According to the American Heart Association and goredforwomen.org, heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America, striking more women than all forms of cancer combined. You can do three things NOW to fight this disease:
--> Move more
--> Eat Smart
--> Manage Blood Pressure
Plus on 1 February, go through your closet and find something red to wear to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and save lives. Then take good care of your heart and YOU every day!
You can also check out my list of 10 books below. They have the heart to keep you in good literary shape.
Books With Heart for Kids
In My Heart: a Book of Feelings
by Jo Witik
illustrated by Christine Roussey (2014)
A picture book for toddlers, In My Heart introduces emotional aspects of heart. Through rich language and rhymes, the book helps kids identify, accept, and express a range of feelings.
Books With Heart for Grown Ups
What books about heart have you read? Which hearty tales are on your to-read list? We're always looking for our next great read, so please share in the comment section below.
Join Cat’s Tribe of Readers
Not a foodie here, but I admire those who create glorious cuisine and dining experiences in their kitchens. Naom Kostucki, with Chef Quentin Villers, do just that by sharing how to craft exciting culinary encounters in their new book, Accessible Fine Dining - The Art of Creating Exciting Food in Your Everyday Kitchen.
Get ready for your taste buds to do the happy dance as you preview their book and feast your eyes on gorgeous dishes. Then meet the authors and read an interview with Noam, owner of Michelin-starred HiR Fine Dining, a one-of-a-kind culinary experience set in the intimacy of his kitchen in the Costa Rican jungle. Within 6 months of opening, one of Noam's plates was selected out of 40,000 restaurants by OpenTable as one of their recommended "25 dishes to travel around the world for."
You can also enter a giveaway for a chance to win a grand prize - four seats at Noam’s HiR Fine Dining (a $580 value) - or one of 20 paperback or ebook copies of Accessible Fine Dining. Giveaway ends 7 February. Scroll to the end of this post for details and entry. Good luck and happy tales!
" If you want to create fine dining dishes,
start to focus your attention on the different stories a dish can tell.
Some stories can be told through your cooking ...."
~ Noam Kostucki
Book Title: Accessible Fine Dining - The Art of Creating Exciting Food in Your Everyday Kitchen by Noam Kostucki, with Chef Quentin Villers
Category: Adult Non-fiction , 128 pages
Genre: Creative Cookbook / Fine Dining
Release date: Dec 10, 2018
Tour dates: Jan 7 to 31, 2019
Content Rating: G
Six months after opening my first restaurant, one of my dishes was selected as "25 dishes to travel around the world", featuring me next to culinary legend Heston Blumenthal.
Exciting and healthy food doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Over the years, I have seen some of the most exciting dishes come from the simplest kitchens and the most modest ingredients. The purpose of this book is to focus our attention away from the distractions of fancy kitchen equipment and luxury produce and instead focus our attention towards ingenuity in the kitchen and culinary innovation.
For some strange reason, cooking is taught in books as a series of mechanical steps to follow and repeat with precision. I see cooking as a creative art like painting or playing music: it is the freedom of expression that is most interesting to me. When we create from an artistic perspective, we give birth to something new and potentially magical.
The purpose of this book is not to teach you specific recipes, because the ingredients you will find in your local organic food market will likely not be the same as the ones we see here. Nor is the purpose to show you how to imitate us. The purpose of this book is to guide you into thinking about your dishes in a way that elevates them to a fine dining level, from ingredients which are easily accessible to you. Naturally, you will find a few recipes, but most importantly you will find a new way to look at food.
We will share how we think about food shopping, searching for unusual ingredients, the combinations of flavors, techniques, textures, nutritional value, and of course, plating. The purpose of this book is to guide you to become a more exciting, creative and adventurous version of yourself in the kitchen. What separates a craft from an art form is the story behind it; cooking is a craft, while fine dining is an art form.
If you want to create fine dining dishes, start to focus your attention on the different stories a dish can tell. Some stories can be told through your cooking, and others are told through words. Taking the time to present your dishes before people eat is crucial to creating anticipation for the food they will eat.
Buy the Book:
Watch the book trailer:
Meet the Authors:
MY NAME IS NOAM KOSTUCKI AND I CREATE SPACES FOR MAGIC TO HAPPEN.
I was an awkward child, so I changed school 5 times. I spent most of my life trying to please others, and be the kind of person I believed everyone else wanted me to be. I wasn't happy and I struggled to get what I want. Everything changed when I started changing.
I spent the last 12 years creating the life I dream of. I've had the privilege to be homeless twice, and to speak at Harvard about entrepreneurship. I have grown to be myself more fearlessly than ever before. I am now surrounded by people I love, and who love me.
I traveled over 40 countries, and I've helped over 25,000 people create magic. For example Patryk Wezowski who raised $500,000 in 8 weeks and Esther Perel who gave the 30th most viewed TED talk. Some less public successes include a blind eyed student who experienced his blind eye for the first time and a journalist who left an abusive relationship.
As a university drop out, I was surprised when my first book (personal branding) became required reading at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, as well as receiving the UK Business Speaker of the Year runner up award, and a honorary degree in Business from Hofstra University. As an artist, I was honored to exhibit my photography at the European Union's Innovation Conference.
My most recent venture is HiR Fine Dining, a jungle culinary adventure. I create a discovery menu of 7 plates per person for groups of up to 12 people. HiR Fine Dining became #1 fine dining on TripAdvisor in Tamarindo within the first month. Within 6 months one of my plates was selected out of 40,000 restaurants by OpenTable as one of "25 dishes to travel around the world for". I was invited to speak at Chateau 1525, Costa Rica's most reputable cooking school and our guest chefs include a blind chef who traveled all the way the United Kingdom.
Quentin has been cooking in restaurant since the age of 18. He helped his brother build a restaurant for which they received a Michelin Star. Quentin moved to Costa Rica to consult for hotels and restaurants. He managed 3 of the 4 restaurants at Hotel Nayara in La Fortuna, for which he lead a team of over 20 people to be selected to enter Relais & Chateaux, a prestigious network of unique luxury hotels with exquisite cuisine. Quentin is a regular guest chef at HiR Fine Dining and consults for a number of fine dining restaurants in Costa Rica.
Interview with Noam Kostucki
How do you come up with new dishes?
To be honest, I don’t have a specific method. Something I notice from other chefs is that most chefs I’ve met seem to love cooking for others. They often don’t actually eat in their own restaurants. But for me it’s the opposite. I love eating great food, so I cook for myself combinations I’ve never had before because I love eating food that surprise me. Then when I discover something cool, I share it with guests… and I look forward to eating the leftovers. The day I get bored of the leftovers, I change the dish because it means my heart and guts are not into it anymore. I can only cook food that gets me excited and wanting to eat the dish I’m plating.
I mostly come up with dishes by cooking for myself. I use what I have and mix things in ways that I don’t know how it will taste. I’m very content with the idea of not knowing how my food will turn out. At first, it often tasted terrible, but after a few years of practice, I became fairly good and it’s generally at least OK. Now that Nadia lives with me (my life and business partner), we have fun cooking for ourselves and when we’re both impressed by our creation, we find ways to elevate it for guests. We test it with clients and ask them for direct feedback. We explain to them that cooking is a dialogue between us and them. They help us make dishes better by telling us what they really think. They are excited to be part of the creation process. So I’ve learned to ask at the end of every dinner for feedback and thoughts on dishes. That’s how we decide what needs to be changed and what stays.
What is your jungle culinary adventure?
The jungle culinary adventure is a 3-hour, seven-course menu at my home in Costa Rica. These dinners are very private and intimate as we serve a maximum of twelve guests per night, and the kitchen neighbors the table so that we can interact with guests as they eat. During dinners, we’ve been visited by monkeys, cows, dogs, cats, frogs, scorpions and many others. It’s quite amazing to be sitting in the middle of the jungle by a wooden table and eat food that feels like it comes out of a Michelin star restaurant. I like the idea of integrating luxury fine dining with a rustic familiar environment.
Fine dining is normally associated with luxury, how do your guests react to the “rustic” and “natural” environment?
At first, people are often a bit tensed. You can read the concern on their faces: especially because they’ve had to pay in advance, at first, they wonder if it’s a scam. They can’t believe that the photos of exquisite dishes they’ve seen online come from this rustic natural environment. Seeing me barefoot with my beard and long hair doesn’t help their worries: you can see guest wonder where is the fine dining chef. When they receive their first dish, then you see people relax and their shoulders come down. They take their phones out and grab photos while listening to the description of the dish. Once they’ve finished their first dish, they’re completely at ease and start to fully enjoy the atmosphere. They then make the most of the fact that it’s such a casual atmosphere and we have lovely conversations while they’re eating dinner. At the end of dinners, people often comment on their initial fears and how their expectations when highly exceeded.
