The Power of Broke

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I’m not particularly a business person, though I do have my own little business that I will hopefully take much farther as the years pass (and the kids get older). I’m definitely not an entrepreneur, at least in the sense of what I consider one. But, I love learning new things, gaining new information on anything and everything, and I am a HUGE fan (my husband also) of Shark Tank.

I was excited to receive “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John because I definitely admire where he started and how far he’s come in business and I definitely take things he says on Shark Tank as words of wisdom (along with all the others).

Chapter One describes what THE POWER OF BROKE actually means and how Daymond John has used that in his business career. He also explains his SHARK point basics which are important points he suggests applying to all types of business, not matter what it is.

Chapters Two through Six are personal stories of successful business people who Daymond John says have used THE POWER OF BROKE from the very beginning of starting their businesses to the apex of them now. Though the types of businesses/careers may be so far apart (food, music, fashion, sports), the principles are still the same and their drive and hunger for success have all pushed them to where they are now.

Within the stories, you will find many important Power Facts and Power of Broke Principles that you can apply to your own budding business or career, but nothing and no one can force the personal drive and hunger you MUST have to get to where the most successful entrepreneurs have gotten.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration and insight into what it takes to start a business or to take the next steps to growing one. It definitely isn’t a step-by-step guide in the traditional sense, but the information you will glean from this is priceless and more information is always better than no information.

The Power of Broke @ Penguin Random House

DISCLAIMER:

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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We Stood Upon Stars: Finding God in Lost Places

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Stories…we all have them, we all tell them, we all listen to them being told. We learn from them, teach with them, and share our lives with those we know and don’t know. We also connect to each other through them. This is why I love this book. You feel a connection to the stories being told, even if they are not your own. And who knows, some of them may become your own, but you’ll have your own version to tell.

“We Stood Upon Stars,” by Roger W. Thompson, is a compilation of essays/stories of Roger and his family as they travel through different areas of the West. Some involve life-changing events, like the story of his grandfather heading out West for a life change during the Depression. Others are purely comedic like the attack of the great sea monster. There is an essence of spirituality as Roger finds God’s presence in nature and in the places he and his family discover. Always, you can find a spirit of adventure and discovery, no matter where he’s traveling.

I also love the hand-drawn maps they’ve included, as they are a great stepping stone for each of us to start our own adventures in discovering places we’ve not yet been. Whatever you are looking for, whether it’s to be inspired, to find some place new to travel to, to find God in places you never thought, or for all of the above, this book is a great addition to anyone’s library and it’s just a fun read, not matter who you are. I hope he comes out with an East version as well, and maybe a few places in between.

DISCLAIMER:

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Vibrant India

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To be honest, I don’t know much, if anything, about Indian cuisine. I’ve only eaten it once (in London, as I was told that was one of the best places to have it), I definitely don’t get cravings for it, and it really isn’t a type of food that is even on my radar. When I do think about it, I always think of heavy food and lots of bread.

Obviously, there are different regions in India and cuisine may differ, but I don’t know that many people realize this. I certainly didn’t before reading this cookbook. On the back of the front cover alone, I have learned so much already: this book is about South Indian food, is full of vegetarian recipes only, and the food from this area is referred to as the “yoga diet” because it’s clean, healthy and light. Completely opposite of what I would have thought. I’m intrigued already.

“Vibrant India,” written by Chitra Agrawal, starts off with a lovely and organized Table of Contents. I do enjoy a good-looking Table of Contents. The book is broken down into: Introduction, How to Use This Book, Breakfast & Light Meals, Salads & Yogurts, Stir-Fries & Curries, Rice & Bread, Soups Stews & Lentils, Festive Bites & Snacks, Sweets & Drinks, Chutneys & Pickles, From Scratch, and a few other important sections specific to Indian cuisine like Hands Over Forks & Knives and a Starter Grocery List.

So what makes South Indian food so different from North? Here are a few differences.

  • Relies on rice and lentils instead of breads and curry
  • Use of fresh coconut and curry leaves
  • What you mostly find and eat in U.S. restaurants is NOT South Indian cuisine
  • Use different spices/spice mixtures – saarina pedi or rasam powder, tamarind
  • Hot drink of choice is coffee made with chicory (not tea or chai)
  • Rooted in strict vegetarian customs of Hindu Brahmins and Ayurveda
  • Light and fresh
  • And much more

Every recipe is vegetarian. Each recipe is specified for seasons and by restrictions like vegan or gluten-free.

