Book Reviews

A YEAR OF PRACTICULTURE: RECIPES FOR LIVING, GROWING, HUNTING & COOKING WITH THE SEASONS

by Rohan Anderson (Hardie Grant Books 2015). Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt

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The second book from the author of Whole Larder Love: Grow, Gather, Hunt, Cook (Power House Books 2012), A Year of Practiculture focuses on ‘a way of living where daily choices are made based on their practical outcome’. When you give up your main source of income and stop buying food from the supermarket, you need to know how to survive by hunting, foraging and growing your own food, and knowing how to cook it.

Starting in spring and working through the year, this book takes you on a journey of living with the seasons and off the land. The 100 recipes are interspersed with Rohan’s humorous and honest insights and observations of a life of ‘practiculture’ As always with Rohan, beautiful photography and design make this book a pleasure to read and cook from. It’s about simple food straight from nature, and delicious ways to cook it.

Although Rohan does claim that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone – beware! – you might be inspired to give up your job and spend your days in nature, gathering and providing food for yourself and your loved ones.

BACKYARD BEES: A GUIDE FOR THE BEGINNER BEEKEEPER

by Doug Purdie (Murdoch Books 2014). Review by Clare Voitin

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Doug Purdie draws you in with the story of his unplanned journey to become a ‘beevangelist’. It’s easy to get caught up in his passion for beekeeping; and his desire to raise awareness about the plight of bees worldwide makes you eager to help him in his cause.

Backyard Bees is a step-by-step seasonal guide, detailing everything you need to know about owning your own beehives, from the equipment you need, location and space, to beehive management.

This book removes the intimidation of beekeeping, and homes in on why it is crucial for us to appreciate the realities of what will happen to our environment if we don’t take care of our bees.

You will also be introduced to a number of inspiring local apiarists, who share their personal stories about how beekeeping came into their lives. It is inspiring to see such passion shine through in sustainable beekeeping businesses. This book was written to encourage the ‘bearded hipster’ to start beekeeping, and knowing that sets the mood for this wonderfully informative yet engaging book. It may well motivate you to become part of the beevangelist movement.

THE ART OF NATURAL CHEESEMAKING: USING TRADITIONAL, NON-INDUSTRIAL METHODS AND RAW INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THE WORLD’S BEST CHEESES

by David Asher (Chelsea Green Publishing 2015). Review by Emily Stokes

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After making cheese, and questioning my methods, for years (is it imperative to sterilise every surface with chemicals? pasteurise our milk? use freeze-dried cultures made in some far-off lab?), this book appeared magically in my life.

Inspired by the principles of ecology, permaculture and organic farming, David Asher came to natural cheesemaking after realising that the microorganisms needed to make cheese are right there in good raw milk, just as the bacteria in cabbage is there to make sauerkraut.

He shows how to: make your own rennet; use milk kefir as a cheese starter culture; cultivate your own Penicillium roqueforti on sourdough bread; make your own cheese forms and presses; and avoid unnecessary and questionable additives, and plastics. Beautiful photos and clear instructions accompany the thirty cheese recipes, as well as guides for making kefir, yoghurt and cultured butter. This dynamic and inspiring book is for cheesemakers and cheese lovers.

If you are willing to adopt a more natural, ethical and safe ‘clean but not sterile’ approach, embrace the rich microbial communities in raw milk, and delve into age-old traditional cheesemaking methods, then this is the book for you.

THE PERMACULTURE CITY: REGENERATIVE DESIGN FOR URBAN, SUBURBAN, AND TOWN RESILIENCE.

By Toby Hemenway (Chelsea Green 2015). Review by Paul Goodsell

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Toby Hemenway did what many permies do. He and his wife Kiel, up and left their urban life for the greener pastures of a rural one. They dreamt of space to grow food and raise animals; of quiet solitude. “But… I noticed a few persistent glitches in our dream” writes Hemenway. Friends were miles away. Petrol usage was through the roof. And they realised they were tied to civilisation. This realisation led to relocation to the progressive US city of Portland, Oregon.

In The Permaculture City, Hemenway explores life’s necessities through an urban permaculture lens. The book relies on an assumption (based on Hemenway’s own experience) that transformation will and must take place in the city. The book starts out in the garden and then looks at to community, water, energy, livelihoods, and finally the role of place in society. Given that many Australian permies yearn for a rural paradise, this is essential reading for those still living in the city, before they take that plunge.

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