Mixing Books and Food

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I love when food and books mix~ which is what I miss about  Food for Thought, created by my friend Jain, who spends her most of her time living a quiet life by the sea. I seem to spend my time reading more blogs than books these days, but I still enjoy curling up with a good book~

The School of Essential Ingredients was one my first Food for Thought reviews and a happy recipe for reading. In School, Lillian reads people the way she does ingredients, with the magic of matching ingredients with personalities to change a person’s mood or life. Erica Bauermeister returns with her cast of characters introduced in Lillian’s cooking class in The Lost Art of Mixing.

 Warning: Prepare for serious food cravings from the evocative smells & flavors described. . . sugar, yeast, the ‘sensual come-hither’ scent of chocolate cake, strawberries ‘plucked warm from the sun’, ‘glistening layers’, butter melting across the tongue. . .

Custard was one of the many food references in the book. . .I succumbed and indulged in Creme Brulee (or Crème Brûlée if you want to be fancy :) for Valentine’s Day~ the only way to improve on custard~ with a caramelized sugar topping.

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“Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .”

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“Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.”

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“. . .Lillian had always been soothed by food. Not the eating of it, although a spoonful of custard could almost always be counted on to set her world to rights. But she had realized early on that it wasn’t simply the taste of the custard or the cool curve of the spoon slipping across her tongue, it was the creation of the dish that spoke to her– the careful warming of the milk and beating of the eggs, the dark mystery of nutmeg, the pouring of the liquid into small, round ramekins that she would set in a shallow bath of water in the oven, the watching as all the parts came together and turned from liquid to solid, gentled white and then just slightly gold.”

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Creme Brulee, serves 6

Ingredients
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cup vanilla sugar, divided (I didn’t plan far enough in advance to make vanilla sugar, so I used regular sugar)
6 large egg yolks
hot water

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Directions

~Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

~Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove  vanilla bean.

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~In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

~Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

You can find printable recipes for vanilla sugar, here, and for Creme Brulee, courtesy of Alton Brown at Food Network, here.

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“Erica Bauermeister writes prose delicious enough to devour. Like a fine meal, The Lost Art of Mixing will leave you warm in your belly, full in your heart, and very, very pleased. Like all the best writers and cooks, Bauermeister comforts with the familiar—in this case, a return to a cast of beloved characters—even as she sprinkles in the unexpected and new. The results are lip-smackingly good. You might even find yourself going back for seconds.”—Tiffany Baker, New York Times-bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

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Reading The School of Essential Ingredients first is not required to enjoy The Lost Art of Mixing, but it’s a little like eating custard without the caramelized sugar topping that makes it Creme Brulee~ while it’s good, it’s not nearly as satisfying :)

The Lost Art of Mixing

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 On the Menu Monday~

Literary Friday~

 Foodie Friday~

Seasonal Sundays~

  34 comments for “Mixing Books and Food

  1. February 22, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Just as tasty and fabulous as your first addition! You already know how I feel about books and food, correction, sugar, it doesn’t get any better than this! So glad to see fft live on in you~

  2. February 22, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Oy, on iPhone, that’s first EdItion… They have a life of their own don’t they…

  3. February 22, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Your posts are never less than beautiful, Mary, not to mention mouthwatering!

  4. February 22, 2013 at 7:37 am

    I loved the Food for Thought posts. I’m putting both of these books on my wish list. Just what I need — more books. They seem to be cloning themselves. :D :D :D

  5. February 22, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Novels with food involved are my first choice when I want a book to read, and I look forward to perusing these books, they look delightful! Downton Abbey has made me long for the days when time moved more slowly and there was greater appreciation for the simplest things. I hope to curl up with a good book this rainy weekend! I don’t trust myself with a kitchen torch though….

  6. February 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Love your posts, and think Creme Brulee will be on the menu soon in our house. have a lovely weekend.

  7. February 22, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I do too…have read so many great books that center around food or food experiences or journeys. You could be a dangerously good kind of friend….OMG that looks soooooo good and creme brulee is one of my all time favorites!

  8. kim
    February 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

    My favorite dessert.

  9. February 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Creme Brulee…ahhhhhh. That’s all I have to say.:-)

    Happy Weekend!

  10. February 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I have to check this author out. I love books about food….just love them. Your Creme Brulee is beautiful.

  11. February 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Mouth watering photos. Images do influence. I am going to have to have some crème brûlée. The book sounds intriguing. I am afraid since I started reading blogs I am not reading many books either.

  12. February 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Mmmmmm, Creme Brulee! It looks absolutely delicious… and I’m on my way to download it for this weekend’s downtime :-) Thank you!

  13. February 22, 2013 at 10:17 am

    The book sounds lovely…I jotted it down. And your creme brulee…delicious! I’ve made it once and now I think I’m due to have at it again!

