Weekend Cooking: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, further known as AVM, has become one of my very favorite books.  I read it for the first time back in 2008 and it changed my life.  Seriously.  I now have a garden with lots of veggies in it and I go to the Farmer’s Market once a week in the summer and probably every other week in the winter.  I now know where my food comes from (well, at least most of it) and it’s all because of Barbara Kingsolver.

When the planting season was almost upon us, I decided it was time for a reread.  You know, to get me in the mood to plant things.  Even though I really didn’t need encouragement, I couldn’t wait for it to get warm enough to plant yummy things!  But what better way to reread this book than have Ms. Kingsolver herself read it to me?

AVM is Kingsolver’s chronicle of how her family stopped using the grocery store and started using the resources that were in their very backyard.  They grew their own food, used the Farmer’s Market (ergo: their neighbors), they cooked, they canned, they kept it to a 100 mile radius (I *think* that’s right) all to see if they could!  Working together, the whole family was able to provide (most) their own food for the whole year, making it a true family affair.  This is one of the things I love most about this book.  The audio version of the book is a family affair, with Kingsolver, Hopp her husband, and Camille her daughter all narrating the parts they wrote.

One of the most powerful messages this book has is where our food comes from.  The thought of just how much OIL goes into getting our food around this country, especially in light of what is happening in the Gulf is shocking, heartbreaking, and ridiculously expensive and pointless.  My buddy Chris over at Stuff As Dreams are Made On just happened to review this book yesterday and I can think of no better way to put this than how he did:

Think of that tomato that you buy in December. It most likely comes from California where it was grown on a giant farm where it’s sprayed with tons of pesticides. On top of that, the tractors used to spray all of those pesticides are using lots of fuel. Then they go through processing and are packaged (more fuel). Then they are loaded onto an eighteen wheeler and shipped to wherever you live (a LOT more fuel). All for that one tomato. Now think of the fuel crisis we’re going through now and how DEPENDENT we all are on gasoline an

d how destructive it has become. For each meal we eat at our dinner table, an underestimate is that we might as well each drink a quart of motor oil when you consider the transport, packaging, and harvest.

Now think about this…you can get MUCH better tasting milk, cheese, oats, meat, vegetables, fruit, seafood, etc at your farmers market or even at the supermarket if your just mindful of where the food comes from. BUY LOCAL. And you stop this chain. The closer to home, the better the taste. Naturally, it’s fresher and it’s gone through less wear and tear. Even better yet, grow what you can. Even in an apartment you can do some patio peppers and tomatoes and herbs! I’m having so much fun with mine :) Bake your own bread! It’s so easy in a bread maker.

It is easy!  I’ve done it!

It is not my intention to sound preachy, but it’s hard not to! I’m frustrated with this country and myself, because I know I’m not doing enough and I have changed so much in the last two years.  The changes Kingsolver makes are an accumulation of years of changing her family’s eating habits and I hope I am doing the same.  All these pictures?  They are from my own garden.  I am hopeful that I will have enough tomatoes this year to can and use all year until next spring, when I’ll start all over again with an even bigger garden than this year.

Trust me.  Growing your own food (or getting it from the farmer’s market!) tastes better than anything you will find in a grocery store.

And you’ll feel good doing it.

Start small.  Check out your neighborhood farmer’s market.  They are popping up all over the place.  Even if you live in an apartment and don’t have a yard, you can grow tomatoes in a pot.  I’ve done it! And get this book.  Kingsolver has the perfect reading voice, not too fast, not to slow and soothing as a mother singing a lullaby to a baby.  All the recipes Camille mentions in the book are also posted on their website.  Here is one of the favorites of mine that I have tried.


From Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

Summer squash (an assortment)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Slice vegetables lengthwise into strips no thicker than ½ inch. Combine olive oil and spices (be generous with the herbs) and marinate vegetables, making sure all faces of the vegetable slices are covered. Then cook on grill until vegetables are partially blackened, you may want to use grill basket for onions and peppers.

