The Books of 2017

So many books, so little time—part 11.

My son started keeping a reading list in third grade, so I did too. This is the 11th year we’ve done this.

My favorite books of 2017 were probably The Mothers, by Britt Bennett; Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Commonwealth by Ann Patchett; Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman; The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Anyway, I’d love to hear about other people’s favorite books this year.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Jesse Andrews
Home Again Kristin Hannah
The Bookseller Cynthia Swanson
Leave Me Gayle Forman
Suite 606 J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan, Mary Kay McComas
The Mothers Britt Bennett
Big Girl Panties Stephanie Evanovich
The Wangs Vs. the World Jade Chang
The Nest Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
The Housewife Assassin’s Deadly Dossier Josie Brown
I Was Here Gayle Forman
Scrappy Little Nobody Anna Kendrick
There Goes the Bride Holly McQueen
Ship of Brides Jojo Moyes
The Underground Railroad Colson Whitehead
Swift as Desire Laura Esquivel
Confetti Confidential Holly McQueen
The Weekenders Mary Kay Andrews
When I’m Gone Emily Bleeker
First Comes Love Emily Giffin
Three Wishes Liane Moriarty
Truly Madly Guilty Liane Moriarty
Save the Date Jen Doll
The Year of Voting Dangerously Maureen Dowd
Everybody’s Fool Richard Russo
Where She Went Gayle Forman
Two by Two Nicolas Sparks
Talking as Fast as I Can Lauren Graham
Unrivaled Alyson Noel
Nothing That is Ours DJ Palladino
Fangirl Rainbow Rowell
We are all Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler
What Light Jay Asher
If Not For You Debbie Macomber
Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Who Asked You? Terry McMillan
Connect the Stars Marisa de Los santos & David Teague
The Knockoff Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza
44 Cranberry Point Debbie Macomber
From Notting Hill to Love Actually Ali McNamara
The Postmistress Sarah Blake
You’ll Grow Out Of It Jesi Klein
The Awkward Age Francesca Segal
Queen Takes King Gigi Levangie Grazer
Into the Woods Tana French
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine Gail Honeyman
Bright Precious Days Jay McInerney
Being Mortal Atul Gawande
The Hynotist’s Love Story Liane Moriarty
Boys in the Trees Carly Simon
The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon
American Housewife Helen Ellis
Prejudice & Pride Rachel Anderson
The Bookshop on the Corner Rebecca Raisin
All the Bright Places Jennifer Niven
A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend Felicity Huffman & Patricia Wolff
The Girlfriend Curse Valerie Frankel
The Divorce Papers Susan Rieger
The After Party Anton DiSclafani
The Worst Day of My Life So Far M.A. Harper
It’s Always the Husband Michele Campbell
The Girl in the Spider’s Web David Lagercrantz
Commonwealth Ann Patchett
Lincoln in the Bardo George Saunders
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Jenny Han
The Jane Austen Project Kathleen A. Flynn
The Great Escape Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Grown Up Gillian Flynn
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen Syrie James
We’ll Always Have Summer Jenny Han
The Sunshine Sisters Jane Green
The Time of My Life: A Novel Cecilia Ahern
The View From the Cheap Seats Neil Gaiman
What Happened Hillary Rodham Clinton
My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante
Winter Storms Elin Hilderbrand
Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri
What She Knew Gilly MacMillan
Irish Eyes Mary Kay Andrews
Carry On Rainbow Rowell

Women’s Literary Festival

The first Women’s Literary Festival was initiated 12 years ago as a Santa Barbara event by Gail Marshall and her daughter Jennifer Adams, and this weekend marks the 12th Annual Women’s Literary Festival,  taking place on Saturday, October 28 from 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. at Fess Parker A Doubletree by Hilton Resort (633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.).

The idea to showcase women authors was inspired by their attendance at the Long Beach Women’s Festival. With a mission to celebrate diversity, literacy and social justice through women writers, the Santa Barbara event celebrates both the writers and readers connections to each other’s human spirit through dialogues on the inner dynamics of the creative writing process as it interweaves within the authors’ writing genre.

