It's the most magical day of the year! Have a safe and happy Halloween, and check out all of our Halloween treats below:
Food writer and editor Dana Cowin tackles her personal culinary shortcomings in her new cookbook, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen. With more than 100 recipes—like this simple and fabulous one for Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso Vinaigrette—you too can learn from the best chefs around and move past common blunders.
A sports coach for my son, William, once told me that the sign of a great player is consistency. If a kid could hit the ball the same way time and again, he said, he could be a star. The same goes for cooking. Great restaurant chefs make the same dish the exact same way night after night. I now aspire to this in my cooking. In winter, I get a lot of practice making roasted vegetables.
My daughter and I routinely go “bin diving”—we open the fridge’s produce bin and take out all the wounded vegetables, dice them, toss them with olive oil and roast them. Sometimes they come out perfectly—the flavors intensified and delicious. But sometimes they burn on the bottom and are still raw on the top. Determined to become more consistent, I asked April Bloomfield to be my vegetable-roasting coach. She had two excellent recommendations: Be sure to cut the vegetables into the right size so they cook at the same time. For example, carrots and sweet potatoes won’t cook at the same rate, so carrots need to be cut smaller to cook in the same amount of time or similar as the less-dense Brussels sprouts. And stir the vegetables occasionally as they roast, for even cooking.
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
1. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Put the vegetables in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil and salt. Divide the vegetables evenly between the two baking sheets, spread them out and roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and very browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Switch and rotate the baking sheets halfway through cooking.
3. Meanwhile, put the sesame oil, rice vinegar, miso, soy sauce and honey in a small bowl and whisk together.
4. Remove the vegetables from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl. Immediately toss with the miso vinaigrette. Scatter the sesame seeds and scallions on top and serve.
The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before tossing with the vegetables.
Why Didn’t I Think of That? More Recipe Ideas from April Bloomfield
Chef Tips from April Bloomfield
ON HOW TO CUT THE VEGETABLES
If you are roasting different kinds of vegetables on the same tray at the same time, cut them according to their cooking times. For example, a thinly sliced onion will roast much faster than a large wedge of sweet potato. So, if you’re doing them together, cut the sweet potato into smaller pieces and the onion into slightly larger ones.
ON PREPPING THE VEGETABLES
Always toss vegetables with olive oil before roasting. This is especially important for tougher vegetables like pumpkin, fennel and celery root.
Amy hates her job at the rip-off Ikea superstore, Orsk. And now, she’s been wrangled into taking a night shift with some of her coworkers to catch the vandal who’s been roaming the store after dark. But as the gang investigates strange happenings amidst the shoddily made furniture, it becomes clear that there’s something far more sinister roaming the showroom floor after the industrial lights are dimmed.
Illustrated catalogue-style with furniture that gets progressively more disturbing with each chapter, this book takes a stab at American consumer culture. However, lest you think it's solely satirical fun, I’ll have you know that I slept with the light on after finishing this book. Thankfully, my town doesn't have an Ikea.
Her cell phone unleashed a shrill Woody Woodpecker laugh, informing her that she’d received a text message. Basil watched in disbelief as she fumbled the phone out of her pocket.
“Of course,” Basil announced to the trainees, “Amy knows that partners are never permitted to bring their phones onto the Showroom floor.”
“It’s another help message,” she explained, showing him the phone’s screen.
A few weeks earlier, several floor partners had started receiving one-word texts reading help from the same private number. Proliferating like rabbits, the texts came pouring in at all hours, and they were freaking people out. Corporate claimed that IT was powerless to address the issue since It was technically not Orsk related.
Are you reading anything spooky as Halloween approaches?
Valerie Bowman looks to the great Oscar Wilde for inspiration in The Accidental Countess, a Regency romance filled with Wilde-style antics. In this guest post, Bowman discusses her love of the historical romance genre and the art of adaptation.
There is nothing I like better than a romp, a farce. As an English literature major in college, the comedies I read captured my imagination with a far-tighter grip than a tragedy ever could. My medium, however, is the historical romance novel. It’s a genre I adore and am extremely proud to write. I think I fell in love with it when I first read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s These Happy Golden Years. That’s a romance novel, don’t you know?
When I was coming up with my Playful Brides series, I knew I wanted to include my love of romp plays in the stories. Oscar Wilde was always on my short list. He’s a great master of the romp, after all. The Importance of Being Earnest has long been one of my favorite stories ever told and, while it is a bit outlandish, its absurdity is exactly what makes it so entertaining. What could be more fun than inventing a person who does not exist to get out of unwanted social obligations? The moment I read the word “Bunburyist” I was hooked.
The challenge, however, was making that sort of tomfoolery work in a historical romance novel. The Accidental Countess is my attempt! Penelope Monroe has invented a fictitious friend, Patience Bunbury, to avoid seeing her fiancé newly returned from Waterloo. When Captain Julian Swift mistakenly believes Penelope’s cousin, Cassandra, is the elusive Patience, Cassandra may just have the opportunity she’s always dreamed of: spending time with the man she’s loved from afar for the last seven years.
I managed to sneak in a couple of scenes from The Importance of Being Earnest, including the infamous muffin scene and a few of the quotes as well. My favorite line: “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”
There’s plenty of angst as well as comedy, and I hope some tender moments as well, for as Wilde says, “The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”
Now what’s not to love about that?
