One of the pleasures of being home in America for a month (other than getting to see friends and family in person and being able to tromp through the landscapes I love in my favorite season with a handful of the aforementioned in tow) is being able to read. Newspapers, books, and magazines are all at my fingertips along with whatever the bookstore and public library show on their shelves. It is a delight.
It is also a chance to pick the brains of my canning and gardening friends and relatives to see what they recommend, and then rush out to examine it for myself and possibly purchase. Here are a few recommended finds.
Ball Complete Book of Home Canning and Preserving by Judy Kingry and Lauren Devine. 2006
Tons of great looking recipes and some good basic canning information, too. I've been working on building my own recipes of late as well as tweaking those of others, and I wanted a little more information on how to do so safely. Our good friends at Ambry Farms suggested this one as an expanded reference, and if the jalapeno jelly we sampled that same afternoon is any indication this book should be a great addition to my Tokyo bookshelf.
Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preserving by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2008
My sister-in-law, an avid canner and gardener with a talent for flavor combinations I can only dream of possessing, recommended this as another great resource for building recipes. What the book offers that she liked (and that I've been looking for, too) is an explanation of the science behind the food preservation techniques that deepened her own understanding of how to create safe and tasty jars of goodness throughout the season.
Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway. 2009
Permaculture - the practice of mimicking natural systems to create sustainable landscapes - is something I want to learn more about. In Michigan I incorporated native plants and other perennials into my garden as a means to attract beneficial insects, and build a community of plants and animals to support the garden's ecosystem. In Tokyo, I've slowly been doing the same thing, but it was while reading The Alternative Kitchen Garden for review that I decided I wanted to pursue the idea more in depth. Gaia's Garden is recommended as something of a classic in the area, and I'm hoping to get my hot little paws on it sooner rather than later. (Disclosure: I'm on the list of reviewers for Chelsea Green, the publisher of this book.)