Creating Sanctuary by Jessi Bloom

My husband, Curtis, and I recently bought an acreage to help us expand our passion for growing food. Just because we’re buried under snow and icy conditions right now doesn’t mean the planning for our exciting new venture,, can’t begin. That’s why I’ve been enjoying hours curled up by the wood stove with this motivational book and visionary approach to growing food and plant-based medicine.

Jessi shares her favorite 50 sacred plants for the sanctuary garden, including many natural medicines, from birch and cedar to rosemary and yarrow. She shares growing tips and medicinal uses for these powerful plants as well as planning ideas for uniquely shaped gardens ranging from old medieval styles to indigenous medicine wheels. With my big plans for vegetable gardens, orchards, medicinal and culinary herb gardens in tow, Creating Sanctuary is just the book to get my creative juices flowing.

As a lover of mushrooms, I’m particularly drawn to the section on mushroom gardens in which she shares growing information on some of the best edible and medicinal mushrooms, like anti-cancerous turkey tail, nerve-regenerating lion’s mane, and immune-boosting shiitakes. When I’m not reading this lovely book, I’ve begun taking stock of the fallen trees and branches in the forest on my property, sourcing mushroom plugs, and envisioning the fungal fruits of my labors to put the information into practice.

Creating Sanctuary color photos remind me that the snow will melt and spring will be here soon. And, when spring arrives, I’ll be ready to implement the many ideas I’ve gleaned from this lovely book.


Batch: Over 200 Recipes, Tips & Techniques for a Well-Preserved Kitchen by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

Although my husband Curtis and I share our 20th anniversary on Valentine’s Day, he still jokingly says the main reason I share his last name is due to my overwhelming passion for all-things cooking. As a mad scientist in the kitchen, Batch appealed to my love of preserving and preparing food for storage. And, since it won’t be long before we begin to grow plentiful amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, and medicines, I thought I’d become more organized about my efforts this year. That’s where this jam-packed hardcover book comes in.

The authors share their plentiful wisdom for waterbath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, cellaring, salting, smoking, infusing, and fermenting (for those of you who read my last book The Cultured Cook, you know I’m beyond fanatical about fermenting!).

While there are over 200 recipes and lots of gorgeous photos to accompany them, I’m particularly drawn to the Fermented Beans and Pickled Baked Falafel Lettuce Wraps with Pickled Tahini Sauce. I’m also keen on the infused honey and oil recipes in this delightful book.

Perhaps its greatest strength, the veteran food preservers share step-by-step instructions and insights into avoiding any problems for anyone who is new to these food preparation techniques.


From a Persian Kitchen: Authentic Recipes and Fabulous Flavours from Iran by Atoosa Sepehr

I’ve always loved books and am particularly fond of books that transport the reader to new places, making them feel as if they’ve stepped into a new world of adventure. From the moment I opened the first pages of From a Persian Kitchen, I knew it was just such a book. Through the stunning food and geographic photography as well as the insanely delicious-sounding recipes, I felt like I had stepped foot in Iran.

Some of the incredible recipes include: Smoked Aubergine with Tomatoes, Garlic and Eggs; Caramelized Onion and Chickpea Salad; Caramelized Nuts in Leaf Cups; Persian Potato Patties; and Saffron Ice Cream and Carrot Juice. But, if I’m totally honest, I’m eager to get into my kitchen to start cooking most of her recipes, since they look incredible.

Like books, international foods can carry us to faraway lands and new taste adventures. From a Persian Kitchen will make you feel like you’ve left the cold winter weather behind for some sunshine, warmth, and a delightful meal at an Iranian bistro.