Category Archives: book review

Review of Seating Arrangements. *Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card*

I just had the honour of reading Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead.

This is her first novel and I refused to read the summary before diving in to the book. I wanted to be surprised. I curled up on the sofa Friday night and started reading. All during Friday night dinner I yearned to get back to it and the moment I woke up on Shabbat I had to return to it.

Maggie Shipstead is a gifted writer. Her story takes place over a wedding weekend and illustrates the ins and outs of one WASPy family in all their glory (and shame).

The main character is Winn Van Meter, father of the bride. Ms Shipstead developed his character perfectly – you feel his pride in his children, his angst at them growing up and embarking upon the next chapter in their lives, his sorrow at various of his behaviours and thoughts. This man is obsessed with belonging – to the right golf club, the right social club. Much of his life revolves around his social club and his inability to be granted entry to the local golf club on his Cape Cod-like island.

Each character has a unique personality and Ms Shipstead is able to bring them to life with her beautiful writing. I laughed, I cried, I cringed.

This was a well-written, fun read that kept me hooked from the first page. I cannot wait to read more family dramas from Ms Shipstead. To buy your own copy of the book – here’s the Amazon link.

***Would you like to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card?***

To qualify, please leave a comment below telling me which types of books you like reading, and the name and author of the last book you read.

Contest will close Monday August 20th 2012 at 9 am. One winner will be chosen at random, and will have 24 hours to respond to the email telling them they are a winner. If no response, another winner will be chosen.

Passover, a Kosher Collection (Book Review)

Passover, a Kosher Collection, by Pam Reiss.

Ever since this book arrived in my mailbox I have looked forward to having the time to just sit down and devour it without disruption. I love cookbooks. I love the pictures, I love the recipes, I love the stories behind the recipes. I love feeding my family in new and clever ways. I finally found the time to indulge and was in food nirvana.

Pam Reiss’s new cookbook, specially aimed at Passover (Pesach), is a delicious romp through culinary heaven. The decadent chocolate tart on the front cover is a real taste of things to come.

I am a traditionalist at heart, especially when it comes to holidays. I used to have  this mind set that Pesach cooking has to be difficult and complicated, so why bother doing anything out of the ordinary. The kids fill up on matzah, and potatoes and eggs, I will make a huge chicken soup and that’s it. No longer.

Reading my way, nay, savouring my way through Pam’s book I was struck by how simple the recipes are. Ok, some do call for a lot of ingredients, but that’s just how recipes are on Pesach. The majority of the ingredients are those a good cook would have on hand and there aren’t many complicated procedures to go through.

Pam mixes the traditional with the new. There are recipes for gefilte fish and chicken soup alongside Greek Stuffed Mushroom Caps and Kabocha Pear Soup. She has included recipes for 13 salads – one must have variety through all those holiday meals. There are side dishes galore – and they aren’t all potato related! Plenty of kugels for the traditionalists from potato, to apple raisin farfel kugel to cauliflower, leek and zucchini kugel.

Pam’s main courses are mouth watering. Unlike all the other Pesach cookbooks in my library, Pam includes dairy dishes as well as meat and poultry, fish and vegetarian too. She has included the traditional briskets and roast chickens. However I cannot wait to try the shakshuka, and eggplant parmesan, and was thrilled to see directions on how to make my own ricotta. Didn’t know one could do that so easily!! One recipe I look forward to trying this Passover is her Chicken Pot Pie with Mashed Potato Crust. My family loves my chametzdik CPP – I am sure I can wow them with her Pesachdik one. I always use the chicken left over from making chicken soup for my pie, and that is exactly what Pam suggests.

There are so many main dishes to choose from – we could eat a different meal every night of Passover and still have plenty recipes left to try. I love that there is an Osso Bucco recipe – who would have thought to make that on Pesach, but there is absolutely no reason why not. Change it up a little bit!

One thing I have never done for Pesach, is baked desserts. The amounts of eggs that go into everything coupled with no flour or magic baking powder, it was always much easier to buy the desserts. Reading Pam’s yummy dessert recipes and seeing photos of her confections has helped changed my mind. I will be attempting to replicate at least some of her delectable desserts. There are biscotti and mandlebroit, pancakes and matzah rolls, meringues and cookies, cakes and macaroons, cheesecakes and birthday cakes, several different types of tortes, crème brulee, brownies and pavlova. No one even needs to know that they are eating Passover desserts. There is no way that they could tell the difference.

Pam guides you through her recipes step by step. You do not need a degree from culinary school in order to whip up these delicious meals. You just need patience and time to spend creating wonderful meals for your family. Your family will look at Pesach in a whole new light after you cook for them from this book. You will be creating even more awesome family memories.

This book makes an awesome gift for any chef who is planning to be cooking for the upcoming holiday, or a must buy for anyone that truly wants to feed their family better food on Pesach from now on. Personally, I cannot wait to have my kitchen all Pesachified and full of the Kosher for Pesach food, so that I can start cooking up a storm. For me, Passover, a Kosher Collection, will be front and center, a major part of my pre-Pesach preparations and Pesach celebrations, not just this year, but every year.

To order your copy online, please go to

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