Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you choose to celebrate! This is the time of year to come together to celebrate peace, joy and goodness in all. Treasure the blessings that you have and the moments together. I am taking a break from blogging and reassess my plans for the future of my blog as I want to enjoy the pure pleasure of reading a book and not the pressure of deadlines to review books. I am reading books of my own choosing and off my shelves for now. I hope to be back to blogging and I want everyone to know that I appreciate your support and comments and visiting my blog. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Review: The Pub Across The Pond by Mary Carter

About the book:
“Sometimes leaving home is the only way to find where you belong….” 
Carlene Rivers is many things. Dutiful, reliable, kind. Lucky? Not so much. At thirty, she’s living a stifling existence in Cleveland, Ohio. Then one day, Carlene buys a raffle ticket. The prize: a pub on the west coast of Ireland. Carlene is stunned when she wins. Everyone else is stunned when she actually goes.

My Thoughts:

When I read the synopsis of The Pub Across The Pond I knew that I had to read it....a young woman, living in Cleveland, Ohio wins a pub in Ireland.  I live outside the Cleveland area and am not Irish but I enjoy reading about Ireland and Irish fiction. The Pub Across The Pond is a delightful, fun read that will take you from the states to the coast of Ireland to experience the beauty and culture of the Irish. Carlene is trying to find her way in life, her purpose so to speak after losing her mother at a young age and helping her father who has secrets untold about her mother. I enjoyed this story full of wonderful, quirky characters as well as romance and the backdrop of the beauty of Ireland. 

Check out this wonderful Book Trailer about The Pub Across The Pond:

MARY CARTER is a freelance writer and novelist. The Pub Across the Pond is her fifth novel with Kensington. Her other works include:  My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside BluesShe’ll Take It, andAccidentally Engaged.  In addition to her novels she has written two novellas: A Very Maui Christmas in the best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the best selling anthology Almost Home. She is currently working on a new novel for Kensington.
Readers are welcome to visit her at

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book! for providing a copy of the book for review. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Review & Giveaway: Don't Sing at the Table by Adriana Trigiani

About the book:

New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani’s gift for illuminating the profound challenges and issues defining women’s lives has propelled her novels to the top of bestseller lists and earned her a wide, devoted readership. Now, she shares the roots of those insights—the wisdom handed down to her from her unforgettable grandmothers, Lucia and Viola, which she began collecting for her own daughter—with readers everywhere.
Filled with practical, sage advice, and infused with Trigiani’s trademark warmth, love, and humor, Don’t Sing at the Table introduces a pair of feisty, intelligent, and strong forces of nature whose lives embody the story of 20th-century America itself. Between them, the extraordinary Lucia and Viola lived through the century from beginning to end, surviving immigration, young widowhood, single motherhood, four wars, and the Great Depression. Culled from their remarkable experiences, this heartfelt guide, at turns hilarious and poignant, offers answers to the seminal questions in a woman’s life, from getting married to saving money, nurturing the soul to keeping calm in a crisis, raising children to finding private comfort.

My Thoughts:

Adriana Trigiani is one of my favorite authors and her novels are some of my all time favorites. I was excited to read her non-fiction book Don't Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from my Grandmothers a biography paying a loving tribute to her two grandmothers who both immigrated from Italy. They both were strong, working women who valued hard work and perseverance and they seemed to maintain a positive attitude about life. Both women had a great influence on the author who gleaned many life lessons from them. She shares these life lessons with the reader through anecdotes, pictures and stories and reflects how these lessons are relevant today and have influenced and formed the person she has become.

I found myself thinking of my own grandmother ( that passed away last summer) throughout the reading of this book.  She was younger than Adriana's grandmothers but she had similar character traits related to hard work, making the most of your time, and she cared for her outward appearance "as a lady should" during this era. My grandmother was still washing and ironing her own clothes in the little laundry room at the nursing home where she lived just a year before she died. She loved ironing (not a trait that I inherited) and I understand that she ironed everything when she was raising her family. She had an abundance of energy, and went back to work full time when my grandfather had a heart attack when they were in their 40's. I just learned from my aunt that she stuffed envelopes in the evening to make extra money, she would do all that she could and got by on little sleep and always had a smile on her face. This passage from the book reminds me of my grandmother whom I miss terribly and think of every day. I feel very fortunate to have had her in my life:

