Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pasta: Recipes & Techniques by Julia della Croce

book cover
Pasta: Recipes & Techniques
by Julia della Croce

ISBN-13: 9781581590487
Hardback: 168 pages
Publisher: Cooking Club of America
Released: 1999

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description:
Pasta-based recipes, and techniques for making fresh egg pasta.

My Review:
Pasta: Recipes & Techniques is a pasta-focused cookbook with some information on making fresh pasta at home. Many of the recipes included full-color pictures of the finished dish, but step-by-step pictures were rare and mainly included when discussing a new pasta-related technique. The recipes took up 102 pages of the 168 page book and covered over 120 recipes for: pasta soups, sauces, fresh pasta dishes, dried pasta dishes, dried pasta with uncooked sauces, stuffed pasta, baked pasta dishes, festive baked pasta dishes, gnocchi and dumplings, regional specialties, and pasta deserts.

The beginning of the book gave a short history of pasta and an overview of the different types of pasta dishes the book had recipes for. Next were pictures of a wide variety of pasta types and descriptions of what types of sauces or foods that they were best with. We're given a recipe for egg pasta dough and told how to roll it out using a roller-type pasta machine. We're also told how to cut pasta by hand or using pasta tools, how to make 9 types of colored/flavored fresh pasta, making stuffed pasta (ravioli, pansotti, caramelle, tortelli, tortellini), and the proper cooking and draining of pasta.

Overall, if you're comfortable with cooking and just want some basics to try for making pasta at home, then this book will provide that. I didn't see many recipes that appealed to me, but this wasn't an American-style pasta book but one more focused on actual Italian recipes. (Though I didn't see recipes for the pasta dishes I tried and liked while briefly visiting Italy.) Anyway, my main goal was to learn more about making fresh and stuffed pastas at home, and this gave me the tips I needed to get started.

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.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Drinking Water Book by Colin Ingram

book cover
The Drinking Water Book,
Second Edition
by Colin Ingram

ISBN-13: 978-1587612572
Trade Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Celestial Arts
Released: June 1, 2006

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
The Drinking Water Book provides the information you need to determine what's in your tap water and to safeguard your health and the health of your family. Unlike water purifier manufacturers and public health officials, Ingram presents unbiased reporting on what's likely to be in your water, whether you live in a big city or a small town or have a well, and how to drink more safely--including some things you can do without spending a penny. Based on years of extensive water-quality research, including actual home installations of products, Ingram evaluates various bottled waters and rates specific purifiers currently on the market.

My Review:
This review is also on my Adventures With Organics blog.

The Drinking Water Book is a practical book to understanding water purifiers and bottled water. I was trying to do research on the internet about what each type of water purifier actually did (carbon filter, UV light, distiller, etc.) and how well, but I couldn't find consistent information. If the person was selling the device, the device did practically everything; if they weren't, the device hardly did anything so what you really needed was their device. This book provided clear, easy-to-understand answers to my questions.

The author started by talking about what types of things might be in your water (pathogens, toxic minerals and metals, organic chemicals, radioactive substances, additives) and their risks. He then talked about what is more likely to be in your water in a big city, a small city, or with a well, and about water testing. He discussed different health claims about distilled water, minerals in the water, etc. He then gave some easy ways to improve your tap water without any special equipment.

He then discussed bottled water, vended water, and bulk water stores. He talked about how filters (sediment, carbon filter, redox), reverse osmosis units, distillers, and ultraviolet units work, the different sub-types of each, what they do, and how frequently they need to be changed. He discussed using a combination of the above based on what you determined were the most probable problems with your water.

He evaluated the effectiveness of the different types of water purifiers while in actual use, compared the costs of different methods, discussed the best places to buy a water purifier, and evaluated specific brands (for house, camping, and traveling). He ended by discussing emergency disinfection of water and water storage.

If you're thinking about getting a water purification system or are concerned about your water, I'd highly recommend this book. With the knowledge from this book, you'll probably save the cost of this book through informed future water-related purchases...and you can feel assured you're actually getting what you want rather than having a false confidence based on promotional hype.

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: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Las Vegas Then and Now by Su Kim Chung

book cover
Las Vegas Then and Now
by Su Kim Chung

ISBN-13: 9781592237340
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Thunder Bay Press
Released: June 11, 2007

Source: Gift from a friend.

Book Description from Goodreads:
A photographic journey through the history of one of America's most distinctive towns, Las Vegas. Spanish explorers were the first to come to this desert oasis to enjoy its natural hot springs and named the spot Las Vegas, or 'the meadows.' Now just a century after it was founded in 1905, Las Vegas is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the US. Fascinating then-and-now photographs capture the city’s development from desert railroad outpost to the gambling and entertainment capital of the world.

My Review:
Las Vegas Then and Now is a picture-based history of various buildings in Las Vegas. The author described the history of the various buildings on each spot (what was built by whom and why) beneath pictures of the buildings being talked about. This book mainly covered Hoover Dam, the Fremont Street area, and the Strip. The text about future or recent projects sometimes read like a paid promotion, but it was not so noticeable as to take away from my enjoyment of the book. The book covered all the areas I was interested in except the current airport.

The pictures were very nice and gave a good sense of the development of Las Vegas. I sometimes would have liked a map, though (since I'm not a native to the area) to show where the buildings currently stand in relation to each other. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to those who think it sounds interesting.

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.