This summer didn’t quite turn out to be what I was expecting. As many of you know, my mother had some severe health challenges (to put it lightly) and I ended up spending a lot more time in my hometown then I was initially hoping to. The good news is she is doing SO MUCH better! To say that the situation was dire there for awhile is an understatement for sure. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. We are heading into the fall healthier, happier, and more hopeful.
One benefit to sitting around in the hospital was that I was able to bring my iPad with me, as well as a couple of other books and was able to get some good reading in. I wanted to share a bit of it with you in this post.
What can I say…this book was simply fantastic. Michael Pollan is a leader in the food movement (if there is such a thing) and his latest book is outstanding. Pollan takes the core elements of the earth (earth, wind, fire, and water) and helps Joe and Suzie Reader better understand how we humans eat, rather should eat. The way Pollan goes about it is fun. For example, when discussing “fire,” the setting is a BBQ pit in North Carolina. What better place to discuss how fire can transform an animal into something not only delicious, but something that brings nutrients into our body in ways that would make vegetarians squirm. When discussing “air,” Pollan explores the yeast that makes bread (he follows a baker in San Francisco), the yeast that ferments barley (learns to make beer at home, etc.), vegetables (kraut, kimchi, etc.), and cheese. The setting for the cheese section? A convent and a nun, who lives in Connecticut, and who makes cheese from an old French recipe, using a white-filmed wooden vessel and spoon. Why is this important? Well, when you consider bacteria, good bugs and bad ones, Pollan uses this cheese-making nun’s story as a lesson in the power of the good bugs beating out the bad bugs (case in point, to prove to the local health department that her dairy fuzzed vessel is actually safer than the stainless steel tools the health folks want her to use, she deliberately inoculates two batches of cheese with e coli, to see what happens…) You simply have to read this great book. It is not a treatise, nor is it a large research paper, rather, it is an insight into how us humans have been created and why we should care more about what we are consuming.
Although I can’t remember who recommended this to me (I thought my sister, but she says no…hmmm) I found myself sucked in to this book whose premise is simple. All religious paths DO NOT get to the same God/Higher Power. The author takes a very candid and studious look into the history of the 8 “rival” religions, and their various sects/spin offs. Less opinion and more fact, the author, without having to say it, shows how ludicrous it is to think that all religious paths lead to the same place. Sure, many of these religions have some similarities, even sharing some of the same recommendations on how to live a better, more devout life (pretty sure the “Golden Rule” concept is found in most if not all religious expressions), but the idea that the Christian path and the Hindu path end up at the same destination, or that those that follow Buddha’s teachings are somehow getting the same religious experience, ind the end, as an Orthodox Jew is almost laughable. And yet our PC society works real hard to blur the lines of religious expression, so as not to offend. Sadly, we are becoming a homogenized society, and our differences and expressions are becoming less clear, which in turn means we are not appreciating nor trying to understand the cultural, ethnic and religious traditions found throughout the world.
This book, by Phil Robertson, the dad/grandpa and founder of Duck Commander (Duck Dynasty anyone?) was fun and refreshing. This redneck’s book for living the happy life, has been on the NY Times best seller list for non fiction for weeks and weeks this summer. Robertson shares with us many of the bright spots as well as some of the very difficult times in his life as a childhood and as an adult (hard to believe he was a drunk and was mean to Miss Kay!) Intensely frank and personal, Robertson does not shy away about his strong Christian faith, the child-rearing techniques he used for his 4 sons (3 licks if you talk back to Miss Kay, or fight with each other), Duck Commander, and being thrown awkwardly into celebrity, fame and wealth. If you like Duck Dynasty, you simply must read this book.
A collection of short stories from food writers/bloggers throughout the country, this book was a lot of fun to read. In fact many excerpts were so great, I found myself reading them out loud to anyone that was listening! From marriage to raising children, to holiday traditions, each of the writers shared something relevant to them, many times personal, and their connection to a meal or time in their lives that meant something to them. Following each short story, there was a recipe that was connected in some way to the story. Still not sure about the title, but if you find yourself interested in eating traditions, family, marriage, and how it is all connected, give it a go…you will definitely enjoy it.