Showing posts with label instruction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label instruction. Show all posts

Book Review: The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook: 60 Sweet and Savory Recipes for Your Oven and Mini Donut Maker by Sara Mellas

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook: 60 Sweet and Savory Recipes for Your Oven and Mini Donut Maker by Sara Mellas is newly published cookbook. Who doesn’t love a good donut? From sugared or sprinkled to frosted or filled, donuts are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and sweeten your day. The best part is you don’t need to fuss with frying to whip up these fun, flavorful treats at home. Theses donuts can be made in an oven or donut maker, providing plenty of tried-and-true tricks and tasty recipes for beautifully baked donuts, donut holes, mini donuts, and more. From sweet staples, such as Old-Fashioned Cake Donuts to creative savory bakes like Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread Donuts, this donut cookbook serves you dozens of delightfully simple recipes to match every craving, along with perfectly paired frostings, glazes, and toppings.

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook is a cookbook for every donut lover, particularly those of use that do not want to fry. Spending the last twelve weeks or so home with my family I have made all of my tried and true recipes, ran out of flour and yeast, and resupplied while looking for new things to try. This book was well timed, and inspired me to make some donuts. I am lucky enough to have a donut pan, and plenty of other pans, and was happy to find some new things for my weekend baking. I thought the introduction, including the basic techniques and supply lists were nicely done, and as a fellow New Englander the explanation behind writing the book resonated with me. I thought the recipes were easy to follow, well labeled, and detailed. I like the variants and options were also included, because I love to fiddle with recipes and find these suggestions helpful both in deciding if my idea will work and if the author already came up with something even better. There are several recipes that really caught my eye, some I was ready to try right away and others needed a shopping trip to complete so had to wait a bit. I was impressed that there were gluten free, vegan, and boozy recipes. The classics went over the best in my house, like the chocolate cake and pumpkin donuts- but the glazed blueberry and several filled donuts were also well received. 

The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook is a great resource for bakers that want to try their hand at donuts, without frying anything. Frequent bakers might want to add this to their cookbook collection, dabbles might want to borrow it from the library for the first look through to decide if they will use it often enough- I have a feeling I will be needed a paper copy.

Early Book Review: Northeast Medicinal Plants: Identify, Harvest, and Use 111 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness by Liz Neves

Northeast Medicinal Plants: Identify, Harvest, and Use 111 Wild Herbs for Health and Wellness by Liz Neves is currently scheduled for release on May 26 2020. It is a guide to finding, identifying, harvesting, and using 111 of the region’s most powerful wild plants. Readers will learn how to safely and ethically forage, and how to use wild plants in herbal medicines including teas, tinctures, and salves. Plant profiles include clear, color photographs, identification tips, medicinal uses and herbal preparations, and harvesting suggestions. Lists of what to forage for each season makes the guide useful year-round. Thorough, comprehensive, and safe, this is a must-have for foragers, naturalists, and herbalists in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Northeast Medicinal Plants is a well organized and detailed guide. I like that the book takes the time to explain some of the most important, and sometimes ignored, factors of identifying and gathering plants, like making sure you have permission before harvesting from private property. The explanations of the use, preparation, and  the aspects of the plants that aid in identification. Even though I have made my own tinctures and grown my own ingredients in the past I found the information to be laid out in an accessible manner that lends itself to being referred back to as desired. I liked that the basics never read in a condescending tone, which sometimes happens when someone tries to talk about things that are second nature to them but might be new to others. I also liked that the importance of understand the nature of each plant is stressed, as some as very poisonous, some have very useful roots but problematic leaves or stems, and so on. The details about the individual plants and their use to be well done and comprehensive, and I learned quite a bit about some of my favorite, and least favorite, plants that can be found in my backyard and surrounding areas. I also really enjoyed that Neves included and comprehensive list of references and resources, as dedicated readers and wildcraft enthusiast can further expand their understanding and possibly lend a hand with conservation. I also found the photography to be very well done and worth enjoying in its own right.

Northeast Medicinal Plants is a valuable resource for anyone that is interested in the wild herbs of the area, and how to use them. I think it would be a good addition to public libraries and for the personal libraries of those that are interested in the subject matter.

