Showing posts with label avocado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label avocado. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Beyond the Point" by Claire Gibson, Served with Hawaiian Ahi Poke and a Recipe for Avocado Salsa

Happy Wednesday! I am very excited to be today's TLC Book Tour stop for the debut novel, Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson. My review of this story of three friends brought together by their time at West Point is accompanied by a dinner inspired by one in the book of Hawaiian Ahi Poke with Avocado Salsa and Corn Tortillas and Mango.


Publisher's Blurb:

Three women are brought together in an enthralling story of friendship, heartbreak, and resilience. Set at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, this is an amazing debut novel.
 
Duty. Honor. Country. That’s West Point’s motto, and every cadet who passes through its stone gates vows to live it. But on the eve of 9/11, as Dani, Hannah and Avery face four grueling years ahead, they realize they’ll only survive if they do it together.

Everyone knows Dani is going places. With athletic talent and a brilliant mind, she navigates West Point’s predominantly male environment with wit and confidence, breaking stereotypes and embracing new friends.

Hannah’s grandfather, a legendary Army general, offers a stark warning about the dangers that lie ahead, but she moves forward anyway, letting faith guide her path. When she meets her soul mate at West Point, the future looks perfect, just as planned.
 
Wild child Avery moves fast and doesn’t mind breaking a few rules (and hearts) along the way. But she can’t outpace her self-doubt, and the harder she tries, the further it leads her down a treacherous path.

The world—of business, of love, and of war—awaits Dani, Hannah, and Avery beyond the gates of West Point. These three women know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But soon, that adage no longer rings true—for their future, or their friendship. As they’re pulled in different directions, will their hard-forged bond prevail or shatter?

Beyond the Point is a heartfelt look at how our closest friends can become our fiercest battle buddies. After all, the greatest battles we fight rarely require a uniform.

Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (April 2, 2019)

My Review:

I jumped on this tour because having spent time at a local university and community college, I am always intrigued by books with more revered university settings, and then when you add that the three women, Dani, Avery, and Hannah, meet as plebes at the West Point just added to the appeal. My dad was in the Navy well before I was born and my nephew is in the Navy now, but military life is a world I know little about. Although Beyond the Point covers those subjects well, it is friendship that is at the heart of this novel. Dani, Avery and Hannah all play basketball, but otherwise don't seem to have much in common and each has her own reason for attending West Point and joining the Army. The book is told from their alternating perspectives and covers their final year in high school as they apply to the Point in 2000, through their four years there as their friendship forms and strengthens, then through 2007 as their lives take different paths. 

The characters are well written, not perfect, but easy to root for and the depiction of their friendship and how they come together feels realistic, as does their friendship after graduation as their lives separate and that closeness is put to the test. I found myself caught up in their stories and that the 500+ pages went by quickly, in fact I wanted more time with Hannah, Avery and Dani. There is heartache and heartbreak in their stories, but there is also humor and hope. 

This is the author's debut novel and she paints a vivid portrait of military life and the sacrifices it requires of soldiers and their families. The afterword tells of Gibson's inspiration--she grew up at West Point with her father, a lieutenant colonel, on the faculty. Her passion for the subject and appreciation for the cadets, particularly the women, shine through and there are excerpts and photos of her interviews with three Women of West Point. I found myself as engaged by the afterward as I was with the book. If you like novels with strong female characters, stories about friendship, and books with a military setting, add Beyond the Point to your reading list.  

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Author Notes: Claire Gibson is a writer and journalist based in Nashville, Tennessee. Born and raised at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, she grew up captivated by cadets and always dreamed of writing a story that honored her childhood home and the women that inspired her there. Her stories have been featured in The Washington PostThe Christian Science MonitorThe Tennessean and Entrepreneur Magazine, among many other publications.

Find out more about Claire at her website, and connect with her Twitter and Instagram.

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Food Inspiration:

There was plenty of food in Beyond the Point, mostly meals eaten at West Point or shared with family and friends. Food mentions included pie (like strawberry-rhubarb, pumpkin and chicken pot pie), barbecued ribs, a salad of spinach and chard with lemon-garlic dressing, crusty homemade baguettes with soft salted butter, cake, three kinds of cheese on a platter, homemade cinnamon rolls, pierogies, lemon-pepper chicken, pancakes and eggs, homemade chili, brownies and ice cream, vegetable lasagna, roast chicken with tabbouleh, grilled salmon with mango slaw, and cookie dough ice cream, pizza, Cheez-Its, spaghetti, French toast and coffee, gin and tonic, oatmeal, green juice, lemonade, cereal, Ben & Jerry's Phish Food Ice Cream, filets mignons in butter, roasted broccoli, salmon, Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, sweet potatoes, roasted corn, fresh broccoli, creamed spinach, and acorn squash stuffed with mushrooms and rice, a Middle Eastern dinner of lamb with sauces, tandori bread, yogurt sauce, chopped mint and preserved lemon, falafel, rice and steamed greens, meatloaf with red sauce, fish and chips, an undressed Caesar salad with chicken, a Nutella crepe, fettuccine noodles with butter, fried chicken, apple fritters, eggs over easy, a smoothie and Subway sandwiches. 


