Presenting the Chow Bella Book Club; Now Reading: "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks" By Kathleen Flinn

Categories: Literary
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Chow Bella and Changing Hands Bookstore are proud to present the Chow Bella Book Club -- an online book club for people who love food, books and books about food.

Every month, we'll choose a book -- memoir, history, novel, biography, cook book -- that you can buy at a discount from Changing Hands (awesome, right?). I'll review that month's book and then host a "meeting" on the First Tuesday of each month on that month's Chow Bella Book Club blog post to discuss it.

We've got more on the back burner -- including live Chow Bella Book Club events at Changing Hands Bookstore, contests and special guests. So stay tuned and get ready for some real page-turners.

Find out how the idea came about, what this month's book is about -- and how to get your 20% discount on it, after the jump.

This book club idea came about while I was reading (actually listening to -- just finished it) a certain recent chef memoir and wanting to talk about it with someone. None of my close friends had read it or even planned to read it. A book club sounded like a good idea, but I bet you're like me in that I can't always get away for a specific meeting time. 

So, I immediately thought to invite Chow Bella readers into a vibrant but pleasant conversation -- here's a good example of a civil discussion where the parties don't necessarily agree with each other but get everyone thinking. 

Our first selection for the month of October is The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How A Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn. 

We're really excited about this one. It's about a writer, turned Le Cordon Bleu Paris educated chef -- and her fated encounter with a woman who was filling her cart with processed foods at the supermarket. Flinn turned that meeting into a special project, learning from nine novice cooks about the real reasons behind their aversion to real cooking at home, actually get them cooking and even spending a year following up with them.  Intrigued? Ya, us too.

This is a brand new release (out this month), and I'd love to get into a discussion about why people aren't cooking at home more, even though there are more food culture lovers than ever. We know that cooking at home saves you money (we're in a recession, people) and is better for your health (we're fatter and sicker than ever) but it's just not happening. So when Gayle Shanks, co-owner/co-founder of Changing Hands Bookstore made the recommendation, we all agreed this was a great first read. 

If you're in need of some pointers to get your rear in the kitchen more and spend time actually cooking -- or if you're on the other end of the spectrum and wanting to get into the heads of your friends and wonder why the heck they aren't getting their home cooking act together, this book will be a perfect peek through kitchen windows into what's really going on.

Here's some early praise for the book:

"This could be the most important book you'll ever read."
--Morgan Spurlock, Super Size Me

"Kathleen entered the kitchens of strangers and took the time to understand how they think about food before changing their cooking forever."
--Amanda Hesser, Food 52, The Essential New York Times Cookbook

"A life-changing book--entertaining, inspiring, and deeply educational."
--Erica Bauermeister, The School for Essential Ingredients

Hurry up and grab your copy and get ready for next month's post, where we will have at it in the comments section in traditional book club style. 

Chow Bella Book Club members can get their copy through Changing Hands for 20% off -- to do so, print this coupon. You can also order online at -- they'll mail it to you, or you can go pick it up at the store.

Make sure to set up a snack station next to your computer to nibble on while you follow along and/or share your opinions in the comments section of the blog posts to follow -- starting the first Tuesday of every month. That means we'll be discussing Kitchen Counter Cooking School on November 1st at 7 p.m., so put it on your calendars, folks.

While it won't be a live discussion, we'd love for it to be quasi-live. It'd be cool if we could get the discussion rolling soon after the Chow Bella Book Club "meeting" blog post is published but if it's a few weeks or months later and you want to chime in on your opinion, we'd love that, too.

See you next month!

Jennifer Woods is a freelance food writer -- an Arizona native who has lived and worked in the food industry (in one way or another) in the Valley for the last 11 years.  She is currently a work-from-home-mom who loves to cook, eat, read about food, support local food producers and share that love with her husband and two small kids.


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Now consider this, You want to go to the beach, you get in your car and the navigation system tells you to drive west for 340 miles. You drive and drive, stay the course, never questioning the direction you've taken . You don't stop, you enjoy the drive and the prospect of a day at the beach. The drive is a non issue because you trust the source and the information provided was precise and made complete sense to you. 340 miles later you're wiggling your toes in the sand.


(Wow - my message got broken up. That's what I get for drafting it in my email! Sorry!)


OK, so I was at the reading yesterday, and it was everything and more than I had hoped. This book was an excellent book club choice. I felt it speaks to people from all walks of life, whether they are pretty adept home-cooks, or currently lacking in that department, but wishing they could muster up the skills/courage/confidence to get in there and get their hands dirty.

As I wrote to Kathleen in an email,  I have appreciated this book more than any other I've read in a few years. I share the same curiosity and passion with regard to food and home cooking and feeding ourselves.

In my line of work as a wellness counselor for a corporate wellness program, I already do a lot of the asking and encouraging part when it comes to guiding people toward eating out of windows, boxes and bags a little less and cooking real food at home a little more. Outside of my full time gig, I have occasional private clients for wellness and nutrition coaching. I go to their homes, do kitchen/pantry inventories, take them grocery shopping (their way, and then a revised way), etc.

I also take occasional cooking classes whenever I can. Mostly practical stuff, or things I'd like to get better at. Not fancy gourmet cuisine. I am not interested in reaching that level of aptitude in the kitchen, though I wouldn't mind getting there organically, just by continuing to learn and practice skills. I just want to make and eat real food that keeps me healthy and tastes good - prepared in a realistic, practical way. And I want to help other people get to the point where they, too, want that for themselves.

KCCS and Kathleen's approach gave me permission to not feel bad or less-than for not being a "real chef." I've held back when it comes to teaching some of my clients to cook, beyond things like how to make quinoa or beans, for example. Even when they've asked me to! I felt that I'd be an impostor, since I wasn't formally trained, and I may not always be doing things the "right" way.

Kathleen wrote in my book: "Be fearless in your kitchen and in life!" Maybe it's her stock book signing phrase, or maybe it was my very own personal message. But she was spot-on with it. I do just get in there and cook, and experiment, and find what works for me. I have confidence that I can make a good meal and feed myself and my loved ones well. And that is what I would be able to offer my clients, and it would be an honor and an expression of my passion for this stuff to be able to give them the confidence I have to make healthy, delicious, albeit sometimes imperfect, food.

I have this book and Kathleen (and her brave volunteers!) to thank for the extra boost of confidence and inspiration.


Your article caught my eye-I do love food, books and books about food.  Thought I'd try a sample on my kindle, I'm hooked-on my way to buy the book-there are just some books I have to have for my cookbook shelf.  The online book club is a great idea...and I definitely will be there...

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