Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Two gay New Yorkers (one a former drag queen) buy a 200-year-old historic home, the Beekman Mansion, in the back of beyond that comes with a barn, a crypt, a pond, and a caretaker.  I laughed out loud at this one – numerous times. Partly because Brent works for Martha Stewart and those bits are pretty entertaining.  And Josh (drag queen) has a biting sense of humor that I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of.  I don’t know why I don’t get tired of these stories.  I think because I am so amazed at what people do on a whim, a feeling, a hunch, a sign from the universe.  How come I don’t get signs from the universe?  Well, these guys do it right – commercialize.  They end up branding the house and everything in it and around it.  Go to their website at beekman1802.com and be amazed!  But don’t go there until you’ve read the book.  I think it will color your enjoyment.  I have to find their reality TV show on the Cooking Channel just for fun.  A quick, easy read to escape from most everything familiar.

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Written by organic farmer Atina Diffley, Turn Here Sweet Corn is an intimate account of her relationship with the land, the soil, and the produce she grows.  Along with her husband, one of the first certified organic producers in the Midwest, the book gives an in-depth look at the beginnings of food co-ops and the organic movement.  But it is also an almost religious tribute to the soil and seeds and growth and renewal.  Their farm is taken over by the City to build a school and a suburban sub-division and she gives a heart-breaking account of bulldozers and the destruction of fields. I think she is an amazing, dedicated, and resourceful woman.  The book is both entertaining, but also educational and I learned more about dirt than I knew was possible.  *There is a happy ending so don’t fear the bulldozers.

I continue to be inspired by local farmers who believe so clearly and purely in what they are doing and push themselves to the limit to make it all happen.

And thanks for clueing me in on eating sweet corn raw …. it’s the best!

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Blood, Bones and Butter coverGabrielle Hamilton, chef/owner of Prune restaurant in New York City shares her off-beat, sometimes, shocking, childhood and coming of age, leading to her lifelong fascination with food.  A self-taught chef, she is tough, outspoken, but at the same time sensitive, caring and  brutally honest.  The book documents her personal journey to fit in … to find her place – her purpose – in the world.  It’s a universal theme we all struggle with and she shares her mis-steps and self-revelations with us … often times the same ones many of us encounter.  Another “tell it like it is” memoir with no “isn’t it fun to own a restaurant” poetry.  A startling, and great, read.

Listen to an interview with Gabrielle Hamilton on The Splendid Table
**I love being able to see and hear the real person behind the memoir…it adds so much to the story.

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Wow – and I thought my life was tough!  I had no idea when I started reading this memoir how lucky I would end up feeling about my occasional, short, visits from small, furry friends; my once a month (maybe) get aways from everyone and everything; and, my crazy, dawn to dusk work schedule in front of my computer.

Kristin Kimball moves from New York City to a broken down, abandoned farm with a man she hardly knows (who seems a little on the manic side) to start an organic farm run solely on horse-drawn power.

The book gives an entertaining, and truly honest account of small-scale farming and is a testament to the hard-work and discipline needed to make dreams into reality.   The rats (need I say more), the incredible back-breaking work, cow birthing, dirt, grime, you name it, it’s in there and they dealt with it.  I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t do it.  She pulls the wool away from the reader’s eyes and gives an account that is not romantic, cute, or remotely fun (but the story does have elements of all three of those things whch makes it highly read-able).  I appreciated the non-sugar-coated reality she shares about operating a farm.

Definitely worth a read for a new appreciation of how difficult it is to earn a living growing food (for humans) in this country.

For more about the author and updates on Essex Farm, visit kristinkimball.com

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