Monday, May 2, 2016

LuLu's Kitchen: A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life

by Lucy Buffett
Grand Central     2016
264 pages     Cookbook

My husband and I were first introduced to the Alabama Gulf Coast and Orange Beach, Alabama in the winter of 2014 when we rented a condo on the beach for two weeks. Five of us (my husband and I, my sisters and a spouse) will be going back in February 2017. We have all fallen in love with Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and the food of the Gulf Coast. 

Recently, a publicist sent me Lucy Buffett's recently revised and updated cookbook, LuLu's Kitchen. I was so excited to get it. The book is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. It also tells the story of Lucy Buffett, her family, her famous brother Jimmy Buffett, her restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and the wonderful Gulf Coast from Pensacola to Mobile.

For some reason, in two winters of restaurant exploration, we didn't happen upon LuLu's restaurant in Gulf Shores. If truth be told, we got ensnared in the onion rings at Doc's Seafood Shack in Orange Beach, and we never made it to Gulf Shores. Believe me, LuLu's will be the first place we will descend upon next February. 

In a very Southern style, every recipe in LuLu's Kitchen has a story behind it. Most of the recipes are seafood based, which is why we all love the Gulf Coast, but most of the recipes are difficult to cook in seafood-deprived West Michigan. However, I was able to try two of the recipes, which went over really well with grilled steak for a birthday party. We will try the seafood recipes when we are in Orange Beach in February.

Lucy Buffett's delightful personality shines through in every story and every recipe. I would highly recommend that you add LuLu's Kitchen to your cookbook collection.

L.A. (Lower Alabama) Caviar
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Dressing:
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  1. 1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
  2. 2. Rinse and drain peas well. Place in a large glass or aluminum bowl.
  3. 3. Add remaining ingredients and dressing. Toss well. Transfer to plastic container, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
  4. 4. Serve with LuLu’s Cha, Cha, Cha® chips or saltines crackers.
Sweet Tomato Pie
1 refrigerated pie crust baked at 450ᵒ for 9 or 10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.
2 T unsalted butter.
1 T olive oil
1 large onion thinly sliced
1 T sugar
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. heavy cream
1 T. sour cream
1 T. honey mustard
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
4 green onions, cut into 2 in. pieces
 4 large red tomatoes sliced into 1/2 in. slices
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 c. fresh basil cut into ribbons
2 c. shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese.

·  In a cast iron, or heavy skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat until it begins to sizzle. Add onions and sugar. Saute until onions are very brown and caramelized.
·  Add garlic and stir constantly for another 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is cooked through and tender. Remove onions and garlic from skillet and set aside to cool.
·  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, heavy cream, sour cream, honey mustard, Parmesan cheese and green onions. Process until well mixed. transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
·  In the cooled pie crust, layer half of the following ingredients: sauteed onions, cream cheese mixture, sliced tomatoes, salt, black pepper, basil and Gruyere cheese. Repeat layering using all ingredients.
·  Bake 35 minutes or until pie is bubbling and top is browned.

Excerpted from LuLu’s Kitchen: A Taste of The Gulf Coast Good Life (Grand Central Life & Style; April 2016) by Lucy Buffett.  Photos by Sara Essex.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Un-Prescription for Autism

by Janet Lintala with Martha W. Murphy
American Management Association     2016
288 pages     Nonfiction
The Shortlist

My second year of teaching was a disaster. I was pregnant, but more importantly, I had a combination room of fourth and fifth graders.  Among the 30 children in my class was a boy whose parents had just been arrested for murder, four students whose parents were being divorced, and one boy who would not speak to anyone or look them in the eye. He is the child I remember the most from that year, because I could do little for him. He could do more complex math problems than anyone in the class, but he could not tie his shoes. Everything, including all his knowledge, was shut up inside him. At first, he wouldn't let me hug him, but eventually he became my friend. Today we would say that he was on the Autism spectrum. Then, he was just a strange and different little boy.

We didn't have a name for Autism until about 100 years ago, and the public didn't have much understanding of it until Dustin Hoffman appeared as an autistic savant in the movie Rain Man. This movie was a major breakthrough in public awareness. Special services in public schools began to be offered in the early 1990s, until now autism and a large spectrum of disorders have come to be recognized, understood, and appreciated. 

The author of The Un-Prescription for Autism, Janet Lintala, is a Chiropractor, the mother of a child on the spectrum, and has a practice devoted to integrative health and autistic health. She believes that autism and all its variants can be faced head-on with therapies and protocols that are prescription free. She suggests that many of the imbalances in the lives of individuals on the spectrum are caused by irregularities in the gastrointestinal system. Her premise is that if you get the gastrointestinal system regulated, life will improve for the autistic child. She doesn't say that the autistic child will be "cured" but that life will be better, the child will be calmer, happier and more focused. It may also break the cycle of prescription drugs (particularly antibiotics) that are endlessly given to those on the spectrum.

She also offers chapter after chapter of suggestion from her own life experience and from the experience in her chiropractic practice. There is plenty of research that backs up her practices, and useful diagrams and examples create plausibility for her assertions. The format is outstanding, the examples are pertinent, and the charts and diagrams are very helpful. 

From my own life experience, I know that parents constantly search for help for their children having life adjustment problems. This book offers many helpful suggestions—although perhaps no major solutions. Any parent who reads The Un-Prescription for Autism will be intrigued with Lintala's assertions about probiotics and gastrointestinal imbalances and find lots of valuable information to incorporate into their child's therapies. 

