kansasmom - Reviews

1 to 20 of 20
The Apostles
The Apostles
Author: Pope Benedict XVI
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 3/17/2009


I personally appreciated the early chapters which examined the role of Tradition in the Church. It's very difficult sometimes to properly explain Tradition to those of Bible churches and it should not be surprising that the Pope does a marvelous job.

For each Apostle, the Pope describes their Biblical presence, quotes their books and shows us how their lives and words can be realized and present in our lives. I particularly liked the chapter on Thomas the Twin. Thomas teaches us "the most important thing is never to distance oneself from Jesus."

When Thomas asks, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" (Jn 14:5), he shows us we must feel free to question Jesus when we don't understand something. Also, "his words provide Jesus with the opportunity to pronounce his famous definition: "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6).

Of course, Pope Benedict discusses Thomas's declaration that he will not believe in the resurrection until he places his finger in the wounds. "Basically, from these words emerges the conviction that Jesus can now be recognized by his wounds rather than by his face. Thomas holds that the signs that confirm Jesus' identity are now above all his wounds, in which he reveals to us how much he loved us. In this the Apostle is not mistaken."

We even have a lovely summary: "The Apostle Thomas' case is important to us for at least three reasons: first, because it comforts us in our insecurity; second, because it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and, lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him."

I highly recommend this book and intend to read it again myself, perhaps every Easter season, as the liturgical readings focus on the Apostles.

By the way, the Illustrated version of this book is also magnificent.


Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Marketing companies, advertising companies, publishing companies and entertainment companies do not have my children's best interests at heart; they're concerned with making money for themselves and their clients.

I never really believed the educational claims of anything watched on TV for the youngest children. We don't have what you'd call "educational videos" in our cabinet. I was, therefore, surprised to learn that studies of babies and toddlers watching TV (whether shows designed for them or those targeted to preschoolers) were learning something after all. They are learning to recognize characters, which is essentially the brand awareness capability of babies and toddlers. I shouldn't have been surprised since my daughter recognizes the Veggies, Elmo and probably Clifford, even though she's not interested in watching the TV shows.

So by watching the shows, we're essentially watching long commercials for products.

Ms. Thomas also confirmed what I'd long suspected. Most toddler and baby books are really just more ways to get character faces into the home. They don't have real writers or illustrators.

I was very much concerned to learn about the ubiquitous presence of these publisher's materials in classrooms, especially in day care centers and preschools.


Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics
Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics
Author: Melinda Tankard Reist
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/7/2009


This was a shocking read about the pressures women feel to conform to society's standards when testing unborn children for "abnormalities" and then "taking care of the problem" before their baby is born. The introduction is full of statistics, surveys and reports. Following are a number of personal accounts written by the women themselves about their experiences while pregnant and with their children.

This book brings to the fore some interesting discussions of the effect on society of avoiding the births of people with disabilities. The author maintains our society will suffer a decrease in compassion as a whole. Certainly it's disturbing to see the similarities with the eugenics movements (and eventual actions) in Nazi Germany. Today, it's happening behind the closed doors of doctors' offices and hospitals.

It's also an enlightening look at the supports (or lack thereof) offered to mothers and families who choose to continue a pregnancy with a disabled child. There were some disturbing anecdotes about services being withheld (not just non-existent) because the family did not choose to end a pregnancy.


Einstein Never Used Flashcards : How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I loved this book! It provides evidence (from real studies!) that the academic focus of preschools (and some parents) does not provide any academic benefit for kids (and may even cause some problems later on). Evidence like this is essential for maintaining our priorities in early education as the push for skills at earlier ages and testing for those skills reaches into the preschools and kindergartens. My own state is considering lowering the age of required attendance (currently 7) and providing full-day kindergarten. I think providing preschool and full-day kindergarten could be of great benefit, if the curriculum and activities follow the model of this book. It's a legitimate fear, though, that "teaching to the test" could reach even to these early grades. This book identifies ways that playing provides a better foundation for the tests, skill development and later learning than any worksheets or drills ever could.