For my book-inspired dish, I ended up recreating an island meal shared by Dani, Hannah, and Avery and put together some local Hawaii favorites. I liked the fact that the three women were together and when poke comes up in a book, you know I am going to feed my addiction.

"Dinner's ready."

"Avery came to the patio holding a bowl of ahi tuna poke that she'd purchased from a shop on the way home from the beach. She placed it at the center of the patio table. Dani emerged from the kitchen, her hair back to a large, natural Afro. She added a bowl of mango, corn tortillas, and her famous avocado salsa to the assortment. With her strange restrictive diet, Dani had become quite the chef. Avery put a pitcher of margaritas on the table, and suddenly, a memory came to Hannah's mind."


I left out the margaritas--I rarely drink on "school" nights, and I grabbed poke from the grocery store and frozen mango (none of the fresh ones were ripe). All I needed to do was chop the ingredients for the salsa, open a bag of cabbage mix and toast some tortillas on my gas stove, and dinner was served. 


Avocado Salsa
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 to 4)

1/2 red onion, diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 ripe avocado, chopped
the juice of two limes
a generous glug of olive oil
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss until well mixed. Serve and enjoy.


Notes/Results: I topped the grilled tortillas with the cabbage mix, the avocado salsa and the poke for poke tostadas which were delicious. I am not that big on fruit and fish combined, so I ate the mango on the side. Everything was fresh and vibrant and it was a very low effort meal--perfect for a busy week. My leftovers came together in a salad for lunch today as both the poke and the avocado in the salsa are best as fresh as possible.


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "Beyond the Point" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Woman in the Lake" by Nicola Cornick, Served with an Avocado Caprese Salad

Happy Thursday and the last day of February. It's hard to believe that tomorrow, March begins. Easing my way into the month, I am happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick. Accompanying today's book review is a tasty Avocado Caprese Salad, inspired by the book.


Publisher's Blurb:

London, 1765

Lady Isabella Gerard, a respectable member of Georgian society, orders her maid to take her new golden gown and destroy it, its shimmering beauty tainted by the actions of her brutal husband the night before.
 
Three months later, Lord Gerard stands at the shoreline of the lake, looking down at a woman wearing the golden gown. As the body slowly rolls over to reveal her face, it’s clear this was not his intended victim…
 
250 Years Later…

When a gown she stole from a historic home as a child is mysteriously returned to Fenella Brightwell, it begins to possess her in exactly the same way that it did as a girl. Soon the fragile new life Fen has created for herself away from her abusive ex-husband is threatened at its foundations by the gown’s power over her until she can’t tell what is real and what is imaginary.
 
As Fen uncovers more about the gown and Isabella’s story, she begins to see the parallels with her own life. When each piece of history is revealed, the gown—and its past—seems to possess her more and more, culminating in a dramatic revelation set to destroy her sanity.

Paperback: 320 Pages
Publisher: Graydon House; Original edition (March 1, 2019)

My Review:

This is my first novel from Nicola Cornick and I enjoyed it. I am a fan of dual stories and time periods and the the intriguing story of the malevolent yellow gown, that seems to bring out the worst in people--whether in 1765 or 2015. The Gothic feel and supernatural-horror vibe were a great combination with the historical aspects. I did feel like I wanted a deeper dive into some of the history with the house, the smuggler, the dress, etc. In  having the two eras with three different perspectives--Lady Isabella and her maid Constance in the past, and Fenella in the present, it's hard to get all of the detail in 320 pages. I did like the pacing and the twists and turns the story took. Cornick does a good job of vivid descriptions and setting a creepy tone that made for a few shivers on the windy and rainy evenings we have been having. I like that Lady Isabella was inspired by a real-life Lady Diana Spencer, an artist born in 1734, and that she had me Googling to learn more about her. If you like British history, mystery, supernatural elements and a quick, atmospheric and ultimately satisfying read, give The Woman in the Lake a try.
 