2 loaves French bread (16 to 18 inches)
2 balls mozzarella (8 oz.)
3 large tomatoes
Basil leaves

Cut loaves of bread lengthwise. Arrange bread on baking sheets and layer with slices of mozzarella first, grilled vegetables next, and slices of tomato last. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and place the baking sheets under a broiler until cheese in melted. Garnish with leaves of fresh basil. Cut in pieces to serve.[/print_this]

It’s delicious!  And if you worry that there isn’t any meat on it, get a Portabello mushroom.  It’s so meaty, you won’t miss the meat.

For more recipes, either read the book 🙂 or visit the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website.  But really, read it, it is such a good book.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Barbara Kingsolver, Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver
Published by: Harper Audio
Format: Audiobook
On Sale: May 1, 2007
ISBN: 978-0060853570

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I am a Book Depository, Powells, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.

weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

#ArmchairBEA – My Dream Panel

Firstly, I have to give mad props to Chris at Book-A-Rama.  Her dream panel post, “I See Dead People,” was awesome.  Go read it if you haven’t already.

Secondly, who would be on my dream panel?  Who would I want to see on a panel?  Which authors would make my dreams come true?  There are so many people I would want to meet and hear talk about their work, but I know one author, hands down, is the one I want to hear speak in public.  And that is Neil Gaiman.

The topic?

Fairy Tales.

With him would be Ellen Datlow, Terri Windling, Midori Snyder, and Charles Vess.  Oh, and let’s have Margo Lanagan while we’re at it. And don’t forget the Queen of Fairy Tales; Jane Yolen!  Oh, and can we have Maria Tatar too?  I mean, it is my panel.

So, yes, fairy tales.  Topics would include:

  • Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales
  • Feminine in Fairy Tales
  • Psychological Meaning of Redemption Motifs in Fairy Tales
  • The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales
  • Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood

Obviously these are a lot of titles from books I want to read anyway, but how much better to hear them speak on it in person?  What do you think?  Is that a panel worth seeing?  I know I would happily spend my money on that!

Check out more of Armchair BEA and see what other bloggers are writing about.

#Armchair BEA Blogger Interview – Alishka Babushka

Like many a book blogger, I wasn’t able to go to BEA this week.  Instead, I’m participating in Armchair BEA, an idea some very creative and amazing people came up with on Twitter (the root of all such devilment).  Well, go HERE for a great little explanation. There will be all kinds of awesome posts this week (here, there and everywhere) so you don’t need to feel left out either!  There will even be a Twitter party on Thursday night and let me tell you, if it’s anything like the one we had last year, it will BE A BLAST!

Today, I was lucky enough to interview a new-to-me blogger, Aliska Babushka from over at All’s Fair in Love and War.  Right away, I could see Alishka was going to be a kindred spirit.  She has owls on her blog!

Alishka Babushka is such an interesting nickname.  Tell us how you got it!

Well, during high school I was hardly ever home due to my ballet schedule. I also have the lucky fortune of being very different genetically than the rest of my family (they can all do the curl your tongue thing, I cannot). So, my mother started calling me her russian step-child of a daughter: Alishka Babushka. I realize babushka is grandmother in Russian, but my mom loves to rhyme, and that’s how my nickname was born.

Why did you start blogging?  How long have you been doing it?

While at college at BYU I started reading The 100 Hour Board (theboard.byu.edu). Many of the “writers” had blogs and I just decided to start my own. It started out with a few lame posts just over 5 years ago.

Where did you get your blog title, “All’s Fair in Love and War?”

When I started my blog I was just a Freshman in college and I was dealing with all sorts of fun dating hoopah. I thought the title was fitting at the time. I’ve toyed with changing it, but nothing else seems to fit at this time.

What sort of books do you like to read?

I love reading. In fact, we would get punished for reading at my house! Usually because we hadn’t done our chores yet and the worst was when she would take away our books without putting a bookmark in them! But, back to the question at hand, books I like to read. I am currently in love with Urban Fantasy. It’s a recent discovery of mine and I’m enjoying the opportunity to milk up all the good stuff UF has to offer. I also love YA fiction and a little bit of romance here and there. It’s not very often that I find a book I don’t love, but it happens from time to time.

Favorite authors?

