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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review (Cordials from your kitchen)

Have you ever wanted to make your own liqueurs? Perhaps you want to experiment, or your love of cooking has carried over into drinks. Perhaps it is just too expensive to buy the kinds of full flavored liqueurs that you would like. This book may be able to help.
Divided into Chapters based on the type of liqueur that you are looking for, Pattie Vargas and Rich Gulling provide excellent and easy to follow recipes to make recreations of many popular liqueurs as well as recipes for some of their very own creations. The side-bars provide insight into how to experiment and what flavors may go well together.
The last chapter of the book is devoted to recipes using the liqueurs often using them in desserts and other sweets. This book is chock full of ideas on how to make and use various liqueurs as gifts, as ingredients, or even as drinks themselves.
Chapters include Fruit liqueurs, nut liqueurs, herb and spice cordials, cream liqueurs, coffee liqueurs, and flavored liquors. With a huge amount of recipes under each section, this book could provide years of experimentation simply by following the recipes in it and seeing how they turn out. However, I find that the book provides many more ideas than recipes, and once you master the basics of making liqueurs, almost anything you can dream up can be created.
This is an excellent book for those interested in experimenting with flavors, or who love those sweet and luscious drinks that are oh so expensive.

You can buy the book at or at your local bookstore.

Live a hands on life

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review (Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game)

Basic Butchering of livestock and game by John Mettler Jr. DVM (Veterinarian) is one of those essential books if you want to do any kind of butchering by yourself. While some are uncomfortable with butchering, if you are going to eat meat it behooves you to know how to safely and humanely butcher animals. Butchering is truly one of the lost arts, as there is rarely a neighborhood butcher anymore, and you either buy meat from the supermarket where it has had who knows what done to it, or you look to learn to butcher yourself.

Dr. Mettler takes a beginner oriented approach to writing this book. He begins with a chapter on tools,a nd includes illustrations of the various tools that you would need to begine butchering your own animals. Some of thses tools are for large animals (like a powered saw) but for the most part they are the basic tools that anyone doing any butchering would need. He divides the book into chapters based on what kind of animal is being butchered, and advises on where to place the stunning shot, how to skin the animal, and how to divide it up for storage.

Dr. Mettler gives advice on how to butcher beef, veal, lamb, pork, rabbit, poultry, venison and even has a chapter on less usual meats like goats. He gives information on meat inspections, on preserving by smoking (including how to build a smokehouse) and also includes recipes for both meat and sausage.

The best thing about the book is the illustrations. While some are quite graphic, all of them are informative and explain in a simple picture what would take hundreds or thousands of words to explain. If you are looking at butchering your own meat, or simply would like to know how the butcher shop does it, this is the book to get.

You can purchase it here or at your local bookstore.

Live a hands on life

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Review (Root Cellaring)

Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel is a book that anyone who gardens extensively should have. If you want to be able to store your garden produce, in a way that is not energy intensive, you need to have this book. Natural cold storage is the perfect green solution to storing food, requiring neither refrigeration, nor special packaging.

The book is not just about building a root cellar however. First the book addresses what varieities of vegetables are the best keepers, and also gives an idea on what vegetables are available when. Not simply when they are grown, but when they can be expected to last until in storage.

And the book doesn't end with the traditional root cellar. There is a huge variety of storage methods that the book details, from a basement storage room, to a garden row clamp. You can try one or several of these methods until you are able to find what works best for you and for your garden.

Root Cellaring also details real people and their cellars. All of the cellars in the book are a little bit different and show that you can fit the cellar to your needs as a gardener, or as a family. There are many ingenious designs that people across the country have come up with to help store their own food, and produce their own meals.

And speaking of meals, the last chapter is packed full of recipes to assist you in cooking your stored produce. Fried green tomatoes, pear bread, pumpkin custard, and many more recipes will allow you to enjoy your stored produce, and to not become bored with it.

If you would like to purchase Root Cellaring, it can bee found here.

Live a hands on life,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review (Storey's Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep Goats Cattle and Pigs)

Have you ever wondered what makes one breed of farm animals better than another. Or perhaps which breeds will do well in your particular environment. Perhaps you are interested in rare or heritage breeds of livestock and want to help preserve the diversity of farm animals. This book is an asset to all of those things and more.

Loaded with photographs of both common and rare breeds of farm animals, this is almost a coffee table book explaining difference in breeds and even tracing what these breeds were used for throughout history. It is immensely interesting to know that the White Park Cattle were hunted as feral animals, or that Chianina were used by the Romans to pull triumphant generals through the streets.

The book is more than simply a history lesson in different breeds however. Each breed is given details such as functional type (beef, dairy, wool, etc.) appearance, size, conservation status, and what the breed is best known for. The book also has a huge amount of resources for finding out more about each of the breeds, and contact information for the societies that work with and track breeders.

This is not a how to book on how to raise these animals. Rather it is a book that is useful to determine which particular animals may suit your situation, and how best to understand and promote diversity on the farm.

If you would like to purchase the book you can do so through our website here. Even if you are only a dreamer, this book is full of useful and interesting information.

Live a hands on life

Saturday, December 3, 2011

People you should visit (Sur la Table)

The next in my series of people that you should visit is Sur la Table. If you cook, if you know someone who cooks, ah heck, if you eat, you should visit Sur la Table. They have a beautiful website full of tons of stuff for your kitchen.

Sur la Table provides a ton of hand tools from knives and dishes to more esoteric items like Ebelskiver pans or pizza stones. If you are looking for the proper tool to do a job, or simply want to see new ideas for your culinary endeavors, Sur la Table is a great site to browse.

Sur la Table also has great items available for bars, for storing wine, and for nearly anything to do with food. Perhaps you simply need a wine shelf instead of a 142 bottle dual zone touch screen wine cooler, they could help you out with either.

Sur la Table has also published some great books. "Things cooks love" is one of my favorites. Not only is it full of useful tools that the average cook may never have used before, it also contains a ton of recipes that use these tools. They also provide recipes and advice from chef's on the website.

It is a two minute process to request a free catalog, just using your name, address and email. These people are great for finding that tool that you didn't even know that you needed.
Check them out and see what you think.