The five distinguished authors invited this year represent a diversity in fiction and nonfiction work and include:

Steph Cha, crime fiction mystery writer

Micheline Aharonian Marcom, a fiction novelist who bases her work on historical events

Enid Osborn, Santa Barbara Poet Laureate

Kate Schatz, a New York Times bestselling author of Rad Women books

Andrea Smith activist/author on women of color and Native American violence

The registration fee ($65) includes coffee, lunch and all author presentations, including Breakout Sessions. To register, visit womensliteraryfestival.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 26, 2017.

Local Dish: Pacale Beale Launches Les Légumes

From Les Légumes by Pascale Beale, photo by Media 27.

From Les Légumes by Pascale Beale, photo by Media 27.

Popular local chef and cookbook author Pascale Beale has a new book out, the third in the Market Table series (after Salade and Les Fruits) and this one is all about vegetables, titled Les Légumes: Vegetable Recipes from The Market Table.

Filled, as we’ve come to except from Chef Beale, with gorgeous photography and easy to follow recipes, the book can be purchased at  www.pascalekitchen.com, as well as in major retailers and book stores.

From Les Légumes by Pascale Beale, photo by Media 27.

From Les Légumes by Pascale Beale, photo by Media 27.

Some local events and signings are also scheduled, including:

On Saturday, November 4 from 12:30-3 p.m. Beale will have a Cooking Class, Book Signing & Tasting at Buttonwood Farm and Winery (1500 Alamo Pintado Rd., Solvang). Beale will be making dishes from Les Légumes and sharing the delights of cooking with participants. Each dish will be paired with one of Buttonwood’s fabulous wines. Cost: $50

On Thursday, November 16 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. is a Book Signing, Food and Tasting at Santa Barbara Gift Baskets (230 Magnolia Ave., Goleta). Join the owner of Santa Barbara Gift Baskets, Anne Paizier, for a special evening of delicious nibbles from Les Legumes, with a wine tasting and book signing too! FREE.

From Les Légumes by Pascale Beale, photo by Media 27.

From Les Légumes by Pascale Beale, photo by Media 27.

Porch (3823 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria) hosts a Book Signing & Tasting from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, November 18.  Join Beale and the team from Porch for their special TA DA holiday event. Beale will be sampling dishes from her new book, Les Légumes, as she signs copies for you! FREE.

On Sunday, November 19 from noon to 3 p.m. is a Book Signing & Tasting at Riverbench Winery (147 Anacapa St.). Beale returns to Riverbench Winery for an autmnal tasting at the winery. She will be signing copies of her latest book, Les Legumes, as well as offering a tastes from the book. Cost: $20.

On Saturday, November 25 from noon to 3 p.m. join Beale at Zaca Mesa Winery‘s (6905 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos) Thanksgiving Weekend Event for a book signing and tasting with the great tasting-room crew. FREE.

Les Légumes Book Launch Party on Thursday, November 30 at 6 p.m. at C’est Cheese (825 Santa Barbara St.),  where Beale will be signing copies and sampling a dish (or two) from the book. FREE.

For more information and additional book-related events, visit pascaleskitchen.com.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on October 15, 2017.

Local Dish: Santa Barbara Author Pens “A Visitor’s Guide to Mexico City Street Food”

Courtesy photo.

Richard Lambert, the local chef behind the beloved (and now gone) Santa Barbara Tamales To Go, has turned his culinary talents toward Mexico City’s colorful street food scene with a new book, A Visitor’s Guide to Mexico City Street Food, that turns the spotlight on the world’s number one travel destination (New York Times).

Lambert lived in Mexico City for much of last year with his daughter Juliet, who owns a restaurant and catering business there, and says he “grabbed the opportunity to eat my way across the city, finding something new on every street. The options are endless when there are an estimated half million street food vendors in the city.”

Cleverly written, with tongue-in-cheek chapter titles like “Tacos are King of the Night” and “The Salsa Tells You Who is Cooking,” Lambert’s 37-page guide provides street food recommendations, descriptive photos, food and health safety tips, and on-the-street videoclips. The ebook also comes with a separate 40-page Spanish-English glossary of food terms, which is particularly useful, as Lambert describes Mexico’s pambazos, tlayudas, arrachera, costras and huitlacoche as “some of the best street foods you’ve probably never heard of, and will have fun discovering.”

Courtesy photo.

For the record, pambazos are a Torta (sandwich) that takes its name from the bread it is traditionally made with, pan basso. Lambert writes, “This peasant roll is chewy-tough and able to hold up well when it is split and fully dipped in guajillo chile sauce and briefly fried. The roll is then filled with potatoes, chorizo, refried beans, lettuce, crema, and garnished with queso fresco. This torta originated in Mexico City.”

