Advance Reader Copy Review for Publication August 7, 2014
Like all of us reading this review and this book, I'm plugged in. But I'm not going to be unpAdvance Reader Copy Review for Publication August 7, 2014
Like all of us reading this review and this book, I'm plugged in. But I'm not going to be unplugged. Absence (in this case the absence of the technological marvel of the internet) is not something I am interested in or hope to achieve or can fathom imploring anyone to do.
Harris leaps into leaving the internet behind, even briefly or just to read a book, with disbelief in his capacity to accomplish. He skitters and scatters around the idea of the internet, Google, Wiki-whatever and the social media/hookup world as being a bad thing, a distraction to reading War and Peace and apparently interrupting his sleep. It really is a wonder Harris could focus long enough (perhaps only through the depths of a winter in Canada?) to research and interview and write this highly readable, but deplorably nostalgic yet divided dram.
I'm plugged in for sure but as an adult I can discern and divide my time between things that entertain (the internet), that inform (the internet) and that connect (the internet) and that are everything else (like family, a garden, a sunset or a long car drive with only the radio and it's stuck on soccer).
It may be hard for some, and apparently Harris, to step away from the screen much the same way some cannot bring themselves to step away from the snack aisle. Perhaps it is the 'imagineering' of one's own existence that the internet allows. The 'potential' that the next email may somehow improve one's life or connect them to a long lost classmate they hated in the first place. The surreptitious 'hookups' for sex or drinking binges. In this the work reaches it most pitiable. The longest chapter of the book deals mainly with technology for sex hookups, that Harris reports is at the vanguard of the socialness of the internet. Something everyone will eventually become a part of. It may be and I won't claim to know either way and the technology of the times does not necessarily lead me in that direction. Yes the technology is there to find a like-minded sex partner within 100 feet of where you are at but if you are not interested in that, don't need that, don't care about that then, so what?
I don't care that kids sit and look at their phones when they are all together. It's when adults, the one's who should know better, sit and do it - it becomes troubling and damaging and should lead to longer discussions of "why?"
I don't care how many instagrams anyone sends or how 'popular' the latest fish-game-app-thing is. They are fleeting, they will change and they have no elemental impact on life. What does, I believe and I think Harris does too, is that all of these things actually lead to more isolation, less enjoyment, less knowledge, less love and less joy. They are the newest colored spinning mobile hanging over an infant's crib. They are here to placate, to entertain and to separate that which is the real problem: the overwhelming sense of disappointment in oneself and the world many feel. They separate us from the poverty, the hunger, the pain and the reality of it all.
Putting away the internet for a weekend and doing something else, like much of the book, are things for the elite and the privileged. If faced with the choice of soul-crushing silence plus hunger/anger/poverty/etc a game or tune or distraction is inconsequential.
Harris takes an admirable stab at the difficulty of the subject, mired in many of our societal and economic ills. It's a subject to be discussed and Harris let's us begin that discussion.
ediblenotes received a complimentary advance reading copy of the book and received no other compensation. copyright 2014 ediblenotes...more
There is enough beer-knurdness contained in Brewing Made Easy to satisfy even the most hard-core enthusiast, let alone first-time fermenters. From nobThere is enough beer-knurdness contained in Brewing Made Easy to satisfy even the most hard-core enthusiast, let alone first-time fermenters. From noble ales to the farthest you can fall down the rabbit hole flavored brews, the Fisher brothers lead the way to a foamy satisfaction. Everything for a beginner is outlined clearly, with just a little assumption that the reader has already scratched the beer-making underbelly of jargon.
A great, frothy first-timers entry into the dark, but noble, world of home fermenting.
Edible Notes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and no other compensation for this review. (c) EdibleNotes, 2013 This review is not be used without prior consent of Edible Notes for any commercial purpose....more
Which came first – the chicken, the egg or the cookbook? We wish this book had come first, certainly before the ever-more available fresh eggs at farmWhich came first – the chicken, the egg or the cookbook? We wish this book had come first, certainly before the ever-more available fresh eggs at farmers’ markets or from the backyard coop. Egg recipes are often overlooked in more cookbooks than not, sublimed to mere ingredient status except in the occasional brunch cookbook. The Fresh Egg Cookbook from Jennifer Trainer Thompson (of Jump Up and Kiss Me Hot Sauce fame) handles the oeuvre without missing a beat.
