© OLD SAGE HANDS

Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Made It By A Nose

In Book Reviews, Food For Thought on August 3, 2017 at 10:51 pm

BookCoverImageIt’s here! Yes, it took me another year to complete but the paperback version of My Father’s Nose has just been released on CreateSpace.com. It should be widely available on Amazon.ca by the end of the week.

Thanks to everyone for their encouraging words with this ongoing endeavour. It’s certainly been a labour of love – as all creative projects are – with the added bonus of learning new computer programs. Fingers crossed, the next book won’t take as long!

Happy Birthday Dad – didn’t think I’d get it together on time, but here it is. Hope all is well with you in the great beyond.

 

 

Advertisements

Fur-rific Fable is Fetching Fun!

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on May 3, 2017 at 9:25 pm

MissMoonCoverIf you’re a cat person, the mere mention of dogs may conjure up images of simple, scruffy ruffians. But before you go and get your hackles raised, fear not – Miss Moon is here to lead the pack on raising well-mannered dogs (and their people, too). Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess by Janet Hill (Tundra Books, 2016) is a beautifully illustrated picture book filled with valuable life lessons. Perhaps even a cat, or two, might learn some new tricks. Readers with a keen eye, no doubt, will be certain to spot the few cat cameos.

Based in Stratford, Ont., author Janet Hill is also the book illustrator and known for her elegant and whimsical artwork, which has been featured in various magazines as well as both private and corporate collections.

The story begins on an island off the coast of France, where Miss Moon began her career minding 67 dogs. Instead of running for the hills, she realized her lifelong calling was to become a dog governess. Refined dog owners everywhere will certainly agree that there is a terrible shortage, as it is extremely difficult to find anyone who specializes in imparting good manners to pampered pooches – let alone someone as experienced and dedicated as Miss Moon. Now before you go barking up the wrong tree, a simple visit to your neighbourhood park will prove how sorely these services are needed. Be sure to watch where you step, and don’t be surprised to find yourself overrun with common dog walkers and their motley crew of wild, canine charges.

Easy to read and broken into 20 life lessons, Miss Moon’s terrific tips and gorgeous artwork will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat. Lesson Eighteen, for example, will appeal to eco-warriors and homesteaders alike – “Nurture the environment and you’ll never be hungry.” A delightful tale for young and old.

A Day For Celebration!

In Book Reviews, Food For Thought, Recently Reviewed on August 3, 2016 at 1:18 pm

I’m very excited and pleased to announce the launch of my first children’s ebook, My Father’s Nose. Now available though Amazon’s Kindle Store (see http://tinyurl.com/jp545g9 and amazon.com/author/shartmann). I hope to have other formats available soon and will let you know when that happens.

51OosWASH+LWhen I was doing the upload the other day, it occurred to me that my ebook would probably go live on Aug. 3, which was my father’s birthday. I thought that was an interesting coincidence. It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since my father passed away. When I did the math, I figured if he was still alive he would have turned 77 today. Funny how we get caught up in our lives and then all of a sudden some realization like this comes to you and gives you pause for reflection.

While it was certainly not planned or part of my intention, somehow through some serendipitous coincidence the date and lucky numbers lined up. For many people, the number seven is considered auspicious – let’s hope it’s an omen of good things to come!

 

The Herbal Goddess Within

In Book Reviews, In the Garden, Recently Reviewed on June 5, 2016 at 9:57 pm

UnknownNow that the warmer weather is upon us and our gardens are beginning to awaken and explode with life Herbal Goddess, by master herbalist and yoga instructor Amy Jirsa, reminds readers how the earth provides us with everything we need. While many of us have forgotten the once common wisdom that knew which plants were used for specific medicines, according to Jirsa, “herbalism is our cultural heritage.” And she believes we all still carry this instinctual insight on how to heal our selves – we only need to find the path back to that knowledge.

Jirsa makes it easy – she’s plowed through the plant world’s overwhelming amount of information and culled the vast array down to 12 of her favourite healing herbs. No home apothecary should be without these select go-to herbs for day-to-day living. No doubt, most of us will recognize popular herbs such as chamomile, rose and lavender, which made the list for their well-known calming properties. And stay the spade: those dandelions and nettles you thought were weeds are also included! You might be surprised to learn that both plants provide valuable nutrients, and can serve as amazing detoxifiers.

While the book can be read in any order, it’s divided into individual sections. Each short chapter focuses on one of the 12 herbs, and includes beautiful photographs so you’ll be able to identify the herb when you come across it. Also provided is basic herb terminology, details on what part of the herb is used, how to harvest it, and preparations such as drying blossoms. There are featured recipes in every section for making teas, body care products, and special dishes plus themed yoga poses.

Whether you’re a total novice or an experienced herbalist, Herbal Goddess inspires you to dig deeper into the world of herbs. Jirsa suggests starting slowly and simply. Her advice is to take about a month’s time, and get to know each plant, one by one. With this type of close examination, you’ll really begin to understand the natural properties and effects of each herb. With these valuable tools firmly rooted, we may once again be able to take charge of our mental, physical, and spiritual health. Unleash the herbal goddess within yourself!