I was just recently introduced to Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews, Deanna Raybourn and Juliet Marillier. They are amazing. I grew up loving Mary Higgins Clark and  Anne McCaffre.

Favorite Books?

Hmm… this is a hard question! I read so many books at a time and usually enjoy them all that I have a hard time picking. I think my favorite books are the ones that always seem to stay with me and that I can re-read over and over again. That being said my top few from that list would have to include: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier,  Beauty by Robin McKinley, and Expecting Adam by Martha Beck.

What part of BEA are you most excited about?  Will you try to go another year?

I have a friend who is going and I’m just excited to hear all her stories about meeting authors. That would probably be the one thing I would want to do most, meet all the amazing people involved in the book world. I think I will try to go another year, but if not I’ll live vicariously through others.

Thank you Alishka, for those great answers!  Be sure to check out my own interview, over at Kathleen’s blog Boarding in My Forties!

Book Review: The Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook

Okay Kim West, where were you six years ago?  Because I sure could have used your book then!

Granted, I can still use this book now.  I have a six-year-old and a 2-year-old, both of whom are not the best sleepers.  I learned a lot with my first one, so my second sleeps better than she does, but E has a long way to go.  And W will be moving to a big boy bed soon, so this book is going to be a LIFE SAVER.

I was a lazy mommy with my first daughter.  I breastfeed her and when she got her first cold (and I was sick too)  and well, one thing led to another… I’m ashamed to admit it… but, well she wound up in the bed with us.   Which, honestly, co-sleeping with her worked for us.   Worked, that is, until she hit about 3. By then, there was another baby on the way, and we needed her in her own bed.  She is now 6 and we’re STILL working on getting her to stay in her own bed.

It’s been…tough.

The boy never slept with us.  I breastfed him over a year too, but I learned from my daughter.  It may be easier to put them in the bed NOW, but when they are older it’s harder to get them out.  I’m worried now about transitioning him into his own bed, which will be in her room (we have a very small house), when she still refuses to stay in her bed all night.

So we are going to be overhauling the sleep situation in this house, with The Sleep Lady’s help, starting tonight.  The book says from newborn to five years, but I figure six is close enough.  We’re going to decide the routine and stick to it.  We’re going to use a sticker chart and a reward system.  We are going to establish manners, which I really like the sound of:

I call them manners, rather than rules, because manners connote expected behavior and earned praise.  Also, it’s a reminder that we want to incorporate manners in our life all the time, not just when we are getting stickers.

I’m going with:

1. Lie quietly in bed.  (No shouting or yelling, just quiet talking or humming.)

2. Put yourself to sleep without Mommy or Daddy laying down with you.

3.  Most important, put yourself back to sleep without Mommy or Daddy laying down with you. Or, rather, getting into our bed.  This will be tricky, since she’s pretty good at getting in our bed without waking me up.  When she wants to anyway.

4.  Stay quietly in bed until it’s time to get up.

Once we get her sleeping in HER bed all night, we’ll move on to him.   I’m hopeful that we will learn so much with her, that he will be  a breeze.  We’re already halfway there, with him sleeping all night in his bed and putting himself to sleep.  I’m sure, with The Sleep Lady’s help, we’ll get the house sleeping better in no time.  Her plan sounds so simple, and, the best part, it doesn’t involve unnecessary crying and screaming through the night.  I’ve never liked the sound of the Cry-It-Out method and swore to never use it.  And I never have.  It just sounds too traumatic.  I also appreciate the inclusion of Sleep Logs, a Sleep Manner Chart and a nifty little Award of Achievement in the back.  Plus there is a couple of places to keep notes and even a resources page with lots of books about parenting and bedtime books.  Also, speaking as a mother who got a ton of useless presents at baby showers, THIS would make a fantastic gift.

Sleep Lady Biography

KIM WEST is a mother of two and a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C) who has been a practicing child and family social worker for more than sixteen years. Known as The Sleep Lady® by her clients, over the past twelve years she has helped thousands of tired parents all over the world learn to listen to their intuition, recognize their child’s important cues and behaviors, and gently create changes that promote and preserve his or her healthy sleep habits.