The mastery of egg cookery is one of a chef’s essential skills (the folds of a chef’s toque classically represent the wearer’s proficiency in 100 ways to cook an egg) and when properly done, the egg shines far beyond just being a part of a recipe.
Thompson catches the essence of how it’s done from the scrambled to the dessert with clean recipes, great photography, interesting egg-asides and enough (even though there are only 101 recipes) to keep even the most ardent egg-eater busy for a year.
Edible Notes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and reeived no additional compensation. Copyright 2012 Edible Notes...more
The modern southern food writing canon is well represented in the eagerly anticipated sixth installment of the popular Cornbread Nation series, editedThe modern southern food writing canon is well represented in the eagerly anticipated sixth installment of the popular Cornbread Nation series, edited by Brett Anderson of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The edition reflects the recent movement in southern food writing towards profiling our immigrant influences from around the globe. And as southern food writing settles into comfortableness with its ancestry and unsteadiness with its progeny it is still capable of lightning rod attraction for disciples and dissidents.
CB6 touches on these and more through keen culling of its previously printed sources. Not all for the serious, scholarly or scientific (though well represented in this volume), CB6 also brings humor and humanity to what could ultimately be the best on-going collection of food writing in America today. We should all be grateful and pass the biscuits please.
EdibleNotes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and received no additional compensation. Copyright 2012 EdibleNotes...more
Perhaps it was a great fortune to have Lobster! by Brooke Dojny released just before this summer. Great fortune for those who enjoy the crustacean noPerhaps it was a great fortune to have Lobster! by Brooke Dojny released just before this summer. Great fortune for those who enjoy the crustacean no doubt, less fortunate for lobster fishermen. While the book does an admirable job explaining the differences in lobsters, their characteristics and cooking methods, along with 55 recipes or so to enjoy 'everyday'; it says nothing of the current hardship of lobstermen in the northeast and Canada.
Current low prices for soft-shelled and hard-shelled lobsters are forcing many fishermen to tie up their boats and wait for supplies to dwindle, thereby driving prices back up. A huge surplus of lobster is in the 'system' keeping prices low across the board. Fishermen simply cannot afford to bring in the 'bugs' when prices won't cover gas for the boat, let alone a profit.
Throwing increased demand on the supplies will eventually drive supplies down and prices up where honestly, they should be. Lobster is one thing best left for the special occassion, the delightful birthday, the Fourth of July perhaps. Making pizzas with lobster just seems to commonplace for what is truly special, difficult to come by and sensitive to over-fishing.
Cookbooks like Lobster! attempt to make commonplace and routine what in the food world should be singular experiences, enjoyed at or near the source. Making lobster an 'everday' treat just because it is possible does not mean it is right or the best way to do it.
As a take-away book for the summer from bookstores and kitsch-shops along the northern seaboard of the U.S. this is perfect fodder. It will be given to a relative or church friend by the traveller, to be glanced at and shelved. Even the most jaded omnivore will respect the preciousness of lobster and its deserving place as one of the quintessential special meals, rightly or wrongly.
EdibleNotes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and received no additioanl compensation. Copyright 2012 EdibleNotes...more
As author Bryant Terry admits, he is trying to be a part of the movement to 're-integrate' food with art, culture and community. The Inspired Vegan foAs author Bryant Terry admits, he is trying to be a part of the movement to 're-integrate' food with art, culture and community. The Inspired Vegan follows his earlier works in style and substance with the additions of hip music tracks, books, films and iconic cultural movements and individuals to a sweeping but very approachable mix of recipes. These additions are the simplest evidence of connecting food and a vegan lifestyle to the world around it and hopefully, the minimum anyone will take away from the book.
At a deeper level Terry counters the thought that the foods in under-served communities and communities of color are an unhealthy fried and sugary mess. His work and recipes are a reflection of what these communities do and can do more of, in creative 'inspired' ways. You will not come across a vegan or vegan cookbook that does not have agenda; to change the world or to prevent cruelty or injustice for example, but Terry has dropped the finger-jabbing and chosen to change our thoughts about food, community, health and equality one delicious dish at a time. And we will all be better for it.
Edible Notes received a copy of the book from the publisher and no additional compensation. Copyright 2012 ediblenotes....more
Growing up and not out are words to live by for anyone who gardens in small spaces - or who wants to produce more from the space they have. Vertical VGrowing up and not out are words to live by for anyone who gardens in small spaces - or who wants to produce more from the space they have. Vertical Vegetables & Fruit by Master Gardener Rhonda Massingham Hart (Storey Publishing, Dec. 2011) is an absolute treasure-trove of highly useful and practical information for any gardener considering growing tomatoes on a balcony or growing more fruit through space-saving espallier pruning and anything in between.
