Welcome to December, and the first day of the 25 Gifts of Christmas here on the blog! Every day until Christmas, I'll be including a link at the end of my blog posts for something downloadable and free for you!
But first, a gift give-away!
I stumbled across this book in the library last winter, and fell in love. I was so addicted to reading it that when my husband, a few siblings, a dog and I loaded into the Jeep to drive up into the mountains and find a Christmas tree, I brought the book and, bundled in many jackets and scarves, read it the entire snow-to-the-wheel-wells drive! (I did manage to put it down for the hike, though.) I thought my readers might enjoy it as well, so I contacted the publicist - they sent me two copies, one to keep and one to give to you!
Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China
This book is the story of a girl of Chinese heritage, raised in California, who goes back to China to investigate the roots of Chinese cuisine (readers may recognize the Maoist-era slogan of "Serve the People" re-purposed, tongue-in-cheek, for the book title here). Jen Lin-Liu attends Chinese cooking school - and learns all about the rules on cheating - you my be very surprised! - and is then employed and interned at various cooking establishments across China: from a tiny noodle-stall in Beijing to a celebrity Shanghai restaurant.
I never realized there was so much to know about Chinese cuisine! Lin-Liu includes a few "side-dishes" between chapters, little food essays and some research on popular aspects of Chinese cooking (like MSG). As a journalist and food writer, her work is impeccable and mouth-watering. It's impossible not to feel like you are really right there in China, caught up in a swirl of hustling, bustling people, the aromas and odors pungent and sweet and harsh.
Which brings us to the best ... maybe the worst ... part of this delicious book. After describing the succulent flavors, tender pork buns, soft noodles in hot broth, dumplings, drunken chicken, and other devastatingly wicked dishes she samples, Lin-Liu ends almost every chapter with a recipe for that very meltingly tasty dish she just enjoyed. She includes a list of recipes in the beginning of the book, so you can skip straight to the dish that you wanted to try most. From Smashed Cucumbers to Fish-Fragrant Pork Shreds, from Red-Braised Pork to Yangzhou Fried Rice - there is something for everybody here. Deep Fried Shrimp? Northwest-Style Noodles? Instructions to make dumpling wrappers, and various fillings to pack them with? All scattered throughout Jen Lin-Liu's excellent journalistic story-telling!
You can win this gift for yourself - or win it to give to somebody special in your life!
To enter the giveaway:
1. Enter Once: Post a comment below and tell us your favorite food cuisine.
2. Enter Twice: E-mail or Facebook this blog post to a friend that might be interested in winning a book, and leave another comment on the blog letting us know you shared the Christmas cheer!
Contest closes midnight on Saturday, December 10th, 2011. A winner will be chosen at random using random.org; you will be notified via e-mail.
Ready with the wok,
A Special Advent Calendar ... Amy Locurto over at LivingLocurto created a delightful, free download for December. Make a fun Advent calendar for the kids - or for your spouse, even! Behind every little flap, Amy has written out a "treat" to be discovered ... you can use the ones she created, or make your own. Read the instructions and download the PDF here.
Entering Giveaways ... I'll keep you posted on any fun giveaways I find across the blogosphere! Over at the Simple Living Media network, they are giving away various gifts this December. If you want to enter the giveaways, visit their page here!