Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World

Getting Harmful Chemicals 
Out of Our Bodies and Our World
By Rick Smith, Bruce Lourie
Hardcover, 304 pages

Here is to a happy and healthy 2014!

And what better way to get healthy than by identifying the harmful chemicals that surround us and getting them out of our lives and bodies.

Most importantly, for me, they deliver the information in an easy to understand style, always keeping themselves and their readers as part of the dynamic.

No more wondering - what is this chemical? Who controls it? What does it do to me? And how? And how the heck do I get rid of it?

Toxin Toxout gives you the information to make wise decisions about what you put in and on your body. Which is pretty much what we all need for a healthier new year.  Most importantly, it shows how to reduce your toxic build up, not with crazy expensive purge plans but with information, common sense, and tried and true methods of detoxifying.

ToxIn ToxOut!

Chapters include:
One: Wellness Revolution
Two: Organic Tea Party
Three: Straight Flush
Four: Sweat the Small Stuff
Five: A Stationary Road Trip
Six: Clean, Green Economic Machine
Seven: The Toxin Toxout Top 10
As well as a resource guide for further reading!

From the Back Flap:
The Rubber Duck boys are back, and after showing us all the ways that toxins get IN our bodies, now they give us a guide for scrubbing those toxins OUT.

Following the runaway success of their first book, 2 of Canada's leading environmental activists give practical and often surprising advice for removing toxic chemicals from our bodies and homes. There are over 80,000 synthetic chemicals in commerce today, including hormone-disrupting phthalates and parabens, cancer-causing pesticides, heavy metals and air pollutants. Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie use their outrageous experiments (they and their brave volunteers are the guinea pigs) to prove how easily our bodies absorb these chemicals from the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and the products we smear on our skin--day after day. Then they give us the good news about what is in our control and the steps we can take for reducing our toxic burden. They investigate the truth behind organic foods, which detox methods actually work, if indoor air quality is improving, and how we dispose of waste (where do those chemicals go?). The result is nothing short of a prescription for a healthier life.

About the Authors

BRUCE LOURIE is a leading environmental thinker, writer and speaker. He is President of the Ivey Foundation and is a director of several organizations in Canada and the United States.

RICK SMITH is a prominent Canadian author and environmentalist. He is executive director of the Broadbent Institute and was the executive director of Environmental Defence for almost 10 years.
They both live in Toronto. 

Monday, 23 December 2013

Innocence: A Novel by Dean Koontz

A Novel
By Dean Koontz

Hardcover, 352 pages

I have no idea how this man puts out so many interesting books but thank goodness he does. He must have one over-active imagination and we are fortunate to be able to share in it with him.

In Innocence, we have two incredibly private souls who inexplicably cross paths and develop an instant bond. Addison dwells underground in a beauty and the beast fashion and Gwyneth flits from place to place almost as invisibly as he is.

Addison is rejected by society and Gwyneth rejects society herself. These two unique people are thrust into a race to save a young girl and stop a tyrant from committing evil, while supernatural elements abound.

The story is told in a bit of a legend style, first person, from Addison's point of view.

Innocence slowly peels away the mysteries of these two souls while they struggle to protect the innocent.

You will find yourself with a warm glow when you finish the book. Just perfect for a chilly winter's read.

From the back flap:
He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen.

She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found.

But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching.

In Innocence, #1 New York Times bestselling author Dean Koontz blends mystery, suspense, and acute insight into the human soul in a masterfully told tale that will resonate with readers forever.

Photo credit: Jerry Bauer
Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives with his wife, Gerda, and the enduring spirit of their golden retriever, Trixie, in southern California.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, Second Edition

200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, 
Second Edition
By Debra Amrein-Boyes
Paperback, 440 pages

They say that cheese is milk's leap towards immortality. One thing I know for certain: cheese is wonderful.

It can be soft, hard, salty, mild and everything in between. And it can be made in your own home!