Hart has compiled, in a brisk, tightly-written and effectively illustrated 176 pages, what has to be one of the best special-subject gardening books of the year (and it must be considered one of the best overall gardening books of the year as well). From the ideas and information on building structures to support plants as they grow up to the resources on plant-by-plant varieties that are well suited to a 'vertical lifestyle', Hart has placed an enormous amount of information at the hands of experienced and novice gardeners alike who can easily digest it and put into their work immediately.
The resources on plant-by-plant varieties that are well suited to vertical growing are very well thought out and include not only the peculiarities of growing beans or melons or whatever in a more vertical space but essential, easy to understand and apply information on plant propogation, planting and transplanting, water requirements and plant nutrition needs. These resources are clear, concise and very effective and make the book even more of a worthwhile guide.
Even gardeners free of the confines of a patio or balcony will find the book to be a valuable resource for growing more in the space they do have. Urban and community gardeners take note - this is the book for you when it comes to solid, expertly written and highly useful information about getting more produce out of the space you have.
The design of the book - from the way each chapter is laid out to the sidebars and resource chapter, should set the trend for how well gardening books can be done. The illustrations are effective and clear and the book does not rely on terrible black and white photos of important elements where the reader is expected to guess or surmise what the photo is about or what to do as so many other gardening books do. Here you get the real deal - great information and great illustrations all in a highly effective and useful design.
Verical gardening has taken a few hits recently especially as it pertains to water use. Don't confuse this type of vertical gardening with 'living walls' where water use can be intense. If a trellis, teepee, cage, A-Frame, arbor or even pots stacked one on top of the other won't cure your space problem then a living wall won't be of any help either. These are real-world answers to the immortal quandry of not having enough space to grow the vegetables and fruits we all work so hard for and wait so long for.
Vertical Vegetable & Fruit is one of the most worthwhile investments in knowledge any gardener can make regardless of space or experience. There is something here for everyone to use and for other garden books to grow up to in terms of how garden books should be done in today's marketplace.
EdibleNotes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and no other compensation was received for this review. Copyright 2011 Edible Notes....more
How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (But True) Stories of Common Vegetables is a delightful romp into the history of the vegetables gracing our coHow Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (But True) Stories of Common Vegetables is a delightful romp into the history of the vegetables gracing our common tables from noted expert and author Rebecca Rupp.
The research she provides, with good humor and aplomb, makes for a spirited easy read and makes for great conversation starters at your next foodie-centric event. From carrots to turnips (and a lot in between), Rupp digests mountains of anecdotes and information from sources the merely curious could never find and lays them out in ways that make the mind and tummy spin.
There is more than enough here to keep the most ardent gardener or food history buff entertained with amusing and truthful facts. “The trouble is you cannot grow just one,” Rupp quotes humorist Dave Barry on the prolific nature of the Zucchini. “Minutes after you plant a single seed, hundreds of Zucchini will barge out of the ground and sprawl around the garden menacing other vegetables – at night, you will be able to hear the ground quake as more and more Zucchinis erupt.” Words any gardener – or foodie – can relate to.
Edible Notes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and received no additional compensation for this review. Copyright2011, Edible Notes...more
Bourbon: 50 Rousing Recipes for a Classic American Spirit brings the best that time, Mother Nature, human skill and a bunch of freshly charred white oBourbon: 50 Rousing Recipes for a Classic American Spirit brings the best that time, Mother Nature, human skill and a bunch of freshly charred white oak barrels only can bestow on human kind, that being the golden elixir that is truly an American Spirit.
Thompson knows his stuff when it comes to Bourbons, of all manner fair and foul, and his talent and expertise in the subject shines with this thoughtful and highly useful slim text from Harvard Common Press, 2010. His insightful reference material about the history of Bourbon, its manufacture and its proper preparation and service is worth the price alone.
The 50 recipes tucked inside, all repleat with color photos, clear instructions and sourceable ingredients, will make any drinker of Bourbon as happy as old Jacob Beam was when he sold his first barrel. These are not food recipes or notions of how to cook with bourbon (for goodness sakes, why?) rather straight-up, rocks on the side, with parasols in it or mixed with cream versions of classic American cocktails.
