Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great Books For Your Kitchen And Garden

I really like books. I could get lost in a used book store for hours, just devouring topics like homesteading, cooking, homeschooling, health, fiction, biographies....the list goes on and on. So when I came across a few that I thought might interest you, I decided to share.


If you come home every night with the question, “What am I going to make for dinner?” than the book Fix Freeze Feast by Kati Neville and Lindsay Tkacsik might just be the book for you. In it, the authors suggest using Warehouse stores like Costco to buy large quantities, prepare several meals in advance, and store them in your freezer for the convenience of later use. If, on your list of priorities, saving time rates slightly higher than saving money than this book will show you how to do just that.
It’s really a smart concept, too. It’s just so much easier to already have dinner made when you’re rushed in the evenings after a long day. And the recipes included in the book cover everything from meatless meals and breakfasts to sauces and main dish meats. Their plan seems to be very flexible in that it suggests tailoring your prep work to the specific needs of your family. If you want to do a marathon day of cooking than it’s possible. But if you just want to store a few meals at a time you can do that too.

The book will show you how to plan your meals and create a shopping list. It also covers how to get the most from your shopping trip, how to set up your kitchen for efficient use and how to prepare your meals for the freezer with proper labels and re-heating instructions. So if you’d like to have a home cooked meal ready for your family every night, Fix Freeze Feast can help you do it.


I freeze or can most of my garden produce, but sometime around mid winter I’d really like to be able to eat a sweet, homegrown, fresh, carrot rather than one that’s been sitting in a jar in my cupboard or it’s shameful cousin the flavorless grocery store carrot. And then I come across a book like Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage Of Fruits & Vegetables by Mike and Nancy Bubel and know that it’s possible.
This books is a smorgasbord of information on planning for and storing your harvest. And it not only covers fruit and vegetable storage techniques but it also covers grain, nut and egg storage as well. It also dispels the myth that a root cellar has to be a huge construction project by offering alternatives like using a basement, a cubbyhole under a porch, or a recycled delivery truck body conveniently buried in the side of a hill.

Root Cellaring goes into great detail teaching it’s reader how to prepare their harvest for storage, avoid spoilage, keep pests out, and build special storage containers for certain fruits and vegetables. It addresses humidity control, ventilation, accessibility, lighting and drainage. It also has numerous building plans for traditional root cellar construction and mouth watering recipes at the end of the book.

I really dislike purchasing fresh seeds every year for my garden. Not only is it an unnecessary expense but I just never know what kind of chemicals may have come in contact with the seeds that will be growing the vegetables that will feed my family. And every year I stare at my garden and wonder just how difficult it would be to save some of my organically grown seeds to replant with next year. And that thought is about as far as I get. Well this year will be different. The book Saving Seeds by Marc Rogers has come to my rescue.

Savings Seeds: The Gardeners Guide To Growing and Storing Vegetable and Flower Seeds is a science lesson in itself. The author not only starts with the nitty gritty of what a seed is, but provides diagrams and drawings on the development of seed to plant. Building off of that, it talks about selecting the best seed “parents”, proper collection and storage, and testing your seeds for germination success.

Several chapters are devoted specifically to vegetables and their characteristics for saving seeds. It goes into great detail regarding their pollination, isolations needs, seed viability and life cycle. Photos and tips are provided to guide you to the best of your crops to harvest for seed. The information in the book is vast and could easily become overwhelming for a novice gardener like me, but by attempting the authors methods on just a few vegetables at a time I think that could be prevented. And if you’re a gardener with more experience, this book will be a great next step for having a self sufficient garden.

And flower gardeners, don’t feel left out. There’s a large section on flowering ornamentals as well as some fantastic seed sources and further reading lists at the end of book.



I’ve always been intrigued by the food preparation techniques of years gone by. We live in a time of such convenience, where it only takes a quick drive to the supermarket to find a huge variety of ready made foods, that it’s easy to miss out on the wholesomeness and tradition of making our own. So when I came across the book, The Home Creamery by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley, my visions of Caroline Ingalls churning butter in her wooden churn jumped to the forefront of my mind and I knew I wanted to give it a try.