He describes tlayudas as “large, thin crusted, fried or toasted tortilla covered with a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables and salsas. It is often called a Mexican pizza because it looks similar. The tlayuda originated in the state of Oaxaca.”

Arrachera is “thin sliced, grilled hanger steak with spice and cilantro marinade. (A) popular taco filling.” Costras are a “popular late night Mexico City street food item that is like a taco, but the ‘tortilla’ is made of cheese that is melted on a grill and then wrapped around the filling of your choice.”

Courtesy photo.

Courtesy photo.

Huitlacoche, (pronounced “wheet-lah-KOH-cheh”) is “a fungus that invades growing corn kernels and changes them into soft blackish lumps,” writes Lambert. “In the United States, it is called corn smut or devil’s corn, and is treated as a disease. In México, however, it is prized as a culinary delicacy and is even referred to as a Mexican truffle by gourmet chefs. Huitlacoche is used to flavor quesadillas, tamales, burritos, soups, as well as other dishes.”

If those descriptions don’t make you hungry, flipping through the ebook’s colorful photos certainly will.  A Visitor’s Guide to Mexico City Street Food is $12.95, and may be ordered online here.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on July 12, 2017.

 

Library Book: Writers on Libraries

The venerable Downtown Santa Barbara Central Library (40 E. Anapamu St.)  is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and writers are celebrating this centennial milestone as well, with a heartwarming anthology of stories, essays, and poems written by over 80 authors about their library experiences and the glories of the public library.

Edited by local writer Steven Gilbar, Library Book: Writers on Libraries, brings an impressive group of scribes together, ranging from huge literary names like Ray Bradbury, Fannie Flagg, Sue Grafton, Pico IyerNeil Gaiman and Ursula K. LeGuin, to loads of local writers including all of the living Santa Barbara poets laureate, Hilary Dole Klein, D. J. Palladino, Ashleigh Brilliant, Erin Graffy de Garcia, Beverley Jackson, Marcia Meier, Grace Rachow, Joan Tapper and many more (including yours truly.)

With a forward by local resident T.C. Boyle and all royalties going to the nonprofit Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library, this is a book purchase that any word loving reader can feel good about making. Library Book: Writers on Libraries is available at The Book Den (15 E. Anapamu St.), Chaucers Books (3321 State St.), Mesa Books (1838 Cliff Dr.), Tecolote Book Shop (1470 East Valley Rd.) and Upstairs at Pierre La Fond (516 San Ysidro Rd.), as well as on Amazon.com.

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 21, 2017.

The Books of 2016

So many books, so little time—part ten.

My son started keeping a reading list in third grade, so I did too. This is the tenth year we’ve done this.

My favorite books of 2016 were probably You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott, a mystery-thriller set in the world of women’s gymnastics; Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave, set in the world of wine-making; Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, which is about the restaurant business; Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes, a terrific collection of shot stories; and The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, who also wrote Fates and Furies, one of my favorite books I read last year.  

As usual, I tend to find an author I like and then read anything I can get my hands on. I adored Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple so much that I also read her two other novels, Today Will be Different (in development as a TV series with Julia Roberts) and This One is Mine, both of which I liked but didn’t LOVE the way I did Bernadette.

Anyway, I’d love to hear about other people’s favorite books this year.