In the Indian Cooking Techniques and Tips, Agrawal says that tempering spices is the most important thing she can teach her readers to do. She also includes an extensive list of things included in the South Indian Pantry, such as different spices, chiles, fresh ingredients, sweetening and souring agents, nuts and seeds, lentils and beans, grains, flours, and oils. Finally, there are a few specific kitchen tools she recommends – most are specific to Indian cooking so if you’re serious about getting into South Indian cuisine, you’ll need to invest in a few, if not all, of them.

BREAKFAST AND LIGHT MEALS

These meals are usually savory and spicy.

Recipes include Rice & Lentil Crepe, Steamed Semolina Cake, Steamed Rice and Lentil Cakes, and Spiced Spring Vegetable and Coconut Polenta.

SALADS AND YOGURTS

Consisting of shredded or chopped vegetables, lentils or beans, and fresh ingredients like fresh coconut, lemon, and cilantro, plus spices/seasonings. With yogurt, it is traditional to end a meal with rice and plain yogurt.

Recipes: Root Vegetable and Asian Pear Salad; Cucumber, Sprouted Mung Bean, and Pomegranate Salad; Summer Squash in Herby Coconut Yogurt Curry; and Radish Yogurt Raita.

STIR-FRIES AND CURRIES

These recipes are flexible and you can use what you find at your local markets and what is in season at the time.

Recipes: Cabbage Stir-Fry with Lemon and Curry Leaves; Stir-Fried Corn with Basil and Leeks; and Pineapple and Peppers in Red Coconut Curry.

RICE AND BREAD

A South Indian meal is not a meal without rice. There are many different types of rice to choose from also. Breads are also a big part of South Indian cuisine too.

Recipes: Steamed/Simple Basmati Rice; Lime Dill Rice with Pistachios; Yogurt Rice with Pomegranate and Mint; and Spicy Sweet Potato Buns.

SOUPS, STEWS, AND LENTILS

Lentils are the main protein source for Indian vegetarians. Most of the recipes in this chapter are variations on saaru and huli.

Recipes: Basic Red Lentils; Lemony Lentil Soup; Roasted Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew; and Creamy Yellow Lentils with Tomato and Ginger.

FESTIVE BITES AND SNACKS

This includes special foods made during festivals, as well as snacks, an apparent obsession in Bangalore.

Recipes: Lettuce “Dosa” Wrap with Curried Potato and Chutney; Stuffed Shishito Pepper Fritters; and Festival Trail Mix.

SWEETS AND DRINKS

While many Indian desserts are known for being overly rich and sweet, Agrawal grew up with mostly fruits and toned-down desserts that she still prefers today. South India is also coffee country so it’s no surprise that their traditional hot drink is coffee.

Recipes: Chia Pudding with Roasted Jaggery Blueberries; Summer Peaces in Sweetened Yogurt; Banana, Coconut, and Cardamom Ice Cream; Turmeric Almond Milk; and South Indian Drip Coffee.

CHUTNEYS AND PICKLES

Condiments are important in an Indian meal and both of these things can be used to add flavor to dishes.

Recipes: Cilantro and Coconut Chutney; Meyer Lemon Pickle; Rhubarb Strawberry Pickle; and Spicy Cranberry Relish.

FROM SCRATCH

This chapter involves making your own spice blends. These blends include Saaru/Rasam Powder, Huli/Sambar Powder, and Yangi Baath Powder.

There are so many recipes that I WANT to make and I am eager to add South Indian cuisine into my repertoire of recipes and go-to meals. I like that Agrawal has included a section for meal planning and sample menus. She also includes a starter grocery list to get your pantry ready for a few South Indian meals.

I am so happy I’ve found this book because I feel like a whole world of food that I never knew about has finally come into my life and may also be what I’ve been looking for when it comes to fulfilling yet light meals that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.

I strongly encourage you to pick up this book if you love Indian food, love yoga and Ayurveda, love being a vegetarian/vegan, or just want to add some spice to your life and switch up your meals. You won’t be disappointed.

Vibrant India @ Penguin Random House

DISCLAIMER:

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters

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I’m always intrigued by books that seem to speak about improving your life in ways that aren’t always as step-by-step as self-help books teach. In “The Power of Meaning,” by Emily Esfahani Smith, she brings many viewpoints and stories together to teach us, that through such a wide-range of experiences by many different people, we can find more meaning in our own lives.

Happiness seems to be the unicorn of life we all search for, but few truly find. Happiness can be confusing though, as the author points out. There are life experiences that don’t necessarily give us happy feelings, but are so meaningful that eventually they aid in our long-term happiness. There are also things that make us happy but only for a short while. We need to figure out the balance that works for each one of us.

There are four pillars of meaning, according to Smith: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence.

Belonging:

Belonging is about the need “to find our tribe. A sense of belonging is the most important driver of meaning.”

