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on February 21, 2015
Really this is a terrible terrible book. The author should have titled this "THE MOST AMAZING LOVE STORY EVER WITH DESCRIPTIONS OF THE MOST AMAZING SEX, including some really terrible, impractical, silly recipes". Don't read this unless you want to know how the author met her husband through online dating and what great sex they had along with great food. Here are some examples- The 3rd paragraph in the book:

"So, for months, at nearly midnight, we ate lamb chops with potato puree, beef tenderloin with port-balsamic sauce, and rich soups with white truffle honey. Thank goodness we were in the first throes of love and spent much of our time in other physical activity." Gag.

One of the sections is titled "grocery shopping as foreplay" Seriously? Sample sentences in this section "We whispered behind our hands and laughed into each other's shoulders." "Everything at the grocery store seemed brighter, and more exciting, when we were looking at it through each other's eyes." At this point I started feeling like I was reading a prepubescent's diary of their first boyfriend.

Just a few more: "Danny kissed me with a happy sigh, and we settled in, under the covers, our legs touching, to read the newspaper and lie in bed all morning." Another: "And in the act of putting one knee on the floor--forgive me if you find this offensive, but the truth is important to tell--he inadvertently let out a fart. A loud, juicy fart. We both laughed and then I started crying. 'Shauna Marie James, will you marry me?' "Yes, of course I will. But do you think we could turn South Park off?" TMI. Continuing this amazing story she writes: "He thought he would wait until he could take me to Paris, with a big ring in his pocket, and we were at the top of the Eiffel Tower. But that was like the movies--a preplanned itinerary to fit inot what every little girl (and the boy who watched chick flicks) thought she should have. Instead, we got South Park, a ring from the thrift store, his knee resting on the carpet that needed vacuuming, and a fart. It was better than I could have imagined."

You get the picture. The writer thinks she is the cutest, funniest, cleverest writer who has the most amazing love story ever. And the recipes, oh the recipes! Here's a sampling: Crisp Pork Belly with Wild Rice, Cabbage, Sour Cherries, and Honey-Sage Gastrique; Smoked Duck Breast Ravioli; Fig Chutney; Carrot-Mint Soup with English Peas and Yogurt; Crab, Avocado, and Cucumber Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette; Petrale Sole with Mushroom Duxelle and Cilantro-Mustard Sauce.

You get the gist. You can't make this stuff up. Yes I'm pissed. I'm mad at myself for not reading the reviews closer and for spending good money on this garbage.I'm bummed because its not on Amazon's buy back list (probably for good reason). I don't know if I'll even donate it to the thrift store-I'd hate for anyone else to lose money on it. I think I'll just throw it in the trash.
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on December 17, 2013
This is a particularly terrible cookbook. I was tempted to get it for family members who have celiac and must eat gluten free, but after trying several of the recipes myself, I realized that the authors really don't know how to create tasty food. The recipes are really bad, and they feel so overworked. It's like they have taken something relatively simple to make gluten free and made it incredibly complicated while removing all the taste - the celiac community does not need any more bad recipes for difficult, tasteless food. It's almost humorous after a while realizing how consistently bad the food is that comes out of this! And it's also a really odd sort of cookbook that contains HUGE, and I mean HUGE pictures of really unhealthy looking people - some with dirty hands, handling the food they're making - it's so offputting! I certainly don't want to know that the person who is writing about how healthy they are due in large part to the recipes they share actually looks seriously ill, or that the people who are serving others this food are cooking in such filthy conditions. I have never seen such a thing in a cookbook. This is NOT gift material - be warned.
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on February 2, 2012
I received this book for Christmas because my mother-in-law has celiac and I was looking for a reliable and consistent cookbook to use when she visits.

I had a few issues for this book. To begin, I thought the love story component was too much of the book. I like instructive headnotes that give some insight to the author's identity. I do not appreciate long winded paragraphs about how in love the authors are with each other. As a newlywed myself, I am sure my husband and I engage in lovey-dovey behavior that makes others roll their eyes. But this book is so unbelievably far over the top that even I couldn't believe it. Honestly, the author sounded like she was passing notes to her BFF in 7th grade about how hottttt her hubby Danny (did she mention he is a chef?) is and how they love each other like nobody has ever loved before. Ever.

