Thursday, August 30, 2012

Farm and Garden Picks: The Timber Press Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs

Rich attributes including vibrant color, fragrance, and sheer variety of form make flowering shrubs the most rewarding of garden plants, but this vast group with its scores of tempting plants — including abutilons, camellias, viburnums, and witch hazels — requires careful navigation.

Leading expert on woody plants Jim Gardiner has distilled several decades of knowledge and experience into The Timber Press Encyclopedia of Flowering Shrubs, an incomparable pictorial reference of hardy shrubs that excel in temperate-zone gardens.

by James M. Gardiner
Timber Press, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Nature Pages: The Nature Principle

In 2005, Richard Louv identified a widespread ailment in American children that he called "nature-deficit disorder." In this book, he describes the same deficiency in adults and suggests some cures.

"In recent years an emerging body of research has begun to describe the restorative power of time spent in the natural world," he explains. "Even in small doses, we are learning, exposure to nature can measurably improve our psychological and physical health."

Finding our way back to nature is the problem. Today, for the first time in history, more than half the world's population lives in towns and cities and traditional ways of experiencing nature through work and daily living are vanishing along with hundreds of animal species. Where do we find nature amidst the sea of circuitry in which we are immersed? Louv has some suggestions.

Begin by embracing with joy the sanguine mystery and beauty of life. Get outside. Experience the natural world and therein find hope in its restorative powers and imagine a better future. Paraphrasing Martin Luther
King, “Any cultural movement will fail if it can’t paint a picture of a world where people want to go to.”

Continued in ... The Nature Pages

Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age
by Richard Louv
Algonquin Books, 2012

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  • Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Reading the History of The Settlers' War

    During the decades from 1820 to 1870, the American frontier expanded two thousand miles across the trans-Mississippi West. In Texas the frontier line expanded only about two hundred miles.

    The supposedly irresistible European force met nearly immovable Native American resistance, sparking a brutal struggle for possession of Texas’s hills and prairies that continued for decades.

    During the 1860s, however, the bloodiest decade in the western Indian wars, there were no large-scale battles in Texas between the army and the Indians. Instead, the targets of the Comanches, the Kiowas, and the Apaches were generally the homesteaders out on the Texas frontier, that is, precisely those who should have been on the sidelines. Ironically, it was these noncombatants who bore the brunt of the warfare, suffering far greater losses than the soldiers supposedly there to protect them. It is this story that The Settlers’ War tells for the first time.

    The Struggle for the Texas Frontier in the 1860s
    by Gregory Michno
    Caxton Press, 2011

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Farm and Garden Picks: Cereals and Pulses

    Cereal and pulse crops are staple foods that provide essential nutrients to many populations of the world. Traditionally, whole grains were consumed but most current foods are derived from refined fractions of cereal and pulse crops. Consumption of processed or refined products may reduce the health benefits of food.

    This text provides a summary of current research findings related to phytochemical composition and properties of cereal and pulse crops.

    Nutraceutical Properties and Health Benefits 
    edited by Liangli L. Yu, et al.
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2012

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    New Guides: Distilling Fruit Brandy

    This comprehensive, technical guide offers the curious home distiller pretty much everything there is to know about distilling fruit brandies. Raw materials, fermentation, mashing, alcohol determination, clarifying and filtering, and storage are all presented in great detail through text, diagrams, and photos.

    Each and every aspect of distilling is presented, including timing, yields, detecting distillation errors, and more.

    by Josef Pischl
    Schiffer Publishing, 2012