Preserving Family Recipes

Preserving Family Recipes; How to Save and Celebrate your Food Traditions by Valerie J. Frey
Genre: Instructional
ISBN: 9780820330631
Expected publication: November 1st 2015 by University of Georgia Press
Rating: 4

This is one of the most complete books I’ve ever seen on preparing and attacking a project. Many people have a book or a folder or a pile or even a document with family recipes, but this book is a guide on how to make a treasured heirloom for generations to come. It covers so many different bases, such as working with people or working with yourself, interviews, researching recipes and allowing them to evolve, binding ideas, etc. It is almost overwhelming how much information is included. That being said, one of the best part about instructional books like this is you can take your vision and search through a book for tips, instructions, and ideas. I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to put together a really special family cookbook.

About the Book

Heirloom dishes and family food traditions are rich sources of nostalgia and provide vivid ways to learn about our families’ past, yet they can be problematic. Many family recipes and food traditions are never documented in written or photographic form, existing only as unwritten know-how and lore that vanishes when a cook dies. Even when recipes are written down, they often fail to give the tricks and tips that would allow another cook to accurately replicate the dish. Unfortunately, recipes are also often damaged as we plunk Grandma’s handwritten cards on the countertop next to a steaming pot or a spattering mixer, shortening their lives.

This book is a guide for gathering, adjusting, supplementing, and safely preserving family recipes and for interviewing relatives, collecting oral histories, and conducting kitchen visits to document family food traditions from the everyday to special occasions. It blends commonsense tips with sound archival principles, helping you achieve effective results while avoiding unnecessary pitfalls. Chapters are also dedicated to unfamiliar regional or ethnic cooking challenges, as well as to working with recipes that are “orphans,” surrogates, or terribly outdated. Whether you simply want to save a few accurate recipes, help yesterday’s foodways evolve so they are relevant for today’s table, or create an extensive family cookbook, this guidebook will help you to savor your memories.

About the Author

Valerie J. Frey is a writer, archivist, and an educational consultant. She lives in Athens, Georgia.

Get Started Quilting

Get Started Quilting: The Complete Beginner’s Guide by Jessica Alexandrakis
ISBN: 978-1632501462
Published: Interweave (July 21, 2015)
Rating: 5

This is called “The Complete Beginner Guide.” I would have to say I think this is the most complete, non-intimidating quilting book I’ve encountered. Clear photos, exciting and modern fabric choices, and concepts made clear, this book is exactly what a beginner quilter needs to get them started on their adventure.

The book includes information on different categories of fabrics, how to sort and cut your fabric, how to pick colors and prints, and how to combine and match those colors and prints for an overall appealing project. It shows how to press seams, demonstrates a variety of hand-stitching techniques and applique methods. It covers circular pieces, paper-piecing, and step-by-step instructions on how to piece together the demonstrated blocks for the best and cleanest results. It also shows the finishing and quilting process, making bias binding, and even information and tips on how to wash your quilt. Suffice to say I was impressed.

Full of information, beautifully put together, and inspiring, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any new or beginner quilter.

About the Book

An all-in-one guide to contemporary quilting techniques for beginners!

Quilting can often seem complicated and overwhelming, but it truly is a craft that anyone can do--taken one step at a time, this fantastic hobby is really quite easy. Get Started Quilting takes readers on a steady path to learning the essential quilting techniques, tricks, and tested methods of quilt making, focusing on one skill at a time.


About the Author

Jessica Alexandrakis learned to quilt while living in Hokkaido, Japan, in 2002. She loves collecting fabric, piecing scrap quilts, and quilting in public. Jessica is the author of Quilting on the Go, Get Started Quilting, and The Complete Quilter. She lives outside New York City.

Custom Socks

Custom Socks; Knit to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherley
Genre: Knitting
ISBN: 978-1620337752
Published: Interweave (August 7, 2015)
Rating: 4

This is an extremely detailed guide to taking a sock pattern (or building a sock pattern) and making it actually fit. Not just for the first four hours of the day but for the whole time you’ll wear them. It teaches you the anatomy of a sock, how to measure, how to the math required to adjust the stitches, and so on. It is filled with details, hints, graphs and charts, how to add stitch patterns to a pre-existing pattern, how to make the heel more dense, etc. And of course it has great patterns with beautiful pictures. All the patterns are unique and beautiful.

