Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Day One Book By Caroline Grant

by @thewritermama on May 1, 2013 · 30 comments

I am thrilled to welcome Caroline Grant back to the giveaway! Please help me give Caroline a warm welcome.

Do you know Caroline Grant? If not, you should!

Caroline M. Grant is editor-in-chief of the website, Literary Mama, one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers. With her husband, Tony Grant, she directs the Sustainable Arts Foundation, which grants fellowships to writers and visual artists who are parents. She is the co-editor of two anthologies: with Lisa Catherine Harper, the new The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Stories of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (Roost Books, 2013); and with Elrena Evans, Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life (Rutgers University Press, 2008), which has been called “easily the most important piece of work to date on academics and family issues, full-stop.” She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. She writes about food and family at the website, Learning to Eat (http://www.learningtoeat.com) and about all that and more on her personal website, http://www.carolinemgrant.com.

Learn about The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Stories of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (Roost Books, 2013)

Without mantras or manifestos, 29 writers serve up sharp, sweet, and candid memories; salty irreverence; and delicious original recipes.  Food is so much more than what we eat. The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage is an anthology of original essays about how we learn (and relearn) to eat, and how pivotal food is beyond the table.

With essays from:

• Keith Blanchard
• Max Brooks
• Melissa Clark
• Elizabeth Crane
• Aleksandra Crapanzano
• Gregory Dicum
• Elrena Evans
• Jeff Gordinier
• Caroline M. Grant
• Phyllis Grant
• Libby Gruner
• Lisa Catherine Harper
• Deborah Copaken Kogan and Paul Kogan
• Jen Larsen
• Edward Lewine
• Chris Malcomb
• Lisa McNamara
• Dani Klein Modisett
• Catherine Newman
• Thomas Peele
• Deesha Philyaw
• Neal Pollack
• Barbara Rushkoff
• Bethany Saltman
• K. G. Schneider
• Sarah Shey
• Stacie Stukin
• Karen Valby

See reviews of The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Stories of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat . LINK

Listen to a radio interview with Caroline Grant talking about Cassoulet with on WGVU. LINK

I asked Caroline three questions about our giveaway’s theme topic, self-expression:

1. Is self-expression an important part of your life today, why or why not?

Writing goes in cycles and right now, while I write every day, most of my writing isn’t making progress on a new creative work but spreading the word on Cassoulet, which just came out this spring. Writing these blog posts, pitches, and messages  about Cassoulet — addressing myself to potential readers and reviewers —  is an important part of my self-expression and I both take it seriously and give myself credit for it. I try not to make a distinction between “creative writing” and “promotional” writing. It’s all creative, it’s all part of putting myself and my book out in the world, and my favorite part is the response I get to this writing from new readers.

2. What does self-expression mean to you and how do you do it in the world?

Writing is my main form of self-expression, but right now I’m also doing a lot of radio to promote Cassoulet and that’s a great change of pace for me. I love the conversations that Cassoulet inspires; everyone has a story about a favorite family recipe, a memorable meal, or a kitchen disaster, and it’s so much fun to hear them! Because this is a book about food, and it includes so many terrific recipes, in addition to our radio interviews and bookstore events, we’re also promoting the book at farmer’s markets, farms, and book club lunches and dinners. I love this social aspect of book promotion; writing is a solitary activity, and letting people know about my book brings me in touch with a wide network of readers, editors, and reviewers. And finally, I express myself through baking: breads, cookies, muffins, what have you. Sometimes it is a useful break from writing — a time to mull over a sticky point in an essay — but I also find that the delineated guidelines (a limited number of ingredients, combined in a set order, baked a specific amount of time) are a great antidote to the open-endedness of writing and editing.

3. How does your self-expression impact the world—your family, your friends, your readers, and everyone else?

Every writer quotes this line from Flannery O’Connor: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” It feels so true to me, because sometimes writing is the only way I will slow down and take stock of my life! I grab lines on the fly, scrawling my boys’ funny malapropisms or unconsciously insightful comments on the back of receipts dug out of my purse. Or at night, I take a few minutes to unload into my journal. Then I need to give myself time to shape it, to find the thread of meaning in it all. That takes ages, hours of mulling and steeping, both at my desk and while I’m running or unloading the dishwasher or waiting in the carpool line, and it all helps me make sense of my family, my life, my world.