Early Book Review: Just Draw Fineliner Art: Incredible Illustrations Crafted With Fineliner Pens by Liam Carver

Just Draw Fineliner Art: Incredible Illustrations Crafted With Fineliner Pens by Liam Carver presents a collection of more than 85 beautiful blackwork images by contemporary artists from around the world. It is currently scheduled for release on March 3 2020. Readers can browse the book for advice or inspiration. Each image is accompanied by a short introduction, information on the approaches, techniques and tools used, and useful tips. Learn about stippling and hatching to produce immensely detailed drawings. This is the perfect guide for artists and art lovers alike.
Just Draw Fineliner Art might just be a thinly veiled advertisement for their products at first, but it can also be a solid resource for inspiration and technique. I have never been more than an amatur artist, someone that doodles for fun and has had no formal art education past some advanced high school courses. I enjoyed looking at the art, reading a bit about the tools and techniques used to create them, and might just pull out some of my art supplies to test my muscle memory and skills to see how much I remember and can still pull off. I did find some of the 'tips' to be things I still remember from those high school classes, which are farther away that I might like to admit. Other tips and challenges offered by them were more unique and had my full attention. I did like the information about the artist and how they achieved the look in each piece. Like any other collection of images or other art there will always be favorites and pieces that speak to us less. That is the case here as well, but each piece does show skill that I could fully appreciate while some just had me staring at an individual piece for a good length of time. I do appreciate that at the end of the book the is the recommendation to explore different brands of pens, and information on a variety of tools and mediums that any artist might want to try in the effort to find what works best for them. There are also resources for further information and an index of artists, so you can see if the artist of your favorite piece in the book has more that you might want to give attention to as well. 

Book Review: Beginner's Baking Bible 130+ Recipes and Techniques for New Bakers by Heather Perine

Beginner's Baking Bible 130+ Recipes and Techniques for New Bakers by Heather Perine walks readers through all the essential techniques they need to bake over 130 sweet and savory recipes.. For a beginner, baking might seem like magic: mix the right ingredients, add heat, and watch a transformation happen before your eyes. But you don’t have to be a sorcerer to bake a flavorful pie, decadent layer cake, or pillowy loaf of bread. Learn the tools and staple ingredients you’ll need for baking (don’t worry, it’s not as much as you think). Pick up building block skills like measuring, mixing, kneading, creaming butter and sugar, and whipping egg whites. Soon, you’ll impress your family and friends with muffins, cookies, cakes, pies, quiches, and even savory galettes. 

Beginner's Baking Bible is a well organized and written cookbook. I like that the author takes the time to share what different instructions in the recipes mean, like the difference between folding, mixing, creaming, and so on. So many people make the attempt to bake, follow the recipes as best they can, and little things like mixing technique or forgetting to grease a pan ruin their good efforts. I grew up in a house where baking and canning was the norm, so I have a good foundation and have been baking on my own for years and binge watch baking shows whenever possible. However, reading these reminders and basic baking information only served to refresh my understanding- it did not feel condescending or simplistic. There were also some measurement charts and information at the end of the book that readers might find informative. I also think that the photography is well done. I think the only change I would make is moving the possible substitutions or additions to recipes closer to the ingredients list to help bakers prepare accordingly- if you are missing an ingredient some bakers might just give up on the recipe rather than reading to the end to discover that they could still make it work.  I think that while this is a perfect book for those that have dabbled in baking and want some instruction to improve their skills and results. I think long time home bakers might get just as much out of a read through as new bakers. Sometimes we get moving too fast and forget some of the basics as we go about our day.  As I just got some new baking tools over the holidays, I have a list of recipes from the book to try out, for instance I see some garlic dinner rolls in my near future.

Beginner's Baking Bible is a solid resource for new and long time bakers alike, while knowledgeable bakers might want to check it out from the library and newcomers might want to add it to their home library. 

Book Review: The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook: 100 Fast and Healthy Recipes for Busy People by Taylor Ellingson


The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook: 100 Fast and Healthy Recipes for Busy People by Taylor Ellingson is a collection of recipes that are budget-friendly, health-conscious, and super tasty—and all of them can be made in half an hour or less. No need to be an experienced home chef. This cookbook can show you how to make good, fresh food at any skill level and help you make your kitchen as convenient as possible, with guides to the best equipment and ingredients to keep on hand. Some of the included recipes are: Mixed Berry Pancake Muffins, Pesto Turkey Burgers, Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, and One-Skillet Cashew Chicken. This cookbook includes recipes tagged with icons for No Cook, One Pot, 5-Ingredient, or Superfast (10-minute) meals.