West has appeared on the Dr. Phil, Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, TLC’s Bringing Home Baby and CNN, and has been written about in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Baby Talk,  Parenting, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, The Telegraph, The Irish Independent and the Washington Post. West hosts the sleep section of The Newborn Channel, played in maternity wards in hospitals across the country.

West  has spoken to numerous parenting groups across the country about the importance of children’s sleep and how to gently teach your child to go to sleep and sleep through the night.

West is the author of “GOOD NIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT: The Sleep Lady’s Gentle Guide to Helping Your Child Go to Sleep,  Stay Asleep and Wake Up Happy” with co-author Joanne Kenen. Published by  Vanguard Press in January 2005. She is also the author of “52 Sleep Secrets for Babies”. Published by Easton Studio Press in November 2008.

Kim West received her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives with her family in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook; Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy
Kim West, LCSW-C
Parenting, Sleep Coaching, Self-help
Published by:
Easton Studio Press
Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
On Sale:

Visit The Sleep Lady at her website; SleepLady.com

Purchase from

IndieBound | Powell’s Books

Other stops on the tour are at the TLC website.

I am a Book Depository, Powells, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.

Book Review: The Dead Tossed Waves

I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth (it’s pretty great in audio too!), so there was little doubt in my mind that I would be reading The Dead-Tossed Waves immediately upon publication.  With luck, it happened to come out near the time of the 24-hour-readathon, so I scheduled it in to read then.  It was the perfect choice; because once I started I could not put it down.  It was just as un-put-down-able as the first; if not more so.

This review is going to assume you’ve read The Forest of Hands and Teeth.  I just can’t figure how to write it without giving away spoilers to the first book.  Also, this is being called a companion piece, which I take issue to.  I don’t think you should read this one before The Forest of Hands and Teeth. It just wouldn’t read right if you did.

Gabry lives a quiet, safe life, in the lighthouse by the ocean.  Well, as safe as one can get, when one also lives close to the Forest of Hands and Teeth, home to the many Mudo who crave the flesh of those living inside the city.  The quiet life she leads with her mother is shattered with a group of kids sneak out of the town one night,  across the Barrier into the abandoned amusement park, and is attacked by the Mudo.  Gabry manages to get away, as does her crush Catcher, but is racked by the guilt, fear, and confusion that comes with the attack.    As Gabry and the rest of the town wait to find out what will happen to the ones who broke the law and crossed the Barrier, Gabry’s mother, decides to leave and return to the Forest of Hands and Teeth. And just like that, everything in Gabry’s life has changed and suddenly she finds herself having to grow up and discover the mystery of her mother’s past, if she hopes to find her own future.

Honestly, I think reading this book fast, without stopping, was the way to go.  I was immediately sucked into the story and it wouldn’t turn me loose.  It also helped me ignore the… how do I put it… annoying… writer… hmm… this is hard to say because I really like Carrie Ryan and her work and her story… but… aw heck; I’m just going to go ahead and say it.  The writing is lazy.  If there is one thing, ONE THING, that is a pet peeve with me and writers, it is writers who use fragmented sentences.  And Ryan is the queen bee of writers who use fragmented sentences.  They drive me crazy.  It’s just lazy people, lazy writing.  It’s one thing to talk that way, it’s a whole different thing to write that way.   However, DTW had something going for it too.  Mary, the main character of FHT, was not a favorite character of mine.  While I loved the story, I just didn’t like her that much.  She was one of the most selfish characters I’ve ever met.  Gabry, the main character of DTW, was much easier to like.  In fact, I liked all the characters this time around; which is saying a lot since Mary reappears in this story.  It was great to see how her character had grown and changed through the years.  I was very happy with her.  Oh the whole, DTW is what it is, a Young Adult, paranormal, not the best written, but still  very exciting, book.  I enjoyed the heck out of it and I can’t wait for the next one in the series, The Dark and Hollow Places.  I will be getting it as soon as it comes out as well.  I’m hoping it’s near the time of next year’s read-a-thon.

