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Saints in Art
Thomas Michael Hartmann, Stefano Zuffi, Rosa Giorgi
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Emily Dickinson, Susan Howe
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Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
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Beat This! Cookbook: Absolutely Unbeatable Knock-'em-Dead Recipes for the Very Best Dishes

Beat This! Cookbook: Absolutely Unbeatable Knock-'em-Dead Recipes for the Very Best Dishes - Ann Hodgman Yes, as a matter of fact, I have read this whole book. And yes, it's a cookbook. But it's not just a cookbook. Plus, okay, I might have skimmed some of the ingredients. But that's not the point.

The point is, this is one of those cookbooks that talks to you. Rants at you, more often than not. Which I love.

"Why are people always so proud of their brownie recipes? Katharine Hepburn, for example. If there's anything I'm sick of -- besides the way she always says she's a regular person and not an actress -- it's reading about how sinful her brownies are. Actually, Hepburn's is the dullest brownie formula there is."

Which is true. I came up with a brownie recipe that really is awesome, and I named it "NOT Katharine Hepburn's Brownies." Because it's based on her recipe, but then there's a secret ingredient called AMAZINGNESS.

Okay, actually the secret ingredient is way more chocolate than Hepburn included. Because Ann Hodgman is right when she says that if you want to improve a recipe, "just double the chocolate and add some bacon."

So, yeah, this book is quite conversational. And irreverent. The recipes are in alphabetical order, rather than being organized by type. "I think it's more fun to read a cookbook with all different kinds of recipes jostled together, just as I prefer bookshelves where books like Betsy, Tacy & Tib are snuggled between The Interpretation of Dreams and A Field Guide to the Mammals of North America."

Which means that you'll find a recipe for brownies followed by a recipe for -- oh. Bubble stuff. Huh. "Okay, it's not food....but the corn syrup does provide quick energy to your lawn when your children spill this on their way to the backyard."

The premise of this collection is that these recipes are not dishes you'd want to serve and eat every day, for the simple reason that your arteries would harden audibly in less than a week. (Hodgman is a big fan of butter, as well as the aforementioned bacon.) These are the recipes you haul out for special occasions. They're really good, they're easy to follow, and yes, they're fun to read.

I can personally vouch for the corn bread, the deviled eggs (which I made frequently before my son went vegetarian and my husband became allergic to vinegar, which happened in the same month and yes I'm still bitter), and the pecan pie (which I'd never made in any form before trying Hodgman's recipe, but which was one of the few desserts my husband could still eat without dying after the Great Adult-Onset Allergy Storm Of 2002 struck our home).

I can also guarantee that, unless our current economic situation hit you so hard that you were forced to sell your sense of humor, you will enjoy reading this book even if you never cook at all. It may even inspire you to go spend some time in the kitchen, just for fun.

Because as Hodgman makes clear, anyone can have a good time cooking. Look at this awesome recipe her own daughter came up with at the tender age of 5:

Plain Dough
Any fruit

Talk about short and sweet.