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Author Notes: USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over 40 historical romances and now writes Gothic time slip for HQ and Graydon House.
Nicola’s writing is inspired by her love of history and was fostered by a wonderful history teacher and by her grandmother, whose collection of historical romantic fiction fed Nicola’s addiction from an early age. She studied in London and Oxford and works as a guide and historian in a 17th century house as well as acting as a historical adviser for TV and radio. Publisher’s Weekly have described her as a rising star and her books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and for the Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.

Nicola lives near Oxford with her husband and dog. When she isn’t writing she enjoys long walks in the countryside, singing in a choir and volunteering as a puppy walker for Guide Dogs. 

You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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 Food Inspiration:

Although not a prominent part of either time period, there was food and drink mentioned throughout the book that included sweet sherry, a spaniel named "Scampi" (made me think of shrimp scampi), canned baked beans, shepherd's pie, tea and toast, champagne, crepes and croissants, bread, cheese, chicken pie, apples and pears, biscuits, coffee (including a flat white), lemonade, BLT and cream cheese and smoked salmon sandwiches, orange juice, rosé wine, brandy, hot chocolate, apple juice, French onion soup, guacamole, sour cream dip and cucumber sandwiches, and marmalade and a breakfast roll.


I ended up taking my recipe inspiration from a salad Fen made before meeting work friends for drinks, early in the story, before she opens the package from her sister containing the golden gown. I love a good caprese salad of mozzarella, tomato and basil and like to add an avocado sometimes too. It also sounded like a perfect weeknight dinner and luckily good cherry and grape tomatoes and fresh basil are plentiful year-round here, so I didn't have to wait for summer.

"As she tossed some basil, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and avocado into a bowl and sloshed in some olive oil, Fen caught sight of the parcel, still sitting on the table, waiting."


I don't know that you really need a recipe for this salad, but this is what I did. I will say that I am not a big balsamic fan so I tend to use my bottle of champagne vinegar or rice vinegar for salads like this. Use what you prefer, cut things the size you like--you really can't go wrong here.

Avocado Caprese Salad
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2 or more as a side)

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks
2 medium avocados cut into 3/4 chunks
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp champagne or rice vinegar
sea salt flakes and fresh ground black pepper to taste 

Gently toss tomatoes, mozzarella, avocado, basil, oil, and vinegar together in a bowl, Season to taste with flaked sea salt and black pepper. Divide into serving bowls and serve immediately. 


Notes/Results: Just a few simple ingredients but when they are fresh, you don't need much more. My avocados were a tad over-ripe but I think it works in their favor as they melt a little into the olive oil and vinegar, making a a creamy and delicious dressing.Bread would be excellent with this salad, or like me--you can eat it from the serving bowl, on the couch, and enjoy a bit of #metime with a good book. (Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the cool bookmark in the first picture!) ;-)


Linking this salad up at this week's Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen, where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sandwich creation.


I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Note: A review copy of "The Woman in the Lake" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
 
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.
 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

(Vegan) Southwestern Vegetable, Bean and Corn Chowder for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Today we have sunshine...finally, but this chowder with its bright colors entered my mind during a week with lots of gray and rain. I wanted something bright, healthy but hearty and contained lots of beans and veggies. I was craving something slightly creamy rather than a stew or chili so I settled on a chowder, made vegan but bulked up with plenty of tasty ingredients and of course, fun toppings.


I almost put shrimp in this but decided to keep it vegan. If the beans and hominy aren't enough to satisfy you, you could certainly add them or even some cooked chicken. You could also add rice, change up the milk, and exchange any veggies you want. I kept mine on the medium-mild side of things--more warm-spiced than hot--but there is a definite kick on the end of the bite. Poblanos are generally on the milder side of chili peppers and I used mild green chiles too, but added spice with a chipotle-garlic spice blend, as well as some Aleppo pepper. Just change up your chili peppers to add more heat or serve it with your favorite hot sauce. 

 
Southwestern Vegetable, Bean and Corn Chowder
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 8

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, white & green parts separated
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 large Poblano chili peppers, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons chili pepper blend of choice (I used this one)
1 tsp, or to taste Aleppo pepper, or chili pepper of choice
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt = more to taste
4 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed (about 2 heaping cups)
1 (29 oz) can hominy, rinsed & drained (if you can't find add 2 more cans beans of choice)
1 (15 oz) can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can low-sodium pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4.5) can diced mild green chiles
2 cups frozen corn, defrosted
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can lite coconut milk

To garnish:
sliced avocado
fried tortilla strips or tortilla chips
green onions--green top only, sliced thinly
fresh cilantro leaves

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, white part of green onions, red pepper, poblanos and saute until softened--about ten minutes. Add garlic and all spices and saute another 2 minutes. 