The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook is a book geared towards helping people eat healthier, faster. I like that the book starts with the basics, the information and tricks that new cooks might need to make informed decisions and speed up their cooking time. I found all of it to be common sense, and things I had been doing for years, but those just striking out on their own or just moving past pasta and the basics. The recipes are easy to follow with, with clear instructions and good tips and tricks for substitutions and shortcuts when applicable. I like that while the recipes aim for healthy and using fresh ingredients when possible, there is still some fat and richness with lower fat suggestions rather than ignoring the fact that we can all treat ourselves to an alfredo sauce if the mood strikes. Some of the recipes looked fantastic, and gave me ideas of things I might try to mix things up in my own cooking. However, not much struck me as terribly new or original- perhaps because I spend way too much time watching the Food and Cooking channels. I do think that this might be a valuable book for those just starting to have an interest in cooking more, or cutting back on take out for whatever reason. 

The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook is a well organized and accessible cookbook. I think it would be the most valuable to those just starting to cook on their own.

Book Review: Cuddly Crochet Critters 26 Animal Patterns by Megan Kreiner

Cuddly Crochet Critters: 26 Animal Patterns by Megan Kreiner introduces 26 soft, huggable, pillow-like animals that are easy projects for beginners and will be loved by children and adults of all ages. Fashioned from super-bulky, machine-washable, chenille-style yarn, the stuffed animals can be completed in just a few hours. These cuddly critters make great pillows for a child's nap time, homey accessories for a dorm room, comfy companions for travel, and great gifts, too! Based on the popular Japanese "tsum tsum" style, each project starts with a standard body shape and requires just some basic crochet stitches. As an added bonus, there are 12 additional "critter combinations" to make! Mix and match pattern pieces to create a koala, a zebra, a narwhal, and more. 

Cuddly Crochet Critters offers readers clear and accessible patterns and instructions for reasonably large crochet stuffed animals. I like the idea of the blanket yarn used in these patterns- it makes for faster work and larger projects, and less hand cramps than smaller works. With this in mind- I liked that the book offers tips and tricks for working with the special yarn, but I think they could have gone one step further and made the stitch instructions in the front of the book with the yarn readers would be using. This is done in the project instructions- but not the stitch tutorials in the very beginning. Having worked with both I have to say that there is a big difference in working in such different weights and it will take some getting used to for those that have never worked with it before. With all that said- the patterns are well written, and I think they will offer readers plenty guidance to complete these projects along with room further customization as they continue to create. The book offers a good starting point and clear instructions, but it is not something I can see adding to my permanent collection- rather I would borrow it from a library and return for the next happy crafter.

Cuddly Crochet Critters is a good introduction for fairly quick working amigurumi. 

Early Book Review: First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Linda Wyszynski

First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch: The Absolute Beginner’s Guide by Linda Wyszynski is currently scheduled for release on September 3 2019. This beginner’s guide teaches everything you need to know about a variety of hand stitching techniques. It is filled with detailed descriptions of materials and tools, the easy step-by-step instructions for classic embroidery, crewel, and cross-stitch will have you creating and embellishing projects like jewelry, journal covers, pillows, fashions, and more with confidence.

First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch was a wonderful reminder for me, because I used to do a great deal of needle work but had switched most of my crafting time to crochet- mainly because I can read on my kindle when crocheting and that does not usually work out so well when working with a sharp needle. This has inspired me to get back to it and maybe get through some audio books or my Netflix queue instead of my reading pile once and awhile. I liked getting the refresher course on tools and supplies, and think that newcomers to the craft will get a good understanding of the options- but they might be a little overwhelmed. There are so many options out there that I had never even considered and details I was unaware of that I was eager to try something new, but all that information at once might be too much for someone that has yet to thread their first needle. Beginners might just want to take it in small pieces or read what they are interested in at the moment. I found all of the writing to be very accessible and clear, both in the supply descriptions and the instructions. The pictures and diagrams were helpful and were well placed for optimum usefulness. The handful of designs included were simple and well explained- a nice starter set for beginners. I now how a few personalized pattern ideas running through my head.

First Time Embroidery and Cross-Stitch is a nice stitch guide and a good resource for beginners. I would have liked a few more patterns and a little less about supplies that a beginner is not likely to need, however it offers exactly what the title suggests.

