Digest This: 9 Celebrities Who've Written Cookbooks

You could turn to a celebrity chef if you need a solid recipe, but why ask an expert like Bobby Flay for advice when you can get a recipe from a celebrity who dabbles in the kitchen? Let’s take a look at a few examples from the hot “celebrities writing cookbooks” genre.

1. Cookin' with Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price

Yes, rapper Coolio took time out from his busy schedule to drop an expletive-laden cookbook last year. Who could deny the charms of a cookbook that says one of its recipes "easily serves 4 crazy motherf****ers?” The cookbook, which actually gets pretty positive reviews on Amazon for being entertaining, includes such unexpected fusions as Ghettalian (that’s the ghetto version of Italian) and Blasian, for a black-Asian hybrid. What are Coolio’s culinary qualifications? Amazon’s product description screams, “THERE'S ONLY ONE THING THAT COOLIO'S BEEN DOING LONGER THAN RAPPING: COOKING.”

Best Recipe Name: Chicken Lettuce Blunts

2. Patti LaBelle’s Culinary Oeuvre

The Godmother of Soul keeps cranking out cookbooks the way she has churned out hits. In her first effort, 1999’s LaBelle Cuisine, the singer wrote, "From the time I was a little girl I knew there were two things in this world I was born to do: sing and cook."

She’s done quite a bit of cooking, too. After being diagnosed with diabetes, she released 2004’ Patti Labelle's Lite Cuisine: Over 100 Dishes With To-Die-For Taste Made With To-Live-For Recipes. Her third effort, Recipes for the Good Life, dropped in 2008. LaBelle must be on to something; her cookbooks have received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Best Recipe Name: Say-My-Name Smothered Chicken and Gravy, a nod to LaBelle’s Grammy-nominated 1997 track “When You Talk About Love”

3. J. R.'s Cookbook : True Ringside Tales, BBQ, and Down-Home Recipes by Jim Ross

The longtime WWE announcer published his cookbook in 2003, and in addition to stories of his life around the ring, it’s full of Oklahoma BBQ recipes. The few Amazon reviews it’s gotten don’t reach any sort of consensus, but we particularly love this quote from a negative one: “This book glorifies the WWE, and the WWE glorifies violence and sensuality.” Who would have guessed that a cookbook by a pro wrestling announcer would have the gall to glorify professional wrestling?

Best Recipe Name: So many good ones. Hammerlock Ham Salad? Piledriver Pork Chops? They’re worthy contenders, but Slobberknocker Salmon has to take the title belt.

4. The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet by Alicia Silverstone

The Clueless star has given up meat and dairy forever, and her cookbook “outlines the spectacular benefits of adopting a plant-based diet, from effortless weight loss to clear skin, off-the-chart energy, and smooth digestion.” Smooth digestion sounds tasty, right?

Silverstone’s recipes are written for three groups of eaters: “flirts” are interested in cutting back on meat and dairy, “vegans” are, well, vegans, and “superheroes” go past just being vegan and take on Silverstone’s macrobiotic eating habits.

Best Recipe Name: It appears that Silverstone didn’t go in for cute names here. She’s out to save the planet, you see. Saving the world will almost – but not quite - make up for forcing Batman and Robin on us.

5. Don't Fill Up on the Antipasto: Tony Danza's Father-Son Cookbook by Tony and Marc Danza

In the kitchen, there’s no question over who the boss is. Tony Danza and his son Marc enjoyed cooking together on Tony’s old talk show, so in 2008 they dropped this Italian-American cookbook. It’s gotten solid reviews that praise it for its straightforward approach, and a paperback reprint is even due out next month.

Best Recipe Name: There don’t seem to be any Mona puns, but the Danza men do deliver their Quick for a Date Sauce to help bachelors wow the ladies with tomato sauce.

6. Hot Italian Dish: A Cookbook by Victoria Gotti

Don’t think you need singing, acting, or really any kind of talent to write a celebrity cookbook. You can just be the daughter of a murderous crime boss, become a reality TV star, and then cook to your heart’s content! The book is a collection of Italian standards, which earned it this gem of an Amazon review: “I was expecting some very authentic Italian recipes but instead realized that I'm a much better cook than Victoria Gotti.” To make it worse, Gotti doesn’t even give her dishes funny names. Come on, Victoria. So many easy puns on your dad’s old Teflon Don nickname are just sitting there!