Especially applicable for me is the authors' mantra for parents: "Reflect, Resist, and Re-Center." It's always a struggle to remember the activities we do together (like reading every day) are providing the very experiences our children need to succeed so we don't have to feel guilty or even disappointed we can't participate in the myriad of classes available.

I liked the end of each chapter, "Bringing the Lessons Home." I think you could get a good grasp of the material covered in the book with just those few pages for each chapter, though I do recommend reading it in its entirety.

Just read after your kids are in bed so you can play Pirates and Castles or help build a city before dinner.


The Encyclopedia of Country Living
The Encyclopedia of Country Living
Author: Carla Emery
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 4/23/2009
Helpful Score: 9


This book was a generous gift from dear friends when we moved out to the country many months ago. We've been flipping through it and reading various entries ever since. (I'm pretty sure my husband has read the whole book by now.) It's nearly one thousand pages long and overflowing with information, everything from giving birth by yourself at home to skinning a bear.

Chapters on grains, vegetables, trees, berries, poultry, bees, cows and more contain definitions, descriptions, instructions on how to grow and care for the plants (or animals) and recipes for enjoying the fruits of your labor. The recipes include food to eat, herbs and oils to treat and products to use (like soap).

Through it all, Ms. Emery shared her experiences, her joys and triumphs and even her sorrows with her readers. It is as if she is a neighbor, stopping by with a bit of wisdom and some freshly-gathered eggs. As the book was written and revised over the course of many decades, the personal reflections are disjointed, but sincere.

We have a variety of homesteading and self-sustaining farming books, all of which are excellent resources, but I think this one is my favorite by far.

My husband and I used to joke about how we'd survive if the end of civilization as we knew it meant we couldn't get toothpaste and penicillin at the store any time we needed it (jokes begun with my brief obsession with the show Jericho and continued in the midst of the present economic conditions). We don't really anticipate the end of readily-available toothpaste (and I've got about a year's supply of that by hitting the sales anyway), but I do find a certain satisfaction in stocking our home library with books that would give us the information we need to muddle through in such dire circumstances. Given a few healthy animals and this book, I think we'd be just fine.


Eric Carle's Animals Animals
Eric Carle's Animals Animals
Author: Eric Carle
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 4/23/2009
Helpful Score: 1


We have a number of poetry collections for children, including two that I believe are among the best: A Child's Garden of Verses: A Classic Illustrated edition and Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young. None of them seemed to interest my son, though. I'd read a bit here and there, but he was always ready to move on and never picked them up himself.

I found a copy of this book and decided to risk it because I do love his illustrations. This is a book of poetry about (surprise, suprise) animals, each paired with a large collage in the vibrant colors we've learned to expect from Eric Carle. My son has enjoyed paging through this book on his own and has asked us to read the poems to him. Seals, sharks, whales, elephants, lions, sea turtles, giraffes...all the "favorite" animals of childhood have a place in the book. I think he also appreciates shorter selections with only one or two on each page. It allows him to relax and enjoy the poem and the illustration without clutter.

The poems themselves are from a variety of poets, times and types, so my son is being exposed to lots of different aspects of poetry. I think it's a great first book of poetry for him and I've learned to watch for poetry collections that feature what he loves rather than ones that seem great just to me (though we'll get to those eventually).


An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir
Author: Elizabeth McCracken
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 3/17/2009
Helpful Score: 5


It begins, "A child dies in this book: a baby. A baby is stillborn." My husband couldn't believe I wanted to read this book, but it was a beautiful tribute to the author's pregnancy, baby boy and subsequent pregnancy. We have been blessed and lucky with my three healthy pregnancies and our three healthy children, but my extended family and friends have been touched by stillbirth and miscarriage. I feel I might understand their feelings just a little bit more after reading this book, and I hope I can better respond to such news in the future. I think, if you are the mother of a stillborn baby, you may find this book comforting. "...it meant so much to me to hear it. It happened to me, too, meant: It's not your fault. And You are not a freak of nature. And This does not have to be a secret."


