The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients

Before last week, I had not finished a single book since Little Bean was born.

This is, for me, an utterly astounding sentence. I used to read the way I breathed air: continuously, sometimes quickly, sometimes slow and consciously, always. I used to read while walking down the street, brushing my teeth, and sitting at red lights in the car. I grew so attached to the world within the covers of books that I deliberately slowed down when I loved one, for fear that it would end soon. When I finally finished Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, I actually flung it against the wall and shouted, “F_ you for being done!” (Truly, I loved that book.)

So, to go almost a year without reading a book all the way through? Goodness, who is this?

Hi, I’m a mama. And a writer.

There are no more languid hours, the way I had when I was a kid, bending my back over the arm of the couch, the book over my head, to catch the dying light in the sky by which I was reading. Now, I have half-open books perched on surfaces around the house. I’ve been waiting for some time without writing a book to get back to them.

Now that I have done this twice, I know: I can’t read books when I’m in the middle of writing one. Words bleed into my sentences, ones I had never considered before. Phrases I read on white paper make it onto my screen before I notice fully, and then I have to erase. Magazine articles, the newspaper cover to cover, essays in books, and an endless array of oddities online? I haven’t stopped those. But entire books? Nope.

Not until last week, when I sat down while Little Bean was napping, and read The School of Essential Ingredients in a day and a half. And when I closed the last page, slowly, I grew a little teary that I had finished it so soon.

I don’t want to tell you too much, because you might want to read it yourself. Just know that the story circles through a cooking school, run by a woman named Lillian who has a calm demeanor, capable hands, and an understanding for people that comes from her past. Stories emerge with each class, from homemade pasta and chocolate cake. Not that much happens, in the Hollywood sense, but everything rumbles under the surface, in the glacial way that human relations actually happen.

And the way that Erica Bauermeister describes food Β— slow and sensuous, filled with poignancy and a sense of presence Β— made me lift up my eyes and take them in. And they made me hungry.

I read this book as I slipped under the hot waters of a bath. I picked it up as Little Bean napped, my hands curved around a hot cup of coffee. And I devoured the last pages in the warm lamplight of the living room, on the end of the couch where I fed Little Bean just a few hours before.

I finally read an entire book. This one was such a wonderful warmth and loveliness to begin it all again.

p.s. I believe in sharing, especially because plenty of us cannot afford new hardback books these days. So I’m giving away my copy, now that I have finished it. Leave a comment here, and make sure I have some way of reaching you. The Chef and I will randomly select a number at the end of the week and choose one of you! We’ll put the book in the mail, with a little present for you from us.

237 comments on “The School of Essential Ingredients

  1. 42 words of inspiration

    As a college undergrad in a science major, I haven’t finished a book (besides a textbook) in far too long. I started MFK Fisher’s The Gastronmical Me a few days ago, and already it feels like a book that I will dread the end of because it’s so filled with pleasant, heavy, satisfying words of food. The School of Essential Ingredients sounds like the perfect companion to my Fisher. I would love to read it, and my e-mail is in case I get picked!
    Checking your blog instead of doing my chem homework…how does this always happen?

  2. soopling

    This is the second time I’ve read an absolutely awed review of this book. Now I feel certain I ought to read it!

  3. Lisa

    I’m in my last year of university, doing a science degree and applying to grad school, and I feel like the fifteen minutes I snatch every night to read a chapter before I go to sleep is the only thing keeping me sane. I can’t devour books the way I do when I’m on holidays, but the little sips each night revive me…

    P.S. Do you know where you can get a set of the little rubber spacers shown on the Le Creuset in your masthead?

  4. Helen

    oh! i so identify with the not-able-to-finish-a-book affliction! as a mamma, i wasn’t able to read consistently until my little one turned 2. as a student, i read between quarters. so now I put the books down if it doesn’t strike my fancy – there are too many good ones out there to waste time on the mediocre…

    you may find me at bhelenperryATgmailDOTcom!

  5. Cove Girl

    I’d love to give it a read. Being in school I’m always looking for a new book to read that doesn’t deal with anything that I study. I need some new books for my list to finish.

    You can contact me at In case I’m the lucky chosen one.

  6. Clair Shearar

    That is exactly how I felt after finally being able to read again after so long. (2 small boys, enough said!) πŸ™‚


  7. Jenn

    I love books, until I had children, a book was just an extension to my own hand. Now that they are older, much older, I *almost* have as much time to read.

    Thanks for the review. The book sounds lovely.

  8. Anonymous

    I recently discovered your website and love all the great information you provide. Since my boyfriend was diagnosed with celiac’s a couple of years ago, I try to stock our pantry with as much gluten-free products as possible. One item I’d like to share is KIND Fruit and Nut Bars ( They are wheat free, gluten free, and dairy free. There are several different flavors and are a great little snack, especially to keep in your purse.
    After reading one of your blogs, I am definitely going to check out Mariposa’s Bakery items. Anyway, keep up the good work!

  9. Cloudscome

    I know just what you mean about the shock of no longer having time to inhabit the books. Becoming Mama blows that away, doesn’t it? I think for me that lasted until my oldest was six and started reading with his own absorption.

    Life being what it is, now I am in a (hopefully short) period where I am fighting cancer and actually have long hours at home alone, left wide open for reading. Your book sounds so lovely! If I don’t win it I’ll look for it at the library.

    cloudscome at yahoo dot com

  10. Emily

    Oh, that sounds wonderful; I do so love the pay it forward message and if I won would be sure to try and do so after I devoured it.