I have actually tried quite a few of these recipes from the original edition and, let me tell you, it is a thrill to be able to make your own cheese at home. Start with the easier ones and work your way up. (One simpler recipe is included below)

The author is a celebrated professional cheese maker and the book is clear and easy to follow. There is a trouble shooting guide at the back to let you know how to correct any mistakes and lots of step by step photos of the process.

Like canning, there are safety procedures to follow and they are laid out in simple, basic steps to make sure your cheese is fresh and wonderful.

You've conquered so much in your kitchen, time to add homemade cheese to the list!

Mmmmm, cheese!

 About the Author

Debra Amrein-Boyes is one of the top artisanal cheese makers in Canada. She spent several years learning about cheese making in Switzerland, then returned to Canada, where she is now the head cheese maker of The Farm House Natural Cheeses.

Here's a sampling of some of the cheeses you can make:

  •     Fresh Cheeses: traditional Ricotta and fresh goat cheeses
  •     Stretched-Curd Cheeses: Bocconcini, Provolone and Mozzarella
  •     Mold-Ripened Cheeses: Brie, Camembert with Calvados
  •     Blue-Veined Cheeses: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, White Stilton
  •     Washed-Rind Cheeses: Muenster, Brick, Limburger
  •     Washed-Curd and Semisoft Cheeses: Colby, Edam, Fontina
  •     Semifirm and Hard Cheeses: Emmental, Jarlsberg, Cheddar
  •     Ethnic & Regional Cheeses: Feta, Paneer, Domiati
  •     Yogurt & Kefir: Bulgarian-Style Yogurt, Kefir Cheese
  •     Butter, Buttermilk and Crème Fraîche: Orange Honey Butter, Clotted Cream
From the back flap:

New step-by-step photos make the art of cheese-making easier than ever!

This bestselling book has been designed to help you create wonderful cheeses that approximate the flavors and textures of many cheeses from around the world — in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Discover and indulge in the taste of fresh handmade cheeses and experience the joy of creating outstanding food from a simple ingredient: fresh milk. These excellent recipes feature step-by- step instructions that take the stress and guesswork out of creating artisanal-quality cheeses at home. You will find recipes for everything from fresh unripened cheeses to aged ones with complex rinds.

An enticing new cover, an all-new 32-page troubleshooting section, new step-by-photos, as well as the new inclusion of preparation times with each recipe will be welcomed by both novice and experienced cheese-makers.

Rounding out this fantastic book are descriptions of basic cheese-making steps and techniques, along with information on and illustrations of all the necessary techniques, equipment and tools. Debra also chronicles the fascinating history of cheese and gives presentation instructions.

Fromage Frais
This fresh, creamy cheese is so delicious you will want to eat it with everything!

•    Draining bag or cloth-lined colander
4 quarts    whole milk    4 L
1⁄4 tsp    aroma or mesophilic culture    1.25 mL
2    drops liquid rennet    2
    Pickling (canning) or kosher salt

1.    Sterilize all equipment (see page 40). In a large stainless-steel pot over medium heat, warm milk to 77°F (25°C), stirring gently to prevent scorching. Remove from heat.
2.    Sprinkle culture over surface of milk and let stand for about 5 minutes to rehydrate. Using skimmer and an up-and-down motion, gently draw culture down into milk without breaking surface of milk.
3.    Dilute rennet in 1 tbsp (15 mL) cool water. Add to milk and, using the same up-and-down motion, draw rennet down into milk until well blended. Cover and let set at room temperature in a draft-free location for 12 hours.
4.    Using skimmer, ladle curd into a draining bag or
cloth-lined colander and let drain. The draining can take several hours; the time depends on how firm you want your final product to be (see Tip, left).
5.    Remove cheese from bag and place in a bowl. Weigh cheese, then add 1% of the weight in salt. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (see Tips, page 53).

