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Love Jelly Roll Quilts: A Baker’s Dozen of Tasty Projects for All Skill Levels

Jo Avery et al. Stash, $22.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-61745-955-9

Six quilters contribute to this useful treasury of ways to use scraps, specifically Jelly Roll fabric strip bundles, in pleasing and often whimsical projects. All but one of the designers, American Natalie Santini, hail from the U.K., while their creations originate from either Love Patchwork & Quilting or Today’s Quilter magazines. Santini’s “Good Karma” has dominant “mellow yellow” tones and is edged with flying-geese diagonal patterns; her “Candy Crush” poses pastels in a skull pattern meant to “reclaim the Day of the Dead for the living.” Several of the patterns represent current reinterpretations of classic designs. Avery’s “Granny Squares” uses the titular piece of fabric for quilting, rather than the customary crocheting, while Susan Briscoe reinterprets an Edwardian Welsh scrap coverlet for her “Dryslwyn Dreams” design (an exploded assembly diagram helps visualize putting this one together). Alice Hadley designs a quilt, pillow, and comforter for an infant’s nursery in “Cuddle Up,” and Nicola Dodd offers florals in “Baskets in Bloom.” Changing things up from the other projects, her “Brilliant Birds and Buds” can be worked on outside the sewing room—it involves appliquéing scraps into flower gardens. As Forster writes of her “Woven Rainbow” design, the simple quilting projects collected in this charming compendium will “put a smile on anyone’s face.” (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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One-Pan Meals: Sheet Pan and Skillet Dinners for the Whole Family

Tareq Taylor. Skyhorse, $19.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-5107-5040-1

Swedish chef Taylor offers recipes for single-pan meals in this well-intentioned but peculiar outing, which has been haphazardly translated for American audiences. There are plenty of solid recipes, but they call for bizarre oven temperatures (e.g., 356 degrees for stuffed portobello mushrooms with cheese, and 392 degrees for his cod with creamy anchovy and herb casserole) and are conveyed in confusing instructions (many recipes call for using the “bottom grill”; others call for “top heat,” i.e. a broiler), and some dishes specifically call for a convection oven. There are certainly some keepers here, such as a potato gratin with goat cheese, and roasted giant shrimp in spicy chili sauce, but too many others may not appeal to American tastes: an uncooked tomato sauce is served at room temperature over roasted chicken breasts, leeks, and mushrooms; a cabbage pudding with lingonberries (“a staple in Sweden”); and a chicken chili that calls for a whole chicken, spices, peppers, and onions as well as a packet of mixed beans, topped with a spicy tomato sauce that’s baked on a sheet pan in the oven. Homecooks looking for the ease and comfort of single-pan dishes would do better elsewhere. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Drinking French: The Iconic Cocktail, Aperitifs, and Café Traditions of France

David Lebovitz. Ten Speed, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60774-929-5

Lebovitz (My Paris Kitchen), a former Chez Panisse pastry chef, measures his passion for Paris in fluid ounces in this immersive look at France’s most beloved beverages. The first section explores café culture with classic coffee recipes, as well as hot chocolate enlivened by Armagnac marshmallows. The heart of the collection is its extensive chapter of aperitifs, some less known to American palates than others. Byrrh, for instance, a quinine and Spanish wine eye-opener, can be sipped over ice or stirred into a cocktail such as la découverte, made with rye and a dash of bitters. A fun and inviting section on homemade liqueurs and infusions features the Liqueur 44, a brandy-fueled concoction traditionally assembled with 44 coffee beans and 44 sugar cubes. Meanwhile, there are 43 cocktails in a chapter that shows off the author’s penchant for reinvention—for example, Lillet is added to a margarita and rosemary syrup to a gimlet. The final chapter serves up a variety of bar snacks, such as champagne truffles, which are dosed with Cognanc rather than bubbly. Francophiles and spirit lovers alike will find much joie de vivre amid these tempting pages. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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One-Day DIY: Modern Farmhouse Furniture

JP Strate and Liz Spillman. Page Street, $21.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-62414-933-7