Love story aside, there were some problems I had with cooking. The gums, to start, were problematic. It is my understanding that the author came out after the book was published explaining how to adjust the recipes to not use the gums. She wants people to spend money on her book and then give traffic to her blog so they can use the cookbook properly. This sounds a lot like a scheme to get more and consistent traffic to her blog.

In addition to the gums, I found most of the recipes to simply be impractical to the home cook on a daily basis. In addition, a lot of the instructions were vague like "Cook until you want to dive in." or "Cook until it looks perfect." I completely understand that cooking is not an exact science and there is no cookbook author who can give absolute directions that will work in every kitchen. There are simply too many variables. But on the other hand, I would appreciate more specific instructions, especially since this is a type of cooking that I (and I am sure many others) are engaging in for the first time.

All that being said, I think Shauna is bringing awareness to the celiac community through her blog and cookbooks. I admire her for that. I just think she would be spreading her statement much better if she stuck to food (not romance), gave people more precise instructions, and gave recipes that are easier for home cooks to recreate.
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on April 7, 2011
I will review both aspects of the book. The authors do a good job about disclosing up front that this is both a love story and a cookbook. First, the cookbook.

Most of the recipes are very expensive to make. You must search out or order expensive flours. And I don't know what to do about Xanthan gum. The author has now stated that she herself felt sickly for a very long time after eating recipes with xanthan gum in them. I have a delicate stomach and have felt a bit ill after eating some of her recipes. I have no idea if it's because of my health problems or the xanthan gum that I purchased TO MAKE THE RECIPES IN THIS BOOK. Now I'm too scared to even try another recipe. I've felt great after eating some of them and kind of sick after some of them. I don't know whether it's just me or the recipes. Please take note that most of the recipes are extremely high in calories and I get sick if I eat high caloric food too.

Do be forewarned that often an ingredient is left out, or you aren't told exactly when to add it, and you're often forced to guess how long to cook something. In other words, the directions are not precise. They are filled with instructions such as "boil until done." "Roll out pastry till it feels like sand." Huh?

Now onto the love story. You can't say you weren't warned upfront, and kudos to the Aherns for that. It is a love story. But it isn't just a love story. It's a story of the most perfect love ever. It sometimes reads like a teenager's diary. A cucumber joke in the grocery store? Perfectly okay to act silly, but does this belong in a professional's cookbook? (haters gon hate; someone will respond that I don't have a sense of humor and I'll argue that I do, but I don't think some of the "jokes" in this book are funny. That's my opinion. Everybody has one. It may be just your cuppa tea.) It's all a little too gushy for my tastes, no pun intended. DO NOT buy this book if you are lonely or in an unhappy personal relationship unless you are able to read about The Greatest Love Story Of All Time and not feel bad about your life. I've also observed that truly happy people rarely brag incessantly about their perfect happiness. A little sour with the sweet would have gone a long way to alleviate the discomfort I felt. Sometimes I felt almost voyeuristic, and sometimes I felt sick. "We giggled and kissed while the crack addicts watched us." O-kay.......I feel bad when I see crack addicts...
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on September 14, 2010
I have read this book cover to cover, twice. Captivating story, stunning photos and a plethora of recipes for me to work my way though this fall. Well, maybe not all this fall, after all I am going to heed the advice about cooking in season. I am going to be a Julie and Julia copy cat and work my way though each of the recipes. O.K. maybe not the smoked salt carmel ice cream which seems really overwhelming and intimidating. I love how the book approaches the idea of cooking, connecting with people and providing joy to the belly. While I consider myself to be a very good cook I still found the tips and suggestions through out the book very helpful. For example, how to season food with salt and pepper to evenly distribute the seasoning, why you should use fresh herbs instead of dry, how to braise, and finally a recipe for veal stock that I think I can manage. Offering variations for each recipe is also a wonderful sidebar to each recipe. Most importantly I find the writing and the stories, especially the stories of each recipe compelling and satisfying. I love knowing the history behind the food, how the recipe evolved. I am drawn to long, slow days in the kitchen and this cookbook is going to carry me far in expanding my kitchen skills. At the expense of being critical of other gluten-free cookbooks it is finally time for classy, upscale approach with a hardback cookbook that earns distinction. Finally, here it is!
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on April 24, 2011
I had high hopes for this book, but was disappointed to see how many of the recipes relied on dairy and/or eggs, followed by how many rely on expensive ingredients that I don't keep around the house (for example, veal stock). I could conceivably prepare maybe 40% of the recipes. I also thought it was odd how much xanthan gum and guar gum were used; it seemed like they used more than triple of other recipes I had seen for similar items. I had also never seen BOTH used in the same recipe.

Traditional homemade pasta calls for one egg, their version calls for 2 eggs, plus 4 more egg yolks, along with 2 tsp. Xanthan gum and 1 tsp. Guar gum. I am sure this would be a chewy pasta that would not fall apart; but not something I could eat (dairy and egg allergies).

I did make the crackers, and my husband (who is not gluten free) absolutely loved them; I thought they were ok.

I too grew weary of the love story; it's sweet and nice...but I often felt like it was TMI and I didn't need (or want) to know as much detail as was provided. What I wanted/needed to do was cook dinner, and I had to wade through a lot of personal back story to get there.
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on September 14, 2010
I love reading Shauna's blog because it is real and genuine. Life is messy sometimes, but how we bounce back and keep going speaks to our character. These two individuals have lived and taken risks, have experienced pain on many levels, and have also experienced amazing amounts of joy. Watching the vimeo videos with the Chef and Shauna gives you a hint to their love and adoration for each other, for food, and for living.

My copy arrived yesterday and I could hardly put it down. This is a cookbook that is more intimate than your typical cookbook- you get another peek into the lives of these two incredible people, and it is a gift. Say YES to this cookbook and YES to life. The tips from The Chef are helpful, and it is written in a way that is easy to understand (and actually use!!)
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on September 14, 2010
I pre-ordered this book so that I could be one of the first to receive it. I just got it yesterday and I must say that it is not often that i can curl up and read an entire book, cover to cover, in just one sitting (especially with two young children running around). But that is exactly what happened with this book. The beautiful recipes have been intertwined with an amazing love story - i could not stop reading it. Shauna and Danny Ahern's love story reminds me very much of my own (and of my parents). The story was as addicting as the recipes and images themselves. And with Fall descending on us, many of these recipes look so enticing, especially the crusty bread recipe, the braising recipes, and a particularly fascinating cassoulet that I am really excited to try for a Sunday night dinner!

I have made many of the amazing recipes from The Gluten Free Girl's blog in the past, so I know each of the recipes in this cookbook have been perfected and tested with the same total love that the recipes on her blog recieve! Bottom Line: This one has earned the coveted #1 position in my cookbook holder on my counter...
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on July 4, 2014
I find some of the recipes in this book to be great - I make the Marcona-almond sauce frequently, and the red lentil puree - and I agree with the Aherns about the importance of local organic blah blah blah so that doesn't bother me, although I will admit they're totally bossy about it. I do feel, however, that the tone of this book is just. so. condescending, and at the same time, oversharing. I don't want to read about farting, and I resent the "we're more in love than you could ever understand" song and dance. When I read the scene where she kisses the cinnamon off his lips, I honestly threw up a little in my mouth, and I definitely feel for the citizens of Seattle who have had to witness their particular love-fest. Ugh. If you're just looking to start cooking gluten-free, this book is not for you. If you enjoy elaborate cooking and have a lot of leisure time, there's useful information to be gleaned here amongst the tales of their one true love.
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on November 10, 2012
My oldest child has celiac disease. This book was one of a few I ordered after she was diagnosed in hopes of finding some go-to gluten free recipes. I will say that this book is beautifully shot and the photographer is to be commended, but the recipes are way out of my culinary league. I mean, "Umbrian Lentils with Duck Confit, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cabernet Sauce?" I don't even know where to begin with that one. Unfortunately most of the recipes are similarly complicated; not difficult, but complicated and time consuming. Many of them require expensive ingredients. Even the recipes that look doable are not things I can see my three children eating. We don't eat veal or rabbit or duck. If we had more refined palates maybe, but we don't. I'd rather grill a steak than confit a duck, but that's just me.

Long story short: The book is pretty to look at but I didn't find one recipe that excited me, so it was a bit of a waste. There are better, more family-friendly gluten free cookbooks out there.
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