November 13, 2009

"You Can Buy As Many Books As You Want"

Dan and I used to have a private joke. I love books (we both do), and when I could find a good bargain for something we were interested in, I would get it. Then I would show it to him, and he would invariably respond, "Nooooo! Now we have to move it!" This was because he used to drive for a local moving company, which meant not only driving, but also packing boxes, loading and unloading the truck. As you can imagine, moving households that owned a lot of books meant a long, back-breaking day's labor.

The other day, when I was showing him my latest purchases, he put his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye, and said, "You can buy as many books as you want." We both laughed because this is our forever home which means we aren't planning to ever move again.

He doesn't have to worry about me going hog wild of course, because I major in frugalness. That means I am careful with what I choose to buy, and I only buy if I can get it on sale or discounted. Since we've moved here, I've added quite a few good books to our home library, and almost all of them are tools to help us fulfill our dream.

It's funny because while I was working on this post, Theresa over at Camp Runamuck asked her readers about their reading lists, so I can offer these as mine. You can click on any book cover for a closer look.

Click here to biggify Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon. I mentioned this book in my recent ginger carrot post. Besides being a cookbook, this book offers a complete dietary model for healthy living. It begins with a discussion of the nutrients and their food sources, and then goes on to a chapter on "Mastering The Basics." These include cultured dairy products, fermented fruits and vegetables, sprouting grains, nuts & seeds, stocks, salad dressings, sauces, marinades, condiments, and about coconut products. Ther rest of the book covers every category of recipe you can imagine, including a chapter on feeding babies. Lots of interesting informational tidbits are to be found in the sidebars.

I don't agree with everything she says, but even so, this has been a mind blowing book for me.

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Ellix Katz. Sandor approaches the subject from a cultural point of view: cultural context, cultural rehabilitation, cultural theory, cultural homogenization, and cultural manipulation. I don't agree with all of his conclusions, but he writes intelligently and makes some good points. Chapters include: Vegetable Ferments, Bean Ferments, Dairy Ferments (and Vegan Alternatives), Breads, Fermented Grain Porridges and Beverages, Wines (Including Mead, Cider, and Ginger Beer), Beers, and Vinegars. Lots of good recipes here.

Sandor also has a website and fermentation forum at

This book is a keeperThis is another one I mentioned previously, Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation by The Gardeners & Farmers of Terre Vivante. This one was the precursor to the two above.

Besides the chapter on preserving with lactic fermentation, other chapters cover preserving by root cellaring, by drying, in oil, with salt, with sugar, in alcohol, and sweet & sour preserves. A chart at the back of the book indicates which methods are best for which foods.

DH was interested in this one, Smoking Food: A Beginner's Guide , by Chris Dubbs and Dave Heberle. We're nowhere near ready to build our own smoker, but like most things on discount, I've learned to buy it when I find it. The book covers types of smokers, with instructions on how to make your own, various fuels, other equipment, materials, cures, hot vs. cold smoking, and marinades. Then it discusses the how-tos of smoking fish, seafood, butcher meat (i.e. pork and beef), poultry, wild game, making and smoking sausage, and lastly smoking cheese, nuts, and eggs. Appendices discuss troubleshooting, herbs and spices, and tips on handling game (deer, rabbit, bear, squirrel, opossum, woodchuck, etc.)

This is another book that's really broadening my thinking about our little homestead, Small-Scale Grain Raising: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers, 2nd Edition by Gene Logsdon. His sense of humor makes this fun to read (ever heard of a pancake patch?) For the first time I can actually see myself raising grain. Look forward to some experiments next summer!

Chapters discuss corn, wheat, the sorghums, oats, dry beans, rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, legumes, rice, and feeding grains to animals. One chapter is dedicated to more unusual grains like wild rice, triticale (a wheat/rye cross), spelt, farro, quinoa, and flax. Each chapter contains some good looking recipes as well.

Published in 2009, I don't agree with him that the jury's still out on GMO grains, but he does endorse open pollinated seed in order to save it. Informative charts are sprinkled throughout the book: cooking chart, bushel chart, and crop rotation plans. An illustrated glossary shows and explains the various tools needed form homegrowing grains.

Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them by Rolfe Cobleigh is a reprint from 1910. It wasn't very expensive and I figured that even if it didn't contain something of use to us here on the homestead, it would be of historical interest at least. I wasn't disappointed, I got both. Devices are discussed by type, which are divided into chapters. For example: Workshop and Tools, In and Around the House, Barns and Stock, Poultry and Bees, Garden and Orchard, Field and Wood, and Gates and Doors. The devices themselves? How about: a potato sorter, a stump puller, a rack for seed corn, a wheelbarrow sheep trough, a fire warning device, an elevated clothes line, a device for extracting beeswax, and a gate to overcome snowdrifts, to name just a few.

This particular reprint is from Skyhorse Publishing, but Dover also reprints it under the title, Old-Time Farm and Garden Devices and How to Make Them .

