Author Archive for Heidi Kuchta



My Documents by Alejandro Zambra

by Heidi Kuchta on February 10th, 2016

Zambra book cover

What drew me to My Documents (McSweeney’s, 2015) was the cover art: a boy climbing among file cabinets, keyboard, wires, and computer monitors. So appropriate for the title! I wanted to try out a newer short story collection by an author I’ve never read. What I have gained is a sudden appreciation for Alejandro Zambra, a Chilean writer whose stories blend whimsy, dark humor, and general strangeness against the backdrop of Chile’s recent history. Fans of Junot Diaz (author of Ways of Going Home, his novel that was released in the U.S. in 2013.

No Sweat

by Heidi Kuchta on January 20th, 2016

In No Sweat, Michelle Segar offers new ways to approach fitness for people who have a bad attitude (or, as I like to say, a badittude) about working out. In fact, one of the things that Segar promotes is removing the phrases “working out,” “fitness,” and “getting in shape” froNo Sweatm our internal dialogue. It’s called “movement,” and we need it to feel good mentally and physically. Her research is based on what motivates people to move and take better care of themselves. (Evidently, while the pressure to “be fit” is everywhere, it is often not a very motivating message.) This book offers Segar’s findings about motivation and also acts as a type of workbook for changing the way you think about exercise. No Sweat is a practical book about how to prioritize self-care and feeling good instead of stressing out about pounds, inches, and health.

 

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

by Heidi Kuchta on November 19th, 2015

Hunger Brownstein

It has been an exceptional year for women-in-rock memoirs. Kim Gordon’s Girl in a Band, Patti Smith’s M Train, and Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein have all come out in 2015. Brownstein’s story about how she went from suburban Seattle kid to Sleater Kinney rock guitarist and singer is engaging and funny, as one would expect if they have watched Portlandia. Brownstein definitely has a sense of humor, even about the darker and embarrassing stuff in her life. She starts the book talking about how the thread of music fandom has been the main current through her life – not musicianship, but fandom and a profound interest in performance and exploration. She writes well about nostalgia, particularly music-related nostalgia: the phenomenon of how albums from our formative years can bring us back to a particular time and place instantly, even while they don’t necessarily hold up sound-wise. There are many people who would like this book: Riot Grrrl history buffs, fans of rock and punk music, and people who enjoy watching Portlandia should check out Carrie Brownstein’s memoir. It’s worth the read!

In Search of the Best Paleo Cookbooks

by Heidi Kuchta on October 21st, 2015

As I have perused the masses of so-called Paleo (read: veggie and meat based, no-to-little grain and dairy) cookbooks here at ICPL, I have had to be brutally honest with myself. Am I really going to use a mandoline slicer (which I don’t own) to cut zucchini into long, thin slices that can be used like noodles? No. Might I benefit from a new coleslaw recipe or two (or three?) Heck yes. Might I substitute mashed sweet potatoes for the less nutritious white potatoes in a shepherd’s pie? Sure. Does a grain-free coconut-based “oatmeal” sound like an amazing make ahead breakfast? Yeah! OK – onward.

One thing I have learned and had to accept is that most paleo cookbook authors have differing opinions on certain foods. Some people swear that white potatoes are fine – “nutrient rich” even, others claim that they’re trash. Eggs and so-called “nightshade vegetables” like tomatoes and peppers are ingredients that some laud and others eschew. At the end of the day, it’s a lot for me to just give up grains, so I have welcomed cookbooks with strict and less strict sensibilities alike.

So, here’s my fave paleo cookbPaleo Lunchesooks (so far)

1. I have used this cookbook the longest and can vouch for the deliciousness of many recipes herein! I love the egg muffin recipe for making ahead for quick breakfasts. My favorite salad recipe in this book is the Wild Tuna, Orange, and Parsley Salad. Runner up favorite recipe is the simple and amazing Chicken, Celeriac, and Mustard Salad Wrap. I had never previously eaten celeriac (celery root), and now I consider it my favorite slaw veggie! The coconut crepe recipe in the cookbook is an amazing Naan substitute for Indian food or a good wrHomegrown Paleoap-maker.

