Sunday, April 15, 2018

I'm not done yet

My holds keep coming in.

Weeknight Paleo: 100+ easy and delicious family-friendly meals by Julie and Charles Mayfield.  This is not a useful cookbook.  Like in their first book, the authors are a bit wishy-washy about what "Paleo" is or means.  In this book, they do come off more as "find out what works best for you."  The recipes all seem fussy, with ingredient lists that go down the whole length of the page sometimes.  Canned items, butter, and coconut products are in nearly every dish, so not useful for me.  Specialized equipment, including spiralizers and insta-pots, are also featured.  I still wouldn't recommend this even for eaters with fewer restrictions: none of the recipes seem particularly special and in general the notes, introductory paragraphs for each recipe, and other writing all seems forced-folksy.

Meals that heal inflammation: Embrace healthy living and eliminate pain, one meal at a time by Julie Daniluk.  There are so many anti-inflammation diets.  How many have I looked at and each one is different.  This author does note several times that the perfect diet is unique to each person, but there's so much variation, it is difficult to know where to start.  This diet incorporates a lot of beans and tree nuts.

The health-information part-- fully half the book-- is ok.  The author is a trained nutritionist, but also some kind of a celebrity, so some of the information is good (matches information from other sources) but some of it... well.  She heavily cites or quotes health books by other authors, including the note that "some health practitioners believe that dehydration is at the root of almost every chronic condition.  (See Dr. F. Batmanghelidj's book, Your body's many cries for water, for an in-depth look at the link between dehydration and disease.)"  (p.98)  That sounds a lot like an endorsement of the idea.

While most of the book is at least understandable and good for me to review, a few parts stand out as being too technical or specialized, especially since the book seems to be designed for people who need introductory-level information.  An example: "Minerals also provide impressive antioxidant protection.  For example, many minerals function as cofactors for various classes of antioxidant enzymes that your body produces.  A cofactor is a nonprotein compound that binds to a protein and is essential for that protein's function (enzymes are a type of protein).  Selenium is a mineral cofactor for glutathione peroxidases..." (p. 102)  These terms and this process receives no more explanation, either before or after.  I'm not sure what this means.

And just because it annoyed me, the text is justified throughout, which made for some really messed-up spacing.  Improper spacing between sentences is the first thing on the list of "Things Guaranteed to Mess With My Dyslexia." 

Savor: Rustic recipes inspired by forest, field, and farm by Ilona Oppenheim.  This book is undeniably beautiful.  Every recipe has its own picture, and landscape and family shots are included throughout.  The pages aren't glossy, which goes with the "rustic" theme.

As for content, this book is mostly for people who romanticize homesteading; people who might actually use it must have obscene amounts of time and money.  It's a bit pretentious, every egg in every recipe marked as "pasture-raised," every dairy product followed by "ideally raw or nonhomogenized grass-fed."  This is another author who talks so much about herself and her family that you'd think she's some kind of celebrity.  Of course, if I snowbirded between Miami and Aspen and had a custom-built home on a mountain, I suppose I would eventually become out of touch with reality, too.  Several pages on how to mill your own grains at home?  Yeah, right.

Gorgeous and useless.  Nice to look at, but completely unnecessary for anyone to actually own. 

100% real: 100 insanely good recipes for clean food made fresh by Sam Talbot.  Too bad I didn't find this book when it was new and I might have been able to eat like this: some of these recipes look truly delicious.  And it's a beautiful book, with matte photos for every recipe.  There are some weird ingredients I couldn't hope to find in my small town (sambal oelek? yuzu juice? We don't all like in New York, Sam) and some of the recipes seem like odd combinations, too hands-on/time-intensive, or otherwise fiddly, but this book has more realistic recipes than Savor

Vedge: 100 plates large and small that redefine vegetable cooking by Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby.  This isn't at all practical.  Most recipes have an ingredients list that runs the length of the page; plenty of ingredients aren't found at my local grocery or are too specialized to keep on-hand: thumbelina carrots, porcini powder (I had to google that), two kinds of sesame seeds for one dish, sea beans, and lupini beans.  Many of the recipes don't have pictures.  Since so many of the recipes use ingredients I might not even recognize, more photos seem necessary.  This doesn't seem at all useful for average people.  I didn't write down any recipes at all.

The first mess cookbook: Vibrant plant-based recipes to eat well through the seasons by Laura Wright.  It turns out this is a vegan cookbook, as well as being gluten-free, so there are some atypical ingredients in these.  Most of the recipes use large amounts of raw nuts as a base, so I can't even think of using them now.  Very pretty, lovely pictures, would probably be useful for veg(etari)ans who do all their cooking from scratch.

I would love to see a cookbook written by someone who didn't grow up on an idyllic 10-acre farm or helping since age 6 in their family's organic gourmet restaurant.  Normal people have to cook, too.

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