I love to cook and I love cookbooks so I was thrilled when TLC Book Tours offered to send me a copy of The Art of Escapism Cooking by Mandy Lee at no charge for my honest review.
About The Art of Escapism Cooking:
In this inventive and intensely personal cookbook, the blogger behind the award-winning ladyandpups.com reveals how she cooked her way out of an untenable living situation, with more than eighty delicious Asian-inspired dishes with influences from around the world.
For Mandy Lee, moving from New York to Beijing for her husband’s work wasn’t an exotic adventure—it was an ordeal. Growing increasingly exasperated with China’s stifling political climate, its infuriating bureaucracy, and its choking pollution, she began “an unapologetically angry food blog,” LadyandPups.com, to keep herself from going mad.
Mandy cooked because it channeled her focus, helping her cope with the difficult circumstances of her new life. She filled her kitchen with warming spices and sticky sauces while she shared recipes and observations about life, food, and cooking in her blog posts. Born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver, she came of age food-wise in New York City and now lives in Hong Kong; her food reflects the many places she’s lived. This entertaining and unusual cookbook is the story of how “escapism cooking”—using the kitchen as a refuge and ultimately creating delicious and satisfying meals—helped her crawl out of her expat limbo.
Illustrated with her own gorgeous photography, The Art of Escapism Cooking provides that comforting feeling a good meal provides. Here are dozens of innovative and often Asian-influenced recipes, divided into categories by mood and occasion, such as:
For Getting Out of Bed
Poached Eggs with Miso-Browned Butter Hollandaise
Crackling Pancake with Caramel-Clustered Blueberries and Balsamic Honey
Buffalo Fried Chicken Ramen
Crab Bisque Tsukemen
For a Crowd
Cumin Lamb Rib Burger
Italian Meatballs in Taiwanese Rouzao Sauce
Wontons with Shrimp and Chili Coconut Oil and Herbed Yogurt
Spicy Chickpea Poppers
Mochi with Peanut Brown Sugar and Ice Cream
Recycled Nuts and Caramel Apple Cake
Every dish is sublimely delicious and worth the time and attention required. Mandy also demystifies unfamiliar ingredients and where to find them, shares her favorite tools, and provides instructions for essential condiments for the pantry and fridge, such as Ramen Seasoning, Fried Chili Verde Sauce, Caramelized Onion Powder Paste, and her Ultimate Sichuan Chile Oil.
About the Author:
Mandy Lee founded her award-winning “angry food blog,” Lady and Pups, in 2012 out of sheer frustration after moving from New York City to Beijing. She and her blog have been featured in numerous publications and sites, including Saveur, FoodandWine.com, CNN.com, Yahoo, Food52, and WashingtonPost.com. She currently lives in Hong Kong with her husband and pups.
Cooking for many people is simply a means to an end. You need to feed your family so you make dinner. For others the kitchen is a retreat – a place to go to get away from the world or from your troubles. There is something very comforting about starting with a list of ingredients and ending with a delicious and nourishing meal or dessert.
I can fully relate to this as when my world imploded I found my solace in the kitchen. Back when my aneurysm was found and I was left with my chronic headache I would often retreat into the kitchen to bake. It would take my mind off of everything going on around me. I could just gather the ingredients, follow (or maybe not follow) the recipe and have a sweet treat at the end. Cooking or baking is never frustrating for me and always comforting. That is why this cookbook made so much sense to me.
The recipes in it are for the most part not of the simple variety. They are the type of recipe that keeps you busy in the kitchen. They are wildly inspired and sound heavenly. I haven’t had an opportunity to try any as of yet as the book arrived just as my husband was leaving for a trip so I couldn’t get to the store for ingredients. I will share one in the near future.
Ms. Lee shares herself along the way; her life and struggles living in China. She is very upfront, funny, and at times profane but reading her stories and recipe intros is worth the time. You get a real understanding of the recipe and its origin.
I don’t know how many of these recipes I will make but it’s a beautiful book that will inspire me to expand my experiences in the kitchen