Anyone interested in the sublime American spirit can rest assured that Thompson, and Bourbon are both right on the mark.
Edible Notes received a complimentary copy of the book from the author and received no additional compensation for this review....more
The Beekman Boys, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, from their idyllic farm in upstate New York have created quite a stir with their 'omnimedia' apThe Beekman Boys, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, from their idyllic farm in upstate New York have created quite a stir with their 'omnimedia' approach to all things sheepy-and-green. Not the least of which has been their splash with The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook (Sterling Epicure, Oct. 2011) with fellow MSLO alum Sandy Gluck.
They've put together a cookbook that at once is a paean to the old-timey 'heritage' recipes (what most of us would call the good simple foods that graced countless cookbooks especially through the 60's and early 70's), a textbook on food photography from a by-gone era and a scrapbook for collecting family recipes and food lore. If it is missing anything it might be that there is no pop-up of one of their beloved barnyard residents.
The book is full of the kinds of recipes we all remember but often can't find in a book to pass along to a new friend or family member now out on their own. Arranged seasonally rather than by ingredient or menu part, the book does inspire to cook and drink within what's at hand or easily available. There is much to be said for recipes with ten ingredients or less in some cases and that fit on a standard book sized page. With this inspiration, and maybe a note written here or there in the margins of the pages (conveniently lined), a cook can gather and mix and generally whip-up everything from a simple spring dinner to a grand fall feast. The ingredients called for are simple to find with the exception of the Beekman1802 Blaak Cheese (it's as spendy as heck and supplies are limited) but substitutions are easily found.
As cookbooks go there is no opposition to the old-school nature of simple farm-fresh foods, whether you own the farm or not. And it is actually rewarding to see food photography that is thought out like a still painting even if it is occassionally over-propped for everyone's taste. The photography here supports the look and feel of the book, the homey, heritage'ness' of it all very well.
But it is the 'heirloom' idea that is most important to the book for both the reader and writers. We all have cookbooks that have been passed from generation to generation, bearing witness to family gatherings, fabulous failure meals and often ticked with changes and stuffed with clippings. The Boys tap into that idea of working with a cookbook for a while, scribbling notes as needed, using the Beekman designed recipes cards included with the book to convey a treasured family recipe and then passing the book on. And nothing could be more important about the book than that.
A grandmother's cookbook, with measurements in eggshell-full increments and incompleteness, is a beautiful thing to hold and cook from. Books like these breathe a life of their own gained from splattered red gravy, smudged stews and cocoa powder. A life that has been passed to us to care for and add to and to never quite complete ourselves before passing them along.
So, for all the hoopla surrounding them, the Boys have done a remarkable thing; they have created a cookbook that can stand up to modern day local-foodies and that can become a worn-binding, nicked up, smeared in places treasured archive of the foods not only on its pages but tucked deep inside its soul.
Edible Notes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and received no other compensation for this review. Edible Notes Copyright 2011...more
New York is a city full of food. And each of its boroughs brings its own traditions, culinary nationalities, history and food artisans to the beautifuNew York is a city full of food. And each of its boroughs brings its own traditions, culinary nationalities, history and food artisans to the beautifully raucus pot - none better than Brooklyn and none told better than in Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook (Sterling Epicure, Oct. 2011).
In what is the first of four hyper-regional cookbooks backed by the award winning family of Edible publications, Wharton and team have assembled a remarkable and fascinating look at the food, drink and people at the center of the Brooklyn local-food-world. The format for the cookbook is a wonderful flip on the traditional with great recipes, beautiful photos courtesy of Carole Topalian (one of the founders of Edible) plus vignettes about the people behind the recipes and special entries for some truly iconic Brooklyn noshes and glugs (like a great piece on the muddled history of the Brooklyn Cocktail, the deliciousness of an egg cream soda, fresh mozzarella and others).
A wonderful reference section takes this work even farther with notes on Brooklyn made foods (so you can order some Gillie's Coffee or Junior's Pastrami wherever you live) and other Brooklyn books and websites to plan your own culinary tour.
