Review: Honey Crafting: From Delicious Honey Butter to Healing Salves by Leeann Coleman & Jayne Barnes

Honey Crafting: From Delicious Honey Butter to Healing Salves, Projects for Your Home Straight from the Hive
by Leeann Coleman & Jayne Barnes
Rating: ***
Read 8/1/2013

I really enjoyed this book, which covers a lot of different crafts. Lip balm? Yes. Gelato? Sure! I loved the gelato/ice cream recipes and will be trying them at my first opportunity. Some of the more esoteric stuff (making your own wax sheets, f’rinstance) I will never get around to. But I liked reading about it. Recommended for all of my crafty, honey-loving friends, especially Judy!

Review: Hooch by Scott Meyer

Hooch: Simplified Brewing, Winemaking, and Infusing at Home
by Scott Meyer
Rating ***
Read  8/1/2013

Nice overview. Meyer gives a person a lot of food for thought here, and especially emphasizes sanitation technique. The recipes are rudimentary, but that’s what one would expect in a simplified overview, isn’t it? The writing is clear and easy to understand while not being overly breezy. Nicely done, and a very good starting point with anyone interested in homebrewing.

Review: Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink edited by David Remnick

Secret Ingredients
Edited by David Remnick
Rating: ***
Read 7/17/2013
Loved the essays, almost without exception. The fiction was iffier for me, but then, fiction almost always is. The MFK Fisher pieces were lovely. She’s always worth revisiting. Joseph Mitchell is fun to read. McPhee’s piece on Gibbons was a hoot. I loved Seabrook’s Fruit Detective. The long and short of it is that this collection is well worth dipping into, if not reading straight through. Oh! The Calvin Trillin pieces were pretty fun, too. And the cartoons are always fun.

Review: The Mighty Gastropolis by Karen Brooks

The Mighty Gastropolis: How Portland’s Rule-Bending Chefs Crafted The New Urban Cuisine
by Karen Brooks
Rating: ***
Read 7/17/2013

Interesting and topical. I think my problem is that I live here, and if you live here and read the papers and the blogs and the Yelp reviews, quite a bit of the information presented here is stuff at least vaguely familiar. Brooks did get some fabulous recipes out of some of the chefs, which is a big win. Lovely photographs, too. Except for the pigeon feet. I’m about over seeing Le Pigeon’s signature pigeon feet because they make me think of dirty sidewalks. And I don’t want dirty sidewalk germs on my plate, no matter how cutting-edge that makes the presentation.

Review: 150 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson

150 Best Cupcake Recipes
by Julie Hasson
Rating: ***
Read 7/7/2013

I grabbed this from the new book shelf at the library. When I got it home and cracked it open, I was heartened to find chocolate smears on some of the pages, and some pages stuck together! This always bodes well for a recipe book. There are many recipes in here that sound pretty good. I’m far less likely to follow Hasson’s instructions on filling cupcakes, though. She instructs one to cut the cupcake in half, scoop out a divot, fill the divot and spread the filling to the edge of the bottom half, then replace the top. I just put my filling in a pastry bag with a long skinny tip, jam it in the center of the cupcake and squeeze till the top of the cupcake rises a bit. Includes 25 vegan cupcake recipes, for those so inclined.

Review: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

The Drunken Botanist
by Amy Stewart
Rating: ***
Read 06/25/2013
My free review copy came from ALA Midwinter. I was much more impressed with this than with Stewart’s earlier work. The bad part of reading the ARC was that there was no index (this is of course corrected in the published version) and I wanted to flip back and forth more. Lots of fascinating plant trivia here! Worth a look.

Review: The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Portland OR by Rachel Dresbeck


The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Portland OR
by Rachel Dresbeck
Rating: ****
Read: 5/3/2013

There was a lot of new information here for me, even though going in I thought I was already a cheap bastard familiar with my own city. Lots of helpful tips for doing Portland on the cheap. I’m really thrilled about the free biweekly yoga class I learned about herein. And who knew there were so many beauty schools?

Dresbeck has an informal chatty style I found very pleasing. It felt less like reading a guidebook than like talking with a friend about cool things to do. Lots of restaurant/bar reviews, with special emphasis on happy hour. Lot of free things to do in and around Portland, including the new-to-me Coyote Wall hike that I can’t wait to go on.

If you live here or are planning to visit, you should definitely pick this up.


Review: The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast by Brian Yarvin


The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast
by Brian Yarvin
Rating: ***
Read 4/26/2013

The photos are beautiful. The food in the photos, on the other hand, doesn’t look so great. I loved the narrative parts but most of the recipes didn’t make me excited. I do want to try the British Baked Beans (I’m a huge fan of beans on toast) and Yarvin made haggis sound seriously delicious. There are some soups I think sound good too, but the real strength of this book is Yarvin’s travelogue/memoir parts. It makes me want to move to Scotland and take day trips then retire to the pub at night for a spot of haggis & a pint. Well worth a look.

Review: Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss



Salt Sugar Fat
by Michael Moss
Rating: ****
Read 4/24/2013
Processed food sucks. This is a book that made me sadder and angrier than I already was at the monolithic food corporations who are driven by Wall Street. There are some chilling parallels drawn between the tobacco industry and the food industry. Oh, wait. They’re the same company these days. Everybody should read it because it’s so informative about how convenience foods got started and how they’ve evolved in the crucible of the market. I can’t say I approve, but I certainly do understand better now why, when I say, “I have got to have some <insert cheap salty fatty sugary food here> or I will go into withdrawals” how right I actually am.




Review: Pretty Good Number One by Matthew Amster-Burton



Pretty Good Number One
by Matthew Amster-Burton
Rating: ****
Read 4/23/2013

One thing I’ve read over and over is that this is the book that will make you want to go to Tokyo. I don’t want to go to Tokyo, however I really enjoyed reading about Amster-Burton’s adventures there with his family. He’s a funny guy and he has a delightfully unrepentant stance when it comes to food. He’s in it for what he likes, what his daughter likes, and to hell with your idea of what’s fashionable or acceptable or healthy.

I loved hearing about all the interesting foods they had, but even more, I loved reading about Iris’ adventures and how easily she made friends. My absolute favorite thing about the book (and by extension Tokyo) is cat cafes. I want to go to a cat cafe.

I loved the way Amster-Burton evoked the sense of place. His giddy love for Toyko warms my heart. Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.