Friday, July 30, 2010

In Review: The Hawaii Farmers Market Cookbook

The Hawaii Farmers Market Cookbook
by Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation
Watermark Publishing, 2010

The first volume in this 2-volume set, "Fresh Island Products from A to Z" provides complete descriptions of products, explains what to look for when purchasing, and how to prepare your finds. Full-color photographs help identify "mystery fruits" and the unprocessed form of foods market visitors may have previously only encountered chopped and cooked.

Volume 2: The Chefs' Guide to Fresh Island Foods contains more than 75 great recipes by Island culinary stars.

The Hawaii Farmers Market Cookbook
Reviews Archive

Thursday, July 29, 2010

In Review: The Abundant Community

The Abundant Community
Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods
by John McKnight and Peter Block
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2010

This book reminds us that a neighborhood that can raise a child, provide security, sustain our health, secure our income, and care for our vulnerable people is within the power of our community.

In The Abundant Community, authors John McKnight and Peter Block reveal the invisible but immeasurable impact consumerism has had on our families and communities.

We are besieged by messages from consumer society telling us that we are insufficient, that we must purchase what we need from specialists and systems outside the community. We outsource our health care, child care, relationships, recreation, our safety, and our satisfaction. We are trained to become consumers and clients, not citizens and neighbors.

McKnight and Block take a thoughtful look at how this situation came about, what maintains it, and the crippling effect it has had on our families, our communities, and our environment.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Good Old Books: Cheerleading and Marching Bands

Cheerleading and Marching Bands
by Newt Loken and Otis Dypwick
A.S. Barnes & Co., 1945

Mass cheering is as old as the history of armed combat. Way back in ancient times throngs of excited people lined the route of march of returning victorious warriors to cheer their conquests.

The modern high school and college phase of cheering led by a designated individual was ushered in at the University of Minnesota in 1898.

Mass cheering is as old as the history of armed combat. Way back in ancient times throngs of excited people lined the route of march of returning victorious warriors to cheer their conquests.

The modern high school and college phase of cheering led by a designated individual was ushered in at the University of Minnesota in 1898.

Johnny Campbell, an undergraduate, was selected yell marshall in that year. He stood before a football assemblage and directed it in the recitation of 'Rah-Rah-Rah...... Ski-u-Mah... Minne-so-ta!"

Although more than 30,000 high schools and colleges in the United States now engage in group vocal expression under the direction of cheerleaders, no one has ever prepared and published an authoritative text on the subject, one designed to instruct in detail on fundamentals and to raise the national standard of excellence.

It is to this end we present Cheerleading as a member of the Barnes Sports Library.
-- from the Introduction

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Atomic Farmgirl

That time of year the wheat fields were almost a lime green, the heads threatening every day to turn yellow. The pea fields stretched for acres, with plants holding skinny, green pods not yet ready for me to pick. When they were ready, my mom always gave me the top of the double boiler to fill with fresh peas. We ate our fill, dinner after dinner, coated with Blue bonnet margarine, not ever making a dent in the fields that surrounded the house.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Shallows

We want to be interrupted, because each interruption brings us a valuable piece of information...
And so we ask the Internet to keep interrupting us, in ever more and different ways. We willingly accept the loss of concentration and focus, the division of our attention and the fragmentation of our thoughts, in return for the wealth of compelling or at least diverting information we receive. Tuning out is not an option many of us would consider.

The Shallows
Review: The Shallows
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Science Writing

In Review: Animating Space

Animating Space From Mickey to WALL-E
by J.P. Telotte
The University Press of Kentucky, 2010

Animators work within a strictly defined, limited space that requires difficult artistic decisions. The blank frame presents a dilemma for all animators, and the decision of what to include and leave out raises important questions about artistry, authorship, and cultural influence.

Renowned scholar J. P. Telotte explores how animation has confronted the blank template, and how responses to that confrontation have changed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Winter Harvest Handbook

The Winter Harvest Handbook
Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses
by Eliot Coleman
Chelsea Green, 2009

If anyone could figure out how to grow lettuce in Maine in the middle of winter, it would be Elliot Coleman. America's inimitable master gardener, he has been pushing the boundaries of vegetable cultivation for decades and his Four Seasons Farm is a showcase for what can be accomplished with Yankee ingenuity and meticulous attention to detail, not to mention some back-breaking labor.

