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The Hands On Home by Erica Strauss  RSS feed

Cassie Langstraat
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Location: Zone 9b
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Source: Northwest Edible Life

Publisher: Sasquatch Books


In this book, our good friend Erica Strauss from Northwest Edible Life shows us how in this modern homekeeping handbook for thrifty DIYers who care about sustainability. A fresh take on modern homemaking, this is a practical (and sometimes sassy) guide to maximizing your time, effort, and energy in the kitchen and beyond. With a focus on less consumerism, it will teach you how to organize your kitchen and home to make the best use of your time. For those yearning to live a more ecologically minded, grounded lifestyle, this book is full of practical, no-nonsense advice, fabulous recipes, and time- and money-saving techniques.

Where to get it?

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Nicole Alderman
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The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Housekeeping by Erica Strauss

I give this book 9.5 out of 10 acorns (and yes, Erica would totally make good use of that half of an acorn!)

I’ll start off by saying: I love this book! I got it in the mail a week ago and finished consuming it in four days. Her writing is excellent, very well organized, holds your attention while you read, and breaks things down so that anyone can understand them. I’ve been following Erika Stauss (author of the blog, Northwest Edible Life) for over a year now, and have thoroughly enjoyed her new—and first!—book. There is a lot of wonderful information, exceedingly helpful charts, recipes that look delicious, and some home cleaner recipes that I am excited to start using and experimenting with.

This books starts off covering the basics of cooking, preserving, home care, and personal care year-round. She then leads you through the seasons, giving specific recipes and activities for cooking, preserving, home care and personal care tailored to each season.

My favorite part, by far, was the basics and year-round section. For example, there are simple instructions for cooking techniques like braising and making flat bread. There’s a break down on how to make yummy vinaigrettes and salad dressings, and a very helpful chart on which ingredients meld well and how to make favorites such as ranch dressing and chipotle honey dressing. She also gives a lot of good instruction and explanation about making your own personal care products, such as deodorant, shampoo and lib balm, with charts on which essential oils blend well together scent-wise.

Not only that, she gives an amazing amount of information on how to make cleaning products from window cleaner to a toilet bowl cleaner to making soap. She did a great break down of the ph and uses of various cleaners (such as citric acid, vinegar, castile soap, and washing soda). She even gives techniques and systems to effectively clean and maintain your house. I found this section extremely helpful and motivating!

As for the seasonal sections of her book, I found them a little less helpful, simply because they are a bit above my level. The cooking and preserving recipes look delicious, but a little too complicated for the stage of life and skills I’m at right now. But, I’m sure many others will appreciate them, and they inspire me to plant some foods I had not thought of and to grow even more so I have enough to can. I really loved her instructions on jam making (without pectin!) and which flavors meld well together to make unique fruit preserves.

This is a great resource for anyone wanting to become more self-sufficient, better organized, more in-tune with the seasons, a better cook, or have a less toxic home.
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