7. Home Cooking with Trisha

Watch your back, Patti LaBelle. Country star Yearwood is coming up quickly in the “singers who release multiple cookbooks” race. In 2008 and again in 2010 Yearwood, teamed with her mother and her sister to publish books of down-home family recipes and comfort food. Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen even features a foreword by Garth Brooks, who probably wasn’t tough to get since he’s married to Yearwood. Although Yearwood doesn’t go in for silly recipe names, her books have been quite successful; the second one was even on the cover of Redbook.

8. The Pat Conroy Cookbook

The author of bestsellers like The Prince of Tides released this 2004 hybrid memoir-cookbook that offers both recipes and Conroy’s thoughts on various food-related topics, like the right foods for mourning a loved one. (Shrimp and grits, of course.) The book received rave reviews both for its fun take on foodie topics and its insight into Conroy’s writing process.

9. Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted by Mo’Nique

With apologies to Newman’s Own Cookbook, this 2006 offering has to have the best title of any cookbook from an Oscar winner. Mo’Nique served up a collection of recipes for the, er, hungrier diner in her playful cookbook. The portion sizes are amazingly gigantic. Have two pounds of pasta? That’ll feed four!

Best Recipe Title: While we love “These Kids Are Workin’ My Nerves” as a chapter title, “The Other Morning-After Breakfast” has to take the cake here, if only because Mo’Nique prefaces it with “Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a loose woman, but I’ve lived a life filled with exciting escapades.” We’re here to eat, not judge, Mo’Nique.

Live Smarter
Nervous About Asking for a Job Referral? LinkedIn Can Now Do It for You

For most people, asking for a job referral can be daunting. What if the person being approached shoots you down? What if you ask the "wrong" way? LinkedIn, which has been aggressively establishing itself as a catch-all hub for employment opportunities, has a solution, as Mashable reports.

The company recently launched "Ask for a Referral," an option that will appear to those browsing job listings. When you click on a job listed by a business that also employs one of your LinkedIn first-degree connections, you'll have the opportunity to solicit a referral from that individual.

The default message that LinkedIn creates is somewhat generic, but it hits the main topics—namely, prompting you to explain how you and your connection know one another and why you'd be a good fit for the position. If you're the one being asked for a referral, the site will direct you to the job posting and offer three prompts for a response, ranging from "Sure…" to "Sorry…".

LinkedIn says the referral option may not be available for all posts or all users, as the feature is still being rolled out. If you do see the option, it will likely pay to take advantage of it: LinkedIn reports that recruiters who receive both a referral and a job application from a prospective hire are four times more likely to contact that individual.

[h/t Mashable]

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Essential Science
What Is a Scientific Theory?
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

In casual conversation, people often use the word theory to mean "hunch" or "guess": If you see the same man riding the northbound bus every morning, you might theorize that he has a job in the north end of the city; if you forget to put the bread in the breadbox and discover chunks have been taken out of it the next morning, you might theorize that you have mice in your kitchen.

In science, a theory is a stronger assertion. Typically, it's a claim about the relationship between various facts; a way of providing a concise explanation for what's been observed. The American Museum of Natural History puts it this way: "A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can incorporate laws, hypotheses and facts."

For example, Newton's theory of gravity—also known as his law of universal gravitation—says that every object, anywhere in the universe, responds to the force of gravity in the same way. Observational data from the Moon's motion around the Earth, the motion of Jupiter's moons around Jupiter, and the downward fall of a dropped hammer are all consistent with Newton's theory. So Newton's theory provides a concise way of summarizing what we know about the motion of these objects—indeed, of any object responding to the force of gravity.

A scientific theory "organizes experience," James Robert Brown, a philosopher of science at the University of Toronto, tells Mental Floss. "It puts it into some kind of systematic form."


A theory's ability to account for already known facts lays a solid foundation for its acceptance. Let's take a closer look at Newton's theory of gravity as an example.

In the late 17th century, the planets were known to move in elliptical orbits around the Sun, but no one had a clear idea of why the orbits had to be shaped like ellipses. Similarly, the movement of falling objects had been well understood since the work of Galileo a half-century earlier; the Italian scientist had worked out a mathematical formula that describes how the speed of a falling object increases over time. Newton's great breakthrough was to tie all of this together. According to legend, his moment of insight came as he gazed upon a falling apple in his native Lincolnshire.

