Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mailbox Monday, Giveaway Winner, and an Informal Giveaway

Thanks for joining me for Mailbox Monday! MM was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring meme (details here).

It was a lot of fun to host MM in January.  This week, MM moved to the Library of Clean Reads for February.

The winner of my final Mailbox Monday giveaway was Beth at The Crazy Life of a Bookaholic Mom ( pick #21).

Beth won an ARC of Bering Sea Blues: A Crabber's Tale of Fear in the Icy North by Joe Upton.  Thanks again go to Mary Bisbee-Beek, an incredibly diligent book publicist, for providing the bounty.


I got two books last week:

Honolulu by Alan Brennert. This is for my March Book Club.  It looks good.

Remembering the Power of Words: The Life of an Oregon Activist, Legislator, and Community Leader by Avel Louise Gordly with Patricia A. Schechter.  OSU Press was nice enough to send me this memoir, but I am sticking with my New Year reading resolution to eliminate, not add to, my Guilt List.  So if anyone is interested, leave a comment and I will pass it on to someone more appreciative.

Cookbook Library: Classic Spanish Cooking

Classic Spanish Cooking: Recipes for Mastering the Spanish Kitchen by Elisabeth Luard

I bought this book on impulse because the book itself is so tactilely and visually pleasing.  It is a thick, squat book, only 5" by 7" and 2" thick; filled with adorable illustrations; with cardstock-weight pages; and with two grosgrain ribbon markers, one orange and one brown. I wanted to eat the book itself, it was so pleasing to me.

As it turns out, it is also a great little workhorse of a cookbook.  It features 100 basic Spanish recipes, which is enough to liven up a few daily meals without being overwhelmed.  The idea is to provide the "core recipes that are the building blocks for traditional Spanish fare."  That is all I need.

The book also features Luard's charming little side essays about the culture and cuisine of Spain, where she lived with her family for many years.  She introduces most of the recipes with a general description and a few hints about the dish or how to serve it. 

For example, her recipe for braised lamb shanks (calderera de piernas de cordero) advises that you can leave it in a low oven, tightly covered, overnight and "it will come to no harm." That is really all I ask for when it comes to home cooking.


4 lamb shanks
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon diced serrano ham or lean bacon
8 oz. small shallots or baby onions
1 large carrot, "chunked"
1 lb ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and diced
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed with a little salt
1-2 rosemary sprigs
1-2 thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns, crushed
1 generous glass of dry sherry or white wine (about 3/4 cup)

1.  Wipe the lamb and season with salt. Preheat the oven to 300F. 

2.  Heat the oil in a roomy flameproof earthenware or enamel casserole that will just accomodate the lamb shanks in a single layer. Brown the meat lightly, turning to sear on all sides. Settle the shanks bone-end upwards.

3.  Add the remaining ingredients, packing them around the sides of the casserole. Bring all to a boil, cover tightly (seam with a layer of foil, shiny side downwards, if you're uncertain about the fit) and transfer to the oven.

4.  Allow to cook gently for at least 3 hours -- longer if that's more convenient-- without unsealing, unless your nose and ears tell you that the meat is beginning to fry, when you'll need to add a splash of water. The meat should be tender enough to eat with a spoon and the sauce reduced to a thick syrupy slick -- very delicious indeed.


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