Read an excerpt

The Dead Tossed Waves
Carrie Ryan
Category: Young Adult/Paranormal
Published by: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 416 Pages
On Sale: March 2010
ISBN: 978-0385736848

Purchase from

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Other reviews by:

S. Krishna’s Books |Jen Robinson’s Book Page |Beth Fish Reads |Book Addiction | Carrie’s YA Bookshelf | Devourer of Books | and more…

I am a Book Depository, Powell’s, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.

Classics Circuit: Agatha Christie and Death in the Air

When my grandmother died, we had a ton of books to go through. Granted, most of them were Harlequin romances (at one time, she subscribed to like 3 different lines, that’s like 18 books a month! And she read and KEPT most of them!) but hidden inside the upper shelves were some treasures.  She had what I strongly suspect is the complete (1st edition) set of the Pollyanna books by Eleanor H. Potter, many MANY Zane Grey’s (my Papa was a fan), and a few Agatha Christie’s.  I brought Pollyanna and Agatha home with me.  And maybe a couple Zane’s, just for sentimental sake.

Now, I’ve read all the Pollyanna’s.  But I haven’t touched the Agatha’s.  For some reason, I had it in my mind that I wouldn’t like Agatha Christie, which is absolutely preposterous, I suppose.  Obviously her books are extremely popular, but I have never read a piece of detective fiction I was all that crazy about (Sherlock Holmes aside.  That man holds a special place in my heart).  I’ve always wondered about her though, so when the Classics Circuit decided to do Agatha Christie, I jumped on in, to finally bite the bullet and see what’s so great about Ms. Christie.  I looked at the three books I had, Death in the Air, Murder in Mesopotamia, and Murder in the Calais Coach, picked the cleanest one (because wow, are they old and dirty!) and dived in.

Now, my copy is so old (it was published in 1935), it has the original title.  If you go look up Death in the Air, most of the hits come back Death in the Clouds.  Its pages are yellow, the type is…like…a typewriter (!) which I love to pieces, the cover is a lovely shade of blood red….  From page one; the stage was set for me to love this book, based on looks alone of course.  So, how did it the writing measure up?

The September sun beat down hotly on Le Bourget aerodome as the passengers crossed the ground and climbed into the air liner “Prometheus,” due to depart for Croydon in a few minutes’ time.

My first line from an Agatha Christie novel!  And there is no hanging around; Christie immediately gets down to business.  All the suspects are introduced, even as the crime is going down.  The crime is not described at all, but it’s happening as the players are being set.  Brilliant! What’s even better?  The famous Hercule Poirot is also aboard the plane!  Christie sucked me right in.   And the crime?  Famous money-lenderer to the rich and titled, Madame Giselle has been poisoned.

Da da dum!

With a poisoned South American blowdart dipped in snake venom!

“This object, gentlemen, is the native thorn shot from a blowpipe by certain tribes-er-I cannot be exactly certain now if it is South American tribes or weather it is the inhabitants of Borneo which I have in mind.But that is undoubtedly a native dart that has been aimed by a blowpipe, and I strongly suspect that on the tip is the famous arrow poison of the South American Indians,” finished Hercule Poirot.  And he added, “Mais enfin! Est-ce que c’est possible?”

Each passenger is examined and a few have a possibly motive, but the opportunity is hard to discover.  After the jury at the inquest finds that murder was committed, by person’s unknown, Poirot, his friend Inspector Japp, and a french officer named Fournier split up the suspects and begin to investigate.  Poirot reminds me so much of Sherlock Holmes.  He gives off an air of…oh…”I already know what happened, I’m just looking for the clues to confirm it” kind of air.  Love it!

Death in the Air was pretty much what I was expecting and more.  I am surprised by just how much I enjoyed this book! The writing is pretty much what I was expecting, but the tongue-in-cheek humor…  I should have know, it being a British book and the British having that unique sense of humor, but I was surprised.  For instance, one of the suspects, Mr. Clancy, is a detective and crime fiction writer.

…I don’t think it’s healthy for a man to be always brooding over crime and detective stories.  Reading up all sorts of cases.  It puts ideas into his head.”

“It is certainly necessary for a writer to have ideas in his head,” agreed Poirot.


