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Speedy Bosh! Quick. Easy. All Plants

Ian Theasby and Henry Firth. Morrow, $27.50 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06296-994-1

In this dynamic cookbook, Youtube food vloggers Theasby and Firth (Bish Bash Bosh!) offer 100 unfussy vegan recipes that can be on the table in 30 minutes or less. Recipes rely on miso and curry pastes, nutritional yeast, and Biscoff cookie butter to save time without compromising flavor. In addition to individual recipes, the authors offer lifestyle-specific menus that group fare into categories like “eating on a budget” and “eating for the gym.” Recipes include light snacks such as an asparagus and herb tabouleh, shareable dishes like naan tikka pizza, and heartier entrées along the lines of eggplant and lentil meatball pasta. A delightful dessert chapter features a red velvet sorbet and Portuguese custard tarts, while recipes for peanut iced coffee and a margarita fizz can be found in a section on drinks. Particularly inventive dishes are a broccoli mango salad, and a drunken hot chocolate made with hazelnut milk, almond butter, and dark rum. An index of “speedy hacks” (“Make a lasagna in minutes by breaking up the sheets and parboiling them, then draining before stirring with the sauce”), meanwhile, is super useful. The menu ideas and fun approach to plant-based eating are sure to please time-crunched vegans. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/11/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Just a Few Miles South: Timeless Recipes from our Favorite Places

Ouita Michel. Univ. of Kentucky, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-95056-409-5

Michel, the chef and restaurateur behind four Kentucky restaurants, shares simple and satisfying recipes from each of her eateries in this charming cookbook. Utilizing local ingredients, she offers down-home Southern recipes starting with hearty breakfast options that include grits, red-eye gravy, and soft buttermilk biscuits. A rich hollandaise butter adds a touch of decadence to her “Bluegrass Benedict,” and her sweet potato, gruyere, and caramelized onion quiche breathes new life into an old classic. She goes deep on sandwiches, breaking down the humble item into its component parts and offering recipes for white, wheat, and rye breads; instructions for roasting meats; and innovative creations such as the “Turkey Rachel,” a corned beef sandwich made with homemade Russian dressing, and the “Wallace Cubano,” a Kentucky-inspired take on the Cuban sandwich. Soups and stews include “Bourbon Trail Chili” and a creamy chicken and mushroom soup, and among the salads on offer are a classic black bean and corn salad and a straightforward Greek salad. The clincher is Michel’s desserts, of which the standouts are luscious glazed lemon bars, decadent “Danger Brownies,” and an apple cranberry bourbon crunch pie. Home cooks will enjoy the simplicity and heartiness jam-packed into this collection. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 12/11/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Creative Basket Weaving: Step-by-Step Instructions for Gathering and Drying, Braiding, Weaving, and Projects

Sylvie Bégot, trans. from the French by Nancy Gingrich. Stackpole, $24.95 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-0-8117-3917-7

“Nature is a constant source of inspiration,” writes Bégot (Basketweaving for Beginners) in this innovative guide to making woven projects from wild plants. Bégot lays out what tools are needed for basic weaving (such as a folding tool and a pruning knife), along with project-specific add-ons (including a staple machine and a hot glue gun), and succinctly covers common weaving techniques. The 23 projects are organized by material: cattail leaves create a shoulder bag, tree bark becomes “Windmill Earrings,” willow stems are used for a bird feeder, and iris leaves form a “Double Heart” decoration. Clear photographs accompany Bégot’s detailed instructions for harvesting and trimming materials (“cattails must be cut at the base with pruning shears,” for instance). A glossary breaks down basic terms and proper positioning (she suggests sitting “at a table or on your knees,” and “using a cloth to protect you from getting wet and dirty”). Resourceful crafters will want to give these eco-friendly projects a look. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Design, Make, Quilt Modern: Taking a Quilt from Inspiration to Reality

Heather Black. Stash, $25.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-61745-957-3

Black (Quilt Modern Curves and Bold Stripes) urges quilters to take an artistic approach to the craft in this creative introduction to making original designs. Rather than focus on pattern-following, Black shows readers how to “make quilts that are 100% you.” Graph paper, a pencil, eraser, and clear plastic ruler are required materials, though Black also recommends using Photoshop and setting up a design wall for experimentation. From there, Black advises readers on how to find inspiration (“notice art in your everyday life” and “ask yourself why you react” to it) and evaluate their abilities (a worksheet asks what skills they like and dislike). While most of her tips are design-based, she also explains basic techniques of the craft, such as binding edges and pressing seams, and touches on artistic concepts including color theory, the rule of thirds, and using an S-curve to “carry the viewer’s eye”: movement, she writes, helps tell a quilt’s “story.” Four step-by-step projects, “perfect for trying out modern quilt design,” round things out. Colorful and comprehensive, this guide will encourage quilters looking to leave patterns behind. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/04/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Sew Home in the Kitchen: 18 Insulated Projects, Perfect for Beginners

Abigail A. Bennett. Stash, $24.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-61745-963-4

Bennett (Modern Prairie Sewing) focuses on the kitchen this encouraging guide to her “favorite kitchen, dining room, and food-related things,” which includes 18 projects intended to “keep things hot or cold longer.” A beginning section lays out project must-haves, such as a sewing machine, seam gauge, and scissors, but the primary material for these projects is Insul-Fleece, a heat-resistant material composed of metalized Mylar. The Insul-Fleece projects that follow cover both warming and cooling: while “Mama’s Hot Rolls Towel” keeps food “nice and toasty,” there’s also a “Cold Beer Koozie” and a “Let’s Go Shopping Bag” that can be used to keep either “ice cream cold” or “the rotisserie chicken warm.” Other decorative designs, such as place mats and table runners, are heat-safe, too. To drive home her point that memories made in the kitchen are her favorite, Bennett includes a family recipe in each chapter (such as “Nanny’s Sausage Gravy” and “My Nan’s Chili”). The cheerful tone and easy-to-follow instructions make for a delightful collection of doable projects. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/11/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Sewing Face Masks, Scrub Caps, Arm Slings, and More: Practical Projects for Comfort and Care

