odds & ends

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Whole Wheat Sourdough No Knead Bread… and Ruthie going in for a bite.

I’ve received quite a few books over the past few months on the various topics that interest me – mostly sustainability, gardening, and cooking. This is where I share some of the highlights from that bookshelf. And, if you haven’t read The Nourishing Homestead or the review we posted with author Ben Hewitt, I highly recommend it.

Defending Beef

If you think it’s a bit of a conflict of interest for a member of one of the largest ranching families in this country to write an entire book defending the place of beef in a sustainable, nourishing food system, then I’m guessing you’re not alone. I was a bit curious about this myself.

I found that Hahn-Niman’s defense of beef as a food source, major player in sustainable agriculture, and all around tasty food to be a complete and balance look at the situation.

I found Defending Beef incredibly thorough – sometimes even too much for my short attention span – and fairly definitive. She covers everything from the role of the bovine in a sustainable food system to the nonsense that has been the animal fat is bad for you mantra so many have followed, unsuccessfully, for years. I think this would be a great book for those looking to brush up on their facts or wanting to explain to someone why it is they’re raising pastured animals.

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The food forest in winter. Remnants of last year’s Sunn Hemp still standing tall.

Tao of Vegetable Gardening

It’s no secret that I was a fan of Carol Deppe’s previous book, The Resilient Gardener. After reading that particular work I wondered what more a person could say about gardening. But the Tao of Vegetable Gardening is quite different from the Resilient Gardener. It’s a bit like a gardener’s memoir or manifesto or maybe even self-help book.

There are some surprisingly funny anecdotes throughout the book that will leave every gardener nodding and laughing, while finding nuggets of information on avoiding a potentially dangerous tomato blight situation and an “Eat-All Greens” concept that is simple enough to be revolutionary for many home gardeners.

Everyday Grain-Free Baking

This one comes from Kelly of the popular blog The Nourishing Home. Her blog is full of some great ideas for the real food, gluten-free kitchen. In particular, Kelly is really good at encouraging others in the art of nourishing our family. Her book, Everyday Grain-Free Baking, is every bit as upbeat and helpful as her blog.

Everyday Grain-Free Baking is filled with grain-free alternatives of your favorite recipes. Most of these are baked goods and the recipes tilt heavily towards using almond meal as the main ingredients. There are also coconut flour nut-free recipes, many dairy-free options, and all of the recipes fall under the beautifully-photographed, delicious, and allergen-friendly category.

This is a great book for those eating grain-free and wanting to make breads, muffins, biscuits, treats, and more.

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Our kraut spilleth over.

Brown Eggs and Jam Jars

Quite some time ago I worked with Aimee at Simple Bites. I was a contributing writer there and learned a lot from this professional chef turned Mama and passionate home cook. She really is a wealth of knowledge with her kitchen experience but she’s also very down-to-earth and has a background rooted in connection with the land.

She has taken all of those experiences – a childhood in the dirt, a career as a professional chef, and a heart for her family and their urban homestead – and turned it into a lovely book. Brown Eggs and Jam Jars takes you through the seasons in Aimee’s kitchen with recipes for everyday salads, breads, main dishes, beverages, and desserts. She also includes a heavy dose of canning, urban homesteading, and family warmth.


So, that’s what I’ve been reading lately. What have you been reading? Have you seen my new cookbook?

All of the books above were sent to me by the publisher or author. As always, my policy on book reviews is as follows: I accept books but do not post reviews for those I would not recommend. Furthermore, I do not feel obligated to review books that are sent my way but am happy to when I think they may be of help to Nourishing Days readers.

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Every growing year has started out the same for us here on the homestead – we plant perennials. Much of these have been fruit and nut trees and bushes while others have served other functions, like bamboo around the pond or nitrogen-fixing bushes on the front side of swales. IMG_5552

Every year we plant a little more, taking stock of what survived last year and what seems to do well in our climate. Last year we were all excited about the jujube and how well it stood up to the summer heat. Figs, pears, and peaches are also holding up and so we stick with some of what we know has worked in the past. IMG_5558But it’s hard to not get excited about southern apple varieties, nectarines, and apricots; so those find their way into the mix as well.

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Our first order arrived from Legg Creek Farm recently. It showed up unexpectedly early so the boys were eager to help with the unforeseen hole-digging that day. I am often shocked at how much physical labor a six and eight year old can accomplish when they are excited about it. And they were most definitely excited about it.

Many of these new trees are being planted before the food forest, expanding it towards the pallet garden, chicken coop, and chicken field.

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Each of the children got to pick out a couple of trees this year and when I wandered out with Ruthie to see how things were going, the excitement was palpable. They told me about the varieties they chose and which aspects they were helping out with. The sun was getting low, supper was cooking, and I had sourdough bread rising so I only caught a few minutes of the action.

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From what I could tell, I think everyone was happy to get their hands (and faces) dirty as planting begins in earnest.

Oh, and I hear another order from Burnt Ridge Nursery is on its way… something about strawberries and crab apples has got the crew all riled up.