Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Outrageous Grace by Grace Fabian

book cover

Outrageous Grace
by Grace Fabian

ISBN-13: 978-1-935507-08-6
Trade Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Ambassador International
Released: 2009, 2010, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
My husband, a missionary translator in Papua New Guinea, was murdered while sitting at his desk translating the love chapter into the Nabak language. As the first witness on the scene, I soon learned that the murderer was a Nabak man. We had grown to love the Nabak-speaking people and were endeavoring to translate the scriptures into their language.

This memoir tells the story of my four children and me wrestling with grief and disorientation. It speaks of our quest for spiritual answers and of the difficulty of meshing two different worlds the culture of the Nabak people on the island nation of Papua New Guinea and of my Christian heritage from the United States. We faced the challenges of forgiving the murderer, rocks thrown onto our roof and through the windows, eviction notices, and twenty months later a court case.

Then we discovered that God is orchestrating an amazing story of redemption. I, even in my most creative and spiritual moments, never could have conjured up the story that came from this tragedy and our family's forgiveness.

My Review:
Outrageous Grace is a memoir by a Wycliffe Bible translator about her and her husband's work translating the Bible for the Nabak people in Papua New Guinea. Grace talked briefly about their childhoods and why they choose to be translators, the challenges of translating the Bible and how they did it, and about her husband's death and the troubles and forgiveness that happened afterward. There were some black and white photos of the people mentioned in the story.

Overall, the story was very interesting and well-written. I'd recommend this book.

I mainly read it because I was interested in learning more about the Bible translation process, and this book did answer many of my questions. However, Grace also talked about her husband's murder and where the path of forgiveness led her, her family, and the Nabak people. If you've ever questioned why God would allow His workers to die doing His work, the events that happened after her husband's death help to show that God wasn't caught off guard. God knew the impact her husband's death and her forgiveness would have on the Nabak people and used it to bring people to Him.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
A white-collared kingfisher swooped down, landing on a branch of the pine tree just outside my office window. Its azure blue feathers contrasted with the brilliant purplish-red color of the bougainvillea. That thorny vine draped itself around the pine branches like strings of Christmas tree lights. "Is there really a pine tree under there?" a friend had once asked.

Many unusual creatures like kangaroos, leatherback turtles and flashlight fish live on this island of Papua New Guinea connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

I favored the exotic birds. I called them "feathered friends," mainly because they kept the insect population down, though they did more than minimize my chances of contracting malaria. There was something reassuring about their throaty notes and the way they glided through the air. They inserted an element of pleasure and peace into my high-energy schedule by their glorious songs and brilliant plumage.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Gourmet Butcher: Beef, Lamb, & Pork DVD set

book cover

The Gourmet Butcher DVD:
Beef, Lamb, & Pork
with Cole Ward

2 DVD set
Length: 4 hours
DVD Website

Source: Won on the Lunch sustainablog community.

DVD Description from Website:
For more than 30 years, master butcher Cole Ward has been teaching chefs, butchers, farmers, caterers and meat-lovers how to cut and prepare their own meat.

Now you can, too: In four episodes, master butcher Cole Ward and chef Courtney Contos will show you how to turn a side of Beef, Pork and Lamb into heaven on a plate.

The Gourmet Butcher™ delivers Cole Ward's entire course – plus many extras – in a four-hour DVD series that will take you through every step of the butchering process: breaking down a carcass into primal cuts, turning those primal cuts into gourmet or retail cuts, then transforming them into table-ready gourmet dishes.

What you'll get:
Four hours of one-on-one teaching from Cole on Lamb, Pork, Beef fore-quarter, and Beef hind-quarter, instruction on tools and safety, prep tips and presentation options, and meal ideas with recipes from chef Courtney.

My Review:
The Gourmet Butcher DVD set teaches you how to cut beef, lamb, and pork carcasses into primal and retail cuts and how to cook these cuts. They included general cooking advice and several recipes. The DVDs also included a short section introducing the presenters and a brief section on what tools you'll need to do the butchering yourself.

