Tag Archives | Small Measure

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. 

Cookbooks: A Year of Pies

I did not grow up in a household where dessert was a regular thing. More often than not, when we asked about a sweet treat after dinner, we were pointed to the fruit bowl or a jar of applesauce. However, once or twice a year, there would be pie.

The pie happened on no particular schedule. My mom baked in response to her own cravings and could not be hurried or begging into producing pie. We learned early that it was better to leave her alone and accept the serendipitous pie than try to wheedle it into being. And accept it, we did. Her pies were always sturdy, not-too-sweet creations that piled mountains of fruit into a nutty, half whole wheat crust. My favorite thing was being allowed a slice for breakfast the next day.

Thanks to this early conditioning, pie will be forever feel like a way create a special occasion out of a Wednesday evening. It’s one of the things I hope to do with my kids someday (of course, I have to have them first).

You may be asking yourself, why is Marisa waxing poetic about her childhood pie memories? I recently got a review copy of Ashley English’s new book, A Year of Pies and now I can’t stop thinking about tucking food, both sweet and savory, between layers of crust.

Some of you probably know Ashley from her blog, Small Measure, or from her other four (!) books on all manner homesteady topics like Bee Keeping and Food Preservation. This book is similar in organization to her previous ones in that it offers an extensive section towards the front of the book that walks you through the equipment, the different kinds of crusts (and what each is best for), tips on rolling and the various techniques you can employ to achieve gorgeous crusts, before moving on to the recipes.

Once through that grounding section, the rest of the book is arranged by season, proving unequivocally that pie isn’t just a summer and fall dessert. Any winter day would be made better by the Maple Orange Walnut Pie on page 55 on the Carrot Pie on page 77.

The book contains sweet pies, savory pies (like the homey Chicken Pot Pie pictured below), tarts, galettes, crostada and hand pies. There are both bake and no-bake options and even a pie version of Polish-style stuffed cabbage. Ashley also invited a few of her blogging friends to contribute recipes, including a Gluten-Free Streusel Apple Pie from Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking author Kate Payne.

For those of us who are working our way through baskets of berries and armloads of peaches this time of year, I think it’s important to put a little of that fruit aside and make something that allows us to enjoy the bounty now, as well as later. Pie is on my to-do list for later this week.

Thanks to Ashley and her publisher, Lark Crafts, I have a copy of this lovely pie book to share with one of you. If you want a chance to win a copy, here’s what you do.

  1. Leave a comment on this post, sharing a pie story. It can be your favorite kind of pie, a memorable slice you once ate or anything other pie fact you’d like to mention. .
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, August 3. Winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and will be posted to the blog on Saturday, August 4, 2012.
  3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.
Disclosure: Lark Crafts gave me two copies of this book, one for review purposes and one to giveaway. However, my opinions remain, as always, entirely my own. 

Homemade Living with Ashley English Winner

Homemade Living with Ashley English

Goodness. There sure were a lot of you hoping to win Ashley English’s Homemade Living series! Deservedly too, as these books are truly excellent resources. Sadly, I have but one set to give away and random.org has selected #927. That’s the comment left by Shelagh, who said,

“I am in the process of transforming green beans (purchased from a friend’s tiny  organic farm) into dilly beans, which will get us through the long, cold Maine winter. “Canning and Preserving” would be welcome reading material as I plan next year’s garden.”

Shelagh, here’s hoping that these books help you plan your plot for 2012! For the rest of you, I do encourage you to seek out Ashley’s books going forward. Whether you were interested in Canning & Preserving, Keeping Chickens, Home Dairy and Keeping Bees, treat yourself to a copy or request one from the local library. They are most definitely worth reading!

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A Good Book For the Can Jam (or anytime!)

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

Goodness, the time has been flying lately. It’s been nearly a week since I posted (although, I’m firmly of the belief that the Pear Cake deserved every moment of its time in the spotlight) and this fresh, new month is a full seven days old. That also means that the deadline for this month’s Can Jam is rapidly approaching (just two more weeks)! If you’re still stumped for ideas as to how to incorporate herbs into a canning recipe, I’ve got the perfect book for you!

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

Canner, chicken keeper, cheesemaker and all-around homesteading renaissance woman Ashley English has written a beautiful book devoted to the art of canning called (of all things) Homemade Living: Canning & Preserving with Ashley English. It contains all you need to know to transform you from an absolute canning novice into a someone deeply comfortable with the many aspects of food preservation.

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

What’s more (and this is where the Can Jam comes in), many of her recipes tweak the old classics with the addition of fresh or dried herbs. That Meyer Lemon and Lemon Verbena Curd sounds pretty spectacular (please excuse the blur, I was speedily trying to photograph the book before the last afternoon sunlight slipped away).

Canning & Preserving with Ashley English

For the pucker fans in the crowd, this Herbed Pickled Asparagus sounds pretty delightful. She’s even included many herbs in her basic pickling brine recipe, which means you could take it as a starting place and head off in any number of directions. Personally, I’m thinking of swapping in rhubarb in her Peach and Lavender Butter.

If you can’t swing a new book purchase right now, make sure to check out Ashley’s blog, Small Measure, as well as her weekly column over on Design*Sponge.

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