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake Anna Quindlen
Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling
Boys & Girls Together William Goldman
Fun Home Allison Bechdel
Precious Gifts Danielle Steel
23 Degrees South Neal Rabin
Last One Home Debbie Macomber
Feel This Ben Stiller & Janeane Garofalo
A Whole New Light Sandra Brown
All Fall Down Jennifer Weiner
The Children Act Ian McEwan
Purity Jonathan Franzen
Crooked Little Lies Barbara Taylor Sissel
The Rumor Elin Hildebrand
The Truth About Alice Jennifer Mathieu
Girl Tripping Gina Iamanna
Everything’s Relative Jenna McCarthy
The Clasp Sloane Crosley
The Guestbook Andrea Hurst
The Art of Peeling an Orange Victoria Avilan
What Alice Forgot Liane Moriarty
Bettyville George Hodgman
Between the Lines Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer
Miss Adventure Geralyn Corcillo
Who Do You Love? Jennifer Weiner
Girl Waits With Gun Amy Stewart
The Tender Bar J.R. Moehringer
The Monsters of Templeton Lauren Groff
Connect the Stars Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
Barbara the Slut and Other People Lauren Holmes
The Moon and More Sarah Dessen
The Apartment Danielle Steel
Dead of Night J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Ruth Ryan Langan and Mary Kay McComas
The Swans of Fifth Avenue Melanie Benjamin
Lizzie Bennett Diaries Bernie Su and Kate Noble
The List Siobhan Vivan
One Plus One JoJo Moyes
Nora Roberts Land Miles Ava
Windfallen JoJo Moyes
Dear Mr. You Mary Louise Parker
The Sleuth Sisters Maggie Pill
Fireside Susan Wiggs
Sweetbitter Stephanie Danler
Tiny Pretty Things Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
My Favorite Husband Pam McCutcheon
The Fixer Upper Mary Kay Andrews
The Inn at Rose Harbor Debbie Macomber
I Was Told There Would be Cake Sloane Crosley
A Girl’s Guide to Moving on Debbie Macomber
Drinking Closer to Home Jessica Anya Blau
Identical Scott Turrow
If I Stay Gayle Forman
Euphoria Lily King
Eight Hundred Grapes Laura Dave
In the Unlikely Event Judy Blume
Remembrance Meg Cabot
Innocents & Others: A Novel Dana Spiotta
Calling Invisible Women Jeanne Ray
Royal Wedding Meg Cabot
Eligible Curtis Sittenfeld
The Man of the House Stephen McCauley
Be Frank With Me Julia Claiborne Johnson
Fallen in Love Lauren Kate
Four of a Kind Valerie Frankel
The Bridge Ladies Betsy Lerner
The Goodbye Quilt Susan Wiggs
French Roast Ava Miles
Behind Closed Doors B.A. Paris
Heat & Light Jennifer Haigh
The Grand Opening Ava Miles
Paris for One & Other Stories JoJo Moyes
My Kind of Perfect Hannah Ellis
Heroes Have Always Been My Weakness Susan Elizabeth Phillips
You Will Know Me Megan Abbott
The History of Love Nicole Krauss
Today Will Be Different Maria Semple
This One is Mine Maria Semple

Welcome to Jennabunkport

Writer Jenna McCarthy shows off her She Shack, Jennabunkport. Photo by Jenna McCarthy.

Writer Jenna McCarthy shows off her She Shack, Jennabunkport. Photo by Jenna McCarthy.

Writer Jenna McCarthy’s she shack is 140 square feet of home office heaven.

By Leslie Dinaberg

Living—and working—in a 100-year-old farmhouse certainly has its charms, but as her children grew bigger and houseguests came and went, writer Jenna McCarthy (Everything’s Relative, The Parent Trip, Lola Knows a Lot) longed for, as Virginia Woolf once wrote,”a room of one’s own.”

“I longed for a space that was all mine, somewhere I could sneak away to and write in peace, somewhere my kids wouldn’t be barging in every four minutes asking me if I know where their sparkly pink headband is or wanting me to referee such life-or-death arguments as ‘whose turn is it to hold the remote control,'” says McCarthy.

Author Jenna McCarthy is right at home in Jennabunkport, her writer's cottage. Courtesy photo.

Author Jenna McCarthy is right at home in Jennabunkport, her writer’s cottage. Courtesy photo.

When her husband, Joe Coito, suggested she needed a writer’s cabin, McCarthy was online looking at sheds in a heartbeat. Both spouses know their way around a tool belt—they once flipped a house on the TV Show Property Ladderso when McCarthy couldn’t find the perfect ready-made shed, they bought plans online and built it themselves. “We were able to do things like buy a reclaimed door and modify the plans to make it fit. We copied the siding and trim of our house so it would look as if my little shed had been on the property all along.”

Her husband built her a desk, and her daughters helped with painting, sanding and hammering. “My mother’s day present this year was a coat of primer,” she laughs.

The inside is warm, cozy, bright and filled with things that bring joy and inspiration, like the six-foot giant octopus they made from a canvas curtain.

Author Jenna McCarthy's daughter Sasha, with Syd the giant octopus that graces Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

Author Jenna McCarthy’s daughter Sasha, with Syd the giant octopus that graces Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

“We christened her Syd, and she’s one of my favorite pieces in Jennabunkport, the name we chose for my shed, because, yes, we name everything,” says McCarthy.

