Tease your cook book fetish!

I love, Love, Love cookbooks…don’t you?  I have tons of them in my house (on shelves and in boxes) as well as on my Kindle and Sony reader.  I don’t necessarily use them, but I find it comforting to have them around for those just in case moments.  When I try to analyze why I have so many I can only come up with the reasoning that they remind me of family and those gatherings when I was younger and everyone from parents to grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were in attendance.  It is a bit of nostalgia for me.  Aside from that, I do like to play in the kitchen and see what I can make.

I found several cookbooks to review and hope that you will find one or more of them to your liking.

Sweeter Off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season

sweeter off the vineimage

Publication Date: March 22, 2016

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1TlD3Wr

Just as the title suggests, this cookbook is about foods off the vine.  I was captivated right from the beginning with the first recipe involving Chamomile (Chamomile Honey Panna Cotta).  The combinations used for the recipes I thought were refreshing, amazing and unique.  How does Pistachio pound cake with strawberries in Lavender sugar sound to you?  I have to admit I like Pistachio so the pound cake was sounding good; add the strawberries and it sounds great.  But then add the Lavender sugar and my curiosity has hooked me.  The recipes are separated in the book according to seasons and nearly each recipe has a wonderful color photo showing how the dish looks.  I believe the unique combinations are what truly attract me to this cookbook.  If you are looking for something new to do with the same old favorites, this is worth looking into.

Dishing Up Minnesota

dishing up minnesota

Publication Date: July 8, 2016

Amazon Link:  http://amzn.to/257LGGo

Each of our states offers specialties based upon where it sits regionally, the cultural background of its residents, and what foods are better supported.  This cookbook by an author known for foraging and using wild food explores those differences and celebrates them.  I also enjoyed the state facts that were included. The recipes are outlined using first a bit of information, the ingredient list and well written and easy to follow instructions.  The photos used whether showing the dish or Minnesota life are stunning!  My first impression on reading the names of the recipes made me think these were recipes more suited to bed and breakfast menus and not a normal household, but once I got into the book and read the recipes I realized I was wrong.  These are wonderful recipes and would give your normal home cooking a facelift.  Inspiring dishes!

Wanda E. Brunsteter’s Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook

 wanda brunstetters cook

Publication Date: August 1, 2016

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1OFt8nq

For down home cooking, who can beat the Amish?  Wanda E. Brunsteter is known for her Amish Romances with quilting and cooking mixed in.  Here she has given us a great cookbook that has fabulous recipes that everyone will enjoy.

I really enjoyed reading the section of title Advice from Amish Gardeners.  There were many tips included that I had heard before but there where equal amounts I hadn’t which I found interesting to learn.   Mrs. Brunsteter has sectioned her book off into these areas: Salads, Soups, Main Dishes, Sides, Desserts, Snacks and Extras, and finally preserving the Harvest.  Very welcomed additions to the end are the Indexes of Recipes and Key Ingredients.  I have found many times I am scouring recipes because I just have a couple of things I want to use but not sure what to do with them, but having the key ingredients listed would really help in situations like that. There are not photos for every recipe, the color format of the book and the photos used are wonderfully colorful….reminding you of a garden in full harvest bloom.

The recipes are easy and sound delicious.  The ingredients I noticed are items that would be in just about everyone’s pantry, so there is nothing you would have to hunt for or special order.  You will be amazed at the recipes and how simple and delicious they sound.

Caramel, Caramel & More Caramel

caramel image

Publication Date:  September 6, 2016

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/27KHy15

I am not a chocolate fan, but give me caramel and I am in heaven.  Just the first “Caramel” in the title of this cookbook and I knew I had to have it.

For those who have never made their own caramel, the authors provide very thorough instructions on how to.  There is even a discussion on the differences between caramel, toffee, and Dulce De Leche for those who want to know.  There are recipes for caramel with fruits, caramel candies, and caramel in cakes, bars and cookies!

The recipes are laid out in a good format for understanding and following.  I wish there were more photos, perhaps showing some of the steps and not just the end product.  I really do like the selection of recipes that were chosen as I believe it gives the reader a variety to work with for any occasion.

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebration

danielle walker

Publication Date: September 27, 2016

Amazon Link:  http://amzn.to/1XoMlRb

For those of us who eat gluten-free, dairy free, paleo and so on, this is a very helpful book to have in the kitchen.  Having recipes around for everyday is great, but what happens when you have a big dinner or celebration to go to and you need something different but still meeting your dietary needs?  This cookbook is great for that reason and many others.

The author shares in her opening how and why she began following the paleo diet and how troublesome it was in the beginning.  Her story is inspirational and not one to skip over.  This author is not one who came up with these recipes to fit into a book but one who lives daily preparing, eating and lastly sharing this lifestyle.

The author’s approach is informative to make it easy on the beginner but interesting to the advanced person who seeks to eat grain free.  Against All Grain Celebrations is focused on 12 holidays and enjoying them grain free.  I enjoyed reading how she broke down the ingredients and explained their use for a grain free lifestyle.  She offers tidbits that will definitely make your kitchen experience go more smoothly. The photos show delicious and tempting dishes.

Beyond the recipes and lifestyle of grain free, the author adds an aspect of presentation of a dinner or celebration with family and friends.  So if this is the first year you are hosting a family gathering, this book will not only give you some recipes to try but also will help you in your planning.


I hope you find these as interesting as I did.   I have tons of cooking to now!


Secret Medicines From Your Garden by

secrets from your garden


Herbalism has been around for centuries with no indication that it will ever be a dying interest or way of life.  Through out those centuries those who used herbs were known by different names, but more common as “healer”.  Those who were misunderstood by their society’s time were at times called “witches”.  Regardless of the name, herbalism has been around and practice with healing naturally as its intent.

Herbalism can also have a central focus on spiritualism and the use of the herb to heal both the physical body and that of the mind.  Those who  come to mind for the most influential practice of this would be the Druids.  It is from this background of learning and living that the author has developed her book, Secret Medicines From Your Garden.  The author has extensive years involved in learning her art and shares a wealth of knowledge with the reader.

Secret Medicines From Your Garden is packed with information from recognizing plants based upon shape of stems, leaves and growing conditions to using those plants. One section of this book is broken down to individual plants and the growing seasons of Spring, Summer and Fall.  The plants and what portions are used are discussed along with a “recipe”.  Another section is recipes for various aliments and needs.  Throughout the book, the connection to the physical plant and a spiritual healing is linked.

Beyond the amazing discourse on the plants and their healing or home uses, Ellen Evert Hopman concentrates on sharing the spiritual or “magic” associated with these plants.  Having studied Druid and American Indian herbalism, Ms. Hopman strongly influences her book with the idea of healing body and mind with plants.  This is defiantly a way of life that is being introduced and explained to the reader.

Secret Medicines From Your Garden is worth reading if you are interested in herbalism.  As the subtitle, “Plants for Healing, Spirituality, & Magic”, states that is what this book is about.

Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1sB4NLj

The Herbal Apothecary by author JJ Pursell Released Date December 30, 2015

the herbal apothecaryimage


If I didn’t have to work I would devote myself to building my own homestead.  I really think I was born in the wrong century and I know I am not alone in that.  I can easily imagine my life as the village healer from centuries ago.  I love making my own medicinal remedies, butter, soap, cleaners and whatever I find interesting. I devour sources of “recipes” for any of these kinds of things.  When I found The Herbal Apothecary online for review at NetGalley I had to request it.  I can’t even tell you how disappointed I was when I was declined. I was moping around the house for a few days before I decided to contact the publishing rep directly.  I didn’t beg, but I was ready to!   Thankfully for all of us, the very nice rep did grant me a copy of the book.

I can say in one word what I thought of this book……AMAZING!  If you are interested in medicinal herbs remedies you need to look at this book.  The layout cover to back will hold your attention.  After a short introduction of the herbalist life the author jumps the reader into the different systems of the human body such as the cardiovascular system or the endocrine system.  It helps anyone interested in herbal remedies to understand how the body works so they can understand which herbs would work for an ailment.

Next the reader gets a bit of botany class that is very interesting.  The photos of the plans are vibrant and show the plant to help you identify it easily.  Each plant has its medicinal uses, cultivation and how to use it as a remedy explained. Some of the plants shown I have never heard of which lead to one issue I had with the listings. It would have been nice to have a reference of where these plants are considered native.


The fun begins in the Herbalist Laboratory as the section was titled.  Here you get to read how to apply the remedy.  The application may be a tea, salve, capsule or something else.  There are also recipes listed and broken down into categories for sore throat as an example. Once again photos are used to show the ingredients and possibly how to work with them.  After familiarizing yourself with some recipes and how to make them, more recipes and how to administer them are outlined based upon complaint.

I really believe that if you are interested in home remedies you need to check this book out.  Personally I prefer having actual books to ebooks for what I label reference books like these, but in cases like these beggars cannot be choosey. I plan to purchase this book if at all possible just to have.

As I mentioned, I love home medicinals and would love to hear some of your favorite go to remedies!


Amazon Link:   http://amzn.to/1RiHJVt