This book came from the publicist. Share it with friends and family who will find it beneficial.

This is a good review from a website called Geek Dad.  
The Facebook page for The Un-Prescription for Autism.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Online Marketing for Busy Authors: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Fauzia Burke
Berrett-Koehler     2016
150 pages     Nonfiction

 There has never been a better time for authors to get the word out about their books. Online marketing reaches into nearly every Facebook page and Twitter account. But online marketing can be confusing, frustrating, and time consuming for authors who don't have time, or interest in promoting themselves beyond a book tour and a few television talk shows.  

Fauzia Burke runs FSB Associates, a marketing firm for authors, and in this brief and to the point book, Online Marketing for Busy Authors, she offers advice for authors who are realizing that online marketing is the best way to get the word out about their books.

As a blogger, I have been aware of the steps that Burke outlines, but in her book, I was able to equate the process with my experience with authors I have encountered. I have seen authors who are good marketers and authors who ignore the whole process. One local author, Bonnie Jo Campbell, has a terrific Facebook presence, and for her spring book tour, she took a large cardboard cutout of the author Flannery O'Conner with her everywhere. Flannery showed up at every reading, and Bonnie Jo recorded every visit on Facebook. Another author, Brad Parks, has a newsletter that comes to me because I am on his mailing list. His newsletter is written by his "interns." The interns are constantly doing stupid stuff, and it is all very funny—that is his brand. 

Burke takes the scariness out of marketing. She acknowledges that the most important component of marketing for authors is to know who their readers are and come up with a plan to market to them. Burke calls this building a brand and creating a community.

Burke divides her book into three parts: getting organized; turning thinking into action; and staying the course. Publishers, of course, do a lot of community building for books, but much of the work that needs to be done has to be done by the authors themselves. She assures authors, however, that they don't have to do everything—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, website, mailing lists, or blogs, but she recommends that authors pick some of these online tools and stay with them. She advises all authors to have a website. The author has total control over his/her website. It is the author's chief online presence. She does recommend hiring a digital marketing advisor to help with the creation of the brand and the design of the website.

I am not an author—I am a blogger—but I learned a great deal from reading Online Marketing for Busy Authors. My time has been very limited, but I realized, as I read, that there is more that I can do to promote myself and my blog. 

Online Marketing for Busy Authors is a must read for anyone who has written a book or is interested in writing a book. Burke's company, FSB Associates, frequently sends me books to review on my blog, and I have enjoyed a good relationship with them for several years. 

Here is advice from Burke on the Book Designer website.  

Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Life on the Road

by Gloria Steinem
Random House  2015
278 pages     Memoir

Gloria Steinem's memoir My Life on the Road begs to be discussed. It is one thing to read the book on your own but it is totally another thing to read it in a book club of opinionated women. Especially women with the age diversity of my club (the youngest is 32 and the oldest is 73.) We are having babies and grandbabies, starting careers and retiring all at the same time. 

The reviewer in the Washington Post calls this iconic woman's memoir "a travel diary of the women's movement." The reviewer also says that Steinem is relentless in promoting what she believes in, and this is probably the case, but the book is also a testimony of a brilliant and incredibly curious woman, who finds interest in nearly everything she witnesses and every life she touches. She keeps moving, she keeps asking questions, and she keeps listening.

Who else could write such an engaging chapter about taxi drivers and how every time you enter a taxi cab, you are entering a unique world with a unique driver with a unique point of view? Who else could go from college campus to college campus and continue to be inspired and motivated visit after visit? Who else could weigh her options when considering whether to support Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton? Who else could have kept close to African American and Native American feminists for so many years?  Who else could still be public speaking into her 80s? 

Steinem's father was an itinerant salesman, and in the first section of the book, Steinem acknowledges that influence as she began her life on the road. Apparently she has settled down in a home now, but for most of her adult life, she was on the road. The amazing thing is that she remembered so many incidents from her life. Is she a name-dropper? Most certainly. But it isn't just aimless namedropping; Steinem has a message to deliver from every encounter; something she learned from each celebrity or politician or taxi driver, indicating that she is not overcome by celebrity.

Believe me, our book club discussion could have gone on for hours. We each had stories to tell about inequality or injustice or slights or harassment. Most of us are, or were, educators, and we are grateful that we were able to have fulfilling careers without having to deal with income inequality. The teacher's union took care of that for us. One of the young women told about a beautiful clerk in the store her husband manages.constantly harassed by a middle-aged male customer. She told the store manager to not say anything to the customer because he buys a lot of stuff and she needs the sales. Another woman told about a principal who only hired young, pretty teachers. We all talked about abortion legislation, unequal pay, lack of respect, and all the other issues that still plague women.

As I said at the beginning, share and discuss My Life on the Road. If you read it, and I highly recommend that you do, find someone to share a discussion with. Steinem loves to deal with issues in what she calls "talking circles" in which people feel secure to say things that they might not share in large gatherings. Find a talking circle to share this meaningful book by a great woman.

An excellent review in the New York Times.

By the way, a new biography of Helen Gurley Brown, called Enter Helen by Brooke Hauser, comes out this week. Here is another side of the feminist story. There was an excellent review of Enter Helen in the Wall Street Journal today. The book is on my Kindle, but I haven't gotten to it yet.