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Recent Acquisitions: Book Edition

It’s no big secret that I like books. If you stop into any room in our home, you’ll find books lying about. Packed into various spaces in the kitchen, stacked in shelves and on side tables in the living room, tucked into the bedside stand in the bedroom, piled high on the floor in the upstairs hall, or nestled into baskets and upon shelves in Huxley’s room, ours is a book-filled abode.

I’ve told you about my love of Common Ground Books, found beside the Screen Door here in the Asheville. My mom and grandmother came over Sunday, to watch Huxley while Glenn and I had our anniversary dinner. Capitalizing on their loving assistance, I asked if we could leave a wee bit earlier, so as to shop at the Screen Door without needing to glance over our shoulders every other second to ensure Huxley wasn’t ripping a page out of a book or attempting to scale some large antique mirror (he’s a wild monkey, this boy of ours). They heartily agreed (they love what I’ve taken to calling their “Granny Nanny” time), and we set off.

Above you’ll see several of our finds, alongside some birthday gifts for Glenn. While not always the case with us and book purchases, in this particular instance, they’re all food related. History, lore, agricultural tips, recipes-it’s all accounted for in these recent acquisitions. I’m excited with our finds, and think you will be, too.

Sugar: A Bittersweet History, Elizabeth Abbott A chronicle of the events paving the way for this history-laden sweetener to move from the domain of nobility to the pantry staple of modern times, and the human toll exacted along the way. This book was a gift to Glenn from my Dad, his wife, and my sisters. We’re big lovers of food history, so this promises to be a good read.

The Ultimate Practical Guide to Pruning and Training, Richard Bird With several established fruit trees in addition to a newly planted orchard, we’ve got plenty of pruning in our future. Add in some wisteria and rose bushes, and we’ve quite literally got our work cut out for us. We’ve long needed a guide to help us along our pruning journey, and this one offers just the step-by-step process photography and information we’ve been seeking.

Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast, Hank Shaw I’ve been a fan of Hank Shaw’s writing and recipes for several years now, which reads a good deal like poetry. This book, a compilation of his foraging wisdom, covers the spectrum of wild culinary delights. From dandelion wine to moose, and everything in between, Shaw shares tips, techniques, and tried-and-true recipes for gathering food in the wild. This book was one of my birthday gifts for Glenn.

Smoke & Pickles: Recipes and Stories From A New Southern Kitchen, Ed Lee Ed Lee is the sort of guy I’d like to have a beer with. At least, that’s the vibe I’ve always gotten from every digital, visual, and literary interaction I’ve had with this Korean-American gentleman. He seems knowledgeable without being full of himself, affable and down for a good time while fully capable of taking care of business. Glenn had been flipping through a copy of Smoke & Pickles recently at a book store, and expressed an interest in not just the book’s recipes, but its format, design, and graphics, too. Birthday present nirvana! As a life-long Southerner myself, this book speaks my language. From country ham to pickled peaches, with a whiskey-ginger cake thrown in for good measure, Lee’s book hits all the notes in the southern food pantheon. I’ll drink to that!

Secrets of the Best Chefs: Recipes, Techniques, and Tricks From America’s Greatest Cooks, Adam Roberts What do you get if you spend a year visiting the best chefs in America? You get a load of seasoned wisdom, that’s what. And if you take all that wisdom you’ve amassed and render it into recipes easily approachable to the home chef, well, then, you’ve got a whopper of a book. Adam Roberts, creator of the blog The Amateur Gourmet, distilled his culinary pilgrimage into a wonderful book, full of inspiration and highly accessible recipes. Take that Blueberry Crostata pictured above. I am all over it. I’ve made many a crostata in my baking career (and galettes and pies and their kin), but this time, I’ll make it picking up some baking tips along the way. No matter how long you’ve been cooking, you can always improve your skills and Secrets of the Best Chefs will help turn you into a better chef (or, at least, that’s my hope, and what the book seems to indicate it’ll do).

In Praise of Apples: A Harvest of History, Horticulture, and Recipes, Mark Rosenstein Full disclosure: Mark Rosenstein is a personal friend. That said, my own praise for his apple praise has nothing to do with our friendship and everything to do with his legacy as an incredible chef, restauranteur, and food and agriculture enthusiast. He’s also wicked creative and uncommonly kind, but that’s a whole other post. You’d be remiss to think this book a mere cookbook. Oh, no. It’s so very much more than that. It’s full of recipes, yes, but it also contains information on planning your own orchard, selecting apple varieties, and how to can and preserve your harvest. It was printed in 1999 ,so some of the styling is a bit dated, but the information it contains is just as relevant today as it was before the turn of the century. 

Happy reading, friends! What’s on your own bedside table, or kitchen counter, or coffee table, or bookshelves? Do share, if you please. Fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, cookbooks-let’s hear about the pages you’re turning!


5 Responses to Recent Acquisitions: Book Edition

  • amanda (sweetpotatoclaire) says:

    aw, it’s Lidia! she is so endearing~
    I am reading Anna Karenina, thumbing through Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali, and just picked up a memoir written by my neighbor called Eagle Rock, Growing up Rich in Idaho. Claire is digging Miss Rumphius and the Little House books. I recently finished Hanna’s Daughters and The Kitchen House, both very good historical fictions.
    cheers! and happy anniversary!

  • Sarah M says:

    These look like some excellent book! I especially love apples so I might have to check that one out. The “smoke & pickles” one looks neat, too.
    I am a huge book fan and right now am in the middle of quite a few books, including “The Artful Parent”, Jean’s book (Roost Books, I think) from the blog and also Wheatbelly. I just finished David Sedaris’ new book “Let’s Discuss Diabetes With Owls” and it was Highly recommend it. He had a bit of a 3-book slump over the past few years imo, but this one is just as funny as his first few. Laugh out loud funny.
    Sarah M

  • Laura Boldman says:

    Sitting beside me on the bed right now are my Bible and Rosemary Gladstar’s “Medicial Herbs: A beginner’s guide”, both of which are excellent and ones I go back to over and over. I am also reading Let Them Be Eaten By Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids Into the Great Outdoors by Peter Brown Hoffmeister- very good as well. Lastly, The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms- SUCH a wonderful book- I can’t get enough of it. Has given me a lot of ideas for my classroom and myself.

  • Georgette says:

    I can see why you chose these. Michael Pollen’s book “The Botany of Desire” was a page turner for me; both “Sugar…” and “In Praise of Apples…” have a similar appeal. Each of us gardeners have difficulty resisting yet another guide on pruning (I was left staring at a maple today, pruners in hand somewhat perplexed at where to start) and more great ideas for creating memorable concoctions made with love. Great finds and lovely additions for your home library.

  • Jenessa says:

    I am in the middle of the Dark Glass Mountain fantasy trilogy by Sara Douglass right now. I am also reading The Natural House by Daniel Chiras since I am still very much in the dreaming stage of building my dream home on the family homestead. And the other day I cracked open Home Dairy by you.