"Whenever I came into the room, she'd light up, so happy to see me. No one ever in the course of my entire life was ever as happy to see me as she was. Looking back, now, I realize that you only ever need one person who lights up that way when you enter a room. One person is all it takes to give a kid confidence." (pg.44)

This is a beautiful tribute from a granddaughter to her grandmothers that celebrates women and family and reminds us of the life lessons that we can all learn from our grandparents. Fans of Adriana Trigiani will adore this book as well as those who enjoy reading biographies and memoirs related to family. There is also a wonderful chapter at the end with bonus recipes from Adriana's grandmothers.

About Adriana Trigiani

Award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker Adriana Trigiani is the author of the bestselling Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine, part of the Valentine series, Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight, part of her new young adult series, as well as the bestselling Big Stone Gap series, and the bestselling novelLucia, Lucia. She also has written and will direct the big-screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Visit Adriana at her website:, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book for review.


Compliments of Harper Collins:
I have one copy of Don't Sing at the Table to give away. 

For 1 Entry: All you have to do is leave a comment hereMake sure to include your email address (no email, no entry)

For a 2nd Entry (Separate Comment):  Follow my blog, you can follow through Google Friend Connect to the left in my side column. If you already do, thank you, and please  make sure to let me know in your comment so I can pass the entry on to you as well. Make sure to include your email address (no email, no entry).

For a 3rd Entry (Separate Comment): Spread the word about this giveaway and Retweet, retweet button below my name at the end of this post. Make sure to include your email address (no email, no entry).

*Open to US & Canada only, NO PO Boxes please.

Enter by November 14 , 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mailbox Monday

~Mailbox Monday~  
is hosted by Savvy Verse and Wit
 during the month of September.
We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring meme (details here).

This is what I received in my mailbox:

When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Snapshot

Saturday Snapshot
 is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books
It's easy to participate - just post a picture 
that was taken by you, a friend, or a family member
 and add your link on Alyce's site. 

I wanted to share this photo I took a few weeks ago when my husband, son and I went to a nearby park that has a gorgeous lake that you can see in this picture. It's a very peaceful place to walk and enjoy the nature and quiet. There is a walking path that takes you around the lake and in the summer you can rent canoes or paddle boats and take them out on the lake. It was a beautiful fall day and I liked how the blue paddle boats and canoes looked against the background of the lake. You can see the leaves on the trees beyond the lake just starting to turn colors. We had a late start to the colorful change of fall leaves here in Ohio due to the excessive amount of rain we've received. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review & Giveaway: Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman, MD

About SUPER IMMUNITY by Joel Fuhrman, MD:
Why do some of us get sick with greater frequency than others?What makes us more susceptible to illness? Are we doomed to get sick when our coworkers and family members do?Is there a secret to staying healthy? 
Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a leading expert and board-certified medical specialist in prevention and reversing disease, offers a comprehensive guide to superior health. 
Based on the latest scientific research, Super Immunity shows us how we can become almost totally resistant to colds, influenza, and other infections. 
The evidence is overwhelming: we can supercharge our immune system to protect our bodies against disease—everything from the common cold to cancer. Nutritional science has made phenomenal strides and discoveries in recent years, and when this new research is applied it enables us to seize control of our health like never before. Dr. Fuhrman explains this new science, providing everything you need to know to put this knowledge into action in your kitchen and in your life. 
What we eat has everything to do with our health, and, unfortunately, too many of us are living with a severely depleted immune function. Our dietary choices are making us sicker, shortening our lives, and costing us billions of dollars in doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription medications. But Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t believe more medical care is the answer. Rather, he explains the solution is to change the way we eat. The standard American diet is nutrient deficient. We are eating too many highly processed foods, foods with added sweeteners, and animal fats and protein. At the same time, we are not eating enough fruits, beans, seeds, and vegetables, which leaves us lacking in hundreds of the most important immune-building compounds. By changing our diets and combining foods that contain powerful immune-strengthening capabilities, we can prevent most common modern diseases.