Also check out Diana Rodgers’ most recent collection of recipes, The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook!

 

2. TheZenbelly Cookbook Zenbelly Cookbook By Simone Miller is so much fun to read, and the recipes are mostly pretty simple. I’ve never cooked a whole chicken or made my own broth: after reading this book I now feel confident enough to do both. Also, the photography is a visual gift: Before each recipe is a photo of all the ingredients needed to make it. This visual guide is so helpful to figuring out at a glance whether I have what I need for a recipe or not. Recipe highlights include Pork Chops with Stone Fruit Slaw, Jicama Slaw (because I am slaw-obsessed), Cauliflower ‘Rice’, Sesame Shitake Broccoli, and Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie.

3. One-Pot Paleo by Jenny Castaneda: One Pot PaleoYES! The concept of this cookbook is perfect for me, a woman sans dishwasher. It is also full of flavorful and fun ideas: Plantain Chilaquiles, Loaded Spanish Tortillas, Brussels Sprouts Favorite, Honey Dijon Salmon Steaks and many other good-looking seafood recipes.

4. Nourish by Rachael Bryant is another visually pleasing cookbook, like Zenbelly. I enjoyed its recipe for Coconut Oatmeal IMNourishMENSELY. Other good recipes from here include Butternut Squash Skillet with Leeks and Spinach, Pork Belly Carnitas (cuz duh, Carnitas), and Bison Chili.

Essential Oil Resources at ICPL

by Heidi Kuchta on August 17th, 2015

Essential oils have many uses to promote health, lift your mood, and act as helpful additives to household cleaners, body care products, cosmetics, and more. I’ve noticed some newer books about their uses here at the library, and have also noticed growing curiosity about them in my personal circles and in the world around me. Here, I highlight a few of my favorite resources from the stacks at ICPL. (To browse our large selection of books on essential oils and herbal medicine, go to the nonfiction section at 615.321).

Essential Oils for Health is a brand new book at a short length for the curious beginner who wants some basic info and easy recipes. The book is organized by health, emotional well-being, and beauty ailments. If you have a particular problem you would like to address with essential oils, you can easily find a quick and simple recipe in this book. (Dandruff? Cellulite? Bad mood? Low energy? Flatulence? Tobacco withdrawal? To name a few.)

Complete aromatherapy

The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils also came out within the last year. It is organized well for the beginner, but acts as a quick and easy reference book for the seasoned essential oil user. Also, unlike many resources, this book contains an entire section on essential oils for the home. One of my first uses for essential oils was to scent cleaning vinegar after I jumped on the environmentally-safe cleaners bandwagon. My solution to vinegar stink has always been to add at least 20 drops of lavender oil to the bottle – as a bonus, lavender is naturally antibacterial and antiseptic. (Tea tree oil is great for showers and damp places since it is anti-fungal.)

Aromatherapy - Kathi Keville

While not the most recent in a spate of books about essential oils, Kathi Keville and Mindy Green’s Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art is my favorite. This book has a distinctly scientific approach. The newer edition came out in 2009 and is a simply fantastic resource – whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned essential oil enthusiast. The best thing about Keville and Green’s resource? Charts!!! There are some great charts that cover which oils are best for your skin type, for example.

Most important is the “suggested dilution” chart on page 44, because essential oils MUST be diluted before applied to the body. If you’ve ever gotten peppermint oil on your fingers and then accidentally touched your eyes later, you know what I’m talking about. If not, take it from me – essential oils can wreck havoc on the skin and mucus membranes if you don’t apply a little know-how to your applications, so be careful! 

National Geo

In closing, I would like to share National Geographic’s Guide to Medicinal Herbs. I love all things botanical, and enjoyed NatGeo’s wonderful full color photographs. While this book is not specifically about essential oils, most essential oils are made from medicinal herbs. Each herb in this book is introduced within a section that groups together herbs with similar uses (heart & circulation, digestive system, etc.) Aside from the great pictures, my favorite part about this book was the way it incorporated tidbits about each plant’s historical uses.

If you already enjoy using essential oils, feel free to leave a comment telling us your favorite book on the topic or favorite use for an essential oil or herb!