July’s Pages Upon Pages

I have a prediction for July. I will read a crap load of books. Actually, I am cheating. It’s not a prediction because I already know I will. Case in point – yesterday my husband and I spent seven hours on the water. He fished. I read. Yesterday was July 1st so I was already knee-deep in the July Challenge list and thanks to an iPad I had five books with me. I made a decent dent in the “Boat” books:

Fiction:

  • Jackie by Josie by Caroline Preston – in honor of Jacqueline O. Kennedy’s birth month.

Nonfiction:

  • The Coldest Day: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam – in honor of July being the month the Korean War ended.
  • The Book of Mediterranean Cooking by Elizabeth David – in honor of July being picnic month.

Series Continuation:

  • The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason – to continue the series started in June.
  • Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell – to continue the series started in April.

Others on the list:

Fiction:

  • Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken – in honor of July being Kids Month.

Nonfiction:

  • Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart – in honor of July being Job Fair month (odd choice, I know).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival by Tristam Koten.

If there is time:

  • Gardens of Kyoko by Kate Walbert – in honor of Japan’s Tanabata Festival.
  • Animals by Alice Mattison – in honor of Mattison’s birth month.
  • Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait – in honor of Lizzie Borden’s birth month.
  • Cop Hater by Ed McBain – to honor McBain’s passing in the month of July.

 

 


Feed Zone

Thomas, Biju and Allen Lim. The Feed Zone Cookbook: Fast and Flavorful Food for Athletes. Boulder: Velo, 2011.

Confessional: I bought this book sight unseen because I had the credit with Amazon. I don’t regret it!

This is a gorgeous cookbook. I like its unique shape (8″x 6.5″) and feel (nubbly hardcover without a dust jacket). The photography is sublime and speaking of “lime,” the lime green ribbon bookmark is cool, too. But, these are all superficial reasons to love a cookbook. Let’s get to the meat of the matter (pun totally intended).
Even though the title insists this is food for “athletes” there is a little bias towards cycling. No. There is a large bias towards cycling. The language is more about riding and less about generic non-specific-sport tough workouts. Never mind that. The fact it is geared towards riding is a small detail that only I would harp on or maybe even notice. I just happen to like books that refer and cater to runners…
In truth, the recipes translate for any individual participating in an activity that burns many, many calories. And speaking of calories, this is not a weight-loss, get-thin cookbook. Calories are communicated as “energy units” and are unapologetically abundant. They didn’t skimp on the fat or carbs in an effort to slim an athlete down but instead, calories are pumped up to keep an athlete active & to avoid the bonk. Even in cycling there is the dreaded bonk. And – just in case you start to gain weight using this cookbook and get all upset there is a disclaimer right up front that states portion sizes are larger than normal. You’ve been warned.
Another truth to be prepared for is the tendency towards rice-based dishes. Born in the Philipines, Allan Lim honors his culture with many rice-cooker dishes. Most of the hand-held recipes have a sushi rice base. My advice is to experiment with different varieties of rice if a specific kind isn’t necessary. For many of the dishes a sticky rice is called for to hold the finished product together.

In truth, I have barely started to cook from this cookbook. I might have to write another review after I’ve cooked my way through it.


Banana Berry Smoothies

Larrew, Brekka Hervey. Banana Berry Smoothies and Other Breakfast Recipes (fun foods for cool cooks). Minneapolis, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2008.

Reason read: always, always on the hunt for ways to make me & myself eat breakfast.

So. This turned out to be a cookbook for young adults. I say young “adult” because there are sharp knives, frying oil and a hot stove involved. Kids definitely need to be supervised while following the recipes if they are under the age of 8 or 9 years old. True to its title, the first recipe is a banana berry smoothie. It then moves on to other typical treats like muffins and pancakes. I thought the entire was well laid out and incredibly cute. It even had a little index. I liked the photographs of the tools needed for each recipe and the trivia facts were fun, too. Did you know Pancake Day is on Shrove Tuesday?

Author fact: Brekka is a stay-at-home mom.

Book trivia: even adults can use these recipes if they are anything like me and have trouble being inspired to eat breakfast!


A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband

Weaver, Louise Bennett and Helen Cowles LeCron. A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina’s Best Recipes: a Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping. New York: A L Burt Company, 1917.

How to describe this book? I want to avoid calling it a how-to for newly married women who want to keep their husbands satisfied because, given the date of publication, this would not fly in the 21st century. Hell, it shouldn’t have flown in any century, but there’s no getting around historical inequality!

