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Review: Epic Tomatoes by Graig LeHoullier

Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier

Special thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

I need to start this post off with a warning. In many parts of the country, it’s cold and dreary. Some places have snow on the ground. The longing for spring has already started to fill people’s hearts. Epic Tomatoes (affiliate link) will not help with that – at all. In fact, you will end up craving fresh from the vine tomatoes. You’ll want to get those tomatoes planted so you can see the harvest sooner rather than later.

I was resting in bed reading Epic Tomatoes only to find my mouth watering. The cold winds were howling outside. I was craving all of the tomatoes that were pictured and talked about in the book. It’s late at night and cold outside and all I could think about were delicious, juicy tomatoes – tiny tomatoes and large tomatoes. D sat there laughing at me.

**sigh** Since I couldn’t have the tomatoes any time soon, I decided that I could at least continue reading, so I could have the best success with these new (to me) varieties of tomatoes. Craig does a wonderful job explaining the ins and outs of successful planting of tomatoes. He gives excellent information on all different varieties and describes ways to get the maximum yield from your crop. He evens busts a few myths along the way.

He gives a few recommendations on where to get seeds. Thankfully, I had at least a couple of the recommended seed catalogs already in my possession. All of the descriptions of the tomatoes helped me decide which tomatoes would be best for me based upon my wants/needs for my tomatoes. I just needed to make sure some of them would do well in the high desert heat.

Oh, I’ll be ordering some seeds soon. I just need to pair down my selections as I don’t need to do it all at once even though it’s tempting. There is only so much time and space. ;) He gave some recommendations on how to start the seeds and ideas on different planting methods. Ah, so much planning to do. At least there is something to do while waiting for the right time to start the seeds.

If you’re interested in tomatoes, I highly recommend Epic Tomatoes. Just be prepared for tomato cravings and longings for spring…

Epic Tomatoes by Craig LehoullierBook Description:

Savor your best tomato harvest ever! Craig LeHoullier, tomato adviser for Seed Savers Exchange, offers everything a tomato enthusiast needs to know about growing more than 200 varieties of tomatoes — from sowing seeds and planting to cultivating and collecting seeds at the end of the season. He also offers a comprehensive guide to the various pests and diseases of tomatoes and explains how best to avoid them. No other book offers such a detailed look at the specifics of growing tomatoes, with beautiful photographs and helpful tomato profiles throughout.

Craig LeHoullierAbout the Author:

Craig LeHoullier’s first book, Epic Tomatoes, is the culmination of decades of a passion for collecting, researching and growing hundreds of varieties of tomatoes. Residing in Raleigh, NC with his wife Susan and small assortment of dogs and cats, Craig’s gardening passion was planted when very young by walks through his grandfather’s backyard garden in Pawtucket, Rhode island, and, later on, planting the family gardens with his dad.

Possessing a PhD in chemistry, Craig’s professional career involved various positions in a major pharmaceutical company. After retiring in 2008, and following a few years of consulting, he decided to take the plunge into garden writing, a logical progression from Craig’s many years of garden lectures, a newsletter (Off The vine), and blogging.

Craig’s passion for tomatoes in particular exploded after joining the Seed Savers Exchange in 1986, and all gardens since focus on open pollinated (non-hybrid) varieties, in a wide range of colors, sizes and flavors. He is responsible for naming, developing and introducing many varieties, such as Cherokee Purple and Lucky Cross, and has been co-leading a unique all-volunteer project to create new dwarf-growing varieties. The project is responsible for 25 new tomatoes available through a variety of seed companies, particularly valuable for space-constrained gardeners who wish to grow wonderful tomatoes on decks or patios.

Craig continues to be active in the Seed Savers Exchange and has served as Adviser on Tomatoes to the organization for many years.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (December 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612122086
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612122083
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Retail Price: $19.95
  • Electronic Version also available

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review in neither expected nor guaranteed. All opinions are my own.

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Wordless Wednesday: An Afternoon Ride

Daddy Daughter Horse Ride

Munchkin Riding Dixie

Daddy Riding Phantom

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Lessons Learned: Cooking with Dry Kidney Beans

The Dangers of Raw Kidney Beans

On Sunday, I saw that the forecast called for rain on Monday, so I thought I’d make a nice batch of chili to enjoy on our cool rainy day. I got out the dry kidney beans and put them in the crockpot to soak for 12-16 hours. When I soak my beans in the crockpot, I put the crockpot on high for about an hour or so and then turn it off for the remainder of the time. I forget where I learned this technique, but it’s always worked well for me.

On Monday, I rinsed the kidney beans and then boiled them for 10 minutes before tossing a couple of cups in the crockpot. They were still a bit crunchy, but I wasn’t concerned as I had done this with other types of beans in the past, and they softened up nicely by the time the meal was served. I browned up the meat, added the rest of the ingredients and seasonings to the crockpot, set it on high, and waited for a yummy meal to be completed.

When dinner time rolled around, the house smelled so good, and the chili was bubbly hot. Munchkin and I were rather hungry and a bit chilled as we had just come in from caring for the horses. The rain had died down to a drizzle, so we quickly went and completed our chores a little earlier than normal. We decided to go ahead and eat even though we hadn’t heard from Daddy on what time he’d be home from work. (He ended up getting home late, so we didn’t feel too bad about eating earlier than normal.)

As we began eating, I realized that the kidney beans were still a bit crunchy. They hadn’t softened up in the crockpot as I expected. Of course, knowing that raw and undercooked kidney beans can be toxic and cause illness*, I started looking for reasons why the kidney beans could still be crunchy. Part of me was a bit paranoid that I hadn’t completely cooked the kidney beans, and that we’d end up ill.

Cooking with Dry Red Kidney Beans

What I found after looking for some time was that acidic ingredients, like tomatoes, can cause the beans to never soften if they are added prior to the beans being cooked to your desired softness. Hmmm… So, while this hadn’t been an issue with other beans, it was apparently the case with these kidney beans. It’s possible that the beans could have been a little older than the ideal, but the kidney beans that were finished in a crockpot separate from the tomatoes softened up beautifully.

The other thing that I learned, after we had eating our delicious bowls of chili, is that since we’re at high altitude, I need to boil the kidney beans longer than if I were at or below sea level. Water boils faster and at lower temperatures at high altitudes, so the beans need to cook longer. It’s one of those things that I’ve never dealt with before, so now I know. Thankfully, the beans were cooked long enough as no one got sick, but in the future, I’ll be cooking them thoroughly, without the acidic ingredients, prior to tossing them in the chili just to be on the safe side.

*Raw red kidney beans contain a toxic agent called Phytohaemagglutnin. Eating as few as 5 raw kidney beans can cause extreme vomiting and diarrhea within 1-3 hours of eating the kidney beans. Usually, the issue calms down between 3 to 4 hours after initial onset. Under-cooked red kidney beans can actually be more toxic than raw red kidney beans. (See more detailed information at Penn State Extension.)

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Review: God’s Wondrous Machine – The Electrifying Nervous System by Lainna Callentine

The Electrifying Nervous System Review

Special thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

The Electrifying Nervous System (affiliate link) is the first book in a new series called God’s Wondrous Machines. It’s geared towards 3rd to 6th graders, but it would be a good resource for older kids as well. It is presented from the viewpoint that the Lord created the world and everything in it. It does not, however, take a stance on old-earth vs young-earth creationism as Lainna Callentine M.Ed., M.D. felt that was beyond the scope of the book.

The book features 3 levels of vocabulary which are given at the beginning of the book. Each level has its own color code making it easy to find that particular level in the following dictionary. The dictionary states the vocabulary word as well as its pronunciation followed by the definition. I like the fact that the pronunciation guide is available as I know some medical terminology is rather difficult to pronounce.

The book has little “Know It All” facts sprinkled throughout the learning materials which are quite interesting. Additional terminology is highlighted in “Word Wise!” boxes. “Modern Marvels” give information about different things that have made modern medicine a bit better for everyone. The “I Am Wonderfully Made” sections tie the reading materials to the Bible while “Medi Moment” highlights some medical information.

Before digging into the specific parts of the nervous system, Dr. Callentine goes into a little historical background. The timeline allows readers to see the highlights at a glance. An overview of the brain and various medical procedures is given before getting into the basics of the nervous system. Once a basic understanding is gained, readers will start to dig deeper into the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system, the brain, and the backbone. Finally, readers will look at how all of this information ties directly to their health.

Of course, Munchkin’s favorite part of the book is the final section – Facts: The Wacky, the Weird, and Wow. Any time you can throw in some crazy scientific facts and happenings, it’s a plus in this household.

The book is filled with full color images, facts, charts, and graphs. It’s laid out in a logical manner which makes learning the information easier. There is an additional Elementary Anatomy: Parent Lesson Planner (affiliate link) available for this book starting in April which, if it’s anything like the ones that we’ve used, I would recommend getting if you want to use this as part of a homeschool study.

