have made when it came to choosing a cookbook. I’m familiar with the Field Guide books, and have found them useful when it comes to identifying ingredients; however, this book was nothing like that and proved to be a great disappointment.
The Dim Sum Field Guide is basically a dictionary of various dim sums. Background information is given for each dim sum such as origins and identification, but nothing of real interest. In the identification section, it tells you what’s in the dim sum, but no real preparation or measurements are given. 

In previous Field Guides, ingredient uses and recipes were included, but nothing of the sort was included in this book; even the reference material was mundane. To say this book was disappointing is saying the least, and I would not recommend this book to anyone. I found it useless and better information about dim sums can be found on internet for free.

I Amost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

What do you get when you combine a successful woman on a journey about self-discovery, love, a little drama, and some amazing friends? A Terry McMillan novel.
In I Almost Forgot About You, we’re introduced to a successful optometrist named Georgia. She has two adult adults, successful in their own right, two successful practices in Sam Francisco, and a great group of girlfriends. Feeling as if she is in a rut, Georgia comes to discover an old flame of hers died in a car, and decides she will reach out to every man she was in a relationship with and tell them what they meant to her.
Even though Georgia is much older than I am, I still found her and her story relatable. We all share that journey of self-discovery, and correcting past wrongs, and trying to figure out what drives us in life. Georgia definitely undergoes major change as the book progresses, and I thought she and everyone connected to her were better for it.

The Productivity Project

9781101904039When I heard about Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project I was extremely excited to get my hands on a copy of the book because I had heard a lot of great things about it; however, once I actually had the book in my hands and began reading it my mood quickly turned lukewarm.

My hopes before I started reading The Productivity Project was to discover some new tips or skills when it came to being more productive; however, the information was more of the same of any productivity book I have read in the past: Discover your purpose, write your goals down, do the hardest task first, create a to-do list, etc.

Each chapter is set up at the beginning to give you a brief synopsis about what the chapter will be about to get your mind thinking as you read, followed up with questions at the end of the chapter to help reinforce what you have learned. The questions were fine, but because they were the usual run-of-the-mill type of set up that I didn’t even bother answering the questions.

Although the book was written in an engaging matter that kept me reading, I found myself reading just for the sake of reading and not learning anything new. I would, however, recommend this book for those who have never read a productivity book before and are struggling to get things done in their life; on the other hand, if you know what to do to get things done and you’re not doing them, then you’re just a procrastinator and this book is just distracting you from getting things done.

America’s Best Breakfasts

9780553447217With the publication of America’s Best Breakfasts, I can now consider myself a breakfast junkie and fanatic. I grew up with the notion that breakfast can be consumed anytime of the day, and some of my best dinners consisted of an egg or French toast casserole, or what I recently discovered—the strata. Other than Ramen noodles, my college diet consisted of breakfast items. An article written about the Horseshoe sandwich by Jane and Michael Stern reinforced my desire to explore the world of early morning eating even more.

If I could have a culinary travel experience, my choice of dining would be breakfast. Breakfast is one of those universal meals that is highly neglected, and yet so rich in diversity, creativity, and flavor; America’s Best Breakfast brings all those things together by creating a breakfast menu from restaurants all over the country to be recreated at home.

I’m a southern chick, so I appreciate a classic southern breakfast recipe; however, it was nice to learn what other people’s ideas of breakfast is as well as the many spins on traditional breakfast dishes. A lot of the recipes I was able to recreate at home with no problems because I already prepare them now, the only difference was maybe a substitution here or there. My favorite to prepare was the Oeufs En Meurette, a Swedish dish. It was sort of a hybrid of breakfast and lunch/dinner, but my goodness was it good. I literally had to hide a plate from my family otherwise I would not have gotten seconds. The recipe includes a sauce which made me nervous because me and sauce do not work well together—to this day, I still have problems making hollandaise sauce whether it’s on the stove or a blender—but the step-by-step instructions helped me feel more comfortable making it, but not by much. Sauces hate me.

I liked the combination of traditional breakfast dishes and nontraditional dishes because I think, like with mixology, breakfast is one of the cuisines you have total freedom of creativity; the creativity with some of the dishes in America’s Best Breakfasts has definitely left its mark on me and my kitchen.

