Foreword Reviews

Book of the Day Roundup November 12–16


The Fat Kitchen

How to Render, Cure & Cook with Lard, Tallow & Poultry Fat

Book Cover
Andrea Chesman
Storey Publishing
Softcover $24.95 (304pp)
978-1-61212-913-6
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

The Fat Kitchen will give industrious home cooks a new appreciation for fat.

The low-fat trend is a thing of the past, and this book revives appreciation for the once-villainized nutrient that’s much more balanced, healthy, and flavorful than bingeing on fast-food fries. The book shows the potential of high-quality fats from pasture-raised animals, which add flavor and nutrition (yes, nutrition!) to food, harnessing an approach that holds high both flavor and moderation.

First, the book explores the science of fats, explaining how designations of “good” and “bad” fats don’t fully show the benefits or detriments of various forms. For example, most fat sources are a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats, and how an oil is processed affects the nutrients it contains.

Next, the book shows how to render fats for cooking use, including lard (pork fat), tallow (the rendered fat from the around the kidneys of cows, lambs, and goats), and poultry fat. This is the most vital and ambitious part of the book. Finally, the book contains a wealth of recipes, organized by category (snacks, main dishes, sides, desserts, and basics), each with a quick and inviting introduction, the yield, ingredients, and step-by-step instructions. Parmesan-Rosemary Crackers, Spicy and Extra-Crunchy Southern Fried Chicken, Bacony Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Duck Fat–Caramelized Apple Tart—what’s not to love?

The photos show the artistry and animal reality of the process of rendering fat, and the recipe photos are mouthwatering and beautiful. Sidebars give handy kitchen tips and in-depth background information about animals and food production.

The Fat Kitchen offers the skills and recipes to harness the flavor and health of fats.

MELISSA WUSKE (October 27, 2018)

A Guest in the House of Hip-Hop

How Rap Music Taught a Kid from Kentucky What a White Ally Should Be

Book Cover
Mickey Hess
Ig Publishing
Softcover $17.95 (252pp)
978-1-63246-077-6
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

One thing is for sure, Mickey Hess has done his homework for A Guest in the House of Hip-Hop, in which he records trying to be a good ambassador as he amplifies black voices and scholarship.

The title draws upon the work of rapper Lord Jamar, who says that white rappers—as visitors to, rather than originators of, the art—must respect the culture. Hess meshes hip-hop scholarship with vivid, sometimes self-skewering sections of memoir. His personal experiences are examples of trying to be a good ally in academia and rap criticism.

Hess recalls learning about race, especially while growing up in a small and very white town in the South. Recurring broad and personal topics carry throughout the book’s chapters, making it cohesive and conversational. Racist gaffes in the news and what white rappers get away with are noted, and early mentions of Wu Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard later connect to an entire chapter about coauthoring a biography with ODB’s longtime friend Buddha Monk.

Great sources expand the discussion, exploring issues in the classroom and in media. They draw upon classic and contemporary writers on race and black culture and quote rappers, most often Hess’s friend Traum Diggs, alongside other hip-hop authorities.

Thought-provoking points are raised. Hess declares that it’s not right for white professors to leave difficult thinking about race and culture to people of color and says that it’s equally important that white people who teach and publish hip-hop scholarship work under black peer reviews and oversight. Hess never seems to seriously consider quitting the genre, but he questions whether he has a right to his role in it.

A vivid and timely memoir, A Guest in the House of Hip-Hop asks important questions and offers great leads for further listening and reading toward white allyship.

MEREDITH GRAHL COUNTS (October 27, 2018)

Quantum Convention

Book Cover
Eric Schlich
University of North Texas Press
Softcover $14.95 (192pp)
978-1-57441-736-4
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

Ready for the next new thing in fiction? You’ll find it in Quantum Convention, wherein eight richly imagined, humanity-affirming tales lay new turf for short stories. The settings embrace everything from a world in which an eons-old Merlin lives next door to an off-kilter present where dream control is the latest trademarked trend. Where other stories might make such quirky stage sets the star, characters have the upper hand here, and that’s where the delight lies.

No matter their bizarre circumstances, these characters remain intensely human, with deep and often humorous stores of self-irony. A man who seeks out his selves at an alt-universe meet-up doesn’t care how the physics works—he just wants to measure himself against his others. In “Journal of a Cyclops,” thirteen-year-old Owen is less bothered by having an eye in the middle of his forehead than he is by his severely overprotective parents.