My only complaint is the yarn weight in the projects. although all are made with Superfine yarn, which I won’t even pick up let alone actually use. I would have liked to see some patterns with something besides laceweight yarn, on needles larger than a size 2.

About the Book

Whether you knit them toe-up or top-down, getting just the right fit on hand knit socks can be a major challenge! In Custom Socks, Kate Atherley sets out to teach knitters of all levels the skills and tools they need to understand sock fit, and to knit a pair of socks that fit properly. She calls on her years of experience as Knitty's Managing Technical Editor, where she has edited hundreds of sock patterns, to share this information in a way that is easy to understand with patterns that inspire.

So go ahead and treat yourself to these 15 original sock patterns that are easily customizable and work with any needle configuration. Your feet will thank you!

Amazon | Ravelry | Author

About the Author

(from her website)

I'm Knitty's Lead Technical Editor and it's just about my dream job. I also do other freelance technical editing.
I'm a regular contributor to books and magazines, including most recently the Fall 2014 issue of Sockupied.
I teach regularly at stores around Ontario - I have regular gigs at The Purple Purl and Lettuce Knit in Toronto; and make frequent appearances at others shops, including Shall We Knit, Linda's Craftique in Port Credit and The Needle Emporium

I also travel further: in the first half of 2015 you'll find me at Vogue Live in NYC, at Interweave's Yarn Fest in Colorado, and at Squam Art Workshops. 

I live in Toronto with my husband and our challenging but mostly adorable rescue hound Dexter. 

Edwards Menagerie

Edwards Menagerie – Birds
Genre: Crochet (beginner/intermediate)
ISBN: 978-1446306024
Published: David & Charles; New edition edition (August 11, 2015)
Rating: 5

This book is so cute. I love the idea of creating a whole bucketload of stuffed feathered frends for a sweet little boy.

Kerry Lord has broken down the 40+ bird patterns into 3 basic categories of skill levels: basic knowledge of simple stitches and basic color changes, a little  more complicated with stitches and color changes, and then lots of color changes. She’s also simplified the patterns by creating basic body/neck/head patterns, different kinds of feet and wings, and then telling you which ones to combine, when/where to modify to make that specific bird. For instance: a bird pattern will say: Work the “Grasping Leg but add more rounds before the wrist.” Then after you’ve got most of the body, the rest of the pattern tells the specific things, like the peacock feathers, or the specific beak for that bird.It’s a very concise way to do it and I like it.


It’s also very open about the size. Basically, she says to use whatever size hook and yarn you want as long as the tightness of the fabric works. Imagine being able to make a series of super cute dodo birds, or a nice big cuddly stuffed turkey! I want a cuddly stuffed turkey.


I think this book is super cute and I want to make peacocks and swans and eagles and flamingos now. I totally recommend checking out Edwards Menagerie Birds and the original Menagerie!

About the Book

The eagerly awaited follow-up to the runaway bestseller Edward's Menagerie has arrived with BIRDS! Featuring 40 fine-feathered friends including a bashful Flamingo, romance-writing Owl, and playful Penguin, these unforgettable crochet birds are quick to make using supersoft yarn in playful color palettes. Their larger-than-life personalities will fly off your hook as you crochet them for all your friends and family!

Amazon | Ravelry | TOFT

About the Author

Kerry Lord is the designer and founder of the TOFT Alpaca Shop, a modern British knitwear company offering exclusive knitting and crochet patterns, alpaca yarns and workshops. TOFT takes British alpaca fleece from their own Alpaca flock and from elsewhere in the UK. Their fashion-led designs are available as both 'ready to wear' and 'ready to knit'. TOFT studio also hosts a full programme of knitting workshops and other textile courses for people to learn to knit from scratch, but also to develop advanced techniques.


Battlemage by Stephen Aryan, narrated by Matt Addis
Genre: Epic Fantasy
ISBN: 9780316298278
Published: September 2015 by Orbit
Rating: 4.5

Battlemage was so exciting. It held on tight and didn’t let go. I was hooked from the very first few sentences from the first chapter and from there it just got better. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. It had an exciting, well thought-out plot, complex and interesting characters, good writing, great humor, and amazing war-time magic. It had an interesting (subtle) religious and political commentary running through it that added dimension to the world. It made it more real. And it had a character that I had to really think about, really pay attention to, to figure out his true identity! I love that. I love a book that makes me think, and that surprises me.

