Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Report: What I'm Reading

I'm a reader. I love books. Plain and simple. And since I can't help but share the things I love with anyone who will listen (or read, in this case), I thought I would tell you what I'm reading right now. Well, at least those that relate to this blog and its parsimonious purposes. I mean, sharing the novel I'm reading right now wouldn't make much sense now, would it? (In case you were wondering, though, it's called The Outlander by Gil Adamson)

Cooking Fun: 121 Simple Recipes to Make with Kids and Crafting Fun: 101 Things to Make and Do with Kids, both by Rae Grant
I can't remember where I found out about these books, but I'm glad I did. I finally got them! I got Cooking Fun from my husband for Christmas and once I looked through it, I had to order Crafting Fun. The thing I love about these books is how they're a return to a simpler era. The recipes aren't difficult and the crafts aren't ornate. But there's just this heirloom quality to all the recipes and ideas in these books. Plus, I love the way they're designed. I'm a sucker for anything retro (if you hadn't noticed that already by my blog header). If you want a sneak peek into the books, check out the books' websites here and here. I'm so excited to try these activities with my little guy!

Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of by Vicky Lansky
If you've been following this blog, you'll know of my love affair with baking soda (and its explosive companion, vinegar). The stuff is amazing! Great for cleaning, hygiene, health remedies, and cooking. Anyway, I found this book on PaperBackSwap (yet another shameless plug for that site - love it!) and was intrigued. I just got it in the mail a few days ago, so I've only thumbed through it. Rest assured, I will be eagerly sharing the highlights of the book with you in the near-future.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 & 2 by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck
I was a little hesitant to include these books. I mean, there are recipes in those books that are by no means frugal. Well, unless you raise your own pork for the suckling pig recipe (yep, it's in there). I made the beouf bourguignon a few months ago (I'm making my way through these books very slowly) and it was delicious, but pricey. I probably spent close to $20 making it, which is waaaaay more than I spend on meal prep. Splurging once in a while is okay in my book.

Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning these books is because they're full of great basics. It's almost like a textbook of how to cook well; I think it has practical info any home cook should know. A couple days ago, I poached my first egg (remember that part in Julie & Julia? Love that movie...) and it was absolutely delicious. I am determined to bring you, my dear readers, instructions on how to make homemade eggs Benedict so you don't have to go to some fancy schmancy breakfast place for them (I've been craving them ever since I went to a fancy schmancy bed and breakfast for my anniversary a year and a half ago). That's one of the things I love about these cookbooks - you can make foods at home that seem like a luxury. Making some of the dishes in this book might cost a little more than you're used to spending on ingredients, but if you're making a special meal for a special event, you can save a lot of money by making it yourself and eating at home!

Anyway, check it out at the library or the bookstore to see if it's for you (and then buy it off Amazon - much cheaper than the bookstore). You'll be surprised a how approachable a lot of the recipes are - and how you can work some of them into your menu planning and food budget.

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book
One of my goals for 2010 is to tackle the art of textiles. I consider myself a fairly good cook/baker/gardener/homemaker, except for the fact that I am 98% clueless about anything that involves the use of a needle and thread (the 2% is based on the fact that I know how to sew a button back onto a shirt. I also made my homemade grocery bags a while ago, so I have a very limited knowledge - but still some knowledge - of how to use my sewing machine). I've always been intrigued by knitting - it just seems so homey and relaxing. Plus, I like the look of knit things over crocheted stuff (nothing against that or anything). Then I read an article about the actual psychological benefits of knitting - not only was knitting your own things economical, but stress-reducing, too!

So, in an attempt to keep one of my new year resolutions and deal with anxieties, I ordered Vogue Knitting (it had the best reviews on Amazon) and realized that it's kind of hard to learn how to knit from a book. Don't get me wrong - this book is very thorough, but I was stumped. On Christmas Eve, though, my awesome sister-in-law arranged a knitting lesson from one of her friends. So now that I've gotten the gist of it firsthand, I'm feeling a little more comfortable with this book and my knitting prospects.

Handmade Home: Simple Ways Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Blake Soule
I can't even tell you how much I love this book. It's beautiful and it makes me want to be a better mother and homemaker (sneak peek here). Despite all its loveliness, though, the book leaves me a little frustrated. I want to make everything in it (with the possible exception of the feminine cloth. Think about it. Okay, moving on.), but I feel totally intimidated with sewing. Enter the aforementioned awesome sister-in-law: for my Christmas gift, she is giving me sewing lessons! Woo-hoo! I think my first project will be the potholders. Or the towel rug. Or the rag bag. Or maybe the Mama's Bag....

What are you reading right now? Any frugal/cooking/sewing books you recommend I add to my ever-expanding reading list?

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