From the early 1900s, when people thought they were killing their children by giving them too much love due to the spread of germs, to the increased research in behavioral psychology that said the increased deaths were due to lack of love and a lack of children feeling belonging in their “tribes” at home, the idea of belonging is quite important to our connection with those around us and the lives we live.

We still feel the importance of belonging today, especially in a time where phones, computers, video games, television, and other electronic devices keep us in our own little worlds and take over our daily lives. We have decreased our in-person conversations, our time spent with each other is focused on looking at our phones and constantly checking the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or the other hundreds of apps out there. People think they have meaning in their lives through these devices, but are unhappier than ever and are more lonely then ever.

Small moments of “intimacy” are also important and usually require slowing down our lives to make them. For example, instead of rushing in to get a coffee and out again to get to work, we can practice forming brief bonds with those around us by slowing down and making each other feel like humans and maybe a little less alone.

Purpose:

Purpose is such a big word sometimes. When it is included in books about the meaning of life, it can make us think of much bigger, usually unattainable things like world peace, a solution to world hunger, or something like ending homelessness. But more often than not, it means something closer to our purpose to be a good parent or employee or the like; or maybe being the productive one at our office or the motivator or support system; and it can even mean keeping buildings clean (hospitals, schools, workplaces) so that other people can also do their jobs more easily.

“Not all of us will find our calling. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find purpose.”

Storytelling:

“Our story-telling impulse emerges from a deep-seated need all humans share: the need to make sense of the world.”

When we tell stories about ourselves, we are sharing who we are, how we live, and how things could have been different. We also find meaning and inspiration in other people’s stories.

Transcendence:

Transcendence involves going beyond the every day and experiencing a higher reality.

“During transcendent states, two remarkable things happen. First, our sense of self washes away along with all of its petty concerns and desires. We then feel deeply connected to other people and everything else that exists in the world. The result is that our anxieties about existence and death evaporate, and life finally seems, for a moment, to make sense – which leaves us with a sense of peace and well-being.” David Yaden of the University of Pennsylvania.

Growth:

We all have certain sources of pain in our lives that can pose a threat to finding meaning. They can shatter our belief that there is good in the world and they can lead to cynicism and hatred. They can lead to lost relationships, loss of faith, loss of life. But sometimes they can, while leaving deep wounds, make us grow in ways that make us wiser and stronger. If our pillars of belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence are strong, we can build them to be even stronger.

With all the stories from different people of different backgrounds and life experiences, we can all find at least a bit more meaning in our lives. We can maybe look at our “jobs” differently than we had before and find a new respect for them; we can acknowledge those around us who we don’t “see” on a daily basis, maybe take a minute to slow down and say hello or make someone feel like they are important; or make a plan to go out and find our true path if we are stuck in a situation that makes us miserable.

I love how some stories make me relate to experiences and feelings in my own life, while others make me want to strive to find something higher, something more. Other stories are very interesting to read and offer lessons more general than the specific experience. Whatever it is you might be looking for, you can find something in this book. Your life will only be more rich after reading it.

The Power of Meaning @ Penguin Random House

DISCLAIMER:

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Dinner: Changing the Game

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There is no bigger hiccup in my day then realizing I forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner or didn’t make it to the grocery store like I told myself I would. Dinner is something I don’t enjoy making and I’m never really excited about it. Frankly, if I didn’t have a husband and child to feed, I’d be perfectly fine microwaving a Healthy Choice frozen dinner. I’m hoping this book, “Dinner: Changing the Game,” by Melissa Clark, will change that feeling, at least slightly.

Just in the Introduction, I’m hooked. Clark talks about how unconventional our eating habits can be and with good reason. We don’t always want a protein and two veggies for dinner. When I order out, just as she says about herself, sometimes I just order appetizers, sometimes just sides, or maybe no meat at all! And when someone tells me I’ll get more flavor with less work? Count me in.

Before we get to any recipes, you’ll find a list of things to always keep on hand. These include oils, vinegars, and ethnic ingredients such as sumac, harissa, preserved lemons, and kimchi – none of which I actually have on hand. Guess a trip to the store (or stores) is in order.

The book is divided into sections by the main ingredient/idea: chicken, meat, fish & seafood, pasta & noodles, grains, etc. AND the list of recipes is incredible! Over 200 of them! Not only are the recipes impressive, but the photographs  of the meals make you want to dive right in and eat everything you see.

On to the recipes.

CHICKEN:

Whole birds are a great way to get lots of flavor and lots of meat without too much effort, but they’re somewhat intimidating. There are some helpful tips and lots of recipes like Smoky Paprika Chicken, Chicken & Grapes, or Roasted Sumac Chicken.

