Storey publishing

Book Review – The Pumpkin Cookbook, 2nd Edition by DeeDee Stovel.

2 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, as you can guess by the score that I wasn’t such a fan of ‘The Pumpkin Cookbook, 2nd Edition’ as I had hoped to be. I mean, I wouldn’t have requested it to review if I hadn’t thought it looked interesting. And please, don’t get me wrong, I can see this being just the right sort of pumpkin cook book for certain readers and cooks. I feel I am just the wrong person and that is probably due to the fact I cook and eat pumpkin near daily as it’s not a novelty item here in Australia, like it is in the USA and Canada. So, please realise the flaw causing my low score and less than glowing review comes from me the reader not being suited to the book, rather than ‘The Pumpkin Cookbook, 2nd Edition’ being a bad book. It’s not, honest. It has a lot of potential – for the right audience… which wasn’t me.

Though I will also add, before getting into the positives, that I was actually surprised this was a Storey Publishing book as it doesn’t seem to have the usual sparkle they give their work. I mean, the layout was perfection as usual – simple, easy to follow recipes, well laid out formatting and all in all easy to read. What images there were, however, didn’t seem to have the usual Storey Publishing ‘glow’ to them. Oh, and although it doesn’t affect my way of cooking, some modern cooks may not like this book that much as their isn’t a glossy image to go with each and every recipe. Me? I don’t need it so not affected. People more used to the hand held, step by step, must have a picture to compare their work with it reader… they won’t be as happy with ‘The Pumpkin Cookbook, 2nd Edition’ – sorry.

As for the recipes themselves… well, there were some really good ones, some really interesting ones and ones I just wouldn’t try. I am putting it mostly down to the cultural thing again, as in pumpkin isn’t a novelty ingredient here in Australia, it’s a staple. I also found there were just too many recipes that used pre-mades. Things like cereal, pretzels and – the most mind boggling one to me – canned pumpkin. Wasn’t this book all about learning to cook with fresh pumpkin? Again, I am blaming my cultural background on the canned pumpkin thing as I don’t even know if you can BUY canned pumpkin here… it’s fresh or nothing I think.

And, despite there being some attempts to use healthier ingredients, there was still too much refined sugar and the like for my wholefood, unrefined heart.

But I will say the dedication to making such a wide variety of interesting and different recipes where pumpkin was the key ingredient was impressive. Weird thing is the sweets section interested me more than the savoury. As, here, pumpkin is used in both sweet and savoury dishes, but more so in savoury ones.All in all it looked to be a very interesting book that would help the adventurous try using pumpkin in ways they may not have done so in the past. But, again, I feel I must emphasise that I wasn’t the best reader for this book as I am simply in the wrong country. Storey Publishing is USA based and cater to the USA market – which is why the recipes are always only ever in imperial measurements. They were decent enough to allow me an ARC, but I simply wasn’t the best person to review it. Fault all mine.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Possibly. I mean, if any of my friends in the USA or Canada who wanted to do more with pumpkin all year round in all sorts of dishes – then yes. This is a book they should check out. People here in Australia or even over in the UK? No, not one I would recommend. Not the fault of the book – it is perfect for the market it is aimed at.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yeah, we all know the answer to this, right? This is a great book, a perfect way to allow those in the USA to explore how to use delicious and versatile pumpkin in more meals… but not a book for me. Australia’s see and use pumpkin a lot differently, and that is something I have learned from this book and will remember next time I go looking at pumpkin cook books. 😉

In summary – a cook book that truly allows those who see pumpkin as a novelty ingredient explore other options.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Cooking with Coconut by Ramin Ganeshram

Cooking with Coconut.jpg

5 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Now THIS is a proper Coconut cook book! I’ve read and reviewed a few in my time and they’ve barely touched on the most common of recipes. But ‘Cooking with coconut’ goes far beyond that and brings you some of the most amazing traditional coconut recipes from around the world. Some I grew up with, others I do similar dishes to today as coconut makes up a large part of our diet. I absolutely LOVED this book.

The array of recipes from starters, mains, dessert, drinks and everything in between was wonderful. You can tell there is a love and passion for recipes here, and not just for the ones Ms Ganeshram grew up with, but the ones shared from other places.

And yes, my own food intolerances to seafood and allium would restrict me from making some of these recipes… but there are a few that I’d still attempt and just leave out the allium or sub fish for chicken and see how it goes. I’m a big girl, I know my way around the kitchen. 😉

And, be still my sweet toothed heart for all the coconut sweets recipes! I was in HEAVEN!