I love good-guy/bad-guy magic. Magic that can take you to higher levels of selflessness and servant-hood and kindness, and that same magic can be used to pull you and everyone around you into filth and degradation. The Source is so powerful that, if used in the wrong hands, can completely break and ruin a person. And we see that in the battlemages. That’s my favorite kind of magic.

The narration was very good. Addis created a perfect voice for the personalities of the characters. He has superb accents and articulation, spoke clearly at a good pace, and took a book that was at 100% great and made it 200% great (which is exactly what the narrator should do! Add to the experience, not take away from it.)

The only thing about Battlemage I thought was slightly lacking was the very end. It was a little abrupt and open. Open in a good way, meaning it immediately demands a sequel. But I felt like the author was like “Hah! It’s over! bwahahahah!” rather than the kind of gentile ease away that leaves the reader feeling satisfied but still excited for what is to come. However I was still highly satisfied with the story, would totally read/listen to it again, and recommend it to anyone 18+.

About Battlemage

'I can command storms, summon fire and unmake stone,' Balfruss growled. 'It's dangerous to meddle with things you don't understand.'

BALFRUSS is a battlemage, sworn to fight and die for a country that fears his kind.
VARGUS is a common soldier - while mages shoot lightning from the walls of his city, he is down on the front line getting blood on his blade.
TALANDRA is a princess and spymaster, but the war will force her to risk everything, and make the greatest sacrifice of all.

Magic and mayhem collide in this explosive epic fantasy from a major new talent.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author

About the Author

I’m a lifelong fan of fantasy and science fiction. It started with The Hobbit, The Belgariad, the Earthsea books, the Shannara books and then David Gemmell, who was a huge influence on me and my writing.
I’m a writer and podcaster. Battlemage is being published by Orbit books in the UK and USA in September 2015 and it’s the first in the Age of Darkness trilogy.

Crochet Home

Crochet Home: 20 Vintage Modern crochet Projects for the Home by Emma Lamb
Genre: Crochet
ISBN: 978-1446304853
Published: David & Charles (August 17, 2015)
Rating: 3

Crochet Home is a fairly boring book. And I really hate to say that, but there’s no way to sugar coat it. The patterns are mostly based around Granny Squares, circles, and flowers. I like granny squares a lot. I like basic shapes a lot But a whole book of them is a little much; especially if there isn’t a lot of difference between the different patterns. Now if that’s all you do and that’s what you like, then this book is for you. And the photos are beautiful. But as I was turning through the book one page at a time, I kept thinking, “didn’t I already see this? oh but it was a blanket instead of a pillow or a garland instead of a doily.” It just wasn’t very original and I really don’t think it warranted its own book. Some of these put into a book of other original ideas would have been a better plan. Or maybe a short booklet of photos: “150 things to do with a granny square.” But the book wasn’t enough to spend $25 on.

Illustrated Quick Cook

Illustrated Quick Cook: Over 700 Quick Recipes by Heather Whinney
ISBN: 9781465430083
Published: June 2 2015 (first published September 1st 2009)
Rating: 5

This book is big. And heavy. And it makes me want to spend forever making yummy things.

It’s sorted into two main categories: Everyday, and Food for Friends. Within those categories are ten sub-categories (each, for a total of 20) such as No Cook, Get the Most from your Roast, Batch and Freeze, Big-Pot gatherings, No-cook desserts, Menu Planners, No-fuss Finger Foods, etc. Each recipe will tell the prep time, the cook time, tell you if it’s good frozen, or if it’s a healthy option. The front is loaded down with pictures and then sends you to the page with the recipe you want. The meals are also sorted by meat or protein type. And my favorite part?

Each recipe has a photo.

There are 700 recipes in this book. And each recipe has a photo. Next to it. You don’t even have to search for it.

This book makes me so happy. Check out the DK website for more preview pages like this one! ----->

This would be such a great gift to a young professional or soon-to-graduate college student. Or a mom who doesn’t want fifty cookbooks, just one. Or a guy who is afraid of cookbooks. Or people like me who don’t cook anything if there isn’t a photo of it. It’s everything you need for every kind of cook. Christmas is coming, you guys, and this is book is $25 at the publishers website, which in my opinion, is a steal.


About the Book

Illustrated Quick Cook is the most extensive and highly illustrated resource of "fast home cooking" recipes ever published.