Super Immunity is not a diet book but a nutritional guide with the intent to boost your immune system which will result in living longer, being stronger and reducing risk of disease. Our society, especially the American society has a diet high in processed foods full of chemicals and ingredients. They are cheaper and convenient, but they deprive our bodies of the nutrients of whole foods from fresh vegetables and fruits. This in turn, effects the way our bodies function and makes us more prone to illness. Many of us are aware of this and are on the search to find a healthier way of eating. 

I was intrigued with the premise of this book and the link to diet and nutrition and its effect on our immune system and ability to fight off colds, flu as well as cancer, heart disease and autoimmune disorders. Dr Fuhrman promotes a nutritarian diet which is a diet rich in micro nutrients. It is a defined as a diet rich in natural plant food which boosts the immune system, naturally lowers weight and fends off illness. Dr Fuhrman supports his claims with significant research and personal stories from patients of his that have benefited from this approach. The nutritarian diet is similar to the vegetarian diet with protein mainly coming from beans/legumes, nuts and seeds. 

The 5 Daily Rules for Super Immunity:

1) Eat one large green salad every day (preferably two)

2) Eat at least a half-cup serving of beans/legumes in soup, salad or a dish once daily

3) Eat at least 3 fresh fruits a day, especially berries, pomegranate, cherries, plums. oranges

4) Eat at least one ounce raw nuts and seeds daily

5) Eat at least one large (double-size) serving of steamed green vegetables daily

Dr Fuhrman includes information on the risk/benefit of the flu shot and how it relates to medical care in general. I found this section to be very informative as he brings to light the important concerns about the risk/benefits and informs the consumer about what is in the flu shot and the concerns related to safety and health concerns. There is a large section in the back of the book dedicated to menus and recipes to go along with this nutritional approach. For me and my family, some of the nutritional changes can be implemented with increasing fruits and vegetables. The approach of encouraging protein sources in the diet from beans/legumes and nuts will not work for my family as our son has life threatening allergies to nuts and legumes and some beans are in the same food family as peanuts which are a risk for our son to eat. This is a nutritional approach that may be healthy for some although those with food allergies need to be aware that this approach may not be safe for them to implement. 

There is a wealth of research to support Dr. Fuhrmans claims that he cites in the book. This is what is different from many health and nutrition books and allows the reader to research further if they so choose. With that said, I did find the scientific benefits helpful to understand his claims although at times it was too much scientific information to hold my interest. I have a medical background and am concerned that this technical approach at times may turn away the novice reader. I have not read Dr Fuhrman's other books to compare them and they may be written in the same style. Dr Fuhrman has written a thorough and well researched book that supports the connection between nutrition and our immune system and its ability to fight off colds and flu as well as other illnesses. 

For more information from Dr. Fuhrman,

 be sure to visit his web site,
 follow him on Facebook & Twitter!

You can also Text keyword "SUPERIMMUNITY"
to READIT (732348) for bonus content.

Thanks to Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of this book for review.


Compliments of Harper Collins:
I have one copy of SUPER IMMUNITY to give away. 

For 1 Entry: All you have to do is leave a comment hereMake sure to include your email address (no email, no entry)

For a 2nd Entry (Separate Comment):  Follow my blog, you can follow through Google Friend Connect to the left in my side column. If you already do, thank you, and please  make sure to let me know in your comment so I can pass the entry on to you as well. Make sure to include your email address (no email, no entry).

For a 3rd Entry (Separate Comment): Spread the word about this giveaway and Retweet, retweet button below my name at the end of this post. Make sure to include your email address (no email, no entry).

*Open to US & Canada only, NO PO Boxes please.

Enter by October 30 , 2011

Mailbox Monday

~Mailbox Monday~  
is hosted by Savvy Verse and Wit
 during the month of September.
We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page, who graciously hosted it for a long, long time, before turning it into a touring meme (details here).

It's been awhile since I've shared what I received in my mail box.  Here are a few of the books that I've received recently:

MFW Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche from the publisher

Immortal Bird by Doron Weber from Simon & Schuster

The Time in Between by Maria Duenas from the publisher

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Scavenger Hunt Blog Tour, Giveaway & Guest Post with Mitchell Maxwell author of Little Did I Know

Mitchell Maxwell,  a Tony Award winning producer, director and 35-year veteran of the entertainment industry has a new novel that was just published called Little Did I Know.