As for the mystery?  I read with my trusty notebook, taking notes, doing my own detective work–and I was wrong!  I did not guess the murderer, like I thought I would.  My first Agatha Christie was exciting, fun to read, and I will be reading more.  I’m so glad I joined the tour and finally found out what reading a Christie was like!

Death in the Air
Death in the Clouds
Agatha Christie
Category: Detective Fiction/Mystery
Published by: P. F. Collier & Son Corporation
Format: Hardback
Pages: 304
On Sale: 1935

For other stops on the Classics Circuit Age of Detective Fiction tour, please visit below.

Wordless/Wondrous Words Wednesday

More Wordless Wednesday fun here.

Wondrous Words WednesdayWondrous Words Wednesday is a fantastic meme hosted by BermudaOnion from BermudaOnion’s Book Blog. It is where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.

My words this week come from Coop; A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg by Michael Perry, which I reviewed Monday.  There were a lot of words I wanted to look up from this book, but here are the ones I thought were most interesting.


like “I then spent untold hours polishing the scribble until it was aphoristic gem of original profundity.”

1.  of, like, or containing aphorisms: His sermons were richly aphoristic.
2. given to making or quoting aphorisms.


like  “His decree has been ameliorated somewhat by the fact that the St. Jude’s auxiliary continues to make the church available for weddings, funerals, and public events-including the community choir Christmas concert.”

–verb (used with object), verb (used without object),-rat·ed, -rat·ing.
to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve; meliorate.


like: “The conductor is an animated fellow given to preacher-hopping during the hortative parts, but you grant him latitude because he has himself quite a job there, summoning hosannas from a pack of mannered Midwesterners. ”

urging to some course of conduct or action; exhorting; encouraging: a hortatory speech.

Snaffles and Gymkhana;

like: “But their closets are full of Wranglers and pearl snap shirts, and their backyards are circumscribed with electrified white poly tape, and they will sometimes lapse into talk of snaffles and gymkhana, and somewhere out back is a round-nosed trailer with green windows.
n.  A bit for a horse, consisting of two bars joined at the center, as by a joint.
Any of various meets at which contests are held to test the skill of the competitors, as in equestrianship, gymnastics, or sports car racing.
The place where such an event is held.

What interesting words did you come across this week in your reading?

Book Review: Coop; A Family, a Farm and the Pursuit of One Good Egg

I am not sure exactly what I was expecting when I started reading Coop; A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg by Michael Perry, but I got so much more… and less… than I was expecting.  I think I was expecting something more like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  I’m not sure what gave me that impression; the title, the description, the cover?  No matter the cause, Coop is not really anything like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, unless you count the efforts by the two writers to live off their land.  Perry is a great writer, of that there is no doubt.  Coop is incredibly well written, if slightly meandering look at Perry’s life, but instead of being about poultry, farms, or eggs, it is more about family.  Perry examines his early life and the ways of his parents; the honest way they lived, worked, raised him and his many brothers and sisters (his parents were foster parents as well, they raised over sixty children, many of whom were special needs).  He takes these memories to remake himself as a husband, father, and farmer.  With a stepdaughter to raise, another child on the way, and over thirty-seven acres of ramshackle farmland to take care of, he knows he needs to reexamine those life lessons.

Perry writes with humor, eloquence, and a genteel humility that is refreshing and I felt a certain kinship to the man as he struggles to do even the simplest things right. I have a very small garden in my backyard, big enough to last my family the summer, with hopefully a little bit left from canning and freezing to supplement our food during the winter.  Unfortunately I have commute to work and two children to entertain when I get home; so when I read of how Perry juggles his freelance writing with the daily farm life he hopes to lead…well, I was impressed.  And inspired.

So yes, it wasn’t what I expected at all, and sometimes, those are the best books of all.

For more on Michael Perry please visit his website: http://sneezingcow.com/

Michael Perry will be on Blog Talk Radio with Book Club Girl on Monday, June 7th at 7pm EST.

Here’s the link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/book-club-girl/2010/06/07/michael-perry-discusses-coop

Coop; a Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg
Michael Perry
Published by:
Harper Perennial; Reprint edition
Paperback, 382 page
On Sale:
(May 4, 2010)

Thank you to TLC book tours and the publisher, for supplying this book.