For me, the ingredients will mostly be easy to get my hands on. Let’s see, I already have coconut jelly, coconut water, coconut nectar, coconut sugar, coconut oil,coconut flour, coconut milk, shredded dried coconut and desiccated coconut (both unsweetened as we don’t do sweetened coconut in Australia). Oh, I have other stuff too of course, but I wanted to show that I was indeed the right person for this book as, yeah, we eat coconut daily in this house. 😉

To the technical side of things, the layout and formatting of ‘Cooking with coconut’ was also excellent. Clearly laid out sections, easy to understand and follow recipes – though they are in, I believe, American measurements so realise the cups and spoon measurements won’t be the same for Australian measurements. All the same, so easy to understand, convert and work with. Heating temperatures shown in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.

Another thing I liked about the recipe formatting is that there is a clearly shown tab for recipes that are allergy/intolerance friendly. Well, gluten and dairy at least. Pretty sure I remember some vegan tags there too. It’s good to be able to flick through a book and see these tabs right away if you’re cooking for specific dietary restrictions without making a big song and dance about it. Wonderful.

There is also a wide range of recipes too so people wouldn’t get tired trying the different dishes. Coconut is such a versatile ingredient; it is just lovely to see it all put to such good use!

There was also an in-depth introduction to the different types of coconut ingredients, a lovely explanation as to why Ms Ganeshram is so passionate about this ingredient and a great glossary at the back to help smooth out any questions the novice cook may have.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. In fact I was showing my electronic copy off to my dad and telling him we should buy a paper copy to share. Some of the recipes do contain a lot of ingredients – and therefore may put off some of the less experienced cooks – but the wording and instructions for each recipe is clear and precise and so if you wanted to give it a go, I feel cooks of any skill level would have success.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Well duh! 😉 Yes, I simply fell in love with ‘Cooking with coconut’ from the dips to the curries to the sweets to the teas. Yes there are recipes I would avoid, but there are so many more I would and do want to try that they outweigh those I can’t make due to food issues.

In summary: If you truly want to explore all the different options of cooking with coconut – this book is for you. Loved it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -Healing Herbal Teas by Sarah Farr

healing-herbal-teas

2 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

I don’t know what it was about this book, but I just didn’t gel with it. Please, please, PLEASE realise this doesn’t make it a bad book. In fact I found the book to be filled with very useful, very comprehensive information to help readers interested in tea as a drink as well as a way to heal themselves. I feel that was the problem for me, there was just too much information. And as good as it was… I found it swallowed up the recipes and really killed my desire to learn. There was just too much. But this is really just a personal choice thing and I am sure many will disagree with me and feel I am dead wrong. Cool, then they should write some glowing reviews about this book on their blog. 😉

When you actually do get to the recipes the formatting is clear, precise and easy to read/ follow… but I often found the actual recipes too few and far between as there was yet more information, herbal spotlights and many gorgeous pictures taking their place.

I guess I just found the overall layout of this book didn’t sit well with me? I don’t know? I hate sounding harsh and it is not my intention as some of the tea recipes sound just the sort of things I would love to make and drink… I am simply trying to give my honest opinion. And that is, I obviously wasn’t the right reader for this book.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I don’t know… maybe? Well, the extremely thorough information this book contains would definitely be of use to those who know nothing about tea making, herbal infusions and the like and such readers would clearly benefit from this book. But I also feel they might get too swamped and suffer information overload if they chose to read it all, rather than just skip to the recipes. And, quite honestly, I feel you would do this book and author a severe injustice if you skipped all the information she has shared and just race to the recipes. It’s an all or nothing sort of thing… If that makes sense?

Would I buy this book for myself?

Sadly no, and I think I’ve already given my reasons as to why that would be. There is a great wealth of information within this book and it is fantastic that it has been shared with us all… but I couldn’t connect and enjoy. I am still putting it down to the overall layout just not suiting my tastes more than it being a bad book – it is not a bad book!

In summary: an extremely comprehensive and informative book on how to make the best herbal teas for taste as well as health. I just wasn’t the right reader.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – 100 Plants to Feed the Bees by The Xerces Society.

100-plants-to-feed-the-bees

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, I will come out and say first that I love this book, feel we need this book and that all countries of the world need a version of this book adapted to their own native and introduced pollinators and plants.

