Category Archives: Book Reviews

Bookmobile Reading List: Diet for a Hot Planet


So I usually pick a few light reads off the Bookmobile, maybe a new book of recipes, or some crafts. Recently I picked up Diet for a Hot Planet, which is NOT, as you might have guessed, a new eating plan designed to improve our view in public spaces.

It won’t make your neighbors gorgeous, but it IS surprisingly light and easily digestible, for such a heavy subject. Anna Lappe‘s 2010 book Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It puts together a clear picture, with lots of specific references (in footnotes, thank goodness), of the contribution agriculture makes to global warming. In particular, it contrasts the way typical commercial agriculture, especially livestock production, compares to organic and sustainable methods in terms of carbon footprint. I was afraid it was going to be depressing and alarmist like The Coming Famine, but instead I felt recharged. Why I even torture myself with books like that, I don’t know.

Instead, the message I took from Diet for a Hot Planet is “Yes, what I eat can make a difference! Not just in the size of my derriere and my neighbor’s, but in the health of our planet!” Every choice we make–including where we choose to shop–makes such an enormous difference, it’s hard to imagine that real change isn’t possible. Wow, the power. It makes me feel hungry. I think I need to go find something local and organic to eat…

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Gateway Pears


I just love a cookbook where every recipe I try turns out magically fabulous. I have been looking for ways to take advantage of jillions of free pears from my parents’ house, and came across the recipe for apple butter in the Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It book. I’ve been making some of the refrigerator pickles in this book, with delicious results, so I decided to try it.

What I have made, friends, should be illegal. The recipe only calls for 1/3 cup brown sugar for the entire batch, but what you get isn’t pear butter, it’s pear crack. One little taste and you will be HOOKED.
Don’t worry, the first one’s free. 🙂

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10 Reasons to Love the Bookmobile… but still buy books.


I love the Bookmobile. Especially now that it is a shiny, clean one. I also love my Kindle.

How is it possible to love both? Peanut butter AND chocolate? Sweet and Sour? What if they’re better…together?

I’m an avid reader and I’ll be reviewing lots of books on this blog, on the subjects of cooking, gardening, farming, climate change, environmental science, and whatever else I feel like reading about. Most of them I probably checked out from the Bookmobile because it’s…free!!!

But, you can’t  make notes in them, you can only keep them for so long, and there are books that have long wait lists or aren’t available. So I’m a big fan of electronic books, too. When I review books on this site, I will always provide a link through to Amazon for the convenience of anyone who wants to purchase them. Purchasing books by clicking on links in this blog also supports my work! If you like what you’re reading, and you want to support me, consider doing it by purchasing through these links. I also hope you’ll continue to support your local library.

See you at the Bookmobile!

10 Reasons To Love The Bookmobile:

10. Because your kid will sit still for five minutes while you look–all of the kid books are along the bottom two shelves, so they’re instantly hooked. And it has wheels. Big wheels.

9. No one is seriously trying to read or study in the Bookmobile for the 5 more minutes it will be parked there, so no one will shush you while you’re discussing books. In fact, you may run into the neighbor who just checked out the copy of Omnivore’s Dilemma
or Tartine Bread you were looking for.

8. At some point, it’s probably parked close enough that you can bicycle or walk. You don’t have to drive to Redwood City or Half Moon Bay, or add an extra library stop to your “in-town” errand day.

7. You can have your books held online when you’re thinking about it, then pick them up at the Bookmobile.

6. You can pick up some 10-20 at the market while you’re there.

5. Did I mention that it is shiny and blue?

4. If you return your books to the Bookmobile, even if they’re late, you won’t be charged a fine. You might get a threatening letter from the library system asking you to pay for the book you lost, but if you give it back, you’re even. The only organization I’ve paid more fines to than Blockbuster is the public library system, so this makes me very happy.

3. You don’t have to keep the book! When you’re done, you give it back, and it doesn’t sit around taking up space. When you live in an extremely small house, this is a big deal.

2. Paved roads and emergency services are nice, but if you really want to *enjoy* your tax dollars at work, curl up with a free book.

1. Where else can you set your kid loose and tell them they can take  home as much as they want–and it won’t cost you a dime?

10 Reasons to Love The Kindle*:

10. Electronic books are somewhat cheaper than paper books. Not *enough* yet, mind you, especially since you can’t really pass your “copy” on to a friend. Hopefully prices will continue to come down, but there are also a lot of resources for free ebooks as well. This is a great blog to subscribe to on your Kindle: Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips

9. There’s no electronic glare on the screen in full sunlight, so you can still sit on your porch reading with your coffee “keeping an eye on the kid” while your husband retreats from the sun with his overheated iPad.

8. It doesn’t appear to “do” much, and most of the games require knowledge of reading and spelling, so anklebiters have very little interest in trying to play with it. Or husbands.

7. The battery lasts for-freaking-ever, so it’s still going even at 3 in the morning when you KNOW you should put it down and go to sleep. But you won’t.

6. It weighs hardly anything–about the same as a paperback Nancy Drew mystery, so no wrist cramps from those last couple of Harry Potters.

5. You could subscribe to THIS very blog on your Kindle, and be reading it in the comfort of your favorite chair, rather than sitting at your computer.

4. You can take as many notes as you want, then search through them easily to find that critical passage in Diet for a Hot Planet to support your points after dinner.

3. You can finally replace that stack of classics holding up the dust on your shelf with free, weightless digital copies: Best Free Books on Kindle

2. You can get any cover you want for it, so go sportyfeminine or masculine, Uptown
or down home.

1. No one has any idea what you’re really reading. So go ahead, get that New Yorker
cover and read all the Danielle Steele you want!

Who’s Growing Your Food?


One of the most enjoyable things about living out in the boonies is getting to know your neighbors. Coming from a neighborhood where many of the people around us were in the technology industry, it has been amazing to get to know people who grow things for a living. Actual, real things. Honest-to-goodness food.

We were at Troutmere over Father’s Day weekend and I overheard one of the owners explaining to one of the kids that the different types of chickens lay different colored eggs. It made me think back to our former lives, living In the Big City, when we thought eggs only came in white or brown. There is something wonderful about opening up a well-circulated carton of eggs (each of those store-bought cartons gets collected and re-used numerous times) and looking at the rainbow of white, green and brown eggs in every shade.

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, lovely readers, it’s possible that some of your food begins its life out here on the San Mateo coast. And if it doesn’t, I ask you, why not? So I think this will be the first in an occasional series of posts introducing you to some of my neighbors who are growing what could be *your* food. I hope it is–I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to be an artichoke. Or a chicken.

On my latest trip to the Bookmobile with Miss Thing, I picked up a quick read called Farmer Jane: Women Changing The Way We Eat:

Nancy Vail at Pie Ranch is featured, as well as Jesse Z. Cool, the owner of Flea Street Cafe and JZ Cool Eatery in Menlo Park. The book is laid out in six chapters, with little bite-sized 3-4 page summaries of each featured person–great for those of us who get interrupted all the time. Each chapter is ends with a listing of “Recipes for Action” with bullet points for the “Eater” the “Farmer” and the “Food Business” (if you’re thinking about getting into that sort of thing.) I love bullet points. They make me feel like I can accomplish something. And if I can make a difference in my world *while eating*, it’s the best sort of multi-tasking ever. I also learned where the trendy foodie word “locavore” came from.