“I’ve always considered myself fortunate that I get to do what I love to do all day with my familyís enthusiastic support. Now I get to do it in my own little paradise, one that is far more than an office; it’s a 140-square-foot reminder of how lucky and loved I am. And it’s all mine.”

Another view of the interior of Jenna McCarthy's office, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

Another view of the interior of Jenna McCarthy’s office, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This inspirational message graces the wall of author Jenna McCarthy's she shack, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This inspirational message graces the wall of author Jenna McCarthy’s she shack, Jennabunkport. Courtesy photo.

This story was originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

Local Lowdown: Page Turners

By Leslie Dinaberg

Summer is the perfect time to pull up a lounge chair, a hammock, or a perfect spot in the sand and dig into one of these great reads by local authors.

From contemporary novels and memoirs, to playfully illustrated children’s books, to juicy airplane reads, and delicious cookbooks, to lurid crime and intriguing real lives, there’s something here for every reader to dig into this summer.

What are you waiting for?

Armchair Travels & Adventures

23DSouthRabinCover-FINAL

Neal Rabin’s “23 Degrees South: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether,” courtesy photo

Set in the beautiful yet nefarious paradise of Brazil, Neal Rabin’s debut action-adventure novel, 23 Degrees South: A Tropical Tale of Changing Whether, is a laugh-out-loud escapade through South America as 20-something childhood friends Hart and Simon find themselves far from their comfortable California homes in the favelas and jungles of Brazil. The summer Olympics, Maytag appliances, plane crashes, a priest named Lazarus, rainforest cults and Carmen Miranda all play pivotal roles in this quirky novel. Rabin—the founder of Miramar Systems, a Santa Barbara-based global software company, of which he was CEO for 15 years—writes in a style that evokes comedic elements of Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Robbins, with an original eccentricity that is uniquely his own.

Family Feuds & Fun

Everything's-Relative

Jenna McCarthy’s “Everything’s Relative,” courtesy photo

Three estranged sisters breathe a collective sigh of relief when their controlling mother dies, but that’s just the beginning of the roller- coaster ride of Everything’s Relative, the latest page- turner from funny lady (and former KTYD personality) Jenna McCarthy. The sisters are shocked to discover that their spendthrift mother was hiding a massive fortune—millions of dollars that they can only get their hands on if they work together to transform their lives and carry out their mom’s last wishes.

Tasty Treats

LesFruits_0005_rf

Chef Pascale Beale’s “Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet,” courtesy photo

Chef Pascale Beale’s latest book is perfect for the summer season, with 240 mouth-watering pages and 100 new recipes that are all about fruit. Les Fruits: Savory and Sweet celebrates fruit in all of its many forms and features a multitude of delicious salads such as apple, fennel and watermelon radish, citrus salad with avocado vinaigrette; main courses like apricot and lamb shank tagine and citrus salmon; and desserts such as an Eton Mess, pear and pomegranate Pavlova, and apple and pear strudel, among other yummy delights.

Camping out under the stars is one of summer’s most sublime pleasures, and local “gourmet girls” Gail Kearns, Lindsey Moran and Denise Woolery have a new camping cookbook, Gourmet Girls on Fire, to help make your outdoor adventures even more delectable. Filled with 140 gourmet meals that can be made straight from your campfire, useful tips and recommendations, full-color images, retro-inspired graphics, and recipes that are sure to please a crowd.

Twin sisters Judi and Shari Zucker, also known as the “Double Energy Twins,” became vegetarians at age 11 and wrote their first book, How to Survive Snack Attacks—Naturally!, when they were just 16. Since then, they have written six best-selling health books, in addition to their latest, The Memory Diet, which introduces a powerful, plant-based diet of leafy greens, vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, and whole grains that can slow down or even eliminate cognitive decline.

Lurid Crime

Award-winning Hollywood writer, producer and director John Wilder (who adapted James Michener’s Centennial and Larry McMurtry’s Return To Lonesome Dove, as well as top-rated television series Spenser: For Hire and The Streets of San Francisco) marks his novel fiction debut with the contemporary murder mystery Nobody Dies In Hollywood. Wilder’s private investigator character Michael Drayton is hired by the father of an aspiring actor who was brutally slain alongside a world-renowned movie star in a horrific and seemingly senseless attack. Set against the backdrop of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Wilder’s novel connects contemporary culture, over-the-top personalities and timeless personal demons, creating a character that embodies the grit of yesterday and the diversity of today.

