I don’t often get a chance to sit down and read – at least not as often as I used to. But, very occasionally, I draw a hot bath, pour a cold glass of water and settle in to read a bit. And now that the year is drawing to a close, I thought I’d share with you my favorite books of 2012 – some long, some short, some, most on food, some on parenting. Now go read a bit.
A Year in the Village of Eternity
I picked up A Year in the Village of Eternity on a whim. My family was traveling, as we’re wont to do (you can see a lot of our travel, food and farm photos in instagram). I needed something to read as we hopped from hotel to hotel on the road from farm to farm. It seemed beautiful and offered and interesting premise: the author visited Campodimele, Italy – a tiny town whose population seem to live longer, heartier, healthier and happier than most of the rest of us. But, A Year in the Village of Eternity isn’t about finger-wagging prescriptions for health; rather, it’s about community, experience, friendship and good food – all of which, undoubtedly, contribute not only to longevity, but, more importantly, to quality of life.
Parents Who Don’t Do Dishes
Parents Who Don’t Do Dishes is a charming little gem of a book written by a friend of mine – Richard Melnick, the father of two of the most amazing young men I’ve ever met. Looking down the barrel a diagnosis of cancer while raising two little boys aged 3 and 5, Richard’s outlook on his life and his parenting changed, and he began to examine what kind of life or wisdom he could leave his boys with. He began to parent with a conscious effort to raise passionate, compassionate children who approached life with joy and confidence, and his approach – absent of rigid methodologies – is one that shatters the illusion of control while, instead, guiding parents to recognize their children as sovereign beings capable of finding their joy, their passion and their responsibility toward themselves and others.
Parents Who Don’t Do Dishes is a little book – about 100 pages. It’s no hefty tome, penned by psychologists or sociologists and annotated with countless journal citations; rather, it’s a beautiful look at parenting written by a parent who has raised (or rather fostered the growth of) kind, gentle, compassionate, responsive and responsible kids.
Real Food Fermentation & the Art of Fermentation
I loved both these books as, frankly, I love all things fermented. Real Food Fermentation is a beautiful book, with easy-to-follow instructions and large photos. It’s perfect for the beginner for its simple recipes, clear advice and its photographs which showcase not only the ferments themselves, but steps in preparing them as well. You can read my full review here.
By contrast, The Art of Fermentation is an encyclopedic look at fermented foods across the world, including the history of fermented foods, the science of fermented foods and a look at thousands of traditionally fermented foods. Katz also provides tips that help you to troubleshoot your ferments, simple recipes and takes a look at the new and burgeoning fermentation movement in the United States.
Organic Beauty is a no-frills, practical look at natural skincare you can make at home. You can download the e-book in an instant and find about 50 simple tutorials for wonderfully luscious beauty products you can make at home with whole, natural ingredients like good quality oils and butters, herbs, salts and essential oils (most of which can be purchased here). As you know, I’m a fan of totally natural skin care products, and I believe that you should never put something on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. Organic Beauty provides all of that information with simple step-by-step recipes for creating 100% natural scrubs, lotions, creams – it’s very practical, easy and has some stunning recipes.
Forgotten Skills of Cooking
The Forgotten Skills of Cooking is a huge book – weighing in at 600 pages with over 700 recipes for traditional Irish foods. Not only does she provide an astounding array of recipes, she also provides information on sourcing foods, on foraging, on raising chickens and fileting fish. Forgotten Skills of Cooking is a comprehensive guide to food and cooking written in a stunningly beautiful way. Her efforts do, indeed, revive the lost arts of gardening, foraging, butchery and food preservation all with a love of honest-to-goodness real food.