  11. beth

    Thank you for sharing your heart, talents, and passion for helping others (and wonderful recipes of course!)…with each one of us. After becoming a ‘gluten free girl’, my life is so much better! You are a blessing. πŸ™‚

  12. dΓ€nika

    Shauna, how could anyone not want to read that book after reading this post?! Count me in.

    I can completely relate to dreading a book’s conclusion, slowing down when you’re nearing the end to try to delay the inevitable. There are several I’ve done that with, but one that I truly fretted over, deliberately putting the book down and walking away for a bit, was the last Harry Potter book. Silly, perhaps, but knowing that after I finished it, I’d never have that excited anxiousness of beginning a new HP adventure…oh, so poignant!

    mailfordanika @ gmail dot com

  13. kingindc

    This sounds wonderful! I too have been in a reading lull. I’m looking forward to checking this one out!

  14. Janel

    What a great idea! I can relate to what you say about not having time to read a book apart from snipits from the “What to Expect” series ever since I became a Mom for the first time 2 1/2 years ago and more recently, as my younger daughter was born in November.

    The book sounds wonderful. If I don’t win your copy, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it on Amazon.

    If you think books are expensive in the USA, try buying those English versions here in Holland where a new English paperback will set you back $20! Your book was the first hardback I’d bought since moving here in 2002!

  15. Jennifer B

    Sounds like a good book! I know what you mean about not reading much after having a child. By the time you can find a chance to put your feet up and rest, reading almost sounds like too much work!

  16. babyjenks

    that sounds like a wonderful book!

    have you read “serve the people” by jen lin-liu yet? i’m in the middle of it and it’s really good, if you haven’t read it yet, i recommend it. it’ll make you crave chinese food something terrible!

    i would love to win your copy of this book! i can be reached at babyjenks9ATgmailDOTcom.

    thanks for sharing your thoughts shauna!

    ~ sabe

  17. face

    I read this and your glutenfreegirl blog, and just want to thank you for both. Your words and pictures are inspiring. And I really wouldn’t expect you to post a hardback book to the UK, but I wanted to say thank you for all your work anyway! With the book-writing and the baby, I don’t know how you fit everything into your day!

    And I’m supposed to be cataloguing law books right now. You’re very distracting. Hmm.

  18. Anonymous


    I know the feeling! I am also a college student. It’s my last semester and until this past Christmas I hadn’t had the chance to read a book for fun in almost 2 years. Fortunately, I found your book at the library and I couldn’t put it down. I felt so satisfied when I reached the last page. From your review I imagine this book will have a similar effect. It is so kind of you to pass it along. My e-mail is, just in case I get lucky! Thanks so much!

  19. Engineer Baker

    I completely agree – depending on what I’m reading at the time, my vocabulary changes. Luckily, it meant that I had a huge vocab growing up, but I can see how it could get in the way of writing. Kudos for getting the time to read a book again – it sounds fabulous!

  20. Carolyn Erickson

    Seems like I haven’t read a complete book in 6 or more months. My days were filled with researching/shopping for/preparing GF food. And then there was the election and the economic news that I just “had” to keep up with! The School of Essential Ingredients sounds like a wonderful remedy. πŸ™‚

  21. Libby

    I understand. When I was in law school, I was completely overwhelmed by the volume of dry required reading each night. It was dense, and it made reading for pleasure a thing of the past for years to come. I’ve just finally rediscovered my rhythm with books, and can’t get enough again. Just like when I was a kid. I’d love to read this. I love passing along books.

    elizabeth (dot) ann (dot) wilson (at) gmail (dot) com

  22. Anonymous

    I’m otherwise known as ‘The Devourer of Books’. I read constantly…backstage, waiting for my cue, in the bath, curled up on the couch…life is not complete without books.’re also friends on Facebook, Catherine Nou****

  23. rollergirl

    I’m on the wait list at my library. How generous to give away a book you loved so much; I have a hard time parting with those!

  24. San

    (Hope this doesn’t come through twice – PC weirdness today!)

    I’ve never been much of a fan of food-related books but I loved yours and this one sounds fabulous.

  25. Rachel

    Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I like it so much I am considering purchasing a copy instead of waiting for the library’s copy to be returned.

    I remember the first year of my littles lives. I was amazed if I finished anything besides dinner. Then as they get older mom gets more time but they get more independant.

  26. Kylie of Thin Crust, Deep Dish

    Hi Shauna,
    As always, your writing delights me. This is most definitely the next book I’ll be reading.
    Take care,

  27. Karen (aka MrsB)

    I found your blog because my husband has Celiacs so naturally I subscribed. I’m also a “reader” claiming it as one of my passions. I don’t get to read much during the school year but during summers and vacation weeks I revert to my old self. πŸ™‚
    Might I suggest audio books to you for those times when you can multi-task? I borrow the CD version from my library and rip them so I can listen on my ipod at the gym, walking outside, working around the house, etc. In fact, sometimes the reader has such a captivating voice that it grips me tightly.

    I too, have that melancholy feeling when finishing a good, long book. I recently finished Pillars of the Earth and felt exactly the same way.

  28. Callista Cassady

    Ooh, I wish they had it at the library; I’d check it out right now! Thanks for the review, it sounds fantastic.

  29. Eileen

    Sounds like a great book – I’m always looking for new things to read so I hope I win! πŸ™‚ My contact info is eciravolo at gmail dot com.


    Hi! My son, Luke will be 7 months old next weekend and I think I might be ready to kick back into my reading habit. I’ve only been reading the New Yorker and news (and of course, my blogs). Thanks for the recommendation and thanks for the chance to win! Heidi, from Boston who loves your blog.

  31. Anonymous

    I’m so happy you finished writing your book and are back to posting on your blog. I’ve been reading it for a couple months off and on and have throughly enjoyed it. I just figured out that I’m allergic to gluten—sorta self diagnosed myself—I’m away from home and it made it easier to test myself then to wait till Christmas break when I travelled back home from Austria. Anywho, I have been extremely encouraged from reading your blog—for I too have not had the time, or rather made the time to sit and read a book all the way through *(I think I have 5 started?). By the way, I’ll be in Seattle in late August or September and I can’t wait to go to some of the places that you’ve written about πŸ™‚ I think I’ll be bringing a suitcase for food—haha.

    Well, I’m gonna go grab myself something to eat and read up on the rest of the posts I’ve missed since I’ve been up in the mountains cooking for 150+ pastors πŸ™‚

  32. angela@spinachtiger

    Even if I don’t win the book, you have tempted me. I know what you mean about finishing books. The last one I finished was Alice Waters and it took a long plane ride for me to have the still time. So glad I did. You can easily find me at

    I am an avid fan of yours although not gluten sensitive. I still try to cut the wheat several days a week.

  33. cohsmama

    I’ve been asking around for years for books to help me enjoy being a cook. I adore parenting and read about it. I adore birth and read about it. It makes sense that to adore cooking, reading about it would help. This book sounds perfect.

    On the flip side, going gluten free has forced me to slow my life and spend more time in the kitchen. Interestingly enough…I’m enjoying cooking. Thanks for all your great receipes and thoughts.

    We just taste tested your pie recipe against Rebecca Riley’s. They were both good. Yours won, hands down. One essential recipe down. Not too many more to go.

    Ann (

  34. BC

    When I first met my husband, I asked him what types of books he liked to read.

    “I don’t read except for text books.”

    It was as if he sprouted two heads! Unbelievable. He was new to Canada…. maybe the language was a barrier? There were serious doubts about whether or not this could be a long term relationship.

    Thankfully love opened new aspects of the world. He became enamored with books and I graduated from Cheeze Whiz.

    Your blog and book have helped this newly diagnosed celiac family tremendously. My daughter loves, just loves, her new gluten free life.

  35. Ms. George

    The parents of a former student gave me Middlesex at the end of the school year as thanks for being an inspiration for their daughter. I loved it, too… haunting and beautiful.
    Thanks for this review. If I don’t win, I’m off to the library or the used book store.

  36. JN

    I enjoy your blog and all your ideas/recommendations for pushing ouselves out more into trying new things and then trying to cook them!
    Have seen several good reviews of this book and would love to read it. As a librarian, I applaud your sharing your copy. It’s so fun to read a copy of a book “loved” by someone else.


  37. Summer

    I love to read a book that makes me feel like I am reluctantly leaving the home of a good friend after a period of intense bonding.

    Thanks for sharing!

  38. Laura

    I’d love a chance to win the book. Reading about cooking is definitely the ultimate hobby beating out reading and cooking, each done separately.

  39. Odetta MacLeish-White

    I can really relate to the “not finishing a book when I used to eat them for lunch” cycle now that I’m a mom too and a working mom. I would be honored to own a book loved by a fellow reader. If I’m lucky enough my cell number is 352-283-1783. Guess in this crazy internet world it might be safer to give you that info and share my address another way. IF I win!
    Great idea, by the way!

  40. electricdaisy

    Just found your blog, looking for gluten-free recipes/communities. I second the undergrad up there – I don’t have time for pleasure reading anymore, now that I am in my junior year. However, this book sounds very interesting. In case I win, I can be reached at

  41. Rachel

    Sounds like a lovely book. I am currently reading three books at once. There is something so wonderful about being inside a story that I can never keep myself involved in just one story at a time.

    my email is:

  42. Leslie

    I know what you mean about reading being a treat!! I remember the carefree days I used to spend with my nose in a book . . . *sigh* My kids are at least old enough now when I can declare it quiet reading time and MAYBE have them cooperate. But not usually!

    The School of Essential Ingredients sounds amazing. I love books like that, when they deliciously unfold and draw you in without you even being aware! Thanks for the chance, Shauna!

  43. jbeach

    I’ve been hearing/reading so much about this book — dying to read it!! Thanks for the chance to win! πŸ™‚

  44. Chestnut

    I’d love to read this. Isn’t it just the best feeling when the words of an author truly move and tantalize you. I’m always taking lessons from books I love and trying to subtly weave them into my own writing. Your style is so lovely, Shauna, and always a pleasure to read.


    Hi there! I’m excited to check this out, though i couldn’t be more of a mess in the kitchen. But it’s all about little moments of bravery, right? I’m positive that my celiac diagnosis was a shout in the face, “you can do more than you think!” thanks for all of the support!

  46. Sarah

    Good morning!

    Although I don’t have a little one, I have not finished a book in a while, life has been busy. I would love to win this one and read it cover to cover!

    Thank you!

  47. Sarahem321

    I LOVE Jeffery Eugenides. I smiled when I read your reaction to finishing Middlesex. I took three days to finish the last twenty pages of that book.

  48. Sommer

    I have been following your blog ever since i was diagnosed as having a wheat allergy. Your blog about gluten definitely has helped me out.
    I would love to read this book!


  49. gfkris

    Shauna and Chef,

    I’ve heard great things about this book. I’m a late thirty-something mom… 3 kids (2 are Celiac) and they inspired me to go back to school. Culinary school – to be exact. My friends all say this book is right up my alley. I just haven’t had the time to go out and purchase it yet! I can’t wait to read it!!!