I am lucky and grateful that right now my children are at the perfect ages to be their mother’s subjects: old enough to understand what I do, and young enough still to enjoy it. They read my piece for Cassoulet and gave me the best review I could hope for: “It’s a good essay, Mama.”

And Now, Your Turn…

You remember how this works right?

Please read the complete rules at least once!

I ask you a question.

You answer in the comments for your chance to win a book each day.

Please just respond once, even if you make a typo. ;)

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books).

Do you have a favorite food? Describe what makes your favorite food special to you?

Ready, set, comment! I will hold the drawing tomorrow and post the results here in my blog.

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway!

And thanks for spreading the word. We will be giving away great books by wonderful women authors all month.

View the complete list of authors and books.

View the giveaway Pinterest board.

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  • Avocado. I think this is it. It is the food that if I was presented with a platter which included coconut rice pudding, fresh homemade tacos, mango sorbet, watermelon slices, ginger molasses cookies, my Mom’s chicken and dumplings or kale any which way you got, I’d reach for the avocado. I’d have it fresh out of the skin, or with a squeeze of lime, or perhaps some freshly picked cilantro, or a tiny shake of pepper, ancho or better. You could mash it, slice it or scoop it, but do not, under any circumstance, cook it. If you served it next to a little ramekin of bagna cauda in which to dip it, I would follow you anywhere. xo S

  • Sugar. Can I say sugar? Lately, it occurs to me that I’m completely addicted and the more that single thought occurs to me the more addicted a become. Damn you, universe, and your reflecting ways. There are eBooks about detoxes and cleanses I should do, but really I’d like to go to Passages in California and detox there with Brittany Spears or whichever celebrity is currently recovering from “over-exhaustion” because that sounds more delightful than even a blogging conference.

  • Sara

    Just one favorite? I can’t decide, but I’ll pick my nana’s
    meatballs. They’re soft but not mushy with flecks of onion and celery. They have the flavor of onion and as subtle hint of Parmesan cheese. When we were kids, my mom would stand guard on Christmas Eve, doling out the meatballs so the horde of kids didn’t eat them all before the grown-ups got to the buffet. Several years ago, I wanted to learn to make them and my grandmother was happy to have help in the busy days of Christmas prep. We worked side by side the first year, her watching, advising, showing. The next year, she grated and I mixed. We both rolled. Eventually, we moved on to me making the meatballs while she took care of something else, both of us moving comfortably around each other in her tiny kitchen. I love to eat these meatballs, but I love too the memories attached to them for me both as a child and as an adult.

  • It’s too hard to narrow it down to one favorite food for me. I think it’s a little easier to say that comfort foods in general are very important to me. The comfort foods I love the most are pizza, macaroni and cheese and chicken and dumplings, probably because there are so many ways you can make those foods that they never grow tiresome! I also have fond memories of sitting in my
    grandmother’s kitchen and watching her knead and roll the dough for her famous tortillas. My cousins and I would wait anxiously until they were hot and ready and slather them with butter. My husband recently took it upon himself to learn her recipe himself and I am very grateful.

  • barbaramcdowellwhitt

    My favorite food would have to be the breast of chicken – even a plain, unadulterated chicken breast strip baked in an oven. The taste of chicken breast meat is special to me because I grew up on a farm in Iowa. We raised chickens so we ate a lot of their meat. The rest of our family let me have the breast when the plate of chicken parts was passed around our dining room table.

  • MLTCG

    Scallops are a family favorite. Their flavor is unique to where you find them. We found them on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. Every summer we took our boys back to my grandparents house where I spent my summers growing up. Where I have gone every year of my life. It was a great place for kids. Not only did we eat scallops, we also dug for clams and had clam roasts over an open fire, and in early summer there were lobster in plentiful amounts-all fresh.

    But it was dragging for scallops that we learned one of life’s valuable lessons. My family owned a dock which they rented to Edmund, a local lobsterman who paid them with fresh lobster in season. We usually arrived after lobster season. Edmund would
    take us out fishing, usually dragging for scallops. We would take them home and shuck them. Fresh from the cold Atlantic they melted in our mouths.

    One year when we went down to the shed to visit Edmund there he sat, surrounded by lobster traps he was repairing. I can still
    see him, a pleasant looking man, tall and gangly dressed in overalls held up by suspenders, high black rubber boots and
    a plaid flannel shirt. A cigarette hung from his lips and a large bottle of coke sat beside him on the floor. As we entered the shed he looked up greeting us with a smile, setting his work aside.

