of pears and cookbooks: a delicious giveaway

PEARS REMIND ME OF BOOKS, since an image of my windowsill filled with ‘Bosc’ pears not unlike the ones above was chosen as the cover of my upcoming dropout memoir.  To celebrate Pear Week of Fall Fest, a harvest collaboration with my culinary blogging friends, I therefore offer up not a recipe, but a chance to win a new cookbook I am loving right now: “Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story With 100 Tempting Recipes.” I bought two copies to share with you. Interested? There’s even a pear tart in the mix.

First, though, some quick pear goodies:

What I Know About Pears

  • An espaliered Asian pear (flowers, fruit, and structure!) is the ultimate four-season plant.
  • Wild “mystery” pears that grow in my yard never seem to ripen.
  • Pears (like apples and many other berries) are really roses in disguise.

Why I Love ‘Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef’

http://vimeo.com/13985863 SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW Shauna James Ahern, the Gluten-Free Girl, who has participated in many Summer Fest and Fall Fest events here with me the last couple of years. Her extremely popular blog is for people who love food—and great writing.

Don’t let the “gluten-free” part of Shauna and her chef husband Danny’s website or their new cookbook scare you off, if wheat and other glutens aren’t something you worry about eating because you don’t have the kind of sensitivity that prompted Shauna to go gluten-free in 2005. This is just plain delicious food, made from fresh ingredients—and (surprise! rapture!) there is plenty of baking in the mix, including carrot-ginger cake and focaccia–and a pear tart, made with Asian pears and a sorghum, potato and sweet-rice flour crust. There is even homemade gluten-free pasta (and since 1 in 100 Americans is gluten-intolerant and they all love pasta, that’s a handy recipe to have).

What I particularly appreciate: the surprise of tinted “sidebar” pages throughout that augment the recipes and the beautiful story of Shauna and Danny’s growing connection by teaching the basics that professionally trained Danny the chef taught to Shauna as their relationship evolved from dating to marriage to today. How to make things like sauces, stocks, vinaigrettes; plus a page of basics about mastering gluten-free baking and working with flours that may be unfamiliar.

This is a book that works on four levels–love story; recipes; gluten-free support; an expert chef’s tips. You can enjoy it on any–or all of them.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself. You can get to know her and husband Danny (the chef) and their daughter, Lu, in the astonishing video (above) created by another talented pair of Fest participants, Diane Cu and Todd Porter of White on Rice Couple blog.

How to Win the Books

TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY, simply comment below telling us one thing about cooking that someone else taught you, the way Danny taught Shauna chef-style techniques and Shauna taught Danny about gluten-free. (Truth be told, even if you just say “I’m in,” I’ll count you as an entry, so no pressure.)

I’ll select two random winners on at midnight Saturday, October 23, using the application at Random [dot] org, announcing them on Sunday the 24th.

I wish each of you luck–and if not, buy a copy. Worth it (also a great gift, I think–I have some stashed here for holiday giving, too).

Great Pear Recipes From My Friends

What’s a Fall Fest?

FALL FEST IS A cross-blog recipe (and tip) swap–and you’re invited to participate. Simply post your link or recipe or idea in the comments below my post, and also on the blogs of the other participants listed in the recipe links box just above.

Want more information on how it all works? Get the details (and the schedule for upcoming weeks, including our shift into Fall Fest after many weeks of Summer Fest, with a new logo but the same recipe-sharing routine). We’re continuing right into the Thanksgiving holiday.

  1. Candace says:


    Please count me in.

    When I was in junior high, I visited my Aunt & Uncle on summer break. They lived in Tennessee and harvested many fresh vegetables from their own garden. Many of their meals were meatless and I was not used to that, but I quickly learned to love all the fresh field peas, sauteed apples, tomatoes, bread & butter pickles and hot corn bread, etc. I learned that summer that a delicious meal did not have to center around meat.

    One weekend my Uncle said that we were going to make slaw and I gladly volunteered not knowing how much work was involved. The cabbage was hand grated and it was an all day affair. Boy, did I complain, but when the kraut was finished and put up I was quite proud of myself. I also learned that canning and preserving fresh fruits and vegetables was hard work, but oh so worth the effort.

  2. toni says:

    My brother-in-law taught me how make stuffed breads. Great way to use up anything you’ve got hanging around mixed with a slap dash of grated cheese.

  3. Dana says:

    Years ago my Dad taught me the easiest mushroom side-dish that works for either high end dinners of steaks or casual burger suppers and it’s only 4 ingredients.

    about 1 # whole mushrooms… if they’re huge… quarter them.
    2 T. butter
    2 T. soy sauce
    2 T. dry sherry
    put all in a saucepan… 2 or 3 qt. is fine. Turn the heat on low and they’ll all melt and steam together. It takes about 10 minutes but it’s very forgiving.

