When I started reading this I knew next to nothing about the Borgias. I only knew that they are said to have been an infamous family, poisoning people...moreWhen I started reading this I knew next to nothing about the Borgias. I only knew that they are said to have been an infamous family, poisoning people to the left and right, power greedy as nobody else before or after, you know what I mean. Other than that I was clueless.
G.J. Meyer set out to write a book to rehabilitate that family and he does an excellent job. He starts at a time when the first member of the Borgias, Alonso de Borja, who later became pope Calixtus III., begins his career. We then are taken on a mind spinning journey through the next 80 years or so, learning about the rise of this incredible family, their drawbacks, the ramifications of their actions as well as all the political goings on in Renaissance Italy. And there is a lot to tell.
Alliances were formed one day and withdrawn the next, warlords were usurping cities all over the place, condottieri sold their services to one baron this moment and to another one the next, foreign kings were meddling nonstop. The intermarriages between families and the various relationships were mind-boggling; this is not a book that you can read without concentrating on it. The author, however, has a writing style that just flows and he explains everything so well that it is a pleasure to follow otherwise confusing events.
After every chapter he inserts a background chapter where he explains one specific aspect of the time, for example a short history of Venice and how come it was the only city state reigned over by a council of men, what condottieri were, great discoveries of the time etc. Those chapters were breaks where one could learn about a subject in more detail before the eventful family story was taken up again.
While being pro-Borgia the author still does not sugarcoat what the Borgias did. He tells facts and does not gossip. He interprets events for which there is no evidence in the Borgias’ favour, but always mentions other points of view as well. However, his interpretations make sense.
I feel that I can hold up a conversation about the Borgias now and know what I am talking about. Next time someone mentions Lucrezia Borgia being the ultimate venefica of the last millennium, I will be able to defend her with ease. What more can you ask for?
If you even have a faint interest in history and the Renaissance and/or the Borgias, you have to read this book. (less)
This book is for the absolute beginners. If you have cooked for a family for some time and have something that looks somewhat like a family life then...moreThis book is for the absolute beginners. If you have cooked for a family for some time and have something that looks somewhat like a family life then you are probably already too advanced for it.
Let’s look at some of the things this book explains:
It describes the situation as it is in a majority of households It describes the advantages of family meals It gives tips on how to accomplish a family dinner It offers tips what kids of all ages can do to help in the kitchen It offers time saving tips It suggests how to organize the pantry It tells you how to construct a shopping list and how to shop It helps you to plan weekly meals It talks about must haves for the kitchen It tells you how to deal with likes and dislikes of kids of all ages It gives you sanity savers for yourself It offers a few recipes & web resources
In fact it tells you many things that the average reasonable person knows. I mean, come on, who doesn’t know that a home cooked meal around the dining table is healthier than having a TV-Dinner lounging on the couch while watching a cartoon? The manifold advantages of a freezer? Check. How to store seasoning? Check. Reading food labels before buying is recommended? Check. Cheaper stuff is in the lowest aisle? Check. Buying in bulk when on sale? Check. Using coupons? Check.
I am not saying that this book is useless. Not at all. If you are a woman who just had her first kid, who has never cooked for more people than two, who only ever defrosted her dinner in the microwave, go ahead and read this book! It is a useful resource for how to organize your kitchen and your family meals. If you are an experienced mother, but still feel you are wasting hours or a fortune in your kitchen, likewise. If those criteria don’t apply, then don’t bother!
The recipes are ok, but nothing too fantastic, the web resources might be useful now, but given the short lives of websites, the list might be outdated in six months. Both could have been left out without any regrets, I am sure.(less)
I was slightly disappointed with this book. The last vegetarian book in this series had plenty of slow cooker meals, but in this book a lot of the rec...moreI was slightly disappointed with this book. The last vegetarian book in this series had plenty of slow cooker meals, but in this book a lot of the recipes were non-crockpot meals and I am not sure how that ties in with the fix-it and forget-it idea.
Right the first recipe is for mushroom manicotti, and, frankly, I do not see the “forget-it” in a meal that calls for cooked manicotti, preparing the stuffing, stuffing the pasta, bake it and then prepare a tomato sauce on the side to serve it with.
So far to me this series represented easy recipes where I could throw the ingredients into the slow cooker and forget about them until the cooker had worked its magic. This concept seems to have been given up now for the sake of “roasting, stir-frying and steaming – all the methods that so highlight vegetables’ star qualities”. Admittedly those recipes sound mouth watering and lovely: Tasty lentil tacos, Polenta with spicy bean sauce, Quinoa with broccoli and hoisin sauce, but they are not what I came for.
I saved some of the slow cooker recipes and am definitely planning on making them soon. The non-crockpot dishes are definitely worth a go as well, just that are not the fix-it and forget-it kind. If you don’t mind that, go for this book.(less)
This is a no-nonsense book with recipes suitable for a busy life with real life pictures. The recipes are all fairly easy and mostly for the slow cook...moreThis is a no-nonsense book with recipes suitable for a busy life with real life pictures. The recipes are all fairly easy and mostly for the slow cooker. With a few exceptions the instructions are limited to “mix all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 7-8 hours on low”. Can it be any easier? If you love beans and lentils especially, this is a book for you.(less)
If you are a beginning crocheter this is the perfect book for you. It explains all stitches in detail. In fact, it is the only crochet book I have eve...moreIf you are a beginning crocheter this is the perfect book for you. It explains all stitches in detail. In fact, it is the only crochet book I have ever come across that explains where exactly to put your needle and which strand(s) to pick up. It talks about tools, different kinds of yarn and techniques. It shows you how to crochet buttons and button holes, adding tassels, making pompons and how to finish your work with easy to follow instructions and clear illustrations. The second part is a number of projects and patterns. Scarves, bags, tops, hats and caps, blazers and jackets, it is all there. There is one jacket in particular by Suzanne Kats called FrouFrou which looks absolutely stunning. I’d love to have that (but am probably too impatient to make). There are patterns for everyone, beginners as well as experienced crocheters. It is such fun browsing through this book or even read it from cover to cover in one go. Highly recommended!(less)