I have a little problem. I LOVE books and especially books that are food related. Non-fiction, cookbooks, novels. You name it and they call my name. So it’s probably no surprise that my kids like them too! You see, I go a little crazy at the library sometimes getting books and just can’t stop! It doesn’t help that a new library branch opened up near my house (7 minutes door-to-door–I timed it!) and they have lots of shiny new books!
I think if they ever imposed a limit on the number of books you can check out it would probably be because of me!
September was the last update for the Tasty Books Book Club. I had originally intended for it to be a summer only club but there are just so many great food-related books out there that I just want to share and hopefully we can all share our thoughts on them too!
Starting this month I’m also adding films. For now, I’ve mostly chosen documentaries but if you have any others to suggest, please let me know!
So I’m bringing it back and kicking things off again this month. I hope to post Q&A’s about at least a couple of the books (not sure if I can keep up with all of them) but I want to offer a variety for everyone so choose what strikes your fancy month-to-month. As usual, I’m going to include a little bit about what I thought about the book and then the publishers description for a general overview.
The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan
I picked this book up on the recommendation of a friend and it is fascinating! Author, McMillan went undercover to live the life of Americans from different walks of life to determine if touting the “eat local, eat fresh, eat organic” option is realistic for the average American. It reads like a novel and is a page-turner! But in the end, you take a step back and hopefully ask the same questions and come up with your own answers. I’ll check back with y’all later to see what you think!
Amazon Book Description:
What if you can’t afford nine-dollar tomatoes? That was the question award-winning journalist Tracie McMillan couldn’t escape as she watched the debate about America’s meals unfold, one that urges us to pay food’s true cost—which is to say, pay more. So in 2009 McMillan embarked on a groundbreaking undercover journey to see what it takes to eat well in America. For nearly a year, she worked, ate, and lived alongside the working poor to examine how Americans eat when price matters.
From the fields of California, a Walmart produce aisle outside of Detroit, and the kitchen of a New York City Applebee’s, McMillan takes us into the heart of America’s meals. With startling intimacy she portrays the lives and food of Mexican garlic crews, Midwestern produce managers, and Caribbean line cooks, while also chronicling her own attempts to live and eat on meager wages. Along the way, she asked the questions still facing America a decade after the declaration of an obesity epidemic: Why do we eat the way we do? And how can we change it? To find out, McMillan goes beyond the food on her plate to examine the national prio-rities that put it there. With her absorbing blend of riveting narrative and formidable investigative reporting, McMillan takes us from dusty fields to clanging restaurant kitchens, linking her work to the quality of our meals—and always placing her observations in the context of America’s approach not just to farms and kitchens but to wages and work.
The surprising answers that McMillan found on her journey have profound implications for our food and agriculture, and also for how we see ourselves as a nation. Through stunning reportage, Tracie McMillan makes the simple case that—city or country, rich or poor—everyone wants good food. Fearlessly reported and beautifully written, The American Way of Eating goes beyond statistics and culture wars to deliver a book that is fiercely intelligent and compulsively readable. Talking about dinner will never be the same again.
Catering To Nobody by Dianne Mott Davidson
This is the first in a series of caterer turned sleuth. I first read this book many years ago but it’s a great one that I love! The bonus? There are recipes included in every book!
Amazon Book Description:
Catering a wake is not Goldy’s idea of fun. Yet the Colorado caterer throws herself into preparing a savory feast including Poached Salmon and Strawberry Shortcake Buffet designed to soothe forty mourners. And her culinary efforts seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered…until her ex-father-in-law gynecologist Fritz Korman is struck down and Goldy is accused of adding poison to the menu. Now, with the Department of Health impounding her leftovers, her ex-husband proclaiming her guilt, and her business about to be shut down, Goldy knows she can’t wait for the police to serve up the answers. She’ll soon uncover more than one family skeleton and a veritable stew of unpalatable secrets–the kind that could make Goldy the main course in an unsavory killer’s next murder!
Vegetables Every Day: The Definitive Guide to Buying And Cooking Today’s Produce by Jack Bishop
I figured this title was appropriate since I’ve been trying to come up with ideas for the Eating The Alphabet series and lots of farmer’s markets are starting back up for many of you all (if they haven’t’ already!) and there are so many yummy spring vegetables to choose from like those I mentioned in the Produce for Kids article I wrote on the Top 10 Spring Fruits & Vegetables.