For those who don’t like to use whole chickens: Thai Chicken Breasts, Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Kumquats, Anchovy Chicken, Za’atar Chicken, or Pizza Chicken (interesting).

MEAT:

If you are tired of chicken, try: Vietnamese-Style Skirt Steak, Korean-Style Stir-Fried Beef, Georgian Lamb Kebabs, Crispy Salt & Pepper Pork, or Pork Scallopini.

THE GRIND:

It’s all about ground meats. Chorizo Pork Burgers, Ginger Pork Meatballs, Seared Sausage & Rhubarb…yum!

FISH & SEAFOOD:

I think I’m going to use these recipes ASAP since I’m in the Lenten season (which means no fish Fridays for all the Catholics). What you’ll find: Anchovy Salmon, Slow-Roasted Tuna, Thai-Style Shrimp Balls, Shrimp Banh Mi, or Warm Squid Salad.

EGGS:

There is a brief tutorial about how to make different types of eggs before you jump in. After, it’s all fun. Shakshuka (made a lot during Passover), Eggs Poached, Japanese Omelet, Frogs & Toads (in a hole – no frogs or toads used), Herbed Parmesan Dutch Baby.

PASTA & NOODLES:

Pretty straightforward chapter. Stovetop Fusilli (with spinach, peas), Cacio E Pepe, Farro Pasta, Fried a Lemon Pasta, Coconut Rice Noodles.

TOFU:

I tried to make tofu once and it was a complete disaster. Haven’t eaten it since and that was probably 8 years ago. I may attempt it again with some of these recipes. They might make me a convert like: Sweet & Sour Tofu, Maple-Roasted Tofu.

BEANS, LEGUMES, & VEGETABLE DINNERS:

Great chapter for vegetarians, those who don’t like a lot of meat, or those who are tired of always eating meat.

Some great ideas: Sweet Potato Dhal, Tomato-Braised White Beans, Black Bean Skillet Dinner, Asparagus Carbonara, Pole Bean Salad, Fried Halloumi, Spicy Beets.

GRAINS:

This group includes rice, farro, quinoa, and other types of grains. There is a small section at the beginning that instructs you how to cook each grain – very helpful, especially if you’ve never cooked some of them.

Some great recipes include the Summer Grain Bowl, Quinoa Egg Bowl (would be great for breakfast), Farro & Crispy Leeks, Farro-Lentil Balls, and Sausage Polenta.

PIZZAS & PIES:

Every pizza recipe must have a recipe for pizza dough. Clark’s pizza dough recipe states you don’t need water from Naples and flour from Italy to have delicious flavor. It just takes time.

Once you have your dough, you can try adding some broccoli rabe, ricotta, and olives, or maybe tomatoes, anchovies, and garlic. There are also a couple pie recipes using puff pastry and phyllo dough.

SOUPS:

I love soups. I don’t make them often, except for my homemade chicken soup that heals your weary soul, but I wish I did. They’re so easy (usually) and full of flavor.

I wish it wasn’t getting hot here because my husband won’t eat soup when it’s warm outside, but if you don’t care, here’s a few to try: Creamy Caramelized Broccoli Soup, Leek &a Tomato & Farro Soup, Rustic Shrimp Bisque, Kimchi Soup, or Watermelon Gazpacho (great for hot weather).

SALADS:

It says this is about salads that mean it so I’m assuming they’re filling and substantial, unlike so many other recipes. For example, a hearty Nicoise Salad with a basil dressing, a Summer Vegetable Salad loaded with veggies and potatoes, Burrata Caprese (one of my absolute favorite meals in this whole entire world!), or a classic Roasted Chicken Salad (like a Cobb sort of).

DIPS, SPREADS, & GO-WITHS:

These recipes would be great to add to meals that need something extra, for use as appetizers at a party (especially a tapas party), or to put together when you don’t quite feel like a traditional dinner.

Recipes include Killer Hummus (I’ve been looking for a good go-to recipe), Carrot Muhammara, Pea Guacamole (hmm…not sure about this), Tuna &a Olive Spread, Spiced Lentil Salad, and a Citrus Salad.

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Overall, I’m really excited to try a bunch of these recipes. The recipes do look involved, as far as ingredients go, but Clark says that after you learn techniques and get used to certain recipes, eventually you’ll be cooking meals quickly and effortlessly. What I really like is the diversity in recipes and the unique ingredients she uses. It spices up how mundane dinner can be and gets you out of your favorite-staples comfort zone.

I hope you give this book a try, especially if you’re a cookbook hound like me. Dinner is something we pretty much eat every night (unless you don’t want to cook and eat a bowl of cereal instead, like we do at our house), so why not make it enjoyable!?

Dinner @ Penguin Random House

DISCLAIMER:

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.