Illustrated Quick Cook is designed to make life easier, from planning meals and cooking weeknight dinners to entertaining friends and hosting for the holidays. More than 700 recipes cover every need — from chapters on speedy international-inspired suppers and homestyle classics to batch-and-freeze recipes, "10 Ways" to transforms key ingredients into mealtime mains, and more. There's even a "no cook" chapter for whipping up inspired salads and sides.

More than just recipes, Illustrated Quick Cook offers fantastic value. Extra features include: 14 themed menu planners, recipe chooser galleries, Cheat tips, Cook's Notes, recipe variations, and practical information to introduce you to every time-saving chapter theme.

Amazon | DK | Goodreads

About the Author

Heather Whinney grew up in Derbyshire, England, with simple home cooking. She trained as a home economist then went on to be the cooking school manager of the Cordon Vert Cookery School, the Vegetarian Society, and the food editor of Vegetarian Magazine.

Shake Off

Shake Off by Mischa Hiller, narrated by Fleet Cooper
Genre: Spy Thriller
ISBN: 9780316204217
Pulished: First published in America in 2012
Rating: 3

Shake Off was one of those books you listen to and you’re like “Okay this is interesting” and there’s one really exciting part, and then after it’s over, you’re like “oh, I literally spent eight and a half hours listening to this book. That’s fine.”

But that’s really all it was—fine. I didn’t particularly love any of the characters. There were some good scenes, but nothing addictive. And when it ended I smiled and then went on to the next book. It took me a few days to figure out what to write in this review because I wasn’t even sure how I felt about it at first. It was just a story that ended up in my head, the experience wasn’t anything phenomenal. The writing was good and the narration was great, but the story was just fine.

About the Book

Years of training have transformed Michel Khoury into a skilled intelligence operative. A refugee whose family was murdered by extremists, he has one mission: the peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict that upended his life.

An alluring enigma, he attracts the attention of Helen, a pretty English girl who lives in the adjacent apartment. As their relationship develops, Michel is unable to tell Helen about his past—or the collection of passports and unmarked bills he’s concealed in the bathroom they share.

When Michel’s secrets turn deadly, Helen and Michel find themselves pursued through the streets of London, Berlin, and the Scottish countryside. As they run, each steps closer to a discovery that will change their lives forever.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible | Author

About the Author

Mischa Hiller was born in England in 1962 and grew up in London, Dar es Salaam and Beirut. Sabra Zoo won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book for Europe and South Asia in 2011. Mischa also won the 2009 European Independent Film Festival script competition for his adaptation of the book. His second novel Shake Off was published to critical acclaim in 2011. Disengaged is published in 2015.

Get Set, Sew!

Get Set, Sew! The Beginner’s sewing Machine Book; by Jane Bull
Genre: Sewing, DIY
ISBN: 978-1465435873
Published: July 7 2015 by DK
Rating: 4.5

This is a beautiful, colorful, well-designed step-by-step guide to beginner’s sewing machine projects. The projects are really cute (I made a few and want to make more, and I’m an advanced sewer!). One of the things I like most about it is the patterns themselves are so unique. I’ve seen a lot of beginner sewing books but these patterns are great! Another thing I like about the patterns is that they are customizable. They are perfect as they are, but they also lend themselves to inspiration and little changes to make your project unique and different.

The book’s layout is very good. It has the basics in the beginning, very good photos, very clear step-by-steps, and hints throughout to guide newbies along. The color scheme, fonts, etc are great. The only problem I have is there are a few pages—not all of them, just some—that are just so busy it’s almost overwhelming to look at. Too much stuff, either information or cute little pictures, makes some of the pages look cluttered.

All in all I’m very happy with Get Set, Sew! and recommend it to every beginner sewer, child or adult!

About the Book

Jane Bull's Get Set, Sew is a beginner's guide to mastering your sewing machine with 20 easy projects.

The latest in Jane Bull's successful series of craft titles, Jane Bull's Get Set, Sew is a clear, fresh, enjoyable introduction to sewing on a machine. Jane's friendly, jargon-free instructions and step-by-step photos will walk you through everything you need to know to learn how to use a sewing machine.

Master sewing machine basics one at a time, then put newly learned skills to work with 20 simple sewing projects to make — including creative and original bags, accessories, cushions, and toys. Jane Bull's Get Set, Sew includes templates, sewing patterns, and everything you need to make your first sewing projects and lay the groundwork for countless creative fabric crafts to come.

