Home, Garden, and DIY
"Making mistakes is human. Embracing them is hilarious."
~ from Joselyn Hughes' DIY, Dammit!
Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix: More than 700 Simple Recipes and Techniques... by Mark BittmanVersatility has always been the watchword of bestselling food writer Mark Bittman, and it's beautifully evident in his latest cookbook. Here, Bittman presents not recipes, but matrices, displaying over 400 ingredients or concepts with 12 variations each. Elegant and photo-illustrated, these matrices are not only ideal for reviving boring old recipes, they're also lifesavers for those moments when you have a surprise bumper crop of zucchini (try it in soup, sautéed with pasta, or sliced ultra-thin) or when you need to make several kinds of cookies with one dough (try changing up the spices, frostings, and fillings). Whether you're an accomplished cook or a curious beginner, Kitchen Matrix will improve your culinary improv skills.
DIY, Dammit! A Practical Guide to Curse-Free Crafting by Joselyn HughesDespite the subtitle, this book is based on a central principle: "It's NOT normal to be able to craft without messing up, starting over, and swearing a lot." Frustrated by the faux-effortless atmosphere of Pinterest and Etsy, comedian and vlogger Joselyn Hughes creates projects for people who, like herself, are crafty but clumsy. Hughes' crafts, which use only easy-to-find materials, are all accessible to beginners and suitable for displaying, wearing, or gifting. If you're looking for irreverent attitude and achievable projects that will help you escape that "I tried" aesthetic, you'll love the #$@! out of this book. For another dose of self-deprecating craft humor, try Heather Mann's CraftFail.
Lucky Peach: 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky PeachDie-hard foodies, rejoice! The editors of Lucky Peach, the popular indie food magazine, have finally put together their debut cookbook. In this collection of Asian-style recipes, the editors make no pretense at authenticity, but aim instead for maximum flavor and ease. Cooks of all skill levels will be tempted to try Slow Cooker Pho, Sichuan Pork Ragu, Mall Chicken (a spin on that American food court staple), and the tons of other dishes, sauces, and "pickly bits" on offer. Once you've been won over by this "outstanding, practical guide" (Publishers Weekly), you can turn to Danny Bowien's The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook for further inventive, Asian-inspired cooking.
Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes by Thomas Rainer and Claudia WestDo you love gardening, but feel stifled by traditional horticulture? If so, this philosophical guide from landscape designers Thomas Rainer and Claudia West is for you. Rainer and West show you how to create diverse, layered "plant communities" that function within the natural conditions of your climate; they also demonstrate how to use those eco-friendly designs to bring human lives closer to nature. Pairing solid strategies with stunning photographs and lyrical writing, Planting in a Post-Wild World is "an optimistic call to action" (Chicago Tribune). Gardeners seeking to answer that call should also be sure to check out Cultivating Chaos by Jonas Reif, Christian Kress, and Jurgen Becker.
The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and the bakers of Hot Bread KitchenHot Bread Kitchen isn't just a popular New York bakery -- it's also a training program for low-income minority women who want to break into the food industry. In their first cookbook, these talented bakers share their favorite recipes (for tortillas, pitas, bâtard, and more), as well as a final chapter with suggestions for leftovers: day-old challah, for instance, is perfect for croutons, bread pudding, or French toast. The recipes are lengthy, but only because they include step-by-step details on what to do and how to know when you've done it right. Just like the bakery that inspired it, The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook is educational and empowering for bakers of all kinds.
Defending Your Castle: Build Catapults, Crossbows, Moats, Bulletproof Shields... by William GurstelleIf you're looking for a sensible, modern home security handbook, look elsewhere -- this entertaining guide to constructing an old-fashioned arsenal is pure fun. Using history as the backdrop for DIY defenses, author and engineer William Gurstelle provides context for various notable military figures (such as Attila, Alexander, and Genghis Khan) before showing you which weapons you could build to defend yourself against them. Each project is accompanied by diagrams, photos, and step-by-step instructions. For further combinations of physics, weaponry, and hands-on history, be sure to check out Gurstelle's previous books, especially Backyard Ballistics.
My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going With Your Gut by Hannah HartHannah Hart's YouTube show My Drunk Kitchen began as a goofy stunt to cheer up a friend, but Hart's hilarious and charmingly pun-filled adventures in drunk cooking quickly attracted a huge following. In her first book, Hart serves up recipes that range from thrifty (Saltine Nachos) to optimistic (a stack of pizzas makes a Pizza Cake, right?) to downright silly (an absurdly literal Scotch Egg) -- all paired with drink suggestions and friendly encouragement for struggling "adultolescents." Readers looking for another cookbook with similarly tipsy (but more irreverent) humor will appreciate Amy Sedaris' I Like You; reluctant adults seeking further lifestyle advice will find plenty in Grace's Guide by Hart's fellow YouTuber Grace Helbig.
Simple Times by Amy SedarisAuthor, comic genius, and real-life serious crafter Amy Sedaris gets down-and-dirty in this comic DIY/crafting farce. One could make an actual bean-and-leaf James Brown Mosaic or some macaroons (a.k.a. Damn Its) using the instructions here, but the real point is to hilariously roast the DIY community's most questionable, never-say-die inclinations: for example, just because you can make a balloon animal for elderly shut-ins -- should you? Sedaris also smartly satirizes other recent save-money-be-crafty books: "Being poor," she writes with tooth-cracking false cheer, "is a wonderful motivation to be creative." Adult, raw humor makes this most appropriate for true DIY subversives, who are more likely to die laughing than to complete any of these horrifically regrettable projects.
Craft Activism: People, Ideas and Projects from the New Community of Handmade... by Joan Tapper and Gale ZuckerCraft Activism is all about your crafty ability to knit, stitch, sew, re-make, draw, cook, or otherwise build a better world. Movers and shakers in the DIY world share down-to-earth ideas about how "craft" (inclusively defined) gives life a boost: as small as the smiles of commuters whose bus bench is suddenly encased in a colorful knitted cozy, or as big as building civic pride with a "Makers Faire" to support local charities. Whatever the craft or cause that inspires you, you'll appreciate the thoughtful content and fun project ideas here. (Betsy Geer's Knitting for Good! is another great choice for the knit-centric.)
Crafting with Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make with Your Cat by Kaori TsutayaTry something new with this "intensely cute" (Publishers Weekly) and admittedly quirky book. After all, cat fur is just another super-soft natural fiber! Unlike wool or angora, there's absolutely no shearing needed: just a good brushing, which your pet will appreciate. Simple, winsome directions and full-color photos guide crafty cat-fanciers through the whole process, from collecting the fur to making each adorable project. Mittens from kittens? Teensy felted finger puppets to match your cat? Yes -- and more! Crafters who love the animal-loving, kitschy blog CuteOverload won't be able to keep their paws off this book.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
Washington County Cooperative Library Services
Hillsboro, Oregon 97124
Find your next great book at reads.wccls.org