CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Summer reading for garden motivation, armchair travel

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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Hey Culinary Thrill Seekers, ever thought about gardening from a bale of straw?

Or toting your cat around Japan to try every ramen version you can?

Enjoy some summer reads that range from garden motivation to armchair travel.

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Ready to Bale? — Become a preacher, teacher and local news feature when mushrooms, potatoes and all the usual suspect veggies start popping out of bales in your back yard.

Joel Karsten shares this “breakthrough method” in the updated “Straw Bale Gardens Complete” book. This looks easy enough for any gardener I know, but I offer this book to anyone who will move down the street from me and share excess garden bounty from their bales.

Photos and tips guide readers through this new-to-many way to knock it out of the garden. Fewer weeds, too. Try it out for salad every day.

No-Dig Zone – Helping in the yard was a chore – not fun – for me as a kid. It doesn’t have to be so. Charles Dowding gives us “No Dig Children’s Gardening Book: Easy and Fun Family Gardening.” He means it. He lives it.

Kristyna Litten’s illustrations have little worms and seeds and compost. Yeah, composting is fun and full of crawly things. I like the sensory garden notes of plunging your hand into birdseed; smelling flowers; hearing the fresh snap of removal and the sight of turning your deadhead flowers into confetti. Of course you can taste your product.

Decorate cans for pots and make origami seed packages. No-Dig is what I’d call a raised bed. Line the bottom with cardboard, add sides and build up with compost. Not only do I want these gardens, I want a kid or two to come enjoy it with me.

“Whiskers Abroad” – So getting a job writing in Japan would be enough of a story. But taking your cat with you? This cat runs amok to enjoy a tuna auction, find the prize of a beach treasure hunt and learns how to ride bullet trains.

Subtitled Ashi and Audrey’s adventures in Japan shows pictures of Carrie Carter’s multiple trips to the country. Somehow there’s a cat in there. Ask her sister, graphic designer Stacy Vickers about that. The character tells her side of tiny rooms, soul-inspiring ramen and haiku-worthy koi. Then we get the cat’s version of it all. Who’s having more fun? The reader is having the most.

More fun facts: Carter lives in Houston; her own cat, Frenemy, was peeved at not being the cat in the book; she and her husband are in the ‘80s cover band Molly and the Ringwalls that I have always just missed.

One day I may bet to Japan, and one day I may hear this band.

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who even likes her books to focus on food. Share tips with her at