Memorable Memoirs

Part memoir and part inspiration, Aging in High Heels by Beverlye Hyman Fead, deals with the subjects of health, deaths of loved ones, forgetfulness, doctors’ appointments, travel, exercise, nutrition and aging. After being diagnosed with stage IV cancer, Fead found a passion talking to cancer patients, giving back inspiration and writing books. At 81, she shows us how we can live a life with passion, hope and laughter.

O tomodachi

Dick Jorgensen’s “O Tomodachi (Friend),” courtesy photo

In 1954, as a 29-year-old grad student, Dick Jorgensen was selected to be one of four “ambassador” teachers in a first-ever exchange program with Japan. Jorgensen would spend the next two years teaching at the University of Hiroshima, founded in the wake of the dropping of the atomic bomb on that city in 1945. Thus began an incredible journey for a kid from the Midwest. As a work of history, his book O Tomodachi (Friend) provides a perspective on postwar Japan that is both historical and accessible. As memoir, O Tomodachi gives readers a wonderful sense of what it was like for a young American to go off to a foreign land.

Bucket List

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Tara Jones’ “100 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die,” courtesy photo

Tara Jones, owner of the super- fun Eat This, Shoot That! food and photo tour company, has written an excellent guidebook for tourists and locals alike. 100 Things to Do in Santa Barbara Before You Die is a great guide for going off the beaten path and experiencing Santa Barbara like a local. Find one of the best burritos in town inside a liquor store, float over the Santa Ynez Valley in a hot air balloon, knock back a cold brew with the animals at the zoo, or get a massage in a salt cave to discover just how diverse Santa Barbara can be. From kids to adults and luxurious to inexpensive, this book is a great way to explore your own little piece of paradise.

Young & Young-at-Heart

The Extraordinary Pony Cover

Alana Clumeck’s “The Extraordinary Pony,” courtesy photo

Written and illustrated by Santa Ynez resident Alana Clumeck, The Extraordinary Pony is a vibrantly illustrated life-lesson tale that reminds every child to dream big and that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.

My Pet Cloud front cover

Kisha Gianni’s “My Pet Cloud,” courtesy photo

A sweet and magical story about a little boy and his pet cloud, My Pet Cloud is written by local interior designer Kisha Gianni and illustrated by her mother, Lyn Gianni. It speaks to a child’s sense of wonder, imagination, friendship and the ability to trust.

Sojourner Kincaid Rolle’s The Mellow Yellow Global Umbrella is a fanciful collection of poems by the City of Santa Barbara’s poet laureate, captivatingly illustrated by artist Karen Folsom.

This story was originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

The Joy of Food: Leela Cyd’s Latest Artful Adventure

By Leslie Dinaberg

Cookbook author and photographer Leela Cyd, in her home kitchen. Photo courtesy Leela Cyd.

Cookbook author and photographer Leela Cyd, in her home kitchen. Photo courtesy Leela Cyd.

Food, fun and friends are, without a doubt, the best ingredients for any kind of gathering, and Leela Cyd’s new book—Food With Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings—is packed with culinary inspiration, gorgeous photography and mouthwatering recipes.

A former personal chef, Cyd is now an accomplished writer-photographer (and contributor to Seasons) and runs the video production company, David Lee Studios, with her husband, David Kilpatrick, in addition to completing numerous editorial assignments and photographing other people’s cookbooks—but this is the first book of her own.

“It’s been a dream since I was a kid. I was always reading cookbooks before I went to bed and pouring over books,” she enthuses. “Food is the thing I daydream about. When I’m on my bike, I’m like, ‘ooh there’s lavender. I should pick that and then I’ll cook the leaves and then I have lemons and I’ll definitely make a shortbread later with the lavender,’” she laughs. “That’s just the way that I got wired.”

Still, when approached by a book agent, Cyd mulled over the proposal for a long time. “I wanted to do something about how I cook, which is about simple food that has something special. It’s just one yummy little bite, a moment of joy and pleasure, which, fortunately, with food you have to do a few times a day, until I create a moment that’s happy and beautiful, it’s a real treasure. Nothing in the book is hard to make. I don’t know how to cook really fussy food. Everything is imperfect and beautiful that way. It’s about the company you keep.”

