Friday, July 25, 2014

Literary Friday: The Nourished Kitchen

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You get a bonus of TWO book review today, lovely readers! This is primarily because, while I wouldn't normally call a cookbook "literature", this gorgeous guide blew me away and I had to share it with you.

The Nourished Kitchen follows the new-ish tradition of blending recipes with education, in this case about the traditional foods movement as well as food foraging, prepping, setting aside, fermenting, flow-cooking, and brining.

It definitely taught me a thing or two (soak organ meats in milk to soften their flavor!) as well as reinforcing things I thought I knew (let your sourdough rise for 12 hours or so each time!). The recipes are simple and straightforward. No fancy gadgets or hard-to-find ingredients. In fact, most of the ingredients are things you can find in your area, at the farmer's market, when they're in season (or substitute for them).

But what really made a positive impression on me are the photographs. I'm the kind of gal who doesn't use cookbooks without photographs. I need to know what it's supposed to look like, but I also take that image as inspiration. These photos have a richness of color and texture that just make me want to make everything in this book.

I appreciate that we don't get a lecture on why fermented foods are good, processed foods bad, etc. Clearly, McGruther assumes those reading this are supporters of the traditional food (or slow food, or farm-to-table, or eat local, etc etc etc) movement. She even gives tips for those who wish to try some methods but aren't willing to pony up the capital for fancy equipment.

The result is a voice that's authentic, educated, and supportive. I would love to go foraging for berries with this woman. Or bake some pies together on a sunny afternoon. I'd love to be her neighbor, and trade chicken feet for unrefined pig fat. Because this book makes it all sound so possible and fulfilling.

I highly recommend this for fans of gorgeous, easily approachable cookbooks; farm-to-table eating; nourishing, traditional foods; gardening, foraging, and hunting.

If you're hesitant on the book, or want to see what I mean by 'gorgeous photos", check out the author's Pinterest and Instagram pages. I. Am. Drooling.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. This in no way compromised the honesty and integrity of my review. 

Literary Friday: Dark Places

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Synopsis according to GoodReads:

"Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club… and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.
As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer."

To say I loved Dark Places is an understatement. I don't normally read thrillers because I get scared easily, but the concept of this story drew me in. And then I could NOT. PUT. IT. DOWN.

I'm serious- I read this in 3 days. I didn't get nightmares, but I did get drawn in  enough to run my own conspiracy theories about whodunit. 

The protagonist is fantastically real and flawed, and I love that despite her many, many flaws she is always honest with herself. Every character is endearing and horrible. Well, almost every one. *ahem* 
But every character is three-dimensional and realistic. Like, gut-punch realistic. I'm turning into a Gillian Flynn fangirl.

I highly, highly recommend it for fans of thrillers, mysteries, flawed and realistic characters, character-driven stories, and great writing. Just read it. But know there are some gut punches. 

Many, many thanks to Kristina at Gone Pecan, who sent me this in the Books and Bloggers Swap

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rumiano Organic Non-GMO Cheese Review

There are perks to being (among other things) a review blogger. Sometimes it's free supplements or baking supplies, sometimes it's learning things, and sometimes it's cheese.

Rumiano, the oldest family-owned cheese company in my home state of California, sent me three coupons to try three of their new Organic Non-GMO cheeses. This cheese comes from humanely-treated, pasture-raised cows. So I was eager to nom.

Here's how it went down....

Well, I normally find this flavorless and salty, but let's give it a shot. Hrm. There's some flavor there, about what I'd expect. Not as salty as I usually find it, though, thankfully. Just not much going on here. It melts, but it's just sort of plain and functional.

Pepper Jack. I usually enjoy the zest this flavor brings. Rumiano's, however, tasted like mozzarella.
Okay, maybe if I eat a pepper bit straight up...hrmm...nope. No flavor whatsoever. This is melty, less-tasty mozzarella. Odd.

Sharp Cheddar. I'm always up for some sharp cheddar. AND WHAT THE HELL IS THIS??! The consistency of string cheese and the flavor of plastic. I got a second opinion on this- it tastes like plastic. This is one of the worst cheeses I've ever put in my mouth. This might not even BE cheese. Are they sure this is cheese?

So overall, not really worth the price tag. Unfortunately.
Even the sense of smug satisfaction at consuming something nominally good for me (er, less toxic?) wasn't enough to overcome the mediocrity of these cheeses. I needed an entire bottle of beer to get the taste of their Sharp Plastic Cheddar out of my mouth.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Humpday Confessions: New Car, Free Stuff & Swap Time

Vodka and Soda


I confess...
My 4Runner, Desdemona, was showing her age. And I have a steady paycheck now (yay!). And I'm a bit of a hippy.
So Portia.

She's a 2014 Chevy Spark EV, and although there's some getting used to (no engine noise, no gas, etc) I am pretty much in love with her right now.

I confess...
I have a giveaway going on here, and only 14 people have entered. So my social networking skills with this blog suck. Unsurprisingly.
Should I stop giving away free stuff?

I confess...
It's Local Flavor Swap time!
Like geography class, with presents.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nail Files: Sprinkled with Passion

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Why does the name of this Gothic Gala Lacquers color make me think of jazz hands?

one of my favorite Buffy episodes, a lot a lot because of Tara's outfit.

It's a sweetly sky blue with blue and silver glitter bits. Nothing special, but it makes me happy to see them.

Also, the bottle, with the super-long brush handle, is awesome.