  50. emily

    I’ve been reading for a while, but never commented.
    Thanks for feeding us in more ways than one. I’ve tried and enjoyed several of your wonderful recipes (new fav – the oatmeal pancakes), and I am always looking for a good book recommendation.


  51. juststudying

    I can’t get enough food and cooking related books lately so I would love to devour this one and add it to my collection.

  52. Le Hot Tomato

    Books that tell stories through food are one of my favorite escapes because it is so easy to lose your self in something so familiar and universal. The book I’ve been reading (The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell) has been so emotionally trying and so amazing, it would be nice to move on to something a bit more comforting.

    –Emily (

  53. this girl

    Thanks so much for the book review, this is the second I’ve recently read. Your review makes me crave the words between the pages.


    Sounds like a lovely read! Thanks for the recommendation – and for promoting the idea of passing books along to others. What a lovely thing to do.
    Should I be the lucky winner, you can reach me through my blog. Just click my name here.

  55. Val

    I would love to win this! Your site and book are inspiring me to cook well for myself with my new Celiac diagnosis, and I’m sure this book would help, too.
    Congratulations for finishing your first book this year and thank you for having such a generous spirit to pass it on.

  56. Michelle

    I’m 45weeks into living gluten free, and I found your blog on the first day. That day, I think I went through most of the pages you’d posted. I love reading about your love of food, and that you have not allowed the lifestyle change to affect it. Your blog consistently gives me hope.

    msmishka [at] gmail [dot] com

  57. EB Photo and Design

    I would LOVE to read this book. I have learned so much about food from you and your blog. I am so thankful that I am gluten-free and that I am able to make wiser choices about our meat and even our cleaning products. For a while I think I was like the Remy’s brother, Emile in Ratatouille and now I am constantly learning. Thank you (you and the Chef)for blessing me with your knowledge.

  58. kingraham

    I, too, was a voracious book reader as a child, lugging home armfuls of books from the library which probably weighed more than I did! I have fond memories of hiding out, curled up in a chair in Mom’s bedroom, reading, and finding myself in new and wonderful worlds. This habit has carried over into my adult life. My husband once said, “You read all the time” like it was a bad thing. I told him, “You married an English major – what did you expect?” I hold a BA in English from UMass/Dartmouth, concentrating in writing and journalism. Funny I now work at the Providence Journal as a Prepublishing Specialist, not as a writer. (That is, if I survive the next round of layoffs. It is not a good time to be working at a newspaper.) Anyway, I’d digressΒ…I’d love to check out this “The School of Essential Ingredients.” Thanks for listeningΒ…Karen

  59. Bear and Bones Mama

    How lovely of you! And how green. I have 2 kids – boys – 4 and 2. And just a few months ago I finally started reading, really reading, again. I even joined a book club. It’s a club of moms so we only meet every 2 months, but we are all so excited to meet and eat and drink wine and discuss books without kids pulling on us, it works.

    I hope you pick me!

  60. BandB

    My daughter brought your book to me in the hospital last May after I had colon surgery. (All is well now,thankfully. I am so very lucky). She had learned she is gluten intolerant several months earlier (after a long struggle) and your blog became a light at the end of a tunnel for her. She has done a wonderful job of regaining her health. We both love your writing. Keep up the good work and I am so glad you have found time for yourself to read. I am newly retired, so have rediscovered the world of books myself!!

  61. Melissa

    would love to win this book…new to gluten free and struggling a bit. this one looks inspiring (and educational!)

    melissa (

  62. Bec

    Ooooo, pick me! Pick me! Being a Lit major, reading just might possibly be my favorite thing to do ever. I’m at

    PS. I’m sure you’ve heard this a gazillion times, but your blog has been really helpful to me this past year. Thanks for all the great recipes and tips!

  63. AmΓ©lie

    Hi! I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and fell in love with it. I figured this was as good a time as any to leave a comment.

    I love the way you write. I have relatives who are gluten-intolerant and I am lactose-intolerant myself, so I know what it’s like to have dietary restrictions and still come up with great meals. And I’ve just started my own blog!

    That book you mention looks great, so even if I don’t win I intend to read it.

    Thanks for the great blog! πŸ™‚

    amelieschoice (at) gmail (dot) com

  64. Kara

    Ah… I’ve been having the same problem since I started grad school — haven’t finished anything other than textbooks since. Sad. But this looks wonderful and might be incentive to make time for leisurely reading again. Thanks!

  65. Cicero Sings

    Oh a good read is ALWAYS welcome. Even if I don’t win, I’ll have to try and pick up a copy … maybe the library has it!

  66. Chris

    This looks like an interesting book. Also, my favorite book is Middlesex. I’ve read it 5 times already!

  67. sdlave

    I’ve recently caught up with my reading list now that my twins are almost 2 and a half – way after you managed to do this. πŸ˜‰
    I’d love to read this as well.

    sevir at rocketmail dot com

  68. kfrankly

    Sounds like a lovely book – especially since it is snowing here. Nothing better than to curl up on the couch under a blanket and ready while it quietly snows outside.

  69. Cathi

    I would love to read this book – it sounds wonderful!

    Being a fellow book worm, I just can’t imagine my life without books, so I enjoyed this post.

    Love your writing!

  70. Heather

    Thanks for the tip! After the prize is awarded I’ll have to get myself a copy! I really enjoyed your book. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  71. Kathleen

    Hi! I’m a mama and a reader! I saw this book recently and was intrigued – almost picked it up, then decided not to spend the $. I’m right in the middle of “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry” by Kathleen Finn. I’d love to follow it up with this book. Hope you choose me! Thanks for doing this.

