Summer is fast approaching with it lazy days and vacations. Time spent relaxing with a good book – or two or three – and a cool refreshing beverage are part of summer; this article suggests books you might want to add to your summer reading list.
If you are like me you can read cookbooks and interesting nonfiction with the same enthusiasm as a thrilling adventure. With that in mind let’s look at three books you might find intriguing. There is something for everyone, East and West Coast dreamers, and home cooks everywhere.
A Vineyard Odyssey: The Organic Fight to Save Wine from the Ravages of Nature
If you live on the West Coast and love wine, you probably have considered or dreamed of running a vineyard/winery. As romantic as that notion is, there are many aspects you likely have not considered. If you have entertained such ideas, this first book should be at the top of you reading list.
Written by John Kiger of Kiger Family Vineyards, “A Vineyard Odyssey” is a personal examination of everything it takes to own and operate a sustainable vineyard. John, his wife Deb and all their animals work in harmony to create a sustainable farming culture that not only is good for the environment but also produces grapes for top boutique wineries in Sonoma County California.
I know John as a friend who is a great home cook and baker as well as a wine enthusiast. With his thorough and meticulous documentation John provides a detailed study of years of passionate hard work which takes you on A Vineyard Odyssey.
It is a fascinating saga of wine — the journey from vine to bottle — that takes the reader on a travelogue of the many hazards that lie along the way. John tracks the nefarious denizens of the vineyard world: the host of insects, fungi, bacteria, and viruses, along with the feathered and furry critters that lurk in vineyards. All are capable of sabotaging a promising vintage right under the nose of an unsuspecting grower.
Yet rather than responding with toxic chemicals, John explains how an organic approach to cultivation can conquer or at least contain them. Highlighting the many hazards of nature that lie hidden in any vintage, our author tells the story of a winegrower and an organic philosophy that guides the annual struggle to coax great wine from a steep hillside and a few thousand vines. Combining history, science, technology, and personal experience, this book vividly brings to life the hard-fought battles behind the wines we savor.
As of this writing John’s book is in prerelease but you can still order it and be among the first to learn what it takes to be a farmer of grapes.
**Update – John’s book is now in full release and selling well. Don’t forget to get your copy today.
Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies
Another close friend, Mary White, has written a book – “Running a Bed & Breakfast For Dummies” – for the East Coasters dreamers who idealize not vineyards, but being gentleman and lady innkeepers.
Mary is the Founder and CEO of www.BnBFinder.com, a leading bed & breakfast directory and an award winning site that continually earns the industry’s highest ratings. The site provides interesting content and comprehensive search features using the latest technology. Mary is a highly sought after B&B expert having appeared on Martha Stewart radio and featured in major publications like New York Times, Washington Post and Huffington Post.
Like John’s book for potential wine growers, Mary’s should be required reading for aspiring innkeepers. There is much more to it than finding the perfect historic property in an area rich with history and opening the doors.
Mary’s book is a friendly, practical guide that shows you how to make your dream a reality, containing expert advice on everything from writing a business plan and finding the right location to handling the diverse situations you will encounter as an innkeeper. You’ll be capable of make your guests feel at home, keep your inn in tip-top shape, and ensure your long-term success. Ultimately, it allows you to understand B&B basics and get an overview of the business to see if you have the skills (and the desire!) to succeed.
Washington Post Cookbook
Last on the list, but certainly not the least, is a cookbook by the Washington Post Food section simply called “The Washington Post Cookbook.” It is a long overdue collection of readers favorite recipes from the rich archives of the Post’s popular food section feature.
Bonnie Benwick is the editor but, supported by her alter ego Jane Touzalin and Food/Travel editor Joe Yonan, she stands on the shoulders of so many who worked hard to make the recipe section of the Post’s food section a reader favorite for decades.
While you might be tempted to say it’s just another cookbook, this book is different because the recipes have stood not only the test of time but also the scrutiny of Washington Post readers from around the country and via the Internet around the world. This unique collection of more than 150 readers’ favorite recipes from the last 50 years, ranges from classics to the experimental. It reflects the best of cooking from area chefs, Food staff members, and home cooks. Whether it’s trendy kale chips or traditional fudge from Mamie Eisenhower, you’ll see why the award-winning Food section is widely recognized as one of the best in the country.
I attended a class taught by Bonnie on the subject of how to write a recipe and I can tell you that she is someone who understands the needs of the home cook. This understanding manifests itself in many aspects such as recipe preparation time, ingredient availability and the need for clear precise instructions.
The book is beautifully assembled and contains a range of recipes for the diverse needs of its multi-ethnic omnivorous audience.
My recent favorites include the Man Catcher Brownies, Chocolate Grapes (you read that correctly) and Ginger Shrimp With Carrot Couscous.
So whether you are a wine loving California dreamer or a gentleman/lady innkeeper on the East Coast or someone just looking to find a reliable recipe source for your home and vacation cooking needs, these books will fit your need.
John and Mary’s books may pop the bubble on your dream of being a great wine maker or innkeeper but conversely they might inspire you to reach for the new heights of your next career.
The Washington Post Cookbook is something that can be read and enjoyed. However I think it will find a permanent place on your kitchen shelf and will become a resource you turn to time and again as you enjoy the simplicity and reliability of the tried and true recipes.