Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Modern Potluck

Modern Potluck by Kristin Donnelly takes potluck recipes to a new level.  I was excited to receive this book as potlucks are pretty popular in the south.  The book includes some rules for potlucks such has "It will hold up on a buffet table".  The recipes range from snacks to salads and casseroles to desserts.  A bonus is the absence of processed foods.  The recipes include gluten-free, vegetarian,  and vegan options.

The highs for me are the Middle Eastern Seven-Layer Salad with Quinoa, Slow-Roasted Lemon-Soy-Honey Pork Shoulder, and Potato Chip-Crusted Magic Bars.  Any of these would be a hit at the next church or family dinner.

The low point is that many of the dishes are a bit too modern for the potluck crowd I would be serving.  I do not know many people who would even slow down for Lentil and Pecan Pate.  The modern ingredients might not be a problem if you have adventurous potluck eaters.  The bottom line is that you should decide which side of the fence your target group falls on before choosing this book.

disclosure:  I received this book from Blogging for Books but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

First up is the Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia and Surrounding States by Linda G Chafin.  This wonderful book might focus on Georgia, but it really covers all of the southeastern United States.  The book has three main parts.  First is the introduction which covers everything from the definition of a wildflower to pronunciation.  Next is the species descriptions.  Each of these include a good photo, in-depth description, and the growing range.  Finally readers can find the color thumbnails which are photos and names sorted by color.  This is especially good for quick reference.  The book is an exceptional reference guide.  I know that I will refer to it quite often, and it really covers most of the southeast despite the title.

Wanda E Brunstetter's Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook is a collection of recipes and gardening tips.  The recipes include soups, salads, main dishes, sides, and desserts.  A section of recipes for preserving your garden harvest is also included.  Do not expect any health foods as these are time tested favorites.  You can easily find most of the ingredients in your own pantry or at your local grocery store.  These Amish favorites will soon be favorites at your home too.

Kathleen Y'Barbo's book, 365 Family Dinners and Devotions, has you covered with delicious recipes and daily devotions.  The "dinners" part of the title is a bit misleading.  Many of the recipes are for snacks, sides, or desserts rather than being all dinners.  That is not a bad thing.  The recipes are simple enough for any busy family.  I love that it can bring a family together with yummy food and Bible time.  The topics are appropriate for the entire family, and the food will appeal to everyone!

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Food Forensics by Mike Adams has the subtitle "The Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food and How You Can Avoid Them for Lifelong Health".  I started reading the book with high hopes but ended up disappointed.  The author admits that the book is technical which is fine.  The problem was with the second half of the subtitle "How You Can Avoid Them".  I felt the author never really came through.  Most of the information was on one of the authors many websites.  That seems to information that would be included in the book.

Nancy Coco's latest book, All You Need is Fudge, is book four in the Candy Coated Mystery series.  While this is the first book in the series I have read, I was easily able to slip into the characters and story based on Mackinac Island.  The book was average.  The story line fell a bit flat for me.  I did not find the main character, Allie, completely engaging.  My problem was her incessant phone calls to her boyfriend.  She came across as a weak, needy person.  The mystery and setting were interesting enough, and I would be willing to give Allie a second chance.

Death at the Day Lily Cafe by Wendy Sand Eckel introduced me to Rosalie Hart.  I loved the side plot lines of the small town characters.  Having a main character who names her chickens does not hurt either.  The book was a fun and light mystery.  Rosalie's new cafe, her farm, and a mystery are the main themes.  I found myself staying up much too late to read, but that is always the sign of a good book!

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Weekend Book Review: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane

Ellen Berry's book, The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane, deserved its very own review post.  This book is one of the best that I have read recently.  In a word it is charming.  Della's mother passes away, and she takes her mother's cookbooks - all 900+.  With her husband Mark growing more disconnected and her daughter headed to college, Della gets the grand idea of opening a bookshop full of nothing but cookbooks.  Mark is totally against the idea, but Della presses forward.

I loved Della's spunk and sense of adventure even when things are not always going her way.  The idea of a bookshop full of cookbooks is wonderful.  I can relate perfectly to collecting cookbooks.  The only bad thing was that I did reach the end of the book.  I was thrilled to find that two more books are in the works.  I will definitely be taking a trip back to Della's Rosemary Lane!

