Although I am an amateur home cook that struggles to enjoy the daily “what’s for dinner?” question and I also am far from a scientific thinker, I still enjoyed reading some essays about the scientific aspects of the cooking process. The Kitchen as a Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking (to be published January 2012 by Columbia University Press) is a collection of essays edited by Cesar Vega, Job Ubbink, and Erik van der Linden. As with other anthologies, I found some essays worked for me and others did not. I skipped about five of the 33 essays, but of the others many were particularly memorable.Continue Reading
Most mornings, after my son (age 23 months) finishes his breakfast, he jumps out of his chair and runs to the kitchen stool, yelling, “Cook! Cook!” He climbs the stool and pounds the counter, a big smile on his face, for he knows I’ll probably give in and cook something with him. (I normally prepare a batch of breakfast granola twice a week, so I think that’s when this obsession started.)
I’ve been looking for something to nurture this interest, and then I recalled a book that months ago Eva mentioned her niece enjoyed: Pretend Soup by Mollie Katzen and Ann Henderson.
I didn’t realize how wonderful Pretend Soup was until I consulted another preschool cookbook and compared the two.
The second book had cooking activities, and each treat was either in a shape (such as fruit pudding decorated like a cat, bread shaped to look like a bear) or the treat itself was a sugary desert (chocolate dipped fruit, fruit tarts arranged in a pretty pattern). These recipes seemed far too artistic for my creative design talents, let alone those of my one-year-old (or even an older preschooler).
While Pretend Soup does include some “decorated” food (“Bagel Faces,” decorated with vegetables, for example), the emphasis in the entire book is different. Katzen and Henderson assert that for a preschooler, the fun part of cooking is the actual act of cooking. Watching my son, I believe it.Continue Reading
Tom Ang’s Fundamentals of Photography is aptly subtitled “the essential handbook for both digital and film cameras.” As a very amateur photographer, I was fascinated by the technical explanations for photography: how cameras work, how light is best captured, and how to process photographs appealingly. While I will never again photograph using film cameras, I was likewise fascinated to learn the technical aspects of film photography. For, just as Tom Ang seamlessly wove both film and digital photography together throughout his handbook, understanding how film photography works should be seamlessly tied to understanding the tools available to a digital photographer. I am convinced that understanding film technology (of which I was woefully ignorant) will help me in my digital processes.
Fundamentals of Photography is a dense book, full of technical terms, explanations, and diagrams. As such, it was challenging to read it cover to cover. Besides, it was a new book at the library, so I had a three-week time limit, which made it all the more challenging. I would have loved to study it over the course of an entire semester in school or maybe during my lifetime – for there are so many details within it that were unfamiliar to me. Despite the difficulty, reading it was incredibly rewarding.Continue Reading
With the advent of digital cameras, any person can take a photograph. Now we must ask, What makes that person a photographer? In Masterclass in Photography, we find some guidance as to the essential elements in a photograph and how to produce an appealing photograph. As a very amateur photographer myself, I find Michael and Julien Busselle’s Masterclass in Photography to be just the guide I need to find inspiration and images around me. It is a lovely coffee-table book that I will refer to again and again.Continue Reading