Adult characters are well defined, but even better are the children, who reflect all the soon-to-vanish innocence, poignant doubts, and lingering wounds of childhood. Though their circumstances range from a surreal world in which orphans are exploited as professional mourners to an ordinary world where religious fanatics terrify them with stories of being left behind during the second coming, their suffering is the same.

Not every detail is nailed down. Some endings are ambiguous, leaving delicious spaces for the reader to slither through. Others gain strength by what’s left out. “Not Nobody, Not Nohow” alternates Margaret Hamilton’s experience playing the green-faced witch in The Wizard of Oz with the dawning awareness of a young boy that his infatuation with cross-dressing as Dorothy says something deeper and less acceptable about himself. Here, the pivotal scene is led up to rather than described, making the imagined event all the more piercing.

Eric Schlich’s Quantum Convention is that rare collection that delights, expands horizons, and leaves a mark.

SUSAN WAGGONER (October 27, 2018)

Amber Revolution

How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine

Book Cover
Simon J. Woolf
Interlink Publishing
Hardcover $35.00 (304pp)
978-1-62371-966-1
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

For all its authentic, artisanal, true-to-the-earth talk, today’s wine industry is high tech, and the science-driven approach to quality in the vineyards and wineries around the world has surely made these the glory days for wine lovers. But let’s not forget that wine is ancient. Numerous archaeological discoveries reveal the highly advanced skills of prehistoric winemakers.

Let’s also not overlook that winemakers past and present continually experiment with their techniques in order to improve the wines made from the grapes grown in their vicinity. A maker of red wine in Burgundy, for example, might need to develop new methods should she be transplanted to the white grape-growing Greek islands. Or not. Out of ignorance, she may just crush those unfamiliar white grapes and leave the juice in contact with the grape skins and pips for weeks or months while the fermentation process takes place, just as she did with red grapes in Burgundy. Surprisingly, all that skin pigment would cause an amber or orange color to the finished wine, distinct aromas, and intense flavor.

In fact, that “make white like red” approach is the world’s oldest wine-making tradition, but it went out of fashion, and was nearly forgotten until its recent resurgence at wineries in the Caucasus and around the Adriatic. In Amber Revolution: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine, Simon J. Woolf tells the fascinating tale of this ancient wine, and also profiles nearly two hundred amber-wine producers around the world.

MATT SUTHERLAND (October 27, 2018)

On Her Plate

Plant-Based Recipes, Life Stories, and Natural Health Sciences to Align Mind, Body, and Earth.

Book Cover
Ky-Lee Hanson
Golden Brick Road Publishing House
Softcover $36.95 (290pp)
978-1-988736-41-9
Buy: Local Bookstore (IndieBound), Amazon

On Her Plate is a positive, woman-centered look at healthy living.

Modern medicine offers women a bevy of remedies, but the medication-centric approach leaves many longing for more. The women in this book have sought and found a deeper understanding of their bodies and minds, thus deriving fulfilling, mindful, profoundly healthy ways of life. The book touches on diets, exercise, lifestyles, and mindsets, resulting in an approach that is balanced, holistic, and empowering.

The book’s driving force is its array of voices. They convey a mix of emotion, information, and humor. Each is engaging and insightful. These women from different backgrounds and health fields have paved the way, tackling tricky topics like managing stress and paying attention to what you eat. They generously offer their wisdom to other modern women.

Frank, woman-specific discussions, such as Amy Rempel’s “Getting My Menstrual Cycle On Point,” are included. In a broader sense, the book addresses what society teaches women about their identities and their bodies, forwarding advice on how to shed judgment, shame, and damaging diets and lifestyles, and instead pursue health.

The book’s recipes—which are free of dairy, eggs, and animal byproducts that have deleterious health effects—make dietary change manageable and appealing. Recipe photos are beautiful and appetizing. The glossary is surprisingly helpful, increasing the educational value of the book without making it feel like a textbook.

On Her Plate eschews popular notions about what it takes to be a healthy woman, and instead offers wisdom that is mindful, affirming, and that embraces the full picture of what it means to be a woman.

MELISSA WUSKE (October 27, 2018)

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