Bookbag 4-1-13

Here’s my second installment of the Frugal Upstate Bookbag report.  Yup, this is what I have out from our awesome local library right now:

Frugal Upstate Bookbag 3-31-13

An Age of Barns by Eric Sloane

I discovered Eric Sloane a couple of months ago.  His books are a bit older (this one is from 2001) and are what I guess most folks would call Americana–a sort of rosy historical view of America.  The subtitle on this one is “An Illustrated Review of Classic Barn Styles and Construction”.  His books contain lots of interesting facts presented in an enjoyable and easily digestible way, and the drawings (pen and ink style) are fantastic.  I love when he does cutaways and shows drawings of how folks would have actually constructed things.  Other books I’ve read of his deal with one room schoolhouses, weather, and American farm life.

Revolutionary Cooking

I requested this when Princess was doing her Revolutionary War project and it just came in.  I’m still perusing it because I enjoy information on historical cooking.  The book gives an introductory chapter with general information about cooking during the time period–then for each recipe section there is a lead in describing cooking techniques and dining customs of the time.  Fun stuff (well, at least I think so).

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

I love Terry Pratchett books.  If you’ve never heard of him, oh dear, well, how do I explain this?  First off he is British, and they have a dry, quirky sense of humor to start with.  This book is part of the Discworld series–which he began back in ’83.  This is the 40th book in the series.  No, that isn’t a typo.  For the record I’ve read all of them minus the 4 young adult books (which I need to go read).  See, when I told folks I’ve probably read over 2,000 books in my lifetime thus far I wasn’t kidding.  Anway. . .

These books are fantasy–they take place in another universe where the world is a flat disk held up by 4 giant elephants who are standing on the back of a great turtle that is swimming through space.  Seriously.  It is a coherent world with a full history and repeating characters and several intertwining storylines.  There are some about the country witches {my least favorite–don’t start with these} some about the city watch {love-you can start with them!}, some about Rincewind {a bumbling wizard who is really, really awful at magic}, some about Death {yes, death.  As a character.   And “The Death of Rats”.  As another character.} and then a bunch more that take place as semi stand alone plotlines.

These books however are also satire, done as only the British can do satire–somehow completely serious and completely tongue in cheek at the same time.  They lampoon all kinds of things–money, rock and roll, the postal system.  Ideas from “our” universe bleed over to the Discworld universe, but are kind of translated in the process.  Like in “Soul Music” where they discover rock and roll, but they call it “Band with Rocks In”.  A group of secondary characters forms a band (but like most teenagers never actually play any music) and they keep trying to come up with a name for the band–and all the names are classic rock bands translated.  Of course those translations are never furnished for you–a few I never did figure out–but it was a highspot for me in the novel every time they’d mention one (like “Lead Balloon” for Led Zepplin).

On Netflix you can find a couple of the books that were made into miniseries in England.  I think it’s The Colour of Magic, Going Postal and Hogsfather (where Death tries becoming the Discworld equivalent of Father Christmas).

This book, Raising Steam, is about someone inventing the steam engine and how it changes things.  I’m only a couple chapters in (it’s been a busy week) but it’s starting out slow.  I’m sure it will pick up though-they always do.

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evonovich

I really enjoy Janet Evonovich’s Stephanie Plum series.  (although once I recommended it to a friend and they disliked it–so individual tastes and all).  Stephanie is a typical Jersey girl who winds up working for her sleazy cousin as a bail bondsman after losing her job (in the first book).  She gets herself into all sorts of crazy situations, which I find entertaining to read about.  She’s caught in the middle between two guys she likes and who both like her–a local cop and a former bounty hunter turned security expert.  Both gorgeous and sexy of course. It is not a G rated book–although it isn’t terribly explicit either–but for example her one friend Marla is an ex-prostitute, they make references to her sleazy cousin’s proclivity for farm animals and other off color topics (although its not the POINT of the series or anything).  The books all have numbers in their title.  One for the Money being the first one, so obviously Takedown Twenty is the 20th novel.  I haven’t started it yet, but I expect to enjoy it.

