SMORGASBORD: Toast-Tite ... 'A Feast of Ice & Fire' ... 'Vegan is Love'The Toas-Tite sandwich press’s heyday was the late’ 40s, but Toas-Tite is making an encore thanks to two sisters who grew up in the Chicago suburbs.
By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald
A retro snack that smacks of summer starts with a Toas-Tite sandwich press.
The gadget’s heyday was the late’ 40s, but Toas-Tite is making an encore thanks to two sisters who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, loved sandwiches mom made with it, and decided to replicate an original (die-cast aluminum press, steel rods, hardwood handles), including its vintage box and recipes.
Layer a bread slice in the press, add filling (cheese, fruit, cooked meats), then another bread slice. Close and toast over a stove top, grill or campfire. Our grilled cheese test? Simple and tasty.
A Toas-Tite is $29.95 at toastite.biz.
A fire-and-ice feast
Thanks to the “Song of Ice and Fire” saga (for you greenhorns, it’s the basis of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series), George R.R. Martin has been called, among other things, the American Tolkien.
But when you look at the culinary side of his books or the ingenious compilation of recipes in “A Feast of Ice & Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook” (Bantam: 225 pp., $35), you realize another moniker that’s just as apt for the stocky little fantasy master from New Mexico: the medieval Dr. Atkins.
Waging battles requires lots of protein, and there’s plenty of beef, pork and fowl (even a frog or two) to be found in many of the stories. “Feast” creators Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer have zeroed in on many of the meals — like the salad of chickpeas and spinach eaten at Castle Black, the poached pears of Highgarden and the roasted aurochs eaten by the Starks of Winterfell — to give readers a taste of what it would be like to be a denizen of the great continent of Westeros.
These are real recipes, including menus for all occasions: a simple dinner, a feast after jousting and what to serve for a royal wedding — how about some fresh cream of mushroom and snail soup?
Just be forewarned: The book covers the entire saga thus far, and if you’re behind on your reading and don’t want to be surprised, epigraphs to some recipes might spill hints about plot twists you probably don’t want to know.
The vegan debate
Getting kids to eat healthfully and well is a perennial challenge for parents, especially when the younger set begins to make table choices at odds with the familial norm or, to put it more starkly, flatly refuse to eat what mom and dad have made for dinner.
Now comes a new children’s book, “Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action” (North Atlantic Books, $16.95), which may raise tensions in some households.
Written and illustrated by Ruby Roth, the Los Angeles-based author of “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals,” this beautifully rendered book offers some ugly observations about how humans often use other species — as lab animals, clothing, entertainment, food — and why vegans choose not to do so.
“As vegans, we live this way because it is best for our health, for animals, and for the earth … and that is love,” Roth writes.
But is it “love” to offer this viewpoint in a full-color illustrated children’s book? A debate is erupting.
“This is the most disturbing children’s book I’ve ever seen,” says Robert Epstein, a psychologist, author and former editor-in-chief of “Psychology Today.” He doesn’t like anything about the book except Roth’s illustrations. “Vegan is Love,” he insists, “lays guilt trips on young children. It’s a bad way to parent.”
“In calling my books ‘controversial,’ people are admitting what we do to animals is scary, too scary to talk to children about,” Roth says. She believes people today stick to a “wealthy Victorian” view of childhood, where children must be protected from the adult world and the harshness found in life.
“In doing this, we’re hindering what children are capable of,” Roth adds. “This book is for anyone and everyone who want children to love deeply, think critically and act responsibly. You don’t have to be vegan to make vegan choices, so there should be no fear.”
Marian Nestle, an influential nutritionist and New York University professor, didn’t want to comment specifically on the merits of “Vegan is Love” because she hasn’t seen it. But she could imagine the scenario that might follow after the book is read by some children.
“The kids announce to their horrified parents that animal foods are out,” she wrote in an email. “Some parents will go along with it and maybe even become healthier as a result. Some will be furious at the added trouble and the idea that someone is playing on kids’ emotions about animals and telling them not to eat them.”
Nestle noted children who don’t grow up on farms are often shocked to learn animals are killed for food. If they choose to be meat eaters, those feelings have to be worked through, she said.
Roth’s book is about choice — and the impacts small and large those choices can have when, as she noted, 7 billion people around the world choose to act.
“The path to a greener future lies in engaging the next generation,” she says.
For Terry Walters of Avon, Conn., author of “Clean Start: Inspiring You to Eat Clean and Live Well with 100 New Clean Food Recipes,” that engagement begins by growing a garden with children, shopping, cooking and eating together; and talking about healthy food choices.
“It’s our job as parents to teach and we teach most strongly through our actions,” she says. “To have a conversation without offering any judgments leaves the children free to make judgments and healthy choices on their own.”
Cook with Julia
No question about it, Julia Child managed to find love and success and a career and cook a mess of really yummy food. And do it on her terms, too.
That’s the teachable message for kids of all ages in “Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child” (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99), a new, fun picture book about the woman who became television’s beloved “French Chef.”
Jessie Hartland, a New York City-based author and illustrator, uncannily captures Julia — it’s hard to call her anything else — as she comes slowly, fitfully, into her glory. Hartland deftly portrays in both word and drawing the awkward grace, the passionate personality and the spunky gusto of her subject. At times, you can practically hear Julia’s trademark trill leaping cheerily out of the pages.
You can be sure Julia’s many friends and fans who remember her vividly will embrace this affectionately sassy book, especially as the 100th anniversary of Julia’s birth (Aug. 15) calls to mind all she did to draw generations into the kitchen. Yet, this book has a colorful zest that should appeal to the younger generation who’ve arrived since Julia’s death in 2004 at age 91.
“I hope they will be more open-minded and try new foods,” says Hartland, when asked what she wanted kids to get out of the book.
To that end, there’s a recipe for Jessie’s crepes (Hartland’s recipe) at the end of the book that children are encouraged to make. (There’s also, early on, a recipe for a galantine, a sort of fancy French meatloaf, calling for pickled tongue, cognac, boned chicken, minced calf’s udder, black truffle and aspic, among other ingredients. I wouldn’t attempt this at home; consider it an illustrated example of Julia getting crazy in the kitchen.)
Hartland hopes her book on Child will kick off a series of picture books about famous Americans. Steve Jobs is up next, she says.
“That will be more about technology and ideas,” Hartland adds. “I’d love to do more books about food. I’ve always wanted to illustrate a cookbook.”