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I spent my Sunday afternoon at the downtown Powell’s bookstore and came away with a couple new and exciting additions to my book collection. As I went in search of the permaculture books in the gardening section, I realized there is a whole new addition in the area called “Sustainable Living”. I just about screamed in joy at this discovery! It’s a whole aisle of books about things that interest me to no end: permaculture gardening techniques, raising small-scale livestock, how to become a farmer, how to keep bees, using solar energy to power your home, living off the grid, straw bale houses, Localvore movement, etc. What an encouraging sign to see a whole section of a bookstore being devoted to sustainable living!

I found a copy of the Farmer’s Almanac and chose to pass on the booklet. It was a terribly disorganized mishmash of advertisements, over-sized photos of painfully neon-bright flowers, moon calendars, and not much else. It honestly hurt my eyes to look at. Also, in my humble opinion, considering how many ads are included in this little booklet, I am convinced they should just give the booklet away for free. It’s like a really bad seaside, kitschy souvenir shop with little plastic toys all made in foreign countries, except it’s in book-form and the subject is mildly gardening-related. Hopefully that paints a picture of the cluttered, junky mess I am trying to describe.

My goal was to find a book that captured pearls of gardening wisdom I hear from time to time. Low and behold – I found it! It’s a book I haven’t heard of before called “The Curious Gardener’s Almanac“, by Niall Edworthy. It’s only about 180 pages long and I paid a whooping $16 bucks for it, but I am totally glued. She includes great words of wisdom dating from ancient China to modern day. The book is sprinkled with quotes from poets, gardening authors from the last several hundred years, and historical figures like Theodore Roosevelt. I am only a few pages in, but I’ve already read about the history of the wheelbarrow, how to rid a garden of aphids with a tobacco spray, and some good general rules of thumb on pruning trees and shrubs. I am going to enjoy this book for years to come.

My second purchase was a do-over from my purchase last Fall of another harvest cookbook. That book turned out to be more “vegetable porn” with amazing photographs of plump produce, and less about multiple, inventive recipes to get rid of piles of zucchini and so forth. The one I bought today was the one I should have bought in the Fall. It’s called “Serving Up the Harvest“, by by Andrea Chesman. There are no photos, but there are a million new and interesting recipes in here. Taking zucchini again as an example, it includes recipes for:

  • Zucchini-Potato Frittata
  • Zucchini Cheese Sqaures
  • Summer Squash Pizza
  • Pasta with Summer Squash and Shrimp
  • Chile-Lime Chicken sauteed with Zucchini
  • Zucchini-Cheddar Breakfast Biscuits
  • Zapple Muffins
  • Zapple Pie
  • Dark-Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

All completely delicious sounding and things I do not currently have recipes for. The temperatures in Portland seemed to have dipped a bit and it’s been drizzling outside for a few days. But curling up with these books, dreaming about the warm summer days to come, is certainly just what I need to keep my motivation moving.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson