Weekend Cooking — Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks #weekendcooking

book cover imageI have a feeling I know the name Rick Bayless from other Mexican food cookbooks, but what attracted me to take Frontera out from the library was the cover photo with the icy cocktail shaker, the summery cocktails, and the dish of guacamole. Looking good!

My husband already makes a perfectly wonderful guacamole (lots of cilantro) and margarita (not frozen, please, and lots of salt on the rim) without needing a recipe for either, but I might convince him to try one of the guacamole variations in this cookbook, such as Guacamole with Strawberries and Habanero or Guacamole with Bacon, Grilled Ramps (or Green Onions) and Roasted Tomatillos.

In the meantime, I’ll focus on the cocktail recipes. The author goes into detail on the making of the perfect margarita, and I definitely agree with him on the salt question (Should it even be a question?):

“Personally, for most margaritas, I don’t consider the salted glass rim an indulgence, a gilding of the lily. I consider salt as important in most margarita making as in good salsa making or good grilling. Without salt, you can produce a tasty creation…but not a drop-dead delicious one. More than any other distilled spirit, tequila has a flavor that pops when you add a little salt. Plus the combination of lime and salt seasons half of what folks eat in Mexico. So salted-rim margaritas make sense from both a flavor and a cultural perspective.”

There’s a chapter on agua frescas that gives recipes for each day of the week, and recipes for seasonal variations on the margarita — to make individual drinks and pitchers for parties. I definitely want to try the summer Peach (or Mango)-Basil Margarita using fresh basil from our garden. (The bartender’s notes for this recipe say that instead of basil, you should use the Mexican herb hoja santa, if you can find it in your area.) Find the Peach (or Mango)-Basil Margarita recipe here.

I also want to try the Black Currant-Rhubarb Margarita this summer, which calls for creme de cassis (black currant liqueur). We have rhubarb from the garden to use up!

pina coladas with chips, guacamole, and salsa
Pina coladas instead of margaritas here, but next time, margaritas a la Rick Bayless!

The recipes in Frontera seem a little time-consuming and fussy, but that’s partly because of all the detailed notes, I think. This cookbook is great for someone concerned with making these drinks and snacks in the best, most authentic way, but I think you could substitute here and there and be a little slap-dash about your preparation and still come out with some great margaritas, guacamoles, and snacks using this book!

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.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins @penguinrandom

book coverThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins will definitely be on my list of favorite books of 2015. Not only does it have a vast fantasy library as the seat of incredible power, but it also centers around both a seemingly doomed quest and an epic conflict of good and evil for control of the world in which the two sides keep melting confoundingly into one another. I hope there is a sequel in the works for 2016!

Carolyn, the main character, is a librarian, but not the tea-sipping, cozy mystery-reading stereotype. There is something disturbingly powerful about her that others – “the Americans” – can sense, but can’t concentrate on long enough to figure out. The book is dark and apocalyptically violent, but allows readers (almost always) to keep a tiny, comforting, glimpse of hope for humanity.

If you like dark contemporary fantasy like American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman, you definitely want to read The Library at Mount Char. The publisher describes it this way:

Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy.

Disclosure: I read an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I see the Highbridge audiobook edition is read by Hilary Huber, one of my favorite narrators, so now I may have to listen to the audiobook, too. Listen to an excerpt here.

Other opinions:
Beth Fish Reads
My Bookish Ways

The Library at Mount Char
Hawkins, Scott
Penguin, June 16, 2015
9780553418606
400 pp.
$26.00

My Misery-able Month of June @BkClubCare #MiseryRAL

The June Misery Read-along hosted by Care’s Online Book Club  officially ends today!

Stephen King’s Misery was his 14th published book, placing it well within his “early” period. The only other one I’ve read from then is The Shining (for another readalong).

I guess the answer is no. I didn’t know what I was getting into. #MiseryRAL

A photo posted by Laurie C (@baystatera) on

I started out strong, listening to the audio edition of Misery narrated by Lindsay Crouse. An unexpected choice (having a female narrator) – since the book is entirely from the perspective of bestselling popular author Paul Sheldon and takes place half inside his head – but a good one, I thought.

I zipped through the first half, feeling confident that I could take whatever misery King was planning to dish out. After all, I like dark books, and I like books with writers as the main characters, even arrogant SOBs like Paul Sheldon, because under the alcohol and ego and bluster, artists are all tormented, pitiful souls.

I was trying not to listen to the whole thing at once, though, so I took a break. And right after coming back to it, I had to stop again, because I went into shock. Not like Paul in the book, but still.

In the time it took for me to rally – when I was still only halfway through the audio – my download from the library expired, so I read the second half in print, the regular old way, and finished over the weekend.

I can’t really say that I liked the book, because it was pretty sickening at points. I wondered how people snacked while they read the library copy I was reading, which they obviously did, from the stains and spots left on the pages.

By the end, I realized I was gripping the book so tightly that my forearms were starting to hurt. Very suspenseful, even without its being horror in the purist sense (no woo woo).

Check Care’s Misery Round-Up and Playlist and #MiseryRAL on Twitter for different takes on Misery. From what others in the #MiseryRAL told me, the book is different from the movie (which I haven’t seen and don’t plan to watch.)

Misery badge with scared woman's face and #MiseryRAL hashtag

My favorite Stephen King book is still Lisey’s Story! I’d love to listen to it again for a readalong sometime!!

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian

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