November brings to mind blessings, hibernation and delicious food

Good Reads1 copyBy John Hoover
©The Chester Telegraph — 2014

If the colorful foliage is gone, temperatures have dropped precipitously and the upper slopes at the ski resorts are showing signs of snow, it must be November. November heralds the approach of winter and contains the national day of thanksgiving that rolls around the fourth Thursday of the month. Whether you want self-help in the art of thanksgiving, a good novel to read, or a source of holiday recipes, this month’s column can provide them all.

BlessingThinking of the reason for November’s holiday, Lynne says, “Thanksgiving is on everyone’s mind in November. It made me think of a book titled The Gentle Art of Blessing: A Simple Practice that Will Transform You and Your World ($15), by Pierre Pradervand. He describes blessing as genuinely wishing the best for another person through seeing his or her individual worth and honoring that person for it. A customer, Peter, wrote, ‘Please take the time to read this book. It could be a life changer.’ ”

Anticipating the colder months ahead, Bill chose The Curiosity ($14.99) by Stephen Kiernan. “In 1906, Jeremiah Rice fell overboard in the Arctic Ocean. A scientific expedition discovers the body frozen in the ice, he is revived by Curiositylatter-day Boston scientists and, as he regains his memory, gives everyone some interesting perspectives. This is the plot of a wonderful and plausible new novel by Kiernan, who will be at Misty Valley Books’ Vermont Voice at the Stone Church at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16.” Vermont Voices is a free event.

Kim was also thinking about the approach of winter when she chose her November selection. “It’s certainly no secret that I’m not particularly fond of the cold winter weather of Vermont. (I tend to ‘hibernate’ on the couch with a cup Winter worldof tea and a good book for as much of the season as possible!) That being said, my pick for November, to prepare for the cold ahead, would have to be Bernd Heinrich’s Winter World ($14.99). A fascinating (but very readable) look at the myriad ways animals and plants survive the long, cold winter months. Heinrich is a biology professor at UVM, and it certainly shows. The book describes his observations of nature in a very scientific way, but at the same time, he writes in a very conversational tone, making the more technical explanations easy to digest. A great book by a great writer.”

HuckleberryThe next three reviewers couldn’t get their minds off the upcoming holiday feast and the delicious delights that are part of it. Amanda suggests Huckleberry ($35), by Zoe Nathan. “I’ve been drooling over the photographs of the maple bacon biscuits and apple cinnamon hand pies, they look perfect to try over Thanksgiving. Besides recipes for Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe favorites, Nathan offers interesting breakfast (ratatouille on toast with over-easy eggs) and vegetarian options (the vegetarian croque), as well as gluten free – Huckleberry gluten-free flour mix among them. I’m planning to start baking from the book with the Chocolate Chocolate Teacake, or maybe the Blueberry Buttermilk scones, I can’t decide because they all look so good! Fill your freezer now with baked goods and enjoy a little less stress over the holidays.” The Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe is based in Santa Monica, Calif.

DeliciousSylvan’s choice is Delicious ($27) by Ruth Reichl. “As you may guess from the title, food is at the heart of this novel. The main character is Billie Breslin, who has recently been hired at a famed food magazine. A story-within-a-story develops when Billie uncovers letters a young girl wrote to James Beard during World War II. This gave the novel a multi-generational feel, reminding me of family legends retold around the holiday table. Reichl’s food descriptions will have your mouth watering, and there are even some recipes to try out. But, she never lets you forget that a great meal is only as good as the company you share it with. Love flavors every sentence of this page-turner.”

Gluten free bookMy wife needs to be gluten-free and perhaps you or your holiday guests need to follow a similar diet. One of the best sources of gluten-free recipes we have found is The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook ($26.95) from the editors at America’s Test Kitchens. Painstakingly researched, with some recipes tried dozens of times and rated by a panel of judges until they met the test kitchens’ exacting standards, this cookbook is sure to provide scrumptious treats from pies to cakes to cookies to pancakes, (and a Golden Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing for the Thanksgiving bird), all those favorites that a gluten-free diet normally prohibits. Nobody does cookbooks better than America’s Test Kitchens as its “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine attests.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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