This pleasingly straightforward debut guide from YouTubers Spate and Spillman makes a good case for one-day projects as the way to go for aspiring DIYers. Projects range from the very simple “Showcase Shelving” to the more complex, 14-step “Double Duty Console Table.” After an opening “helpful tips” section, which provides a concise list of only absolutely necessary tools, the book is arranged room by room, starting with a chapter titled “Love Your Living Room,” the initial project for which is the “Urban Loft Coffee Table.” Each piece’s design strengths and possible uses are highlighted. The “Upgrade-Your-Look-Mirror,” in the “Sanctuary Bathroom” chapter, features a “shelf where you can display everything from your hipster beard oil to your favorite razor.” Don’t know what to do with all those winter blankets piled in an unseemly manner on the couch? The easy “Cozy Corner Blanket Ladder” is the answer, relying on “just two pieces of lumber and some straight cuts.” With clear instructions, an easygoing tone, and brightly lit instructional and aspirational photographs, there is a lot to love—and tackle—in this encouraging book. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Rock Your Rental: Style, Design, and Marketing Tips to Boost Your Bookings

Joanne and Rosanne Palmisano. Countryman, $24.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-68268-498-6

Twin sisters Joanne (Styling with Salvage), a designer, and Rosanne Palmisano, an interior design consultant, gear their stylish and practical decorating guide to vacation homeowners looking to improve their rentals, but its money-saving tips are ideal for adding high style at low cost to any abode. The Palmisanos advise that statement pieces don’t have to be expensive—think boldly colored walls with vintage frames, oversize lighting fixtures, and giant maps—and offer clever tips for finding deals, such as querying suppliers for leftover materials and returns. Their suggestions for blending creativity and economy also include examples of how to reclaim seemingly unpromising spaces, among them a former closet outfitted with bunk beds, and an attic wall to which they added a built-in bed. Valuable advice for encouraging good guest behavior includes creating a guest binder (with a welcome letter, emergency contacts, and directions to local attractions) and a checklist for checkouts, while online promotional tips include the importance of keywords, creating an on-brand website, and keeping up a consistent social media presence. Witty and well thought-out, this guide is a must-have for aspiring vacation property owners. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Raising a Child with Dyslexia: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Don M. Winn. Cardboard Box Adventures, $19.95 trade paper (262p) ISBN 978-1-937615-56-7

Children’s author Winn (There’s a Monkey in My Backpack), who raised a son with dyslexia and has the condition himself, provides a lay reader–friendly introduction to a disorder that’s estimated to affect about one out of five people. Assuming zero prior knowledge on the reader’s part, Winn lays out the different types of dyslexia—primary (genetically-based); secondary (originating during fetal development); and trauma-induced. He emphasizes the importance of early diagnosis, based on his own dyslexia having gone unidentified and untreated in childhood, and shares some painful memories of being shamed by his parents for his reading difficulties. The good news, Winn writes, is that, with support from educators and clinicians, people with dyslexia can “undergo a beautiful transformation.” As such, he takes care to point out positive associated traits, including “outside-the-box thinking and problem-solving” and “visual-spatial building and design skills.” He also offers plenty of logical and commonsense advice for parents on countering dyslexia’s negative impact on their kids, such as limiting screen time, and cultivating reading habits at an early age, all in an easy to follow style. While hardly the only good intro out there, this compassionate work will reward parents in search of guidance. (Self-published.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Kew Gardener’s Guide to Growing Orchids

Philip Seaton. White Lion, $18 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-7112-4280-7

This excellent, informative guide from Seaton (Growing Windowsill Orchids), former editor of the Orchid Review, takes a deep plunge into everything orchid, celebrating the plant’s “spectacular diversity,” with its over 26,000 species, and focusing primarily on the more common varieties. Despite a reputation for being difficult, orchids are hardier “than the average houseplant” and “survive better on a little benign neglect” than most, Seaton writes. In the book’s first part, he gives a brief history of orchids before providing growing instructions for homes, greenhouses, and gardens, with recommendations about light exposure, humidity, soil, and propagation. The second part covers specific varieties such as the tulip orchid and the vampire orchid (Seaton wonders, “Who can resist growing such an exotically named orchid?”), illustrated by botanical drawings and photographs, with notes on flowering time, spread and height, and variety-specific tips (such as setting beer traps for the snails and slugs drawn to the “strongly perfumed flowers”). Interspersed throughout are project ideas, such as growing orchids in baskets, mounting them on bark, and using them in corsages and terrariums. Educating both the novice and expert orchid-fancier (without overwhelming the first or boring the latter), Seaton’s infectiously enthusiastic handbook does a wonderful job of illuminating these captivating horticultural beauties. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Wildcrafted Fermentation: Exploring, Transforming, and Preserving the Wild Flavors of Your Local Terroir

