Archive for ‘book review’

May 16, 2012

meet emily

…a gift from my husband for my birthday last month.

    

if you happened to read my post last year about my smart phone then you know husbie and i are not techies.  this is hard for most people to believe especially since my husband works with computers for a living.

the truth of the matter is though that we are very old fashioned and for a long time i didn’t think i wanted anything to do with a kindle.  i like books.  there is something to be said about the ink, the paper, and the cover art.  i love used books, especially if they have been written in or have a date and a name on the inside cover.  they are just special. and in holding the book and turning the pages you form a relationship with it.   i’ve also been proud to display our books on the shelf in the living room.  the titles have a lot to say about who we are.  i have all my favorites by du maurier, and jane austen.  my husband has his poetry and theology.

then we decided to move.

and one of the first things i began to pack up were our bookshelves.

and i began to think.

how convenient to have all of these items loaded onto a single device that could fit in my purse.

hmmmmm…..

HMMMmmm….

then i realized that once we accomplish this move, i will be about 3o miles away from my favorite library.

hmmmmm…..

HMMMmmm….

i began to sneak a look at kindles.  i looked some more, and announced to my husband that i was looking at kindles.

then i did some comparison shopping, settled on a model, and announced to my husband that i *wanted* a kindle.

don’t get me wrong.  i still love books, and after a general sort through i plan to keep those most special to us, and will still proudly display them on our shelves in our new office.  but i am very happy with the convenience of this little gadget named for, (in case you were wondering) emily dickenson.

~as i said before, it fits nicely in my purse so i can read wherever i go without lugging a book (or books) around.

~when reading in bed, it is much easier to hold on to than a large volume.

~i can stand it up on the coffee table and read while folding the laundry.

~i love being able to hi-light without actually marking up a page.

~i love that i will be able to share those hi-lighted passages with  my husband when he gets his kindle too (he’s sold on them now and wants one himself)

~i love that at the touch of a button, i can own a new book almost instantaneously and begin reading within minutes – not to mention some of the other features i have yet to access such as downloading audio books and music to listen to in the background. (how lovely to read austen while listening to rachel portman)

~i also love the public domain freebees, and the sites like pixel of ink that deliver free titles to my inbox each day.  i’ve gone a little crazy with those as mentioned previously.

some favorites (free and otherwise) that i’ve picked up so far:

*the distant hours by kate morton.  ok. this… really wasn’t free. at all.  but i had started it and wanted to finish it. on my kindle.  what can i say.  i had a new toy and really wanted to play with it.

*because of winn-dixie.  yes. this is a children’s book, but i love dogs and this was a very sweet story.  not free but “used book store price” from kindle’s daily deal.

*weekend homesteader.  this is a monthly series and once a week or so they are offered for free.  each issue contains approximately 4-5 “homestead” projects.  the idea is to choose one and choose a weekend to complete it, hence avoiding burnout.  pretty cool little concept and just glancing through it seems that most projects would work for urban homesteading as well as rural.

*a single thread. a contemporary fiction story about a quilting circle.  i’m currently reading this one.  if it wasn’t free it was pretty close to it.  very light, easy, and enjoyable.

some other freebees i’ve downloaded and am looking forward to: willa cather’s o pioneers! jane’s fame: how jane austen conquered the world, and raising chickens in your backyard a no fluff guide to chicken breeds, coops, runs, tractors, and more. 

do you have a kindle or other similar device/app?  what are you currently reading?

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September 30, 2011

from the cookbooks on my shelf

it’s friday!  the last friday in september and a lovely fall day.  actually the fall weather is still a bit slow in coming on and i have worried about  my cool weather crops that prefer lower daytime temps.  i’ve been bitten by the fall bug this weekend however, and am tempted to set aside some time to bake something and get to making that fall wreath for the door (subject of a future post).  i’m also in the middle of a Pantry Project that really needs to be completed (also the subject of a future post) so i’m not sure yet whether that will win out over my desire for pumpkin cookies? cake? muffns? or not.

now to a cookbook review…

it is no secret that i love to cook.  i love to cook with recipes.  i’m not usually one to strike out on my own and attempt something original, i like to go by the book.  i do though have a small kitchen and i have never seen the point of owning an entire library of cookbooks that are never used, so i am very choosy about what goes on my single cookbook shelf above my sink.   i like to choose books that are a resource on one specific type of cooking (say french bistro or breads) or an excellent general resource on the basics.  neiman marcus taste  by kevin garvin is one of those great general resources.

how i came to own it: this was given to me a few years ago as a christmas gift from my sister.

why it stays on the shelf as opposed to being relegated to the “give away” pile: in addition to this being a beautiful book (it could sit on a coffee table) it is loaded with some amazing recipes.   while not exhaustive, it does contain a wide variety from appetizers, to salads, entrees, and desserts.  i have to say their cookie recipes are exceptional (orange marmalade cookies anyone?).  the majority of the recipes are taken from helen corbitt’s (the original food director of neiman marcus in the 5o’s and 60’s) files and updated by the current director kevin garvin, along with some family favorites of his own.  i had the privilege of lunching last year at the flagship neiman marcus and passed garvin in the elevator wearing his chef’s whites.  i did not have the nerve to tell him “i have your cookbook!!” but i did stare in a most pop-eyed unladylike fashion.

