Tasty Books Book Club – July Selections

I realize we’re nearly halfway through July but I still wanted to send out these book selections for this month’s edition of our Tasty Books Book Club. I’ve included the summary of each book from Amazon website. The first selection, Tomatoland, is a book that was sent to me by the publisher but I found to be quite an intriguing subject given the focus lately on eating “green” and eating locally. You can read my review by clicking on the picture of the book and it will bring you to the Amazon page. Wow! What an eye opener. I hope you will check it out!

The second selection is the first in a series that I just discovered last summer called the Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke. I love mysteries and those that include recipes so this was a perfect match for me! While this book was published several years ago, the author has published seventeen books in the series so you’re sure to be able to keep on reading for awhile. They’re a fun, light read with twists and turns that will surprise you! The bonus? Recipes in every book–yum! And the good news? a cookbook that includes recipes from ALL of Fluke’s books is due out in September 2011!

The cookbook selection is The Family Kitchen: Easy and Delicious Recipes for Parents and Kids to Make and Enjoy Together by Debra Ponzek. This book is chock-full of yummy sounding recipes that will appeal to parents and kids! You can read a review that I did for this book by clicking here.

Our children’s picture book selection this month is Cook-A-Doodle-Doo by Janet Stevens. It’s a book I picked up at the library for my own children and what a fun read it was! Lastly, there’s the middle grades fiction book, The Dazzle Disaster Dinner Party by Sharon Draper. We’ve not yet read this one but it looks fun!

And the middle grades novel is The Dazzle Disaster Dinner Party book! What kid won’t love reading about planning a fabulous party and the craziness that comes when things go wrong. Young readers will enjoy this book.

Below are the descriptions of each book. Remember, if you purchase a book by clicking on the links below it helps me out as I am an Amazon affiliate. But I am also a big fan of my library. So if you are too and are able to find these books there, I won’t know either way!

I hope you enjoy these books. Be sure to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. Happy reading!


Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook
Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award-winning article, “The Price of Tomatoes,” investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with more than one hundred different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but has also produced fruits with dramatically reduced amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and tomatoes that have fourteen times more sodium than the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point?

Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, a.k.a. the tomato capital of the United States. He visits the laboratories of seedsmen trying to develop varieties that can withstand the rigors of agribusiness and still taste like a garden tomato, and then moves on to commercial growers who operate on tens of thousands of acres, and eventually to a hillside field in Pennsylvania, where he meets an obsessed farmer who produces delectable tomatoes for the nation’s top restaurants.

Throughout Tomatoland, Estabrook presents a who’s who cast of characters in the tomato industry: the avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-Marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color, and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; the U.S. attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade; and the Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents’ medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years.

Tomatoland reads like a suspenseful whodunit as well as an expose of today’s agribusiness systems and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke
Independent-minded Hannah Swenson makes her debut in a cleverly plotted cozy, full of appealing characters and delicious cookie recipes. Returning after her father’s death to her hometown of Lake Eden, Minn., Hannah opens her own shop, the Cookie Jar, where much of the town’s gossip percolates along with the strong coffee. Early one morning, she finds the driver of a delivery truck shot dead in the alley behind her shop. Hannah’s brother-in-law, Bill, the county’s deputy sheriff, recruits her to help him chase down the culprit. A surprising number of suspects emerges, but due to her cafe business and catering of local social events, Hannah is admirably placed to hear all, see much and investigate a little. Motives ranging from blackmail to extortion abound, as do descriptions of clothing and shopping. Cat fanciers will appreciate knowing how Hannah found her cat, but separating the wheat of the significant from the chaff of the irrelevant can be challenging. Fluke also stretches the imagination when Bill leaves most of the sleuthing to Hannah and when the sheriff’s men fail to discover a second body at the dairy where the first victim was employed. But these are minor lapses in a story satisfyingly packed with plot twists


The Family Kitchen: Easy and Delicious Recipes for Parents and Kids to Make and Enjoy Together by Debra Ponzek
Want to prepare one meal the entire family will actually eat? Get your children to finish their vegetables? Spend more quality time with your kids? Enter The Family Kitchen, where award-winning chef and mother of three Debra Ponzek shares recipes that are simple enough to please kids, refined enough to satisfy parents, and easy enough for everyone to roll up their sleeves and help make. From Breakfast to Dinnertime, Bake Sales to Vegetables and Salads, Snow Days to Summer Supper on the Grill, chapters include 125 flavorful crowd-pleasers such as Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Green Apple–Cranberry Compote, Honey-Glazed Carrots, and Double Hot Chocolate with Homemade Marshmallows. This is food you and your kids will want to eat every day—and not a smiley-face pizza in sight!
While dinner may frequently be over all too soon—cut short by homework, practice, or bath time—preparing meals together in the kitchen can help you steal a little more time with your kids. The kitchen is warm, the pace relaxed, and the conversation easy. Children are also proud of their culinary accomplishments, exclaiming at the table: “I helped make it!” and then diving into a huge portion of those very same carrots they peeled just minutes earlier. Each recipe includes a list of exactly which steps kids can tackle. In addition, there are tips on how to incorporate healthful ingredients and new flavors into a child’s diet; how to make a kitchen safe for children; and how to pull off a kids’ cooking party. The indispensable companion to every family’s favorite gathering spot, The Family Kitchen has a place in every home.

Cook-A-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens
Stevens and her sister cook up a boisterous romp as four animal friends set out to bake a strawberry shortcake. Rooster, tired of pecking for chicken feed, remembers that his famous great-grandmother (the Little Red Hen) wrote a cookbook, and in it he finds the recipe. Turtle, Iguana and Pig volunteer to help. If left solely to the text, the rest of the comedy-cum-cookery lesson would be fairly predictable: Turtle, reading the recipe, announces they need flour and Iguana rushes outside to pick a petunia; asked to beat an egg, Iguana hoists a baseball bat. (Handsomely illustrated sidebars explain most of the directions in depth.) Rooster sets Iguana straight while Pig keeps wanting to taste everything in sight. The illustrations, however, are startling in their pop-off-the-page dimensionality. In her characteristic style, Stevens mixes media, seamlessly combining paints, photos and computer art to witty effect; readers will want to look very closely to determine what’s from real life and what’s from a palette. Wearing their silly chef’s hats (an inverted saucepan, an oven mitt, a kitchen towel and an apron), the four animals create a whirlwind of activity on every spread. Presiding adults should note that the strawberry shortcake recipe at the end is not as foolproof as the story would imply, even with the information in the sidebars; kids, enthused by the kitchen frolics depicted here, will surely want to attempt it.


The Dazzle Disaster Dinner Party by Sharon DraperSassy’s fourth-grade class has an assignment to research a topic and experience it, then present it to their fellow students. The whole school is intrigued when a mysterious limo appears, bringing a shy and sad-looking new girl, Lillian. When Sassy and her friends welcome her, she begins to emerge from her shell, and Sassy decides to research recipes and throw a dazzling dinner party at her house. She succeeds in talking her mom into it by promising that nothing she makes will involve cooking. She invites her entire class and must combat her brother’s sock- and food-eating dog; an electricity outage that threatens her frozen foods; a purple kitchen; and the possible disappearance of Lillian. As in the earlier tales, the protagonist’s sparkly “Sassy sack” contains everything she needs to counter any dilemma. Themes of loyalty and friendship run throughout as Lillian finds a place she can belong, and Sassy and her family realize their strong family bonds. Young foodies will revel in Sassy’s recipes as each of them is appended, along with child-friendly instructions. Draper has whipped up another delicious tale sure to please followers of Sassy and anyone looking for a fun chapter book

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