Book Review: 101 Ways to Live Well, by Victoria Joy and Karla Zimmerman

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_101_ways_to_live_wellDoes the world need another little self-care book? I’m not entirely convinced, although if you’d like something positive to dip into during somewhat turbulent times (Quakes! Deadlines! Trump!) this book might appeal.

The authors suggest that these bite-size tips are perfect for commute time, a lunch break, or even the checkout queue. There’s a tiny wee clock on each page indicating how long each activity is likely to take. Times range from 30 seconds – to take a deep mindful breath and refocus – to 2 hours to ‘watch a mindful movie’. Mix it up a bit: take 1 minute (to wash your hands and ‘win the germ war’!), 20 minutes, for a Sun Salutation yoga practice to ‘get the blood flowing…and awaken the whole body’, or a leisurely 30 minutes to listen to music to ‘improve your mood and confidence’. Most activities take around 5 minutes: realistic and manageable. My favourite tip? How to ease a headache by a gentle hair-pulling technique that reduces tension.

The page layout takes you straight to the point – a snappy title at the top of each page, followed by a summary of the activity or tip, within a circle. Below, a single paragraph telling you everything else you need to know. If you’d like to learn more about a particular topic, some pages have web links. Simple line drawings provide additional information about activities such as the yoga poses. (I wasn’t quite supple enough to master the Camel…)

There are several simple recipes (eg for smoothies, fruit and herb infusions, and ‘low-cal’ hot chocolate), as well as affirmations, encouragement, and acupressure advice. There are suggestions for improving posture, easing neck pain and even feigning self-confidence – and many other topics too.

However, although the pages are numbered, there is no index. This may frustrate readers looking for a particular exercise or activity. And the Table of Contents is sparse – offering only a choice of Home, Work, Play, Relationships and Travel.

My impression is that the book is primarily aimed at office-based women in paid work. But not all readers will sit at desks all day, or need alternatives to ‘weekly office cupcake runs’. (Nor will everyone need tips claiming to ease menstrual pain and reduce PMS symptoms – or want to engage in a tickle battle.)

The cover is a tranquil aqua colour. It has folds at either side that could be used for bookmarking favourite pages.

The book would, perhaps, be a useful gift for a colleague, a recuperating friend, or a new parent – someone who’s time-poor but motivated to make small incremental changes to set them on a path to improved wellbeing.

Reviewed  by Anne Kerslake-Hendricks

101 Ways to Live Well: Mindfulness, Yoga and nutrition tips for busy people
by Victoria Joy and Karla Zimmerman
Published by Lonely Planet, 2016
ISBN 9781786572127

Book review: Preserving with Aunt Daisy by Barbara Basham

cv_preserving_with_Aunt_DaisyThis book is in stores from today.

Last year I got into jam making in a big way – I even entered the local Jam Off competition with an apricot cardamom jam. I realised that jam making was a great way of conducting food experiments and I lapped up details of jam making technique and flavours. I love giving gifts of jam – and found that I really loved receiving in return jam that friends themselves made.

I’m too young to have memories of Aunt Daisy in person but I do understand the impact she had on cooking and keeping women connected through her radio programme. It was therefore a pleasure to get the opportunity to read a book of her recipes compiled by her late daughter and with proceeds going to a medical charitable trust.

I feel that the book is aimed at the experienced preserver rather than the keen beginner. While the book notes that the recipes are all tested by Aunt Daisy – they are from a time when women were considered to have a fairly decent repertoire of cooking skills and so sometimes the recipes have that assumption built in to them.


Emma’s Blackberry and Apple Jelly

The reader’s ability to determine setting point of jam is important – particularly because a couple of recipes state overlong cooking times (Blackberry and Apple Jelly needs boiling for about five minutes, rather than 45 minutes). Yet sometimes the long cooking time is necessary, such as in the very delicious Tomato Sauce recipe – you need to boil out the liquid so you don’t have a watery sauce.

The author has added sections on basic jam and preserve making so you can read some of the theory before you start.


Emma’s Tomato Sauce cooking down


Tomato sauce bottled and ready to use.

The thing I find most special about this book is how comprehensively ‘Kiwi’ it is – the recipes cover the fruit and vegetables that you will find in New Zealand gardens – including at least five ‘green tomato’ recipes for those summers where the weather just isn’t hot enough for gorgeous red tomatoes!

Recipes for rarer fruits/ berries like mulberries, laurel berries, gooseberries and chokos are included. There are recipes suitable for all seasons.

The final preserving section provides a bonus – this isn’t just a jam/ preserved fruit book – but one that includes preserving fish, making bacon and even mutton ham. There is even an interesting tip on how to store lemons for a long time. For me it gave an insight into a time when food wasn’t as readily available, and the creativity of the home cook. As a bonus, beautiful stickers to decorate preserving jars are included. They fit the classic, homespun feel of the book (there are some beautiful photos of the recipes).

Overall, I’d recommend this book for anyone who regularly preserves food, and wants some inspiration for more interesting projects.

Recipes I made:
• Tomato Sauce – amazing, with a warm heat from the spices, but not overly spicy
• Blackberry and Apple Jelly – this is always a beautiful jam, fantastic in cake or on scones.
• Preserved pears – tinned pears are a favourite dessert for my children and I found a wild pear tree that obligingly provided a number of pears! These look so beautiful in their jars.
• Tomato pulp – you need a serious amount of tomatoes if you are making tomato sauce or preserving tomato pulp.
• Preserved rhubarb – beautifully coloured liquid and fruit as a result.


Emma’s beautiful preserved rhubarb

Reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming who also blogs as Make-do Mum.

Preserving with Aunt Daisy
by Barbara Basham
Published by Hodder Moa
ISBN 9781869713065