The Winter Library

Generally speaking, I don’t feel like there’s ever a bad time to read, but winter is especially suited for it. It gets dark early, it’s cold – what better time to curl up under a cozy blanket and get lost in a book? I’ve had a stack of books I’ve been reading in passes this winter, and they’re worth sharing with you. I was fortunate to get review copies of each of these from their respective publishers, but I like them all well enough that I would’ve purchased them of my own volition (otherwise, why would I tell you about them?). And you’ll notice a theme, here – most of them are about food!

Great British Cooking by Carolyn Caldicott

This is a fantastic little coffee table book on British cuisine from the Quarto Publishing Group. It’s a small hardcover, handsome enough to sit out, which plenty of interesting prose on the history and practice of English cookery. But it’s more than just a looker – it’s chock full of great recipes, including a couple of my favorites for Bangers, Mustard Mash and Onion Gravy, Lancashire Hotpot (a delicious lamb and potato casserole), and Poached Salmon with Samphire and English Butter Sauce. It’s a great book to cook through in the winter time, since it’s full of hearty meat-and-potatoes fare.

The Home Apothecary by Stacey Dugliss-Wesselman

I am in love with this book. I’ve been expanding my library (and thus my education) on DIY body care and remedies, so I couldn’t resist adding this book to my must-read list from Quarto Publishing. Written by the proprietor of Cold Spring Apothecary, this book serves as a primer and “cookbook” for making your own health and beauty products at home. The graphics and design of the book have a vintage old-timey feel that is very attractive, and the full color photos are beautiful and useful. The first three chapters are devoted to teaching about ingredients, the properties of different plants, and how to set up a useful apothecary. The remaining chapters are devoted to recipes for skin care, body care, hair treatments, cleaning supplies, and seasonally minded recipes. The Sensitive Cream Cleanser and Gentle Facial Exfoliant have been game changers for me. The Rose Water Toner is also effective and smells lovely. Honestly, there are too many great recipes in the book to list them all, and there’s something for everyone – recipes suitable for both beginners and more experienced herbalists. And there are plenty of “base” recipes included to, so you can customize your own scents and treatments.

Sheet Pan Paleo by Pamela Ellgen

I have to confess, I used to straight up mock paleo, and on these premises – first, that I thought it was just a trendy, ridiculous way to describe “from scratch” cooking. And secondly because it seems a bit absurd to eat entirely as our paleo ancestors did, especially with the reliance on all things coconut. The last time I checked, coconuts have never been grown in Northern America, at least out in the wild. So how were paleo North Americans getting their hands on the things!? Practical inconsistencies aside, and the fact that I haven’t completely warmed over to paleo hook, line and sinker – I’ve got a bit more of an open mind on the topic these days. It boiled down to the fact that we deal with autoimmune conditions in our family, and as I research and educate myself on the healthiest diet and lifestyle for living well with autoimmunity, paleo kept coming up – over and over again. So when I saw this book from Ulysses Press, I knew I had to check it out. It had the additional appeal of being a one-pan centered cookbook, which has immense appeal to me as a working mom. An entire healthy meal made on a single pan? Sign me up! I now have twenty-five recipe dog-eared in this book, because they’re simple, delicious and are not chock full of weird ingredients I’ve never heard of before. These recipes are accessible, and if you’re a paleo skeptic like I am, this is a great introduction if you want to see what all the fuss about. Out of all of the recipes I’ve got flagged, I think I’m the most excited about Cornish Game Hens with Mushrooms and Wilted Kale – it’s just about the perfect winter dish. And who knew it could be Paleo?

Crafting with Wood Pallets by Becky Lamb

Another great book by Ulysses Press, this one certainly appealed to my crafty, DIY sensibilities. And I just happen to have a couple pallets in the basement waiting to be reincarnated into something awesome for our house. The book showcases twenty six great ideas for turning pallets into DIY furniture and home accessories. It’s also got a great section at the front for how to deconstruct a pallet, as well as what to look for to ensure you’re not working with a pallet that’s been treated with a lot of noxious chemicals. I’m actually having a pretty hard time deciding which projects to make, but I think I have it narrowed down to the Coat Hook and Shelf, Double-Decker Storage Bins, andd the Potting Bench… or maybe I should just get my hands on another pallet or two and make all three!

Bob’s Red Mill Everyday Gluten-Free Cookbook by Camilla V. Saulsbury

love Bob’s Red Mill. Their bulk gluten free 1:1 flour is pretty close to the results you can get with wheat flour, so it really saved the day when we switched to a gluten free diet for medically necessary reasons (we’re not fad dieters!). So I was really excited when I discovered That Robert Rose Inc. had put out this book. And while you would expect a miller’s cookbook to focus on baking recipes, which there are plenty of, it’s also got a ton other recipes too. It includes recipes for breakfast dishes, soups, vegetarian main dishes, meat entrees and so much more. And there’s a great ingredients chapter at the front the details the different kind of gluten-free whole grain options, as well as other ingredients you might not be familiar with if you’re new to a gluten-free diet.

So, if you’re looking for new ideas in the kitchen, or some projects to try this winter – grab a book! Pinterest is great, but there’s really nothing quite like curling up with a good read on the couch.