Louisiana Book News by Cheré Dastugue Coen

Published Sundays in The Daily Advertiser of Lafayette and Monroe News Star of Monroe.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

UL Lafayette Press releases three titles this week

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press publishes three new titles this week.
For the nature lover, “Louisiana Swamps and Marshes: Easy-Access Hikes and Drives” by Anne Butler, with photography by Henry Cancienne, contains directions and information for 37 of Louisiana’s accessible natural parks and wetlands.
Author Tim Gautreaux describes Norman German’s “Dead Dog Lying and Other Stories” as a group of “offbeat tales” that “showcase a wide-ranging talent guaranteed to please any reader.” German is a native of Lake Charles, teaches English at Southeastern Louisiana University and is the author of novels “A Savage Wisdom,” “No Other World” and “Switch-Pitchers.”
And Abbeville native David Langlinais offers “Duck Thief and Other Stories,” a book John Ed Bradley calls “a stunning collection by a fine new voice in Southern literature.” Currently a resident of Dallas, Langlinais has published stories in numerous journals, including South Dakota Review, Los Angeles Review, The Dos Passos Review, Big Muddy, Deep South Magazine and The MacGuffin.

New releases
New York Times best-selling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Rick Bragg offers a collection of essays on life in the south with his latest, “My Southern Journey: True Stories From the Heart of the South.” Regions include Bragg’s native Alabama, Cajun Country and the Gulf Coast. Bragg is the author of “All Over But the Shoutin,’” “Ava’s Man” and “The Prince of Frogtown.” He is currently professor of writing in the journalism department at the University of Alabama.
Ciji Ware offers a tale of two cities famed for revelry and danger, both at risk of disappearing forever in her novel “That Winter in Venice.” New Orleans natives Serena Antonelli, an Italian-American costume designer, and Jack Durand, a Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental reporter, meet on a fateful flight bound for Venice where they confront a shared destiny spawned by a national tragedy.
Margaret Eby travels the South visiting the hometowns and stomping grounds of some of the South’s most beloved authors, including the Lucky Dog stands in the French Quarter featured in John Kennedy Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces,” in “South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature.”
Susan Fleet has published another book in her Frank Renzi mystery series, in which New Orleans Police Department detective Renzi searches for a missing TV news anchor and her two small children. To view a trailer of “Missing,” visit http://susanfleet.com/missing.html.

Author Dinner
Award-winning Lafayette author John François is the featured speaker at this year’s Author Dinner by the Friends of the Lafayette Library. He will speak and sign books beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Petroleum Club. François is a past president of the Writers’ Guild of Acadiana and the author of six historical wartime novels. He has won recognition in national contests like The Annual Writer’s Network Screenplay & Fiction Competition and the Global eBook Awards for his novel, “Carrier-of-Bones.” He also writes short fiction, which have enjoyed local, regional and international recognition. For more information or to make reservations, call (337) 984-8661.

Book events
            Dianne Mouton Landry, a descendant of Governor Mouton and a Mouton family historian, will speak on “The Battle of Pinhook Bridge” at 2 p.m. today at the Alexandre Mouton House/Lafayette Museum. The talk is presented by the Alexandre Mouton House/Lafayette Museum and the Lafayette Public Library.
            Oscar nominee Abigail Breslin (“Little Miss Sunshine”) will sign “This May Sound Crazy” at 1 p.m. today at Barnes & Noble Metairie. The book is based on her Tumblr blog of the same name.
Sybil Haydel Morial will discuss and read from “Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment” at 6 p.m. Monday at Garden District Book Shop and at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
Best-selling and award-winning author-illustrator Marc Brown will talk about “The Aardvark Was My Warm-Up Act” at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Lafayette Parish Main Library Meeting Room.
Michael Allen Zell will read from and sign “Run Baby Run” at 6 p.m. Monday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
Mark Couhig will discuss and sign “The Face of His Brother” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans.
Christina Vella discusses and signs “George Washington Carver: A Life” at 7 p.m. Wednesday at East Bank Regional Library in Metairie.
Michael Llewellyn and Ciji Ware will discuss and sign “Creole Son: A Novel of Degas in New Orleans” and “That Winter in Venice,” respectively from 6 p.m. Thursday at Garden District Book Shop of New Orleans.
The General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series on World War II presents Kati Marton and “The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World” Thursday at the World War II Museum in New Orleans. The event begins with a 5 p.m. reception, 6 p.m. presentation and 7:30 p.m. booksiging in the U.S. Freedom Pavilion of The Boeing Center.
C.C. Lockwood signs “Louisiana Wild: The Protected and Restored Lands of the Nature Conservancy” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
Romance Writers of America Crossroads Chapter in Indiana authors Jeana Mann, LeNora Mangano and Teresa Keefer join New Orleans chapter members Colleen Mooney and Dawn Chartier for a meet and greet, panel discussion and signing at 6 p.m. Friday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
Dixie Poché will sign copies of “Classic Eateries of Cajun Country” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Teche Drugs and Gifts on Jefferson Street in downtown Lafayette and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Books Along the Teche in New Iberia.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cookbook Thursday: Private Chef Thomas Gosney and his detailed 'Method of Procedure'

