Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review and a Book Giveaway!

I have been the happy recipient of some really great books lately. Skyhorse Publishing sent me one of their latest books: The Joy of Hobby Farming by Michael and Audrey Levatino, my husband got me My Bread by Jim Lahey for my birthday, and Newman Communications sent me the whimsical and somewhat educational book Fart Without Fear.  The bread book will have to wait for me to delve into its recipes until we're in homestead number two and i can get my hands on a used heavyweight pot, but i quickly consumed the hobby farming book and have this review to offer. Stay tuned to the end of this post for your chance to win a copy of Fart Without Fear- a great coffee table/ cook book for the budding chef, or anyone willing to laugh while they cook.

From the beginning to the end, The Joy of Hobby Farming struck a chord and had my full attention. It's not just a coffee table book with pretty pictures and cursury summaries of various livestock or crops. TJOHF has some really useful information between its covers, as well as pretty pictures. I think my favorite parts of the book were the 2nd and 3rd chapters which addressed the basics of searching for your farm, choosing the location, pouncing on the right property, and what to invest in/ how to establish your own hobby farm. By the way, when we speak of hobby farming, we're talking about living sustainably, turning perhaps a small profit, and farming more for the pleasure than for subsistence. A hobby farmer has another means of income. A hobby farmer is less in debt to the weather and trends, but rather can roll with the punches and just enjoy the act of farming, while enjoying the fruits of their labor and perhaps some extra income from time to time.

This is exactly what we want to accomplish. We want to feed ourselves and we'd like a little extra. We'd like to take our time, earn most of our money elsewhere and enjoy a life in the country. I think this book has helped me gain a better perspective on what we're up against. The Joy of Hobby Farming also addresses some business information with recommendations on how to run a farmers market stand, build a pond, even how to pay your taxes properly.

There are also brief chapters on raising various livestock and growing vegetable and flower gardens. I found these sections less helpful. For one: the authors are vegetarians and raise their animals for companionship and compost. I personally don't really see the point of this: if i'm going to have a flock of chickens, i'd like it to propagate itself and feed me some meat along with the delicious eggs. I think that living sustainably includes utilizing every part of my livestock, including their meat, bones, and hides. My cute goat babies will be destined as future milkers, sales, or dinner. I plan on utilizing every edible thing on our farm, including the animals, and not just for their glorious composting poo. I'll certainly enjoy the compost my critters give me, but i'll be enjoying their meat and milk as well. I have respect for the authors' decision, but it's not for me.  The chapters on vegetables were decent, but didn't tell me much i didn't already know. That being said, they'd be good reads for folks with a bit less experience.

Overall, i highly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to my friends and readers. At $14.95 it's not the cheapest read, but not the spendiest either. More than just a coffee table book, The Joy of Hobby Farming is chock full of great info and advice, and even some cute photos of a certain short tailed/legged pet of the authors' (yes, i love corgis).

And now, for the GIVEAWAY!   I'm happy to pass along my copy of Fart Without Fear to one lucky reader.
Fart Without Fear: Comfort Food for Uncomfortable Times is the world’s first laugh-out-loud, instantly useable, self-improvement comfort food cookbook. Find out what uptight politically correct chefs, nutritionists and scientists have known for years but haven’t told you. Think fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, and Boston baked beans; this cookbook for everyone includes more than 70 low- to no-odor producing comfort food recipes. Complete with a unique rating system, favorite recipes, special menus, and fun facts, Fart Without Fear will show you how to eliminate odors but not the flatulence caused by your family favorites - all without sacrificing the flavor, joy and fun they evoke.
As i mentioned before, this book DOES make a great coffee table book, but also has some really good recipes and science inside. The writing is whimsical and humorous. The beginning of the book is all about why food gives us unpleasant gas, and how you can change up certain recipes to be less, um, fragrant, shall we say?  There are natural emissions, and there are noxious fumes - this book helps you prepare your recipes deliciously while avoiding the latter result.

Rules: To enter this giveaway simply comment below with your favorite bean dish. I'm looking to expand my bean repertoire, and would love to hear your favorites.
For a bonus entry maybe tell us an embarrassing story about some poorly timed 'body emissions'? No pressure, but we'd love the laugh.

Hey, everybody poops, right? Well, everybody farts too! Comment below to get your hands on this silly book. Residents of the USA only, please. Be sure to provide contact info in your profile or comment so that i can find you when i choose the winner. Winner will be chosen the evening of Friday the 13th of May.

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Thank you so much for your feedback, especially if you've cooked one of my recipes or tried one of my tips: let me know how it turned out!