I wanted to make that clear before I say the following as I fear some may take it as more negative than it is meant. I mean it as just an FYI, not as a bad thing, so PLEASE don’t take it as a negative…

Okay, here goes. I did have an issue with this book and it is totally the fault of the reader and has NOTHING to do with the book. Storey Publishing is a publisher based in the USA and caters for USA readers. And I knew this when requesting the book from all the way over here in Australia.

And so, my disappointment at it being a book focussed on looking at how to help save/feed bees and other pollinators in the USA was all my own fault. BUT! It did mean I couldn’t connect or get as enthusiastic about this book as I wanted to because the first series of plants listed aren’t available here, and if they are they are often classified as weeds and can’t be grown. But there were some plants listed that we can have in ornamental gardens and the last lot of plants listed are herbs and fruits trees… so all was not lost. And, as I’ve said the fault is totally with the reader – aka ME and not the book or listed plants.

That aside, the introduction about the need for pollinators, what they do, what they collect, what sorts of flowers they are attracted to, why we need flowers to attracted them even if the flowers seem to serve no other function – all great information that can be used worldwide!

The formatting of the book is excellent. It is set out to be easy to read and a great reference book. It shows the reader which pollinators are attracted to the plant, where the plant comes from (if native to America) or where it can be grown. Good quality colour pictures of each plant is used, the book gives a description of the plant and its uses for the pollinator and all in all some excellent, easy to read details suited for all levels of people interested in looking after the bees and pollinators more.

Would I recommend this book to others?

If they were located in the USA, then yes. Absolutely! If someone there wants to help save the bees and other pollinators; they need to get themselves this book.

If the reader is located in another location outside of North America, I would advise them of the location specific audience this book is aimed for. I mean, it still has some great information there that can be used globally, but I can’t see it as being as attractive to purchase for those not located in the USA. If that makes sense?

Would I buy this book for myself?

No I wouldn’t. And I think we all know by now that this is simply because I am not located in the right part of the world to get the best benefits from this book. Yes I picked up some good tips and advice from it, but this isn’t something I would own. Not unless they did an Australia specific one and then yes, it would be MINE! 🙂

In summary: A really good, easy to read reference book to help people of the USA help to feed and save bees and other pollinators.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -Food Swap by Emily Paster.

Food Swap

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free ARC of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an open and honest review.

Don’t let the title confuse and make you think this is a book just explaining what food swapping is. Yes, it does that, but it then goes on to be an essential guide to comprehensively creating, joining, or holding a food swap of your own.

I really liked the level of detail given, mixed in with examples of established Food Swaps around America, some fantastic images (something I’ve come to expect with all books from Storey Publishing) and ending with some simply YUMMY looking recipes to help inspire any food swappers on what to prepare – to get them started!

Ms Paster covers a lot of the questions I believe are frequently asked about food swaps, and then answers questions I hadn’t even thought of but then realised would be vital to know. That makes ‘Food Swap’ an essential comprehensive guide to anyone thinking of getting such an activity going in their own area.

I will mention though that all information on health standards, laws, etc. is based on those found in America – which is perfectly fine. So if anyone here in Australia would be interested in starting a food swap, yes you will still get an amazingly useful mountain of information from this book… but please do realise we have different rules and laws and to consider those before starting. If that makes sense? I’m trying to say – yes this book is just as helpful here in Australia, but please use common sense and realise some of the ways we do things are different so look into it!

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Anyone considering starting a food swap or maybe even looking for inspiration on how to improve existing food swaps that they are a part of – this book is essential reading and it is full of just so much terrific advice!

Would I buy this book for myself?

Actually… I wouldn’t. BUT! That is only because I am not at a stage in my life where I am free to become that committed to a local food swap. If I WAS at that stage, then I would own and re-read this book from cover to cover before I set out. The information is so useful and the stories are so inspiring and encouraging – I do feel this could be seen as the gospel of how food swaps should go! 😉

In summary: A very comprehensive, easy to read and totally enthusiastic book create to help inspire, encourage and run a food swap. If it is something you would like to do in your area but aren’t too sure how – I highly recommend you buy this book!

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -Body into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care by Maria Noel Groves.

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Where to start? Another simply amazing book from a publisher I can’t seem to fault. ‘Body into Balance’ was a breath of fresh air for this wannabe herbalist.

