Tag Archives: food

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

This book has been at the top of my To Be Read list for a long time (more than a year). I finally got tired of staring at it each time I went to choose a new book.

Subtitle: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

Published: 2011

Genre: nonfiction food and agriculture

Length: 351 pages of text, 361 pages total Continue reading

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Native American presentations.

It was the third meeting of our American History Club this week. The third meeting in a topic is a chance for everyone to pick their own book to present to the group. Mr. Curiosity wanted to learn more about a specific tribe of Native Americans. He chose to learn about the Zunis, and found zunisThe Zunis by Craig A. and Katherine M. Doherty. This was a nice, middle grade introduction to the tribe, covering their history before and after Europeans came to North America, their religion, their daily life, and their crafts. Mr. Curiosity found a lot of good information in the book and was inspired to look for more information on the web, based on what he read. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but you may be able to find it at your local library or used.


Miss Curiosity wanted to learn more about Native American cooking. We found a great book, Native American Cooking by Anna Carew-Miller. The book gave a general overview of traditional Native American foods and preparation, and then broke it down by region since it is so specific to the area the people lived in. We also found
Native North American Foods and Recipes by Bobbie Kalman. This wasn’t as in-depth and had more illustrations than photos. It did have some recipes, although they didn’t seem too authentic. The recipes seemed to be designed to include Native American foods more so than be actual Native American recipes. We did make the maple popcorn balls to take to the club meeting for snack, so it still was a useful book.


The final book I’m going to talk about this week fits in our human body unit study. Miss Curiosity found a Magic School Bus Chapter Book to read called The Search for the Missing Bones by Eva Moore. She’s been reading all about the skeletal system so the book fit right in. It’s set up similar to the Magic School Bus picture books, with a story and lots of side essays that provide expanded information and lots of puns.

And those are the books we used this week!

I’m submitting this post to the Weekly Wrap-Up hosted by Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

If you’re interested in a book, click on the cover image to follow an affiliate link to the Kindle or hard copy version of the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Cooked by Michael Pollan

Subtitle: A Natural History of Transformation

Published: 2013

Genre: nonfiction cooking

Length: 416 pages of story, 468 pages including index and appendix

Interest: It’s Michael Pollan’s newest book – of course I’m interested! I love all of his writing.

Summary: This isn’t so much a cookbook as a discussion of cooking and how it’s changed over time. Pollan breaks the book into four sections named for the original four elements, and discusses a cooking technique that corresponds to the section. First he talks about Fire and barbecue, learning how to do traditional pork barbecue in North Carolina. Next he takes on Water and learns how to braise food. Third, he focuses on Air and learns how to bake an excellent sourdough loaf of bread. Finally, he addresses Earth and takes on fermentation, learning how to ferment vegetables, make beer, and cheese. Throughout the process, he finds his family draws closer as good smells waft out of the kitchen. While he doesn’t keep making everything, he feels more self-sufficient because he can make his own really good food from real ingredients (which is often not what industrialized food is composed of). He concludes with a recipe for each section of the book.

Final thoughts: I must admit I find Pollan’s writing very inspirational. Reading about all of his cooking lessons makes me want to cook more. I’m definitely going to try his sourdough bread recipe (bonus that it’s partially whole wheat) and I’m trying to get up the courage to try sauerkraut or another fermented vegetable. I really enjoyed how he wove his experience in making healthy food by hand into a discussion of the industrial food market and all of its health problems. I like the fact that he did provide a couple of recipes, even though it wasn’t really a cook book. He certainly reminds us in his writing that a bit of extra time put into food preparation is worth it, at least once in a while. I highly recommend the book.

Title comes from: It’s descriptive of the topic.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 77/100 in the Read-a-Latte Challenge, a P in my A-Z Reading Challenge author challenge (6/26), and 15/14 in the Nerdy Nonfiction Challenge for cooking (a seventh topic).

If you’re interested in the book, click on the cover image to follow an affiliate link to the Kindle version of the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Nature’s Garden by Samuel Thayer

Published: 2010

Genre: nonfiction, food

Length: 479 pages

Interest: I was reading a blog post that sparked my interest in reading something on wild foods. My library didn’t have the exact book that was recommended, but this one sounded close enough. I am interested in learning to recognize and eat more wild foods, and this book seemed to promise information to help me do that.

Summary: The author starts out with some essays on how and why to eat wild foods. Most of the book is taken up in descriptions on how to recognize, where to find, how to gather, and how to prepare about thirty different wild plants.

Final thoughts: I will admit to not reading every word in the book, especially the descriptions of plants. There were several plants I knew and didn’t realize were edible and others that aren’t found around here. I’ll probably try a couple, but some seem like a lot of work to consume. Anything you have to boil and dump the water multiple times for seems like a bit too much work for me. It did make me want to wander in some of the local wild places and look for more these plants.

Title comes from: The book is all about finding and eating wild plants, so Nature’s garden instead of your own.

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Stolen Harvest by Vandana Shiva

Subtitle: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply

Published: 2000

Genre: nonfiction, food industry

Length: 140 pages

Interest: On of my colleagues let me borrow the book to consider for use in my Environmental Problem Solving class.

Summary: Shiva writes about how globalization and industrialized agriculture are replacing traditional agricultural practices, focusing on India for examples. The big seed companies will often work against traditional polyculture methods to promote their version of agriculture as being “best”. This is seen everywhere from what seeds to use and replant, to what livestock to raise, to aquacultural practices. Even genetic engineering becomes another way to exert dominance and promise more than can be delivered. By promoting yield over all other characteristics, much is lost in terms of biodiversity and cultural diversity.

Final thoughts: A fascinating book that left me angry many times. The lengths the big seed/pesticide companies (like Monsanto and Cargill) go to expand their markets into countries that don’t even want what they’re providing is frustratingly large. The worst thing is, the WTO typically says a country can’t even restrict access to the big seed companies because it “restricts free trade.” I mean, it’s bad enough we’ve screwed up the U.S. agriculture and food culture, but now the companies are working on wrecking other countries as well. Certainly pushes me even father into the locavore camp. While it was an interesting book, it’s a bit too specialized for me to use in class.

Title comes from: How the big agribusinesses are stealing the harvest and control from the farmers raising our food.

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