  72. shen

    Oh Shauna. The way you describe your feelings about “The School of Essential Ingredients” is almost identical to how I felt reading your book. If she writes like you do, like we are sitting together and you are telling me the story, then I can’t wait to read it. Many blessings to you and your beautiful family. Sincerely, Sheri

  73. Courtney

    As soon as I saw your review I went immediately to my library page to place a hold. I only have 70 something people in front of me haha. I’ve been looking for a good book for a long time. Thanks for the recommendation as well as the give-away!

  74. Megan

    I just checked our local library’s website and they have one copy on the shelf! We are heading out now to get it…

  75. Anonymous

    Love reading. Glad you finally found your place again! It’s hard, I know. Funny how they sleep almost as much as a cat but the time doesn’t seem to last very long. Be prepared to lose more hours soon. But great hours they are!

    Rochelle Norman

  76. jill elise

    I was that kid who couldn’t keep her nose out of a book. I’d read in the car until I couldn’t see the words on the pages anymore (my parents wouldn’t drive with the inside lights on), I would walk around the house reading until the very last second before I HAD to put it down, when I got into the shower or ran out to catch the bus to school. Now, I can’t fall asleep until I’ve read a bit. I wish I had more time to read. (I also loved Middlesex, recommended to me by my 16 year old sister, who’s also a bookworm).

  77. Rosiecat

    Oh, I can’t resist a contest like this one! Thank you for the delicious recommendation. I’ll put this book on my list of items to find at the library…or at the bookstore if I just can’t wait to read it myself!

    Rose-Anne at

  78. Ackery

    I’m a mama and a writer who just finished her first book, and the baby has just now gotten into a nap schedule that allows me to read. Good gravy, I’ve missed it!

  79. Andrea

    This is wild: I just posted this to my “Want to Read” list on facebook… yesterday!!

    I loved Middlesex too. Two others I loved for the experience of reading them as much as for the books themselves: The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Book of Negroes (which I believe is published as “Someone Knows my Name” in the States). Happy reading!

    andrea (dot) j (at) shaw (dot) ca

  80. La NiΓ±a

    I haven’t been able to finish books either lately. And you know why. Not a baby, but a 22 and 24 year old. They never stop needing attention, I guess. Put me in the lottery, too. I need something beautiful and distracting in a good way…

  81. Sarah

    Wow, that’s so generous of you.

    I’m happy that you were able to finish a book, and such a great one at that! I am yet to experience the unique nature of limited time when a parent. Although studying definitely gets in the way of my reading for pleasure time.

  82. Tuan's Princess

    When going GF for my ds I realized that I also am intolerant of gluten. Would love this book!

  83. Nikkithegreek

    I haven’t finished a book in 4 years since my daughter was born. I would love to devour this one.

  84. Taryn

    I am so thrilled to hear that someone shares my desire to gift hardcover books! Although I have my few guilty pleasures (and by few, I may actually mean a cool fifty or so) I absolutely encourage 'paying it forward'- book style.

    However, I could have sworn Tea&Cookies has also made mention of this same novel? Great minds do think alike…. or should I say share?


  85. michaela

    This looks wonderful! My daughter is nearly 3, and I’ve only recently had the stamina for books… it’s such a lovely thing, to get immersed in a book and only occasionally come up for air. I hope your Little Bean and my girl come to know that pleasure as well. πŸ˜‰

  86. andhidean

    Firstly, I would like to ask, “Did you throw this particular book at the wall?” I like to have books in good condition…

    Secondly, thanks for your openness, honesty and genuine desire to help others. I’ve laughed and cried through your “gluten-free girl” book and benefited (greatly!) from your recipes – both of you!

    I’ve been the proverbial “fly on the wall” reading and learning from your blog. [Since I’m typing this, the fly has a voice!] You two have definitely made a difference and contributed to the enjoyment of food again! …and I LOVE food!

  87. Tori

    Isn’t it strange how things can change so quickly? I used to read a few books a week and now, I’ve read 1 start to finish since the beginning of the year.

    This one looks like one I would dive into and come up a day later finished.

  88. Pat

    Reading the Publishers Weekly review at Amazon, I can see why Shauna likes it so much. I’m 12 pages from the end of “Gluten-Free Girl” and have greatly enjoyed reading her mouthwatering descriptions of the favorite foods in her life. Sounds like “Essential Ingredients” will yield even more delicious delights.

  89. Jennywenny

    Of course I’d love to read your book, I’d be sure to pass it on to someone else in light of your generosity!

  90. moi

    I missed literature SOOO much when I had a baby – I found that books on tape (or on ipod nowadays) could be listened to while multitasking and it took a long time but I made it through two Tolstoys very happily

    when I finally got lit back my sleep and dreams improved so much – it was very odd but it reminded me how literature is as essential as food for some of us

  91. Ricki

    I had the same experience after finishing a dissertation–couldn’t pick up a book for about a year! This sounds like a great one. And what a lovely idea to give it away! Would love to win it, thanks!
    Ricki at

  92. Missy

    I love me some books about food! I would rather read about food than anything else!

    Right now I’m reading “The Story of Sushi”, and in the last few months I’ve read “The Secret Life of Lobsters”, and “The Omnivore’s dilemna”.

    Luckily my boyfriend and I like a lot of the same books so we can share… but those hardbacks can be pretty spendy!