I have a thing for Brooklyn. My ancestors who settled on this continent were Wyckoffs and their original home is preserved and open to the public (it's the oldest house in NYC) in the Flatlands area of Brooklyn. A farmers' market happens there in season and it is a distinctive tie to my Dutch heritage. I also have a thing for BK food. While the area has not always been a destination for foodies or the other food-trampers it has always been for chefs and for folks 'in-the-know'. A place to reach real-food that is noisy and awash with the influences of the world. Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook is a direct reflection of the beauty of the borough, it's foods and it's people in a way that both trampers and chefs will enjoy and appreciate.
This is a remarkable and fitting book to lead off the much anticipated four book series rumoured to include iconic cities from the Northwest, Midwest and Southwest in the coming year to two year timeframe. The content, style, format and voices will shine through in the others to follow if Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook is any indication.
This is the kind of cookbook that will remind you of everything you love about the foods of NYC (and especially Brooklyn) or motivate you to go there and enjoy it all in person. You couldn't ask for anything better either way.
Edible Notes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and has received no other compensation for this review. ...more
It’s safe to say that many have never baked bread that did not come from the frozen section of the grocery or from a pop open tube. Pastry chef and auIt’s safe to say that many have never baked bread that did not come from the frozen section of the grocery or from a pop open tube. Pastry chef and author Lauren Chattman hopes to inspire changing that in her new Bread Making: Crafting the Perfect Loaf from Crust to Crumb (Storey Publishing, March, 2011). In Bread Making, Chattman lays out (in a toney, smart style) all the basics of making true artisan breads – with shatteringly crisp crusts, deep flavors, complex aromas and substance. Breads we all want to bake and enjoy and to share.
Chattman brings a world of knowledge to the subject, a subject long lost on many other than the most adventurous bakers and diligent gourmet cooking class participants. Proper artisan baking – as Chattman teaches, is time consuming and costly. And while an entirely enjoyable and worthwhile skill to learn, it is not for the beginner.
Like many excellent cookbooks (and I consider Bread Making to be an excellent cookbook even though it lacks photography) it supposes a level of knowledge of foods, ingredients and cooking techniques that often is not yet obtained by a cook – nor ever will be. Saying this is a book about making artisan breads for the ‘beginner’ is relative; this ‘beginner’ is certainly an experienced home cook with room, a big refrigerator, a lot of tools to work with and some money to spend on ingredients, both locally sourced and purchased over the internet.
Chattman lays out all of the prerequisite knowledge base about flours, yeasts, salts, sweeteners and other ingredients in a clean design that is orchestrated to support the recipes. Yes there are a number of French words for things and specialty ingredients abound but Chattman includes excellent reference material and enough sources to make wrapping everything up as easy as possible.
Considering the quality, design and instructional level of Bread Making, it will remind many of other books on the subject. Along with Chattman’s work, a thorough library of reference materials on true artisan baking can be achieved. Just don’t think it’s going to be easy.
Edible Notes received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher and has received no other compensation for this review. ...more
Enjoying Dinner with Tennessee Williams (Gibbs Smith, 2011) – perhaps at his table at Galatoire’s, would indeed be a meal to be remembered. While notEnjoying Dinner with Tennessee Williams (Gibbs Smith, 2011) – perhaps at his table at Galatoire’s, would indeed be a meal to be remembered. While not to be had – except in the imagination, it is possible to still enjoy the foods he loved – and in many of the same places, that later filled his head as he wrote.
It makes an interesting concept for a book that is at once a retrospective of the noted southern playwright’s reflections of food and drink in his works and a cookbook of recipes inspired by those same reflections. Noted New Orleans chef Greg Picolo of the Bistro at Maison de Ville in the Quarter – across the street from a residence once occupied by Thomas ‘Tennessee’ Williams, is charged with creating the recipes for dishes directly taken from the steps of Williams or of the characters in his many plays.
Author Troy Gilbert (New Orleans Kitchens, Gibbs Smith, 2010) and Williams historian Dr. Kenneth Holditch bring to life the Tennessee’s fondness for all of the things that make southern life ‘southern’ and especially its food. Gilbert and Holditch follow quite a trail of food and drink through Tennessee’s works – from his less popular works like Orpheus Descending to the more widely known and much more popular Street Car Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Each is knowledgble in their own right, Gilbert of New Orleans and Holditch of Williams (Holditch personally knew Williams) and they each reflect their passions well into the work.
