Released Today: 100 Days of Real Food – Fast and Fabulous, by Lisa Leake

Hi, everyone! I’m popping in post-baby (she’s one month old and perfect – and I’m very busy… so many things to write about, no time to write!) to let you all know that Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food released her second cookbook today: 100 Days of Real Food – Fast and Fabulous.

As one of Lisa’s Cookbook Ambassadors, I was privileged to receive an advanced, autographed copy in exchange for some reviews and sharing her book here at The Edifying Word. Having just had a baby, I have not been able to actually try any of the recipes in the book…but I am SO excited to start trying them. Lisa has an incredibly down to earth way of approaching cooking “real” (read: unprocessed) food, and her book truly makes it look easy enough to integrate into my busy life. I’ve been reading her blog now for several months and learned SO much and gotten such great ideas – I was so excited that I jumped at the chance to be a Cookbook Ambassador even though I knew it would be kind of ridiculous for me to try blogging with a newborn… but here I am!

So, to show how very simple this can be, I’ve chosen one of the more basic recipes in the book to share: Veggie Cream Cheese. I love this because it integrates a simple recipe I think my kids will actually eat with one of my favorite parts of Lisa’s blog – where she shares school lunch ideas. With one kid in kindergarten and another who eats lunch at preschool, I can always use more ideas in this arena. So, here’s the recipe with a nice picture from the book:

Veggie Cream Cheese
We found our new favorite snack food — and it’s this cream cheese! It’s fabulous as a dip for crackers or veggies, but (as you can see here) equally great on sandwiches with some thin cucumber slices for lunch.
Also, if you’re looking for some wholesome entertaining food for a wedding or baby shower, these would be super cute cut into little tea sandwiches and displayed on a pretty cake platter.
Difficulty: Easy
Prep time: Less than 10 minutes
Cook time: N/A
Makes about 11/2 cups
Special tools needed: Food processor
GLUTEN-FREE
VEGETARIAN
NUT-FREE
– 1 carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks
– 1/4 cucumber, skin on, cut into large chunks
– 2 garlic cloves, smashed
– 1 green onion, white and green parts, roughly chopped
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
-One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1. In the food processor, combine everything but the cream cheese and pulse until finely chopped.
2. Drop the cream cheese into the veggie mix and pulse until well combined. Serve or store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
So, check out the book, and happy cooking! I hope to be back soon(ish).

Munchkin Monday Book Review, a day late: Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 43-45, by Werner Stejskal

Product Details

Is this your first encounter with Oliver and Jumpy? Yes? Then let me tell you about them. Oliver is an elegant tomcat, and Jumpy is his best friend. They are always on the lookout for new adventures together. Oliver lives in a treehouse on the mighty oak tree. He is the most famous cat in the country. Oliver and Jumpy have already been in many illustrated stories and new ones are being published all the time. (Author’s introduction to the series)

Author Werner Stejskal has written nearly 50 children’s stories about Oliver the tomcat and his best friend, Jumpy, all published as e-books. The book containing stories 43-45 was my first encounter with his work. As always with kids’ books, I read them aloud to my kids (2.5 and 5 next week!) because I feel like an adult-only review of a children’s book is just silly – of course, it matters what I think as a mother, but it’s essential to see a kid’s reaction to a book in order to really judge its worth. So, one day I sat down on my bed with my kids and my Kindle and we read the stories. Here’s a brief synopsis of each story:

Story #43, Flying Carpet: Oliver and Jumpy travel to Africa (probably Egypt, given the references to the pyramids and the sphinx) to rescue a princess in trouble. When they get there, they’re given a magic, flying carpet that takes them exactly where they need to go to help the princess meet her prince.

Story #44, Birthday Party: Oliver’s friends throw him a surprise birthday party, with paid singers, elephant rides, and a mud-ball fight. He thinks it’s the best birthday ever!

Story #45, Magic Berries: Jumpy eats magic berries that change his size. In order to change back to normal, he has to complete a quest without succumbing to any of the temptations along the way: free ice cream, hot dogs, and soft drinks.

All in all, I was underwhelmed by the books. They were fine – they’re short, and engaging enough, but I feel like (except for maybe #45) they generally lack a message. I like to learn from what I read, and I like the same for my kids. I also don’t particularly care for how often Oliver points out how well-known he is… sort of a “look how great I am!” attitude that I don’t particularly want my kids to adopt. On the plus side, the illustrations pair really well with the stories, which is really nice, and the stories are generally harmless entertainment.

What did the kids think? It’s hard to tell. Honestly, I think they were much more interested in getting to “turn the page” on my Kindle than they were in the stories. I’m not sure if that’s just because they’d never used a Kindle before (I never let them touch it!), but they also have never asked me about the stories again (not even to have a chance to touch the Kindle again). So, I’d say their verdict is pretty similar to mine.

So, three stars. Generally fine, nothing to rave about but not bad, either. That said, I don’t think I’m a fan of e-books for young kids. Maybe I’ll change my mind as my five-year-old gets older and reads more on her own, but for now…we’ll stick to paper.

*This book is currently available on Amazon for free. I obtained my free copy of the book for the purpose of reviewing, at the request of the author.

NatGeo Highlights – July 2016

I read this month’s National Geographic Magazine in about two days, probably because I wasn’t in the middle of any books. I have just a few thoughts:

First, about the cover story: I think I’ve mentioned before that I studied Criminal Justice in college. I remember at the time not being thrilled that the Criminal Justice (CJ) program was part of the Sociology department so heavily focused on sociology (my opinion on this has since drastically changed). I was also not thrilled with the program as a whole because I thought the CJ-specific courses were too easy, were very surface-level, and didn’t require enough writing. Most of the coursework I remember from college as being the most informative or useful was not part of my major requirements. Alas…such is life. I told them all this when I graduated, for whatever that’s worth.

All this by way of intro…The cover this month immediately caught my attention and interest. I long regretted not taking the two-course forensic science sequence that was offered in college, but over the years I started to question the usefulness of such courses for undergraduates not specifically applying the skills learned to a job. This article pretty much confirmed that idea for me. There is so much about forensics that is unscientific, which this article correctly points out, though there is increasing movement toward changing that. I still find CJ and forensics fascinating, but I look at everything with a much more skeptical eye and I am impressed by some of the scientific advances being made and applied to criminal investigations. In a way, though, it points to how much more useful a science rather than CJ background would be in entering the field – if one were interested in forensics specifically. For investigations more broadly, my humble, untested opinion (having never worked professionally in the CJ field) is that a sociology background–having the ability to understand society and the forces that go into driving and curbing illicit behaviors–is far more useful than a purely CJ curriculum would provide.

Second, about sharks: As the cover indicates, there’s a section in this month’s issue about Great White Sharks. I found the article incredibly interesting, but I want to point out just one single fact mentioned within:

[Great Whites] refuse to live behind glass–in captivity some have starved themselves or slammed their heads against walls. (Several aquariums have released them for their own safety or because they were attacking tank-mates.) (91)

This is, for me, the single most memorable fact in the entire issue. I just find it amazing. The article mentions that Great Whites are smarter than people give them credit for, and this just seems to prove it. They’re just not having any part of being stared at in aquariums. I love the fierce spirit!!!

 

That’s all for this month 🙂