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Wrap it Up: Great Holiday Gifts

December 02, 2017
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Book suggestions for gift choices for the upcoming holiday season from Carmichael's Bookstore.

The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings 
by Wendell Berry, Counterpoint Press, 2017 
Available at The Berry Center Bookstore in New Castle, or through a locally owned bookstore. 

Wendell Berry is now in his ninth decade of life. He has been farming a small plot of ground along the Kentucky River for over 50 years and writing essays, poetry and fiction for nearly 60 years. Most of his work has been about his upbringing in Henry County, his neighborly friends and kinsmen, his love for and marriage to wife, Tanya, and their parenting of their children, Mary and Den. In this work, Berry lays down an autobiographical accounting of his agrarian inheritance and an application of agrarian principles and standards to 21st-century life. 

This collection is sweeping in its intellectual, historic, political and literary breadth. It is both a rejoinder to his early critics and a modest recognition of his inability to create a public conversation about our global food supply and the failures of industrial agriculture. Debunking those who call him a Southern, nostalgic, racist “tobacco farmer,” he asks in an introductory essay that his critics “acknowledge fairly the complexity of my subjects, and to be honest in their use of evidence.” 

Between the covers of this volume, Berry employs all three forms of his creativity to proclaim that the “art that kept soil fertile and in place, in Shakespeare’s time and after, is an art more necessary than Shakespeare’s.” 

Utilizing his fictional self-characterization of Andy Catlett, Berry creates for his readers a primer on the educators, mentors and instructors who have schooled him. Their lives, examples, writings and thoughtful experiences constitute the Laws of Nature by which he (and we) must necessarily live. Taking hope in the “food movement,” he remarks that an interest in food is only a step from an interest in agriculture. Of the medical profession’s concern about the economy of health, he believes that too will soon become a worry about agriculture. Food, he argues, is too costly for poor people yet too cheap to farmers and this affects farming and the possibility of better farming. 

This book and its author, with his deep spiritual faith and self-deprecating sense of humor, remain hopeful. He calls himself and his friends a surviving, even saving, remnant agrarianism. Still, he observes, among the decaying rural communities of his native Kentucky, “friendships forming and acquiring histories, gatherings at evening for suppers and music, and outlines of renewed community, (all) happening without official notice or help.” His work and the love that was in it have given him a joyful life, for which he is grateful. He recalls times when he has been happy for reasons so small and ephemeral that nobody has learned to charge for them. 

In memory of his agrarian inheritance, from which we are merely a generation or two removed, are these farewell lines from Berry’s closing poem: 

“None like them will ever live 
In such a time as theirs 
In such a place as this 
Place was in their time.” 

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet 
By Mrs. Peanuckle, Illustrated by Jessie Ford 
Board Book, $7.99 
Ages 0 to 3 

Perfect to read aloud, Mrs. Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet introduces babies and toddlers to a variety of colorful vegetables, from asparagus to zucchini. This vegetable buffet will delight kiddos and parents alike with its vegetable facts and colorful, vibrant illustrations. 

Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book 
By Lotta Nieminen 
Board Book, $14.95 
Ages 2 to 4 

This interactive book invites kids to chop the vegetables, mash the avocado, warm the tortillas and more — all inside the book! Simple (yet accurate) recipes takes readers through the steps of preparing tacos, while the interactive features such as pull tabs, sliders, wheels and pop-out pieces invite everyone to participate in the process. Perfect for kids who love to help in the kitchen! 

What’s Cooking? 
By Joshua David Stein, Illustrated by Julia Rothman, Hardcover, $16.95 
Juvenile Nonfiction (Cooking & Food) 
Ages 3 to 6 

Food critic Joshua David Stein tackles the world of cookery with quirk and charm. From the practical “Can I fry a scoop of gelato?” to the playful “Do frozen peas grow on frozen trees?”, each vignette features a question and a satisfying reveal, all revolving around the food prep. Incorporating humor, word play, logic and illogic, foreign foods and even some cookbook vocabulary, this read-aloud offers kids facts to share and maybe even the desire to get involved in the kitchen! 

Smitten Kitchen Every Day 
Deb Perelman $35 

Deb Perelman thinks that cooking should be an escape from drudgery. Smitten Kitchen Every Day presents more than one hundred unfussy, impossible-to-resist recipes — almost all of them brand-new, plus a few favorites from her website — that will make you want to stop what you’re doing right now and cook. These are real recipes for real people — people with busy lives who don’t want to sacrifice flavor or quality to eat meals they’re really excited about. Perelman’s first Smitten Kitchen cookbook was a kind of sneaky bestseller, spread by word of mouth from foodie to foodie, and has become a modern classic in the process. 

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen 
Sean Sherman, Contributions by Beth Dooley 
$34.95 USD 

Here is real food: indigenous American fruits and vegetables, wild and foraged ingredients, game and fish. Locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and nose-to-tail cooking are nothing new to Sean Sherman, the Oglala Lakota chef and founder of The Sioux Chef. In his breakout book, The Sioux Chef ’s Indigenous Kitchen, Sherman shares his approach to creating boldly seasoned foods that are vibrant, healthful, at once elegant and easy.

Article from Edible Louisville & the Bluegrass at http://ediblelouisville.ediblecommunities.com/shop/wrap-it-great-holiday-gifts
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