If you are looking for a heartwarming story, I highly recommend The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane.  You will not be disappointed.

disclosure:  I received this e-book from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Taking a Short Break

W has taken a few weeks off work so we can work full-time on the new house.  My posting will be sporadic for at least the next three weeks.  I will be back after that!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Canning for a New Generation

Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff begins with an introduction of canning terms, techniques, and safety measures.  The recipes are divided into sections by season.  The jams and preserves recipes do have some basics such as classic strawberry, but more advanced combinations (like strawberry and lavender jam) are included.  I did like that the author mentioned Pomona's Pectin, which is my absolute favorite low sugar pectin product.  The book is not strictly canning however.  Recipes using the finished jams/preserves are included as well if inspiration is necessary.  Both fruit and vegetable recipes are covered in the book.

I tried the Sweet Green Tomato Pickles recipe.  The author describes them as addictive, and they truly are.  They take a chicken salad sandwich to a whole new level.  My only regret is that I got enough green tomatoes for just one batch.  I will definitely be making more of these next year.

While the recipes in the book are good, I was not overly impressed.  The green tomato pickle recipe is easily available online. The e-book version was not easily navigated.  If you are considering this book, go with the print version instead.

disclosure:  I received this e-book from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M Boyer is book five in the Liz Talbot Mystery series.  It does happen to be the first book I have read in the series.  I was easily able to get into the story and was not lost with any of the characters.  Liz and Nate are private investigators who get occasional help from Liz's childhood friend, Colleen.  Colleen happens to be a ghost.  At first I thought I would hate that aspect of the story line, but it quickly grew on me.  The characters were fun and the southern setting (South Carolina) was done appropriately.  The mystery portion moved along quickly and keep me interested until the very end.  I look forward to going back to read the previous books in this series!

I was really excited to read Failure: The Federal Miseducation of America's Children by Vicki E Alger.  The book was overloaded with facts and quotes, but it was lacking passion.  It seemed no more real and honest than the policies enacted by the bureaucrats.  I wanted to like the book and feel that it has an important message.  Failure fails to be intriguing enough to reach a wide audience.

Pure Food by Kurt Beecher Dammeier is all about clean eating from the chef's point of view.  The recipes are good especially for a beginning cook who is looking to get away from preservatives and processed foods.  It offers recipes with leftovers that can be turned into all new dishes.  I was a bit turned off by the addition of onions in the collard greens, but that might be the southerner coming out in me.  Overall a good cookbook for anyone starting out on a clean eating journey.

All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker deals with a difficult subject matter.  The main character, Jenny, is brutally attacked but given a treatment which erases her memories of the actual event.  It would make for a good book club discussion regarding the choices made by Jenny's parents.  My issue with the book was the narrator.  I found the narration to be dry and stilted.  The book had promise, but it is not one of my favorites.

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Weekly Savings

Life is especially hectic right now so this is a quick post covering the past two weeks.  We are working really hard on the new house in a push to get it done by the end of September.

I like to keep a snack basket on hand for those who are helping us work.  This past week I was able to fill it from items on hand in the pantry.  I should still have enough on hand to keep it stocked for several weeks.

We purchased LED light bulbs for the new house through Amazon.  We saved nearly 75% off the prices at local stores.

It was time to purchase some new appliances for the new house.  We are moving some items but needed wall ovens, a cooktop, and a refrigerator.  I went to a local store that was having a sale and asked if they could also check the prices for the next upcoming sale.  It turned out that the current sale was better which meant we saved almost $1000.  This is a store we always shop with because they are helpful like that.

Meals were all eaten at home although they were very simple.  I did take time to bake bread.

I fed the rabbits using excess produce from the garden - mainly cucumbers that had gotten too big.  My mom also gave me a bag of lettuce for them.

I used the toaster oven as much as possible to keep from heating up the house with the big oven.

I received 10 free stamps from participating in Quad Readers.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Real Food/Fake Food

Larry Olmsted's book Real Food/Fake Food:  Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do About It takes a look at the dark side of what is sold in our grocery stores and restaurants.  From juice to cheese and wine to Kobe beef, we cannot always be certain we are eating is what we think it is.

