Beginner-Friendly Cookbook: Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking by Kimberly Mayone and Kitty Broihier #weekendcooking

cover imageI received Everyday Gluten-free Slow Cooking by Kimberly Mayone & Kitty Broihier as a gift at Christmas, and have made several recipes from it. If you’re looking for beginner-friendly, gluten-free recipes to make in a slow cooker, this cookbook includes an excellent introduction to the gluten-free diet in general (reasons for it, precautions to take, stocking your pantry, etc.) and also to slow cooking in general (Slow Cooking 101). The authors also write about adapting your usual slow cooker recipes with g/f alternatives.

The authors outline many good reasons why using a slow cooker works well with maintaining a gluten-free diet or preparing meals for someone else who is. Another reason is that a removable crock insert can be washed in a dishwasher and usually doesn’t have scratches where trace amounts of gluten could be retained, or you could even buy disposable liners to be even more on the safe side.

Easy Vegetable Dal
The Easy Vegetable Dal was easy to make and delicious! I substituted white beans for the chickpeas because it was what I had on hand.

The cookbook has a good variety of family-friendly, basic recipes like Corn Chowder; Easiest Pulled Pork; Cincinnati Chili; and Mimi’s Classic Pork Roast and Vegetables with Gravy, but there are many that would also appeal to more adventurous tastes, such as Brazilian Black Bean Soup; Easy Vegetable Dal; Shrimp and Scallop Thai Curry; and Garlicky Salmon with Leeks and Wild Rice.

Picture of bowl with Tex-Mex Chicken with Black Beans topped with goat cheese
Tex-Mex Chicken with Black Beans, topped with goat cheese.

You’d expect plenty of meaty and vegetarian soup, stew, and chili recipes from any slow cooker cookbook, and there are many of them here, but there are also chapters for Breakfast and Brunch; Appetizers and Snacks; and Sweets. I haven’t tried any of those yet, but the Tex-Mex Egg Bake and the Chocolate Risotto are a couple of the ones I would like to try sometime when we have a crowd.

Serving dish of Classic Pot Roast with Potatoes
Classic Pot Roast with Potatoes was as easy as it sounds to make.

The recipes for the pictured meals are not available online, but check out the authors’ Gluten-Free Slow Cooking blog for several recipes you can sample and to see their style of cooking and writing. In case you’re thinking that it’s time to put the slow cooker away now until the fall, there are seasonal recipes for spring and summer posted there. I found a Ham and Navy Bean Soup recipe there to use up the ham bone and leftover ham that I put in the freezer after Easter!

There are no photos at all, which I don’t mind, but others might. (Most slow cooker meals aren’t very photogenic, anyway!) It’s a very nicely designed book, though, and stays open to your recipe, even near the beginning or the end.

Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking
Mayone, Kimberly & Broihier, Kitty
Sterling, 2012
978-1-4027-8553-5
225 pp.
$22.95

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking buttonThis post is part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click on the image for more Weekend Cooking posts.

Better on Audio: Excellent #Audiobooks

Looking for a great audiobook? Here’s a list I’ve kept over the years of memorable ones. (And I listen, on average, to one or two audiobooks a week!)

Why do these audiobooks stand out? It goes without saying that all of the narrators are incredibly talented. Also, all of these books also seem ideally suited to the audiobook format for one reason or another. Many are in the first-person, which I especially like in audio format because it’s like a story being told; three are actually memoirs. Others are written using a lot of words in languages other than English or with some distinctive quality that makes it especially nice to hear it in, for example, a voice with a particular accent, or a teenager-sounding voice. Several are really funny, so the comedic timing of the narrators makes them absolutely hilarious.

Try one of these wonderful audiobooks if you’ve never listened to an audiobook or haven’t listened to one in a long time. (They’ve gotten way better since the early days!) If I reviewed it on the blog, I’ve linked to the review.

