It appears we skipped book reviews last month. Not that I didn’t read anything, because I did. But most of it was in conjunction with the Family Herbalist course I’m taking with Vintage Remedies or school books.
So on to the book reviews….
I just love the Art of Gardening. I wrote a full review when it was first published and you can read that here. This is the most beautiful ebook I’ve ever seen. In fact, I really, really hope it’s a print book one day. But not only is it beautiful, it has great content too. It’s all about building your soil because without good soil you cannot grow good food. It’s a fact of life.
So why am I revisiting this book? Because Susan is having a $5 sale! From now until October 31st you can get this $13 ebook for only $5 using promo code BUILDSOIL.
I’ve been making bread for our family for over 15 years. And I’m pretty good at it. I use freshly ground wheat and no preservatives. In my opinion, it’s a pretty healthy food. But now there is all this backlash over bread – you know, the food that has been a staple for many cultures for thousands of years – and not just bread, but all grains. And I often feel like I have to defend our choice to eat grains. Let me just say, I understand that there are people who cannot eat gluten. But that number seems to be rising at an astronomical rate. I’ve talked to many people including health professionals about this growing trend to demonize grains and no one has ever really been able to give me solid evidence as to why. Some say we need to sprout our grain, then dehydrate it and grind it for flour. Well, there is no historical evidence that our ancestors did that. Others will say its because our wheat is hybridized and bears absolutely no resemblance to the wheat our ancestors used. That’s not completely accurate, either. As a Christian I’ve had a hard time reconciling that Christ would call himself The Bread of Life knowing that one day bread would be looked at as a poison that no one should eat. Yep, these are the crazy things I think about.
So, when I found out there was a bread module in the Family Herbalist course, I was cautiously excited. I really didn’t want to be told that I’ve been harming my family for 15 years. But I do want to do what’s best for my family or I wouldn’t be taking the course. Part of the module was reading The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread by Jessie Hawkins. Jessie takes you through the history of wheat and the history of the process of bread making at the beginning of the book. Then she talks about how to take that information and make a modern healthy loaf. There are also many recipes – we’ve tried several and have liked all of them. There is also a chapter on why many gluten free items aren’t really healthy and how to eat a healthy gluten free diet. With over 350 study and research citations, this book was very thought provoking and not a quick read. However, it did answer many of the questions I’ve had about how bread could go from a sustainer of life to poison in many people’s mind in just a couple of generations.
I found The Waste Not, Want Not cookbook on our public library’s bookshelves a few weeks ago and knew I would love it. In the introduction the author states that “40% of the food that is produced in North America never makes it anyone’s plate (according to the USDA).” She also states that the “UN estimates that North American and European consumers waste from 210 to 240 pounds of food per year… while sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia waste only 13 to 24 pounds per year.” Food waste is such a touchy subject for us. For many years we lived below the US poverty level – without being on food stamps. It was hard and in order to make it we had to not only shop wisely but not waste anything. There was no cutting the crust off bread or throwing the broccoli stalks away. Our children have learned to eat what is served without complaint. Of course, we all have our preferences and we allowed for that but we didn’t allow waste. However, I don’t subscribe to the belief that by reducing my family’s food waste, it means more food is available for the poor. I do, however, believe that when I reduce my family’s waste, I have more money available to help those in need around the world.
The introduction is full of wonderful tips for reducing food waste. Then there is an alphabetized guide of fruits and vegetables. Each fruit or vegetable has tips on buying, storing, serving and not wasting one bit of it, then there are a couple of recipes before moving on to the next one. Then there is a similar section on staples such as bacon, breads, canned fish, cheese, eggs, nuts and more. The last section is titled The Weekly Feast and covers salmon, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb and beef.
I received John Shaw’s Guide to Digital Nature Photography as part of the Blogging for Books program. Overall I really liked this book, but it did make me realize that I will never be a true nature photographer. Mainly because it’s not a passion of mine. That being said, I did learn quite a bit about using my camera that I didn’t know before. The author is very comprehensive in his explanations and doesn’t assume the reader already knows what the many photography terms mean. I also like that the book has a lot photographs and each on has information as far as what camera and lens was used and what the settings were. I really appreciated the side by side of photos of the same subject with different lighting. I think there is a lot of knowledge to be gained from this book, especially if you want to photograph nature but it is something that is not a quick and easy read. It will take some studying.