Photos of 3 of my themed cookbooks, against a backdrop of colorful place-mats and flowers.

Media & Cookbooks

Upon seeing the cookbooks I have which are based on novels, TV shows, or movies, my friend Katherine asked if there were a lot of cookbooks like that? And said it could be neat to have a collection of them. 

If you’re like me, you’ve come across plenty of meals in stories you’ve read or shows/movies you’ve watched, where you really, really wish could . . . . have what they’re having. *ahem*

The (short) list I own includes:

I may have others that I’m forgetting, but I still have a lot of books to unpack.

Photos of 3 of my themed cookbooks, against a backdrop of colorful place-mats and flowers.

As much as I like these, I hadn’t really ever wondered if there were more out there until that night. When I got a chance, I decided to look into it, and fell into a seemingly endless internet treasure trove of media-based cookbooks.

I decided to list some of my favorites (based on their descriptions and/or reviews) here for you, in no particular order. (All of the links in this post are clean links; I am not an Amazon affiliate. But if you would like to donate to a really good cause when you make a purchase, please consider going to http://smile.amazon.com and selecting the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation (based out of East Lansing, MI, founded in 2004). Leiomyosarcoma is the rare, aggressive cancer that killed my beautiful wife. 

If you are gluten free like me, you’ll have to make some substitutions, but this is generally not difficult. I tried my best to avoid cookbooks where the recipes are completely unrelated to the story or the cast, but are just “cleverly” named recipes but that’s all (ex: Edward Caesar Hands).



And then I came across one that was by Vincent Price. How could I skip that one? So I looked into cookbooks written by actors, but where the recipes weren’t tied to any specific show/film, and, well … there’s a lot of those, too! So I decided to make a separate list for them.

Has anyone ever seen a cookbook either based on the show Dallas (i.e. Miss Ellie was in the kitchen a lot in the early years), or one written by any of the cast?


 

Do you have a favorite (or favorites) book which I haven’t included? Please list it in the comments (title and author or editor) so that I can check it out!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See - book cover

Impactful Books; Bonus Book #1

This story is set in 19th century China, in a rural Hunan province, and tells the story of Snow Flower, and her laotong (friends for life, literally “old sames”), Lily.  Lily’s aunt describes a laotong match this way: “A laotong relationship is made by choice for the purpose of emotional companionship and eternal fidelity. A marriage is not made by choice and has only one purpose—to have sons.”

Lily narrates, looking back on her life and her friendship with Snow Flower.

The two girls, who become dear friends, go through many of life’s tribulations at the same time — such as the practice of foot binding. They write letters to one another on a fan with Nü Shu, a secret phonetic form of ‘women’s writing which Lily’s aunt taught them.

Lily comes from a relatively poor family, but her bound feet are considered beautiful, and this aids her in marrying into the most powerful family in the area. She becomes very influential, and a mother to 4 children. Snow Flower’s family was well-to-do, but marries a butcher (considered a low class profession), and has a miserable life – both with the loss of children, and an abusive husband.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan shows us human suffering through foot binding, the suffering of women of the time (women were seen as property — and treated as such), journeying up the mountains to escape the Taiping Rebellion, the return back to find so many dead. (It is estimated the number of people killed was approximately 20 million!)

A big part of this story is the laotong relationship shared between Snow Flower and Lily. It is a major aspect of the book. Lily has a strong need for love — and an inability to forgive anything she sees as betrayal leads her to hurt many, especially her closest friend.

Yet Snow Flower still calls Lily to her side, and Lily goes, when Snow Flower needs her late in life.


The book was adapted into a film in 2011. I haven’t seen it yet, but hope to soon.

A Week of Impactful Books, #7

As mentioned previously, in seventh grade, I was reading an unusual combination of book genres. The Babysitter’s Club and the like because my handful of friends read them, and then I had at least something in common . . . and medical thrillers. Horror novels. And an assortment of other “adult” novels (not to be confused with Adult novels (*ahem*).

One of my favorite discoveries of that year continues to be one of my favorite books. It is high on my lists of books I cannot wait to have access to again, once all of my books are unpacked!

Steven Spruill‘s Painkiller.

I wrote a review for it on Amazon in 2007 (it’s still there) where I called it “intense and riveting!”. I stand by that description!

One thing I really enjoy about reading, is that I’ve come across very few books where I don’t find something new each time I read it. Oh, it was always there, but in my experience, each time I re-read a book, I do so with better understanding, more knowledge — this is especially true of books I read as a kid/teen, and then again as an adult with a better understanding of the world.

As a teen, I could appreciate the three-dimensional characters, written with much depth. You feel like you know them before you’re very far into the book. You can really empathize with the main character, Sharon.  I could appreciate how the story kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happened next. And the medical wonders of what one character is trying to achieve . . . despite the darkness of how he tries to achieve it.

And I can (and do) still appreciate all of those elements as an adult. But, as an adult, especially after I worked for two health insurance companies, and after dealing with hard to diagnosis (and hard to treat) problems of my own, it makes more of the actual medical parts of a medical thriller come to life for me. As a teen reading it, not having had a lot of experience in the medical world, it was interesting, but I lacked awareness and understanding I have as an adult. (Given, if you’ve had to grow up in hospitals, you may see things in the story that I missed the first few times around.)

I see more and more research articles from people trying to solve the unsolvable illnesses, and sometimes I wonder . . . who was inspired by medical thrillers but went about their research the ethical way?

In 2007, on Amazon, I said that this was a book not to be missed.

In 2019, here, I’ll tell you, this is a book not to be missed.

(And read Spruill’s other books too, if you can find copies – he’s a great author!)

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay - book cover

A Week of Impactful Books, #6

Courtenay’s novel is in South Africa during the 1930s and 1940s, and tells the story of a boy who, overtime, acquires the nickname of Peekay. Adult Peekay narrates his story, looking back on his life. It was adapted into a film in 1992, but I don’t think I’ve ever made it all the way through the film. The book, however, I’ve read numerous times.

Peekay’s story begins when his mother has a nervous breakdown, and he is then raised by a Zulu wet nurse. She eventually becomes his nanny. He is sent to boarding school while still a young child, and suffers abuse at the hands of the older students. Some because of his age, some because of race. There are Nazi sympathizers at the school, which Peekay must learn to deal with to survive (especially emotionally) schooling.

He deals with much humiliation, loneliness, and abandonment in childhood, yet finds the determination and drive to survive, and dreams of what his life could be. He begins to be able to realize his dreams when he meets a boxing champion on a train ride. Peekay is inspired to be the welterweight champion of the world.


Knowledge about history during the time the book takes place will help you make more sense out of a lot of the background events in Peekay’s story.  (Especially the Boer War and WWII in South Africa.)

Here is a helpful Reader’s Guide in case you’re not as familiar with the events as you’d like to be, or if you need a quick brush up: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/32534/the-power-of-one-by-bryce-courtenay/9780345410054/readers-guide/

From 2012: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-23/bryce-courtenay-dead-at-79/4388010

Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian - book cover

A Week of Impactful Books, #5

Book 5: Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian.

In junior high, I read Good Night, Mr. Tom. I can’t remember if everyone read it for Mrs. Clemmons, or if it was one of the many wonderful books which Mrs. Price had in her book carousel. Anyone could read anything from it if you were done with your work, or if you wanted to take one home. That is how I was introduced to Piers Anthony.


This is an engaging, heart-wrenching and heart-warming story about a young boy  (Willie Beech) who has grown up with an abusive mother. It takes place in London, and the English countryside, at the start of WWII. Despite his mother’s lack of care, he is sent with the other children to the countryside to escape the bombings.

Mr. Tom, for reasons of his own, which you gradually discover, has no real idea how to take care of a child, especially one who is hurting as much as Willie Beech is. But he puts in monumental effort, and really comes to love Willie.

Then, one day, Willie’s mother sends for him, and Mr. Tom is forced to send Willie back to London . . . and no one hears from him again. Mr. Tom takes matters into his own hands, and sets off to London to look for Willie.

There is much heartbreak in this story, but there is much love and joy as well. Not just the heartbreak Willie finds at home, and the joy he discovers with Mr. Tom, but heartbreak that comes with growing up during wartime, the joy of new friendships, and of new experiences.

It has been well over 20 years since I read this book, and I have never forgotten it.

Although I read it in junior high, don’t pass it off as a young adult, or kids/teens book, and not read it. Read it. Become immersed in it. Learn the struggles that others may be going through, even if they can’t tell you, or if they’re hiding a lot of love to give behind gruffness because of sorrow in their past.

It is a wonderful story. I read it often.


Per Amazon, Good Night, Mr. Tom:

Winner, 1982 International Reading Association Children’s Book Award
Notable Children’s Books of 1982 (ALA)
1982 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
1983 Fanfare Honor List (The Horn Book)
1982 Young Adult Editors’ Choices (BL)
1983 Teachers’ Choices (NCTE)
Notable 1982 Children’s Trade Books in Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)
1988 Choices (Association of Booksellers for Children)
Children’s Books of 1982 (Library of Congress)