    At first we didn’t realize that we were interrupting his work. My husband said, “Edmund don’t let us stop you.” Edmund looked at him strangely. After a pause he responded, “It would be rude, when you have taken the time to visit me.” And with that he offered us all a swig of coke. With those few words this humble fisherman gave us all a lesson in civility. He did it kindly, it wasn’t a rebuke, it was just the way he lived his life. He wanted to take
    the time to visit with us and in his world to work at the same time was not acceptable. That day Edmund taught us to take the time to appreciate life. We never eat a scallop without remembering his wisdom.

  • Jennifer Johnson

    For most of my life I would have answered chocolate! And it is still on the top of my list. But now I think I’m embracing more of the seasonality of food. As spring rolls around, I am enjoying rhubarb and looking forward to the early summer berries and peas. I enjoy having different fresh foods during different times of the year. It helps me to have a rhythm like this. Then I get to have different favorite foods at different times of the year. And that’s a good thing for this mama who hates having to pick just one favorite thing!

  • Karrot Soup

    My favorite food is beans. Pretty much any kind, though especially ones with Mexican-type seasonings. We have a family favorite called Cuban black beans that’s sort of a cross between tacos and haystacks, it’s colorful and filling and cheap and healthy and so delightful. But really, to me beans have this great texture that’s smooth but resists your bite a little, that’s why I love ’em so much overall.

  • My favorite group of foods is the Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner that I have eaten practically every Christmas Eve since I can remember. Despite all the preparations and all the fuss, it doesn’t seem like Christmas until we come back home from church on Christmas Eve and dig into our pierogies, cornmeal, cabbage rolls, and wheat. The meal has changed somewhat over the years – originally it’s supposed to be vegetarian, but my husband added ham when we were married. It reminds me of all the Christmases I have ever had wrapped up in one meal and even if my family is not all together, which it rarely is, I feel we are connected across the miles with these simple dishes.

  • Heather Lee Leap

    Smooth and soothing spicy food. I love dal in it’s seemingly infinite varieties. The scent of aromatic spices seep into me and I relax even before the first bite. Two years ago I took an India cooking class focusing on lentils. I could eat the lentil with spinach dish we learned to make every day and feel satisfied. Lovely coincidence -it is on my meal plan for this evening!

  • Lela Davidson

    This is so low brow, but I’m going to have to go with corn chips, preferably the greasy thin ones served in a Mexican restaurant with the best fresh salsa. Corn chips are stress food, comfort food, and while I try to eat healthy, I cannot imagine a life without them. And they are versatile! Hello breakfast: chips in your scrambled eggs, try it. Lunch: how about some corn chips in your pea soup? Scoff, and then try it. And dinner. Chips is all I need.

  • Marie Cauley

    It’s difficult to pick one, but if I had to it would be ice cream. It’s been a comfort food for me ever since I was a little girl – which is probably why I’m always working on my fitness! Nowadays there are so many different flavors to try, which is always fun to do. Chocolate peanut butter was my favorite as a kid. My current favorite is Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge. Of course, I have to wait until it’s on sale because otherwise it’s so expensive. The sweetness and creaminess really do soothe me. For health reasons, I try not to eat too much of it anyway…and find better ways for comfort!

  • Michele Thornton

    My Mom’s spaghetti and meatballs, which was originally created by Mrs. Malagutti from Boston. It was always my favorite, and Mom always made it for me on my birthday. She still makes it for me and my family, and no matter what the day is, whenever I eat it it’s my birthday. (My mother recently saw one of Mrs. Malagutti’s daughters and, ironically, they have never made their mother’s sauce. Ironic, since it has a mythically magical status in our family.)

  • Sue LeBreton

    Nanimo bars jumped right to mind when I read the question. They are so decadent and yummy. I have never dared or cared to look up their nutritional information. I have had store bought ones but the ones my mom made were always better. There must be a family recipe hidden somewhere, or a cooking gene (that I did not receive) as my cousin makes Nanaimo bars that are as good as those made by my mom. When I turned sixteen my cousin asked what she could do for me to mark the special occasion and yes, you guessed it, I asked for a pan of Nanimo bras.