The DVDs started with the animal already dead, gutted, skinned, and otherwise ready to be cut into smaller sizes of meat. The DVD on Beef Hindquarter and Beef Forequarter was very well done. The camera work was excellent and allowed a good view of what Cole was doing. Cole worked fairly slowly and gave enough instruction that I felt I understood why he was cutting where he was and what to look for.

On the DVD on Pork and Lamb, Cole worked very quickly. I felt like I could probably reproduce his cuts if I had the DVD going (and used the pause function) as I worked on the meat, but I didn't feel like I really understood the process. The camera work was also not as high quality. Several times the camera would focus on the Cole's face while he was demonstrating something with his hands, so we never got to see it demonstrated. Also, a couple of times Cole showed his co-host how to do something instead of the camera (though often he caught himself and showed us, too). This Pork/Lamb DVD would be useful for someone needing a refresher on what to do, but less so for a beginner learning solely from the DVD.

At the end of the Pork and Lamb primal cuts sections, Cole reassembled the animal and pointed out what cuts of meat had been taken from where and in what order. It looked much like those "cuts of meat" charts. Cole didn't really reassemble the beef primal cuts at the end, but he did point out those cuts in order again.

In the primal cuts section, Cole demonstrated how to make the main cuts in taking the meat apart. In the gourmet cuts section, Cole demonstrated how to cut those primal cuts into retail or "table-ready" cuts. Cole and Courtney also discussed how to best cook these cuts (by roasting, grilling, skillet, etc.). In the Beef Hindquarter Gourmet Cuts section, the presenters talked some about aging the meat. In the Recipe section, they demonstrated--like in a cooking show--how to do a recipe.

One thing lacking was that they didn't discuss sanitary measures. For example, it was disconcerting to see a primal cut fall on the floor and Cole never mentioned (or showed) what to do if that happens.

Overall, though, if you want to learn to butcher beef, need a refresher on butchering beef, lamb, or pork, or are interested in where the various cuts come from and want tips on how to best cook them, then this DVD would be useful.

Disk 1
Started with a quarter of carcass minus hooves, tail, and hide.

Beef Primal Cuts: 24 min 53 sec.

Beef Gourmet Cuts: 45 min 28 sec
1. Top Butt - triangle-tip roast, ball-tipped roast, (boneless) sirloin steaks
2. Bone-In Strip - boneless New York strip steak
3. Tender Loin - fillets or whole
4. Flank - Butterflied flank steak
5. "Flap" Meat - "sirloin tip" cut
6. Knuckle or Sirloin Tip - sirloin tip steak, sirloin tip roasts
7. Top Round - round steak, rouladen, top round roasts
8. Eye of the Round - minute/sandwich steaks, eye of the round roast
9. Bottom Round - cut into rump, center cut, and bottom round for pot roast
10. Shank - beef shanks

Beef Recipes:
1. Pig in a Flanket: 6 min 47 sec
2. Peposo Notturno: 3 min 20 sec
3. Cheddar Bacon Burgers: 3 min 46 sec (also showed how to make ground beef and form into burger patties)
4. Pickle & Cheese Stuffed Burgers: 4 min 2 sec

Started with a quarter of carcass minus hooves, head, and hide.

Beef Primal Cuts: 17 min 39 sec
(Included making retail cuts of skirt steaks; plate short ribs and further processing of the plate; rack of beef spare ribs, boneless rib eye steaks, and rib eye roast.)

Beef Gourmet Cuts: 28 min 10 sec
1. Brisket - brisket
2. Shoulder - short ribs, arm pot roast, shoulder "London Royal" steak, stew squares
3. Short Ribs & Beef Shank - shoulder short ribs, beef shanks
4. Bone-In Chuck - chuck steaks, chuck roasts

Beef Recipes:
1. Grilled Steak au Poivre: 7 min 7 sec

Disk 2

Started with a half of carcass minus hooves, tail, and hide.