Book Review: Grow in the Dark: How to Choose and Care for Low-Light Houseplants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

Grow in the Dark: How to Choose and Care for Low-Light Houseplants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf puts the spotlight on 50 of the best houseplants you can grow in your dim or dark apartment. Having a south-facing window doesn’t always guarantee you the best light to grow plants—especially if your window faces an alley or a tree-lined street. What’s the point of growing an urban jungle if tall buildings are blocking all your sunshine? This compact guide, designed to look as good on your shelf as it is useful, will help you learn how to make the most of your light so you can reap the physical and emotional benefits of living with plants. Detailed profiles include tips on watering your plants just right, properly potting them, and troubleshooting pests and diseases. You’ll also learn which plants are safe to keep around your pets.
Grow in the Dark is an informative read for those looking to keep their house plants alive, and to figure out what plants will best survive in your available spaces. The information is well organized and laid out in accessible segments with some labeled images to break up the amount of text. I found the information to be well researched and useful, but lacking the conversational tone or humor that I tend to enjoy woven through such reference material to make the read slightly less dense. This is more a point of personal preference that ban issue, I am sure there are those that prefer this straightforward style. I think this book is a good reference for readers to have handy when planning their plant purchasing and placement, or for interior designers to reference when planning to add plant life to a space. However, I think it is a better purchase for a library or professional that might regularly need the information than for a personal library. 

Book Review: Corner to Corner Crochet: 15 Contemporary C2C Projects by Jess Coppom

Corner to Corner Crochet: 15 Contemporary C2C Projects by Jess Coppom is a good introduction to 
corner to corner crochet--also known as C2C crochet. This style can be a good way to create colorful, graphic designs without having to learn complex colorwork techniques. Using basic crochet stitches you can create stunning, contemporary designs for home decor items and accessories. This is a collection of 15 modern projects all made using the C2C technique. Choose from patterns for six different afghans or blankets including a monochrome chunky throw and a beautiful Mexican style blanket. Other projects include pillows, a bathroom rug and some stunning items to wear such as a poncho, shawl and cowl.

Corner to Corner Crochet: 15 Contemporary C2C Projects was the perfect reading choice for me this weekend. I have been looking to start a new afghan, and frogged the last couple I started just because I did not really like the look or feel of them after I got a few inches in. I have always been in awe of those that take the time for serious color work in their crochet, but have never been willing to take that leap. I think with this book I am about to make that jump, because complex color work and color grams make so much more sense and seem much more accessible with the c2c technique than in more traditional stitches. The tips and tricks to help organize the colors and keep things untangled and working smoothly were wonderful and well worded. I think newer crocheters will be able to follow the instructions fairly well, and more experienced crafters will still find new and useful bits of information and inspiration to keep their minds and hooks moving along.

Early Book Review: Milk Soaps: 35 Skin-Nourishing Recipes for Making Milk-Enriched Soaps, from Goat to Almond by Anne-Marie Faiola

Milk Soaps: 35 Skin-Nourishing Recipes for Making Milk-Enriched Soaps, from Goat to Almond is a creative guide by Anne-Marie Faiola, which is currently scheduled for release on April 30 2019. Handmade soap can be extra-special with the inclusion of milk! Soaps enriched with milk can be creamier than those made with water, and milk's natural oils provide skin-renewing moisture and nourishment. In Milk Soaps, expert soapmaker Anne-Marie Faiola demystifies the process with step-by-step techniques and 35 recipes for making soaps that are both beautiful and useful. She explains the keys to success in using a wide range of milk types, including cow, goat, and even camel milk, along with nut and grain milks such as almond, coconut, hemp, rice, and more. Photographs show soapmakers of all levels how to achieve a variety of distinctive color and shape effects, including funnels, swirls, layers, and insets. For beginners and experts alike, this focused guide to making milk-enriched soaps offers an opportunity to expand their soapmaking skills in new and exciting ways. 

Milk Soaps is a well written and organized book for those that want to learn more about, and hopefully master, the art of making soap. I have dabbled before, and this book would be a wonderful resource for those looking to make a wide variety of milk based soaps, and to get more information and inspiration to help them become more comfortable and skilled in the process. I have to admit that I have not tried any of the recipes, because they are all cold process soap recipes, and the idea of working with lye water and the chemical processes involved honestly scares me- not just because I am a klutz, but also because of how interested my felines get with anything I am doing. However, having tried other styles of soapmaking I could easily understand and follow the recipes. I was inspired to try a few new things and learn a great deal about the techniques of cold process soap making. I found the information in the endpages to also be helpful, with common problems addressed and some resources that will come in handy to anyone looking to make soap.

Milk Soaps will be a valuable resource and inspiration for those looking to learn more about or master the process of making cold process soaps with milk as an ingredient. The recipes are well done, and leave room for further customization with offering insights and inspiration.

