Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bookish Review: One Thousand White Women



Although fictional, the book is written as if a descendant found the actual journals of his great great grandmother. The author takes actual historical events and weaves a fictional narrative. A Cheyenne chief requests 1000 white women as wives for his men. In truth, this request was never fulfilled, but in this book, Fergus imagines what might have happened if it was. I came to really care about the characters, and as Fergus weaves in actual historical events (like the slaughter of Indians as more white settlers want to come look for gold in the Black Hills), the book will leave you in tears. A great read.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cookish: What's for breakfast?

Homemade Granola
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups almonds (I used roasted and salted because that was what I had)
1 cup coconut (optional)
2 cups dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 325. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper

Whisk together first 4 ingredients, then add oil. Fold in oats, almonds, and coconut.

Press oat mixture into baking sheet until compacted. Bake 20 minutes, rotate, and bake 20-25 more, or until lightly browned. It will not seem completely set when you take it out, but after cooling on a rack for an hour, you will be able to break into chunks of desired size. Mix in fruit and chocolate when completely cool.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cookish: Something Sweet

My fiancé and I did a cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking (www.nosoc.com)--so fun! I thought I would share one of the recipes for you, since we actually do use it at home. Prior to this class, my fiancé had claimed he didn't like pralines. Turns out, he didn't know what they were! Now he knows they are delicious.

Pralines (makes up to 50, depending on size)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
6 Tbs butter
1 1/2 cups of pecans, roasted
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients and bring to the "soft ball" stage (238-240 degrees--a candy thermometer helps!), stirring constantly. Remove from heat and continue to stir til the mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy. You can actually hear the difference once the sugar starts to recrystallize and your spoon has to scrape through. Spoon onto buttered wax paper, foil, or parchment. Allow to cool and try not to eat them all yourself!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bookish Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

I think the cat's out of the bag and we all know this book was really written by J.K. Rowling. I have to say, I vastly preferred this one to her other post-Potter tome, A Casual Vacancy. I have to wonder if she used the pseudonym on this one because she thought it would sell anyway, and she thought the other one wouldn't. At any rate, I found this to be a very enjoyable read, and I hope it is the start to a series--I really liked the characters and it was a solid mystery that kept me guessing. I would not have guessed Rowling wrote it, I don't think, but it is certainly well-written and I am glad she decided to step into this genre. I happen to enjoy the down-and-out-PI-just-needs-one-big-case kind of mystery, especially with his surprisingly clever temp/sidekick. Really good, and I hope there is a "next one" soon.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bookish & Cookish: Cookbook review

I had heard a lot of positive things about the Canal House cookbooks but had not gotten my hands on one before Canal House Cooking: Pronto! I can see what the fuss was all about. The authors are not just great cooks, but great writers, and the book was really a joy to read. I could almost smell the garlic sizzling and felt like I was being transported, either to Italy or to the Canal House table, depending on the sect5ion. For someone who likes to really read and savor a cookbook, not just jump to the recipes, I think this would be a delightful one for you. From what I understand, the Canal House books usually focus on seasonal cooking, but this one focuses on a cuisine instead: Italian. And wouldn't we all like to be on an Italian getaway? Reading this book will give you a taste of that, and then you can try out the recipes and get another kind of taste!

I was provided an advanced e-copy of this title though NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Receiving a copy did not affect my review.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bookish & Cookish: Cookbook Review

Come Home to Supper is a cookbook aimed mainly at parents who need to get a good dinner on the table relatively easily. The recipes are not especially fancy or complicated; it's just about getting your family fed a quick and tasty meal. Accordingly, there are slow-cooker options, casseroles, but even breads, sides, desserts, and pantry tips in addition to main courses (divided by protein). I don't have children yet, but I think many of these recipes will be easy for me to whip up for myself and my fiancé after we've both been working all day. The cookbook also contains family stories and memories mainly with the message to be thankful for what you've got and be in the moment--good reminders for busy families. I'm eager to try the lettuce wraps, Chinese chicken salad, and cornbread-topped chicken pot pie. Be aware, this is down-home cooking, and you're not going to find a lot of vegetarian meal options in here--lots of beef and pork! But for busy families, I think this book could be a help.

I received an advanced e-galley of this title from NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher. Receiving a copy did not affect my review.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cookish: Gingersnaps

I'm posting my Christmas cookie recipes late this year, but they are good ones! I am a big fan of gingersnaps, but I've only made gingerbread cookies or chewy molasses spice cookies at home. Well, this year I discovered America's Test Kitchen's gingersnap recipe. Perfection! I love ATK's recipes--they test them meticulously and the results are accordingly excellent, and this was no exception. A quick note: I cut this recipe in half because it says it makes about 80 cookies! But the cookies are small, and they go quickly, and I'm not sure I got 40 out of the 1/2 batch, so I think you'd be fine doing the whole shebang. Also, the dough freezes well and the baked cookies stay fresh for quite a while, so don't fear making a full batch.

Original recipe here: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/6840-gingersnaps?extcode=LN13N2AAA

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 12tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4teaspoon pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 1/4cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4cup molasses
  • 2tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1/2cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

INSTRUCTIONS


  1. 1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in bowl. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook, swirling pan frequently, until foaming subsides and butter is just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer butter to large bowl and whisk in ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and cayenne. Cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, molasses, and fresh ginger to butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add egg and yolk and whisk to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
    2. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Divide dough into heaping teaspoon portions; roll dough into 1-inch balls. Working in batches of 10, roll balls in sugar to coat. Evenly space dough balls on prepared baking sheets, 20 dough balls per sheet.
    3. Place 1 sheet on upper rack and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer partially baked top sheet to lower rack, rotating 180 degrees, and place second sheet of dough balls on upper rack. Continue to bake until cookies on lower tray just begin to darken around edges, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Remove lower sheet of cookies and shift upper sheet to lower rack and continue to bake until cookies begin to darken around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Slide baked cookies, still on parchment, to wire rack and cool completely before serving. Cool baking sheets slightly and repeat step 2 with remaining dough balls.
    TO MAKE AHEAD: Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping. Let frozen dough thaw overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with recipe. Cooled cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks in airtight container.