            Private chef Thomas Gosney, who once cooked for Louisiana native and NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, has published a cookbook that focuses on the preparation of great meals. “Method of Procedure: The Guide and Techniques for Excellent Cuisine” goes beyond providing recipes — although the book is full of a wide variety of dishes complemented by beautiful photos.
“Basic, online recipes have a grey area,” Gosney said. “But with my book, readers feel as if I’m in their kitchens with them, guiding them along the way.”
Recipes vary from the more elaborate pinot noir braised beef short ribs in forest mushrooms to a simple golden beets salad accented by salt, olive oil and lemon juice that creates its own dressing. Each recipe comes with detailed instructions by the chef who's been seen on the "Today Show," "Hard Copy" and alongside Food Network star Chef Bobby Flay.
Here’s a sample recipe for squash soup that comes with a ginger kick and a nutty flavor.

Cashew Ginger Butternut Squash Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, medium, diced
3 cups butternut squash, peeled, large diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves fresh garlic, rough chopped
1 medium chunk fresh ginger, peeled, rough chopped (about the size of a quarter, 1/4-inch thick)
1/2 cups raw cashews
8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon fresh chives or parsley, finely diced (optional)

            Directions: Heat olive oil in large soup pot. Add onion and sauté onion until brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add squash, salt and pepper, cook for another minute. Add garlic, ginger, and cashews, sauté for 1 more minute. Pour in broth, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes until squash is tender. Pour in blender, only filling half way. Blend until soup is creamy smooth. Be careful not to turn on high, start on low and increase speed. The soup is hot and can burn you. Placing a rag on top of the cover can protect your hands and face. Pour into soup bowls and return to pot until service. Sprinkle with fresh chives right before serving. Serves 6 to 8 people.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Encourage children to read with new Louisiana books

Multi-talented Louisiana songwriter and children’s book author Johnette Downing of New Orleans has penned a charming introduction to Louisiana with “Louisiana, the Jewel of the Deep South,” lovingly illustrated by Julia Marshall of New Orleans. The book is a literal tour of the state, focusing on the state’s crustacean and official dog (crawfish and Catahoula), among many others, but also honoring its musical traditions, diverse terrain and unique customs, proving it’s truly a jewel of the Deep South.
Other children’s books to consider:
Jeff’s dog Bob can make breakfast, drive a car and play golf, but when Mimi shows up with her puddle, she informs Jeff, “My dog is better than your dog.” Turns out the puddle can fetch a stick and sit on command, something Bob doesn’t do, so naturally Mimi considers Bob inferior. In the end, neither Bob nor Jeff cares for they know Bob is an exceptional pet. “My Dog, Bob” by Richard Torrey is a simple but powerful story honoring those who are “quietly amazing” as Torrey mentions in the dedication.
Just in time for election season is “Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box” by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein with illustrations by James E. Ransome. Young Michael joins his proud African American grandfather to the voting precinct only to watch him turned away by Jim Crow laws. He vows that one day he would vote for him. When the day arrives for Michael to vote, he vows never to take it for granted. “Granddaddy’s Turn” not only reminds us how only yesterday not everyone was allowed to vote, but that this important American freedom should never be unappreciated and always observed.
Leif Nedland Pedersen and illustrator Tim Banfell return with their “Adventures of Swamp Kids” series featuring whimsical animals in a South Louisiana setting. In “A Dog Named Cat,” Tuti the alligator, Pierre the turtle and Mon Cher the raccoon visit the SPCA to adopt a Catahoula puppy, which they name “Cat.” As with previous books in the series, the story comes with a fun song, information on Catahoulas, crafts and a “lagniappe lesson” from New Orleans newscaster Angela Hill on how to care for pets.

New releases
            “Lafayette in Transnational Context: Identity, Travel, and Nationalism in the Revolutionary Atlantic World,” edited by Jordan Kellman and exploring the many facets of the Marquis de Lafayette’s life and career, has been published by LSU Press.
UL-Lafayette professor Charles Richard’s book, “Coastal Sketches: Field Notes and Photos from The End of the World,” a collection of personal essays and creative nonfiction about the loss of place and identity occurring in Louisiana’s rapidly eroding coastlands, has been published by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
            Local author and journalist Constance Monies has collected stories that defines Acadian culture within three Louisiana towns in her new book, “Never Say Goodbye.” The stories include a Lafayette love story and the excitement of the early cattle drives, the adventures of two priests in Abbeville who build a church and learn about the traditions of the early Acadians and the courage of a woman who alone faces the occupation of her New Iberia plantation home by Union troops during the last days of the Civil War in Louisiana. Monies will discuss the “Art Of Writing” and her books “Never Say Goodbye” and “A House For Eliza” at the Writers Guild of Acadiana meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble, Lafayette. Her books are available at www.CypressCovePublishing.com, Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and local bookstores and gift shops and will be available for signing at Tuesday meeting.

