Eat Where You Live

201111301328.jpg Eat Where You Live by Lou Bendrick and Just Food by James McWilliams were the November Kitchen Reader selection. I asked book club members to pick one of the two books for review (or both!)

Both of these books have been on my “to-read” list for awhile now, so I picked up a copy of each, intending to compare them in my Kitchen Reader review today. I may have been a little over-ambitious in that plan, because I’m only 1/4 of the way through Just Food. So that review is going to have to wait.

I did finish Eat Where You Live. Sadly, it did not live up to expectations. I think the stumbling block for the author was the broad subject matter; there is so much she tried to cover in this book that there was no focus or time to go into detail on any single topic.

Based on its reviews and description, I thought Eat Where You Live would be an insightful guide to the local food movement. Instead, I got an overview with a long list of books, articles and websites to read if I wanted to know more.

And that’s fine, for someone who is interested in learning about local foods but doesn’t know where to start. But as someone who has spent the last 2 years trying to find the balance between eating locally and sustainably without spending exhorbitant amounts of money or depriving myself of foods I love that can’t be grown locally (blood oranges, chocolate and tea, I’m looking at you), it wasn’t what I was looking for. I already understand the benefits of farmers’ markets and co-ops. I know to wear sensible shoes and bring cash when I go to pick my own fruits or vegetables at a local farm.

That’s not to say that there weren’t at least some helpful ideas and tips in the book. Some of the interviews with farmers and restaurant owners were fun to read, and the foraging section was interesting (though I don’t fully trust myself to differentiate between safe and poisonous wild berries, nor do I know where to find them).

Overall, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars. It is great for people looking for resources to start learning about the local food movement, but is not quite the book for those who already eat locally on a regular basis.

More of my book reviews can be found here.

Holiday Baking Season

Tomorrow is December 1, and you know what that means… cookie baking season! I have so many treat ideas brewing, but I also want to make some of last year’s favorites and our traditional cookies as well. I forsee a lot of baking coming on. And a lot of friends and family receiving homemade goodies for the holidays.

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Here are some of last year’s favorites:

Chai Wafers

Chocolate Chai Tea Cakes

Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

Cinnamon Sugar Slice-and-Bake Cookies

Maple Sugar Cookies

Matcha White Chocolate Shortbread

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Perfect Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Spicy Ginger Cookies

White Chocolate Tangerine Tea Cakes

Chai-Infused Marshmallows

Clementine Cutie Brownies

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You have to stay hydrated during all your baking and decorating, right? These are three of my favorite hot holiday beverages:

Perfect Hot Chocolate

Hot Mulled Cider

Tea-Infused Hot Chocolate

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And when you want a snack but need a break from all the sugar, try one of these treats:

Smoky Curried Popcorn

Cheesy Italian Seasoned Snack Mix