Monday, August 31, 2009

A Houston Writer Follows The Barbecue Smoke

In "Follow the Smoke" (bright sky press) Houston writer John Demers reveals the continued evolution of Texas barbecue as it forges ahead into the new century, undergoing a melding of flavors, ethnic dishes and marketing to become a modern meal. On the surface it appears that the differences in a Bar-B-Q joint and a barbecue restaurant are all extrinsic, but it's more than just the wood, the rub and the food that sets them apart.

The book sets the backdrop as the storied past of "small scale hands-on Texas barbecue" and the present growth of homegrown chains that are at odds with each other to carry on the taste of Texas.

I don't envy the Houston writer and the amount of barbecue that he had to test, taste and consume to write this barbecue atlas. It had to take at least a ton of food and add to his girth, when you consider the meat and all the sides.

Baked Beans vs Charro Beans

The pages also echo another story. DeMeres points out the arrival of several new kids on the block, that are replacing the favored sidedishes potato salad and baked beans and some of the mainstays, links and chicken. For now, they're found more often in the chain-owned barbecue restaurants than the mom and pop joints; however they are locked in a battle for prominence on the menus. These new dishes, pulled pork topped with coleslaw, charro beans, turkey, smoked chicken salad and boudain, like most Texans, have drifted in from neighboring states and south of the border.

The tasty read is outlined like an atlas. It lists the places where you can find the best smoked brisket, ribs and links by region. DeMers also takes the time to recognize the masters of Texas bbq, the pit-bosses from the North, South, East and West Texas, and enlighten us to why they do what they do, aside from earning a living.

Who's The Pit Boss

The cooks we meet in "Follow The Smoke" aren't as closed mouth and secretive as the old school cooks, I remember, who were reluctant to even share how they lit their fires. This book is testament to how well John Demers, a seasoned Houston writer can elicit recipes, choice of wood and just about any answer he wants from the barbecue pit bosses through smooth conversations like a ninja writer stalking an elusive plot.

Maybe it's a byproduct of the change that today's pit masters like Bobby Flay have instituted. It's almost a norm for cooks to freely share their recipes for smoking meats, choosing wood and cuts of beef and pork. If you're a fan of Texas style barbecue with deep smoke rings, this is one book that won't leave you just wafting the smoke. DeMers throws in a few mouth-watering recipes for meats, sweets, sides and extras, that you can try out. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Houston Writer: Louise Parsley

Louise Parsley Book Cover

Houston writer, Louise Parsley's "Revelations in the Rearview Mirror: One Mother's Hard-Won and Hilarious Epiphanies on the Road to the Empty Nest" (bright sky press),
earned a place on the list of books I've read, on my Goodreads bookshelf.

If the themes from "War and Peace" were as straight forward, brief and to the point as the essays in this book, I might have found enough reasons to make it to the end of the classic.

I can't believe how Parsley honestly bears her soul to readers in this candid and humorous look at her formative years, on her journey to becoming an atypical mother. She escapes becoming your garden variety mom when she bravely admits to being the reason that her children "started off at such a disadvantage". Because she wisely refused to stand in line at 4 a.m. to register them for T.H.E Mother's Day Out program and did not sign them up for T.H.E summer camp, knowing the best things in life come without T.H.E. blueprint for success.

This Houston writer has penned what should be called, the ultimate survival guide for brides, young mothers and parents in their fight against graying hair and maintaining their sanity during child rearing. It's great preparation for enduring the marathon Dora the Explorer episodes, when Sharpie's attack your walls and being banished to last place on your teens "need to know list".

Louise becomes the light bearer for brides when she shares her epiphany, "I spent six months focusing on a wedding, not a marriage."

The Houston writer illuminates the zigzag path mothers climb from the land of "Holding On" to the welcome feeling of "Letting Go". This book will cause you to ingest big gulps of laughter into your soul and should be prescribed instead of Xanax for anyone considering hoovering on the brink of depression because family life ain't been no crystal stair. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Good Books About Texas By Houston Authors


I'm caught in a loop of reading books by Houston authors and trying to finish my blog post. It's becoming a vicious circle fueled by two books that I've picked up just to browse through, and now feel torn between which of them to finish first.

One is a topic that I'm partial to, good food. The other is related to my other favorite subject spirituality. It's not entirely a spiritual treatise, but it does reflects upon a the impact of divine themes on the interiors of homes.

Okay, now that the cat out of the bag, I may as well give you the titles of the these two books that have Houston origins. They were both published in Houston by Bright Sky Press.

Whether you're passionate about cooking barbecue or just in to eating your fair share of the Texas staple, you'll find yourself drawn into the roadhouses and barbecue joints where burgers and fries take a back seat to their more filling, tastier kinsmen, brisket and potato salad.

Alright I'm not ready to tell you much more than that, but if I've piqued your curiosity, and you can't wait for the rest of the story, one is the 37th book, by former Houston Chronicle food editor, John Demers "Follow The Smoke". The Houston author solidifies Texas' bragging rights to the best barbecue north of the Rio Grande.

The Houston author takes the reader on a culinary journey through the great state one bite at a time. His fare? The food that won the west. Slow smoked, till you can see that perfect smoke ring in every mouthful, Texas barbecue.

A delicacy that's older than it's better known cousin barbeque. That citified version they serve up and down the Mississippi in places like Memphis and St. Louis, which lack the thick rich red sauce from deep in the heart of Texas.

I'll get back to you, with mo details, hopefully soon. It'll be later if I can't finish this last hundred pages or so without heading outside to fire up my Old Smokey. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Books About Houston

Book shelf

I'm really thrilled, about the changes about to take place for Books about Houston. I have tons of stuff to tell you about.

First and foremost, I’m really excited about some of the new things that are in the works for this blog. I've been busy behind the scenes trying to work out the details for a couple of important projects designed to do 3 key things.

1. Get the word out about this fantastic blog about Houston and it's lit world.

2. Find more talented local authors to showcase.

3. Harness more fresh ideas to create a blog that's sticky.

I've connected with a company that sponsors blog tours and other members in the book community to try and get more outstanding authors to stop by and chat with us.

It may seem that the blog is moving in all sorts of crazy directions, but the overall goal is still the same, to create a place that has the best resources and information for Houstonians who like to chill out with good read.

If you have a favorite author who you would like to see here, let me know and I'll do may best to reach out to them.

I thank you for staying with me as I focus on building a better blog for you. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Houston Writer Unlocks The Secrets Of Giving And Receiving

people cutouts in a circle
Houston writer Jana Mullins uses her graduate school project to a inspire others. In The Circle Of Giving, her book, more than 45 contributing authors share how their lives have been affected, in big and small ways, by the kindness of others.

This week she stops by the Inversions Coffee House to discus her book as part of The Houston library's Cafe Reads.

The author uses these powerful tales to explain that open hands and open hearts create an interdependence in our communities that enables us to achieve a higher level of existence. These heartfelt stories have inspired many who have read them.

The Houston writer, concludes her book noting that, the unending “circle of giving” remains incomplete unless a gift is both given and received with an open heart and open hands. Sphere: Related Content

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