The book opens readers eyes to the false advertising and misleading tactics used to sell food.  I found it a bit scary to learn what government agencies freely allow companies to do.  Mr. Olmsted is very thorough with his explanations.  While the thoroughness is a good thing, I did feel bogged down at times with his long explanations.  The book also seems to jump around from topic to topic and would have benefited from a bit more editing.

Even with a few flaws it is a book that everyone should read.  While I may never actually eat many of the real foods, I will do my best to search out real foods.  Real Food/Fake Food made me very happy to personally know the people that sell me honey.  That alone makes me realize how great real food is.

disclosure:  I received this e-book from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Weekend Book Review: Barons of the Beltway

I requested Barons of the Beltway based mostly on the sub-heading Inside the Princely World of Our Washington Elite - and How to Overthrow Them.  I did not immediately match the author, Michelle Fields, with the journalist involved in the incident with Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.  I think for the author it is unfortunate that she is now known mostly for that incident.  It certainly takes away from the message of her book.

In Barons of the Beltway Ms. Fields does not take political sides.  She focuses instead on the problems of Washington as a whole.  The America of 2016 does not at all resemble the America of 1776, and that is not a good thing.  Our public servants have turned into something more akin to the monarchy our forefathers left behind.  The book makes me angry at how truly out of touch politicians are from the average American, but I was well aware of that fact before reading it.  With chapters such as "The Perks of Being in Power" and "All the President's Money Men: Or, How to be an Ambassador Without Really Trying", the author lays out the problems with our current government.  While Ms. Fields offers some ways to return to America's political roots, I fear with the foxes guarding the hen house it is a hopeless dream.

disclosure:  I received this book from Blogging for Books but was not otherwise compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Weekend Book Reviews

Final Fondue by Maya Corrigan is the third book in the Five Ingredient Mystery series.  I was easily able to slip into the story of Val and her grandfather.  Val's grandfather rents three rooms in his home to tourists in town for the Tricentennial Festival and wedding planning.  Everything seems to be going smoothly until one of the guests is discovered dead in the backyard.  Val fears she may have been the intended victim and works to find the killer before she becomes the victim.  I enjoyed the setting and the characters.  The added Hitchcock element was a nice touch.  Final Fondue was a fun book, and I look forward to reading more in this series.

Jonathan Melendez's book The Slider Effect is a great cookbook full of miniature treats.  The chapters cover all types of sliders - meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian.  Even better were the chapters on the breads and condiments.  Mr. Melendez offers amazing recipes for homemade buns, rolls, and biscuits.  I can easily see myself making the everything bagel slider buns for regular sandwiches.  The recipes are not simple though and do involve a list of ingredients and steps.  At the same time the results are impressive and worth the effort.  I enjoyed the book so much that I added it to my Amazon wish list!

Engaged in Death is book one in the Wedding Planner Mystery series by Stephanie Blackmoore.  Mallory Shepherd is all set to marry the man of her dreams when she finds out through some anonymously sent photos that he is a cheater.  To throw her life into more turmoil, the only member of his family she liked, Grandmother Sylvia, dies suddenly after deeding her the family home.  Hidden paintings, a couple of bodies, and a sister (Rachel) with a crazy idea make for a great book.  Rachel and Mallory must solve the mystery or give up any hope of turning their new home into a bed and breakfast.  I loved this book.  The story line and characters were wonderful.  I am already looking forward to book two in the series.

disclosure:  I received these e-books from NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Feathered Friday: More Baby Chicks and a Diva

We continued to have more hens hatch out eggs over the past few weeks.  I knew most were setting, but we did have one surprise mama hen.

These two hens both sat on the nest of eggs and hatched out three baby chicks.  The chicks think it is normal to have two mothers to keep then in line.  The black frizzle hen was adopted.  She is blind in one eye and was getting picked out at her previous home.

The next two hens were also sharing sitting duties.  They hatched out three eggs each at different time.  I ended up splitting the babies between the two of them.  Both are very protective (mean) so I was not able to get close to take photos.

Our surprise mother hen was sitting on eggs in a bucket under a storage building.  She has six babies and refuses to let me get near them.

Finally the diva - Francesca is quite tame and very spoiled.  When she saw the camera, she posed perfectly still so I could get her photo too.