Ina Garten needs little introduction. Her books and show made her a household name, and everyone seems to know the Barefoot Contessa. I love to cook, and I own almost all the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, each of which is great. But the one that I use the most, the book that lives in the kitchen and is covered with cooking splatter, is Barefoot Contessa at Home. The best thing about these recipes is that they’re relatively simple, but impressive enough for company. Some of my favorites are the Lemon Fusili with Arugula (p. 120), Summer Garden Pasta (p.121), Garlic and Herb Tomatoes (p. 130), and the Chicken with Goat Cheese and Basil (p.114). Whether you’re looking for recipes to serve at a dinner party, or just want to add something new to your routine, this is the book for you.
If you’re looking for a great read, this is the book you should pick up. Girls in Trucks is hilarious, dark and very entertaining. Katie Crouch takes us into the world of the Camellias, a debutante society in Charleston, as we follow one of its members, Sarah Walters, from her first cotillion dance to dating in New York City. You don’t have to be from the south to laugh along with Sarah and her Camellia friends as they grow up and try to use their southern training (Never chase men or buses!) to navigate a very eastern city. But don’t underestimate this book: It may be funny but it is not light. Girls in Trucks is at times disturbing, sad and true in the most heartbreaking of ways.
You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to thrown down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.
And so begins, You Know When the Men are Gone, eight stories in which Fallon takes us into the world of Fort Hood during wartime: a place where families struggle, wives miss their husbands and children rebel. For most of us, the sacrifice of war is left to others, but in this collection we’re allowed to peek in the windows of the people who give up the most: a wife who hacks her husband’s email overseas searching for clues of infidelity, a wounded soldier returning home, a runaway teenager. Each story is emotionally acute, beautifully written and will leave you haunted and in awe of this world that feels foreign, but is not so far away.