The Bookshelf

By admin
March 07, 2012

The following reviews are published courtesy of Lemuria Blog, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, Mississippi, or

Wildflowers of Mississippi
By Stephen L. Timme

It’s that time of year when we start noticing the wildflowers pop up in unexpected places. I grabbed Wildflowers of Mississippi as my guide and found the one I saw this morning: Crimson Clover. This wildflower is a familiar sight as it beautifully carpets our fields and roadsides in early spring.

Wildflowers of Mississippi by Stephen L. Timme catalogs over 500 wildflowers with their scientific and common names, brief descriptions and their geographical distribution for amateur and professional botanists. Best of all, beautiful photographs accompany each listing. Timme notes how the Native Americans depended on plants for food, shelter and medicine. The explorers of North America who arrived later also were impressed with the abundance of wildflowers.

Today, states all across America have organizations founded to promote the preservation and cultivation of wildflowers. The Mississippi Native Plant Society was formed in 1980 to encourage a respectful attitude toward wildflowers by leading field trips throughout the state. Until Wildflowers of Mississippi was first published in 1989, Mississippi was the only state that did not have a wildflower guide available to the public.

Reviewed by Lisa Newman

Simply Salads
By Jennifer Chandler

First published in 2007, this solely salad cookbook still stands out as well loved on my bookshelf. It is well loved because it can be used with any menu. Don’t you always need a little green with your dinner? Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler is just what you need to go along with any meal. It gives you a “zillion” different salad recipes and they are all so easy.

I must first tell you that these recipes include prepacked greens. This couldn’t be any easier. I am all about eating locally. In fact, I prefer it. You have one of two options: you can use the greens suggested or you can always go to your local farmer’s market and get your own.

There is a section for every kind of salad imaginable. Poultry, meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit and slaws are just a few. There also are really good dressings that include few ingredients so you probably can make them from what you have in your pantry.

I’ve made several salads from this cookbook. My favorite recipe – and one that many people have asked for – is the hearts of palm salad. For this salad, you make a red onion vinaigrette. The vinaigrette consists of white balsamic vinegar, whole-grain Dijon mustard, garlic clove, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Prior to serving, soak the onion rings in the vinaigrette for at least 30 minutes. It is delicious.

Reviewed by Quinn Mounger-Kellum

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food
By Paul Greenberg

“Fish is the only grub left that scientists haven’t been able to get their hands on and improve. The flounder you eat today hasn’t got any more damned vitamins in it than the flounder your great-great-granddaddy ate, and it tastes the same. Everything else has been improved and improved and improved to such an extent that it ain’t fit to eat.”
~ a Fulton Fish Market, denizen,
in Old Man Mr. Flood by Joseph Mitchell, 1944

And this is how Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg begins.

Think about it. When you go out to eat or shop for seafood at your vendor, what are your choices? There are four fish that reign above all other ones. They are: cod, salmon, sea bass and tuna. It’s possible that if one does not know better, one could think those are the only fish that exist in the world because we are rarely offered anything else.

Monterey Bay Aquarium provides a Seafood Watch Guide you can browse to see which seafood is safe and best to eat at that time. Also available as a printable pocket guide, it can tell you which fish are your best choices, good alternatives as well as ones to avoid. After reading Four Fish, it appears we are not paying enough attention to such important things. If we aren’t careful, these four will end up on the avoid list because they will be so low in numbers.

Within this book, Greenberg also takes us on a mini history lesson. In early times, it was unnecessary to think of preserving wild food. People didn’t even think that we had the potential to harm the world. In present day, the situation is very different. We eat, live, breathe, dispose and do as we please. We are not doing what needs to be done to preserve our oceans, and we should be very aware of the consequences. We need to follow the advice of Four Fish and change our course before it’s too late.

Review by Quinn Mounger-Kellum

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World
By Mark Pendergrast

Have you ever wondered how humans first discovered that coffee was a really good thing? It all came about with the help of some goats. Folklore has it that an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi noticed his goats becoming very frisky and dancing about after they ate some berries. Kaldi followed their example and was hooked.

Since its publication in 1999, Mark Pendergrast’s Uncommon Grounds has been recognized as the definitive history of coffee. As a result, the book, released in its 2nd edition in 2010, has spawned many more books, documentaries and research on the social, environmental and economic impact of coffee.

While giving the reader a history of the production, trade and consumption of coffee, Pendergrast sheds light on issues of colonization, slavery, health scares, the branding of coffee, fair trade coffee, and environmental impact. An epic story full of colorful characters, illustrative anecdotes and quotations laid out in a friendly and engaging way, it’s a book to savor with your favorite “cuppa joe.”

Reviewed by Lisa Newman

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