Purchase from

The Book Depository | IndieBound | Powell’s Books

Please see TLC Tours for other stops on this tour.

I am a Book Depository, Powell’s Books, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.

Weekend Cooking: Rosemary and Cranberry Spread

I’ve been having a devil of a time deciding what to post for today’s Weekend Cooking.  I won’t bore you with more strawberry recipes.  I have a gallon in the fridge that are calling to me to be experimented with, cooked with, and lovingly eaten, but I haven’t cooked all weekend and don’t anticipate cooking today.  Although I do plan on trying this Strawberry Jam with  Black Pepper and Mint today.   I thought about taking pictures of my garden, to chronicle how my lovely plants are doing, but I’m too lazy (and it’s too wet!) to go out there and actually do it.

While racking my brain, I was eating some Rosemary and Cranberry Spread on some crackers.  As I bit into this flavorful concoction, I realized, I should share my latest addiction!   I suppose if you’ve been around for awhile, you may have noticed I have something of a taste for rosemary.  The rosemary in this spread is marvelous!  It’s so so so good!  And this spread is so easy to make.  And (shhh!) it’s really good on a ham sandwich!


I originally found this Rosemary and Cranberry Spread recipe at one of my favorite food blogs, Life’s Ambrosia.  The first time I made it, I went by the recipe of course, like I usually do. and I really liked it.  But then, I had to experiment.  Firstly, I recognized I had to double it, it just wasn’t enough for me!  Then, it needed more cranberries.  And of course, more rosemary.  So here is my modified recipe to my taste.  As always, if you don’t like rosemary as much as I do, cut back a little bit.

Rosemary and Cranberry Spread

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 10 tablespoons dried sweetened cranberries
  • 6 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt
  1. Place all cream cheese into a bowl and using a spoon, fold in all ingredients until well combined.
  2. Serve along side crackers or toasted baguette slices.  (I’ve been eating it on Town House crackers and on my ham sandwiches.  So yummy!)



weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Book Review: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

After the fun that was reading Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, I thought Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter would be a hoot.  I was very excited to read it.  Couldn’t wait.  So when a review copy of the audio book landed in my lap, I almost immediately stuck it in the CD player in my van and got caught up in Abraham Lincoln’s childhood almost immediately.

The book reads almost like a textbook, real parts of Abraham’s “real life” filled with quotes from Abe’s “Vampire Journal” interspersed throughout.  The book starts with Abe around the time his mother died, leads up through his romances with Anne Rutledge, through to Mary Todd and their marriage and life together, and into his presidency and the Civil War.  Of course, vampires figure heavily into his life throughout.  Abe’s real life was nothing short of fascinating.  The vampire parts, while cool at first, were…well, I got tired of it pretty quick.  Honestly, I think I’m burned out on vampires and will be taking an extended vacation from reading them.

However, I am now desperate to get my hands on a copy Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals!  I never knew Abe Lincoln was so fascinating!  I mean really, the man nothing short of amazing and so important to our nation’s history.  I minored in history, so just about anything about the past fascinates me anyway, plus my grandmother was obsessed with the presidents.  She would have loved to read DKG’s book.  I shall get it and think of her.

Voice actor/actor Scott Holst was a great reader for this.  As far as I can tell, it’s his first audio book and I certainly hope it’s not his last.  His shifts in voice for different characters were subtle, but well done.  His voice IS Abraham Lincoln for me now.  I thought he did a fantastic job and I’ll be looking for more from him.

As for AL, VH, my recommendation is this.  If you like vampires and history and Abraham Lincoln, I think you will really enjoy this.  I think if you like vampires, you’ll probably like it.  If you are tired of vampires like me, you may not like it at all.  I enjoyed it for the most part, but I’m not crazy about it.  If I had to give it a rating, I would say 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Love the history, love the Abe, but alas, the vampires, not so much.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter
Seth Grahame-Smith
Read by Scott Holst
Category: Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Published by: Hachette Audio
Format: Audio book
On Sale: March 02, 2010
ISBN: 9781607881735
A big thanks to Hachette Audio for provided a review copy of this audio book.
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