Tag Archives | Ashley English

Cookbooks: The Essential Book of Homesteading

Before she was writing books about picnics, parties, and beverages, Ashley English wrote a series of books about homestead. Published in 2010 and 2011, these books focused on food preservation, chicken keeping, bee keeping, and the art of home dairy.

It was an endlessly useful quartet of books that I’ve had on my shelf for years and referenced with some regularity (though admittedly, I didn’t have quite as much use for the volumes on bees and chickens as I did for those on canning and dairy).

A year or so ago, I noticed that Ashley’s series was getting harder to come by and I was sad to see such a useful resource drop out of print. Happily, I learned a few months back that my concerns were entirely unfounded. Her four books have instead been gathered together into a single edition.

Called The Essential Book of Homesteading, this edition is now one of the most thorough reference points for 21st century homesteader. It opens with a section on chickens and then marches through canning and preserving, bees, and home dairy.

The photography is vivid, useful and in full color. The recipes are approachable and the instructional details are clear and easy to follow. If you’ve been meaning to add a homesteading-themed book to your library, the release of this one could not be more well-timed!

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Giveaway: A Year of Picnics by Ashley English

When I turned ten, my mom’s best friend Maria gave me a wicker picnic basket. Inside, it was stocked with sturdy, reusable plastic cups, plates, and utensils. I was completely thrilled and spent the next couple days packing and unpacking those wicker walls.

So powerful was the pull of the basket that I even made temporary peace with my sister (it took us growing up and living in different places to finally become friends) so that she would accompany me on trips to the neighborhood playground, where I’d plate up peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in order to make best use of my picnic gear.

While I’m not quite as enamored of picnics as I was in 1989, I still believe that there’s no better way to make an ordinary day special than to pack up lunch or dinner and take it to the park (and when there’s something to celebrate, an outdoor gathering is my favorite way to make merry).

Thanks to Ashley English‘s gorgeous new book, A Year of Picnics, I am once again filled with picnic inspiration (in the past, Ashley’s books have also motivated me to bake pies, blend my own tisanes, and gather up friends for seasonal celebrations).

Organized by season, this book makes an excellent case for the concept that dining well and beautifully in the outdoors is possible all year round. During spring and summer, some of the picnics Ashley suggests include those for breakfast, while seated near the water, and for a movie night gathering.

Some of the fall and winter picnics are those to celebrate the falling leaves, for tailgating, and for when perched on a rooftop. Each picnic includes suggestions for choosing your picnic site and activities appropriate for all ages, as well as tidbits tailored specifically to theme.

You’ll also find between three and five recipes for each picnic. I’m particularly looking forward to trying the Cardamom, Rose Water, and Berry Coffee Cake (page 24), the Moroccan Apple Salad (page 93) and the Mason Jar Apple Cardamom Crumbles (page 187).

For those of you hoping to be inspired to pack a picnic, I’ve got two copies of this book to give away. This giveaway is open to everyone (though it is void if giveaways are prohibited where you live). Please use the widget below to enter.

PS – As you enter the giveaway, please do take a moment to send Ashley and her family good thoughts. She recently gave pre-mature birth to a sweet but tiny baby named Alistair. Everyone seems to be healing and growing, but well wishes are never unwelcome. May they all picnic as a family together soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Roost Books sent me three copies of this book for review and giveaway purposes. No additional funds were provided and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

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Giveaway: Quench by Ashley English

Quench cover

For first 23 years of my life, homemade drinks were limited to coffee, tea, and orange juice reconstituted from frozen concentrate. Soon after I moved to Philadelphia, I learned what a pleasure it could be to make infused iced teas (black spiced with lavender and green steeped with a few apple slices are still favorites from those days). Since then, I’ve played with syrups, shrubs, kombucha, and the occasional homemade soda carbonated with champagne yeast.

Quench intro

However, Ashley English‘s new book (which officially comes out tomorrow!) makes me realize that I’ve only just tapped at the surface of what is possible in the world of homemade beverages. Called Quench, this lovely little hardback features shrubs, infused spirits, fermented sips, herbal tisanes, sweet/tart sodas, party punches, and inventive cocktails.

Quench infused liquors

What I particularly like about this book is that there is something here for just about everyone. Kids will love helping to make the homemade Lemon Lime Soda (page 23), while parents will be happy that it only requires five ingredients (and other than citric acid, they’re all kitchen staples). Hard core DIY folks will dig the wine making tutorial (page 155), while those of us who like a good infusion will happily explore the chapter called Spirited (it starts on page 103).

Quench gin and tonic punch

I am also taken by the fact that Quench includes both recipes for seasonal, serviceable basics (like the Pear Bitters on page 143) and then suggestions for how to use them in something delicious, like the Cozy Cardigan Cocktail, (further down on page 143). I’ve also made a mental note that I must someday frost a cake with the Lavender and Honey Ganache that is used in the Lavender Hot Chocolate on page 84.