But, anyway…in this book you will find there is only one way to please a husband – through his stomach. Bettina is a newlywed, eager to feed her husband, Bob. Every chapter focuses on an opportunity for Betty to take care of Bob and it usually includes food and the preparation there of. The recipes and preparation instructions are included in detail. But, to be fair, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband… isn’t just about feeding hubby Bob. Bettina is teaching the local neighborhood wives how to feed their men and keep house as well. It could be a luncheon where Betty teaches the attending ladies how to prepare the meal and how to serve it properly as well. Betty is very proud of her meal plans (and seems to have an obsession with white sauce). She also likes to display her frugality and creativity. She is forever mentioning how she had to plan a meal with very little funds or advanced notice. Each chapter is a variation of the same theme of showcasing Betty’s ingenuity so, be prepared, it gets a little repetitious. Even though housekeeping is in the title, there is very little said about cleaning, doing laundry, or the like at 1107 Carberry Avenue. Bettina does mention getting out a stain or two.
Please note this book was published in 1917 and everything about it screams turn of the century. Even some of the ingredients are head scratchers (Like, what is a chocolate cream? One recipe calls for a dozen of them). What’s funny is that I read a review somewhere describing this book as “creepy and kitschy.” I would have to agree. Some of the language is a little strange. I was taken aback when Betty tells her husband and his adult male friend to “run and play” while she prepares the picnic. At one point her friends made reference to a man as a well known “woman-hater.” Come again?

I keep thinking about how interesting this book  could have been. Take Bob, for example. At Christmas he struggles over what kind of gift to get for Betty. He decides on giving her a kitten but the actual delivery is skipped over entirely. One minute Bob is discussing picking up the kitten and the next minute “Fluff” is quietly sleeping in an armchair. The reader never gets to see Betty’s reaction to the gift. This is just one example of where the plot could have been developed more.

Quotes to make you think, “Love at first sight? Bob introduced us…and I thought – well – I thought Harry was the most disagreeably serious man I’d ever had the misfortune to meet! And he thought me the most disagreeably frivolous girl he has ever seen. So our feud began, and of course we had to see each other to fight it out” (p 195), “Feeling, it must be admitted, a little out of harmony with a world that allowed weary and hungry husbands to come home to dark and empty houses when the clock said plainly that it was a quarter after six, Bob made his way to the kitchen” (p 238) and “Goodness gracious sakes alive, but thinking is hot work” (p 296).

Reason read: Oddly enough, I thought this would be a great book to read in honor of my tenth wedding anniversary on September 18th. I am happy to say my husband comes home each night and not just because of a home cooked meal! *wink*wink*

Author(s) fact: Weaver and LeCron have also written other “Bettina books” such as Bettina’s Best Salads, Bettina’s Best Desserts, and even When Sue Began to Cook with Bettina’s Best Recipes.

Book trivia: Charming illustrations (or decorations as they were called back then) were done by Elizabeth Colbourne. Another detail – this book is available as an E-book through the Gutenberg Project (Release date: 6/4/13 EBook #42865).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 600s” (p 73).


Joy of Cooking

Rombauer, Irma and Marion Rombauer Becker. Joy of Cooking. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1964.

This red and white thick-bound book was a staple of my mother’s kitchen when I was growing up. It sat on a kitchen shelf in my childhood home. It sits there still. It is even more grease stained, dog-eared and much worse for wear (I think I started the degradation when I took a crayon to it when I was two); yet my mother would never dream of getting rid of it or updating it for a newer, shinier or cleaner edition. Her reason? This is the ultimate cookbook for every occasion, every season and every reason. The dirtier the page, the more well-loved the recipe. With Rombauer and Becker you simply can’t go wrong. On ever page there is a wealth of information from entertaining to grilling. From setting the table to eating lobster. Soup to nuts as they would say. Even though the methods are a little dated and the illustrations are a little cheesy it’s a classic. I love the extensive knowledge about the foods we eat, the foods we heat, the foods we keep…My favorite has always been the place setting illustrations.

Reason read: My birthday (last Saturday) always brings about a sort of reminiscing about childhood and this was definitely something that tugged at the heartstrings of my childhood.

Author fact: Marion Rombauer Becker no longer had her mother by her side when she revised and reorganized the 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking.

Book trivia: Originally copyrighted in 1931 Joy of Cooking saw at least 35 reprintings. Couldn’t they have figured out after the, say, twentieth reprint that the thing was a hit and that they should reprint a whole mess of them all at once? Surely there could have been an exception to the rule!

