08 February 2011
When it comes to reading, I am far from monogamous. Husbands, yes. Books, never.
I get little crushes on books, obsess over them for a few days or weeks, and then perhaps hop around a little, returning to the crush in due time. You too? I have a feeling lots of people have the same dirty habit.
Anything look familiar above? Perhaps. If not, allow me to make introductions, beginning at the bottom of the stack.
Tartine Bread | Chad Robertson
Regular readers will be well acquainted with my recent love of bread-baking. Even if the author of this book wasn't a neighbor and friend of my brother, I'd still be super bullish on this book. The bread that it teaches you to make, in short, is amazing. It's beautiful, soulful bread and it tastes so good you'll want to bring it as a hostess gift everywhere you're invited. Like I do.
Organic Body Care Recipes | Stephanie Tourles
Wow. This book deserves a full post of its own, which I promise very soon. It's jam-packed full of info on basic ingredients for amazing face-care products, body creams, salves, teas, etc. For the past few years, I've used what I consider to be the best (i.e., natural, safe & amazingly effective) face cream. At $42 per jar, I wondered if I could use the same raw ingredients and make something similar. I'm still trying, and I don't know if I'll get there, but this book shows you how to make similarly amazing creams and other wonderful stuff for yourself, kids (baby powder!) and friends.
Forgotten Skills of Cooking | Darina Allen
They say she's the Julia Child of Ireland. All I know is this book takes you from foraging to fermentation. And some butchery, which some are into and some not. And lots of traditional herbal info. And baking. With a very charming introduction that paints a portrait of "how things used to be" in Ireland's home kitchens. It's like a thread back to how people used to cook, how they used to know how to function in the kitchen with confidence and inherited knowledge. It's insanely informative, inspiring and I absolutely love it.
The Naturally Clean Home | Karyn Seigel-Maier
Since we bought our current home, I've made a point of buying only the "good" home cleaning supplies. You know, Method and all that. Then I started to have second thoughts: basic ingredients (i.e., vinegars, lemon, essential oils) clean really well... and have you seen how many mystery ingredients are in those fancy cleaners? Hmmm. This book is, like the Tourles book above, super inspiring and liberating. I've since refilled our fancy Method laundry detergent bottle with a homemade mixture that functions exactly the same. For pennies. Next up: compostable homemade cleaning wipes.
Simplicity Parenting | Kim John Payne, M. ED.
I know parenting philosophy is a touchy subject. I for one, do not enjoy other parents interfering with my parenting, but I was holding out on recommending this great book to friends out of fear of the above for far too long. This is a cool book. Based in some Waldorf thinking, it advocates simplicity (things, life, schedules) and rhythm to help you achieve or simply maintain the peaceful, positive family life you want. We were already doing some of the ideas by instinct: Toby has always believed in daily/weekly rituals and rhythm, and I've definitely come to embrace them, too. But, there are other simplification strategies that we've looked into as well. Stuff like, smoothing transition times, dealing with underlying sources of anxiety in children, preventing overstimulation and overscheduling. I like it.
The Little House Cookbook | Barbara M. Walker
I am a lover of all things LHOP. Let's just get that out there. One of things I love best about the books is the cooking and domestic descriptions. Ma's weekly housekeeping rhythm, especially: baking one day, washing another, then mending, cleaning, etc. This cookbook refers to the series of novels, picking out the culinary passages and illustrating them as recipes. Lots of old methods and tastes (vinegar and sugar on lettuce, anyone?), but also a charming intro description of the 19th century home kitchen, cellar, and vegetable garden.
Radical Homemakers | Shannon Hayes
This one could be a full post in itself. Where to begin. Let's just say this: this is probably one of the most important books I've read in recent years, and it's also a book I'm a little ambivalent about. Jora (domestic goddess herself) originally turned me on to this book and I dove in with enthusiasm: I have serious misgivings about all the "stuff" we've been told we need to buy, I really enjoy learning to make things myself, and feel like we've gotten to a bad place with our relationships with faceless corporations: the ones which feed us, employ us, etc. That said, this book with a great central idea--self-reliance--does itself a disservice with a bit too much hyperbole for my taste. I also was deeply troubled by the chapter on health insurance and end-of-life care: too glib by half. Somehow, though, it remains an important book in my life. Once upon a time, I worked full time (plus) and had/made zero time to take care of my life, my house, everything. I figured the answer was to devote more money to paying someone to take care of my life. Clean my house (mind you, I was single without a family), do my laundry, buy my groceries, etc. Basically, add more cost to my bottom line... so I could work more. Somehow, that made sense to me, once upon a time. Now, my perspective is quite the opposite: find a way to work less and have more of a life. A life, that is, rooted in the home. In using my own skills to provide for our family (OK, Toby's skills, too). That may require a lot more DIY, but if you're someone who likes learning, isn't doing for yourself a lot more relevant?
The Origins of Fruits & Vegetables | Jonathan Roberts
And now for something lighter! Being a bit of an info nerd, this book appeals hugely. Did you know that most berries (strawberries, blackberries, etc) originated from the same parent plant and then mutated in wildly distinct directions? I originally heard of this book from Gayla, and as she put it, it contains the kind of topics that plant geeks dream of chatting about at cocktail parties. With other plant geeks, naturally.
The River cottage Family Cookbook | Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr
Quite simply, I want Jacky to grow up excited about food and cooking. That may involve keeping him engaged in the vegetable garden (yay!) and it may involve bringing him nearer and nearer the stove (eeek), but I really hope it happens. And I'm looking to books for inspiration and ideas. This is a cute, informative, very British book with authentic photos. It's written so that all members of the family can use it at their own level. Very charming.
Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills | Raleigh Briggs
Consider this one a cross between Organic Body Care Recipes and The Naturally Clean Home -- but WAY more punk-rock. Ms Briggs hand-wrote and illustrated this kick ass, zine-y book, and it's apparently become a cult fave. Lots a great info and frank advice. And each page looks like a wonderful note from a friend, complete with cute doodles and hand-drawn type.
So, anyone else read these books? Or have any new ones to recommend? Clearly, I need more :)