Tour Top-Rated Vegan Restaurants

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on May 19, 2015 at 9:58 am

TheHappyCow_webThink you’re a picky eater? Try being a vegetarian or vegan, if just for a meal or two, and you’ll discover a host of difficulties served with a side of limited options when eating out. Add travel to the mix, where you’re not familiar navigating the local customs, language or terrain, and you might as well prepare for a culinary crisis. But wait – vegans everywhere can now rejoice! Let The HappyCow Cookbook, by Eric Brent and Glen Merzer, take you on a guided tour of top-rated vegan restaurants around the world. As the title suggests, even if you’re not leaving the comforts of home to jaunt off somewhere in the near future and are only venturing as far as your kitchen, this fabulous resource contains recipes from far and wide that will have you going back for seconds.

In the foreword, actress and fellow vegan Emily Deschanel cites many different reasons why people choose to become vegan, and stresses the need for like-minded individuals to reach out to one another in their common purpose. She credits the HappyCow website for helping to establish an international veg community to which she is happy to be part of. If you’re not familiar with HappyCow, it’s an online resource started in 1999 by founder and director Eric Brent, who is also co-editor and author of the book. Back in the 80s Brent, then a vegetarian, discovered first-hand how hard it was to find places to eat as he backpacked throughout Europe. By 1999 the avid traveller had become vegan, and had grown so frustrated, and practically starved in his search while abroad that he was inspired if not compelled to start HappyCow.com as a handy site to help other travellers find “safe food.” Today it is fueled by user-generated content, whereby once you’ve signed on to become part of their community you can post reviews and recommendations, however sweet or sour, of the places you’ve eaten and shopped. It’s refreshing to see so many successful vegan venues taking root among the vast plains of mainstream restaurants, diners, eateries and markets.

If you’re one of those people who avoid animal products, it no longer matters where you plant yourself. With just a few clicks of a mouse, you can easily find a variety of places that will not only welcome you but also share in your views. Unlike standard restaurateurs, these are people are enlightened to the cost and cruelty involved in consuming livestock, and are committed to making changes into what we enjoy when we sit down at the table – one meal at a time. As Dave Loan, owner of ZenKitchen, points out: “Diners are becoming more health-conscious and aware of factory farming and other cruelty issues while demanding more flavorful food. It’s up to us to step up to the plate –- the dinner plate — and offer our supporters the full dining experience while still respecting our values.”

Thanks to the book’s selection of go-to places you can now travel the world and dine on international cuisine from haute cuisine to fast food simply by flipping through a few pages. Each listing features photographs of the establishment, so you’ll know what to look out for if you’re visiting, plus a brief interview with the proprietor and one or more of their popular recipes.

Heading down south? Plan to make a pit stop at Cornbread Café in Eugene, Oregon and enjoy some southern-style hospitality. What started out in a parked food trailer has since grown into the present day diner thanks to their ever-popular Chicken Fried Tempeh topped with cashew gravy, Skillet Cornbread and Frozen Peanut Butter Pie. Not only does a local gardener pick up their food scraps, driven in a car fueled by their used cooking oil, but the café also offers discounts to patrons who walk or ride the bus when they drop in for a bite.

Should you find yourself across the pond in York, England or Malaga, Spain and are craving a bit of Spanish flair, head over to one of El Piano’s locations and tuck into some Peruvian Leftovers Pie and Granada Chai. Taking a trip to our own Canadian capital? Raise the flag for Ottawa’s ZenKitchen, an upscale and award-winning gourmet vegan restaurant known for its Polenta Fries and Eggplant Parmesan. Fancy salad? Prepare for a salad showcase as their Tasting of Beets celebrates the root vegetable with its selection of boiled, roasted and pickled beets.

If you’re up for something more substantial, Coox and Candy in Stuttgart, Germany should hit the spot. Owner and chef, Kathrin Friedrich, shares one of the lessons she’s learned: “It’s so much easier to explain the vegan lifestyle if you offer somebody a delicious meal, a sweet dessert, and good coffee, instead of talking to a person in the street showing him bloody pictures of dead animals.” Well said, indeed, as the latter certainly doesn’t do much to whet the appetite. For goodness sake, give them the dinner, the coffee and cake. As a popular chef who keeps customers coming back for more, Friedrich knows a thing or two about good food. Fans of hearty German fare will find themselves right at home enjoying her creative reinterpretations of time-honoured classics like schnitzel with dishes such as Celery-Breaded Cutlet With Wild Rice and Mixed Vegetables. It’s also one of the few places where you can find a traditional homemade vegan Schwarzwälder-Kirschtorte (Black Forest Cake) to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sounds like a wonderful meal that you can really sink your teeth into. Bon appétit!

An Apple a Day

In Book Reviews, Recently Reviewed on January 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm

We love apples. I prefer them to be firm with lots of crunch. So if they’re a bit mushy, I’m likely to leave them for baking. Perhaps I’m biased, but Ontario grows some of the best apples I’ve ever eaten and although nothing beats fresh I think I’ve found a great off-season alternative in these apple chips.

applechips

Martin’s Crispy Apple Chips It’s been a while since I’ve bought apple chips. We discovered these ones over the holidays thanks to an extended family member.

PRODUCT NOTES Fantastically crisp and delicious. I love that they’re grown locally in Ontario with no sugar or preservatives added. Maybe that’s why they taste so good. They’ve even got some great recipe suggestions online if you find you have any left once the bag has been opened. BOTTOM LINE Even if you’ve never had apple chips before I’m pretty certain you’ll love these.