Fancy Nancy
Fancy Nancy
Author: Jane O'Connor, Robin Preiss Glasser (Illustrator)
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 4/23/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Have you seen this delightful book? Like me, did you let it linger, believing it would be just another silly series? We have been reintroduced recently and the kids and I have been reading about Nancy and her family every day. Nancy is creative and exuberant (and she has an extensive vocabulary, which never hurts).

Nancy says her family doesn't understand how being fancy is important, so she decides to offer fancy classes and they sweetly comply. Dressed to the nines in Nancy's accessories, they dine out on pizza (pinkies up). Nancy has a mishap and feels decidedly unfancy, but feels much better once she's home and cleaned up.

I love how Nancy instructs her family. I love that they go out to dinner all dressed up. I love how Nancy, her parents and her sister treat each other - all models of behavior I'd be thrilled to see reproduced in our own home. I love how Nancy thanks her family for being fancy for a little while. My husband says it's sad when poor Nancy trips and falls, but I think it's good for kids to see someone recover from a little fall. It happens to everyone. Plus, her family is consoling and immediately rushes to her side, a great example for how we should treat each other when we need a little help.

The illustrations are also wonderful. When Nancy's father suggests dinner out, Nancy leaps into the air, her dress all ruffles. Nancy's little sister is one of the most adorable girls I've ever seen. I just want to scoop her up!

I know some of the ensuring Fancy Nancy books are not of the same caliber, but this is one I'm glad to have and read over and over again.


The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 5


This excellent well-researched book covers the rise of modern medicine in America, the state of the home front during America's surge to World War I, and the path of influenza through it all. It's a wonderful history of the early 1900s that I can highly recommend, and there's not too much virology, either, if you're worried about that. There is enough, of course, to emphasize that the next great flu is coming and we are unprepared. (Wonderful news, no?)

Did you know: The regular old influenza that hits every year kills more people than AIDS - around 36,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. The influenza pandemic in 1918-1919 killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years.

Mr. Barry brought up an interesting question. Should the 1918 influenza virus genetic code be published? It would, of course, help scientists around the world develop potential vaccines and even better medications. It could also give sophisticated terrorists another powerful weapon. I didn't try to find out if it's been published yet.

There are dangers to reading this book on an airplane in December, as I did, listening to people all over the plane cough and sneeze their germs into the air. I'm not sure I'd recommend that plan.


It's So You! Fitting Fashion to Your Life
It's So You! Fitting Fashion to Your Life
Author: Mary Sheehan Warren
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/7/2009


I loved this book! It has chapters to help you determine your style, fit and colors. Then it has chapters that walk you through a step by step guide to creating your wardrobe. Now I know what I need to complete a look and have a plan to get there on my budget! In fact, I'm pretty sure I'll spend less money than I have in the past because I know exactly what I need and how to pick something I'll actually wear.

I've already cleaned out my closet and will be adding pieces as I find them. I do have a large pile of clothes to give away. They're all things I've kept around because I thought I should even though I never liked how they fit, how they looked on me or how they looked with the other parts of my wardrobe that I did like.

My favorite line of the book (which is written in a friendly style) encourages women not to settle. With all the clothing for sale in America today, you shouldn't own anything that doesn't make you look fabulous! (I also liked her advice to look stunning when shopping; you'll be less inclined to buy something that doesn't match your look or wardrobe just because it looks better than what you were wearing.) Actually, there are tons of little tips I loved.


Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life
Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life
Author: Margaret Kim Peterson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 3


In this book, Ms. Peterson offers a look into the spiritual aspects of homemaking - the making of a place of refuge and refreshment for friends and family. I found her book full of insight and inspiration. She explores some of the reasons the daily chores of a household are disdained and responds with scripture and arguments to the contrary. We all know how hard it can be to tackle the laundry, the dishes, the dirty floors, day after day. In this book, we realize the holy work we are doing for our loved ones.