The challenge of a book like Dinner with Tennessee Williams is in the food and not just in what dishes would best reflect Tennessee’s intentions but in their making. Picolo is a gifted chef no doubt, an innovative, well-lauded and widely respected talent of the craft and of the global culinary tangle that is New Orleans. It is no reflection on him necessarily that the recipes that make up the body of the book – divided into chapters based around the selected plays of Williams’, are not written very well or very accurately (accurately enough for a home cook to pull off that is). The recipes may work well enough for a chef with a lifetime of knowledge, knowing where to jump over steps, how to take shortcuts and what can be abbreviated. For a home cook – it’s a disaster.
Recipes with two word sentences, miniscule measurements (it’s a sure sign that the amount was an approximation made from what a chef does without thinking) and dishes that cook in 2-4 minutes, all spell trouble. And while I personally may be okay with adding brandy to a dish that has been ‘boiling for ten minutes’ – an act that will instantly result in a plume of flame that will scare the hell out of an un-expecting home cook, I wouldn’t think of trying it unless I was in a professional kitchen with plenty of room. Some recipes are straight-out wrong in their instructions in the edition reviewed and hopefully will be corrected.
Not all of the recipes are bad, don’t get me wrong, and it’s certainly nice to see recipes written down for almost lost classics like Gumbo Po’boy or Galatoire’s Baton Aubergine. And, there is enough here to inspire anyone to dig deeper, learn more and to research other recipes that may be more suitable to one’s skills.
Gilbert, Holditch and Picolo have brought some of the foods of Tennessee’s characters and his own life together in an interesting way in Dinner with Tennessee Williams. Enjoy the idea and the discourse – and be careful with those recipes.
Disclaimer: Edible Notes received a complementary copy of the book for review and no other compensation from the publisher....more
It is hard to imagine a more concise, enlightened or creative approach to the art, science and spirituality of herb gardening than Homegrown Herbs byIt is hard to imagine a more concise, enlightened or creative approach to the art, science and spirituality of herb gardening than Homegrown Herbs by noted herbalist and gardener Tammi Hartung (Storey Publishing). Hartung brings the spirit of plant and place together with gardeners and cooks in a way in this book that is at once uplifting, challenging and achievable.
It seems that great pains have been taken in many books on the subject of growing herbs and their uses to make them both devoid of any soul. So often, the beautiful common names of herbs are masked by the ponderous Latin (why do we suffer this any longer in gardening books for anyone other than scientists?) and the natural likes and dislikes of the plants themselves are generally ignored in favor of our gardening convenience. Hartung allows the names and plants to speak for themselves and guided with her intuitive words, beginning and experienced growers can learn for themselves about natural inclinations of herbs.
Hartung offers clear charts to plant characteristics and to their habitat preferences and again, organized by common names (with Latin following for all of you purists). The charts are separated by clearly illustrated and explained designs for raised and formal herb gardens as well as herbs in food gardens and gardens for children. Theme gardens are fun and Hartung includes another excellent and highly usable chart indicating common herbs that are appropriate for children, culinary, scented, tea, medicinal and wildlife garden uses.
Any garden is only as good as its soil and Hartung shares an excellent chapter of knowledge on soil development, composting and beneficial additions especially for herb gardens. Soil testing, amendments and natural complements are well covered and turned over effortlessly with Hartung’s natural, encouraging and knowledgeable style. Hartung supplies an excellent resource on propagation that is among the clearest and easiest to follow to be found in book form. So much more can be made of a life in the garden through propagation; starting from seeds, grafts, cuttings and more than could ever be achieved by just ordering plants from a catalogue.
Harvesting and processing herbs is no little job especially when an entire row is ready to go. Hartung spells out what can or should be harvested of the major herbs, how to save seeds, dry herbs efficiently and includes another excellent, highly usable chart on preservation based on the common name of the herb in question. No doubts or fumbling around trying to find the answer in another book or online. It’s all right here.
A great set of recipes are included that show how important herbs are to cuisines from around the world. It is hard to imagine a food or for that matter a meal, that does not benefit from the proper use of herbs. While it’s is not intended to be a cookbook, the recipes included are worthy references and will lead the adventurous to explore other ideas and cuisines easily.
Hartung wraps up the over-all well designed text with chapters on common pests and a bit of Integrated Pest Management techniques, medicinal uses for herbs with some preparations to consider and then devotes the last 70 pages or so to the ‘personalities’ of herbs. This is where the book really proves its value. In addition to the usual ‘shade or sun’ or simple hardiness zone information, Hartung presents the personality of each plant, its likes and dislikes in soil, water and companion plants. The photography in this section clearly shows each plant for rapid identification, a godsend in comparison to other books that may only show one of three. Hartung wraps up each listing with information on propagation, harvesting, culinary and medicinal uses and bloom traits; all in one place about each herb and organized by common names. Brilliantly simple and totally effective.