Pork Primal Cuts: 14 min 47 sec

Pork Gourmet Cuts: 32 minutes 48 seconds
1. Ham Hocks & Head - "head cheese" cut
2. Picnic Shoulder & Boston Butt - roasts, chops
3. The Ham - butt half, center cut slice, Top Round into cutlets plus squares for kabab, Eye of the Round into thin "medallions", and Bottom Round into steaks
4. The Ribs & Pork Belly - ribs, bacon
5. The Ribs End, Center Cut, & Sirloin End - Rib End into baby back ribs & boneless country style ribs, Center Cut into pork chops & French roast, and Sirloin End into tenderloin & sirloin cutlets or sirloin steaks

Pork recipes:
1. Braised Pork Belly: 4 min 24 sec
2. Orange Marinade: 1 min 32 sec
3. Maple Breakfast Sausage: 6 min 40 sec (showed how to grind meat and form into sausage patties)

Started with whole carcass minus head, hooves, and hide.

Lamb Primal Cuts: 6 min 37 sec

Lamb Gourmet Cuts: 38 min 2 sec
1. Leg & Rear Shanks - Rear Shank into lamb shank and Leg into boneless leg roast (showed two methods to remove bone)
2. Breast & Front Shanks - Breast into riblets or make a pocket in for stuffing, Front Shanks into lamb shank, Brisket trimmed for use as ground lamb or in stew, and Neck trimed for stew
3. Rack of Lamb & Lamb Loin - Rack of Lamb was Frenched/Crowned or cut into rib lamb chops and Lamb Loin cut into loin lamb chops or butterflied lamb loin

Lamb Recipes:
1. Stuffed Lamb Loin: 3 min 50 sec
2. Lemon Herb Butterflied Leg of Lamb: 2 min 14 sec
3. Cranberry Apricot Ginger Lamb Sausage: 9 min 24 sec, (showed how to grind meat and fill sausage casing)

If you've watched this DVD, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from DVD

Or view video on YouTube.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Great Depression by David A. Shannon

book cover

The Great Depression
by David A. Shannon

Trade Paperback: 171 pages
Publisher: Prentice Hall Trade
Released: June 1960

Source: Borrowed from my father's personal library.

Book Description from Back Cover:
The Story of the Great Depression Told in Human Terms

What was it like, in 1930, to stand in a cold rain for hours to receive a handout of a loaf of bread? What did a destitute family actually do when city relief funds gave out? How did they survive? Cold rows of statistics do not answer questions like these. This book does.

How can we recapture in some measure the sick feeling of fear and hysteria that swept across the world's richest, most powerful country in the wake of the stock market collapse of 1929? Only by telling the stories of real people who, smug and complacent in the highly touted New Era of Prosperity, found themselves, almost overnight, impoverished and panic-stricken with no recovery in sight.

David A. Shannon's The Great Depression is a journal of human experience during those times: a carefully assembled collection of contemporary articles and news accounts by outstanding writers. Here are vivid documents--case histories--of bands of hungry children roaming the country like scavengers; of men and women seeking jobs in Russia; of shantytowns in New York's Central Park; of hunger riots; of the "lucky" who kept their jobs.

My Review:
The Great Depression is made up of newspaper articles and transcripts of reports made at government committee hearings made during 1929-1934. There were also six case histories about the lives of "ordinary people" during the worst of the Great Depression and how they survived. Some articles were more formal than others, but this book gave a good idea of how the Great Depression affected people from every class and circumstance. This book didn't get into what caused the Great Depression or what was done on the national scale to get out of it except in how those things affected people on a personal scale. I found this book very interesting, and I'd highly recommend it.

Topics covered were unemployment numbers, wage decreases, ways attempted to earn money after a job was lost, relief measures by the government, malnourishment in children, vagrants and migratory workers, bank failures, stock drops, the fear of a violent revolt against the government, and how the depression affected the farmers, middle class, industrial workers, teachers, public schools, and college students.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 26-27
Oscar Ameringer of Oklahoma City described some of this tragedy before a Congressional commitee in February, 1932....