Maxwell is the visionary producer behind the rollicking Broadway revival of Damn Yankees featuring the legendary Jerry Lewis – which was nominated for multiple Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical – and the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Dinner with Friends. He has produced the Broadway musicals Play On! Bells are Ringing (Tony-nominated for Best Revival of a Musical), Blues in the Night (Tony Nominated as Best Musical), Brooklyn, and the percussive theatrical wonder, Stomp!

Guest Post by Mitchell Maxwell:

Years ago I did a musical on London's West End where it became a big smash hit.  After we danced and celebrated and the thanked the theater gods toasting each one with a fresh pint we came to the sober realization that we had a show that was the buzz of Piccadilly and beyond.  Within days we had offers to take the show on tour in the UK, remount it in NY were offered a lucrative guaranteed tour of Japan.  Has I had come to learn "hits are fun".  
So, we loved the British company and decided to keep them for the remount in NY and then bring them to Japan.  Saving money and keeping the family together. Unfortunately the unions would not allow the entire company to make the journey so we were forced to choose who we might replace and went about the process with a sense of joy mixed with melancholy.  We all agreed on one actor that "had to stay" even if we had to throw down the gaulet to the gods of the union.  So on the day of auditions whenever an actress walked in to sing for this "taken" role her chances were slim and none. 
 And then I learned something that stays with me every time a performer walks in and has the guts and resolve and courage to audition.  You just never know where you will find magic or goose bumps or electricity in a performer so strong it can light a city.  
This young woman stepped center stage, gave her name, which was barely noted and said she was going to sing a song from BALLROOM.  Out of professional respect we listened and then within a moment, a heartbeat, a breath taken away we all knew at once that something special had happened and our plan had changed.  Talent is a gift, professionalism is a craft but when God gives the ability to stop the world and have it pay attention and you are lucky enough to be in the room . . .well remember it is better than a real job--sort of like a snow flake --never to replicated, unique with its own power to be remembered.  
I have auditioned hundreds of actors and so many of them are good.  They are pleasant and special in the own way.  But when a rocket ship walks in and fires up I have learned to get on and enjoy the ride.  That's how you discover art, your own gifts and your own insights.  The journey is fluid, the play is the thing and goose bumps is the goal. 
 I have met hundreds of actors --I remember talent most, then character and how when we shook hands did our eyes meet and register a connection.  The good ones come back and it is fun to be there when they do. 

He lit a killer joint and passed it around the group as if it were a peace pipe, a pact to hold on to the dreams that pulsed through our veins.
            Elliot, another friend, pressed the point. “Sammy, it’s the bicentennial. Add something to the party.” He grinned as if he had said something profound.
            “I have,” I said, smiling with drunken mischievousness.
            “Well?” Elliot continued, shouting as much as gobs of bourbon and fatigue would allow. “What are you gonna do? Win a theater in a poker game? Make out with some heiress? We are done here in two months!”
            I held a finger to my lips and gave a long, slurred, “Shush. Believing is part of figuring it all out. It’s part of the plan. If you don’t sign up for the plan, there is no plan.”

Make sure to visit Girls Just Reading, Here to read the next portion of the excerpt...

Before Stomp! thundered onto the off-Broadway stage of the Orpheum Theater, before Jerry Lewis thrilled an entire legion of new fans in Broadway’s smash revival of Damn Yankees, before David Mamet’s Oleanna challenged a nation’s mores, before Paul Rudnick spoke to a generation ravished by AIDS with humor and compassion in Jeffrey and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, or Dinner with Friends won the Pulitzer Prize, there was Mitchell Maxwell – a young man who dreamed of becoming a Broadway producer.

Mitchell Maxwell helped bring these original and groundbreaking productions to life through a combination of audacious vision, bold creativity and the ability to spot potential that others missed. By embracing his dream, Maxwell actually lived it as he worked his way up from summer stock neophyte to Tony Award-winning producer.  He has recreated those heady, by-gone days in his new book LITTLE DID I KNOW (Prospecta Press; October 5, 2011; $25.00) written in classic roman √° clef style.  This is a daring coming-of-age tale filled with romance, laughter, heartbreak and applause about a young entrepreneur who sets the stage for fledgling artists while living a life so many aspire to but never realize.