Book Review: Sustainable Home: Practical Projects, Tips and Advice for Maintaining a More Eco-Friendly Household by Christine Liu

Sustainable Home: Practical Projects, Tips and Advice for Maintaining a More Eco-Friendly Household by Christine Liu is a guidebook to maintaining a more environmentally friendly household. Sustainable lifestyle blogger and professional Christine Liu takes you on a tour through the rooms of your home – the living area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom – offering tips, tricks and 18 step-by-step projects designed to help you lead a more low-impact lifestyle. Whether it is by making your own toothpaste, converting to renewable energy sources, reducing your consumption of plastic, growing your own herb garden or upcycling old pieces of furniture, there are numerous ways – both big and small – to make a difference. The desire to make small changes on an individual level is on the rise; this book will guide anyone hoping to make a difference, but who perhaps don’t know where to begin.

Sustainable Home was a mixed bag for me. Decluttering and trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle are things that I think anyone picking up this book already knows about, but they are necessary reminders and suggestions. I liked the suggestions about how to find items that have been made sustainably and by companies that are working to minimize their carbon footprint, and that of their product. The growing your own food, and increasing the amount of plant based food was good. I like that while the suggestions do offer some big options, it also mentions small things that people could do regardless of kitchen size and the possible lack of time or a yard that would be required for significant gardening. The ideas, instructions, and recipes for making things for yourself rather than buying them are good, and some I might even try. 

However, some of the suggestions are completely impossible for people depending on where they live. While some libraries and organizations are getting tool libraries, repair and make it spaces, and what not set up and available to the public. These tend to be in places where to local government has enough money to fund them and might not accessible to those with limited transportation options and resources, or those working many hours or multiple jobs to make ends meet which might make it next to impossible to make use of local options. Many of these kind of suggestions will only work for those privileged enough to have access to them, or the time to research options or make a special trip. 

This book has good information and suggestions in it. However, I feel like it is for people with a little too much time and money on their hands rather than the average person or household. I feel like there are good intentions here, but a lack of understanding of what life is like beneath a certain income bracket, or in areas without the resources so casually mentioned in the book.

Book Review: The Art of Crochet Blankets: 18 Projects Inspired by Modern Makers by Rachele Carmona

The Art of Crochet Blankets: 18 Projects Inspired by Modern Makers by Rachele Carmona offers readers the chance to follow popular crochet blanket designer Rachele Carmona through her unique collection of crochet blankets inspired by the work of popular independent artists. The Art of Crochet Blankets will help you create your own colorful crochet blankets as unique works of art for your home! Inside this one-of-a-kind crochet blanket guide you'll find details on how to translate art to hook with 18 bold and unique crochet afghan patterns influenced by the works of their feature artist. Modern quilts, fabric designs, tapestry weaving, digital art, and more become the source of one-of-a-kind projects for a more artful home. Biographies and beautiful photos profiling 6 inspiring modern makers--Tula Pink, April Rhodes, Maryanne Moodie, Fransisco Valle, Maud Vantours, and Caitline Dowe-Sandes. 

The Art of Crochet Blankets: 18 Projects Inspired by Modern Makers is a lovely book with great designs, and stories that tell of how they were inspired and came together. Some of the designs were just not my style, which happens with any collection of art or designs, but others made me smile and think about what I might do in a similar vein. For instance, the Boho Desert, Abstract Blocks, and Layered Waves caught my eye, and I love them. I also enjoyed getting to know the artists and medium that inspired some of these designs. Seeing the beauty and creativity in the original, and how the shapes and colors were turned into something new was very interesting. I like how varied the starting points were, and in turn how different the end results turned out. While I am not likely to design my own blankets, I like reading or binge watching too much as I stitch, I do like seeing how inspiration can become a tangible creation and a design to share. However, I just might be giving one (or more) of these patterns a go.

I think this book would be a good addition to a personal library if you like creating and exploring new designs, and enjoy the inspiration of others that do as well. For those of us who are content to find a lovely pattern and maybe change a color, size, or so on I think this would be better borrowed from the library. It is wonderful and lovely to explore, but not a necessary addition to my craft room at this point. 

Book Review: The Crochet Stitch Handbook The Essential Illustrated Reference: Over 200 Traditional and Contemporary Stitches with Easy-to-Follow Charts by Betty Barnden

The Crochet Stitch Handbook The Essential Illustrated Reference: Over 200 Traditional and Contemporary Stitches with Easy-to-Follow Charts by Betty Barnden includes step-by-step instructions for basic stitches, textured stitches, fans and shells stitches, mesh and filet stitches, openwork and lace stitches, trims and edgings, clusters, puffs, bobbles, spike, relief, Tunisian, multi-color, squares, and special stitches.