I mailordered Fuel Cell Projects for the Evil Genius by Gavin D. J. Harper because it is about hydrogen as an energy source. However, it wasn't what we hoped it would be. it Oh, it's a very good book, and I wish I'd had it for DS back when we were homeschooling our way through high school science. In fact, it would be perfect for that because it is geared toward small hydrogen fueled DIY projects, some of which we may still be able to apply practically around the place. Or at least gain a better understanding in order to apply the knowledge on a larger scale.

Chapter 1 is a history of the discovery of hydrogen and the development of fuel cells. Chapter 2 is entitled "the Hydrogen Economy" which explains why hydrogen as an energy source is important to explore. The remaining chapters discuss and provide projects for making and storing hydrogen, different types of fuel cells ( platinum, alkaline, PEM, methanol, microbial, high-temp. and scratch-built. Hydrogen safety, transport, and fuel cell competitions round out the book.

I bought The Amish Cookbook when we were at the Shady Maple Gift Shop on our trip to Pennsylvania. It contains over 1000 recipes from 14 states, and so probably gives a pretty good idea of a typical Amish diet. This is not a health or natural food cookbook, and some of the recipes contain ingredients I don't use such as Jello, shortening, Velveeta cheese, salt petre, to name a few. However, I don't think there is a recipe in there that one couldn't substitute preferred alternative ingredients.

The reason I got it was for the chapter on canning and preserving. When I saw it contained several recipes for canning homemade bologna, I decided to buy it. (Not to mention that I probably would have regretted not getting it once we left the shop.) I've also appreciated the chapter on pickles and relishes, and as of this writing, have realized that it contains cheesemaking recipes as well.

Weaving As An Art Form: A Personal Statement by Theo Moorman, was on sale as a surplus copy from my weaving guild's library sale. I bought it as a source of inspiration, because one of these days (after the dining room floor gets done and I can have my studio back), I will get back to my fiber arts. The title appealed to me, because I am an artist whose medium is fiber, and someday I hope to abandon functional weaving and weave strictly as an artistic statement. The author appealed to me, because Theo Moorman is well known in the weaving world. The introduction appealed to me, for it was there that I read, "..... I seem, in my work as a weaver and designer, only able to gain ground through a mass of experiments, blunders, and muddles." That's me in a nutshell. I have been in the learning and exploratory stage of the various weave structure and techniques for almost ten years, not counting long term breaks to attend to other areas of need and interest. And of course, the content of the book appealed to me, for it discusses the technique for which the author is famous, The Moorman Technique, which simply put, is a type of inlay. So this book is on my reading list, probably not in the near future, but in the future nonetheless.

Where do I get my books? Well,, of course. Also from the numerous Dover catalogues we get. Dover reprints a lot of old books and sells them at reasonable prices, plus they often have sales and specials. Also, I buy a lot of books from my Edward R. Hamilton Bookseller Company catalogues. If you click on their name it will take you to their website, but they do charge an additional 40 cents per book if ordered with a credit card via the website, so I prefer ordering from their catalogue. They have a standard $3.50 shipping no matter how many books are ordered, which is very reasonable.

In addition to the above, I have three more books on order!
From Hamilton:

Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Homemade Cheeses
by Ricki Carroll

Living Off the Grid: A Simple Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Self-Reliant Supply of Energy, Water, Shelter, and More by Dave Black

From Amazon:

The Complete Medicinal Herbal: A Practical Guide to the Healing Properties of Herbs, with More Than 250 Remedies for Common Ailments
by Penelope Ody

Did I also mention that I love books? And until these arrive, I will love going out to look in the mailbox every day. :)


Theresa said...

That's quite the reading list! You certainly target what you need to know and I wish I had the drive to work out a list like that. I love to get lost in a book that has absolutely no bearing on where I am or what I do or need to do.
I'm so happy that you can add to the bookshelves with abandon. Moving books is a hard, heavy task.

Renee Nefe said...

while I'm sure you will probably want a more sturdy smoker when you get to that point, but Alton Brown of Good Eats has made several temporary smokers that might give you some ideas for building your own. In one show he made a smoker out of a cardboard box to smoke salmon. He's also made a smoker out of discarded lockers to smoke bacon and out of terracotta pots to smoke pork shoulder for barbeque.

Just an idea. And it is certainly nice to finally be in your forever home. After moving so often it took DH a long time to adjust to it. I don't think that he was as sure as I was. And honestly, I don't think this is forever, but it's close. I told DH that we had to stay here 10 years...we're on year 8 now. He's been a good boy.

Nina said...

I'm waiting for two books to arrive, The Tudor Housewife by Alison Sim and The English Housewife by Markham and Best. Both historical housewifery books. They should arrive by the end of the month. One of my favourite on-line book sellers is Oxbow books/ David Brown Book Company, mainly because they sell many of the obscure texts that I love to read.
While I'm not sure that this is our "forever" home, I sure don't want to move again after this last horrific one. At least this house has space for reasonably good sized gardens :)

Robin said...