Tips: Unless otherwise specified, all the recipes use cow’s milk.
The longer the cheese is drained, the firmer it will become. Check at intervals to decide when you think it is
firm enough for your preference. Feel the bottom of the bag with your hand; it should be quite damp but not still freely dripping. You can remove some cheese from the bag to check the consistency, then return it to the bag
to continue draining with no harm done. Remember, as the cheese stands in the refrigerator, it will firm up a bit more.
Makes 2 lbs (1 kg)
25% yield

Excerpted from 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes, Second Edition by Debra Amrein-Boyes
© 2013 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Cockroaches: by Jo Nesbo

by Jo Nesbo
Paperback, 400 pages

You may have heard me say this before. But I love Jo Nesbo!!!!

Stieg Larsson's books showed the world how dark and fascinating Nordic mysteries can be, but he was primarily a journalist and that shows in his writing. Jo Nesbo weaves a wonderful story and takes you down with him through dark twists and shadowy corners. I especially love his Harry Hole series. I have read all of them now, but not in order. That's okay, they are wonderful on their own but reading all of them really gives you insight into Hole and what made him such a dark mess.

Nesbo only got better as a writer, but he was wonderful to begin with. Get to know Harry Hole, he is fascinating.

From the back flap:
The thrilling sequel to Jo Nesbo's debut novel, The Bat, Cockroaches sees Harry Hole sent to Bangkok to investigate the murder of the Norwegian ambassador.
     Detective Harry Hole arrives in a steaming hot Bangkok. But it's work, not pleasure. The Norwegian ambassador has been found dead in a seedy motel room, and no witnesses have come forward. The ambassador had close ties to the Norwegian prime minister, and to avoid a scandal Harry is sent there to hush up the case. But he quickly discovers that there is much more going on behind the scenes and very few people willing to talk. When Harry lays hands on some CCTV footage that will help him unravel what happened that night, things only get more complicated. The man who gave him the tape goes missing, and Harry realises that failing to solve a murder case is by no means the only danger in Bangkok.

 Jo Nesbø’s books have sold more than twenty million copies worldwide, and have been translated into forty-seven languages. His Harry Hole novels include The Bat, The Redbreast, Nemesis, The Devil’s Star, The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard, Phantom, and Police, and he is the author of Headhunters and several children’s books. He has received the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel. He is also a musician, songwriter, and economist and lives in Oslo.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking

Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking
Includes 250 Delicious Recipes

by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt
Paperback, 400 pages

Living gluten-free has become a necessity for many people lately. Whether sensitive to gluten or completely celiac, we all know at least one person who can't digest the protein in many grains such as wheat. This can make it difficult to choose wisely for your sensitivities while still eating foods you love. 

Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking teaches you how to stock a gluten-free pantry, and how to cook tasty and easy meals that will satisfy your palate without sacrificing fun and flavour.

There are even tips for packing healthy lunches and eating on the go. Going gluten-free has never been so easy! 

Outstanding gluten-free recipes are beautifully organized for ease of use and preparation whatever the time of day or occasion:

    Breakfast and Brunch
    Soups, Salads and Dressings
    The Main Event
    Quick Breads
    Bread Machine Recipes
    Heavy-Duty Mixer Recipes
    Holiday Fare
    Delicious Desserts
    Sweet Treats.

Also included is useful information on maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle -- whether you're just beginning or simply need to check in for a quick reference. Sections such as The Gluten-Free Pantry, Handling Gluten-Free Flours and Starches, Gluten Cross-Contamination in the Kitchen, Healthy Choices for Eating Out -- Or In!, Traveling Gluten-Free Safely and Nutritious School Lunches are invaluable.

Cranberry Orange Muffins, page 165
Each muffin is dotted with bright red cranberries and flavored with a hint of orange. The cake-like texture of this not-too-sweet muffin is perfect to serve warm for breakfast.