Add potatoes, hominy, beans, green chiles, corn and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir in coconut milk and simmer, partially covered until potatoes and other vegetables are softened, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add as needed.

Ladle into bowls and serve hot with sliced avocado, fried tortilla strips, sliced green onions and cilantro as desired. Serve with hot sauce if desired.


Notes/Results: I am a bit in love (or at least serious like) with this bean and vegetable chowder. It has a savory, slightly smoky broth with a warm, but not to spicy heat from the chili peppers. The corn adds bursts of sweetness and the hominy a pleasant chewiness, while the creamy avocado and crisp fried tortilla strips on top add their own welcome variations to the texture. The beans add fiber and protein and keep it satisfying--although not too heavy, making it great for whatever season or weather you might be having. I'll be happily enjoying this all week and would make it again.


We have some tasty dishes waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen, let's have a look!


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared a tasty sandwich, this Grilled Chicken Gyro and said, "This is the sandwich I was attempting to linkup with Deb's Souper Sunday for last week. Seriously delicious is grilled chicken with tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, lettuce and onions.  Flatbread is sturdy enough to hold all this without having too much breading. Bring it on."



Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen made Black Beans and Tempeh Chile and said, "The tempeh in this Black Turtle Beans Chili made for a pleasant change. Neither of us are that keen on tempeh, but we enjoyed the texture it added. We not only enjoyed it over white Basmati rice, but also as Enchiladas and also straight out of a bowl with a spoon."



Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought an Open-Faced Sandwich with Roasted Veggies and said, "Looking for a quick but healthy lunch idea? Open faced sandwiches hit the spot! I had some leftover roasted vegetables from the roasted vegetable tray I made for company last night, so I decided to make myself a treat for lunch."



Kim of Stirring the Pot made Giada's Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde Bruschetta and said, "Not only is this a gorgeous bruschetta, with colors resembling the Italian flag, but it's also bursting with flavor and texture. I loved biting into the crunchy ciabatta bread and tasting all the elements: the hint of char on the bread, the bright fresh flavor from kale salsa verde, the sweet chewy sun-dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and decadently creamy and luscious burrata cheese. I want another piece just thinking about it!"


Thanks to everyone who joined me this week at Souper Sundays!

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.)

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:

  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on the post you link up to be included.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).




Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Ina's Roasted (Or Pan-Seared) Salmon Tacos with Cabbage-Cucumber Slaw & Mashed Avocado

I was craving tacos and salmon and Ina Garten has a recipe the combines both and sounded great for an easy Friday night dinner. I made a few small changes to the recipe, including reducing the quantities and pan-searing the salmon as I didn't want to bother with turning on the oven for a couple of pieces of fish.


Roasted Salmon Tacos
Slightly Adapted from Cooking For Jeffrey by Ina Garten & FoodNetwork.com
(Serves 6)

Ingredients for the slaw:
3/4 lb green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1/2 seedless cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed & very thinly sliced
1/4 cup good white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp minced fresh dill 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Ingredients for the salmon
olive oil, for greasing the pan
1 3/4 lbs center-cut fresh salmon fillet, skin removed
2 tsp chipotle chile powder (I used a chipotle-garlic spice blend)
1 tsp grated lime zest 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 ripe Hass avocados, seeded and peeled
3/4 tsp Sriracha

 

At least an hour before you plan to serve the tacos, toss the cabbage, cucumber, vinegar, dill, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the cabbage to marinate. 

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush a baking dish with olive oil and place the salmon in it. Mix the chile powder, lime zest, and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Brush the salmon with 1 Tbsp of the lime juice and sprinkle with the chipotle seasoning mixture. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until the salmon is just cooked through. (Note: I followed Ina's steps for seasoning the fish but pan fried mine in a bit of mac nut oil in a hot pan--searing the salmon on all sides and cooking it until just cooked through.)

Wrap the tortillas in 2 foil packets and place them in the oven with the salmon. (I toasted mine over my gas grill) Roughly mash the avocados with the remaining 2 Tbsp of lime juice, the Sriracha, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  

To serve, lay 2 warm tortillas on each of 6 plates. Place a dollop of the avocado mixture on one side of each tortilla, then some large chunks of salmon, and finally, some of the slaw. Fold the tortillas in half over the filling (they will be messy!) and serve warm.


Notes/Results: I was intrigued by Ina's combination of the different components but it all worked together amazingly well for some really good salmon tacos. I liked the slaw as I am a big dill fan (you could sub in cilantro or another herb if you aren't) and the touch of sriracha in the guacamole--it wasn't too spicy but there was a nice warmth in the back of my throat. They are pretty messy, so have forks and napkins handy--but they are worth a little mess. I think this is one of the healthier Ina recipes I have cooked/come across, so not only are these tacos the way to her husband Jeffrey's heart (our IHCC theme for the week), I think more recipes and dinners like this would be good for Jeffrey's heart health too! ;-) It all goes together quickly once you have your slaw chilled and tastes great and so I would happily make this recipe again.  


Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are cooking The Way to Jeffrey's Heart this week--Ina's recipes that her husband Jeffery loves--which I think pretty much means any Ina recipe! You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.  

Since this recipe features slaw--a salad, and tacos are sandwich-like, I am linking to Souper Sundays here at Kahakai Kitchen. Every Sunday, I round up delicious soups, salads & sandwiches that are linked up on that week's post. You can see the details of how to join in on this week's post.


 Happy Aloha Friday!
 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Disrobed" by Syl Tang, Served with a Recipe for Avocado Toast with Cream Cheese, Pickled Onions, Egg & 'Everything Bagel' Seasoning

A little break from all of the fiction I've been reviewing, I am excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for Disrobed: How Clothing Predicts Economic Cycles, Saves Lives, And Determines the Future by Syl Tang. It's a quick, informative and entertaining read that may make you think twice before you go shopping. Accompanying my review (sorry Syl Tang but I had to do it!) is the new "blood diamond" of the breakfast table--avocado toast. In this case, my toast is deli-inspired with cream cheese, pickled onions, hard-boiled egg and "Everything Bagel" seasoning blend.


Publisher's Blurb:

We may not often think of our clothes as having a function beyond covering our naked bodies and keeping us a little safer from the elements. But to discount the enormous influence of clothing on anything from economic cycles to the future of water scarcity is to ignore the greater meaning of the garments we put on our backs. Disrobed vividly considers the role that clothing plays in everything from natural disasters to climate change to terrorism to geopolitics to agribusiness. Chapter by chapter, Tang takes the reader on an unusual journey, telling stories and asking questions that most consumers have never considered about their clothing. Why do banker’s wives sell off their clothes and how does that presage a recession? How is clothing linked to ethanol and starvation on the African continent? Could RFID in clothing save the lives of millions of people in earthquakes around the world?

This book takes an everyday item and considers it in a way that readers may not have previously thought possible. It tackles topics relevant to today, everything from fakes in the museums to farm-to-table eating, and answers questions about how we can anticipate and change our world in areas as far-reaching as the environment, politics, and the clash of civilizations occurring between countries. Much like other pop economics books have done before, the stories are easily retold in water-cooler style, allowing them to be thoughtfully considered, argued, and discussed.

Hardcover: 182 pages  
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 16, 2017)

My Review:

I have a fascination for how often seemingly different things link together so when I read the description of Disrobed, a book that looks at how what we wear and fashion trends can influence and impact economic cycles, the earth, our safety, and even what we eat, I was excited to hop on the book tour for it. I wasn't familiar with the author Syl Tang, who is both a journalist and a futurist, predicting trends and documenting the effects on world events. 

Disrobed is a quick (less than 200 pages) and thought-provoking read, that although is full of facts and details, keeps them entertaining and doesn't get bogged down. The book kicks off with how clothing trends predicted the 2016 election (as well as  the 2008 election). It shows how every fashion choice we make can have lasting ramifications. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I learned from Disrobed with Tang's almost conversational style. Even the chapter titles and taglines: "Can Clothing save the Lives of Millions?: Can existing wearable technology alter the death rate of natural disasters?" or "Burkinis and the Clash of Civilizations: How terrorism, clothing, and travel became inextricably linked." drew me in and had me anticipating each chapter. It's obvious Tang put in a lot of research--there are over 30 pages of notes supporting her findings and arguments in the back of the book. Most of her points are covered well, but it also inspired me to hit up Google to find more information on some of the topics I wanted more detail on. 