Set in Plymouth, MA in the late-to-the-party seventies, a young man dreams of refurbishing a dilapidated historic theater in order to produce vibrant musicals in the great tradition of summer stock. Newly graduated from college, he fills his cast and crew with beloved classmates, undeniable new talents and memorable personalities. Yet, while the productions drive his dreams of becoming a Broadway producer, a local woman drives his passions; their romance is fateful, star-crossed, and ultimately more than either of them expected. Told with compassion and the kind of detail only a Broadway veteran like Mitchell Maxwell can provide, LITTLE DID I KNOW is a novel about being in the spotlight and embracing destiny in a single season.
Maxwell is the president, CCO and director of MCrew Media LLC, who has produced seven Broadway shows, more than 30 off-Broadway and regional productions, four national tours, three West End productions and six major motion pictures, including the Drama Desk winnerMarvin’s Room, and the Tonyand Olivier-nominated international hit Blues in the Night. His productions have been nominated for – and won – every major theatrical award including the Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Obie, Olivier and Ovation awards.


Thanks to Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, I have one copy of LITTLE DID I KNOW by Mitchell Maxwell  to giveaway. 

For 1 Entry: All you have to do is leave a comment hereMake sure to include your email address (no email, no entry)

For a 2nd Entry (Separate Comment):  Follow my blog, you can follow through Google Friend Connect to the left in my side column. If you already do, thank you, and please  make sure to let me know in your comment so I can pass the entry on to you as well. Make sure to include your email address (no email, no entry).

For a 3rd Entry (Separate Comment): Spread the word about this giveaway and Retweet, retweet button below my name at the end of this post. Make sure to include your email address (no email, no entry).

*Open to US & Canada only.

Enter by October 28 , 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Guest Post with Kimberley Freeman author of Wildflower Hill

I'm pleased to welcome Kimberley Freeman, author of Wildflower Hill to Redlady's Reading Room. I posted a review and giveaway of Wildflower Hill, earlier this month. I enjoyed reading Wildflower Hill which is a wonderful family saga that is beautifully written revealing family secrets that lead to an amazing journey of self discovery and a testament to the power of love.

Kimberley Freeman shares her thoughts on writing Wildflower Hill:

Writing Wildflower Hill was a huge challenge for me, because part of it is set in the 1930s in Tasmania, which isn’t a place and time a great deal is written about. In many ways, it would have been much easier to set a book during the Regency period in England, because we’re all so familiar with what it looks like, what people wore, and so on. But I wasn’t even sure if the places I was writing about had electricity and gas. I wrote the whole story assuming they did not, but then a chance sighting of a 1930s photograph in a Hamilton pub (in Tasmania) had me rewriting the whole thing (there were visible power lines). In fact, the whole book was researched backwards for reasons beyond my control. 
I’d been to Tasmania a few times, and had planned a long trip to the area the book is set in for Easter of 2009. This was timed so I would be researching that part of the story directly before writing it; but then two days before we were due to leave (I was taking the whole family) my then 2-year-old daughter came down with a violent gastro bug. It was round the clock vomiting and diarrhoea for the poor thing, and it became apparent we couldn’t travel. She ended up being seriously ill for nearly a week, but when she was well again and I could turn my mind once more to the book, I realized I had done NO research and my deadline wasn’t going anywhere. We couldn’t re-book until July. The book was due in August. 
So I wrote anyway. I put square brackets in every time I hit a place where I’d need a detail, and I just kept going, writing furiously, to get a first draft completed before the trip. A blog entry from about two weeks after the aborted trip reads: “Some of the writing is horrendous, I must confess, but just yesterday as I was telling my mum about the story, I got a real sense of what the book is all about… Put simply, it’s a story about a girl who thought her grandmother was a nice old lady, and discovers–when she inherits her grandmother’s old house in Tasmania–that Gran was a lot more complex than originally thought.” The story gathered momentum and I finished the first draft in a white heat: “Some people compare writing a novel to giving birth. I usually roll my eyes when this happens, especially when men say it, because unless you’re squeezing a hardcover out your left nostril the comparison is flawed. But this close to the end of the process, there is the same kind of awful momentum, the same irresistible compulsion to get something outside yourself that has been growing within for a long time. I have lost the world; there is only the story. My family talk to me and all I hear  is ‘blah blah blah’ like the adults in Charlie Brown cartoons. My brain is finding the ends of threads and pulling them together, tying them, untying them, retying them different ways. I shouldn’t be allowed to drive.” 
Then I printed it out and took it to Tassie with me. We stayed on a working sheep farm in the midlands, and it was the middle of winter so utterly freezing. But beautiful and still and quiet. I duly wrote down bird and tree names, wove in descriptions of frost or the way the clouds made shadows on the rolling hills, and secured a key detail (about eucalypts!) that made a special thread of the book sing. I can’t imagine having written the book any other way now. I can procrastinate a lot in research, so doing it backwards worked beautifully (on this occasion anyway).

About Kimberley Freeman from her website:

Kimberley was born in London and her family moved back to Australia when she was three years old. She grew up in Queensland where she currently lives.
Kimberley has written for as long as she can remember and she is proud to write in many genres. She is an award-winning writer in children’s, historical and speculative fiction under her birth name Kim Wilkins. She adopted the pen name Kimberley Freeman for her commercial women’s fiction novels Duet and Gold Dust to honour her maternal grandmother and to try and capture the spirit of the page-turning novels she has always loved to read. Kim has an Honours degree, a Masters degree and a PhD from The University of Queensland where she is also a lecturer. She lives in Brisbane with her young family.

Check out my review of Wildflower Hill and to enter for a chance to win a copy of the book, HERE or click on the link on the left sidebar. Giveaway ends tomorrow, September 24th. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Kathleen Flinn's Pasta Pomodora Recipe from The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

I have been spotlighting Kathleen Flinn's new book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School (to be released by Viking on October 3, 2011) in my Weekend Cooking posts this month. This week, I am spotlighting Kathleen's Pasta Pomodora recipe. It's my kind of recipe, quick and easy and it uses all natural ingredients. This is an easy alternative to opening up that jar of spaghetti sauce from the grocery store. I just went to a nearby farmer's market this morning and bought fresh tomatoes so I plan to make this tomorrow. 

Check out this cooking video lesson with Kathleen teaching how to make Pasta Pomodora from her upcoming book The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. 

Pomodoro (Fresh Tomato Sauce)

Be sure to have the pasta cooking and all the ingredients ready before starting the sauce; this is ready more quickly than you’d expect. Flavorful fresh tomatoes make all the difference here; cherry tomatoes work especially well and they’re available year-round. Just cut them in half. Carefully scoop out a bit of the pasta water to finish the sauce.

Makes enough for about 4 side portions or 2 main-dish servings

8 ounces dried pasta, such as penne or linguine, or 12 ounces fresh pasta
Coarase salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
About 12 ounces tomatoes, chopped
Handful of chopped parsley or basil
Pinch or two of hot pepper flakes
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil water for the pasta. Add at least 1 tablespoon of salt to the water; it should taste slightly salty. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; reserve about ½ cup of pasta water after cooking.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a saut√© pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute; be sure not to burn it or you’ll need to start over. Add the tomatoes, and any other vegetables (see below), and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3 to 5 minutes for tomatoes on their own, longer if you add in other vegetables.

Add the reserved pasta water and cook until the sauce is reduced slightly and the rest of the ingredients begin to break down, about another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cheese, red pepper flakes and fresh herbs (if using) several cranks of fresh black pepper, and salt if needed.

Consider adding the following:
Splash of cream at the end of cooking for a more creamy texture  
Handful of additional chopped vegetables, such as zucchini, artichokes, olives, and/or asparagus, to extend the sauce and offer additional flavor 
Shrimp or diced cooked chicken with the tomatoes (Shrimp can be added raw, but be sure to cook them thoroughly; they should turn white throughout and curl up tightly.)

©Kathleen Flinn, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, Viking/Penguin 2011

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, go to Beth Fish Reads.