If you crochet, you likely have one or two books like this somewhere in your home. A guide or handbook that offers the basics of a variety of stitches, yarns, and techniques.I happen to have three- mostly because one went missing for a bit and two quickly made their appearance, and then the wayward book reappeared.  I often flip through these books when I want to make a new afghan, scarf, or other project and am looking for something more than a basic stitch. Sometimes I am looking for a certain texture or square that I could use to build something unique, or a special edging for an extra touch. Or just to try and hopefully master something new.

The Crochet Stitch Handbook is a solid example of this style of book. I was excited to see little things included that often fall by the wayside, like the extended single stitch. Many of the instructions, stitches, and motifs were familiar or similar to ones that I have seen before, which is expected. I like that there is a key on the edge of each page to give the reader information on the stitch. The only thing I was missing was the information on the way the finished stitch drapes, which another book I have offers- and that often aids in my decision making process for choosing a stitch. However, the instructions and images were well paired and very easy to follow. I would not recommend it for fresh beginners that have just started out and are still learning all of the language and abbreviations, but anyone that has the basics down would do well with this book as their go to guide for stitches and inspiration. 

Early Book Review: Double Awesome Chinese Food: Irresistible and Totally Achievable Recipes from Our Chinese-American Kitchen by Margaret Li; Irene Li; Andrew Li

Double Awesome Chinese Food: Irresistible and Totally Achievable Recipes from Our Chinese-American Kitchen by Margaret Li, Irene Li, and Andrew Li is currently schedule for release on February 9 2019. This book is from  three fun-loving, food-loving Chinese-American siblings--Margaret, Andrew, and Irene Li, the siblings behind Boston's acclaimed Mei Mei Restaurant and Street Kitchen--directly to your kitchen table. Their recipes take familiar dishes and add classic Chinese techniques, a fresh seasonal twist to beloved Chinese restaurant dishes, and layer of Asian ingredients into everyday family meals. Celebrate local veggies with a quick weeknight meal of Farmers Market Fried Rice or Summer Noodle Salad with Ginger Garlic Dressing. Invite all your friends over for an action-packed dumpling-making party featuring Sweet Potato, Feta, and Brown Butter Dumplings and the famous Double Awesome scallion pancake sandwich. Or go low-key and let the Five-Spice Pork Shoulder roast in your oven all day, transforming into a glorious meal for the whole family. The book offers a glimpse behind the scenes of a modern restaurant family, including start-up stories alongside go-to sauces to amp up any meal, and even vegetable-centric desserts. Packed with pro cooking tips, sustainable sourcing advice, and over 100 delicious recipes, Double Awesome Chinese Food will bring fascinating new flavors and crave-worthy dishes to your home kitchen.

Double Awesome Chinese Food starts with an introduction to the siblings that work, cook, and write together. I enjoyed reading about their family, philosophies, and how they got where they are. I also enjoy that they work so hard to be good to the environment and local food system, using local and sustainable ingredients. Including the use of quality and sustainable ingredients in their instructions to readers continues that trend. More experienced cooks might be tempted to skip the tips and tricks that are offered in the beginning of the book, but I highly recommend slowing down to read them. Some might seem obvious, like having a good knife and cutting board, but some others were so smart and simple I could not believe I was not already doing them. I found the information on finding the best ingredients useful as well, since have not been staples in my home and I want to make good choices when adding new things to the mix.

Now the important part, the recipes. I like that each section includes the story behind the dishes, and some options for changing things up a bit, as well as how to create the dish or sauce. The ingredient lists and instructions are easy to understand and leave readers hungry and willing to give it a try themselves. I have to admit to wanting to both run to the grocery store and get going in the kitchen as soon as I read each chapter, but had to hold myself back since I have to ease the picky eaters in my house into new flavors and trying new things.  I do plan on spending my next free day mixing up some of the basic sauces, and trying out a few recipes. There are some dumplings, fritters, and noodle based dishes that are the most likely (hopefully) to go over well with my family that I plan on trying. There are some great recipes that will just be for me, that I will gladly take to work with me and enjoy. I also liked the additional resources at the end of the book to help readers find what they need to achieve the best results. Readers that are looking to expand their cooking knowledge and skill set to include Chinese-n American cuisine will find what they are looking for here. 

Double Awesome Chinese Food is a well written and enjoyable cookbook to explore. I love Chinese-American food but have often felt too intimidated to give it a go. Even though I am no longer the primary cook in the house thanks to my work schedule, I fully plan on trying out a recipe (or two) for my next day off or inspired weekend of cooking.