to whom i would recommend this book: a fellow foodie.  someone who enjoys cooking as well as presentation.  this is not for someone who counts calories, or is on a restricted diet; and while the recipes are rated according to skill level, this would not be for someone just starting out in the kitchen.

i would also add: nearly every recipe is photographed, the book contains a very interesting history about the neiman marcus restaurants.  and just for what it’s worth and just in case you were wondering:  the book does not contain the recipe for the (urban) legendary $250 neiman marcus cookie.

my rating: four spoons (out of five)

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September 8, 2011

artisan bread in five minutes a day…

i tried it.

i don’t recall where i first heard of the book artisan bread in five minutes a day but i do recall being very skeptical.  i was reluctant because in my opinion anything that traditionally requires a good bit of time, and is shortened for the sake if convenience can’t be all that great or good for you.  this is why i don’t own a microwave.  (yes. in case you haven’t guessed by now i am a terrible food snob and not ashamed to admit it)

i ended up revisiting the book however out of necessity.  (maybe i’m not so much of a snob after all??)

we want to eat healthy.

i believe in from-scratch cooking as much as possible.

baking bread makes me feel all warm and house-wifey inside.

we recently began using more spelt.

organic spelt bread costs more than $5 a loaf.

i rarely managed to find  the time to bake.

i decided to have a look-see and checked the book out at the library first.  after looking through it and giving the master recipe a go, i’ve decided to buy it.  this really is wonderful stuff, and it really is very, very easy.  i liked the fact that one has the added bonus of soaking the grains if you are trying to do the traditional foods sort of thing.  now, i did use processed flour and for this first run through i used white flour

::ducks to avoid flying objects hurled by the healthy crowd::

i didn’t want to tweak anything until i was familiar with what i was doing.  that being said: i’m sure that using processed flour cancels out any benefit from soaking the grains but at least i feel better about eating it.

here is my dough (again i used the master recipe for a basic boule) having been in the fridge for nearly a week. as you can see, we  had already sampled one loaf.  it really did take less than fifteen minutes to mix together and rose beautifully before being stored in the fridge.  the book recommends storing the dough in a plastic lidded container which i don’t have.  my glass bowl covered with plastic wrap worked fine and i may just stick with that.

here are two loaves ready to raise on the pizza peel.  this was one of the things marked “necessary” by the authors of the book.  i don’t know that i would agree as to it being absolutely necessary.  neither was the oven thermometer. i discovered that my oven *is* off, yeah, but the bread still baked just fine and was amazing.  the baking stone and the broiler pan for the water bath however, were in my opinion, an absolute necessity.

dusted, scored, and ready for the oven…

the finished product.

for now we’ve decided to stick with the boule recipe because we like it.  but i can’t wait to try the recipe for the bagel dough or the brioche.

take 2 will be an attempt at a boule made from spelt.

i’ll keep you posted…

August 1, 2011

book review

i just finished reading:  silent sorority: a (barren) woman gets busy, angry, lost, and found by pamela mahoney tsigdinos (ok i didn’t just finish reading this, i finished it a while back but i have had it on my mind to review for some time)

in a nutshell: the memoirs of one brave woman’s ten year journey through infertility and her reconciliation to becoming cnbc (childless not by choice).

what i thought:  like some of the other infertiles who have reviewed this book have said: the author’s approach is a very personable one.  reading it was very much like a friendly visit over a pot of tea.  pamela gave voice and validation to many of the same feelings, fears, and frustrations i have experienced over the past six years.  her ability to face every infertile woman’s greatest fear: a permanently empty cradle, and yet purpose to lead a full and productive life was an inspiration to me.   as we round the final bend of our own infertility journey and  await the outcome, it is a tremendous comfort to me to read of cnbc women such as pamela who  are, in my opinion, the unsung heroes of those  who experience infertility.

why i would recommend it: this isn’t just for the infertile woman as it gives valuable insight into what it  feels like to be the only one at the ladies’ lunch who does not have a birth story.  the author gives a voice to the devastation of infertility that is often difficult, for those who have never been there, to understand.  the appendix includes a list of ways to be supportive to an infertile friend or loved one.

favorite passage: “in order to truly come to terms with infertility i had to stop using the fertile world as a measuring stick. i would forever be an alien if i stayed in that mindset.  it was a difficult lesson to learn, but a liberating one after  years of feeling inadequate and unable to fulfill the life i was supposed to be leading…i can only be at peace knowing we did our best to have children with what was available to us, pursuing the science that we were comfortable pursuing….it’s not good. it’s not bad. it’s just what happened. “   this particular passage was such a comfort to me.  it relieved a lot of the guilt i have felt over these past years wondering if there was something i’ve done to cause this,  or something more i could be doing to alleviate it.  i don’t know how many useless hours i have spent interrogating myself wondering if a failed cycle was due to that cup of caffeinated tea, if i should have pressed my doctor for more answers,  should i have…? what if…? why didn’t i……?  when i finally realized that this was something that just happened i felt a tremendous load taken off of my shoulders.

feathered rating: