Monday, July 30, 2012

Review: Living with Chickens

Not everyone was meant to live with chickens. They can be noisy, messy and cantankerous creatures. They peck, they scratch and they move with a herky-jerky motion that is disturbingly reptilian.

But if you live in the country and have some space and time to devote them, chickens are an easy-entry, low-maintenance livestock option for small farmers, homesteaders and even backyard gardeners.

Living with Chickens: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Backyard Flock 
by Jay Rossier
Lyons Press, 2004
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Review: The Farmer's Market Guide

"This is a cookbook for people who are standing in the farmer's market wondering what to do with all this beautiful produce," writes Jennifer Loustau in the introduction to her collection of recipes and farm fresh ingredients.

The opening section of the book is an alphabetical guide to herbs and vegetables commonly available in North American farmers markets, from amaranth to zucchini, with brief descriptions and suggested preparation methods. An index to recipes for each plant follows its description.

The recipes follow a short chapter on Cooking Methods, from carmelizing and braising to steaming and boiling. Each recipe is pretty basic, with few ingredients and simple instructions. Most are complemented with color photographs.

With Identification Guide and Recipes
by Jennifer Loustau
Schiffer Publishing, 2012
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Review: Splendid Soups

Originally published in 1993, this updated version of James Peterson's encyclopedic exploration of bisques, consommes, stocks and purees is even thicker and more impressive than the original.

In 10 chapters, Peterson surveys the full range of soup-making, from carefully crafted consommes to rough and hearty stews. Full histories of soups and their ingredients are included along with technical information, tips, and serving suggestions.

"No family of dishes surpasses the versatility of soup," Peterson states prior to proving his point with hundreds of recipes utilizing nearly every conceivable ingredient.

by James Peterson 
John Wiley & Sons, 2001
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Fear of Food Experts

During the course of writing this book, I have often been asked what lessons I personally draw from it. Well, for me the history of expert advice on diet and health inevitably brings to mind the old saying, "This too shall pass." The massive reversals in expert opinions described in this book provide more than enough support for this skepticism. Indeed, the hubris of experts confidently telling us what to eat has often been well-nigh extraordinary. In 1921, for example, the consensus among the nation’s nutritional scientists was that they knew 90% of what there was to know about food and health.  Yet just a few years earlier, before the discovery of vitamins, they had routinely condemned the poor for wasting their money on fresh fruits and vegetables, which were said to be composed of little more than water, with only minimal amounts of the protein, fats, and carbohydrates that were essential to life.
~ Harvey A. Levenstein
from "Fear of Food"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: The County Fair Cookbook

At the Calcasieu-Cameron Fair in Sulphur, Louisiana, they eat catfish courtbouillon.
Barbecued chicken is a favorite dish at the Rockingham County Fair in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
At the Twin Falls County Fair in southern Idaho mouths water in anticipation for Tater Pigs.
"Each county fair is unique, a community celebration with its own distinct local essence," write authors Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy, Jr., in the introduction to "The County Fair Cookbook."
While the fast food restaurant menus and Interstate highways may look the same across the country, the food items found in the most popular county fair food booths are refreshingly indigenous.
There's Yankee Johnnycake at the Plymouth State Fair in New Hampshire, for instance, and Ruritan Chicken at the Canfield Fair in Ohio. At the Kent County Fair in Maryland they sell crab cakes and at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, Wash., the Snoqualmie Tribe's smoke-barbecued salmon is served in a cedar longhouse.
Stallworth and Kennedy collected more than 200 "down-home" recipes from food booths, exhibit barns and blue ribbon prize-winners across the country and compiled them in their cookbook along with descriptions of nearly 100 county fairs.

by Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy
Hyperion Books, 1996
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reading the History: The Kentucky Derby

Each year on the first Saturday in May, the world turns its attention to the twin spires of Churchill Downs for the high-stakes excitement of the "greatest two minutes in sports," the Kentucky Derby. No American sporting event can claim the history, tradition, or pageantry that the Kentucky Derby holds. For more than 130 years, spectators have been fascinated by the magnificent horses that run the Louisville track. Thoroughbreds such as Secretariat and Barbaro have earned instant international fame, along with jockeys such as Isaac Murphy, Ron Turcotte, and Calvin Borel.

The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event calls this great tradition to post and illuminates its history and culture.

How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event
by James C. Nicholson
The University Press of Kentucky, 2012

New Guides: Llewellyn's 2013 Witches' Spell-A-Day Almanac

Make every day magical with a spell from Llewellyn’s Witches’ Spell-A-Day Almanac. Spellcasters of all levels can enhance their daily life with these easy bewitchments, recipes, rituals, and meditations.

