And…(Drumroll Please)…The Winner for The Language of Baklava is…

23 02 2009

Hi Cook The Books Friends,

As promised, I have the announcement of the winner for our second book, The Language of Baklava by the wonderful Diana Abu-Jaber. 51khwv1941l_sl500_aa240_Not only did she give us a winner, Diana was kind enough to comment on each post and entry, really going above and beyond because she was so impressed with all of them. Without further ado, I will let her announce our winner in the email she sent me below.

Hi Deb,

I’ve been dazzled by the beautiful cooking as well as the beautiful entries that everyone submitted. There is so much feeling, substance, and authenticity in every single blog, it’s been a pure delight to get to read each and every one of them.

Where to start?

I loved the charming and inventive “nest” of special rice that Arlene made for the grilled chicken, as well as the lovely purity of Betherann’s school-ready hummus; I was thrilled with the range of recipes that Maria tried out, as well as the many personal connections she made with the book. Rachel’s book review was wonderfully insightful, and I wanted to attend her Middle Eastern feast! Simona’s interpretation of Muhammara enchanted me with all her personalized touches, like hand-grated bread crumbs and a topping of freshly made ricotta. Maggie must have created the most photogenically beautiful version of sambusik cookies ever; and Deb’s Middle Easter Platter looked more gloriously tempting than anything I’ve seen at the best Arabic restaurant.

I couldn’t help laughing when I read Judy’s rationale for making Shaking Tea (I hope it helped!) I loved that Foodycat’s used copy had notes in it and a sense of history; I was just delighted that Natashya decided to mark Valentine’s Day with Ful For Love and that she related her own “ful-related” remembrance; Tina had the most charming idea to bring her own childhood dish to the table; I was so impressed that Christine took on the tomato chicken mensaf dish AND that she took to such a challenging character– Aunt Aya! Suzi gets big points for forging ahead on such a yummy stuffed dates dish– while waiting and waiting for a book.

It was exciting to see that Johanna– who also related to the book–tried on the baklava recipe so successfully. And I was dazzled by the abundance and beauty of Mango Missives’ entry alongside her “Feast of Love.” Finally, I was moved deeply by the story that Laurie told about reading the book while confronting her own personal journey with an ailing father.

Of course, in the end I found it impossible to pick a winner, because each of these entries felt so special and intuitive and “true” in such wildly different ways. Even my Facebook friends couldn’t pick a winner after I posted it to my page. So, finally, I decided that I’d liked to give special recognition to Laurie, for the beauty of her story of caring for her father. In the end, I suppose my book is, in large part, a tribute to fathers, and I really appreciated the special way her post reflected that sentiment (not to mention how yummy her spicy kofta looked!)

Thank you again for including me and my book in your grand event. What fun it was to get to know– at least of sliver– of each of you. I’m hoping to return to all of your blogs and I’ve bookmarked several recipes! It will all have to wait till some future date of course–our one-month-old daughter is keeping us running, and we’re living on leftovers for the time being!

Please stay in touch, everyone. And thank you again.
With great gratitude and admiration,



Congratulations Laurie! (Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska) Your beautiful post and your Jordanian Kofta and Yogurt Sauce was the winner! You win the coveted Cook The Books Winner’s Badge for your Blog, a spot on the CTB blogroll, and Rachel will be selecting a special cookbook from her wonderful bookstore to send to you.


Thank you to everyone who entered. A special thank you from Rachel, Johanna and I to the wonderful Diana, for taking such time and care in selecting our winner.

Johanna will be by soon to announce our next selection and we will follow that up with our next two books as promised.

Have a wonderful week!



11 responses

23 02 2009

How lovely of Diana to take such time and interest in each dish and post. Very gracious indeed.
Laurie, congratulations! You know that you can cook for me any day! If I ever find myself in Alaska, I shall show up with fork in hand. 🙂

23 02 2009
Tina Marie

Congrats Laurie! After looking over everyone’s entries – the writing as well as the food preparation – I was so impressed. Many of the recipes I want to try and have bookmarked them.

Thanks very much to Diana for commenting on everyone’s entry.


23 02 2009
Laurie Constantino

What a genuinely nice person Diana is – taking the time to comment on everyone’s post was incredibly thoughtful. I’m very surprised and grateful she liked my post. Thanks to Diana, but also Rachel, Deb, and Ioanna for organizing the book club and picking The Language of Baklava as the selection! A few days ago I ordered Crescent, another of Diana’s books, and am looking forward to its arrival and another good read.

23 02 2009

What a charming woman to take the time–with a newborn, no less–to respond to each of our posts as Diana did. I love her reason for choosing Laurie as our winner as well. This was, by far, the best book club event I’ve ever participated in. I can’t wait for our next journey.

24 02 2009

What a nice and thoughtful message from Diana. Congratulations to Laurie!

24 02 2009

Fantastic news, well done Laurie! Diana really seems like a great person, but I think that was apparent through the book too. Maybe we can meet her one day!

24 02 2009

How generous of Diana to give her time like that! And big (well-deserved) congratulations to Laurie!

24 02 2009

Deb, you did a fantastic job hosting this round of Cook the Books and I want to thank you very much. I’m so happy people are enjoying this foodie book club so far and I know that Deb, Jo and I get a lot of satisfaction from being your rotating hosts.

Thanks too, to Diana for taking so much time and thought to participate in our humble venture. I can’t wait to check out her latest book, which is “Origin”.

And congratulations to Laurie, who brings us such a lovely story and recipe post. I’ve been enjoying her glorious photography and interesting stories about both Greece and Alaska on her blog.

Can’t wait for our next roundup!

24 02 2009

Can we all get together for a Cook-Books feast? Preferably on a Grecian isle? 😉

25 02 2009
maria v

you mean CRETE dont you Diana!!!!!!!!

it’s certainly the largest island in Greece!!!!!!!

thanks to the hosts for a fantastic blog event

9 03 2009

Congratulations Laura. Well done! Thanks Deb for hosting the event. What a brilliant idea to have the author read the posts. It was lovely of Diana to comment so graciously on each. I look forward to reading more of her books.

I look forward to the next Cook the Books.

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