Although I have some interest in fashion, you don't need to be a fashionista in order to appreciate Disrobed. Those with an interest in current events, technology, the environment, and the world will find it fascinating reading. Tang says that "clothing has the ability to take the pulse of the world in any given moment..." and also points out "That clothing is a part of so many aspects of our daily lives, our messaging, our choices, our struggles, and our wars provides an unparalleled tool." She leaves how the reader uses that tool up to them. I have a feeling that I will be thinking about Tang's points, observing fashion's impact more closely and thinking about the choices I make and the small actions (microactions) I take that can contribute to a huge global impact.

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Author Notes: Syl Tang is CEO and founder of the 19-year old HipGuide Inc. A futurist, her focus is how and why we consume, with an eye towards world events such as natural disasters, geo-political clashes, and pandemics. She has written hundreds of articles on the confluence of world events and soft goods for the Financial Times, predicting and documenting trends such as the Apple watch and other smart wearables, lab-made diamonds, the Department of Defense’s funding of Afghan jewelry companies, the effects of global warming on South Sea pearls, and the unsolved murder of tanzanite speculator Campbell Bridges. Her brand consulting work focuses on helping companies including Diageo, Revlon and the State of Michigan. She is behind the launches of some of the most well-known beauty, beverage, automotive and urban development efforts including category changers such as frozen alcohol and mineral makeup. In addition to developing her site, in 1999 she created the first mobile lifestyle texting product in the market and predicted mobile couponing as it exists today. Her company HipGuide is a case study taught in universities around the world, from Dubai to Nova Scotia to Purdue, through a textbook series.

Find Syl on Twitter, as well as Instagram, @hipguide and @disrobedbook.

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Food Inspiration:

You might think there is no food in a book about clothing but in fact there is. There's a discussion on the boom in speakeasy style bars and 'mixologists' pouring botanically infused cocktails.  a whole chapter "Is Your Cotton Shirt Causing Starvation?" that centers around its tagline "Food or clothing; we might not be able to have both" that talks about how some of the popular food trends and topics are related to clothing trends--like foraging, farm-to-table, GMOs, and how the competition for land to grow food or cotton for clothing could be causing famine somewhere in the world.  

I found the inspiration for my book-inspired dish in my favorite breakfast which turns out to be  not the best choice for the planet--or as Tang puts it--"Why avocado toast is the new blood diamond." I won't go into all of the details but it is both interesting and entertaining and more than a bit sobering, the effect the avocado toast craze has had. Tang notes that the Instagram craze "led to a surge of an additional ninety-six thousand households buying avocados," as well as avocado thefts in New Zealand, a deforestation of pine trees to make room for avocados in the mountains of Mexico, the funding of drug cartels, and even cites a Wall Street Journal that "equates the fruit to conflict diamonds."


I do love me some avocado toast and probably average eating it twice a week, once at my local coffee shop, and once at home copycatting my local coffee shop's recipe. Will I stop after reading this book? Likely I will not, but I will think more about it and maybe switch my avocado buying to local avocados (when I can find good ones). This is my favorite avocado toast recipe but since I have already posted it, I wanted to do something different and also find another use for the bottle of Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend I grabbed the last time I was in Portland and got a chance to go to Trader Joe's. I added cream cheese (or technically labne or yogurt cheese), pickled red onions, and softly-boiled eggs--so the yolks are still 'jammy' to round out my toast.


There is no real recipe for this toast. Although if you have no Trader Joe's near you and didn't happen to grab their Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend the last time you were near one like I did, you can easily make your own using this recipe from Food Network. You can also find the recipe for Rick Bayless's lime-pickled red onions here.

Basically, I spread my bread of choice with a thin layer of labne (or use cream cheese), topped it with thinly-sliced avocado, some pickled red onions, a few slices of the "jammy-yolked" hard-boiled egg, and sprinkled the Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend on top.


Notes/Results: Probably no avocado toast will hold the same space in my heart as my regular one with spicy garlic aioli, but this is a great alternative. I had experiment with the pickled onions on avo toast before and love the tart lime with the creamy slices of avocado, and it only gets better with the cream cheese, hard-boiled egg, and seasoning spice. A great mix of flavors and textures and a satisfying breakfast of lunch--I would happily make it again. Yes, I do feel a bit bad about making and eating avocado toast after listening to Tang's arguments--there definitely is a cause and effect to all of our choices and microactions. OK, maybe I'll go down to once a week avocado toast...


I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


And at Souper Sundays, hosted right here at Kahakai Kitchen. Each Sunday we feature delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches from friends around the blogosphere--please join in if you have any to share. Here's this week's post and linkup

 

Note: A review copy of "Disrobed" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.