In Newton's theory, every object is attracted to every other object with a force that’s proportional to the masses of the objects, but inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This is known as an “inverse square” law. For example, if the distance between the Sun and the Earth were doubled, the gravitational attraction between the Earth and the Sun would be cut to one-quarter of its current strength. Newton, using his theories and a bit of calculus, was able to show that the gravitational force between the Sun and the planets as they move through space meant that orbits had to be elliptical.

Newton's theory is powerful because it explains so much: the falling apple, the motion of the Moon around the Earth, and the motion of all of the planets—and even comets—around the Sun. All of it now made sense.


A theory gains even more support if it predicts new, observable phenomena. The English astronomer Edmond Halley used Newton's theory of gravity to calculate the orbit of the comet that now bears his name. Taking into account the gravitational pull of the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn, in 1705, he predicted that the comet, which had last been seen in 1682, would return in 1758. Sure enough, it did, reappearing in December of that year. (Unfortunately, Halley didn't live to see it; he died in 1742.) The predicted return of Halley's Comet, Brown says, was "a spectacular triumph" of Newton's theory.

In the early 20th century, Newton's theory of gravity would itself be superseded—as physicists put it—by Einstein's, known as general relativity. (Where Newton envisioned gravity as a force acting between objects, Einstein described gravity as the result of a curving or warping of space itself.) General relativity was able to explain certain phenomena that Newton's theory couldn't account for, such as an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury, which slowly rotates—the technical term for this is "precession"—so that while each loop the planet takes around the Sun is an ellipse, over the years Mercury traces out a spiral path similar to one you may have made as a kid on a Spirograph.

Significantly, Einstein’s theory also made predictions that differed from Newton's. One was the idea that gravity can bend starlight, which was spectacularly confirmed during a solar eclipse in 1919 (and made Einstein an overnight celebrity). Nearly 100 years later, in 2016, the discovery of gravitational waves confirmed yet another prediction. In the century between, at least eight predictions of Einstein's theory have been confirmed.


And yet physicists believe that Einstein's theory will one day give way to a new, more complete theory. It already seems to conflict with quantum mechanics, the theory that provides our best description of the subatomic world. The way the two theories describe the world is very different. General relativity describes the universe as containing particles with definite positions and speeds, moving about in response to gravitational fields that permeate all of space. Quantum mechanics, in contrast, yields only the probability that each particle will be found in some particular location at some particular time.

What would a "unified theory of physics"—one that combines quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of gravity—look like? Presumably it would combine the explanatory power of both theories, allowing scientists to make sense of both the very large and the very small in the universe.


Let's shift from physics to biology for a moment. It is precisely because of its vast explanatory power that biologists hold Darwin's theory of evolution—which allows scientists to make sense of data from genetics, physiology, biochemistry, paleontology, biogeography, and many other fields—in such high esteem. As the biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky put it in an influential essay in 1973, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

Interestingly, the word evolution can be used to refer to both a theory and a fact—something Darwin himself realized. "Darwin, when he was talking about evolution, distinguished between the fact of evolution and the theory of evolution," Brown says. "The fact of evolution was that species had, in fact, evolved [i.e. changed over time]—and he had all sorts of evidence for this. The theory of evolution is an attempt to explain this evolutionary process." The explanation that Darwin eventually came up with was the idea of natural selection—roughly, the idea that an organism's offspring will vary, and that those offspring with more favorable traits will be more likely to survive, thus passing those traits on to the next generation.


Many theories are rock-solid: Scientists have just as much confidence in the theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution, plate tectonics, and thermodynamics as they do in the statement that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Other theories, closer to the cutting-edge of current research, are more tentative, like string theory (the idea that everything in the universe is made up of tiny, vibrating strings or loops of pure energy) or the various multiverse theories (the idea that our entire universe is just one of many). String theory and multiverse theories remain controversial because of the lack of direct experimental evidence for them, and some critics claim that multiverse theories aren't even testable in principle. They argue that there's no conceivable experiment that one could perform that would reveal the existence of these other universes.

Sometimes more than one theory is put forward to explain observations of natural phenomena; these theories might be said to "compete," with scientists judging which one provides the best explanation for the observations.

"That's how it should ideally work," Brown says. "You put forward your theory, I put forward my theory; we accumulate a lot of evidence. Eventually, one of our theories might prove to obviously be better than the other, over some period of time. At that point, the losing theory sort of falls away. And the winning theory will probably fight battles in the future."


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