Quench back

I’ve had a serious crush on this book since last winter, when Ashley’s editor sent me a copy of the bound manuscript and asked if I might write a blurb for the back. I spent half a day lost in the words and recipes, and have looked forward to the finished book ever since. The completed version is better than I could have imagined, printed on sturdy paper and illustrated with Jen Altman’s perfect photography.

Quench spine

Thanks to Ashley and Roost Books, I have two copies of Quench to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share your favorite homemade beverage. It can be hard or soft, simple or complex. OR, if you prefer, share something that’s on your to-make list.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, November 1, 2014. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by the end of the day on Sunday, November 2, 2014.
  3. Giveaway is open to all.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: Roost Books sent me three copies of Quench. One was for photography and review purposes, and the other two were to give away. No additional compensation was required and, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

 

Giveaway: Handmade Gatherings by Ashley English

handmade gatherings cover

I have long been of the believe that when it comes to entertaining, people break down into just two groups. There are the dinner party people and potluck people. The dinner party folk like to have a certain amount of control over the menu and flow of the evening, whereas potluck people are fully content to put out a stack of plates and just see what happens.

handmade gatherings interior

However, with her new book, Handmade Gatherings, Ashley English offers up a middle way. With 16 seasonal gatherings, including recipes and crafts, these festive events give the dinner party people some structure while encouraging them to involve their guests in the process. For the potluck people among us, the book serves as encouragement to up the game ever so slightly.

handmade gatherings cake walk

Ashley opens the book with a little peek into her own entertaining history and then offers some insight about how to communicate with your guests, how to pick a location, and how to plan so that no one goes hungry (always have a back-up plan!). She also offers useful instruction on how to be a good guest, including a most helpful reminder to bring a serving utensil with your dish.

handmade gatherings canning

Because the parties are seasonally grounded, you’ll find things like egg-centric events, canning afternoons, ice cream socials, and even cookie swaps. The recipes, activities, and crafts are delicious, engaging, and fun (and manage never to cross the line into overly cutesy territory).

handmade gatherings morocco

What I find so nice about this book is that it is written so that every reader can take what they need from it. Some folks will recreate Ashley’s parties down to the very last dish, while others will use it for the inspiration it has to offer. I do like an entertaining book that adapts to the reader.

handmade gatherings spine

Thanks to Ashley and the team at Roost Books, I have one copy of Handmade Gatherings to give away. Here’s how to enter!

  • Leave a comment on this post and share a tale of a favorite party or potluck
  • Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 12, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 13, 2014
  • Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  • One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review and photography purposes. All opinions remain entirely my own. 

Links: Mincemeat, Harvest Crackers, and a Winner

Roasting garlic for a batch of mashed potatoes (my family's t-giving meal is today!).

I hope that everyone out there had a lovely Thanksgiving! Scott and I spent the actual holiday with his mom in Northern Virginia and then came back up to Philadelphia for a second celebratory meal with my extended family on Saturday night. My cousins sent me home with both turkey carcasses and I’ve been a machine for the last 24 hours, picking them apart, making stock, and running quart jars of finished stock through the pressure canner. It’s such satisfying preserving, because it is such a useful thing to have in the pantry.

Now, links!

Homemade Living with Ashley English

Thanks to everyone who took the time out of their busy pre-Thanksgiving days last week to enter the Ashley English Homemade Living series giveaway! The winner is #18, Chip in SC. He said, “I am thankful for my family and friends!” Chip, I feel the very same way.

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Giveaway: Ashley English’s Homemade Living Series

Homemade Living with Ashley English

I am sure that most of you are knee-deep in Thanksgiving lists and travel coordination this week, so I’m going to keep this giveaway post short and sweet. Thanks to Ashley English and the kind folks at Lark Crafts, I have one set of Ashley’s Homemade Living books to give away. This series includes Canning & Preserving, Home Dairy, Keeping Bees, Keeping Chickens.

These books are the perfect resource for those folks who want to delve deeper into an array of homestead-y arts. If you’re limited by space (like me) and can only dream about having property enough for a flock of chickens or a personal beehive, they also make excellent aspirational reading.

Homemade Living with Ashley English

Because Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, let’s focus on gratitude in the comments. I’ll go first. This year, I am exceedingly grateful for my family. I am deeply grateful for the amount of love in my life. And I am outrageously grateful for all of you who take the time to read these blog posts and make my recipes. Giant thanks to you all.

And now, in more organized fashion, the giveaway instructions.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share something for which you are grateful.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Saturday, November 30, 2013. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents (apologies to my more far-flung readers).
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post. I do not accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: The nice people at Lark Crafts are providing the books for this giveaway. My opinions remain my own and I received no compensation for this post. It’s here because I like Ashley and her work.