Around The Fire

9781607747529With an unusual chill in the air for Florida in the month of April, I have eagerly been anticipating the start of barbecue season. Anxiously waiting to put my newly improved barbecue skills to test—or at least hang around a nice, warm fire to escape the chill in the air.

I found Around the Fire to be one of the more sophisticated grilling books I have read thus far despite the straightforward and family oriented recipes. The recipes in Around the Fire are composed of various cuisines from places authors Greg and Gabrielle Denton have visited which produces different flavor profiles for each dish, but the same essence of what a good barbecue is.

Expert grilling skills are not required for recreating the recipes in your own backyard, or kitchen for that matter, however, I would suggest to anyone who picks up this book to at least have basic knowledge of grilling techniques, equipment, and supplies because it will make following along with the recipes a lot easier on yourself and more edible for your family and friends. The book briefly touches on grilling techniques and equipment in the beginning, but I found it to be extremely helpful with prepping and cooking when I was confident with my knowledge of grilling.

Because you are grilling there will be some prep time and patience involved with the cooking process, but the best thing about this book is that the recipes can be recreated on an old-fashioned grill outside, or in the kitchen with a stovetop grill; the only difference is you will not get that smoke flavor that tends to run through barbecue food.

I loved the diversity of Around the Fire when it came to the recipes because it covered everything from starter courses to desserts and cocktails. The only thing I wish I could change about the book is the cocktails section. I wish there were more non-alcoholic and alcoholic drink recipes available because at the end of the day it is a barbecue which tends to bring different age groups together, and I think the drink recipes could have reflected that more.

Koreatown by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard

9780804186131Koreatown is unlike any other Asian cookbook because it is composed of experiences of both the authors and those who frequently indulge in Korean food. Chef Deuki and Matt wanted to give the Korean food enthusiasts and the home cooks a look inside the Korean culture, what exactly makes Korean food so darn addictive, and how to prepare authentic Korean dishes at home.

Koreatown has by far been my favorite cookbook to read because not only does it effectively teach you how to make Korean dishes at home, but it shines a light on Korean culture. I loved reading the headnotes because I got to understand the history and the origins of the recipe—like bedtime stories, but for the appetite instead of sleep. Although informative, the headnotes were really personal which made it easier for me to connect to cuisine and culture even more, and made it easier for me to tackle the dishes in my kitchen even though I had to chase down a few ingredients unbeknownst to me.

Some of the recipes were easier to prepare than others due to lengthy lists of ingredients, however, when I sat down to try some of the recipes I made, I truly understood the necessity for the ingredients and how the complemented each other. Toasted rice ice cream is a must to make first because it is so simple to make, and no eggs and heat are required. It’s really quick and a new favorite treat of mine; and even if you don’t want to recreate the recipes from this book at home, the pictures alone are worth your time.

Lucky Rice by Danielle Chang

9780804186681“If we are what we eat, then we are all part Asian.”

I love Asian cuisine because it is rich with culture, heritage, and history; it is probably the one cuisine I tend to find cultural similarities with Southern cuisine. In Lucky Rice, author Danielle Chang is nice enough to divulge a variety of Asian dishes, both traditional and commercial, that are easy to prepare at home; reminding us of how blessed we are to have the nearest Asian restaurant located down the street.

Like Asian cookbook, I have to come to realize they are not books to be flipped through solely for the recipes, but to be read like a fairy tale story with the recipes as the prince or princess of the take. In order to successfully recreate the dishes found in Lucky Rice, I had to make quite a few trips down to the local Asian market, and the employees were nice enough to educate me on all the ingredients I needed and their uses.

Chang is like a tour guide in this book, and she takes you on both a culinary and cultural journey with both her headnotes and recipes. The pictures are amazing and are adorned with thorough and detailed recipe instructions. There recipes are easy to prepare and I would highly suggest avoiding using any substitutions because it would be like substituting a perfectly grilled T-bone steak for McDonalds. No offense McDonalds. Substituting the ingredients in this book simply takes away the authenticity of such a flavorful and unique culinary experience.

Although I enjoyed recreating the recipes in Lucky Rice, I recommend cooks of all levels to try the U.S. Army Stew because it is a melting pot of flavors.