Pascal Baudar. Chelsea Green, $29.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60358-851-5

Baudar (The Wildcrafting Brewer) offers another deep dive into plant-based lacto-fermentation. Newbies can get their fermenting feet wet with basic sauerkraut and pickles before stepping outside their homes in search of such ingredients as dandelions (dandikraut) or cattail shoots (fermented with cabbage, fennel or chervil, and salt). Copious photos and detailed instructions (such as tips on checking pH levels) ensure both success and safety. Recommendations for specific fermentation kits run the gamut and utilize jars, leaves (such as folded mustard leaves), seawater, and, for the more adventurous, a hollowed-out oak stump. Basic recipes include those using roots (fermented spicy mustard, wild radish, burdock, turnip) and for creating foraged beers and raw sodas, soups (gazpacho, wild oyster mushroom, miso with mustard root), and a fermented pesto (made with chickweed, chervil, and fennel). While some of the ingredients can be sourced as easily as taking a stroll through the woods, many dishes will need preprepared ingredients, such as a culture starter. Readers interested in taking the next step in producing their own fermented, locally sourced food will find Baudar a useful and instructive tutor. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Ralph Nader and Family Cookbook: Classic Recipes from Lebanon and Beyond

Ralph Nader. Akashic, $24.95 (104p) ISBN 978-1-61775-794-5

Political activist Nader (Unsafe at Any Speed) encourages healthy eating in this slim, uneven outing. Nader’s parents owned and operated a restaurant called the Highland Arms in Connecticut, where they served classic American food by day, but they mostly ate Lebanese food at home, and here Nader shares many of his mother’s traditional Lebanese recipes for hummus, tabouleh, and kibbe (meatballs formed from onions, bulgur, and ground lamb), along with some surprising dishes, such as a creamy apple parsnip soup with cardamon, baked eggplant stuffed with ground lamb and pine nuts, and a light and lemony apple cake. Ingredients for these and other recipes can all be easily sourced, and Nader’s instructions are to-the-point. Still, the book is light in recipes (there are only 40), and has an amateur-looking layout and includes dated photos and bland descriptions (“a wonderful, colorful salad” is used to describe classic fatoosh, a dish of tomatoes, scallions, and parsley atop toasted bread). The recipes are certainly solid, but those looking for a more inspiring look at Lebanese cooking will do better elsewhere. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Modern Country Cooking: Kitchen Skills and Seasonal Recipes from Salt Water Farm

Annemarie Ahern. Roost, $35 (264p) ISBN 978-1-61180-654-0

Following up Full Moon Suppers at Salt Water Farm, Ahern, who runs a culinary school in Maine, takes a seasonal approach to cooking in this accessible volume. Ahern’s month-by-month program includes a handful of recipes using ingredients that are at their peak, resulting in a mix of familiar comfort food classics such as pasta carbonara, corned beef and cabbage, and a rustic cast iron frittata, as well some hearty surprises (Indian dahl; Sardinian ditalini with sardines, tomato, fennel and bread crumbs). A handful of recipes are painfully specific, such as a salad of strawberries, baby spinach, Japanese turnips, and chive blossom vinegar (which details how to destem and cut the strawberries and turnips), but they’re outnumbered by easily sourced hits such as sour cherry clafoutis and a warming tortilla soup. Readers may tire of Ahern’s poetic passages on, say, melting snow or on fireflies (that “light up the field below, the purest form of summer entertainment”), and they may flip past the photos of artfully arranged baskets and rustic cookware, but they will appreciate the sound advice on kitchen basics, such as how to properly hold and use a knife, the art of seasoning to taste, methods for thickening sauces, and the difference between sweating and sautéing. Ahern’s collection succeeds in its presentation of hearty, simply country cooking and entertaining. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 12/14/2019 | Details & Permalink

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