Though she died in 2008, controversial NFL owner Georgia Frontiere is still making news—with the publication this month of her first mystery: Horoscope: The Astrology Murders.
According to Frontiere’s two children, Lucia Rodriguez and Chip Rosenbloom, the “virtually complete” manuscript of the novel was found with their mother’s papers after her death. “We knew that she was writing a book, and she often read sections to us over the phone or at dinner, but we didn't know how far along her book was,” until the manuscript was discovered, Rodriguez and Rosenbloom said.
Frontiere became the first woman to control an NFL franchise when she inherited ownership of the Los Angeles Rams after the death of her sixth husband in 1979. She moved the team to St. Louis in 1995, drawing the wrath of California fans, and was at the helm when the Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000. A former singer, dancer and model, Frontiere had many interests beyond football, including astrology and psychology. She combined these two fields in creating her novel’s main character: Dr. Kelly York, a celebrity astrologer and psychologist, who is tapped by the police to help track a serial killer with a horrifying hallmark—he carves astrological signs into the skin of his victims.
Frontiere does a capable job of building suspense as York wrestles with the terrifying case—and with the threatening anonymous caller who seems to know details about her practice. Through it all, Frontiere weaves in details about the astrological signs and charts of her characters.
“[Our mother] was basically an astrologer in her own right but would consult with professional astrologers. She also read advanced astrology books and had her charts done by professional astrologers. She did charts for us and other family members, which were surprisingly accurate. While astrology didn't control her life, she did believe that the stars had an effect on people's lives, and she would pay attention when she saw that something was off in our charts,” Rodriguez and Rosenbloom said.
So, maybe it wasn't an accident that Frontiere's book was located—in a plastic storage box—after her death? Perhaps her posthumous career as a writer was written in the stars.
So, Gone Girl (or The Goldfinch, or Wild) was a hit with your book club, and you're looking for more books like it. Our Read it Next posts are here to help! Click on the jacket of your latest great read to find suggestions that will make you a star at your next meeting:
Today marks the one-year anniversary of legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed's death. Victor Bockris, best known for his biographies of William S. Burroughs and—perhaps Reed's most influential patron and collaborator—Andy Warhol, has updated his 1995 biography, Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story with new interviews from Reed's innermost circle (most notably with his wife, Laurie Andersen) along with an array of previously unseen photographs.
Beginning with Reed's childhood in Long Island, New York, and the harrowing details of his electroshock therapy that was meant to "cure" him of his bisexuality, Bockris goes on to chronicle the artistic and personal milestones in his life. From The Velvet Underground's initial conception in the mid '60s and Warhol's enthusiastic mentorship to his thriving, multifaceted solo career—Bockris digs deep, past Reed's intentionally difficult public persona, and reveals the layers behind the incredibly complicated and deeply conflicted icon.
For the big-time music nerds, this is a must-read biography of "the godfather of punk," as very few musicians can be accredited with the deep and far-reaching influence that Reed's career inspired, and still continues to inspire today.
Suki Kim's memoir, Without You, There Is No Us, is a fascinating, first-hand look into the strange world of the North Korean elite. Our reviewer writes that "her nuanced account is loosely chronological, covering the two semesters she taught at PUST between July and December 2011, based on secret journals she kept with great care, and informed by the heartrending stories of her family members split asunder by the Korean War." (Read the full review here.)
We were curious about the books Kim has enjoyed reading lately, so we asked her to recommend three favorites.
Since my second book was published last week, I have not been reading much of anything other than emails, reviews and the messages on twitter and Facebook, neither of which I have ever participated in the past because I am a bit too quiet for social media. Soon, I hope to return to the three books on my nightstand, some of which are still work related. The bothersome aspect of being a writer is that often reading is still work.
Do you see anything you'd like to pick up?
(Author photo by Ed Kashi)
Every month, we review the hottest new romance releases in our Romance column. But why let the print books have all the fun? In Digital Dalliances, we highlight digital-only releases guaranteed to heat up your eReader.
When management forces talented, troubled hockey star Alex Crossman to help run a program for at-risk teens in order to make up for his poor sportsmanship on the ice, he’s less than thrilled. But then he meets the gorgeous program coordinator, Sutton Price.
Sutton knows Alex Crossman is a jerk, but he’s an exceptionally good-looking jerk, and Sutton is having a hard time keeping her thoughts professional. Alex’s grouchy attitude isn’t scoring him any points with Sutton, but of course, she soon discovers that the beautiful bad boy is hiding a wounded sweet side. Alternating first-person narratives between the unlikely pair allow the reader to observe their burgeoning relationship from both sides.
I hear the man of my thoughts before I even see him, as I have been staring pretty intently at my sweet tea. Raising my head up, I see Alex standing there wearing a charcoal gray dress suit paired with a crisp, white business shirt opened at the collar. I assume he dresses up for the game, but he must have foregone putting a tie on.
He is absolutely splendid, and my tongue seems to be tied up in a knot in my mouth. He just stares down at me, his eyebrows raised.
"Scoot over, Sutton," he repeats, a tiny smirk gracing his lips.
Do you think you'll be picking up any romance novels for your eReader?