    Thanks for offering to share your copy!


    missydarlin at hotmail dot com

  93. Valerie

    cooking and food are becoming quite a passion of mine since losing almost 40 pounds four years ago. i enjoy reading your blog each week and love the recommencation. the book sounds wonderful and i look forward to diving into it.

  94. Heather

    I know exactly what you mean. Only recently (my youngest is 3) have I approached anything even remotely like the pace at which I used to devour books.
    This one sounds like a keeper!

    monsteratemy AT

  95. la NiΓ±a

    Hey Shauna-
    I commented earlier this morning, but it seems to have disappeared into the ethers. Par for the course, I guess.

    Please throw me into the lottery. If I ever finish one of the current books I’m reading- Michael Chabon’s new one, which takes place in Sitka… or Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard”- the Newbery winner… I’ll send one your way.

  96. Sasha Lynn

    I’m parenting two crazeeeeee teenagers and have been infected with some kind of puberty related ADD – I am currently in the middle of no less than 5 books (mostly because I keep losing the one I’m working on and starting another), but I’d love to add this one to the list. πŸ™‚

  97. kitschen

    Hi Shauna-

    Just wanted to say that your blog is wonderful and I took you up on a few of your other reccommendations….hello gluten free chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream! πŸ™‚ Thanks for all your good work.

    Contact me at diehardfoodie(at)gmail(dot)com

  98. Julie

    The book sounds great! I love books like this. I just finished Gluten-Free Girl and am so glad to have been introduced to your site. πŸ™‚ Thanks for all the great tidbits, recipes, and thoughts and for making being gluten-free so do-able and fun!

  99. Julie

    The book sounds great! I love books like this. I just finished Gluten-Free Girl and am so glad to have been introduced to your site. πŸ™‚ Thanks for all the great tidbits, recipes, and thoughts and for making being gluten-free so do-able and fun!

  100. portia2008

    Currently I’m studying for the bar exam. My main study place is at the public library. My room thankfully is an aisle away from the cookbook section (secret. . . YEAH) I am sooooo looking forward to being done with this test I have started a book list and I have already started buying and trading . . . so I am really happy to have a chance at free copy of a great book.

  101. Erin

    What a fantastic phrase. I’ve never heard the word ‘glacial’ used to describe human relationships, but now I can’t imagine why!! Perfect word. A+ for you!

    Pick me for the free book!!

  102. Carrie

    As a newfound GF eater, I am beginning to slowly understand the blessing with which I have been provided. In addition to returning to Europe last summer (the first week I started GF), I realize the joy and beauty in the simple ideas of food. My book club would love this book. Food and babies are the main constant at our discussions.

    I’ll check back for the results–

  103. Brj

    I have a book I’d really like to send to you too…one I think the three of you will enjoy for years to come. It was given to me as a teenager; one of those tattered books you have read, underlined and marked up and down.

    I’ll send you mine if you send me yours. πŸ™‚

    Good vibes and loving wishes to you and your lovely family.


  104. honeypumpkin

    oh what a wonderful thing to read again! I have just started to read again after becoming a mommy as well – this book sounds right up my alley. even if i don’t win, i hope my library carries it so that i may read it.

    thanks for you.
    robin DOT avila88 AT gmail DOT com

  105. Jennifer

    I’ve been dying to read this book!! And as someone who is planning to get pregnant soon, I am trying to slow down and enjoy the lazy, self-indulgence of reading a book uninterrupted while I still can….

  106. Anonymous

    I’m an English major and haven’t finished an entire book in at least a year! Gasp. 2 kids and lots of writing have zapped reading things in their entirety I guess. This book sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing the book and for all of your wonderful recipes, ideas and info. Cheers!
    Jeanine (jeaninertl at yahoo dot com)

  107. Anonymous

    I don’t have children yet, so I still read constantly! I would love the chance at this book, sounds amazing.
    Thank you for the opportunity.
    one18fifteen (at) aol (dot) com

  108. Kinderhook

    I would love to read this book, and there is no way I can buy a hardcover book these days. So I hope you’ll randomly choose me. It would brighten my day! Thanks.

  109. njskog

    I love reading books about foods – and treat cookbooks like novels a lot of the time!

    njskog AT knology DOT net

  110. Anonymous

    Reading your daily snippets of wisdom have me summoning the gumption to return to the kitchen and bake again….am a former pastry chef>>>four years out diagnosed with celiac…you are a pearl!!!
    10 Black Rock Rd.
    Chadds Ford,PA 19317

  111. becca

    I’m a new mom and maybe this ill be my first book to finish too! Please send it along to me … beccaroni77 @ hotmail dot com

  112. Becca

    Going through my masters to become a librarian I read far too little for pleasure… and I remember those years now that I’ve graduated, so I read as much and as often as I can.
    Lately food has been my favourite subject matter. I would love to read the author who makes such an amazing food writer as yourself tear up.

    becca_cleaver (at) yahoo (dot)ca

  113. Rosalind

    ohhhhh it sounds wonderful….and even if I don’t win I shall buy it for myself (along with your new book when it comes out!) Good luck with writing….
    Roz xx

  114. kate

    I got a review copy of this book from the publisher and reviewed it over on my blog a while back. I couldn’t agree with you more. It is such a special and lovely book. It is rare that I read the books sent to me for review and absolutely fall in love, but this one- I can say without doubt that it is a most special book, and worthy of every line of praise that I gave to it.

    (And I’m passing along my copy, too. Must be something about this book that makes us want to absorb it and then pass it along!)

  115. kate

    I got a review copy of this book from the publisher and reviewed it over on my blog a while back. I couldn’t agree with you more. It is such a special and lovely book. It is rare that I read the books sent to me for review and absolutely fall in love, but this one- I can say without doubt that it is a most special book, and worthy of every line of praise that I gave to it.

