Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Reviews - A Homemade Year, From Scratch, and a Rich Mullens Bio

I was asked about these books so I'm tucking the reviews here.  Much like squeezing those last two sweaters in the closet after a week's laundry has been finished.  :)

From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Traditionally Prepared Whole-Food Dishes by Shaye Elliott

I have read this author's blog once in awhile and thoroughly enjoyed it so I was excited when she came out with a cookbook not too long ago.  I am not always a fan of "whole foods" cookbooks, remembering the many such books I had in my kitchen in the 1970s and 1980s in which many recipes came out tasting like sawdust.  Sometimes progress is a very good thing.

I sat down to peruse this cookbook and found about a half an hour had gone by as I was looking through each recipe, deciding which to try first.  For one thing, the pictures are gorgeous so it is fun to just look through the book.  The recipes are for the most part simple, using basic ingredients.

This is a perfect book to give to two different types of cooks, no... three.

1) Cooks like I am who have an extensive background in cooking whole foods but still have a lot to learn (and we will not use the term... old).
2) Cooks who are new to cooking with healthy "from scratch" recipes (this is good for a new cook).
3) Cooks who like Nourishing Traditions but found it complicated to follow.  The author uses many of the same techniques but explains them s.i.m.p.l.y.

Now, the author has much more access to grain fed beef and other organic items than I do... at least a reasonable cost.  But obviously one can easily substitute the non-organic products in their recipes if necessary.

I bought this with the intention of giving it to my daughter as a gift.  It may not happen. This is one of the best whole foods cookbooks I have ever read. 

You can look inside the cookbook here at this Amazon Associate's link (how is that for Truth in Advertising?)... here.

A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together by Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Okay, this is probably one of the most bipolar reviews you have ever read here on Coffee Tea Books and Me.  Because I both loved this book and I was a little disappointed by it.

For one thing, this is one of the most beautiful book I've ever read.  No, really... it is stunning to look through.  The author follows the liturgical year with ideas for crafts, recipes, and her own experiences.

I was surprised at how beautifully written it is.  The book actually took me a week to get through (reading off and on) because I could not just peruse it.  I became deeply involved in the prose of each chapter. 

Jerusalem Greer writes honestly about her own spiritual pilgrimage and many will find the book enjoyable for that alone.  For one who was at one time a Baptist, she has come to appreciate the liturgical year and what it represents.  For that reason, whether one is a Catholic, Anglican, or attends a non-liturgical church like I do... it can easily be read and enjoyed.

One may not have the exact same theology (for instance, the author holds a pastorate in her church... something that would not happen in mine) but all of us can enjoy reading her experiences and seeing ourselves in similar circumstances.  I love reading how God works in the life of others as they face challenges.

I have actually become more interested in the liturgical year after reading Elizabeth Goudge books.  That's one of the reasons I was interested in reading this book.  I wish I'd celebrated more liturgical holidays when my children were growing up for I find they are excellent reminders of Church history... the entire Church of Christ.

So where was I disappointed?  

I would have enjoyed more authentic liturgical recipes.  I've been spoiled a bit by watching Joanna Bogle on EWTN's Feasts and Seasons show.  No, I am not Catholic but much for the same reason I wanted to read this book, I am interested in Church history.  Joanna makes and explains dishes made throughout the years especially for each liturgical feast.

Also, sometimes I didn't quite understand how a few crafts related to a specific date in the liturgical calendar.  But I had to remind myself the crafts are designed to be simple and to make with children.

So as you can see (I hope) my own disappointment with the book centered entirely around expectations.  

Having said that... I highly recommend this book for families wanting activities throughout the Church year.  The recipe in each chapter is for the most part easy and the crafts are definitely child friendly.  It's also just an excellent read... with pictures.  Beautiful book.

You can look inside it and yes... at this Amazon Associate's link... here.  :)

By the way, A Homemade Year made the list of The Pioneer Woman's favorite books of the past year!  The link to her original review of the book is... here.

Oh... the book that was on the Kindle above?  It is a biography of Rich Mullens.  Very good.  Amazon Associate's link to the Kindle edition is... here.  It looks like it is still only 99 cents.  Excellent bio of one of my favorite singer-songwriters.



I so enjoyed reading this review and have a few more books added to my Christmas list.


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Love your book reviews Brenda!

I always end up with a list of books to add to my already long list!

Good thing I believe you can never have too many books!


Vee said...

Accckkkk! So many books (and blogs) so little time! You sent me all over the place today. Now I am contemplating washing my hair with baking soda and rinsing with vinegar. Sigh.

Interesting point about the second book and the prose. One of the authors I enjoy has such beautiful writing...each sentence is packed with deliciousness yet the story suffers as it does not move forward quickly enough for me. I can't have it all!

Thanks for providing the reviews and the challenges...

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

I'm going to have a look at From Scratch - sounds good! I must be the only person alive that didn't really like Nourishing Traditions. Now I was disappointed in Jerusalem's book as well. I much prefer her blog. At least the way her blog used to be - it's changed since she published that book.

Anonymous said...

Wow! My husband and I were JUST talking about how long Rich Mullens has been gone. We were remembering watching his music videos with our boys in the '90's! Thank you so much for alerting me to this book - I just put it on my Kindle :o) Have a great weekend and stay warm! Blessings, Dee

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know that I am not the only one who likes to read/watch about other faiths. I am currently reading "Miriam's Kitchen", by Elizabeth Ehrlich. A memoir about her Jewish mother-in-law and her kosher kitchen.

Cate said...

Love your reviews! I am Catholic and one of my favorite blogs with ideas for foods/crafts for the liturgical year is "Catholic Cuisine." It's ridiculously comprehensive. There are lovely ideas of celebrating many saints' feast days, but there are also more general ideas for advent, Christmas, lent, Easter, etc. There is also a wealth of history information. It may be worth checking out if you're interested! Granted, it certainly is Catholic but there is much to appreciate.

MDiskin said...

This is a really great book for recipes to follow the Liturgical year -- culled from many cultures, and easy to make (mostly), even if you have little kids as I do. it's "A Continual Feast" and I found it via the Like Mother, Like Daughter blog.