The Last Well Person: How to Stay Well Despite the Health-Care System
Review Date: 4/7/2009


Dr. Hadler puts forth convincing arguments that much of the testing (and even interventions) done by doctors in America today is unnecessary because it doesn't really help people live longer or better lives. (He stresses his points do not apply if you are already sick: previous heart attack, etc.) The most important point he makes (I think) is that the testing itself causes repercussions - we feel sicker, we feel more vulnerable, we spend too much time thinking about how we feel instead of living. These repercussions negatively impact our lives to a much greater extent than any positives from the tests themselves.

I was also interested in his thoughts on marketing and advertising for pharmaceuticals and medical testing. All advertising's purpose is to convince us we need something we don't need and I firmly believe medical advertising is no different. He also pointed out the relationships between doctors making recommendations for testing and prescriptions and the companies that own the equipment or medications. It seems like there should be rules against that sort of thing.


Least of All
Least of All
Author: Carol Purdy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/23/2009


This is a sweet little book about Raven Hannah, a young Vermont girl who wants very much to help on the farm like her older brothers but she's always more of a hindrance than a help. When she's finally big enough for a task all her own, churning the butter, she also discovers it's a lonely task, sitting inside by herself as everyone else works elsewhere. So as she sits and churns, she searches through the Bible for the verses she's memorized at Sunday School and over the summer and fall months, teachers herself to read. She amazes the family, who have always treasured their Bible though not a one of them can read it.

Until Raven teaches them.

I love for my children to see how hard work can result in great bounty (like the full cellar) and also how greatly treasured the word of God was (and is).


Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 3


I loved reading this book. This inspiring story is a first person account of Mr. Wood's journey from high-level high-intensity Microsoft executive to high-level high-intensity non-profit start-up. It's an easy read that doesn't hide how difficult it can be to shed the security of a high-paying job, even when he finally realizes it's the only way he can be happy.

I was amazed at his dedication to Room to Read, which continues today. I love working for non-profits and am proud to believe I'm contributing to a better life for the kids we can reach here in the States, but I could never put in the time and energy he does, especially for no pay. (He admits his lifestyle has sabotaged all his relationships. He also accepts a paycheck now.) But it was still great to read about the life of someone who really is making a difference. His charity is also rated very highly for fiscal responsibility. You can read more about it at Charity Navigator or on their own website.

I watched a video recently that reminded me of the same sentiments expressed in the book. "In service really comes freedom. The more I was concerned about myself and how much money I could make or what things I could...amass, the unhappier I became."

What struck me the most about these, the book and the video, is that the founder of each realized chasing the American dream of a secure job with as big a paycheck as possible wasn't fulfilling some need within themselves no one mentioned while they were going to school and starting careers - the need to serve, the need to make a difference in the lives of others. I'm not saying we shouldn't have jobs and make money. I'm saying we should learn to recognize the opportunities to serve in our lives. Sometimes that will mean taking a big risk, ditching a high-paying job to help children in Tibet or Africa, hopefully pointing them in a direction that will eventually benefit their entire families, communities and countries. Sometimes, it will mean walking the floor with a crying sick toddler at 11 pm.


Me, Myself, and Bob: A True Story About God, Dreams, and Talking Vegetables
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 1


We're big fans of VeggieTales. My son became enamored when he was just nine or ten months old. We were always thrilled and amazed to see such quality Christian products from what seemed like a fun and thriving company. So imagine our surprise when we discovered BigIdea was bankrupt! We originally read the story on Phil Vischer's blog and actually bought the book when it came out.

I'm sorry I let this book sit on the bookshelf unread for so long because it's wonderful. Mr. Vischer has a quirky sense of humor that shines through on every page, so it's enjoyable. It's also a true tale of God working today, in business and in real lives. Even though I'm not in business, I found many thoughts applicable to my life. I think someone dreaming of starting a business to both glorify God and support a family could benefit greatly from this book when learning to juggle standard business advice and service to God and church.

If you know the VeggieTales videos, you'll enjoy this book even more, but I don't think it's necessary.


The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less
The Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less
Author: Barry Schwartz
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 43
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 2


This book is a fascinating look at why having more choices can actually make people more unhappy. It touched on everything from choosing a career to choosing a pair of jeans. (I've always had a problem myself with the toothpaste aisle. Why in the world do we need so many options?)