    (And I’m passing along my copy, too. Must be something about this book that makes us want to absorb it and then pass it along!)

  116. Amy Shelf

    I have two kids, the oldest is nearly 8. If you can make me read a book I’d be so grateful.

    amy at amyshelf dot com

  117. kathy b

    I can’t image life without books. My brother got me one of the ebook reader for my birthday, but I don’t like it. I want a book in my hands when I read. I was also afraid I would drop the ebook reader in the bath tub, since that’s where I read most of the time. Thanks for your wonderful blog and everyone keep reading.

    kathy b aka


    I can’t image life without books. I got an ebook reader for my birthday but I don’t like it. I want a book in my hands to read. take care and keep reading.

  119. Geo

    Come and live with me, lovely book, and I shall read you cover to cover as well, in the bath, on the sunny porch, while I stir my soup, when I laze under my ducky comforters!

    pogofig at gmail dot com

  120. alison@surefoodsliving

    I hardly ever read books any more (too much time on the computer!!) I need a good one!
    email is same as my username here + .com

  121. Sarcastic Celiac

    The summer after kindergarten, I read 313 books and won the local library’s summer reading program contest. I received a shiny blue plaque with my name engraved on it.

    Things have changed just a little in the 18 years since. I read medical journals and textbooks, not novels or biographies. I want to go back! Maybe I’ll consider your recommendation of this book the impetus to get back to my pleasure reading roots. Thanks!

  122. kristy

    i work in a library and still don’t have as much time as i would like to read books! this one sounds amazing πŸ˜‰

  123. Anna

    Oooo I love reading so much. Just as much as I love cooking, and eating and entertaining people. You know how some days you just realize that life truly is a beautiful gift? Today is that day for me. I am blessed and love that you share your blessings with the world via your blog.

  124. GFE--gluten free easily

    It took me a while to read a book after our son was born, too, but even in short sessions books are such a joy. I can’t see myself doing ebooks either, but I really have been enjoying audiobooks lately. The 15-minute ride to and from work or the 30-minute ride to and from “town” becomes such a joy when I am listening to a good audiobook. Any book just takes you away for a bit. I’ve even listened to books that I’ve read before like Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. That one is worthy of both and you’ll get completely different insights from each. Lately, I am on a Julia Glass audiobook phase. I really like a book that is lengthy. Like you, I don’t want them to end too soon. (The Pillars of the Earth easily met that criteria!) Anyway, this book looks (a good cover says so much!) and sounds wonderful.


  125. Adrienne

    Sounds like a lovely book – and what a great idea to give it away! Books, like food, are best when shared with others. πŸ™‚

    (amdawson at austin dot rr dot com)

  126. Amy

    Ah! Sharing books! I would love to have a book club where at the beginning everyone chose a different book and we all passed them in a big circle every few weeks/month until we had read them all. Then everyone would have read 12 or so books for very little at all.

    I would love to start with this one!

  127. Karen

    Sounds delicious, I would love a good read that might inspire me to feel passionate about food again. Feeding a family of five (the youngest 17 months)gluten free, I haven’t had time to feel inspired in the kitchen in quite sometime. My tastebuds are bored to tears!!!
    (It is also my birthday this week:)

  128. earthmother

    And the way that Erica Bauermeister describes food Β— slow and sensuous, filled with poignancy and a sense of presence…

    Sounds like the way Shauna Ahern describes food too!

    Pick me, Mr. Random Number Generator.


  129. julialuli

    The good news is that someday, in the future, while you are waiting at lessons, waiting in the car, waiting at a game, you’ll get to read more again! After the dry period of not having much time to read, I started reading two, three books at a time, something I never did before I had children. Now I wait so much, I have a book or knitting with me at all times. It doesn’t seem like waiting when there are words to fill the minutes!

    julieyen at a o l

  130. Jill

    Shauna, thanks to you now I am inspired to read a book again and hope to find the time. Do you know that I felt the same way about when I finished your book “Gluten Free Girl”? i wanted to cuss you up and down for not making it longer! I can’t wait for your new one. And maybe I’ll win your copy so I have something warm to read in the meantime. Jill at

  131. ninaluna99

    Sounds like she talks about food the way YOU talk about food?! I can’t wait to read it. And I have no baby and no other good excuse, so I am going to turn off the TV and enjoy the luxury of being able to read. Thanks for reminding me to savor my books as well as my food. πŸ™‚

  132. Maya


    I could really use a good book right now. That is, one read for pleasure rather than school course work. Please pick me!

  133. Anonymous

    oh books… when i first had my girl and all she did was sleep i couldn’t figure what people were talking about; i read all the time. and then she woke up! i am learning to surrender to motherhood. small glimpses of books in those late night hours. i just finished my 800 page book and it took me months. i love the idea of passing on books. i like to write my name and location and the date in a really good book and mail it to a friend far far away. it’s almost romantic. i also felt that way about middlesex. i think i read it in 2 days. i’m glad you found a book to finish. good luck on the next one!

  134. The SCD girl

    Shauna and Danny, oh my, how are you ever going to read all these! LOL!

    I am sure you will not pick me waaaaay down here at the bottom. And that is OK. I just wanted to say that I am actually working on a book proposal, and I find that reading Shakespeare is a good way to read while writing… Shakespeare’s words can’t really ‘sneak’ into anything!