    XO,
    Jane

  14. February 22, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I bought the little torch to make Creme Brûlée for my husband, it’s his favorite. Have I used it yet? No. Maybe reading the book would spur me on.

  15. Susan
    February 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I’m so glad to see Food For Thought live on with your blog. I miss those posts. Your blog is truly one of the most beautiful, in photographs, ideas and words, that I visit and every post is a delight to me. Thank you for introducing us to yet another wonderful book!!

  16. February 22, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I miss FFT so happy to see you playing with a book and food today. Like you, I read more blogs than books these days, but will add this one to my list. The creme brulée looks yummy. Need to request that my chef make us some. LOL Enjoy your weekend………..Sarah

  17. Paula
    February 22, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Look so very Yummy!!
    May I ask where you found the flatware spoon with the name printed on them or what brand it is? Thanks so much, have a super weekend!
    Paula

    • February 22, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Paula, The flatware came from Pottery Barn. I saw it still available in the store recently but it’s not on the website. It’s part of their antique collection.

  18. Paula
    February 22, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I used to be an avid reader, but now when I get a chance to sit down with a cup of tea, I read your blog and dive into those luscious photos! They make my day brighter and give me inspiration! Maybe when life slows down I can get to those books waiting on the shelf. Meanwhile, I have picked up the ingredients to make your Blueberry Coffee Cake this weekend to chase away those Winter Blues! :-)

  19. February 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I was not aware of your blog when you shared about The School of Essential Ingredients so just went to read it…wow! Absolutely gorgeous and am already adding both books to my “to read’ list… Thank you for adding so many hours of enjoyment to my days, Mary…both with your beautiful posts and through your reading recommendations…I know I can always count on you to brighten my day!

  20. Paula
    February 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Mary, Thank you so much for letting me know about the flatware !
    I see there is another”Paula” hehhee. I am Paula from Indiana. I am sure I told you several times, you are so very amazing talented. I look so forward to reading and looking at all your pictures, I wish I could just right in!!
    Have a blessed weekend !
    Paula
    from Indiana

  21. February 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    I have one of those little torches but I’ve yet to use it! You’ve inspired me to dig it out and make creme brulee this weekend. I think I would love this book since it centers around food!

  22. Happier Than A Pig in Mud
    February 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Gorgeous pics Mary! The creme brulee looks like a very special treat-enjoy:@)

  23. Penny C. aquila
    February 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Salvating

  24. February 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Ramon bought me a kitchen torch a few years ago, and I’ve just been so fearful that I will burn the whole kitchen down!!! I’m not exactly what one might call “graceful”, and I can just see a disaster in the making!!! Yours turned out great, though!!!

  25. February 22, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I have so missed your book review and food/tablescape posts…and this one is wonderful…my daughter in law’s favorite dessert is Creme Brûlée and i have been intimidated to try this..but you made it look easy…now off to buy a torch!!!…

  26. February 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Mary, I had to call by when i saw your heading for this post…I too miss fft and enjoyed reading books and creating….I still have the books sitting on the shelf from the last list…those that I have read and created pages in my mind and those that still wait my passing eyes! You’ve done an awesome job as always and your Creme Brùlèe just divine! Missing all this blogging connection! Yvette xx

  27. February 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Your Cream Brulee looks wonderful and I wish I had some right now. Don’t do much cooking anymore since I am alone, but I sure can dream.
    Mary

  28. February 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Mary, I so love this post! I hope you will link-up next Friday. We’ve been in the middle of a kitchen re-do….and it’s been H*LL!!! :/

    I truly love this post, and I appreciate your wanting to link-up. :D

    I think that creme brulee is one of my favorites. I’ve always wanted one of the little torches, LOL!

    xo,
    RJ

  29. February 24, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Mary, I love to read, so as soon as you described the books, I headed right over to Amazon to find out more about them! They sound right up my alley! Have you ever read the Harmony series by Philip Gulley? While they don’t really talk alot about food, they are just a series of “feel good” books that will make you laugh too. Thanks for the book recommendation!
    Sandy

  30. February 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm

    The book sounds wonderful, Mary, and the creme brulee does, too. I use Tyler Florence’s recipe and it sounds similar to Alton’s., but has more egg yolks, It’s one of our favorite desserts. I have the torch, too.

  31. February 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Hi Mary, I LOVE creme brûlée! The thin crispy top and the smooth custard are perfect together. I have never tried a torch but you do make it look easy and that recipe is so tempting. I enjoy your book/food posts. Linda

  32. February 27, 2013 at 11:59 am

    The book sounds wonderful and I just love creme brulee. Learning to make it is on my to do list. Yours looks so yummy.

  33. March 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I want you to know that you made my weekend linking-up! Thank-you.

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