"Attention to detail is the major secret to success in any endeavor," Coleman writes. Experience, determination and an undying enthusiam are welcome partners.

There are three steps to a successful winter harvest, according to Coleman:

1) Cold-hardy vegetables
2) Succession planting
3) Protected cultivation

Written primarily for commercial growers interested in growing for market in the winter months, this book offers a wealth of information about growing crops year-round in unheated greenhouses or beneath row covers. This doesn't include growing tomatoes in the dead of winter, but there are more than 30 green and root vegetables like carrots, onions, celery and kohlrabi that will do fine.

Coleman provides lists of specific seeds for vegetables that grow under winter conditions in his greenhouse and offers tips on how to help them make it through to harvest.

Coleman's methods are not simple or easy, but he does it with minimal use of fossil fuels and the tasty, nutritious results must be well worth the effort.

The Winter Harvest Handbook
Review: The Winter Harvest Handbook
Review Archives
Farm and Garden Books

In Review: Pomodoro!

A History of the Tomato in Italy
by David Gentilcore
CSIRO Publishing, 2010

David Gentilcore recounts the surprising rise of the tomato from its New World origins to its Old World status and present significance.

History Titles
Reviews Archive

Monday, July 19, 2010

Allergy-Free Desserts

Allergy-Free Desserts
Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Egg-free,Soy-free and Nut-free Delights
by Elizabeth Gordon
Wiley, 2010

As those with food allergies are well aware, desserts free of wheat or eggs or nuts are practically impossible to find. Only a professional baker in a similar situation would be able to empathize and come to the aid of this population with allergy-free treats.

Elizabeth Baker knows food allergies intimately and, as founder and owner of an allergy-free bakery called the Betsy & Claude Baking Company, she has been exploring a full range of alternative desserts. Her first cookbook is packed with desserts that will satisfy those without allergies as well as its intended audience, the food-challenged.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grow Great Grub

Grow Great Grub
Organic Food from Small Spaces
by Gayla Trail
Clarkson Potter, 2010

From selecting and preparing ground for a garden to choosing crops -- vegetables, fruits, or herbs -- planting seeds, adding fertilizer, weeding and harvesting, this guide to small-space edible gardening will help beginning city gardeners green their thumbs and fill their freezers.

One of the best books available on container or balcony gardening, Grow Great Grub provides details on each plant, including recommended soil amendments, companion plants, and the depth of container needed to grow it successfully.

There are some major differences between growing vegetables and herbs in containers rather than in the ground, and not all will benefit from being grown in containers.

The final pages of the book explain the basics of harvesting and preserving organic produce - drying, canning, and freezing - and offer instructions for making herbal vinegars or ristras from hot chili peppers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Good Old Books: Crafts from the Countryside

Crafts from the Countryside
by John Lloyd Jones
David & Charles, 1975

Thatched roofs, soft linen and real ale may be things of the past, but fortunately they remain very much a part of the present as well

Crafts from the Countryside describes how these and other traditional products of our rural heritage survive and indeed flourish when the asphalt roof, the nylon sheet and the processed pint seem, like the grey squirrel, finally to have taken over.

In a fascinating blend of hard fact, history and anecdote, John Jopnes describes each craft today with background and information on how it developed and survived.

With his help, we learn about soft rushes, thatching, craftsman's straw, fibre flax, laverbread, bittering hops, perry pears, Fuller's teasels, druggist's herbs, cricket bat willows, basket osiers, fisherman's willow, and dewponds.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Raw Milk Revolution

The Raw Milk Revolution
Behind America's Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
by David E. Gumpert
Chelsea Green, 2009

David Gumpert reports from the front lines of the "Raw Milk War" in this expose on the U.S. government's bias against unpasteurized milk. Originating with his blog, “The Complete Patient,” in which he examines issues related to his personal health, Gumpert questions why raw milk freedom is such a threat to the U.S. dairy industry.

In this synthesis of recent events, he reports on how large dairy processors in collaboration with government regulatory agencies are waging war against certified raw milk, harassing small farms and denying consumers the right to buy their product.

Dairy farmers have been jailed, prosecuted, convicted, fined and ordered to cease and desist selling raw milk. Some authorities are fighting raw milk with the intensity of drug enforcement, even though there are serious questions about the need for pasteurization and evidence of real health benefits from drinking the raw product.

Important reading for consumers and government officials alike.