During the last three months I have visited, as I have said, some 20 States of this wonderfully rich and beautiful country. Here are some of the things I heard and saw: In the State of Washington I was told that the forest fires raging in that region all summer and fall were caused by unemployed timber workers and bankrupt farmers in an endeavor to earn a few honest dollars as firefighters. The last thing I saw on the night I left Seattle was numbers of women searching for scrapes of food in the refuse piles of the principal market of that city. A number of Montana citizens told me of thousands of bushels of wheat left in the fields uncut on account of its low price that hardly paid for the harvesting [costs]. In Oregon I saw thousands of apples rotting in the orchards. Only absolutely flawless apples were still salable, at from 40 to 50 cents a box containing 200 apples. At the same time, there are millions of children who, on account of the poverty of their parents, will not eat one apple this winter.

While I was in Oregon the Portland Oregonian bemoaned the fact that thousands of ewes were killed by the sheep raisers because they did not bring enough in the market to pay the freight on them. And while Oregon sheep raisers fed mutton to the buzzards, I saw men picking for meat scraps in the garbage cans in the cities of New York and Chicago.

[Note: If you read the whole book, it wasn't that the farmers were being unfeeling about the hungry people's plight. Due to the low prices for farm goods at the time, many farmers weren't even able to pay the property taxes on their land and were losing their land. They couldn't afford to harvest their fields or animals and go further into debt even faster.]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All About Growing Fruits & Berries by Ortho Books

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All About Growing Fruits & Berries
by Ortho Books

ISBN-13: 978-0897210096
Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Ortho Books
Released: 1982

Source: Bought at a used book sale.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Plant your small home garden for a bountiful harvest of fresh fruits and berries. Complete, concise information on pests and diseases, pollination, pruning, espaliers, and wall plantings.

My Review:
All About Growing Fruits & Berries is a gardening book about growing fruit trees and berries in the USA. Though much of the information can be used by anyone interested in growing fruit trees and berries, people with only a small space for their fruit garden were the target audience. The book spent more time on dwarf trees, training trees to follow walls or fences, and container gardening than most "fruit and berry" gardening books.

Chapter one covered dwarf trees (including how they're created) and small area gardening. Chapter two covered the various growing zones in the USA, what fruit trees and berries are usually grown in those zones, and what problems are common to those zones. Chapter three covered choosing, planting, and plant care (self- vs. cross-pollination, soil types, planting, fertilizing, watering, mulching, and a pest & disease guide). Chapter four covered pruning basics and training information (including for espaliers). Chapter five covered container planting. The rest of the book was an encyclopedia with some general information on the different types of fruits and with listings of the different varieties of fruit trees, grapes, and berries.

Much of the information about planting and care and in the encyclopedia can be found on nursery websites or is included for free with orders from online nurseries. However, if you buy locally or want information on small area fruit gardening, this book may be useful.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bankruptcy of Our Nation by Jerry Robinson

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Bankruptcy of Our Nation:
12 Key Strategies for Protecting Your Finances in These Uncertain Times
by Jerry Robinson

ISBN-13: 9780892216932
Trade Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Press
Released: March 18, 2009

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Surrounded by a host of political and social problems, America stands at the crossroads of a devastating economic crisis - the size and scope of which demands immediate action, while instability and debt loom over the future.

  • America is the greatest debtor nation in history.
  • The value of the dollar is at tremendous risk.
  • Inflation is about to become a huge reality.

Crippled by personal debt, local and state governments facing revenue losses, and the federal government struggling to bail out segments of the economy, many Americans are suddenly afraid and uncertain of what the future may bring. Many worry if the United States can even recover from this crisis. Will you and your family financially survive and even thrive during this turbulent time?

Bankruptcy of Our Nation gives you vital insight, historical and future perspective, revealing how America got into this mess, and how you can make informed decisions to weather this economic crisis. Don't rely on the government to secure your future - empower yourself with sound economic strategies, solutions, and godly principles today!