The new or experienced herb gardener, including those considering commercial benefits will not be led astray by Hartung or Homegrown Herbs. A lifetime of work and observation has gone into making it this good and the results are not to be missed.
Edible Notes received a copy of this book directly from the publisher and was not compensated in any way for this review...more
If you are looking for your first book on basic cheese-making, look no further. And if you have another book on basic cheese-making – donate it to theIf you are looking for your first book on basic cheese-making, look no further. And if you have another book on basic cheese-making – donate it to the public library and buy Home Dairy by DIY expert Ashley English. In what will surely be heralded as the tour de force book about the basics of the art and science of making butter, yogurt, cheese and other dairy-based products, English continues the style of her other books to a winning effect.
Cookbook and DIY readers keeping up with English’s other recent books (including Homemade Living: Keeping Bees with Ashley English also reviewed here on Goodreads by Edible Notes) know her to be a trusted, highly knowledgeable and confident source of information about her subjects. Her books are entirely approachable and usable, from introduction to the last resource page. The style of her books (handled expertly by the team at Lark Crafts, an imprint of Sterling Publishing) lends itself to immediate ease with the subject at hand. The photos and illustrations are not only useful but they make sense in the flow of the subject and the book. So many cookbooks and DIY guides seem to just carelessly throw-in photos of things and scenes that are apparently there to give the book ‘style’ or ‘feeling’. Good ‘style’ comes from good design – and English’s books have got it.
Home Dairy indulges our fascination and admiration of all things dairy and especially cheeses. Don’t worry – making butter, ghee, yogurt, kefir, ice cream and other products are covered as well, but if you’ve ever had the idea to make your own cheddar or pull the taffy-like curds of fresh mozzarella into a taut ball waiting to be enjoyed, Home Dairy is your go-to guide.
Cheese-making, at its simplest, can be a daunting proposition. Like many similar subjects, there are bits and parts to have on hand, the raw ingredients at the ready and a good amount of patience is required. Many cheeses can be made and enjoyed fresh or with a minimum of aging but the good stuff takes time. English forewarns the adventurous to give the cheeses their due and to enjoy the process.
As is with her style for the series, English adds in valuable information on the history of cheese and cheese-making and telling profiles of artisan producers from across the country. She presents the equipment needed clearly and thankfully explains what each piece is needed for. With this level of clear information, a home cheese-maker can easily decide if a tool must be purchased from a specialty purveyor (a great resource section helps track them down) or from a local shop or if it can be made by yourself (as is the case with the cheese press with excellent plans that are included in Home Dairy).
English add recipes to the magic of her book as with previous works, with great uses for the cheeses produced earlier (or to try with cheeses from the farmers’ market or neighborhood cheese-monger). While not an in-depth coverage of the sub-subject of soap making, there is enough added here to also make it worthwhile trying.
While some other authors, writers and reviewers consider things like making cheese to be a ‘return to a simpler life’ nothing farther could be from the truth. Making cheese can be hard, no – down right, damn near impossible, if you don’t have the right tools, ingredients or teacher. Let Home Dairy be your guide to getting started – the notion of a simpler life notwithstanding. ...more
It is rare when a cookbook conveys not only recipe and technique but soul and humor as well. Many have recipes that we enjoy making but that we wishedIt is rare when a cookbook conveys not only recipe and technique but soul and humor as well. Many have recipes that we enjoy making but that we wished had more of the author's reflections on the subject at hand. Even more are long on 'personality' and short on interesting and functional recipes. Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose (Clarkson Potter/Crown) smacks of great recipes you willwant to make more than once and stories you will want read aloud while making them.
The trail of a chef can seem like tracing the steps of a child set loose on a spring day; roving in no particular pattern as one thing or another is discovered, cherished, discarded or often eaten. Foose is no exception to the allegory; her dervish-path from Mississippi to France, Los Angeles, New Orleans and back again to the Delta is sprinkled here in there in her writing. It shows up in the flavors of her recipes that are recognizably southern and yet not solely of the South and in the techniques and stories that accompany each.
