Posts Tagged ‘Book reviews

27
Jun
12

Book Review: Naturally Fun Parties for Kids

I cannot say enough nice things about this amazing book by Anni Daulter and Heather Fontenot. Naturally Fun Parties for Kids is just plain overflowing with ideas, recipes, and inspiration to throw amazing, sustainable parties that your kids will like. There are 12 complete parties planned in this book, everything from invitations and decorations to recipes and crafts are included for each party theme.

The book is organized according to the seasons and includes three party ideas for each of the seasons. The ideas are sometimes classic, an egg dyeing party for spring, and sometimes unique, like strawberry picking and jam-making party for summer or an upcycle art party in autumn. Other party themes include a pancake pj party, summer and winter solstice parties, a natural spa party (complete with recipes for homemade spa treatments), a wild girls tepee party, and a knights and dragon quest party. There really is something for everyone here.

We have not had occasion to throw one of these exact parties, but I am drawn to the pancake pj party for my own Christmas eve birthday. Who wouldn’t want to spend the morning of Christmas eve in pj’s eating pancakes followed by birthday cake? There was a 4th birthday party here about 6 weeks ago, and I must confess that chicken masks we made and sent home as favors were definitely inspired by this book. The true beauty of this book might lie not in recreating a party to every last detail, but instead in getting to pick and choose from the plentiful ideas to make a party your own or in letting the ideas here take root and shape into something totally new for your needs.

Each party is broken down to include detailed lists of projects and materials and a timeline for getting things done. Every invitation is unique and handmade, and the materials recommended are frequently recycled or thrifted items. The egg dyeing party includes not only a recipe and directions for making the natural egg dyes, but also directions for a spring fabric banner, an inspirational sign, spring flower table decor, and recipes for flowerpot cheese breads, mini crustless quiches, and lemon-mint ice pops. No details is to small for Anni and Heather to have considered, and they frequently offer small tips and tricks to make things more easy or run more smoothly throughout.

I know this book has “for kids” in the title, but even if you don’t have kids and never plan on throwing a party that will include them, much of this book will be useful for you. There are just SO MANY ideas here! Get the book and get your party on! Really.

03
Apr
12

Book Review: The Organic Family Cookbook by Anni Daulter

I would like to preface this post by telling you that I was asked by the author to review this book when I volunteered to review her next book Naturally Fun Parties for Kids. You’ll read my review of that book in a couple of weeks. I was thrilled to get this book, The Organic Family Cookbook, in the mail and write a review as I hadn’t heard of it. I’m certain many of you haven’t either.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am by all definitions of the word a “foodie”. I love to cook, eat, bake and shop for food. I’ll try anything once, and I am constantly experimenting in the kitchen, the best of which you guys get to read about here. Here’s the thing about Anni Daulter’s The Organic Family Cookbook: it’s chock full of new ideas. There are so very many of them, I had trouble choosing things for us to try. It’s taken me longer than I would have liked to get this post ready simply because each weekly trip to the store is another opportunity to try more of Anni’s ideas; meaning that waiting just a bit longer means I have more to tell you about it.

The book is beautiful; the photos, by Alexandria DeFurio, are gorgeous, and the sections are organized to walk you through a day of eating. Anni presents ideas for breakfasts, snacks, lunches, dinners, sides, desserts, and extras. Most of you also know that health and nutrition are big in our home, and Anni delivers here as well. The recipes are generally very healthy, and even the sweeteners used tend to be on the healthier side. Anni does seem to use agave nectar a lot, which I am not a big fan of for many reasons; it is, however, easy enough to substitute honey or maple syrup, and Anni usually notes this.

As far as the recipes themselves, we have loved most everything we’ve tried. So far, and there are many more in the works, we’ve tested out:

  • Natural Cran-Strawberry Red Roll-ups – I liked these, but they are a bit tart. The boys and hubby were not fans, but the texture was great and the flavor was perfect for those of us who like things that pucker you up a bit. Of course, a bit more sweetener would also diminish the pucker factor here.

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  • Cantaloupe and Arugula Salad with Crispy Prosciutto and Spicy Orange VinaigretteĀ  – I LOVED this salad. It’s the perfect combination of salty, spicy and sweet. I couldn’t stop eating it, and I put the Spicy Orange Vinaigrette dressing on another salad I made with sauteed pineapple over baby arugula with astounding results. If cantaloupe isn’t your thing, make the dressing anyway; it’s delish!
  • Zoe’s Favorite Baked Parmesan-Crusted Artichokes – I have to confess that I ended up altering this recipe quite a bit; I can’t have dairy right now, so I had to skip both the butter and the cheese. I used olive oil instead. Hubby doesn’t like the smell of vinegar, so I skipped that as well. Without it, however, I found that the artichokes didn’t bake as quickly or evenly. I ended up baking the second trial batch for nearly twice as long with a bit of water in the bottom of the pan; they ended up being wonderful. I will have to make them at lunch one afternoon when Hubby isn’t here to be bothered by the smell of baking balsamic.
  • Anni’s Favorite Roasted Tomatoes – This recipe is amazing. It is deceptively simply, with only 4 (5 if you count salt and pepper separately) ingredients, and I cannot stop making them. I’ve added them to standard family dinners, and I even start them at mid-morning to have them warm to dress up left overs for lunch. Honestly, roasted tomatoes are now a staple around here!

In addition to these recipes, we also tried red quinoa as a side with dinner. While I loved it, and ate the left overs topped with roasted tomatoes for lunches, hubby just liked it and the boys weren’t big on trying it. I plan on feeding them a lighter shade in the future; maybe if it looks more like rice they’ll give it more of a chance. The baby, of course, gave it a hearty try, but he found it way more fun to smear it on the table than to actually consume it! When we do try quinoa again, I plan on trying both the warm berry quinoa for breakfast and the simple quinoa with peas and corn; berry season is just getting under way here and sweet corn season will follow.

Recipes we can’t wait to try, in addition to those two, include:

  • Pumpkin Pancakes
  • Super Green Crispy Kale (which is not like all the other crispy kale recipes I have seen!)
  • A spinach-pineapple-banana version of the fruit roll ups
  • Roasted Tomato Garden Tacos (I bought tomatoes for this today! Yay!)
  • Super Crunch Apple Cranberry Tuna Wrap
  • Grilled Lemon Caper Halibut
  • Vine-Roasted Tomato Soup
  • BBQ Chicken (I really want to try this sauce recipe!)
  • Asparagus with Tamari and Almond Slices
  • Luscious Garlic Beet Chips
  • Fall Pumpkin Spiced Cookies
  • Red Velvet Carrot Cupcakes
  • Dana’s Raw Vegan Apple Pie

And that’s just SOME of what I still want to try. This volume, while still under 200 pages, just has THAT many ideas in it.

Anni’s also packs in a lot of fun ideas for green family living in the margins. They include ways to grow food as a family, impact the environment in your kitchen, and cook with your kids. The ideas range from heading out to pick at a farm to baking for charity and supporting local agriculture. I love how Anni presents and embraces the true and complete impact of an organic family kitchen.

 




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