She continues, “The way to be communal is to feed people and be fed, and it’s even more important now, at this time when we’re so fractured and so outwardly connected but not always really connecting. …Plus, I love that it’s still a beautiful object in this technological age, a cookbook is still a relevant, beautiful thing. …It just warms my heart to no end that this will live and breathe and hopefully be sloppy with sauce in someone’s kitchen.”

Leela Cyd (LeelaCyd.com) will sign copies of Food With Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings on Apr. 16, from 4–6 p.m. at Potek Winery, 406 E. Haley St.

Sugar Cookies With Edible Flowers, photo by Leela Cyd.

Sugar Cookies With Edible Flowers, photo by Leela Cyd.

From Food with Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings by Leela Cyd
SUGAR COOKIES WITH EDIBLE FLOWERS
Makes about 3 dozen 2-inch cookies.

COOKIES
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 sticks (½ pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface and rolling pin
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

CANDIED FLOWERS
3 to 4 dozen organic, untreated, edible blossoms (pansies, dianthus, rose petals, calendula, chrysanthemum, lavender, cosmos, or echinacea are all good options)
1 large pasteurized egg white, lightly beaten
¼ cup turbinado sugar

These flower cookies are one of the charming desserts I hold dearest. They remind me of something Lewis Carroll’s Alice might encounter, long after she falls down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Pansies, sugar and butter are happy companions—their collective flavor sings and their beauty bewitches. I sometimes make them just for me, to add sparkle and delight to my afternoon tea ritual. When friends come over and these darlings appear, squeals and gasps abound.

PREPARE THE COOKIES: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the crème fraîche, butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla and egg until combined.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture and lemon zest to the butter mixture and beat until evenly incorporated.

On a floured work surface, shape the dough into two 5-inch round disks, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or parchment, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. (Alternatively, you can freeze the disks, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge for a day before using.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it rest on the counter for 5 minutes.

Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Give the disks a few whacks with the rolling pin to soften them slightly. Roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Working quickly so the dough won’t soften too much, use cookie cutters to punch out whatever shapes you like. Transfer the cookies to the prepared sheets, rerolling the dough scraps as you go to cut out more cookies.

Bake the cookies for 9 minutes, until the cookies are set but still pale and underdone. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Leave the oven on and set the lined baking sheets aside.

CREATE THE CANDIED FLOWERS: Set up a work station. Gather your edible flowers together. Place the egg white in a small bowl and the turbinado sugar in a second small bowl. Set out a small paintbrush. Gently dunk a flower in the egg white, taking care to get egg white in between the petals for an even pressing, then press the flower into the cookie. The delicate petals may curl up, but smooth them down with your finger. When the flower is as flat as possible, use the paintbrush to brush a thin coating of additional egg white over the entire surface of the cookie. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of the turbinado sugar. Transfer the flower-topped cookies back to the baking sheets as you work.

Return the cookies to the oven and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Note: Make sure to purchase edible, untreated, organic flowers for this, or grow your own. Keep in mind, the colors of the flowers you select will darken, as you bake them, giving an antique color effect.

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

CALM Celebrates 30 Years of Celebrity Authors and Unforgettable Stories

Frances Schultz will be interviewed at CALM's annual Celebrity Author's Luncheon, photo by Tiffany Evitts.

Frances Schultz will be interviewed at CALM’s annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon, photo by Tiffany Evitts.

Always one of our favorite literary and philanthropic events, the CALM Auxiliary‘s  30th Annual Celebrity Authors Luncheon on April 2 is a benefit for CALM’s (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) vital programs across the county that help prevent child abuse and treat children and families who have suffered from violence and abuse.

This year’s event features interviews and book signings by a variety of critically acclaimed writers, including Meg Waite Clayton, Gregg Hurwitz, and Frances Schultz (featured on the cover of Santa Barbara Seasonscurrent spring 2016 issue).

The event, which starts with book sales and signings at 10 a.m. at The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort (633 E. Cabrillo Blvd.), also includes a lunch (11:45 a.m.) and author interviews (12:45 p.m.) with Clayton, Hurwitz and Schultz.