Book Festival
The 12th annual Louisiana Book Festival will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, in downtown Baton Rouge’s Capitol Park. The festival will feature presentations by local and national bestselling authors, panel discussions, activities for children and teens, live music, food and a Halloween costume contest. A variety of writing WordShops are scheduled for the day before the festival, including a discussion about telling a story in fiction or memoir by authors Molly Antopol and Skip Horack.  For more information or to volunteer, visit LouisianaBookFestival.org.

Book news
            Charlaine Harris, the New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse vampire mysteries set in “Bon Temps, Louisiana,” will be inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Tuesday at Noah’s Event Center in West Little Rock. The Hall of Fame honors individuals with Arkansas connections who have made significant contributions to the entertainment arts. The exhibits commemorating the members are permanently housed on display in the Pine Bluff Convention Center in Pine Bluff, Ark. Harris’ most popular novels include “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” and the “Harper Connelly” series. “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” feature Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress from Louisiana, and are the basis for HBO’s “True Blood.”

Book events
The Baton Rouge Gallery will host five writers — Ronlyn Domingue, Laurie Lynn Drummond, Renee Bacher, Jacqueline Dee Parker, Dorothy Early Davis and Claire Boudreaux Bateman  — as part of Women’s Week beginning at 4 p.m. today.
Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets at 7 p.m. the last Tuesday of the month at Barnes & Noble Lafayette. The meetings are free and open to the public.
Barbara Sillery discusses “Biloxi Memories” at 6 p.m. Monday at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Also at Octavia this week, Fredrick Barton reads from and signs his latest novel “In the Wake of the Flagship” at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Melinda Rose discusses her latest book, “Of the Rising Tide — A Photo Essay of the Vanishing Bayou Community of Isle de Jean Charles” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Keller Library and Community Center in New Orleans. Also on Wednesday, Michael Murphy reads from and signs “Fear Dat New Orleans: A Guide to the Voodoo, Vampires, Graveyards and Ghosts of the Crescent City” at 6 p.m. at New Orleans’ Maple Street Book Shop.
            Dixie Poché will sign copies of her book “Classic Eateries of Cajun Country” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Books-a-Million in Lafayette.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Virginia Willis goes from 'Basic to Brilliant, Y'all'

           I've got sweet potato grits on my mind today so I'm highlighting a recipe I discovered a few years ago in Virginia Willis' cookbook that blends Southern dishes with a French flare. Many readers will know Willis by her award-winning “Bon Appétit, Y’all,” and her 2011 cookbook, “Basic to Brilliant Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company,” is a “body of basic recipes that can stand on their own,” she writes, “but they can be transformed to brilliant by a short recipe, presentation tip, or technique — all accomplished without ‘dumbing down’ the basics to make the brilliant work, and without the overuse of expensive or hard-to-find ingredients.”
            Talk about my kind of book.
            The opening features “fundamental recipes” such as stocks, sauces, pie crusts and the like. Then readers move to “starters and nibbles,” with lovely ideas that run the gamut, such as Southern ratatouille, shrimp rillettes and pigs in a blanket bites. Other chapters include typical meals — soups and salads, fish and shellfish and beef, pork and lamb, gospel birds and game birds and vegetables. In Southern fashion there’s rice grits and potatoes, eggs and dairy, a section on daily bread with items honoring cornmeal and sweet potatoes and, of course, desserts.
            And the book is full of helpful hints, anecdotes and ways to turn the basic recipes into brilliant ones.
            Here’s a great example. This sweet potato grits recipe can be enhanced into a soufflelike spoonbread; the book offers both. I’ll include it here as grits and let you check out the book if you wish to know more. 

Sweet Potato Grits
2 cups water
2 cups low-fat or whole milk
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Direction: In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the water and milk and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Slowly add the grits, whisking constantly. Add the sweet potato. Season with salt and white pepper. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the grits are creamy and thick, 45 to 60 minutes. Taste the grits and sweet potato to make sure both are cooked and tender. Add the ground ginger, cinnamon and butter. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and white pepper. Serve immediately.

            In other food news, Cheramie Sonnie reviews "A Real Southern Cook: In Her Savannah Kitchen" by Dora Charles with Fran McCullough in today's Advocate. You can read it here.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is a food and travel writer living in Lafayette, Louisiana, and the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.