My Review:
Bankruptcy of Our Nation is about how greed and poor government policy has created an inevitable, coming financial crisis for the American government that will affect everyone in America. There's a lot of good, important information in this book, especially in the first half. There's no getting around that the "coming crisis" is real. The question is only how severe it will be and when it will occur. Therefore, I was disappointed that the "12 key strategies for protecting your finances" made up only one slim chapter.

The book was a quick, easy read. Some of the information was repeated, but those unfamiliar with these concepts might appreciate the repetition. Some of his speculation about the future is already out of date, but that doesn't significantly affect the overall value of the book.

However, I questioned the wisdom of a few of his "surviving" strategies, like putting money into (among other suggestions) fine art. If people can't afford food, why would they place any monetary exchange value on art? And if all the world's currency systems are potentially as unstable as ours, is it really wise to invest a full third of your money in foreign currency?

I also felt like he got a little sidetracked in the chapters about the Federal Reserve. I felt like he was leaving some information out, that some of his statements there were misleading, and I didn't accept some of his conclusions. For example, on page 173, he said, "Money is debt. And debt is money. The concept that all money in our modern society is actually debt may be foreign to you." Okay, so in certain circumstances, money is printed in order to meet the debt need. However, money has buying power and the ability to pay off ("cancel") debt, so it can't be debt.

I was also amazed that he managed to potentially offend just about every type of reader. He blamed both political parties for the problem (most of which he backed up with facts). The last 47 pages suddenly contained a lot of references to Christianity (which will turn off non-Christians), but then he makes statements that most Christians won't agree with. Personally, I didn't like how he basically said that rich Americans and banks were deliberately trying to financially ruin the helpless "working poor and middle class." I know rich people who have honestly earned their wealth through hard work and wise use of their money and poor people who have lost theirs through foolish use of their money. I don't think he's making a fair generalization, and I think that everyone ought to look to how they've contributed to the problem instead of looking for someone to blame.

Overall, this book has some very important information, but I question some of its accuracy so you might want to research it more on your own. Or you can watch this free, approximately 80 minute long PowerPoint presentation video that covered many of the same points about why they believe an economic crisis is going to occur soon. One big difference, though, is that some of solutions at the end of the video appeal to people's greed whereas the author of the book blames greed for getting everyone into this mess.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from pages 73-75, 92
As of this writing, the U.S. national debt stands at just under $9.4 trillion and is rising by the billions daily. And these record debt levels are going up every second...because the miracle of compounding interest is working against us. ...America is the largest debtor nation the world has ever seen. America is clearly spending more than it can ever pay for.

...let me simplify the gravity of this situation by examining the U.S. government's annual budget. In fiscal year 2006, the U.S. government spent $406 billion of their tax receipts (translation: your tax dollars) on interest payments to the holders of the national debt. That $406 billion is just the interest on our skyrocketing debt!

To help you understand just how much money $406 billion is, let's compare this amount to other important expenditures by the federal government. Consider the items from the Federal Budget from Fiscal Year 2006....

  • The entire annual budget for the Department of Labor in 2006: $11.5 billion
  • The entire annual budget for the NASA Space Program in 2006: $16.5 billion
  • The entire annual budget for the Department of Energy in 2006: $23.4 billion
  • The entire annual budget for the Department of Homeland Security in 2006: $34.2 billion
  • The entire annual budget for the Department of Transportation in 2006: $57.5 billion
  • The entire annual budget for the Department of Education in 2006: $56 billion
  • The entire annual budget for the Department of Health and Human Services in 2006: $67.2 billion

....Every 13 hours your government spends over $600 million on INTEREST on the national debt.

Now suppose that the federal government collectively decided one day to beginning paying off the $59 trillion it owes [which includes it's future social security, medicare, and medicaid commitments] at [the] rate of $1.00 per second. Assuming that this $59 trillion was not compounding with interest daily (which it is, by the billions), how long would it take our government to pay off $59 trillion dollars...? 1,888,000 years. [One million, eight hundred eighty-eight thousand years.]

Read the first 35 pages.