In Review: To Hellholes and Back

To Hellholes and Back
Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism
by Chuck Thompson
Holt Paperbacks, 2009

The guru of extreme tourism sets out to face his worst fears in Africa, India, Mexico City, and—most terrifying of all—at Disney World. Will the world’s most ill-reputed destinations live up to their bad raps?

In Review: Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist

Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist
Fresh Takes on Favorite Dishes
by Cat Cora, and Ann Kruegar Spivack
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010

Cat Cora gives a contemporary twist to popular dishes to make them to make them faster, fresher, and lighter.

Currently reviewing her swift recipes for Greek-Style Nachos, Grilled Chili-Lime Flank Steak Soft Tacos, Crispy Baked Fish Stix with Mustard Dipping Sauce, Quick Chicken Curry with Peas, and Sour Cherry Filled Chocolate Cupcakes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Shallows

The Shallows
What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains
by Nicholas Carr
W. W. Norton & Co, 2010

The Internet is changing, and has already changed, the way we read, write, think about and make sense of our reality. Whether this is change for the good or bad is subject to much debate, as this book and he reactions to it demonstrates, but none of this seems to affect the nature or the effects of that change.

Citing recent neuropsychological studies, journalist Nicholas Carr makes the case for the detrimental effects of this change, arguing that we are becoming shallow readers and thinkers with remarkably short attention spans. But is a long attention span really critical to our well-being as individuals or as a society? Are there clear advantages to delving deeply into a subject as opposed to gathering and synthesizing quickly?

I have often fretted about my teenage son's lack of cultural knowledge that I grew up with and thrived upon as a writer. Yet this digital native who hasn't read Melville or Thoreau or Tolstoy and hardly any Twain or Shakespeare or even Hemingway is thriving in a digital universe of multivarious information streams and short-form info blurbs. He doesn't read long novels, even sci-fi or mysteries or thrillers, and has little interest in the thoughtful tomes of philosophy and natural history and current affairs that I consume, and yet he and is a master, it seems, at synthesizing complex thoughts into bite-sized knowledge that can be applied to solve a particular problem.

While my son may lack depth of knowledge - few teenagers don't - he has acquired an incredibly diverse vocabulary of information, which is another form of depth. And through the interconnections of seemingly unrelated areas of knowledge the potential for creative breakthroughs is seriously enhanced.

The Shallows
Review: The Shallows
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Now in Review: Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change

Now in Review:
Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change
Preparing Australian Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for the Future
by Chris Stokes and Mark Howden
CSIRO Publishing, 2010

This text provides up-to-date, scientifically robust information on climate change and a framework on which policy makers can start planning and preparing for its effects.

Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change
Farm and Garden Books

Friday, July 9, 2010

Artisan Breads at Home

Artisan Breads at Home
by Eric Kastel
Wiley, 2010

Formerly the head baker at the European-style Catskills bakery, Bread Alone, and now an associate professor in Baking and Pastry Arts at the Culinary Institute of America, Chef Eric Kastel authored this illustrated guide to baking artisan breads at home.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Now in Review: Texas

Texas: A Historical Atlas
by A. Ray Stephens
University of Oklahoma Press, 2010

Now reviewing the updated and expanded edition of the Historical Atlas of Texas, first published by University of Oklahoma Press in 1989 and now released under a new title - Texas: A Historical Atlas - with a new cartographer (Carol Zuber-Mallison) with a much larger and more impressive presentation. This thick, large format volume features 175 full-color glossy maps.

Texas: A Historical Atlas
History and American West Titles

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: Solar Power Your Home for Dummies

Solar Power Your Home for Dummies
by Rik DeGunther
For Dummies, 2010

A solar power book specifically written for homeowners, this easy to follow guide provides an introduction on how to bring the light and energy of the sun into the home with everything from landscaping and positioning to outdoor showers, water heaters, and photovoltaic systems.

Solar applications can dramatically reduce air conditioning and heating bills while adding to the value of the home in a green-energy conscious community. This book offers information on a wide variety of home solar systems, along with advice on energy audits, rebates and ways to reduce the financial risk of solar home power.

This is a good primer for any homeowner considering solar options. Readers seeking a technical manual with detailed how-to instructions should look elsewhere.

The author, Rik DeGunther, is an energy consultant who specializes in efficient heating and cooling designs.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Shallows

What kind of brain is the Web giving us? Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion:

When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.

Nicholas Carr
The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains