Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review: Whole Foods Companion

This popular resource, first published in 1996, has been revised and expanded in a new edition that builds on its reputation as a definitive holistic foods reference. 

Divided into six sections -- Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds and Oils, Herbs and Spices and Other Foods -- the book profiles hundreds of food items with background on their history, varieties, culinary uses, health benefits, and tips on buying, cooking and storing,

Both a guide for health-conscious consumers and a directory of natural foods, this book is used by chefs, shoppers and growers alike.

A Guide For Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers, and Lovers of Natural Foods 
by Dianne Onstad 
Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Review: Cooking Slow

It may seem counter-intuitive, but cooking slowly can actually be less time-consuming than actively frying or grilling or even baking. A roast or casserole can be prepped in a few minutes in the morning, allowed to slow-cook for hours, and then served up for dinner in seconds with little fuss.

Because there are many cookbooks with recipes for slow cooker appliances, this one emphasizes other methods of slow cooking like stovetop or oven baking, simmering, grilling and roasting as well as cooking with sous vide machines recently manufactured for home kitchens.

"The biggest difference between slow cooking in a slow cooker and any other piece of cooking equipment is water," author Andrew Schloss points out. "There is much less evaporation from a slow cooker than there is from a saucepan or a skillet simmering on a stove top.

Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More
by Andrew Schloss
Chronicle Books, 2013

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Book Stall Review: Practical Botany for Gardeners

Explaining the science of gardening without being overly scientific, this botanical primer provides the kind of botanical schooling that every grower should possess.

Although the subtitle suggests a dictionary, the book is much more a textbook with articles  introducing the plant kingdom and its classification; explaining plant growth and reproduction; describing the inner workings of plant cells.

Others chapters cover soils, pests, pruning, and disorders. The text also includes brief biographies of prominent botanists.

Over 3,000 Botanical Terms Explained and Explored
by Geoff Hodge
Oregon State University Press, 2013

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review: Cowgirl Creamery Cooks

"We eat a lot of cheese in the United States. Per capita, each of us eats about a pound of cheese per week, most of it grated over fast-food pizza or melted over grilled ground beef in the form of a cheeseburger. This cheese comes mostly from post-World War II factories that churn out as much as one million pounds of cheese per day with the goal of producing food as cheaply as possible."

Cowgirl Creamery is an artisan cheesemaker that emerged in Point Reyes, California in the 1990s at a time when American consumers were starting to seek out alternatives to mass produced foods. This book tells the story of their struggles, achievements, and the rise of farmstead cheeses in this country.

by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith
Chronicle Books, 2013

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reading the History: Japan 1941

This history recounts the eight months leading up to Japan's decision to attack Pearl Harbor and engage the United States in all-out war. It was a fateful decision for the Japanese, initiating a conflict that was preventable and unwinnable. The only way to understand it is to approach it from the viewpoint of the Japanese people, as historian Eri Hotta has done here.

The Japanese leadership, including the military and Emperor Hirohito, was very much divided over questions of military expansion and engaging the U.S. in warfare. Hirohito frequently expressed his desire that diplomacy supercede any planning for war, but as supreme commander of the armed forces he had to ensure the survival of Japan and in the end it was a combination of dysfunctional politics and jingoistic advisors that pushed the acquiescent emperor to approve a war plan that a more assertive leader could have vetoed.
Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy
by Eri Hotta
Knopf, 2013

Out of the Past
1941: Attack on Pearl Harbor
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Guide to Whiskey

This smart guide to whiskey introduces a new generation of would-be connoisseurs to the hottest new-again spirit. And with upstart distillers reviving varieties like white dog (moonshine to prohibition-era folks), now is the best time to start learning about it.

Drink More Whiskey is the reference for those want to discover the provenance, styles, differences in quality, and ideal uses of whiskey in a fresh, fun-to-read format.

Everything You Need to Know About Your New Favorite Drink
by Daniel Yaffe
Chronicle Books, 2013
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Farmer's Market Online Guide to Whiskey
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