Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Basket of Books: Something Different to Chew on

If you're looking for ideas for books for gifting, these have recently landed here thanks to their publishers or publicists. Yup, free.

None of 'em are cookbooks, although some are food related.

The Devil's Dinner by Stuart Walton

This one is all about peppers, from mild to mind-numbing. It starts with the biology of the pepper plant and the fruit, then moves into the history of peppers.

There's a handy list of peppers would be useful for anyone who wants to use a wider variety of peppers, but who isn't sure what the varieties are. That was actually one of my favorite parts of the book, and I have to say that even though I cook a lot, I wasn't familiar with many of the peppers on the list.

Finally, we get treated to the cultural and symbolic aspects. There's a reason so many hot sauces reference the devil, right? While this wasn't as compelling a read as a novel, it did tell its story, and while it was the result of a whole lot of research, it wasn't a difficult read.

If you've got a friend or relative who's a chili head and likes to read, this could be a lovely stocking stuffer.

Grits by Erin Byers Murray

Although I was raised in the midwest and didn't event taste grits until I was an adult, I totally adore them, so it was fun to dive into the history of them.

While this does travel the history trail, the author is right in the midst of it, talking about the research and the people she met along the way so it's kind of a personal journey as well as a whole lot of information about corn and grits.

The grain itself doesn't get a whole lot of story time, with the book focusing more on the more modern history of the milling and the cooking. Although ... the different mills themselves include history of their own.

This book also has some recipes. It's not a cookbook by any means, but there are recipes using cornmeal and grits, so when you get hungry, you can stop reading and start cooking and eating. This was an interesting read, and I loved that a few recipes were included. I don't know if I'll ever make the sweet grits, but I'm always willing to try a new recipe for cheesy grits.


Wild Wine Making by Richard W. Bender

While this is essentially a recipe book, it's also kind of a hobby book, since you won't be making wine after work and serving it for dinner. The book assumes that you're fairly new at wine making (good assumption) and starts off with lots of information about the equipment you'll need. Fortunately, it doesn't assume that you're starting a winery, so the requirements are reasonable.

If you're worried about the "wild" part of the title, you won't need to go foraging in a scary forest for suspicious fruits, leaves, and roots. Instead, you should be able to by your ingredients at a grocery store. However, some of the ideas are a little off-the-beaten-path when compared to the more usual grapes. There are recipes that include everything from apples to bananas to cayenne ... and most of the rest of the alphabet, too. And if you're really ready to be wild, there are wines that include cannabis, as well.

While these wines aren't going to be as easy as the ones you can make with a wine kit, they look like a really good next step for someone who wants to take off the training wheels and have a bit more fun.

The Art of Doodle Words by Sarah Alberto

I'll admit it. I doodle a lot when I'm writing. But I'll also admit that my doodles aren't quite like art. So I was amused by the idea of a book that could turn my crummy doodles into something a little better.

None of the letter doodles in this book are particularly difficult, but when the doodling added things that were supposed to look like something else, I decided that I really didn't need to embarrass a burger that way.

These ideas and techniques would be great for people who want to try their hand at crafty things, like making greeting cards, doing fancy lettering in scrapbooks, or even just to add something fun to store-bought cards.

While I don't know if I'll ever really get that crafty, doodling with letters is kind of fun, just for amusement.

Kawaii Doodle Cuties by Zainab Khan

When it comes to doodling, I'm not that great at drawing things that are recognizable as whatever they're supposed to represent, but this book might change my tune. A little bit. Maybe.

It starts out super-simple, like drawing a very basic kiwi fruit or macaron, then adding a cute little face that's pretty much just eyes and a smile. Yup, I can do that.

Each chapter starts with simple stuff, then the complexity increases. I can do a shamrock, but a cute Great Barrier Reef might be just slightly beyond my current capabilities. Although I agree it would be fun to try.

And that's kind of the point, right? It's fun. It's not art class, and there is no grade.

This would be a fun book for adults who want to do a little more than color in adult coloring books, but would also be fun for kids who want to learn how to draw more than stick figures and lolliop trees.

Although I make fun of my own drawing skills, I might actually spend some quality time with this book, just to see if I can draw the panda. Because it's freaking cute.

Why yes, I do get a lot of books for free from publishers. Yup.

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