Angie Herbertson. Landauer, $14.99 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-947163-66-9

Herbertson, a pattern designer, debuts with a timely guide to sewing medical-related projects. Herbertson aims to inspire both beginners and experienced crafters. Herbertson starts with a list of necessary supplies and equipment, such as high-quality fabrics, needles, sewing scissors, and seam-rippers, and outlines basic sewing techniques including edge stitching and attaching buttons both by hand and with a machine. The 14 projects that follow start simple and increase in difficulty: the “Cheery Adult Bib” is basic, the “Memory-Care Fidget Mat” requires multiple techniques, and more complicated is the “Arm Sling Cast Cover.” Patterns for face masks include directions to customize them with ear loops, elastic ties, or pockets for filters. Herbertson also includes a “Half-Hour Ear Saver Headband” to protect skin at the base of one’s ears from becoming irritated from face mask elastic. Complete with an index of patterns, these straightforward and easy-to-follow projects are a great place for would-be crafters to begin. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/11/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Yoga for Weight Loss: The Complete Guide

Loren Fishman with Carol Ardman. Norton, $20 (240p) ISBN 978-0-393-35490-4

In this practical and persuasive guide, physician Fishman (Healing Yoga) argues that yoga can help “people at any level of experience” lose weight. Fishman, who has practiced yoga for four decades, writes that diets don’t work and that most people “end up right back where they started.” Yoga, Fishman contends, works physiologically through poses that inhibit appetite and improve metabolism, and guide the practitioner toward “a clarity of mind.” He explains that weight loss happens best through a practice that is emotional, spiritual, and physical: in time, the yogi approaches life with a new point of view: “you respect yourself and everything else more than you did before,” he writes, and suggests that this perspective makes sticking to self-care plans easier. Fishman provides pose-by-pose instructions, with photographs, and outlines how each pose affects weight loss (locust pose, for instance, “stretches the anterior portions of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum, curbing appetite by sending inhibiting signals to appetite centers within the brain”). Those looking for a well-rounded approach to weight loss will want to give this a look. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/11/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Moonlight School

Suzanne Woods Fisher. Revell, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-8007-3501-2

Fisher (On a Coastal Breeze) introduces readers to a little-known literacy crusade in this enjoyable romance set in turn-of-the-20th-century rural Kentucky. Nineteen-year-old Lucy Wilson, the fictional cousin of real-life literacy advocate Cora Wilson Stewart, leaves Lexington when the opportunity arises to help school superintendent Cora as an assistant in the small mountain town of Morehead. Moving to the poverty-stricken area is a shock for Lucy, and it takes time for her to settle into the country way of life among the mostly illiterate and proud townspeople. Along with Brother Wyatt, a singing schoolmaster dedicated to helping others out of poverty, Lucy sets up “moonlight classes” for adults to learn to read and write. As Lucy meets and teaches more people, those she encounters give her new insight into the world beyond her privileged upbringing and encourage her to look inward. Meanwhile, a slow-burning romance also develops between Lucy and Wyatt. Lucy’s transition from haughty outsider to dedicated teacher plays out nicely alongside her newfound devotion to her faith. Fisher’s fans will love this sweet tale. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/11/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Sourdough Mania: The Complete Guide to Sourdough Baking

Anita Šumer. Grub Street Cookery, $32.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-91162-193-5

Baker Šumer debuts with a quirky ode to the art of making sourdough bread. The book is organized into sections covering grain types, and how to make and maintain a starter, step-by-step dough preparation instructions, 36 recipes, and uses leftover starter. Sourdough requires some planning, she notes, as starters can take up to seven days to activate, and the fermentation and proofing processes can mean starting the recipe on one day and baking the bread the next. The recipes themselves are fairly bare-bones, with headnotes that run from brief to none at all, and the thorough proofing, kneading, shaping, and scoring instructions are in a preceding chapter. The array of bread options includes a beautiful rye boule, a classic baguette, croissants, and a loaf made with durum wheat. The most intriguing choices are sweets, such as a Slovenian walnut roll and a pinwheel-shaped cheese danish. Given the new prominence of sourdough baking during the pandemic, this couldn’t arrive at a better time. Bakers of all levels are sure to enjoy. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 11/27/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Easy Homemade Pottery: Make Your Own Stylish Décor Using Polymer and Air-Dry Clay

Francesca Stone. Page Street, $21.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-6456-7150-3

Kiln-firing isn’t the only way to create pottery, advises blogger Stone in this encouraging debut, a guide to craft decor in any space. Stone writes that many crafters who work with clay are confronted with issues of space, time, and expense; it can be difficult to set up a pottery studio, and firing clay in a kiln is expensive. In response, Stone offers 50 projects that use polymer and air-dray clay and are small enough to fit into any home oven for finishing. The author starts with a list of necessary products and tools (“Popsicle sticks make great smoothing and blending tools,” she writes, as do old makeup sponges) and an overview of basic techniques such as rolling, shaping, smoothing, and joining. The projects range in difficulty—a “Stone-Effect Spoon Holder” is fun and easy, the “Wall Hanging Pocket Planter” is for intermediate crafters, and there’s a more advanced “Snail Mail Letter Holder.” Throughout, Stone urges crafters to experiment and not to despair when they inevitably make mistakes. New and experienced crafters looking to create pottery at home will want to give these projects a look. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 11/27/2020 | Details & Permalink

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