The Electrifying Nervous System by Lainna Callentine MDBook Description:

Discover Your Design!

Developed by a homeschooling pediatrician, this book focuses on the amazing design and functionality of the human body’s nervous system. You will discover:

The main areas and structures of the brain and what important role each plays in making your body work
Awesome examples of God’s creativity in both the design and precision of human anatomy showing you are wonderfully made.

Important historical discoveries and modern medical techniques used for diagnosis and repair of the brain!
Learn interesting and important facts about why you sleep, the function of the central nervous system, what foods can superpower your brain functions, and much more in a wonderful exploration of the brain and how it controls the wondrous machine known as your body!

Dr Lainna CallentineAbout the Author:

Dr. Lainna Callentine, MEd, MD, is a physician, instructor, writer, speaker, and creator at Sciexperience, as well as pediatrician at Bolingbrook Christian Health Center. She left formal medicine in the E.R. to homeschool her three children.

Book Details:

  • Series: God’s Wondrous Machine
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Master Books a division of New Leaf Publishing (December 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0890518335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0890518335
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Retail Price: $15.99
  • Electronic version also available

Moms of Master Books Disclosure Statement

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Review: Raw Energy in a Glass by Stephanie Tourles

Raw Energy in a Glass by Stephanie TourlesBook Description: Raw Energy in a Glass (affiliate link) contains more than 120 delicious, super-nutritious recipes for smoothies, shakes, green drinks, power shots, mocktails, longevity elixirs, and fermented beverages, all designed to boost your health and energy. All recipes can be 100% vegan, though honey is often offered as one of several sweetening choices. There’s even an original recipe for vegan yogurt, made with nut milks and probiotics. And no juicer is required: Tourles uses a high-powered kitchen blender to turn raw ingredients into satisfying drinks.

About the Author: Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic esthetician in both Massachusetts and Maine, with over 20 years experience. Trained in western-style herbalism, she specializes in the use of herbs as they pertain to skin, hair, nail, and foot care and regularly creates herbal cosmetics and treatments for her clients and friends. She is also a certified aromatherapist, with extensive training in the nutritional sciences, and is the author of several books on natural body care including The Herbal Body Book, Naturally Healthy Skin, and Natural Foot Care. Stephanie resides in Orland, Maine with her husband and pets, and spends her spare time hiking, organic gardening, and cooking.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; 1 edition (November 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612122485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612122489
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Retail Price: $16.95

My Thoughts:

Stephanie Tourles begins Raw Energy in a Glass with her story since the publishing of Raw Energy. It’s not exactly what you would think as life took some nasty turns for her, and she suffered some serious setbacks in her health and personal life. She decided to do something about it and started tackling her health with real food. Slowly, things started to get better and a new book came about through this journey. She never claims that raw food, real food is the cure all for everything that ails you, but she does do a good job explaining why this way of eating could help lead you to a healthier, happier you.

The Superfood Dictionary dives into all of the great ingredients, foods used in this book. It gives readers a better idea of the whys behind the different foods which I really like. It covers:

  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Nuts, Seeds, and Nut and Seed Butters
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Oils
  • Sweeteners
  • Specialty Ingredients
  • Essential Kitchen Equipment

Once she gets through the basics of the philosophy, foods, and kitchen prep, Stephanie dives into loads of recipes that fall into these categories:

  • Nut and Seed Milks
  • Green Smoothies
  • Longevity Elixirs
  • Vegan Yogurt Drinks
  • Protein-Powered Smoothies and Shakes
  • Blended Salads
  • Thick and Frosty Shakes
  • Raw Shots
  • Fruity, Frothy, and Frosty Frappes
  • Mocktails

Many of the ingredients are ones that you’ll have on hand or ones that you can easily pick up from your local farmers market or grocery store. There are some specialty ingredients that you’ll need to pick up from a health food store or online. (Resources are given at the back of the book for those who can’t find the ingredients locally – like me.) If you’re not already using the ingredients in your home, you may suffer from sticker shock on some ingredients. Produce costs can be lowered by eating seasonally and freezing fruits/veggies when they are readily available.

I like the way the information was presented in the book, and the recipes are very easily to follow and make. If you’re looking for nutritional information, you will not find it in this book. I appreciated that her vegan yogurt was not soy-based. Overall, I enjoyed the new ideas for powerhouse drinks and look forward to utilizing more of the recipes when more fruits/veggies are in season.

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