odds & ends

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Planning for…. the fall garden. We ordered just a few seed packets after taking inventory. We’ll be starting flats of greens and herbs, working beds for root vegetables, and trying to focus on really improving a few spaces.

Finally realizing… that maybe we’ve stretched it all too thin. Our two major garden spaces are both in need of a lot of soil improvement and production is always compromised because of this. Paring back and refocusing seems a common theme these days.

IMG_8433Eating and drinking… simple meals in this heat, but this beverage is a revelation to me. I’m a longtime lover of water kefir but just recently I started culturing 100% fruit juice with the grains. This cranberry-apple combination might be the best thing I’ve ever sipped – and those bubbles and probiotics! Also, this fermented salsa on… anything!

Preparing for… winter on triple digit days. Strange, I know, but firewood is a must especially when we’re looking at adding another bundle come January.

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Working on… a lot of personal care, soap, and sourdough recipes for Cultures for Health. Our freelance work ebbs and flows with the seasons and our clients’ needs but our gratitude for this work and what it allows us seems constant.

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Enjoying… spending a morning with this little lady. Fun doesn’t even begin to describe her vivaciousness and willingness to “hewp mama”. This morning it was testing out some Melt and Pour Soap recipes on a rare morning when Ruthie had plans elsewhere.

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Watching… Daddy and his boys put together a bench to go along with the first table we’ve all been able to fit around in 3.5 years!

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Loving… these two. If ever there were two more opposite people, as they say… but somehow I always find her helping him to fill the watering can, knocking on his office door, by his side whenever possible. Something about fathers and daughters, they also say.

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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.