Susan Pesznecker, Tess Whitehurst, and other experienced magic practitioners offer simple spells for every occasion that require minimal supplies.

For convenience, the 365 spells are cross-referenced by purpose: love, health, money, protection, home and garden, travel, and communication.

Holidays & Lore
by Llewellyn
Llewellyn Publications, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nature Pages: The Natural Navigator

British expeditionist Tristan Gooley has sailed across oceans, flown  between continents, and climbed many of the world's tallest mountains using the natural navigation skills described in this book.

While humans have been making their way from place to place for a millenia, there is no record of how the earliest travelers navigated, or how often they got lost. Accounts of navigation methods don't show up in anyone's literature until about a thousand years ago.

Gooley's obsession with the art of navigation began as an empowered 10-year-old sailing a dinghy. "I had garnered the skills to go wherever I wanted. Not where my teachers told me to go, not where my parents wanted me to go, but where I wanted to go."

This book explains how to find your way without GPS or even compasses, but with shadows, stars, tides, plants, clouds, the moon, the sun and wild animals. Also known as ‘wayfinding,’ natural navigation techniques can be used on land, sea or in mid-air.

The Rediscovered Art of Letting Nature Be Your Guide
by Tristan Gooley
Linden Publishing, 2012 
Nature Writing and Natural Histories
The Nature Pages
Science Writing
Guidebooks and How-to Titles

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Guides: Llewellyn's 2013 Herbal Almanac

Spice up your favorite dishes with French tarragon. Chase away stress with delicious soup. There are hundreds of ways to benefit from nature’s most versatile plants inside Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac.

This treasury of innovative herbal ideas spans five categories: gardening, cooking, crafts, health/ beauty, and myth/lore.

Learn about endangered herbs, hyssop, and the apple in Nordic ritual. Discover how to whip up antioxidant-rich purple passion parfait, use herbs in energetic healing, relieve dry skin with a borage face pack, treat your feet to a wormwood bath, turn your garden into a wildlife paradise with minimal effort and cost, and much more.

Herbs for Growing & Gathering, Cooking & Crafts, Health & Beauty, History,
Myth & Lore
by Llewellyn
Llewellyn Publications, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Review: A Montana Table

Montana's famed resort, Chico Hot Springs, is celebrated in this volume with 100 of the most popular recipes from its well respected kitchen . Following a brief history of Chico, the book presents recipes from caramel rolls at breakfast to a Beef Wellington dinner and a Flaming Orange dessert. Special dinners are profiled and the sauces, stocks and dressings used by the chefs are detailed.

Located in Paradise Valley, just north of Yellowstone National Park, Chico Hot Springs is a remote resort most noted for its natural hot water pools. Only in the last 15 years or so has Chico's restaurant, now upscale with a classic and regional menu, begun to rival the popularity of its baths.

Recipes from Chico Hot Springs Resort 
by Seabring Davis 
Globe Pequot Press, 2003

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review ~ Forks Over Knives

This book is a companion to the documentary "Forks Over Knives," which makes the claim that the most serious diseases of our time - cancer, diabetes, angina - can be controlled or prevented by not eating animal-based and processed foods. 

Forks Over Knives, and the recipes in this book, promote a plant-based diet using whole foods. The diet is a life-long commitment to minimally processed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tubers, and legumes. Animal-based foods such as meat (including poultry and fish), dairy, and eggs are excluded or minimized along with refined foods such as bleached flour, refined sugar, and most oils.

The documentary and the diet are based on the research of two Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn, who believe a diet of plant-based food and grains can both prevent and reverse heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and various cancers. Both doctors contribute to this book along with a half dozen other medical professionals. The editor, Gene Stone, authored The Secrets of People Who Never Get Sick.

The Plant-Based Way to Health
by Gene Stone
The Experiment, 2011
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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nature Pages: The Mountain and the Fathers

The Mountain and The Fathers explores the life of boys and men in the
unforgiving, harsh world north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana in
a drought afflicted area called the Big Dry, a land that chews up old and
young alike.

Joe Wilkins was born into this world, raised by a young mother and elderly
grandfather following the untimely death of his father. That early loss
stretches out across the Big Dry, and Wilkins uses his own story and those
of the young boys and men growing up around him to examine the violence,
confusion, and rural poverty found in this distinctly American landscape.

Growing Up on The Big Dry
by Joe Wilkins
Counterpoint, 2012