•    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
•    12-cup muffin tin or 9- by 5-inch (2 L) loaf pan, lightly greased
•    Instant-read thermometer

11⁄2 cups    brown rice flour    375 mL
1⁄3 cup    each cornstarch and tapioca starch    75 mL
11⁄2 tsp    xanthan gum    7 mL
1 tbsp    GF baking powder    15 mL
3⁄4 tsp    salt    4 mL
2⁄3 cup    cranberry juice    150 mL
1⁄3 cup    water    75 mL
2⁄3 cup    Orange Marmalade (store-bought    ) 150 mL
1 tsp    cider vinegar    5 mL
1⁄4 cup    vegetable oil    50 mL
2    eggs    2
1 cup    cranberries or blueberries,     fresh or frozen 250 mL
1.    In a large bowl or plastic bag, stir together rice flour, cornstarch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2.    In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cranberry juice, water, marmalade, vinegar, oil and eggs until combined. Gently fold in cranberries.
For Muffins
3.    Spoon batter into each cup of prepared muffin tin. Let stand for 30 minutes. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until firm to the touch and tops are golden. Remove from the pan immediately and let cool completely on a rack.
For a Loaf
3.    Spoon batter into a lightly greased 9- by 5-inch (2 L) loaf pan and bake for 65 to 75 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 200°F (100°C). Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a rack.

Leave cranberries in the freezer until just before using. This prevents them from “bleeding” into the bread. Sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top, just before baking, to help them brown.

Makes 12 muffins or 1 loaf or 12 servings

Excerpted from Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt © 2013 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

Batter Fried Fish, page 79
The crisp, light batter satisfies the craving for fish and chips. Treat yourself.

•    Preheat oil in deep fryer or wok to 350°F (180°C)

2    egg whites    2
1⁄3 cup    cornstarch    75 mL
1⁄2 tsp    paprika    2 mL
1 lb    fish fillets, such as sole, haddock    or tilapia 500 g
1⁄4 cup    sweet rice flour    50 mL
    Vegetable oil for frying

1.    In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Sift cornstarch and paprika over beaten egg whites. With a rubber spatula, fold in. Set aside.
2.    Rinse fillets under cold running water and pat dry. Dredge in sweet rice flour. Dip into prepared batter to generously coat, leaving as much batter on the fish as possible.
3.    Deep-fry fish for 2 to 4 minutes on each side or until coating is crisp and the fish is fork-tender. Drain on paper towels.

Don’t omit the paprika — it helps the batter to lightly brown.

Makes 4 servings

Excerpted from Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt © 2013 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.

Triple Threat Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies, page 332
Triple the pleasure, triple the fun — but who’s counting calories? These fudgy morsels are worth every bite!

•    Baking sheets, lightly greased

1 cup    sorghum flour    250 mL
2⁄3 cup    whole bean flour    150 mL
1⁄2 cup    tapioca starch    125 mL
1 tsp    baking soda    5 mL
1 tsp    xanthan gum    5 mL
1⁄2 tsp    salt    2 mL
1⁄3 cup    unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted    75 mL
4 oz    semi-sweet chocolate    125 g
1⁄3 cup    butter    75 mL
1⁄3 cup    shortening    75 mL
2 tbsp    water    25 mL
1 tbsp    instant coffee granules    15 mL
2    eggs    2
2⁄3 cup    granulated sugar    150 mL
2⁄3 cup    packed brown sugar    150 mL
11⁄2 tsp    vanilla    7 mL
1 cup    semi-sweet chocolate chips    250 mL

1.    In a large bowl or plastic bag, combine sorghum flour, whole bean flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and cocoa. Mix well and set aside.
2.    In a medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate, butter, shortening, water and coffee granules, uncovered, on Medium (50%) for 2 minutes. Stir until completely melted. Set aside to cool.
3.    In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar and brown sugar for 3 minutes, until smooth. Add vanilla and cooled melted chocolate mixture. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls 2 inches (5 cm) apart on prepared baking sheets. Let stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
4.    Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until set. Transfer to a cooling rack immediately.

Cookies spread and are still soft when baked; if baked too long, cookies become very crunchy when cold.
For crisper cookies, use 2⁄3 cup (150 mL) butter instead of half butter and half shortening.
Make ahead and freeze for up to 2 months in an airtight container.

Makes 5 dozen cookies

Excerpted from Easy Everyday Gluten-Free Cooking by Donna Washburn & Heather Butt © 2013 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission.