I've never been a significant fan of stews. This, I realized last night, is because they're often rather bland. They frequently lack significant seaso...moreI've never been a significant fan of stews. This, I realized last night, is because they're often rather bland. They frequently lack significant seasoning, or all the strong flavours just somehow manage to blend together in a nondescript broth.
Last night, though, I discovered my first recipe that will definitely be on the shortlist of go-to hearty and richly flavourful cozy stews.
Ten Speed Press gave me the opportunity to check out the new cookbook by Cathal Armstrong, My Irish Table. Here's the thing about Ten Speed Press: they're actually a publisher I seek out on bookstore shelves. While scanning the titles, if I see the Ten Speed Press logo on the spine of the book, I'll pull it out to check it, even if I might not have noticed it otherwise.
Despite snow here in the valley yesterday, we are slowly but surely moving into spring warmth, so I thought I'd usher winter out with Armstrong's Beef Stew. Throughout the (almost) two hours of braising, there was lots of wandering through the kitchen and exclamations about how incredible it smelled. Let me tell you, this is NOT a bland stew. The herbs and the serrano just fawned all over that meat, dropping compliments that would make Donald Trump blush.
The book is stock full of cooking advice and science. Hagedorn's photographs (of both the food and Irish scenes) are gorgeous, and compliment Armstrong's intimate and warm narrative. He has a story about each recipe. The recipes are almost completely Irish but also have British, American, and African influences.
These are authentic recipes without shortcuts, which is lovely but which also often means long and involved commitments (and usually multiple steps) to the preparations of the dishes. The corned beef takes 17 days to make. The book is very heavily seafood oriented (which, of course, makes sense, but is a bit of a drawback for me until I move to a coastal area somewhere).
Up next: Bakewell Tart (I've always wanted to make this but never have), the Pullman Loaf, and in the summer, hopefully some Horseradish Cream from the horseradish plant I'm putting in the ground this weekend!
*** You can get the recipe and read more notes on it on my blog at: wanderaven(less)
What seems to me like an excellent representation of the time during the Troubles, and also of a young man coming of age whilst dealing with the issue...moreWhat seems to me like an excellent representation of the time during the Troubles, and also of a young man coming of age whilst dealing with the issues. Great characterizations, very Irish sensibility. (less)
I almost stopped reading. I'm not sure why - I'd just finished Bog Child and had a rough transition - too much of the same author at one time? I was a...moreI almost stopped reading. I'm not sure why - I'd just finished Bog Child and had a rough transition - too much of the same author at one time? I was also initially put off by what seemed an over-reaction on part of the protagonist (Holly/Solace) to some things that happened, and also a lack of empathy, but I was proved to be impatient (as I often am, even as a reader).
Strong story and though I'm not all that familiar with YA, I imagine it can be highly recommended for the category. Adventures, symbolism, discoveries - of others and oneself. Ultimately, the protagonist seemed believable, and Dowd's writing is sympathetic and quite beautiful, as always. (less)
I'd like to think that French will write another book continuing Adam Ryan's story but, despite the tantalizing little...more**spoiler alert** Damn ending.
I'd like to think that French will write another book continuing Adam Ryan's story but, despite the tantalizing little clue at the end of this one, I suspected she's wrapped it up as much as she will.
I've already decided to take another chance on her and have bought The Likeness. I do hope the ending on that one is more conclusive. I simply don't think that it's somehow "artistic" not to wrap up the loose ends in a book... especially a mystery. I think that it is a cop out - that the author concocted such a fabulous, intriguing mystery and couldn't figure out how to conclude it and so they simply... didn't. I don't think it's a clever wink to the reader but rather a betrayal of an unwritten agreement that if you start a long and involved book with the premise of "Three children go into the woods one day but only one comes out, his shoes filled with blood and so terrified he cannot speak or remember anything...", you're reading it to find out what happened.
Lots of complaining, I know, for a four star rating. But I guess that's why I'm so irritated by this sort of ending. I thought the writing was fantastic and I loved the setting and the atmosphere... so I would have expected such a great author to be able to come up with a great ending for such a book.