Written in the Blood

Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones, narrated by Gemma Whelan
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 9780316254489
Rating: 4.5

Written in the Blood was a mystical, thrilling, gripping adventure that feels like it takes place far away in a distant land, but like it could also take place right in your hometown. The mystery never dissipates, even as the story continues to grow and develop. Even as I learned more about these strange people and their strange enemies, it was like they still remained a marvelous mystery.

The climax was shocking, the conclusion was beautiful and full of hope. I loved every minute of the adventure and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a kick-ass heroine and good plot with a hint of the supernatural in their life.

apparently this is the second book in the series, but I didn’t know until I looked it up on Goodreads. It was wonderful by itself.

Recommendation: ages 17+ for intense scenes

About the Book

"Chilling . . . A neo-gothic treat; original, richly imagined, and powerfully told." --The Guardian (UK) for The String Diaries

See the girl. Leah Wilde is twenty-four, a runaway on a black motorbike, hunting for answers while changing her identity with each new Central European town.
See the man, having come of age in extraordinary suffering and tragedy in nineteenth-century Budapest; witness to horror, to love, to death, and the wrath of a true monster. Izsák still lives in the present day, impossibly middle-aged. He's driven not only to hunt this immortal evil but to find his daughter, stolen from an Arctic cabin and grown into the thing Izsák has sworn to kill.
See the monster, a beautiful, seemingly young woman who stalks the American West, seeking the young and the strong to feed upon, desperate to return to Europe where her coven calls.
Written in the Blood is the epic thriller of the year, a blazing and dexterous saga spanning generations, and threading the lives of five individuals driven by love, by sacrifice, by hunger and by fear. They seek to save a race--or to extinguish it forever.

Amazon | Goodreads | Audible

Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Smug

The Good, The Bad, and The Smug by Tom Holt, read by Ray Sawyer
Genre: Fiction, Humor (Tom Holt really is his own genre).
ISBN: 9780316368810
Rating: 5 Stars!

I love Tom Holt’s sense of humor and writing style. He is sarcastic, quirky, fun to read, entertaining, light-hearted, and hilarious. I fell in love with his world and his style when I read (listened to) Doughnut way back in 2013. Apparently TGTB&TS is book 4 in the series and I missed all the ones in between. But not once did I feel lost or confused. Actually I didn’t even know it was part of the series until I recognized the sound of “The Very Very Large Hadron Collider.”

That being said, I’d recommend reading book 1 before you read this, otherwise you will be so confused it would distract you from how funny the book is.

Tom Holt has managed to take something so absolutely ridiculous and impossible and make it totally real. The characters are well built and real (even if they are goblins and elves and stock brokers pretending to be rumplestiltskin). The plot had my heart racing (trying to figure out why The Dark Lord is crying over patterned curtains is a serious matter) and the conclusion, though open to interpretation and somewhat confusing, was still fulfilling. I’m very happy with this book and look forward to going back (and forwards) to enjoy the others in the series!

Content/Recommendation: some language, some mention of eating body parts. no sex. Ages 18+
About the Book

New Evil. Same as the Old Evil, but with better PR.

Mordak isn't bad, as far as goblin kings go, but when someone, or something, starts pumping gold into the human kingdoms it puts his rule into serious jeopardy. Suddenly he's locked in an arms race with a species whose arms he once considered merely part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Helped by an elf with a background in journalism and a masters degree in being really pleased with herself, Mordak sets out to discover what on earth (if indeed, that's where he is) is going on. He knows that the truth is out there. If only he could remember where he put it.

About Tom Holt
Tom Holt (Thomas Charles Louis Holt; born September 13, 1961) is a British novelist.

He was born in London, the son of novelist Hazel Holt, and was educated at Westminster School, Wadham College, Oxford, and The College of Law, London.

Holt's works include mythopoeic novels which parody or take as their theme various aspects of mythology, history or literature and develop them in new and often humorous ways. He has also produced a number of "straight" historical novels writing as Thomas Holt and fantasy novels writing as K.J. Parker.


Copyright 2016 Haley Mathiot. All reviews are 100% honest and unbiased. One or more items featured in the blog post may have been free or discounted. Receiving free or discounted product does not affect review. For more please see my disclaimer page.