Cooking, Comedy and WWII

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Cooking, Comedy and WWII

No, I’m not writing about a Downton Abby spin off.  I am writing about giving life to local voices this holiday season by giving a book to all your loved ones.

A very popular idea this gift giving season is to support local.  Why not support local voices, local authors and purchase books from them.   What a great gift to say to an author I value your time, efforts and voice.  From cooking to comedy to love letters from WWII.  Three books have come across my path this holiday season and they couldn’t be any different from each other. Each author hails from Northeast Ohio, two personally growing up in the CH-UH neighborhood.

Are you a chef? Food lover? Lover of Cleveland restaurants? How about:

In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs by Maria Isabella with a forward by Michael Ruhlman (Black Squirrel Books,

This delightful book comprises 35 recipes and full color plates of meals ready in about an hour, all from Cleveland chefs.   In a fitting way, the first chef featured is Sergio Abramof (of Sergio’s in University Circle and SARAVA) who passed away this year.  His legendary Shrimp Santos and Sergio’s Picanha Steak begin the adventure into this fantastic book.

Each section begins with a brief bio and photo of each chef, which I found rather enjoyable to see the faces of Cleveland’s restaurant scene and history.  In addition to the recipes and photos there are wine pairing suggestions for each section, always a good idea in my mind for those of us who stand in front of Trader Joe’s two buck chuck thinking ‘There has to be somewhere to go from here? But where?’ and then grab the tbc anyways.  Maria Isabella’s book is the perfect gift this holiday season for those who want to celebrate Cleveland or just love food and want to add to their classics of cookbooks.

Both these award winning authors, Maria Isabella and Michael Ruhlman (Contributed the forward) hail from Northeast Ohio.


Do you love comedy? Rock music? Or growing up in University Heights? How about:

Tasteful Nudes …and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation by Dave Hill  (St. Martin’s Press,

The back of Dave Hill’s book reads of praise and wonder from a slew of big hitters in the comedy and acting world *with Malcolm Gladwell, a celebrated author and journalist added to the mix.  Dick Cavett, Ira Glass, Sandra Bernhard, Janeane Garofalo.  But don’t let them sway you – get it and give it a weekend to grab you and you’ll add your own praise.

Dave Hill grew up in University Heights, attended Gesu and formed a rock band which eventually in some fashion would take him to the big city of New York, where he currently rocks out, I mean, lives.  He recently had an Olympic themed web series playing on BBC America which was utterly fabulous.  Dave Hill is a bit of every man: comedian, actor, author, rock God and Olympic hopeful.

My favorite chapter in Tasteful Nudes happens to be the first one: ‘Desnudo en el Mar’, in which Dave takes us ‘on assignment’ for a radio program. On the high seas, the bustling waters around Manhattan Dave was invited to experience a ‘clothing optional dinner cruise’.  From the way Mr. Hill writes,  you feel you are right there with him.  It’s  delightful to read how the day progresses and we find Dave almost, yes, quite possibly completely nude reporting  “The more I opened up to the naked people, the more they opened up to me.  With my dingle dangle twisting in the night air, I was no longer a journalist, but simply a fresh new face joining them for a night on the high and sexy seas.”

Dave Hill’s book covers all sorts of adventures of public and personal note.  In addition to simply making me laugh and loving each chapter, Tasteful Nudes  reminded me it’s ok to just be ‘me’ and experiencing the world through my own eyes has value, excitement and often times laughter, just as it has for Dave.  Dave presently rocks out with the band Valley Lodge.


Do you love a good love story? Wonder about the real days of WWII? How about:

My Very Dearest Anna by Kara Martinelli (,

Fire up Pandora, put on The Andrew Sisters and get ready for a heartfelt and engaging book by Northeast Ohio resident, Kara Martinelli.  Kara Martinelli has collected and presented a series of letters from her grandfather, Richard B. Moore to  her grandmother, Anna Woytovich during the course of three years from fall 1943 to spring 1946.

In 2007, Kara was given a purple box covered with a pattern of delicate white flowers.   In it contained letters of hope, love, of the unknown.  She writes of her hesitation to open the box she so often saw her Grandfather cherish, “…I decided to finally open the box so that my family could share in all the details of their story.  Which is really our story too. Our family’s history.”

In today’s fast paced world of electronic communication and iphone and smart tablets – it’s refreshing and a great reminder to slow down and read a book of letters between two people separated by an ocean and a war, waiting for each other with only the written word and paper to connect them.

Three authors, three paths in life and three delightful reads.  All books can be purchased online.  Enjoy and happy reads!

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