Saturday, February 20, 2016

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Published: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007

Pages: 370

Genre: nonfiction

Obtained Through: gift

Summary:  This book is really two books in one.  On one hand it is the story of how the author and her family lived almost exclusively on food grown and raised locally for one year.  Much of the food they grew and raised themselves.  On the other hand, it is a book packed with examples and information on why and how everyone should do what they can to buy local.  It also discusses the history of food and the American food culture.

Thoughts:  This book is jam packed with food and farming information pertaining to history, present issues, and thoughts about the future.  It also looks at the food culture of Americans and how it developed, and discusses the scary point that many Americans don't know where their food comes from or what is in their food.  Along with the author giving her opinion on these topics, there are sidebars throughout the book written by her husband.
     My favorite part of the book was the personal story about a year being a "locavore".  The book would have been dry and hard to get through without this aspect.  The author describes such things as how she and her family grew fruits and vegetables, raised chickens and turkeys, made cheese and daily bread from scratch, canned and froze food, and developed in-season recipes and meals.  I live on a small farm and could relate to many of these experiences.  I learned about some things that I haven't tried, but may in the future.  The two things that I did not find realistic were how the kids just went along with this huge lifestyle change, participating fully, without putting up a fight and how the amount of work to accomplish being a "locavore" was minimized.  I don't know how the author and her family had time to do all this work along with jobs, school, and everyday chores.
     Some of the information is repeated many times, which made parts of the book monotonous and frustrating.   Yes, I understand that a lot of money and fuel is put into food production and delivery and that this and many industrial farming practices are not good for the environment.  This point does not have to be repeated over and over.  The author's daughter wrote essays from her perspective about the same thing the author was writing about.  I can see how some might think that this was too much repetition as well, but I felt it was interesting to hear another family member's opinion.  I also liked the in-season recipes and meal plans at the end of some of the chapters.  I will be trying some of these recipes.  With all these different aspects to the book, the author was able to weave everything together in a very organized way.  Also, her writing style is straightforward and easy to follow.
     This book was thought provoking, informative, and entertaining.  It would be a great book to discuss in a book club.

Tea: Vanilla Pear Tea                         

Company: Tea Forte

Obtained: gift

     According to their website, "Tea Forte is the global luxury tea Brand identified around the world as the ultimate tea experience.  Known for the variety and unparalleled quality of handcrafted teas, design-driven accessories, exquisite packaging and opulent approach, Tea Forte re-imagines and re-defines the contemporary tea experience by delivering a delighting and luxuriant encounter."
     I received my tea in a gift box called "Lotus", which is described on the box as "a collection of relaxing teas for mind, body, and spirit".  There are five different teas in "single steep" packages.  This loose tea is premeasured to steep twelve ounces. 
     The box describes this tea as "rare white tea with the evocative essence of vanilla orchard infused with the taste of fresh baked pear for a cup blended to relax and sooth".
     The package of vanilla pear tea was easy to open.  The scent was a fruity one with ginger in the background.  The majority of the leaves were dark brown, from small to tiny in size, with some long medium sized lavender colored leaves mixed in.  There were also some light brown leaves that looked like small pieces of tree bark and some dried fruit.  The mix made for a pretty looking tea.
     I put the leaves in a teapot and poured twelve ounces of water that had been boiled over the leaves.  The suggested steeping time on the box was 2-3 minutes.  I let the tea brew for 2 minutes.
     The liquid was amber with a scent that included both sweet fruit and floral with hints of ginger and vanilla.  This was a strong tasting tea.  It was very sweet with fruit and a hint of vanilla, but it also had a strong floral taste with a hint of ginger.  The after taste was the same, but I could just make out pear and apple flavors.
     This tea was too sweet and strong for me.  It also had too much going on with the taste.  I like teas that are simple.

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