    When I was growing up Sunday dinner would be Dad broiling tenderloins… saucing them with the buttery mushrooms. Side salad and good bread to sop up the juices. Now my husband and I rarely eat meat but we have these mushooms often. They’re really good over a toasted english muffin alongside that side salad.

    Thanks Margaret for taking me back… just about 50 years.

  4. Nancy says:

    My Mom taught me about canning and my daughter taught me about how to make sauces without lumps. Thanks for the chance to win!

  5. Tanya says:

    My mom, who learned from her dad, taught me how to bake, and I do love to bake. This book would be a wonderful addition to my collection….

  6. My grandma taught me to cook from the heart and with love. She was always in the kitchen and my favorite memories are those shared with her in her kitchen. She taught me that cooking was effortless, that it can be simple and when everyone finally sat down, together, to enjoy the meal, we all connected. I do the same, most nights. I like to end our day by sitting around the table, sharing thoughts about our day and eating good food.

  7. Jessica says:

    My mother taught me how to make the perfect meatballs, sneak onions into dishes in a way onion haters could tolerate, and pointed out that a meal made with time, care and the best intentions towards those who would eat it always comes out in its taste. And very few people turn down homemade soups.

  8. Elizabeth Quirino says:

    The best thing about cooking that my Mom taught me was: “Always cook with a low fire. The best dishes come from slow cooking over a low, low fire.”
    She was right. Nothing good comes out of anything rushed. To this day, I have tried to watch the fire all the time. The results are always superb!

  9. Terri says:

    At 45, I just bought my first “big girl knife” after spending a week with friends this summer by the beach. After repeatedly using the quality knife owned by one of my friends, I had a culinary awakening. I thought, “Ah…so THIS is why the contestants on Top Chef pack their knives – not their pots or special spices.” A quality, right-sized, sharp knife makes preparing meals so much easier and more pleasurable.

  10. lola says:

    A Korean chef taught me how to make perfect rice in any size pot without measuring… throw rice in your chosen pot, add water until it is one knuckle above the rice. (stick your index finger in the pot, the tip of your finger should just touch the rice surface and the water should hit your first joint) Add plenty of salt, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer gently 20 minutes. Sushi anyone?

  11. Taryn says:

    My Dad and I are the early risers in the family, so we always cooked breakfast for the entire family (8 people) when he was home on weekends. The two things he taught me most about cooking was: One, let your love flavour your cooking (i.e. Mum loves roses, to cut roses for the table and little extras like that) and two, good music to cook to makes for a tasty meal.

  12. Dalia says:

    My mom taught me how to make a delicious meal from whatever you have in the fridge (or pantry) – why,make crepes, of course! Whenever I don’t have time or energy to go shopping or just want to clear out the fridge, I make a ton of crepes and stuff them with – you name it: apples, cheese, mushrooms, Nutella (kids’ favorite, of course), carrots, leftover ham, you get the point. A little bit of sauce and a little bit of imagination goes a long way! Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. Susie Demiglio says:

    My grandma taught me two secrets that aid in making brown gravy:1) save the potato water and use it instead of plain tap water, 2) use a fine metal strainer to strain out lumps. I was reminded of this recently while watching a cooking show, and the ‘expert’ strained her gravy. When grandma told me this I was about 11 and I was amazed. Her gravy was always perfect; rich, brown and flavorful. Who knew she strained? I thought it was some age-old technique that involved an ingredient or experience about when to add the flour and water.

  14. Linn says:

    This past summer we moved into a house with a bountiful fig tree in the backyard. Come September we had figs galore, but since I did not grow up eating them, I was in need of help. I scoured the internet, but the best source by far was my boyfriend’s Turkish mother, who fed us many tried and loved recipes through skype!

  15. Vicki says:

    Count me in!

    My brother-in-law taught me the trick of grinding just a little bit of fresh nutmeg over sauteed veges such as fresh zucchini. It kicks up the flavor and adds a little zing without tasting like nutmeg itself. I’ve been using it ever since.

  16. Joyce Wolfe says:

    We love pears! Our favorite salad is greens, sliced pears, dried cherries, sliced almonds,and a light vinagrette. Bring on the pears!

    Two of our friends are gluten-intolerant, so this cookbook will be a wonderful resource. If I’m not lucky in winning it, I’ll probably buy it! Thanks!

  17. Michelle says:

    My mother didn’t teach me anything about cooking; but by being such an uninspired cook, she inspired me to seek out ways to make cooking fun and interesting. I’m always ready to try new things in the kitchen.

  18. Jessica says:

    My mother taught me much of what I know about cooking – I just wish I had paid more attention while she was still here!

    Looking forward to the cookbook. If i don’t win I’ll probably have to get a copy anyway!

  19. Barbara Turner says:

    Our grandson just was married this past August and his new wife has to eat gulten free food, this would be a great gift for her.

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