The Home Creamery takes what could be an intimidating concept, making your own dairy products, and reveals how truly simple it is. It not only shows you how to make butter, yogurt and sour cream but also soft un-ripened cheeses like cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta and mozzarella. And that’s just a sample of what this book has to offer. You’ll get a full education on setting up your own personal home creamery, the simple equipment you’ll need, and the basic steps and tips to successfully produce the freshest dairy products you’ve ever tasted. They don’t even compare to store bought. And thrown in with all that is a little bit of lore and history as well as a treasure trove of recipes to use up your freshly made creams and cheeses. This is a book that will be a great addition to any cooks collection.

So if any of these books interest you, you can find out more about them by following the link in my right sidebar under "I Recommend".

14 comments:

Moxie said...

Can't wait to check out some of these books!!! Thank you for the reviews :)

JeannaMO said...

You must be reading my mind! I was just searching around for "making mozerella" when I saw your reviews. I recently made yogurt for the first time and used it as a substitution for the sour cream in my hashbrown casserole. My hubby never even noticed (and I won't be telling him!) I placed this book on hold at my public library. Please post if you try making some cheese! I want to know ALL ABOUT IT!

Jeannette said...

Hi Gayle,

Thanks for the book suggestions. I would love to have root cellar but I live in swampy humid Houston Texas so I'm not sure it's possible. A home creamery - I like the sound of that. I've been experimenting with making homemade crockpot yogurt - it's wonderful. Not sure I can go back to the store stuff. I have to credit crockpot365.blogspot.com/ for teaching me how to make crockpot yogurt.

Blakely said...

I was just telling my husband the other day that my grandfather would save seeds from year to year, and I was wondering how we could do it. I now no what book to look for, thanks to you.

Tanya said...

Those look fantastic, especially the saving seeds one. What used to be common knowledge is nearly lost I think.

Mel said...

Thanks! I'm going to check out Fix Freeze Feast at my library. I'm trying to figure out how to do that more often. Thank you for sharing!

Shirley said...

Awesome books for lots of information. I will be checking out my library to see if they have copies of all of these books. I have a huge collection of Organic Gardening and Mother Earth News from the late 60's, 70's and early 80's that I constantly read to find more frugal ideas. I don't care for those magazines now as they are mostly advertising and not useful information. It's great to see someone going back and using ideas that our older generations have used for years. Thank you for posting such awesome ideas.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks for the book recommendations.

Abigail's_Mommy said...

I gave you the Kreativ Blogger Award. Come check out my blog to pick it up. :)

AlaneM said...

Those are some great suggestions - I'm very interested in the first two. We have a 100 + year old root cellar next to our house with 2-3 foot thick stone walls & I'd love to take advantage of it.

Betsy said...

I just tried making my own cottage cheese a couple of weeks ago (been making my own yogurt for a long time now) and it was AMAZING--and super easy. I'll have to check this book out. Thanks for the recommendation!

Halfmoon Girl said...

Thanks for the recommendations- i will definitely be looking for the fix and freeze one at my library. I have some seeds saved, but could know WAY more about it, so that book looks interesting as well. How about YOU read it and then tell me the basics!

karen (gonyou) robertson said...

I would also suggest "The Big Cook" by Siemens, Thomas and Smith. You can use either to get together with friends and make a whole lot of meals together in one day, or it's so easy to use to make just 1 meal or more. I recently had a lot of Pork to use up, so I used the recipe that makes 4 meals, and I now have 3 to put in the freezer. Very handy.

Mandee said...

Thanks for the great book suggestions, I have one to add to it. It's called "Homemade" and it's done by the editors of Reader's digest. It has tons of items you can make yourself from pantry staples to pet food.I found it at my library and there was so much stuff I wanted to copy out of it I decided to check it out on Amazon and they had it for $4.99! So I bought it and I love it!