The fresh vegetable sections in most supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and gourmet groceries are overflowing with an amazing range of produce, both familiar and exotic. Consumers are tempted by kale and kohlrabi, taro and tomatillos, bok choy and burdock, along with all the familiar choices. Now acclaimed cookbook author and food writer Jack Bishop offers a comprehensive A-to-Z guide to this bounty of produce, complete with selection tips, preparation instructions, and hundreds of recipes for more than sixty-six commonly available vegetables. With Bishop’s expert advice, you’ll learn how to coax the very best flavor from every vegetable, whether it’s a carrot, cauliflower, or cardoon. Wondering how and when to buy the sweetest green beans? Bishop suggests buying at the height of summer, and selecting beans that are crisp and slim (older, thicker beans will be mealy and bland). Confused about how to cook the spring’s first sorrel? Bishop offers such unique and delicious dishes as Sorrel and Potato Soup and Sorrel Frittata. These recipes — like all 350 in the book — are clear and uncomplicated, ensuring success for even the novice cook. So whether you are looking for a salad or side dish, a vibrant main course, or simply great mashed potatoes, you are sure to find it in this essential kitchen companion. We all know that vegetables are the key to healthful eating — now it’s time to discover how great they can taste, each and every day!
Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow: A Compost Story by Linda Glaser
I picked up a copy of this book at our local library recently and I thought it would be great for kids to help them understand composting and how it can help inspire them to help their gardens grow AND help our environment at the same time. What kid doesn’t like digging in the dirt?
What is that garbage doing next to the garden? It’s not garbage. It’s compost! Amazing things happen inside a compost bin. In go banana peels, grass clippings, and even an old jack-o’-lantern. Out comes compost. The compost goes into the garden to make the soil rich for new plants. Compost is good for the earth. Composting also helps us make less garbage. In this book, you can watch as one family makes compost for their garden and also learn how to start your very own compost bin!
MIDDLE GRADES BOOK:
The Cupcake Caper by Gertrude Chandler Warner
My kids love the Boxcar Children series! And what a fun twist with a cupcake theme.
It’s a delicious new mystery with the Boxcar Children as they help catch a cupcake thief! Mama Tova’s shop in Greenfield is so famous that every day, people line up around the block to buy her cupcakes. But when someone breaks into her kitchen, it’s clear that her secret recipe is in danger. The Aldens follow the suspects to a bake-off where they must find the culprit using their mystery-solving skills – and their taste buds, too!
CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK:
A Cow, A Bee, A Cookie & Me by Meredith Hooper
This is a cute picture book that takes the reader on a journey of how the ingredients for making honey cookies are made and where they come from. And the bonus? There is a recipe for honey cookies at the back of the book!
Amazon Book Description:
Ages 4-7. Cookies don’t come from packages, they come from nature, as this jaunty picture book shows. Ben is baking honey cookies with his grandma. Each time Ben asks, “What do we need?” Grandma has the real answer: a cow and grass to make the milk, sugarcane growing thick and tall, a thousand buzzing bees, even dried bark from a tree. Bark? Yes, cinnamon bark. Grandma explains everything: how the bees pack flower nectar into waxy cells to turn into honey and how to cream the butter and roll out the dough. The childlike art is sunny with lots of yellows, greens, and blues coloring the two-page spreads or those featuring one large picture of a cooking ingredient in its natural state and two smaller ones that show what the products look like when processed. Once in a while the text raises more questions than it answers (how, a child might wonder, does the cow turn grass into milk?), but in general this is a happy introduction to the ways nature provides cooking ingredients. Recipe included
I’m excited to add the film element to our review and discussion. There are so many food related films that it’s a great option to learn more and be entertained without the full commitment of reading a book. I recently discovered that I can get just about any documentary and films I could ever think of (and then some) via my Netflix live streaming subscription. Awesome! But if you don’t have this option, check your library for a copy as well—I found lots of them at our library as well.
The firsts film I’ve chosen is NOVA: Bees – Tales From the Hive
Why have I chosen this to be the first film? Well, partly because many of you have or are setting up your home gardens and bees are an integral part of the pollination process that probably a lot of us don’t understand. And with the Bee Colony Collapse Disorder a concern for the future of our food supply, it’s important to start at the beginning and learn how these little creatures are huge contributors to the future of the way we eat.
Spend a year in this hive and experience life as a bee.
Amazingly up-close footage filmed with specially developed macro lenses brings you the most intimate- and most spectacular- portrayal of a working bee colony ever filmed. It’s not frightening- it’s fascinating. See things you never imagined. Hear things only bees hear. Discover new found facts about the strange and complex life of bees.
Did you know it takes nectar from 10 million flowers to create a single liter of honey? No wonder they’re called worker bees! Tales from the Hive exposes a bee colony’s secret world- detailing such rarely seen events as the life-or-death battle between a pair of rival queens, a bee eater’s attack on the hive, a scout bee’s mysterious dance that shares special “nectar directions” with the rest of the hive. Also, watch the high-speed mid-air “wedding flight” of drone and queen. See the colony’s defense against a honey-loving bear.
So which book will you be reading first? Or will the film be more your thing to start off with? Feel free to add title suggestions in the comments below for future months. And if you’re not already following me on Facebook or Twitter, be sure to do so as there’s always lots of conversation going on there! And spread the word to your friends and family–the more the merrier!
Disclaimer: I have received no compensation for choosing these books and film for the Tasty Books Book Club. I am, however, an Amazon Affliate, so if you choose to order any of these titles through my blog I receive a (very) small portion of the sale. And I thank you.