We have several of those books that you mentioned. Lee is the big book buyer here. When we moved we had 19 boxes of books. They seem to mostly be in the
"how to", homesteading, natural, food raising, and home construction. Since we moved it seems as if there is always a new box coming from amazon about every month or so. I don't want to even know how many boxes of books we will have when we move again.

Sharon said...

That is a very impressive list. I saw her post and wondered what would be on my list. I guess no would know better than me - better get to it. Thanks for sharing!

Woolly Bits said...

yes, I love books too. and I was quite upset when I moved from germany to ireland and had to admit that no way would I be able to bring them all with me! it wasn't easy to decide what to take and what to leave - and I hated it! of course I had hardly moved when I started to re-stock my shelves again:)) though I have't added many herbals lately - but I do still browse some british blogs for new and interesting "herbal recipes"....

Life Looms Large said...

I don't know how big your house is, but a booklover can definitely fill up any normal-sized dwelling!! I have to watch myself....and I try to use the library if at all possible.

But still, I get books as gifts and have increased my book supply, mostly with weaving books pretty quickly lately.

You've got great stuff on your list! I always think that with weaving there's so much to learn and so much knowledge that used to be necessary for many people, but now is known by relatively few. The same is true of a lot of the subjects that your reading list covers.

And thanks for that very timely quote from the Theo Moorman book. I just need to get better at muddling through my weaving blunders!


Leigh said...

Theresa, I have to admit that late at night, when I read in bed, I like light fiction. I'm just don't have any to read at the moment. Then too, I'm finding that reading recipes does a pretty good job of making me drowsy anyway.

Renee, thanks for the tip. I've heard of Alton Brown, so I'll have to check some of his ideas out. The Smoking Food book has some pretty simple homemade smokers too. In fact, Dan is talking about trying his hand at smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving.

Nina, those sound exactly like books I would be interested in. There's something about the old-fashioned art of homekeeping that is fascinating to me. As in, how did they ever manage without all our modern conveniences. I think somewhere we have a book published by Oxbow. I'll have to look. Even so, I'm always glad for new resources.

Robin, wow, 19 boxes is a lot! We have a lot of home construction (especially log cabins), gardening, and herbal/alternative health books as well. They're valuable books to have!

Sharon, I'll be very interested in your list. I like to see what folks are reading because it gives me good ideas for future reads for myself.

Bettina, I would hate to do that. Actually, we did have to get rid of a lot of books each time we moved. The homeschool books and classic literature went first. Then it was everything not related to gardening, homesteading, building, and fiber arts. We don't plan to move again and I certainly hope that's the case because I don't want to ever have to weed out books again.

Sue, I agree with you! We always seem to overfill the space we have. I have a goodly collection of weaving books myself. With every new structure or technique I explored, I bought as many related weaving books as I could.I finally categorized them with key words on Library Thing. Very helpful to search my weaving library topically!

bspinner said...

What timing. This is the week I vowed I would clean out my book stash. All novels will go to the Goodwill store and any how to or pattern books will go to friends. This morning I found 18 in the TV cabinet alone. Believe me that's only one of my many hiding places. Might check out the sofa next.
After our last move I promised myself I would take it easy when it comes to books. I've been doing very well thanks mostly to a wonderful library less than five miles away.

Leigh said...

Barb, it sounds as though you have a "problem", *LOL just kidding. I admit that I don't buy novels, but get those from the public library. And if I can find a fiber, homestead, or how to book there as well, then I go that route. The ones I can't live without I buy. And then lots I buy sight unseen, based on recommendations, titles and descriptions. Sounds like I have a "problem" too, doesn't it.

Heather said...

"You can buy as many books as You want." That is hilarious, I'll have to tell my husband because he'll get a chuckle out of that story. ;-) We got rid of quite a few when we moved but have already collected several more boxes of books. We are a family of book lovers. I tend to be the one trying to curb the buying at our local library sale each year but we all end up coming home with lots. I know we have another move in store so most of our books are staying in their boxes this year. I'll be looking forward to the time when I can say to my husband "You can buy as many books as You want."

MiniKat said...

My dearest, fuzzy husband just received "Preserving Food W/o Freezing or Canning" for his birthday. He's been reading it steadily since opening the package last night.

His mother also sent him "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing" by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn and "Back to Basics:A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, 3rd Ed." edited by Abigail R. Gehring.

He has yet to spend any amount of time with the second two, but he's greatly enjoying the preservation book.

Leigh said...

Heather it's funny because just this morning he commented on how the books were piling up. I reminded him of what he said but he couldn't remember saying it! ;)

Minikat, I hadn't heard of those books so I curious as to what he thinks when he gets to them.I think I've seen the back to basics one at the library. My DH is very interested in smoking foods. I'd be interested in learning about salting, but not so sure I'd care to eat those. Curing, probably more so.

Id' never heard of the preserving book until now. Are you all going to try any of the recipes? The sauerkraut in jars is delicious.