New Books from the Bay Area
The Essential Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal
(Penguin Books, 2011, 576 pp., $25)
West Oakland’s Carpenter, author of Farm City: Education of an Urban Farmer, and North Berkeley’s Rosenthal, founder of City Slicker Farms, team up to produce an encyclopedic manual on organic urban farming. They cover tons of how-to topics in three sections focused on urban farm design; growing fruits and vegetables; and raising animals. This guide is thorough, with step-by-step instructions, illustrations, diagrams, photographs, lists and charts intent on demystifying and simplifying urban farming. Carpenter and Rosenthal put a lot of thought into their compendium, suggesting musts, no-nos, best and worst practices and even shortcuts for their agricultural and animal husbandry applications. The accompanying appendix is a feat on its own, and the volume is well indexed, as every good source book ought to be.
Kitchen on Fire! Mastering the Art of Cooking in 12 Weeks (or Less) by Olivier Said and Chef MikeC.
(DeCapo Press Lifelong Books, 2011, 442 pp., $35)
Can you really learn to be a great home chef in 12 weeks? These two chefs, co-founders of popular Berkeley cooking school Kitchen on Fire!, believe you can and have pared down their 12-week cooking course into a book that mirrors their classes. Their secret is teaching students to cook by technique, rather than by recipe. With a little food science and some technique, novices learn to cook by intuition and skill rather than by mimickry, meaning they gain an ability to create their own dishes, not just re-create someone else’s. These guys practically guarantee they can turn a “normal human being into a super home chef,” so you have nothing to lose — and everything to gain. And who doesn’t love their motto: “If these two clowns can cook, so can you!”
You Might Be a Monster & Other Stories I Made Up by A Worm Named Attaboy
(Immedium, 2011, 36 pp., $15.95 (Free for all worms!))
Hi-Fructose Magazine co-founder, toy designer and game-creator Attaboy, also a talented East Bay–based artist and storyteller, has penned a delightfully monstrous “all ages” reader. Follow the narrator worm through tales of sock magnets, cacti, sheep, clown zombies and monsters. It’s clever, silly, weird craziness with imaginative big-eyed and big-mouthed drawings, subtle and not-so-subtle jokes and breezy banter. The images are both bright and dark, characters are gross yet endearing. Much of the verse rhymes, which makes it fun to read aloud. An oddball sense of
humor finds its way to every page, from the Couch of Contents to the book jacket’s flip side about another Attaboy tale, The Extremely Boring Story of The Very Cute Kitten Who Liked to Hug Everyone, Eat All His Vegetables, and Who Carried His Toys in Briefcase. Attaboy, Attaboy!