Oh, and they did make One for the Money into a movie and it’s available on Netflix.  I thought it was a decent adaptation.

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Another modern day fantasy series I’ve been reading (this is book 8-the first is Moon Called).  The main character Mercy is a Were-Coyote and a car mechanic, who starts the series living next door to the leader of the local werewolf pack.  The werewolves have recently “come out” and are known, but many other supernatural who exist (vampires, elves, sorcerers) have not.  I won’t be doing too much of a spoiler to say that the leader of the Wolf pack falls in love with Mercy.  Each book revolves around some sort of crisis or mystery that needs to be solved.  I have no idea what Night Broken is about, but I like the series so I’m going to read it!

The Locavore’s Kitchen by Marilou Suszko

The description of this book included “Local Food” “Recipes” and “Preserving”–so of course I had to take it out.  I’ve flipped through it a bit but haven’t read it yet.

Pies & Pastries (The Good Cook ) and Cakes (The Good Cook) and Classic Desserts (The Good Cook)

The Good Cook series by Time Life Book were published in 28 volumes between 1978-1980, then updated and sold in the US via a “book a month” type thing through 1990.  I know, that sounds like the recipe for something really terrible and cheesy–but honestly these books are quite good.  I ordered 4 used from Amazon–Pork , Beef & Veal , Poultry and Variety Meats (that’s all the bits people don’t tend to eat in the US–kidneys, tongue, heart, brain etc).  The first half of each book is sort of a cooking lesson for the main ingredient–it includes information on the item, various techniques for preparing it (done with pictures) and a examples for cooking it.  The ones on meat show where the cuts come from, talk about the best method of cooking for each and even talk about how to tell a good piece of meat. The second half of the book is the recipes and it’s done in just plain text format.

Granted–there are some things in these books that are SO 70’s and I would never prepare.  Also it’s interesting to note that food photography has come a LONG way.  Still I think these are very useful.  Since I get a half pig and now a quarter cow each year, there are lots of cuts that I don’t normally run into in the grocery store, and these books give plenty of ideas on how to prepare them.

If you are interested in these cookbooks, I’d definitely get one or two out of the library first to see if you will find them useful (that’s why I took these three out, to see if I wanted to buy them and add them to my collection)  then you can order them from Amazon or another retailer used.  For these three, I’m not sure.  I found them interesting, but I think I have the pie and cake information in many other sources already.  The desserts had a few things that interested me–like the British “fools” made with bread and the steamed puddings.

Hope you all enjoyed this edition of the Frugal Upstate Bookbag.

note:  The Amazon links provided are advertising links–so if you happen to buy anything while you are at Amazon then I get a very small advertising fee.  However this does not increase your cost at all.  Just so you know. 

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  1. Lora says

    My father was a fan of Eric Sloane’s decades ago. I’m glad to see that some of his books have been reprinted in this century.

  2. Erika says

    Thanks for pointing out how awesome the library can be. I live for interlibrary loaning. It is very rare that there is a book that I cannot get my hands on. It boggles my mind how many people I know that do not use this resource to get books (fiction) they will only read once, or to use it to review reference books to decide if they are worth owning.

  3. says

    I honestly don’t know how you find time to read all that. I check books out of the library and they sit on my desk for three weeks. But I have a reproduction of an 1830 cookbook entitled The Cook Not Mad that you might want to look at sometime. I had to buy it because of the title and because it was originally published in Watertown, NY where I have family. And also it was remaindered and quite inexpensive.

  4. says

    Well I don’t read every single book in it’s entirety Kathy–I do a lot of skimming of things like cookbooks, knitting books etc. And I usually don’t have quite so many novels out all at the same time–but they all came in from my waitlist so I am trying to get through them :)

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