  • Christa Hines

    I’m a bit moody when it comes to food (actually I should just admit that I’m moody anyway…) so it’s hard for me to narrow my choices down to just one. That said, I’ll go with a favorite that’s sentimental to me. When I was a kid, my parents would allow us to choose what we wanted for dinner on our birthdays. We could go out to eat (which was a big deal when I was growing up) or my mom could make us our favorite meal. For many years I skipped on restaurant fare for my mother’s homemade roladen, which is a German dish made with thin cuts of steak rolled up with pickles, onions and bacon inside. I loved this dish with small German pasta dumplings called spaetzle on the side. I’ve since learned to make it myself, but finding a butcher who can cut the steak just right is always the greatest challenge reserving it for only special occasions.

  • Kimberly Carlson

    Psst, Lela: try crumbling them into your sandwiches and homemade enchiladas. One word: DIVINE.

  • Kimberly Carlson

    Almost a year ago, my children and I decided to hit the reset button on our lives. We divorced dad, moved across two state lines and went in search of our new home. While our family unit tends to veer towards a monarchy (for now), in this venture we ALL had to agree on a place before we settled down. We knew we had found “the” place when we we stepped into the fairyland that is our backyard and discovered the largest blueberry bushes (“EVAH” as my daughter would say).
    Every day during the summer my children picked and ate blueberries freely. My son would bring me bowls of blueberries and say “Look mom: I brought you breakfast!” My previously lazy daughter started helping me cook: blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes. Homemade blueberry smoothies and blueberry jelly. Blueberries transformed our backyard from “just” a backyard into a full-on comfort zone. The best part? All this blueberry picking and eating led to conversations and connectivity. When my mom came for a visit, my daughter dragged her out to the backyard to see the blueberries before she had even put down her purse.
    Blueberries also happen to be a natural cancer-preventative food. This is all the more poignant for me as I write this: my children lost their uncle to cancer just 11 days ago.
    Not only do blueberries heal the body, they also heal the soul, mend relationships and create lasting memories. They really are a “super food.”

  • Heidi Smith Luedtke

    Does wine count? Seriously. Does it? It has nutritional, social and emotional value so I say it counts. My current favorite is called Vinho Verde — it’s an effervescent dry but fruity white wine that sparkles in your mouth and tastes fantastic with my other favorite foods: spicy Thai or Indian dishes with shrimp. I’m buying it at Trader Joe’s for only about $7-8 per bottle. Generally, I like a little spice, a little sweet and something bubbly to wash it down. This wine tickles all my fancies!

  • Ellen Hall Saunders

    What is my Favorite Food? How can I answer that? FOOD itself is my favorite… I love to eat, I love to cook, I love to smell food and look at it, and think about it. I love new cookbooks and trying new foods. We were just in New Orleans and every hour we stopped somewhere to eat something.. beignets, oysters, gumbo, jambalaya, po’boys, crawfish… everything was just so delicious and enriched our experience so much. I guess that is why food is so special to me: it enriches every aspect of life!

  • Diane J.

    One pick only? That’s hard as there are different foods that I love at different times. For instance, summer days with the kids, watermelon. Game night with husband, cheese and crackers.
    Oh! I know, strawberry cheesecake French style. I love the juicy berries and sauce, the soft creamy texture, and the perfect crumb crust. Each time I take a bite I feel like I’ve done something special to earn a slice.

  • Amy Becker

    As simple as it sounds, my favorite food is scrambled eggs. The texture of perfectly cooked and seasoned with salt and pepper, just a little soft eggs in your mouth is fantastic. And, there are so many things you can do with a scrambled egg! You can add peppers, cheese, ham, tomatoes, lots of things. Just make a scramble or you can turn it into an omelet. Or you can scramble some eggs, dip in some bread and you have french toast. That doesn’t even include all the recipes that use a scrambled egg or two. But my favorite is still traditional scrambled eggs, with a little salt, pepper, cheese, and maybe some ham and green pepper. Tasty!

  • While I can definitely tell you my least favorite foods, or ones I just won’t eat, I cannot pick one favorite. I really enjoy roasted Brussels sprouts. But then again, I enjoy all roasted vegetables. Salads are important to me, too. I like to look for different things to add to my salads–like cooked beets or frozen peas or finely sliced cabbage. I love growing my own food, too. Especially the greens. But life just wouldn’t be the same without cucumbers and zucchini and beets freshly pulled from the earth, drizzled with olive oil, and roasted to perfection.