    OK, back to Hamlet. πŸ˜€


  135. Sookie St. James

    It’s funny how many comments you get when you are giving something away – good way to get readers to delurk : )

    Sounds like that book would be a great new friend.

  136. carri z.

    hiya mama!
    its (almond glory: ) carri!!
    congrats on EVERYTHING.
    all of it.
    most of all babybean, of course.

  137. Megan

    I finished a course on the psychology of food and haven’t been able to stop reading about food experiences since! I also spend my time reading cookbooks like novels and getting teased for tearing up when I find something I miss that I can change to GF!
    mmphaup at roanoke dot edu

  138. Jo

    With my own little person only three months from arrival (and what an active little person we’ve got! my tummy will never be the same), I’m trying to fit in all the good things I can – gluten-free baking, resting, and reading. This sounds like a wonderful read. Thanks for the review! and the chance to win it, too. πŸ™‚

  139. Anonymous

    I found your site last week through smitten kitchen.
    I am convinced by best friend of about 16 years has Celiac Disease. I have been telling her this for about a year now, and I think your website finally made her listen to me. Your site has been a great resource I look forward to reading your book.

  140. Erika

    Hi, long-time reader of the blog, first-time commenter. Love the idea of the book giveaway. I give most of my books away Β— partly because I don’t like clutter, and partly to share the joy!

  141. timothy

    ooh sounds beautiful. thanks for sharing. i’ll be sure to try to track it down at the library, even if i don’t win…

  142. Emily

    What a lovely gesture! My little guy is almost 2 and I’ve only read one book during his lifetime. I would love to get back in the groove with this book πŸ™‚

  143. Angela

    I respect your opinions greatly and would love to have this book. Thank you for offering your copy, a very kind gesture.


  144. Gina Perry

    The book looks fantastic, will have to pick it up from the library if I’m not the lucky winner here – and I like your book giveaway/share idea, will have to do the same on my own blog sometime. Plus you reminded me that I hadn’t read Middlesex yet and it was on my mental list!

  145. Anonymous

    I’m always amazed when other people speak about reading the same way I feel about it. I’m not a mother so I have no idea how my reading habits will change when I ever become one but I have to say that’s the one bit that scares me, just a little bit πŸ™‚
    How’s that for a confession to the whole wide interweb!
    my email is suzannegoodman at hotmail dot com if i win.

  146. Bernadette

    I just love to read, I cried when I finished your book. At the moment I’m without a book to read so this would be great to win. Thank you both so much for keeping me company in my home, you give so much…

  147. Annie Speicher

    You’ve just gotten so into reading that you want to read all of our comments, also! I guess I am more likely to win your book than the lottery! So I’ll give it a go.

    Comments will be sent to my e-mail account.

  148. theconr

    I’ve been waiting for this book to come out, and (more recently) I’ve been waiting for the chance to buy it – and this post only makes me want to read it even more. Here’s to my chance at winning!

    theconr (at) gmail (dot) com

  149. Jennifer

    My pastime is to read cooking books before bed: it may not be traditional, meaning it may be about a food critic or a journey inspired by food or even as simple as a section from the joy of cooking. You can reach me at or

  150. Lisa-Elaine

    I love how you write and everything you create. You have saved my newly diagnosed, already picky eater, man of my dreams and his lover of cooking (me) from dull foods that bore him to death. You are AWESOME!

    I miss languid hours and falling into something slow and decadent. I too love to savor books until the very last paragraph and am sad when they end.

  151. Crystal

    Food and Literature in one neat package? That sounds almost too good to be true! And I love books where nothing really “happens”, but so much goes on….

  152. debwill

    Greetings from a very hot Melbourne, Australia.

    Just finished reading Gluten Free Girl. A Christmas gift from my girlfriend Margaret, delivered to me in January. Now I’m looking for my next read. The School of Essential Ingredients sounds wonderful and even if I don’t win the book, I’ll go out and buy it.

    I am a coeliac. Diagnosed in August 2004. And reading Shauna’s book was such a refreshing breath of fresh air. Her passion for food and the beautiful way she writes is such a joy to read

    Now I’ve found her blog. I’ll definitely revisit this site soon.

    Today is cooler and the bushfires and nearly all contained. Its been 2 weeks of hell on earth here in Victoria.

  153. Marisa

    I miss reading for fun. Sadly, I may have to wait until I’m done with college. But perhaps I’d make an exception for this book.

  154. Meara

    I’d love to read this. And I’d love to pass it along as well!

    I currently have two books that will migrate amongst friends.

  155. BB

    I loved your book, and can’t wait for the next one to come out! I’ve been reading about you and your adventures from the beginning. They just keep getting better, and I’m so happy for you!

  156. LeAnne

    I felt the same way about Anthony Bourdain’s book, Kitchen Confidential, when I read it years ago. It brought back all of the exciting (and horrifying) memories of culinary school! Thanks for sharing!

  157. equisetaceae

    as a medical student, there isn’t alot of time for non-textbook related reading in my life these days either!

    In fact, the last book that I read through was your inspiring gluten-free girl that I managed to make through by reading for 15 minutes every morning over breakfast! If you are suggesting the school of essential ingredients as a must read then I’m sure I need to find a copy!

    Thanks for the contest shauna!

  158. Shauna

    Hey everyone!

    I’m amazed and thrilled at the number of responses to this. As someone who writes books, I’m so excited that people still love the act of reading, in warm lamplight, with a real book in their hands.

    The Chef called out a number and it landed on Libby. We have a winner! She’ll have the book in her hands soon. And she promises to pass it on, after she has finished reading.

    Clearly, we’re going to have to do more book giveaways. Look for more here soon.

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