Of particular delight is her story of how grits saved upon upon first arriving in France for culinary training; it is told with an honesty proving that some of the most provoking parts of life cannot be made up. Recipes run from what would seem to be mundane southern fare suchas fried okra to more challenging bits of our culinary repetoire such as turtle soup (complete with tongue-in-cheek directions on how to shell a turtle).
Screen Doors and Sweet Tea speaks well of the cuisine and the character of the South. It will prove to be a trusty guide along your own culinary trail - with or without the grass stains.
(This review originally appeared in edible Memphis, Spring 2008) ...more
There is great hope that nonprofit organizations will become 'greener' in their operations in the same way other businesses have in the past decade orThere is great hope that nonprofit organizations will become 'greener' in their operations in the same way other businesses have in the past decade or so. There is little hope that the Nonprofit Guide to Going Green will help them do it.
From the opening chapter to the final resources, instructions and 'guides', the book is a disorganized mess of articles from 'experts' (mostly consultants) compiled by GreenNonprofits.org founder Ted Hart. The articles, masquerading as chapters are for the most part interesting as studies of certain areas of 'going green'. They are not for the NPO leader or board member looking for a step-by-step guide to do so, however.
This compilation encourages some of the right things (recycling, green event procurement) for NPOs to do but never really addresses the who, what, why or how of doing it. It also encourages explicitly and implicity to join the Green Nonprofits organization for 'certification' and more resources. Even the 'certification' application is included in the 'intructions' section of the book (in a hopeless design taken straight from web-pages leaving unintelligible spaces and gaps in the materials).
NPOs can gain from taking steps to green their operations for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that in general, we expect them to. NPOs have been very slow to move in this direction even though many NPO leaders openly wish they could. One can only hope that they don't start their journey by reading this compilation. They will be lost before they start....more
Beekeeping is hot. It seems that everyone is interested in it – from home gardeners to urban farmers to locavore entrepreneurs these days. Anyone ‘stuBeekeeping is hot. It seems that everyone is interested in it – from home gardeners to urban farmers to locavore entrepreneurs these days. Anyone ‘stung’ by the idea of keeping bees will not find a clearer, more useful or better written book about basic beekeeping than Keeping Bees by DIY living expert Ashley English.
We have to admit, we’ve been taken with the idea too, with classes taken and suggested texts on the subject feverishly read. But not until reading this wonderful book did the idea sink in that we could actually do this. Other well-meaning authors – mostly professional beekeepers, scientists and serious hobbyists, are all too quick to pass by the essentials of the subject and rely too often on insider-jargon. None of them have found the way to explain the life of honey bees, the beauty of beekeeping or the pleasures and challenges of helping these marvelous creatures to help us – all of which English does with an easy, trusted and highly knowledgeable style.
Bees are complicated creatures with a short, highly productive lifespan and beekeeping is certainly not something to half-heartedly take up. As with most things in the natural world, actions have results and consequences. Ignorance, mistakes or misguided information can lead to the unintended and readers will find confidence at the hand of English – or least enough confidence to know what questions to ask of a more experienced keeper.
A book doesn’t necessarily have to answer all of a reader’s questions but it should not leave a reader with more questions than when they started or without the resources to inquire further. This fact is not lost on English and a great job is done in this tidy, stylish and easy to read book to answer questions and give the resources to learn more.
The modern design of the book from cover to cover is appealing and useful – more information is presented in text and in photos combined to great efficiency. English’s clear organization and easy to follow style allows the reader to decide on their own speed of entry into beekeeping as a hobby or profession. Profiles of beekeepers, enthusiasts, chefs, advocates and professional apiarists from around the country dot the book at meaningful moments, adding to the colorful hive-world. The photo-work is especially informative and high quality, a welcome addition to the step-by-step methods for many of the hobby’s functions.
The point of honey bee keeping is to help them pollinate the flora in the world around us. By way of cooperation and work, we can receive the benefit of their work in doing so – honey and wax. English covers not only the harvesting and processing of honey (with a number of options as to how best to accomplish this) but includes a number of inspiring recipes using the sweet profits. An up-to-date resource section is included which is far better than such searching the internet – these resources have been reviewed and selected to improve the experience of the reader, a vast improvement on other texts and certainly better than blindly searching the internet.
It is a gracious notion that, as Marcus Tullius Cicero was quoted, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” A garden without bees is a fruitless, pale reflection of what a garden can be. Let Keeping Bees be your guide to enjoying and gaining from our noble honeybees. ...more