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Meg Waite Clayton is the author of five novels, including The Race for Paris and The Wednesday Sisters, one of Entertainment Weekly‘s 25 Essential Best Friend Novels of all time. Her first novel, The Language of Light, was a finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (now the PEN/Bellwether). She’s written for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Runner’s World and public radio, often on the subject of the particular challenges women face. Clayton’s new novel was 15 years in the making and inspired by real women journalists who defied military regulations and gender barriers to report on WWII.

Meg Waite Clayton will be interviewed at CALM's annual Celebrity Author's Luncheon, courtesy photo.

Meg Waite Clayton will be interviewed at CALM’s annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon, courtesy photo.

Gregg Hurwitz is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 thrillers, most recently, Orphan X. His novels have been shortlisted for numerous literary awards, graced top ten lists, and been translated into 26 languages. He is also a New York Times bestselling comic book writer, having penned stories for Marvel (Wolverine, Punisher) and DC (Batman, Penguin). Additionally, he’s written screenplays for or sold spec scripts to many of the major studios, and written, developed, and produced television for various networks.

Frances Schultz, journalist, tastemaker, world traveler, hostess, Southerner, Sunday painter, and outdoors lover, is an enthusiast on decoration and design, food and entertaining, travel and style. She is author and co-author of several books, including The Bee Cottage Story—How I Made a Muddle of Things and Decorated My Way Back to Happiness. A contributing editor to House Beautiful magazine and former editor-at-large for Veranda, she has also written for The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country, Indagare and The New York Social Diary. She was the on-air host for six years of the award-winning cable television show Southern Living Presents and has appeared on The Today Show, The Nate Berkus Show, CNN’s Open House and many others. With husband Tom Dittmer, dog Stella, assorted horses and critters, she lives in the Santa Ynez Valley with visits to Manhattan and summers at Bee Cottage in East Hampton.

Andrew Firestone is serving once again as Master of Ceremonies. Hank Phillippi Ryan, an interviewed author at last year’s luncheon, returns to the stage this year alongside Tom Weitzel, to interview the 2016 celebrity authors.

Greg Hurwitz will be interviewed at CALM's annual Celebrity Author's Luncheon, courtesy photo.

Greg Hurwitz will be interviewed at CALM’s annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon, courtesy photo.

In addition to the interviewed authors, these authors will also attend the event and be available for book signing:

Melissa Broughton, Cowboy Dad: Love, Alcoholism, and a Dying Way of Life

Jane Coleman, Life Is All About Range

Lydia Edwards, Odyssey of Innocents

Margarita Fairbanks, Valentino, The Love Bunny

Jeff Farrell, My Olympic Story, Rome 1960

Lisa Guadagno, The Lucky Ones

Dana Kent, Brussels to Beirut to Bali: The 1958 World Travels of Four Girls in a Second-Hand Chevy

Peggy O’Toole, Then I Won’t Seem So Far Away

Chris Messner, Cuba Open From the Inside, Travels in the Forbidden Land

Tracy Shawn, The Grace of Crows

M.L. VanBlaricum, Reflections in a Boomer’s Eye

Ernie WithamWhere Are Pat and Ernie Now? A Santa Barbara Couple’s Humorous Travel Adventures

“The CALM Auxiliary is very proud to have hosted such a wonderful community event for 30 years. We have been so lucky to have had some of the greatest authors donate their time and talent, all the while supporting CALM’s important cause. The entire Auxiliary has been behind this project from the start and we couldn’t do our job without every one of them. We feel fortunate to be involved and are proud to help CALM in its mission to protect children and families from abuse,” say event co-chairs Becky Cohn and Carolyn Gillio.

For tickets and event information, please call 805/969-5590 or click here.  All ticket proceeds and a percentage of book sales will benefit CALM, the only nonprofit in Santa Barbara County focused solely on preventing and treating child abuse. CALM was founded in 1970 to reach stressed parents before they hurt their children.  CALM continues to be the only nonprofit agency in Santa Barbara County focusing solely on preventing, assessing, and treating child abuse and family violence through comprehensive, cutting-edge programs.  CALM offers children, families, and adults a safe, non-judgmental, caring, and strength-based environment to heal and increase family well-being.  For more information about all of CALM’s services, please call 805/965-2376 or visit www.calm4kids.org.

Leslie Dinaberg

 Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine on March 22, 2016.