  • This is a tough question for me since I became vegan four months ago. I’ll fall back to salad. Diverse. Tasty. Endless combinations of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and dressings. I still miss my salmon, scallops, coffee, occasional ice cream (chocolate chocolate-chip), and frozen Heath bars. Food is special to me because it nurtures
    me and it is also a way to connect with and nurture others.

  • Mar Junge

    I am the keeper of the family recipes. My favorite – Polish potato dumplings – are made once a year on Thanksgiving. Our extended family, often more than 20 of us, join in the dumpling-making fun. We peel 10 pounds of potatoes and cut them into cubes, after which they’re boiled until tender. Then everyone helps squeeze the cubes through ricers to make potato “worms.” In a large bowl I knead the riced potatoes with eggs and flour to make the dough. As everyone watches in silence, the matriarch (me) gathers the young teenage girls who are doing this
    for the first time and encourages them to take a small handful of dough, flatten it, put toasted bread squares in the middle, and bring up the edges to make a big snowball. “Now take the ball and roll it between your palms very, very gently, just like you will do for your future husband.” Of course the girls turn bright red and everybody laughs. This is how my grandma taught me, and how her grandma taught her. It’s too bad women have lost those special times to teach the next generation special lessons like
    these.

  • Kristy Grieve

    Cheese. I didn’t even have to think about it. It goes with just about everything. A recent favorite is blue cheese crumbles on a steak salad with pecans and roasted red onions. You can’t go wrong with a grilled cheese sandwich. And what about the heavenly creation of fondue. Cheese also comes from milk provided by two of my favorite animals, cows and goats. Yep, definitely cheese.

  • Melissa

    I am female and the answer is overwhelmingly chocolate. It’s
    not just a food, it’s not even it’s own category, it’s a love. A passion. You think I’m exaggerating but I’m not. Chocolate is very special to me (“And me!” scream my thunder thighs!). It’s special to me because it’s not something I eat all the time, it’s a small treat, a pleasure. It’s what my father always has in
    his little zippered back that, during our now-sacred bowling nights, he shares with all the women bowlers on the league. Chocolate has so many flavors, but more than the flavors I’ve never had anything that chocolate ruined, including bacon.
    In that way, chocolate is the ultimate optimist and the feelings of pleasure and memories it evokes, from Easter to 7-11 late night runs to licking wrappers that have melted in the sun. My ode to chocolate.

  • Corn on the Cob. Salted. Dripping with butter. In the neighborhood where I live now, underneath the elevated subway train, women sell blackened corn on a stick from metal shopping carts. But growing up, playing hide & seek in fields of corn, and buying bags full out of a neighbors barn, corn meant one thing – summer. Even now when I close my eyes and bite into a piece, I hear fireworks. I see lightning bugs. I feel cool grass under my feet. I am back home again in Indiana, until another train rushes by noisily overhead.

  • DebraMarrs

    Sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes. Baked, fried, French fried. In a pie. Those are all good, but the BEST sweet potatoes are “candied” the way my Nannie made them. It’s a slow process, one that you have to have an “eye” for, and one, when written down doesn’t quite explain all the steps. Making sweet potatoes the way Nannie did means lots and lots of butter and brown sugar. And when I make sweet potatoes like she did, it reminds me of eating sweet potatoes alongside the fried chicken she cooked, not just on Sunday, like my mama did, but also on weekdays. Just because. If there’s a food that’s both a dessert and a good-for-you staple, I pick sweet potatoes.

  • Sarah Lindsey

    This is a VERY tough question for me. You see, I love food. The way it looks, how it tastes, but especially love that food plays a part in everyone’s life (and the way food can elevate a meal from basic nourishment to a feast that enriches and nourishes on a much deeper level.) That said, if I have to pick one thing, I’d say my mom’s homemade chocolate cake. The reason: this dessert has been at nearly every birthday, holiday, and “special surprise” days I’ve ever celebrated. After all, chocolate and happiness go hand-in-hand, right? 😉

  • lisa

    My favorite food is definatly goulash… I remember when I was a young child, my grandmother used to make it for special occasions such as family reunions… everyone used to ask for it. My mother still makes it the same way when I ask her to. It is such a strong comfort food that takes me back to my childhood. Not to mention how delicious it was! It is an amazing combo!!

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