Book Review: Drink Me: Curious Cocktails from Wonderland by Nick Perry, Paul Rosser

Drink Me: Curious Cocktails from Wonderland by Nick Perry and Paul Rosser offers readers a selection of twenty cocktails inspired by Alice in Wonderland as well as some cocktail bars that you might want to visit. Every page of this beautifully designed book includes charming illustrations for the completed madcap drinks .Drink Me! also includes definitive list of the "most curious cocktail bars" you need to visit, and the best ingredients to use with each recipe. 
Drink Me: Curious Cocktails from Wonderland starts off with a helpful guide to spirits, including how they are made and their variety of flavors. Tools and terminology is also explained, which will make cocktail making for novices like myself have an easier time successfully creating tasty cocktails. I am not a big drinker, and rarely experiment, but the combination of literature, whimsy, and alcohol made me want to try out this book. I like that everything is laid out and explained, so I have no surprises once I get started making the recipes. Not all of the recipes help appeal to me, in fact the idea of an "Off With Her Head" made me cringe because of the flavors it was described as having, but very next recipe (The Golden Afternoon) sounded very tasty. Like any recipe book, some results might take some practice and others are hits right off the bat. The batch recipes were the most interesting to me, since simple syrups and liqueurs can be used in a wide variety of recipes. I think this is a great way for novices to explore drink making, and those already experienced to expand their repertoire. An ideal book for those planning a themed dinner or cocktail party, or that simply want to learn to make these drinks and those like them.

Book Review: Nature Art Workshop: Tips, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Projects for Creating Nature-Inspired Art

Nature Art Workshop: Tips, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Projects for Creating Nature-Inspired Art 
by Katie Brooks, Sarah Lorraine Edwards, Allison Hetzell, and Mikko Sumulong is a visual resource for any artist or crafter desiring to combine their art with their love of the nature. Each page inspires artists to look at the world around them in a new light while they learn to create their own nature-inspired art. Four artists guide readers through finding and preparing traditional and natural elements to use in creating fun and unique nature-inspired projects with simple step-by-step instructions. Projects include a pressed-flower ceramic dish, fresh floral crown, and flower-adorned candles, in addition to painted feathers, stones, shells, leaves, and more. A fun, refreshing approach to mixed-media art, Nature Art Workshop proves that you can turn anything into a stunning work of art with the right materials and a bit of imagination.

Nature Art Workshop: Tips, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Projects for Creating Nature-Inspired Art is divided into sections based on the natural supplies that artists and crafters might be interested in using. THe brief information about each artist was interesting to read. I liked that I could browse based on the items I have on hand, the things I want to learn, or just read through the entire book for the full experience. The instructions are clear and understandable, with detailed photographs to help readers follow the steps and achieve the results they are looking for. While not all the projects were of my taste, or what I would consider in my skill set yet, I felt like there was something for all readers that might choose to pick up this title. It has given me some ideas for holiday gift giving this winter, and ideas for new things I want to try. I have not tested any of the projects yet, but I have plans to give several a go as soon as I can.

Nature Art Workshop: Tips, Techniques, and Step-by-Step Projects for Creating Nature-Inspired Art is a great resource for artists and crafters from a variety of skill and interest levels. 

Book Review: Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat by Applemints

Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat by Applemints was originally published in Japanese in 2016, this is its first publication in English. Fat, striped, cheshire, or grumpy, this books offers more than 300 embroidery stitch patterns for cat lovers. Each set of patterns offers a range of ideas in different styles, shapes, genres from simple to more complex. Original designs and clear instructions make this book a must have for any embroidery enthusiasts library. 
Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 Ways to Stitch a Cat offers readers exactly what the title suggests. There are cat faces, cat butts, cats sleeping, cats in action, cats sharing their thoughts, cats in floral motifs, holiday cats, and more. The full size templates and stitch guides are precise, although there is room for customization. I think embroidery fans that also happen to love cats, or want to add cats to their skill set, will want to add this to their collection. The use of a grumpy cat look alike made me curious about copyright or trademark rights, and some text did not work as well after being translated. I am not sure that I would recommend this for beginners, but those with a basic grasp of embroidery terms and skills will be happy with the book. 

