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well-written recipes

well-written recipes

As if my roundup of romance wasn’t enough, here’s something else to tempt you:

Local, national authors dish up their favorite recipes

By Mary Ann Gwinn

Seattle Times book editor

At my book club, things always go better with food. Amateur critics may disagree; politics has been known to trump the chosen title as the matter under discussion. But a good dinner or a sublime dessert grounds the clash of ideas in the comfort of animal appetites.

A new local cookbook combines the world of food and books: “Literary Feast: The Famous Authors Cookbook” has just been issued by the King County Library System Foundation. Compiled and edited by Terry J. LaBrue, with a foreword by local chef/author Greg Atkinson, this compendium may ease your way as you contemplate what to serve for your next literary gathering.

Though the book largely focuses on Northwest authors, it includes some A-list national writers and their recipes: Arthur Agatston, M.D. (Mr. South Beach Diet); the mystery-writing spousal unit Faye and Jonathan Kellerman. Jacquelyn Mitchard! Alice Waters! Alexander McCall Smith’s recipe for Mma Potokwani’s Fruit Cake!

Contributions by area authors seem to fall into two categories: complicated and simple. This feeds my theory that authors, like other creative types, either throw themselves into cooking (if they love it) or consider it time wasted (if they don’t).

In the “complicated” category falls science-fiction author Greg Bear’s recipe for Chicken Mole Poblano, which actually appears to be his wife Astrid Bear’s creation. Bear describes this dish as “mouthwatering” and says he and his spouse serve it each year at their home to celebrate the annual Clarion West workshop for budding science-fiction writers.

Also complicated is Seattle author Garth Stein’s recipe for Clams with Sausage, Beans and Pasta, which makes sense, since Stein managed to craft a best-seller with a dog as a narrator (“The Art of Racing in the Rain”).

“This recipe evolved from a simple cannellini bean and garlic side dish I used to make for my wife when we were first married,” he writes. “Later, I added more stock, Parmesan and some escarole, and it became a soup. And finally, I got to this form after I saw someone cook clams and sausages together on TV — I didn’t know that was possible!” Stein appears to be what my long-ago psychology professor called a “divergent thinker.”

But the most useful recipes may be the simplest, the ones in which writers create fuel to keep on writing. Kit Bakke, author of “Miss Alcott’s E-Mail,” contributes Real Graham Crackers, because Louisa May Alcott’s family probably ate them. Children’s author Brenda Z. Guiberson’s recipe for “Writer’s Almost Nonstop Soup” is what it says — a nourishing soup, always on the stove, so you can keep on writing.

And my favorite: Portland author Chelsea Cain’s recipe for Pizza à la Chelsea Cain:

1 healthy cup laziness

The telephone number of your local fine pizza establishment

Approximately $25, with tip

Salt and pepper (to taste).

You know where this is going.

“Literary Feast: The Famous Authors Cookbook” can be ordered at; you can find it at bookstores later this summer. Proceeds go to local literacy and lifelong-learning programs.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or Mary Ann Gwinn appears on Classical KING-FM’s Arts Channel at http://www.king.orpages/4216533.php

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company. Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo, other than personal use, must be obtained from The Seattle Times. Call 206-464-3113 or with your request.

My contribution–inexplicably not mentioned in the otherwise-terrific review–originated right here on this blogRosemary Olive Oil Cake. I’m thinking it falls in the “simple” category. It’s fabulous. I just had a note from my friend Stephanie, who adapted it for Weight Watchers.

What about you? Do you like to cook “simple” or “complicated”? Post links to your fave recipes below!

Please watch this public service announcement from wonderful authors Mary Guterson and George Shannon. And support your local library! If you’re in the Seattle area, please join us!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dinner Reads: A Literary Affair
6:00 p.m.
Contact: (206) 866-1250
A fundraising gala to benefit the Bainbridge Public Library Dinner, wine and words with readings of their own works by highly acclaimed local authors, including Greg Atkinson, Suzanne Selfors, Natalya IlyinSusan Wiggs and David Guterson.

Beginning at 6:00 pm with socializing with the evening’s authors and a literary-related silent auction. Emcees: Bainbridge authors George Shannon and Mary Guterson

Wing Point Golf & Country Club
811 Cherry Avenue NE
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
$100 per person; $1000 VIP table of 10
RSVP at (206) 866-1250
Presented by: Bainbridge Public Library Board Premiere sponsor: Harrison Medical Center

Tater Tots!…we passed by the place where Tater Tots are made. I guess it never occurred to me before that “Ore-Ida” comes from the fact that it’s located on the Oregon-Idaho boundary. Who doesn’t love Tater Tots?

I’ve been harvesting them for weeks! It’s always a feat in this part of the world to get them to ripen after Labor Day. This year I used plants from the farmer’s market, bred for the Northwest.

Here’s what to do with too many tomatoes. Put them all in a deep pan. You can cut them up or keep them whole. No need to peel. Saute them in olive oil with some garlic, salt, pepper and fresh herbs like basil, oregano, thyme and parsley. Put a tight-fitting lid on the pot and cook them very slowly until they’re soft. Let the whole mess cool and put into small freezer containers or zip lock bags and freeze. And there you go. Fresh tomatoes to use in soups and sauces all winter long. Enjoy!

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June 2020