Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Saturday, January 18, 2020

"Cut Flower Garden" by Erin Benzakein

Here's a beautiful book that I spent a long time reading, just briefly dipping in on occasion. It's the sort of book that would look great on the coffee table and wouldn't even necessitate a cover-to-cover read, but that's not why I wanted it. I'd been hoping it would inspire me to grow more cutting flowers by filling me with the knowledge to be masterful at it. Instead, it filled me with the knowledge that I would need to do far more hard work than I am willing to do, and spend far more time than I have, in order to enhance the rooms of my house with home-grown blooms throughout the year (or even just throughout the summer). Especially considering that most of my yard is in shade, and the sunny parts are too far away from the reach of a convenient water hose. So I decided I would just have to be satisfied with living vicariously through this book.

Which was still quite satisfying! The photos are really gorgeous and it was a pleasure to read through this book.

Friday, January 10, 2020

"Salt Fat Acid Heat" by Samin Nosrat

I gave this book to Sam for Christmas and ended up reading it myself before he'd really even opened it. Yes, it's basically a cookbook . . .  I don't often read straight through cookbooks, but this one isn't just recipe after recipe. It's almost more of a cooking philosophy book (though it does include quite a few recipes as well--which, I must admit, I just skimmed over, figuring I would read them in greater detail if, at some point in the future, I decide to actually make any of the meals they describe).

I found this to be an interesting read (as cookbooks go) and I enjoyed the whimsical illustrations. However, I'm not sure how well it fits into our family. It's basically a learn-how-to-improvise-in-cooking book. Sam doesn't need it (he already makes up amazing meals) and I'm afraid I don't want it. I don't hate to cook, and I'm not absolutely terrible at it, but recipes are my security blanket. I neither can nor want to let go of them. I think theoretically I should be able to use the information in this book to make improvements on the recipes I follow . . . but I fear I'll just end up ruining a bunch of food instead.

Maybe if I actually learned the principles in this book well, it might help? As I read, I found myself wishing I'd taken notes, but by the time I'd realized that, it was too late. (I'd already missed too many note-taking opportunities and had no interest in starting over again.) BUT! Apparently there is a 4-part Netflix series based on this book! I'm planning to watch that, and hoping both that it will be like CliffsNotes (a quicker summary than rereading) and that it will help the main points to stick in my mind.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

"The Toy Makers" by Robert Dinsdale

This is a really magical book and I'm kind of disappointed that I can't see it as a movie. I imagine it would be like Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium (which, actually, I've never seen) but with more depth and conflict.

This is the story of an amazing toy store that opens every year with the first frost in London, and closes when the snowdrops bloom. It is run by Papa Jack Godman and his sons, Kaspar and Emil, who spend the rest of each year creating the toys that most children only dream of.

If that were all there was to the story, it would be a sweet book and a fun read, but it's more profound than that--mainly thanks to intense sibling rivalry and World War I. The magic of the toy store is described in delectable detail, but the candy coating is well balanced by the tangy, peppery relationship between Kaspar and Emil.