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SMART SOURDOUGH

A splendid and novel approach that takes the mystery out of a formerly time-consuming process.

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A guidebook that introduces a quicker, easier, and more modern method to creating homemade sourdough bread.

Journalist and author Shepard expands on his former cookbook Simple Sourdough (2017) in this technique-driven guide that effectively simplifies making sourdough items with instructional recipes, tips, and tricks. His straightforward strategy is particularly notable in that it takes less than a day and doesn’t use a starter. The book is accessibly organized into sections covering the method’s various techniques. An opening chapter quickly dispels some common misconceptions about the sourdough process (such as what frothy starter bubbles really mean and the necessity of salt) and moves on to discuss the four basic ingredients one needs to create his version of a four-cycle sourdough. The author also examines and rates warming devices and proofing equipment for dexterity, reliability, and proven effectiveness in making quality bread, making the work a useful product guide. Shepard knowledgeably discusses salinity and aeration when starting a yeast cycle and proudly touts his revolutionary “no-waste” fermentation method; the use of modern temperature controls, he points out, can help one create a sourdough batch from fermented flour by adopting leavening principles used in larger bakeries. Easy-to-follow instructions emphasize the importance of quality ingredients, manual kneading, and the proper conditions for dough to ferment, rise, and bake properly. The author helpfully recognizes that his readers have many different preferences, so he provides useful chapters spotlighting how bakers can customize dough formation and taste variations based on loaf size, sourness level, and flavor diversifications; methods for rye, buckwheat, tomato basil, chocolate cherry, and other loaves are included as well as sections on bread bowls, pizza crusts, and pancakes. Any nagging questions that readers may have are succinctly addressed in an illuminating final chapter that tackles common bread-baking issues. The book is also generously illustrated with charts, illustrations, and photographs by the author. Overall, Shepard’s book will encourage home bakers of any skill level to embark on a new, quicker, and easier way to make their own bread.    

A splendid and novel approach that takes the mystery out of a formerly time-consuming process.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62035-610-4

Page Count: 204

Publisher: Shepard Publications

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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