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 600s” (p). Interestingly enough Nancy Pearl made a point to say she wasn’t talking about the most recent edition of Joy of Cooking but doesn’t explain why. She does make special note of the recipes for oatmeal cookies with orange peel and baked macaroni and cheese.


Clean Food

Walters, Terry. Clean Food: a Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source With More than 200 Recipes For a Healthy and Sustainable You. New York: Sterling, 2009.

A friend gave me a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Happy birthday to me! Except I have a weird relationship with B&N. On the one hand, I’m a librarian through and through. I borrow my books. Sending them back is in my blood because I really don’t have the space for keepers. Wait. Let me rephrase. I am picky about my keepers because my space is limited. There. That’s more honest. Quite simply, I do not have the luxury of holding on to every book. When I was a child my father and I belonged to a mail-away book club. Every month we would pour over the selections, pick out a few we thought we could read in 30 days and then wait anxiously for their arrival. The package would come, heavy with books, complete with a postage-paid return label as well as a crisp, new padded envelope to send everything back in. Even in high school I couldn’t keep my books. I had to pass them onto my younger sister in an effort to save the family some money. In college I returned my textbooks to pay the phone bill. You could say I’ve never been comfortable with book ownership.

But! But. But, when it comes to gift certificates to book stores I make exceptions. I make exceptions, but there are rules. I can keep books I will use over and over again (like cookbooks). I can keep books I consider educational, something I can learn from each and every time I pick it up (think reference).

The book I purchased with my gift certificate exemplifies both attributes of my exceptions: Clean Food is a cookbook and a reference book. It goes beyond vegetarian eating. Probably the best thing about Clean Food is that it will put an end to struggling to use all the produce we get from the farm share. Every year it’s the same thing – what do you do with 15lbs of bok choy? There’s only so much stir fry one can eat!


March ’11 was…

What can I say about March? The snow is (finally, finally) beginning to melt and kisa and I are starting to think spring even though it’s still cold, cold, cold and more snow is expected for tomorrow. We made some pretty sobering decisions. No huge projects for Hilltop and no expensive vacations. We’re taking a year off from spending. It’s a good choice, I think, given all the work drama we both have been through recently. Family life is starting to even out. For awhile I wasn’t feeling the proverbial pressures, but then again I had been shutting my phone off at night! March was also a Natalie night with the best company a girl could ever have.  Here’s the list for March books:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ~ in honor of Book Month. I had forgotten about all the sighing and sobbing! *sigh*
  • Blind Descent by Nevada Barr ~ in honor of Barr’s birth month. I will never look at cave exploring the same way again!
  • Flint by Paul Eddy ~ in honor of Eddy’s birth month.
  • The Bold Vegetarian: 150 Innovative International Recipes by Bharti Kirchner ~ in honor of March being “noodle month.” I kid you not.
  • Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings ~ in honor of Florida becoming a state. This was made into a movie…interesting.
  • God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane~ in honor of African American Writers Month.
  • Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks ~ in honor of March being family month. This was a behemoth to read – over 700 pages!
  • Raising Holy Hell by Bruce Olds ~ in honor of family month (read with Cloudsplitter because they were on the same topic).
  • Cosi fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin ~ in honor of March being Dibdin’s birth month.

Confessional: I skipped Famished Road by Ben Okri and added God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane instead. Somehow I had forgotten that I had already tried that book a few years ago. It just wasn’t my thing. However, I did write a review for LibraryThing. I just wish I had remembered that before ordering it a second time. I hate making more work for librarians! Here’s what I said for LT:
The Famished Road by Ben Okri is all about spirits. Azaro is a child in Africa struggling between two worlds: that of the spiritual and that of the Earthly. His parents on Earth are well meaning, but poverty driven, people. the basic theme of Famished Road is the definitive difference and ultimate struggle between good and evil. Azaro’s personal struggle is with spirits that can only exist if Azaro is dead. Azaro’s father struggles with abuse and power. Starting as a boxer he soon delves into the world of politics to gain power. Madam Kato is a simple bartender who begins her part of the story by wanting more profit but as a result of greed, sinks lower and lower. Along with the ever-entwining magical realism is the drifting of morality.

Other books I read in March not on the BookLust list: Miss Timmins School  for Girls: a novel by Nayana Churrimbhoy ~ an Early Review book for LibraryThing. This was great! Definitely one of my favorite reads of the month. I also started reading Clean Food by Terry Walters and Now Eat This by Rocco Dispirito (reviews coming soon).