What was the toughest moment of your fine dining experience?
The most stressful was the first few months because I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. Every cooking day felt like a war with time. I would start cooking at 6am and work non-stop until after guests left around 8.30pm. It was insane. I was doing everything alone so I had nobody to bounce ideas with or to taste the food. I had to assume what I was doing was going to be good enough. I would buy way too much food because I was scared of not having enough. Service was also crazy at the beginning because I didn’t realize how much I could prepare in advance. My first few dinners used to last up to 5h. From working with Quentin Villers, the Michelin star chef who mentored me, I learned how to prepare more things in advance and have better methods for cooking while serving guests. Serving new dishes was so mortifying that at the beginning I would only serve new dishes as extras and warn people they may not be good because they’re still in “Research & Development.”
Crissy Sharp's new Tale, glamorous life of a mediocre housewife, delivers mystery, clean romance And a Giveaway
Crissy Sharp's new tale, The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife, caught my eye as I searched for wholesome adult fiction to share with you beyond my usual children's book posts. Sharp pens a delightful read!
Meet Crissy, treat yourself to an excerpt of her book, and download your e-copy on sale for $.99 until 22 January.
PLUS..... you can enter to win a $25 PayPal cash or Amazon gift card by scrolling down to the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends 6 February.
Good luck and happy tales!
The Glamorous Life of a Mediocre Housewife by Crissy Sharp Lotty Brooks’ days consist of avoiding thoughts of her failing marriage, changing diapers, and trying not to eat chocolate brioche for breakfast and lunch. However, everything changes when her perfect, lakeside Montana neighborhood begins bustling with crime and she seems to be the target. Jason Brooks wants to know what happened to the woman he married. Lotty’s a mere shell of her former self. When she becomes the focal point of neighborhood threats, and the town seems to question her innocence, he must decide how well he knows his wife. As Jason and Lotty try to get to the bottom of the threats and find those responsible, they’ll need to remember what they once loved about each other. Otherwise, they may lose everything and everyone they care about. It was his hideous cheval mirror that provoked Lotty. The pompous owls carved into the edges sneered at the bedroom as if they knew her and Jason’s marriage was falling apart. The crack in the top corner reminded her of everything that had gone wrong between them. She normally steered clear of the monstrosity, but today it caught her eye and she stopped right in front of it. Smack dab in the middle where she could see every stupid owl. Somehow Jason’s mirror highlighted all her imperfections. Maybe it was the way he saw her now. She closed her eyes so she couldn’t see the stranger with slumped shoulders and tired eyes. She tried to think of herself as the confident, young mother she’d been, but the image dissolved before it ever came into view. Gone were the skinny jeans and heels. Now it was yoga pants and a muffin top. The bright-eyed Lotty Brooks was a distant memory. She missed the excited version of herself, the one who loved her husband and felt loved in return. The woman she’d become was a sad shell of her former self. Lotty turned away with a sigh and shoved the last bite of her breakfast pastry into her mouth, letting the gooey deliciousness numb her sadness. Who needed skinny jeans and heels in a world where chocolate brioche masqueraded as breakfast? Maybe she should resign herself to a life in pants with stretchy waistbands. She picked up Jason’s jacket from where he’d left it on the floor. Jason. Maybe what she needed to resign herself to was a life without him, but the thought tore at her heart. "Had me caught up in the story and mystery of it very quickly. It’s been a long time since I found a book that was hard to put down, but this one was that way!"--Laura L. "Fabulous, funny! Emotions and suspense abound!" --Julie C "This book kept me on the edge of my seat! I did not want to put it down and snuck in a few pages while at work (shhh don't tell my boss!). This mystery/suspense novel has everything you could want - intrigue, a mystery to solve, romance, and even a scheming mother." --StoreyBook Reviews Author Crissy Sharp Crissy Sharp has a special knack for avoiding cooking and cleaning so she can focus the hobbies she truly enjoys, like writing and running. Though she'll always be a Montana girl at heart, she also loves Tennessee, where she currently lives with her husband and three children.
The start of a new year is like a blank slate, and we don’t know what will be written upon it. Even if we don’t hold that winning lottery ticket, there are loads of things we can engrave upon it.
My writerly pals and I are sharing our hopes - on the writing road and in our family life - for 2019 in our #Gr8Blog hop about what we hope to accomplish in 2019.
I’ll be over the moon if I can tick off 3 biggies from my bucket list in the next 12 months. Numbers 3 and 2 are simultaneously scary and super-challenging; my top wish is something I’ve been dreaming about for the longest time.
Please check out my 2019 Dream Trio Count-Down. Then be sure to visit the other #Gr8Blogs linked at the end of this post for more smiles and inspirations about 2019 wishes.
3. New Writing Direction
Consumed with rightsizing and building a new home in 2018, most of last year was swallowed with getting life in order. As 2019 settles and my brain declutters, I'm itching to define a new writing direction and pen my next book. But I don't now what that is yet. Sigh.
It’s painful to leave my Sweet T Tales. I love those characters and the books' beachy settings. Plus, Irene A. Jahn’s gorgeous watercolors blow me away! But I want to publish books that don’t have hefty printing costs due to multiple color illustrations associated with chapter books.
I’m leaning to YA or a cozy for grown-ups, but it’s all so fuzzy. How to find a niche I enjoy writing about AND find new readers for it?!?!?
Some days, I feel confident.
Other days, I’m overwhelmed.
But I’m nearly always determined.
Number two on my count-down falls at that fuzzy intersection of personal and authoring life.
Unlike many writing colleagues, I’m an ambivert who generally thrives being around people.
After moving from our long-time home this summer, I’ve been meeting new neighbors and sussing ways to connect in my new community, but it is a process that does not happen overnight.
Some days I feel like the new kid at lunchtime in junior high school ---You know the one? ---eagerly looking for welcoming spots in a sea of unfamiliar faces busy doing their thing.
BEST feeling in the world: seeing first-hand reactions to my tales when I talk with book clubs, libraries, or classrooms about writing. In 2019, I'll seek more such in-person or Skype opportunities to connect with readers, teachers, librarians and booklovers.
I'd be over the moon if you might help me by scheduling an author visit. Learn more and schedule your Catly time with a writer on my website HERE
I also want to notch up the quality and quantity of virtual engagements on social media --- this Cat's Corner blog, Facebook and Instagram --- but still keep writing while maintaining reasonable work hours. Anybody have the secret formula for this balancing act -:D?
1. Dream Trek West with Hub
I’ve traveled across the US for business or family visits to the Pacific Northwest. However, JM has never been west of the Mississippi River. That changes this spring as I tick off the top item on my 2019 bucket list .... Hub is traveling with me to Literary Classic's Great American Book Festival and Writers’ Conference in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Best, he’ll be at my side at the Literary Classics Book Awards, where I’ll accept a gold medal for writing Sweet T and the Turtle Team, the top children’s book in the environment category. So excited!
(Help ... I need a stylist! I must abandon my standard daily uniform of workout clothes for evening wear to walk the red carpet at the awards ceremony. Guessing sequined black yoga pants with matching top and rhinestone trainers would not do <wink>.)
Hub and I are adding to our adventure with a short stay at Rocky Mountain National Park (southwest of Rapid City, near Denver, Colorado). JM wants to see a bear in the wild. City Girl me, not so much, but I’d be okay seeing one and "shooting" it through my camera's telephoto lens from the safety of a car.
This experience feels surreal, and I'm trying to wrap my head around such a wonderful affirmation of five nose-to-the-grindstone years of writing to be bookended by travel adventures Hub and I dream about. Adding to our celebration ... the trip falls on our 25th wedding anniversary ... Yippy!
I’m beyond blessed to have such an opportunity. Can’t wait to trek west and share the adventure with you! (Hey, if you know the Badlands\Rockies area, please e-mail or IM me. I’d love insider travel tips.)
Thanks for stopping by. Most grateful for your company as I jump into mega-unexplored territory in 2019.
What do you want to accomplish on your bucket list this year? Please share in the comment section. And for more inspiration, please visit my #Gr8blog pals below. (Ooooo, and we’ll let you know if you if one of us actually wins the lottery <laughing here!>)
Hey, if you blog and want to join us on this hop, just add the family-friendly link to your post in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love-:D
Photo Credits: Parts 2 & 3: Unsplash; Part 3: National Park Service
Before you go:
Please find more inspiration and 2019 wishes by visiting my awesome #Gr8Blogs pals:
Jim "Lefty" Milson
Blogging about books, writing, family life, travel and more good stuff.