The first ten chapters presented a convincing set of studies and reports that having too many options does indeed make an individual unhappy, and has contributed to increasing levels of depression and stress in American society. I thought it was interesting to see how religion, faith and family values can help people deal with this particular kind of stress by limiting options to those that are morally acceptable (obviously more useful for those big life choices than the toothpaste aisle).

The best chapter, in my opinion, was the eleventh chapter. Here, Mr. Schwartz gives some concrete ways to decrease the disadvantages while still enjoying the benefits of all the choices we have today. The eleven steps he gives are all directly related to the evidence presented in the preceding chapters, but I will try to sum it up in one quick paragraph:

Take some time to consider what's important in life. Pay attention to those choices and don't worry about the others. Go with what's "good enough" more often than finding the absolute best. Once you've made a decision don't give yourself the option to go back and choose something else. Be thankful for what you have. Don't waste time and energy on regret. Be aware that whatever you choose, eventually it won't bring as much pleasure as it did at first. Keep expectations within reason. Don't concentrate so much on what others are doing or buying. Embrace limits and constraints that eliminate choices for us.

If you're interested in how these strategies can combat the depressing effect of too many choices, read the book. I think it's one choice you won't regret. (groan)


Sea Life Art  Activities: Creative Learning Experiences for 3- To 7-Year-Olds (Williamson Little Hands Series)
Review Date: 4/23/2009


My five year old son is an ocean fanatic and he loves this book. Every day he asks to make something. He's just learned to read and will flip through the book and then read off the list of what we need to see if we have everything.

It's actually a wonderful little book. Most of the crafts can be made easily with a few basic supplies like construction paper, egg cartons, toothpicks, glue, paper bags and paper plates. We have to help him along but the projects are generally not too complicated. Sometimes there are suggestions for "small fry fun" as well, easier little crafts for the littlest ones. I am not a crafty person at all and love having this book around for suggestions for fun creatures for my son to make as he practices his drawing, cutting and other fine motor skills.

There are little poems and informative blurbs on sea creatures plus lots of suggestions for other activities like games and books to read. (A number of our favorite sea books were originally suggestions from this book.)

At our house, the creations often lead to other activities, usually drawing and cutting out fish for the bigger fish to eat. (We like to draw the poor things with frowns.) Then, of course, we must act out the fun of the big fish eating the little ones. Eventually the crafts start to show significant wear and tear but the kids don't seem to mind. When they get too dilapidated, we just make a new one.


Standardized Childhood: The Political and Cultural Struggle over Early Education
Review Date: 4/7/2009


Dr. Fuller provides a glimpse into two locations that have instituted universal preschool (Los Angeles and Oklahoma) and presents ample data to guide the reader in the beginning of an analysis on the benefits, and potential pitfalls, of preschool. It seems he believes, and I agree with him, that the push for universal preschool is unlikely to be able to meet the needs of children and families. The main problem is that social science is such a maze of interacting causes and effects, there's no way to tell what kinds of interventions or curricula are beneficial for what kinds of children. In addition, it's not clear if the investment in universal preschool would be worth the money. That's all taxpayer money that could be going toward programs that have more evidence of positive impact.

I found this book to be thoughtful and well-supported. It touched on many issues in my thoughts lately:

1. Taxpayer money being devoted to unproven methods. I'm distressed when states talk about investing vast sums of money in infant programs intended to take advantage of new research showing the proliferation of neurons in the first months or year. There is no evidence that any specific program would make any difference, or that any program is even necessary at all. They may even be detrimental. More research, yes, but let's devote most of our resources to proven areas until we know more what the impact would be.

2. Governments deciding what and how our children should learn. In particular, I worry that any state mandated curriculum should be imposed at the preschool level. It's a time for play and exploration. Even when programs are supposed to be developmentally appropriate, there's a push from school districts (especially if they are running the preschools) to teach reading and math skills in preschool in the hopes of raising test scores in elementary schools, despite nearly all the evidence that shows such direct skilling does not provide any long term benefits and may cause harm by introducing greater levels of stress on three and four year olds.

