Christmas 101: A Book Review
I’ve been wanting to try my hand at a Wise Bread book review for a while now. With an intense winter holiday right around the corner, I felt my topic was basically selected for me. When I saw the title of this one, I couldn’t dial the phone number to Harper Collins fast enough. Is this the holiday handbook I was hoping for? Read on and find out.
This seasonal support manual by Rick Rodgers, in addition to being loaded with fun, ethnic and unusual recipes, provides a fair amount of technical support for the stressed out holiday party planner. Topics covered include list making for guests, groceries and prep tasks, fully developed menus with suggested party timelines, and recommended suggestions for movies and music. While not big on difficult decorating projects himself, Rodgers does manage to include a few low stress decorative tips as well.
My favorite parts of the book however, were the tip sheets and historical information articles sprinkled throughout the piece. In addition to suggestions for beefing up your pot roast and step by step instructions for carving a turkey, you’ll find information on caviar and tips for purchasing champagne. For fun, the author also included the background skinny on the original candy cane, as well as a brief history of holiday punches.
Some of the unusual, I can’t wait to try them recipes featured? Spiced carmelized onion dip, Stilton and walnut balls, tortellini antipasto salad, a shrimp-zucchini-red pepper bisque, a royal icing recipe for making gingerbread houses, and a sangria Jello mold. There are also a fair number of international Christmas recipes as well, if you are having a multi-cultural crowd over for dinner or a holiday buffet.
Was it the overall holiday handbook I was expecting? In all honesty, in my mind’s eye, I expected something slightly different. Perhaps a little more info on crafts and decorating, and perhaps an illustrated project or two. I was not disappointed, though. Far from it. The “101” portion of the title was, upon review, more of a reference to the techniques for pulling off the perfect meal and the little historical and background references. While unexpected, they were certainly fun and provided some reasonable background information to chat about with fellow cooks if you are preparing a meal as a group activity. While geared heavily toward the food element of Christmas, it is definitely more than a cookbook, and worth the read if you need overall party support for an event where you will be serving food as the main event.
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