Eat, Drink, Be Merry and Read

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If there is an upside of insomnia, it allows me extra time to surf the net. Since this is clearly, “elective time,” I feel perfectly entitled to visit the most time wasting and purely indulgent sites that the WWW offers. Sometimes, and always by accident, the various sites and postings get me thinking. “What if Sponge Bob was really a voice piece of a brilliant prophet? What if that silly episode about ‘opposite day,’ was actually a supposition that we should reassess our acceptances of our long and deeply held beliefs? What if everything that we think is right and proper is in fact … not? What if the vices were virtues?” Wow! (SpongeBob Squarepants and Philosophy: Soaking Up Secrets Under the Sea! by Joseph Foy- $14.95). So, with this (sleep deprived inspired) new world view percolating in my brain like an alien parasite, I paused to entertain the notion, “what if ‘Eat, drink and be merry,’ is a moral imperative?” Although I know that eating late into the evening was likely a big time contributing factor to my insomnia, I also knew that if I was going to explore this “imperative” thing, I was going to have to jump in with gusto. (The Ultimate Healthy Snack List Including Healthy Snacks for Adults & Healthy Snacks for Kids: Discover Over 130 Healthy Snack Recipes – Fruit Snacks by C. Elias- $11.99). What came as a little bit of a shock (nothing, not even Britney or Miley ever truly shocks me anymore) was the origin of the, “Eat, drink and be merry,” expression. “To eat, and to drink, and to be merry,” is from Ecclesiastes 8:15. (The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary by Robert Alter- $35). If this doesn’t warrant that second Bell’s Oberon Ale, what does? So, since I’m hungry as I type this (“there is nothing new under the sun,” Ecclesiastes 1:9), I turn my attentions to food books. Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone’s Favorite Treats by Isa Chandra Moskowitz- $17.95 is especially special since, as we all know, cookies are intended to be eaten not just as late night snacks, but also any other time that we can eat them. Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies That Save You Time and Money by Robin Robertson- $17.95, is another very good choice of reading for those who like eating, saving money and have been recently told by their physician that they “might” want to add something non-cookie to their plate (whatever). Veteran food writer and vegan authority Robin Robertson provides 150 mouth-watering, exciting recipes that cost just 50 cents to $2 per serving-hefty savings to go with hearty vegan meals. This book presents great options for savory soups and stews, satisfying salads, hearty noodle dishes, first-class casseroles, favorites for the slow cooker and meatless and dairy-free recipes for classics like pizza, burgers and sandwiches. Throughout the book, smart tips and creative ideas help you save money by cooking in bulk, prepping meals in advance and finding tasty ways to reuse leftovers. As far as drinking (remember …”moral imperative”), I like beer. It’s usually vegan, usually readily available (except at work for some reason) and it helps to make me wittier and better looking. I’d be remiss in not mentioning that The Avenue is located right next to EVERYbody Reads, and the Green Door, located at the end of our block, both sell beer! Michigan has been blessed (again, I think that this is mentioned somewhere in Ecclesiastes), with wonderful breweries and brews. Michigan Breweries by Maryanne Nasiatka, Paul Ruschman is a guide to 66 breweries and brewpubs, with a history of brewing in our state and information about types of beer produced at each site, tours, food served and nearby attractions. The authors both pick their favorite beer for each brewery. Bonus, checkout: www.michiganbeerguide.com. From the Vine by Sharon Kegerreis ($34.95) is a 192 page, coffee table book that does a great job of taking both those new to Michigan wines and those who know a lot about them, closer to the wineries and vintners with engaging writing and beautiful photography. Ah, merriment! How that concept changes as I, um, age. I like to think that if I were still a kid (which would no doubt freak my kids out), I would be merry (in a giggly way) with anything written by Mo Willems. Just for the sake of picking one though you should buy, There is a Bird on Your Head ($8.99). The entire Elephant and Piggie series is sidesplitting fun, but this one is my favorite. The story is as simple as the title suggests but it’s Willems’ uncanny ability to capture facial expressions and body language that make the relationship between his anxious elephant and happy-go-lucky pig so irresistibly funny. This book is recommended for ages 2-6, but if you happen to be older, borrow a neighbor’s kid (with their explicit consent, of course) and introduce them to underage merriment. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler ($25.95), is geared toward slightly older readers and offers the finest insight into “pragmatic merriness.” In the most succinct synopsis: Achieving happiness does not have to depend on events. Through mental practice we can form the ability to be happy most of the time. Yay, merriment! So there you go: more ways to find eating, drinking and merriment than you can find this side of Bikini Bottom. And for the last words on this subject, I defer to Mr. Spongebob himself: Oh well, I guess I’m not wearing any pants today.
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Tags: cookbooks, happiness, Reader's Lounge

Scott Harris

Liberal, Jewish and vegan. Scott has six kitties, a dog, four kids and a wife who saves peoples' lives. He operates EVERYbody Reads bookstore, 2019 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing.