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Toni "the bookworm" RSS Feed (Chicago, Illinois United States)

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The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook
The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook
by Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.30
59 used & new from $14.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best GF books out there, bar none!, September 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Want the short review? Very impressed....very, very impressed! Definitely worth every penny!

Want a review that's a wee bit longer? Then here it is......................Considering that this is coming from one of the best "companies" out there, I was not disappointed in the contents of this gluten-free (GF) cookbook; their name is the golden hint. Christopher Kimball and company have been presenting the best in science and taste for cooking and baking for many years. This latest foray into GF cooking/ baking has made for confident baking as the specifics of using GF flours can be a real challenge for anyone, let alone finding the taste factor. This book has made the effort of trial and error, as well having answered the questions involved in finding palatable GF food. If you have the desire to read the specifics of this GF science, the information is here, otherwise you can go directly to the recipes and move along.

Now, just to qualify this, I have to say that I also attended a presentation during the book tour for this newest offering, with ATK's very own Jack Bishop. (I don't know him, I don't own stock in the company, but I trust Chris Kimball). I was impressed with everything because the science in this part of food life, has really taken off but where does one start? Who can you trust to have real knowledge? For those who are celiac's, just a puff of wheat in their food can make the difference between having a meal and visiting the kidding.

This is a rather heavy book of recipes and education and information. There are 328 total book pages, with recipes that have accompanying color (mostly) photo's of everything. There are 9 chapters that are specific to the cooking/baking recipes but there are 13 chapters in all, ranging from the "Welcome" to "The Basics of GF Cooking" to "Conversions and Equivalents" to "Weight-to-Volume Equivalencies" meaning the ratio of using other GF flours. They discuss how they developed the flour blends and proportions, the science and art behind it, using other ingredients that help to balance out taste and function (such as binders, substitutes, etc), and the ratings of how they determined the flavor value; all this neatly tucked in between the book covers.

Welcome to the Kitchen
The Basics of GF Cooking
A Good Start
Comfort Foods
Yeast Breads, Savory Loaves, and Pizza
Cookies and bars
Pies, Fruit Desserts, and Tarts
Conversions and Equivalencies
Weight-to-Volume Equivalencies for GF Flours

Here are some tidbits of information that Jack Bishop made:

Depending on the company from which you purchase your GF flour, you need to SCALE everything (meaning you need to use a measuring scale) as the weights vary and will greatly affect the flavor and taste and density of the food. Both the companies and the weights are given.

It took 2 months of testing, retesting, and more retesting to find the perfect flour blend, all in the hallowed halls of America's Test Kitchen. I greatly suggest to just stick with their flour blend as the ingredients are easy to find, in both health food stores and gratefully, in more mainstream grocery chains.

In using "binders", xanthum gum if good for cookies, and psyllium is best for bread (think in the line of Metamucil!) but that guar gum is less desirable for GF baking.

Having said all this, Mr. Bishop did say that the response to this book was so great, that they are in the process of working on a GF book dedicated to all baking. He said that desserts tend to be most difficult for GF/Celiacs to deal with as most desserts are made with varying wheat flours, and just the thought of being able to have just an éclair or slice of "real" cake, would be a joy for many people (even for those who choose a GF diet).

I have made many recipes from this book, including making some for others who had no idea that it was GF; I was never disappointed nor did I receive any complaints (actually, with the recipes that were baked, there were rave reviews, and have since passed along this book to others). I truly salute the folks at America's Test Kitchen for their diligence and hardwork; both my abdomen and I thank you!

Offered by FORT MAGIC
Price: $199.00

1 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The company has great potential untapped., August 29, 2014
Just watched the owner of this company on "Shark Tank". She is a sweet person but not educated in the business end of this product. All the Sharks felt the product was good but the price was too high, for starters. There is no fabric that accompanies this product, as a second point, which then increase the amount of money parents must spend to complete the construction.

Her presentation was scattered, therefore her impression on the Sharks was disappointing. Because of this, four of the Sharks declined interest. One Shark did offer a much smaller investment amount for a 1/2 interest in her company, which she declined after his refusal to decrease his interest amount in her counteroffer. She states that she clears about $100 per unit, but has other investment partners involved.

Too bad she wasn't better prepared because most reviewers believe that this is a sturdy product. Kids seem to enjoy the imagination involved in this fort as well. But for the amount of money charged, this is too high-priced.

Perhaps she will now have some refocused direction, so that she can improve her business. The actual equipment is good but through some restructuring of cost, materials, etc, this can really do well for her.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2014 6:18 AM PDT

Batman Complete Series (DVD)
Batman Complete Series (DVD)
DVD ~ Various
Price: $134.98

19 of 62 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How much for this?!, July 26, 2014
This review is from: Batman Complete Series (DVD) (DVD)
For the "grown kids" who realize the import of the release of this classic TV series, yahoo......Batman is finally on DVD! But enough has been written about the show (the kitsch and the camp, the actors, waiting forever for its DVD release because of the studio vs corporate fighting, etc) but this price is insane. No matter how much we want this, there is no way the majority of fans will be able to shell out $150 bucks. I know the demand is high and the wait has been long, but come on! This will go on the "wish list". Heavy sigh.
Comment Comments (16) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2014 2:49 PM PDT

"Recital" Pointe Shoe,202
"Recital" Pointe Shoe,202
Offered by Discount Dance Supply
Price: $36.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Alas poor feet, thou art still too big......, May 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
OK...............I understand that I am NOT a tiny little thing and that I have size 11 feet. But even giraffes and gazelles like to have their clothes and shoes fit. And since I read other reviews stating that these come very small and to order 2 sizes up, that's what I did. But despite that, I found myself trying to stuff 10 pounds of baloney into a 1 pound bag. Goodness gracious, I can't even get my gunboats halfway inside. Major ouch!

So to make a short story long, I need to return these. I don't know whether to go up a couple more sizes or just go with another company. Too bad because they really are quite nice, especially for the money.

One more thing, and this could be just a quirk, but these are peach-colored therefore in the product description, it states "European pink", be aware that they are not "American pink". FYI just in case it matters to you.

Peace! JMJ!

The Tucci Cookbook
The Tucci Cookbook
by Stanley Tucci
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.33
85 used & new from $4.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ben fatto!!!!!, March 4, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Tucci Cookbook (Hardcover)
Well done, Stanley and family!

This has been a most fruitful effort in this delicious compilation of recipes and dishes from the history of the Tucci family.

So much has been written on this book and I agree with all the wonderful accolades given. Reaching back into the archives of the Tucci family, much love and effort has been placed into coordinating the nuances and flavors that brought about this collaborative effort of familial Italian gastronomy. Having wanted to review this book, the time was never available to really share my words. Now, with all this snow that we've been having, we were given several perfect evenings to have a "big night", and the time to share with all the fellow cooks, finally made itself available. Better late than never, I guess.

That being said, I wanted to mention first and foremost about the most important recipe within this book, and that is "The Drum" (aka "Timpano", page 177) from which most people will remember its debut from the now classic cinema "The Big Night", in which Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub co-starred. The recipe has wonderful step-by-step directions and photography to help you feel like Primo and Secondo! We only make the recipe when we have "The Big Night" as our feature film, and it's an all-day event for us. One cannot have one without the other; a nakedness of sorts to not have the complimentary parts.

Making the pasta that will envelope and caress the filling within, is a true labor of love. Flour and eggs are beautiful in and of themselves, but as partners? Wedded bliss............providing you invite salt and olive oil and water to the ceremony. Then you lay this exquisite sheet of dough into the pan and slowly add the salami, cheeses, eggs, meatballs, sauce, MORE pasta, MORE cheese, and MORE eggs! Mama mia!

The aroma within your home will the first thing that people will comment on as they walk through your door. Give them a glass of wine (that is so perfectly suggested after the recipe portion, along with contact information to the winery, no less!), and just savor the wait and the anticipation. Plus, regardless of how many times you will make this, the "unveiling" is such a big deal, that you will enjoy it every time.

It's mountain high in size and so good!!! So very, very good!!! A really hot loaf of fresh bread, some butter to melt all over it, your wine, and you are on a journey of perfection, my friends!

OK, OK.................yes, there is more to the book. Obviously.

I enjoy history and photography so the two of these are given in ample form at the start of the book as the Tucci history share the culinary wealth. Mario Batali gave a lovely Foreward so it made things just that much better to have someone such as himself, send you on your way.

There are 11 food chapters, but there is a wonderful wine mini-chapter that gives you a little insight as to how to pair your dishes with the beloved grape. The recipes have a little introduction before giving the recipe, steps, and wine pairing suggestions. There are some photographs of the dishes but not of all of them. Also, this is not a teaching cookbook; it's assumed that you have a somewhat solid skill set in the kitchen, and aside from "The Drum/Timpano" section, that is all you will see for step-by-step tutorials. But, come on, you can do this, right?

Appetizers and Salads:
Grilled Mozzarella Cheese, Antipasto, Vinaigrettes, Roasted Peppers, etc

As Stan says, soup is cheap and easy to make so where to start? How about Chicken Soup with Chicken Meatballs? Italian Bread Dumpling Soup, and the all-time, everything but the kitchen sink, Peasant Soup! Boy, does this ever make a fanastic winter meal all by itself (with a little help from some bread).

Eggs with Tomatoes, Egg Tart, Eggs with Salads, etc. But as Stan states, they weren't much of a "scrambled eggs for breakfast crowd" so these are different takes on the oval gift from chickens.

Bread and Pizza:
Fried dough, banana bread, pizza's.

Cold Pasta (summer pasta), Hot Pasta, THE DRUM, Cannelloni, Fettucine, Tomato Sauces, etc

Rice and Risotto:
(these are kind of the same thing but vary in preparation) Rice by itself, with veggies, with fish, etc.

Veggies and Side Dishes:
The Puree of White Beans with Rosemary and Garlic is dee-vine! Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary? Beyond fantastic. There is an Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole with Potatoes that I'm planning on that sounds great as I'm not one for eggplant but the ingredients sound interesting.

Obviously, there are tons of chicken dishes here but the "Chicken on a Brick with Lemon and Rosemary" is great. I purchased some bricks from our local Lowes, which are the flat and square ones as opposed to the rectangular ones, because they have a great surface area. I scrubbed them by hand then threw the bricks into the dishwasher; I still wrap aluminum foil around them before I use them. There is also a duck recipe for those who enjoy that type of game.

Fish and Shellfish:
Bluefish, Swordfish, Clams, Salmon, Tuna and other creatures of the sea are in this chapter. Not being a big fish person, I haven't tried any of these but there are plenty to choose from.

Oh my word................desserts! Cookies, Cannoli's, Fried Dough, Cakes, Tiramisu, etc round out the end of your meal. But these are all light desserts, very unlike the American meal finales, but you will find them a pleasant and light/airy way of ending your meal.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable Italian cookbook with little twists and fancies that will make your meal memorable. Ciao!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2014 9:21 AM PDT

The Divorce Papers: A Novel
The Divorce Papers: A Novel
by Susan Rieger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.30
93 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing tutorial of the legal/divorce world., February 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The legal world has a mystery to it that either amuses or terrifies the common man. That being said, in order to truly appreciate the essence of this profession, one would need to spend some time with an attorney and to this end, Ms. Sophie Diehl will begrudingly accomodate you. But she will do so not with just everyday legal stuff but the stuff that TV divorce stories are contrived, with ex post factos, habius corpuses, ceteris paribuses, and hakuna matata's all tossed together. (think "Boston Legal", "The Good Wife" as opposed to the sanitized versions of earlier law shows such as "Perry Mason") The principle couple within the case are interesting characters, with some saving grace for both, but in the end, there is a situation that makes you just say "really?!"

A slightly seasoned criminal attorney, through some simple circumstances, the almost 30-something, single Sophie is placed in charge of a rather heavy divorce case, with characters that can be sympathetic or completely irritating, on both sides of the legal table. To that end, her involvement in a case that wasn't within her realm of law, brings out feelings and emotions that plague her, as she is also dealing with a personal life that echoes these same sentiments from her past, as well as the repercussions in the present.

At the same time, the resident divorce attorney who did not catch the case, now becomes an added stress for both Sophie and the firm, and that particular story line was very well written. Sometimes things have to happen in order for those things to get better, though someone must suffer; and in the end, things turn out better for it.

There is humor and pathos, with precise swear words used by some characters who are blunt and to the point. Others take the high road, but you can just hear the emotions of laughter or anger behind their sentences. Being set against the 90's, certain points of that era are mentioned such as the Clintons, their marriage during the Lewinsky debacle, abortion, Planned Parenthood, woman's rights within the corporate world, and other issues of the day.

It's in the writing style of this book that is both a novel (no pun intended) and entertaining road that the author chose to unravel this story. It is a combination of emails, briefs, notes, and sidebars of professional and personal correspondence that evolve into this tale of the ugly side of divorce, with its thorns and blood. It took a bit of time to get used to this style but it was interesting and you soon felt like you were in the office, privy to the information.

The author, Susan Rieger, being an attorney both in practice and as a professor, has presented a very intriguing piece of law that few hope to ever have to deal with during their lifetime. Though I shake my head when I read of those who have gone through this hell, not once, but several times.

Ms. Reiger has broken the story into 5 chapters of legal speak:

I Intake
II Orders/Discovery
III Counteroffer
IV Negotiations
V Settlement

Each section contains the effort, work, and aggravation that will attack both sides when settling a divorce. The involvement of children is the most delicate, and this book establishes the reality of what some children feel, think, and experience during this trial of life. In the end, no one wins, its just that the dust settles. I particularly enjoyed how the author weaved the story, angst, and emotions of the couples daughter throughout the story; she seemed to have a particularly good insight into her mind.

I did notice the rather detailed amounts of information that were given regarding divorce law and at times, it seemed to be rather tedious with the minutia of everything being presented. There were "articles" that certain characters had written in both general and legal papers and journals; the fine details of divorce regarding assets, statutes given, laws quoted, etc. I don't know if that was the intention of the author to be so thorough or if this was truly a view of the realities of divorce. That being said, this could almost be a streamlined manual of sorts on general divorce law.

This paperback book is large but not heavy and it took about 3 days to read the 461 pages. I would say that, aside from being a good read in general, it would be a good read for anyone contemplating divorce or anyone who appreciates the effort needed to be in a good marriage. Either way, point well taken. Peace.

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Favorites (Collectors Edition)
The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Favorites (Collectors Edition)
DVD ~ Carol Burnett
Price: $35.27
54 used & new from $19.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Yesteryear enjoyment., January 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Having grown up watching Carol Burnett on Saturday nights, this was a real treat for us. It brings us the memories of a time when good, wholesome TV was around, and when Saturday nights were for families. (not anymore, hey?)

This is but one set of her 1967-1978 fabulous run of comedy, musical numbers, and sketches that kept us in stitches every week.
Mama's family, musical guest stars such as Jim Nabors, along with the rest of her cast of Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner are all part of this DVD. It would be nice to purchase the entire set over a period of time but for now, the price is good for just one set.

The only difficulty I see is that because her show had such a healthy run, to purchase the entire collection, bit by bit, would be rather pricey. Unless the opportunity presents itself to obtain the entire season, the individual prices can be a bit high so hopefully in time, groupings would be offered.

Not much more to say other than one good piece of the Carol Burnett collection. All of them are great and its just a matter of what or who you're looking to see.

Animal Stories Volume 2
Animal Stories Volume 2
2 used & new from $289.49

5.0 out of 5 stars RIP Uncle Lar'!, January 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Animal Stories Volume 2 (Audio CD)
I grew up with good old delightful Uncle Lar' and Lil snotnose Tommy on WLS radio. The "Animal Stories" bit of their radio show was an absolute highlight for me. So when I heard of Uncle Lar's passing, I started to reminisce and bought this. There are other volumes and I think I'll be getting those as well as they are precious reminders of good radio, such as the likes of other radio teams from way back.

This CD was so funny! Hearing the wailing of the wolf, announcing the bit! I can close my eyes and think back to those days of hearing them together, and how they would either try to keep a straight voice, then eventually lose it, and break into such laughter; that it made us laugh even harder. The two of them were quite a team. Larry could take simple animal stories and turn them into a long bit, and with Tom as his sidekick, their team was a testament to their abilities as radio personalities who had the essence of that trade. That's what this is all about and we are grateful to both of them for that time and space of history.

Thanks for the memories guys!

Jumbo Happy Birthday Inflatable Birthday Cake Party Decoration
Jumbo Happy Birthday Inflatable Birthday Cake Party Decoration
Offered by Knockout Novelties, Inc.
Price: $30.96
15 used & new from $29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fun all over the world!, January 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One of the best birthday celebration decorations that we've purchased!

I had purchased a smaller version of this way back when (maybe 10 years?) and we have used it at every birthday celebration; I'm thinking at least a hundred times. And this plastic cake just keeps on going and everyone is always surprised and pleased with the concept.

So when thinking of something to send to family overseas, I wanted something to be used whenever they had a birthday celebration, as a way of "being" with them, from so many miles away. It bowled them over. The first thought that comes to mind is the fact that it is 7 feet tall; for the kids, it is way cool. The second thought is that it's so simple to set up and take down, though for this, you need an air compressor to inflate it obviously.

The colors are bright; for the one I purchased several years ago, the colors have stayed sturdy over the years, albeit that I keep it in the original box and I've kept it in the basement, where the heat hasn't deteriorated the plastic.

The material itself is quite sturdy and it can take little hands playing and knocking it around a bit.

So if you want to invest in something fun and really impressive for a birthday party, go for it. You could also buy those "anniversary " banners and place it over the "birthday" part if you'd like to use this for an anniversary party. I can also assume that this can be used for other celebration events as well whenever a "cake" is needed.

Enjoy the fun! It'll be worth the investment.

by Peggy Porschen
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $4.09

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tiny treasure of cupcake recipes., January 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Cupcakes (Hardcover)
Need a sweet little book to tuck away into a gift basket? Or perhaps something to keep on your shelf that doesn't take up much space but is packed with recipes? Know anyone who isn't a baking enthusiast but enjoy some baking? This is that treasure for them.

From the delicious mind of Peggy Porschen comes this mini baking book full of recipes that will make tasty cupcake treats which won't take much time. And for those without much confidence in their baking skills, this is small and simply enough to give them a little boost!

"Cipcakes" is basically a 6" x 6" book of cupcake batters that range from simple to more complex flavors, but which do not require a largely stocked kitchen. It contains 64 pages of batters and frostings to accompany each other, and each page has the recipe on one side and a photo on the other. (Being from Europe, she does use the metric system/weights for the ingredients; I personally would encourage those who are serious about baking, to invest in a scale and weigh out your ingredients as this makes for a much more accurate way of either cooking or baking. There is a huge difference between weighing out flour compared to just a "cup" of flour. Also, she gives both Celsisu/Farenheit oven temperatures.) After the Introduction by Peggy, there is a page with "Baking HInts and Tips" and from there, 56 pages of yummy batters that range from basic to fancy, such as..................

Chocolate Heaven
Sticky Toffee
Red Velvet
Chocolate Raspberry Heart
Strawberry and Champagne
Lemon and Raspberry
Black Forest
Vanilla Chiffon
Strawberries and Cream
Pecan Pie
Carrot and Walnut
Eton Mess (think berries)
Apple Strudel
Salted Caramel
Toffee Apple
Mulled WIne
Lemon Meringue
Sugar Plum
Spiced Pumpkin
Cosmo (this used Cointreau liqueur)
Pink Marshmallow

Then come the frostings:

Basic Cream Cheese Frosting with variations
Mascarpone Frosting
Chocolate Ganache
Meringue Frosting
Plain Syrup with flavorings

These are all cupcakes, but the way in which they are decorated and presented, makes each one special and very pretty. So her ability to show you, through the way that a piece of fruit or decoration is placed, makes them special, even if it doesn't take you much time in making them. Enjoy the experience!

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