Clear, concise and easy to read formatting, glorious pictures and a really good overall tone were all used in this book. What do I mean by the tone? Well, reading it felt welcoming. You could tell the person who had written it was passionate not only about the topic, but about SHARING this knowledge with others.

I love the introductory where it went over the basics, went over the reason for the book and all in all helped the reader ease into what it was all about. You could read this entire book from end to end just to learn what it’s all about, but I could really see myself referring to sections of it as needed.

The balance is true too. This is not a book telling you to ignore “modern medicine” and the like, but simply to allow herbal remedies be part of your health routine – alongside a decent holistic medical practitioner. Seriously, this is my way of thinking and therefore definitely my kind of book.

And I strongly recommend people read the introduction – it is well worth it and is filled with valuable information on how to use the book, what herbal health is all about and a lot of other wonderful information. So even if you’re just going to use it as a reference guide – read the intro first! It really is aimed for the novice through to the advanced herbalist and it’s there for a reason – so read it!

I could go on and on about the different sections of the book and why I liked and felt them so important to read… but I fear I would start repeating myself rather quickly. So I will just say – yes! This book is a terrific and very comprehensive book on better health through herbalism and one I feel should be in the home of those looking for a better health/ life balance.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Absolutely I would! As said, I feel this would be a terrific tome for any home wanting to have a more holistic and healthy approach to living. It’s not just about cures and remedies when you’re sick, it is about all over, everyday health through better nutrition, better mindsets, etc. This isn’t your “cures to colds and flus guide” this is your “how to live better through real foods guide”. And the level of information given, to me, seemed perfect for all levels of herbalism from your beginners, your intermediates (like me) through to those who have been doing it all their lives. This book might be about herbalism… but it about so much more too that the benefits are boundless.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Oh yes, a very BIG yes. If you look on Amazon you will see it’s on my wish list. I am running out of unique ways of explaining how good ‘Body into Balance’ really is. Can I just say I clicked with this book, felt it perfect and want it to come join the ever dwindling space in my bookshelves. The only reason I didn’t give it the full 5 stars is due my usual “written for USA readers, not Australians” thing I have. And this is a fault that lies with me the reader and not the book.

In summary: I love this book, ‘Body into Balance’ is a fantastic reference guide to better, healthier living and one that should be in the home of anyone truly interested in better health through better foods/herbs. I highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Naturally Bug-Free by Stephanie L. Tourles.

4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Storey Publishing for providing me with a free ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.

What a fantastic little compendium to have in the home to help not only keep you, your pets and your home bug-free, but nasty chemical free too!

As some of my other reviews may have indicated, I’m a bit of a herbalist and I have to say this would be a great addition to my small library of herbal remedy books as it covers “bug” eradication far better than any others I own!

One of the things I really enjoyed was that, yes, it covered all the basics that I already (mostly) knew… but it did it in such a manner it wasn’t dull, repetitive or made me feel like I was being talked down to. This has happened in other books I won’t mention! No, ‘Naturally Bug-free’ was thorough, comprehensive and enjoyable to read without me feeling like I was being granny taught to suck eggs… now I do wonder how many people know that saying? 😉

I also loved the ‘Ingredient dictionary’ as it just focussed on the facts of the herbs in their relation to being bug-free. So many herbalist books list the herbs and all the things they do and only occasionally touch on why they are in the book. Nope, in ‘Naturally Bug-free’ we kept to the subject at hand, kept it short, sharp and shiny and made the read all the more enjoyable for someone like me. When I use a herbal book like this I am doing it for a specific purpose and don’t want to wade through pages of pointless facts before the point is found. So really enjoyed the ‘directly to the point’ attitude of this book. It encourages me to turn to it again and again with the feeling I will find what I want first time without having to look too hard. Best sort of reference/ recipe/ remedies book you can get!

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. Whether you are a beginner in natural remedies, a bit advanced like me or someone who feels they know what they’re doing but still like a little reminder – this book is for you. It might be basic, but is still covers things in such a way that it doesn’t make you feel like you’re an idiot. It is simply there to help, guide and keep you naturally bug-free.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yes I would. Whether as an eBook or a paper version, I would HAPPILY have this book take up space in my home as I can see myself turning to it time and again as a better option to nasty chemical pesticides. My garden is filled with a lot of the ingredients already so it is perfect!

In summary: Storey Publishing have done it again by creating such a fantastic little reference book to help keep you, your pets and your home natural bug-free. It is a great herbal helper to have in your home and I strongly recommend it!

Until next time,

Janis.