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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.

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Food
Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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Pop Culture
The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
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Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
Divine Tokyoska, Flickr

In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.

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