3. Childcare versus preschool. Now let's say a family has decided preschool is not the best option for their children, but both parents work. They need a safe and loving place for their kids during the day and begin a search. No options. In many states, all licensed providers are preschools for three and four year olds. You can't find a less structured environment. By requiring all licensed care-givers in a state (through universal preschool legislation) to follow a particular set of rules, state governments are eliminating choices for parents.

There's tons more data in the book about the benefits that some groups of young children receive through high-quality preschools, especially those that include home visits and work with the families as a whole. There are also examples of groups of young children that don't fare as well (like the white middle-class children who often suffer from emotional setbacks when in care more than 14 hours a week). He spends quite a bit of time exploring whether universal preschool can provide a respectful environment for other cultures.


What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
Review Date: 4/7/2009


This tremendous book describes in detail the development of the brain from conception through preschool, and even includes some insights into later years. The first section concentrates on prenatal development. Then Dr. Eliot explains the development of touch, balance and motion, smell, taste, vision, hearing, motor development, social-emotional growth, memory, language, and intelligence (a chapter devoted to each). Two more chapters at the end look at differences in gender (and nature / nurture) and a summary of the book and how it impacts parenting in the final chapter.

I loved the balanced view presented by the author. She explains the known research (and what's still unknown) on the effects of mother's actions, including what she eats and drinks, on the developing baby. I've read pregnancy books (and magazines) that seemed to tell pregnant women every thought in their head and every calorie in their diet should be focused entirely on the baby - which always seemed a little extreme to me. In later chapters, she also supports a balanced view of how parents can use the facts of development presented in the book to raise their children in the best way possible. Her tone in the following excerpt from the last chapter is echoed throughout the book, especially in the little insights we receive about her own children.

"There may actually be one or two parents in the world like this [perfect] ... Then again, you have to wonder what children learn from parents whose only focus in life is their offspring. The fact is that children pick up much more than mere cognitive skills from their parents and other caregivers. They also learn how to work, share, love, nurture, juggle, and enjoy life."

The book references studies and articles from peer-reviewed journals like JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, Child Development, and Science, to name a few. The bibliography is extensive and it was easy to find the reference I wanted whenever I checked the end notes. The index also seemed in-depth, but I didn't get to check it out too much because the book completely fell apart. Yes, you read that correctly; the book fell into pieces. I'd recommend buying it in hardcover or at least getting it from the library in hardcover. [Note: It's possible they've improved the book's structural integrity.]

If you're a parent, a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a godparent, a caregiver, or anyone who ever sees or speaks to a child, you should read this book. It's presented in a clear and approachable way for those interested in the details of nerves, axons and neurotransmitters, and for those who are just interested in what to expect of children as they grow.


Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains
Review Date: 4/7/2009
Helpful Score: 4


This is my new favorite cookbook. It's perfect for me because there are very few recipes that could be used to make dinner. It's all about the extras (and bread). It also helps me use my powers for good since recently I have found myself baking a lot more and with the use of whole grains I can at least pretend I'm making healthy food for my husband and family. (Baking is so much easier than cooking; just mix it up and throw it in the oven!) My absolute favorite recipe is the Chocolate Zucchini Cake (p. 426), which I made with pattypan squash quite successfully. I'm really excited to try baking gingerbread and honey cakes. I also want to tackle graham crackers (no high fructose corn syrup here) if I can ever manage to keep my counter empty long enough to roll out the dough. (Why do counters collect things?)

The recipes range from the very simple to the extraordinary. Instructions are explicit enough for beginners with lots of tips and extra suggestions for the more adventurous baker. Honestly, I've had fun just reading this book and the chapter on breads had made me confident I can bake bread without using my bread machine (though I haven't had the time to tackle that project yet). None of the recipes specify using King Arthur Flour of any kind.

I've considered setting myself a goal to try every recipe in this book. I think that might be a little extreme (there are more than 400), but it's very tempting...


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