Excellent Audiobooks

Classic, Literary, Historical, Humorous, Speculative, & Suspense

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, read by David Colacci
Anansi Boys
by Neil Gaiman, read by Lenny Henry
The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz, read by Jonathan Davis
The Cat’s Table
by Michael Ondaatje, read by the author
Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins, read by Xe Sands
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, read by Ralph Cosham
Defending Jacob by William Landay, read by Grover Cleveland
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, read by Will Patton
The Good House by Ann Leary, read by Mary Beth Hurt
I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck, narrated by Barbara Caruso
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, read by Robin Sachs
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, read by Fenella Woolgar
Lisey’s Story by Stephen King, read by Mare Winningham (Simon & Schuster)
Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard, read by Mark Honan (AudioGO)
The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian, read by Alison Fraser and Mark Bramhall
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (and others in series) by Alexander McCall Smith, read by Lisette Lecat
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, read by Gretchen Mol
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, read by Davina Porter
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, read by Wil Wheaton
The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, read byTai Simmons
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, read by Jonathan Davis
The Spellman Files (and rest of the Izzy Spellman series) by Lisa Lutz, read by Christina Moore
Still Life (and all the Armand Gamache mysteries) by Louise Penny, read by Ralph Cosham
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, read by the author
The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland, read by Xe Sands
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, read by Kathleen Wilhoite
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, read by Simon Slater

Memoirs

Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, read by the author (Random House Audio)
Bossypants by Tina Fey, read by the author
100 Names for Love by Diane Ackerman, read by Barbara McCulloh (Recorded Books)

Young Adult Fiction

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison, read by Stina Nielson
Bartimaeus sequence (starting with The Amulet of Samarkand) by Jonathan Stroud, read by Simon Jones
Beauty Queens
by Libba Bray, read by the author
Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, read by Nick Podehl
Delirium by Lauren Oliver, read by Sarah Drew
The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith, read by Mark Boyett
Swim the Fly by Don Calume, read by Nick Podehl

Mini Reviews: Three Literary Thrillers That You’ve Probably Read Already

I call these literary thrillers because they delve into the psychology and daily lives of the characters well as being suspenseful. These three mini-reviews are completely spoiler-free, and therefore don’t say much at all, but I hope you’ll read them anyway.

cover image partial teenage boy's face mostly obscured by messy hairFinding Jake
by Bryan Reardon

Stay-at-home dad Simon Connolly rushes to the high school with all the other parents in his family’s upper- middle-class neighborhood when they get the news that something terrible has happened there, but he and his wife Rachel, a lawyer, only get to collect their daughter, Laney. Jake, their son, Laney’s older brother, a quiet loner, is missing…and a suspect.
The writing in this first novel is a little amateurish at times, so you have to be in the mood to read uncritically. How the police behave is completely unrealistic, but to be fair, it’s hard to have a suspenseful story without having some unrealistic plot elements. The story is written in Simon’s voice, jumping back and forth from present to past, in alternating chapters, with Simon constantly questioning his parenting over the years. (For example, it starts in the present and jumps back to eight months before Jake is born.) Fans of Jodi Picoult and William Landay’s Defending Jacob should like this one.
For a more psychological, less suspenseful take on the subject of a guilt-ridden father wondering whether he raised a son capable of an atrocity, try The Good Father (Doubleday, 2012) by Noah Hawley.

Read a sample of Finding Jake.

HarperCollins, Feb. 2015
9780062339485
272 pp.

cover image view of countryside from train windowThe Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train, which came out mid-January, is the book everyone was calling the next Gone Girl, so I read it early  to avoid spoilers. If you liked Gone Girl, you will probably like The Girl on the Train, which is set in the suburbs of London and has an young woman narrator upset over an ended relationship. I thought it went on a little too long, but it was a fast, addictive read like Gone Girl.  (Personally, I liked The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson better, which came out shortly after and also got thrown into the Gone Girl category. I thought I had posted a review already, but I guess I haven’t!)

Penguin, Jan. 2015
9781594633669
336 pp.

cover image young woman with umbrella walking on rainy city sidewalkOne Step Too Far
by Tina Seskis

The cover of this debut novel, which is also compared to Gone Girl, has the tagline “No one has ever guessed Emily’s secret. Will you?” Set in England, this one alternates between past and present, with the present chapters narrated in the first-person present tense by Emily – a young woman hiding from her past and starting a new life – and the chapters about the past in the third-person. If you liked Before I Go to Sleep or The Silent Wife, you might like One Step Too Far. It kept me reading and guessing, but in an annoyed kind of way.
If I were 23 years old, instead of 53, I think I would have liked it better, so check out some of these other reviews (more detailed than mine, but still mainly spoiler-free, I think):

Bibliotica
Traveling with T
The Well-Read Redhead

William Morrow
9780062340078
304 pp.

Disclosure: I feel bad about not reviewing One Step Too Far sooner because I received an advance reader’s copy from the publisher.

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian

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