Book Review: The Brew Your Own Big Book of Clone Recipes: Featuring 300 Homebrew Recipes From Your Favorite Breweries from the editors of Brew Your Own

The Brew Your Own Big Book of Clone Recipes: Featuring 300 Homebrew Recipes From Your Favorite Breweries from the editors of Brew Your Own Magazine offers readers 300 of BYO’s best clone recipes for recreating favorite commercial beers together in one book. Inside you'll find dozens of IPAs, stouts, and lagers, easily searchable by style. The collection includes both classics and newer recipes from top award-winning American craft breweries including Brooklyn Brewery, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Hill Farmstead, Jolly Pumpkin, Modern Times, Maine Beer Company, Stone Brewing Co., Surly, Three Floyds, Tröegs, and many more.  Classic clone recipes from across Europe are also included. Whether you're looking to brew an exact replica of one of your favorites or get some inspiration from the greats, this book is your new brewday planner.
The Brew Your Own Big Book of Clone Recipes is well organized and offers readers well written recipes and suggestions for how to make the results even closer to their personal tastes. The recipes are divided into chapters on beer style (i.e. pale ale, British-style, pilsners, winter beers, and so on). The step by step instructions are clear and easy to follow for anyone that has the basics of home brewing down, but might be a little harder for those just starting in the process. The information offered might be able to be gathered by going through past issues of the magazine and searching online, but having all the recipes and information in one book with plenty of pictures and additional information that can help a home brewer hone their craft is very useful. I think any home brewer could benefit from owning, or at least reading, this book and it just might be the perfect gift for serious or emerging ho,me brewers looking to expand their knowledge.

Book Review: New Favorites for New Cooks: 50 Delicious Recipes For Kids to Make by Carolyn Federman

New Favorites for New Cooks: 50 Delicious Recipes For Kids to Make by Carolyn Federman utilizes easy techniques and recipes to teach basic cooking skills to budding chefs through simple dishes for children as well as adults. Recipes such as Savory Scones with Fresh Herb Butter, Black Bean Taco Bar, Two-Minute Guacamole, Meatballs and Tomato Sauce, and Yogurt and Berry Compote Parfait showcase healthy, seasonal ingredients and engage every sense with bright colors, fresh flavors, and exciting textures. Packed with information about kitchen science (like making pickles), garden ideas (like planting seeds from kitchen scraps and starting a compost bin), and heavily illustrated (every recipe is photographed), this cookbook makes being in the kitchen fun for everyone.
New Favorites for New Cooks: 50 Delicious Recipes For Kids to Make is a nice, well organized cookbook for fairly simple recipes. I like that kitchen safety, techniques, and science are regularly focused on- letting even the youngest chefs work safely and know when they will, or won't, need help. Reminders of how to read a recipe, check the pantry and refrigerator before staring, and the explanation of key vocabulary words further aids chefs of all ages have success in the kitchen.  Some of the recipes are basics, and things everyone should know how to do before they leave home and need to fend for themselves. Some are very nutritious and fun to learn. Other recipes are very trendy and current- things my picky eaters would not be willing to cook or eat. The pictures and instructions are great, easy to understand and follow. Terms that might be new to readers are in bold, and the book encourages readers to look up cooking terms, ingredients, and other words that might not immediately recognize up to help them understand and follow the recipe. I also like that the author assures readers that sometimes recipes just do not work out perfectly, especially the first time we try them. The encouragement to try and have less that perfect results, and to be okay with that, is important and a great aspect of the collection.

Book Review: Make Your Own Ice Cream: Classic Recipes for Ice Cream, Sorbet, Italian Ice, Sherbet, and Other Frozen Desserts by Sarah Tyson Rorer

Make Your Own Ice Cream: Classic Recipes for Ice Cream, Sorbet, Italian Ice, Sherbet, and Other Frozen Desserts by Sarah Tyson Rorer is a reprint of a vintage book. The author passed away in 1937, so this book makes no mention of electric ice cream makers or microwaves, but was slightly updated for more modern kitchens. This book offers recipes for dozens of different types of ice cream and sherbet, the recipes cover frozen puddings, soufflés, parfaits, and mousses as well as tasty toppings. Numerous dairy-free options include sorbets, Italian ices, and fruit ices. It uses easy-to-find ingredients, which include a variety of fruits and nuts to the traditional flavors of chocolate and vanilla. Brief explanations identify the differences between ices, sorbet, and sherbet and offers the general instructions. 
Make Your Own Ice Cream: Classic Recipes for Ice Cream, Sorbet, Italian Ice, Sherbet, and Other Frozen Desserts is a good and varied collection of recipes for frozen treats. I have to admit that I was confused by some of the wording in the instructions, but that was solved when I realized that those instructions were for use with an old fashioned crank ice cream maker, which I am currently lacking. I did like there there is such a wide variety of flavors, and that they are all based on using the best, fresh ingredients. I might test out a few of these recipes this summer with the kids, but I will admit to being a little lazy and find that I enjoy the instant gratification of buying a half gallon of ice cream and having some to often being preferable to cooking and freezing some of these recipes no mater how tempting they sound.