Saturday, January 31, 2009
This recipe is from my friend, K. She gave it to me in approximate measures, so that is how I am going to give it to you. K uses quick-cook barley, but I couldn't find any. I found pearled barley at my grocery, which takes 35-45 minutes to cook. With the quick-cook barley, K says you only need to simmer the soup for 15 minutes.
cream of mushroom soup
Saute the shallots and mushrooms in Olive oil. Add some thyme and pepper. You can add salt, but unless you've bought the reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup and chicken broth (and sometimes even then), it may be salty enough. I recommend tasting at the end and adding salt then, if necessary. Add the cut-up carrots and celery and a cup of barley. Stir in the cream of mushroom soup and chicken stock. How much? I recommend getting a quart-size box. After you've put in the cream of mushroom soup, fill the can with stock/broth twice. Then, monitor the liquid level as the barley cooks, and add more as necessary. You can make it as thick or as thin as you like. Bring the soup up to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer for about 35 and then start testing for doneness. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on the liquid level. It's a very tasty and filling soup! It is pretty easy to throw together, too.
So, I'm not usually that much into memoir, but this was pretty good. It's about cooking and craziness and it's pretty funny. There are some disgusting parts, and her blind hatred for Republicans was a little annoying, because it doesn't really have anything to do with anything that is going on in the story. For the most part, though, the book is humorous and sweet, and it really is a rather amazing feat--I mean, could you bring yourself to cook brains and kidneys in aspic and all kinds of other revolting or unnecessary preparations, and then actually eat it? I think I'll pass!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a book for booklovers. Technically, it is a children's book, but I think bibliophiles of all ages will enjoy it. It will shortly be released as a movie, though what I have seen of the trailers so far leads me to believe they have taken some liberties with the story. Meggie and her father have the ability to read books to life, but at a price. When Meggie was only three, her father (Mo) was reading aloud to her mother, and three characters from the book appeared in their world and Meggie's mother disappeared into the book. Meggie's father vows never to read aloud again. He works as a book doctor, repariring bindings and chewed pages, and he and Meggie are continually on the run from Capricorn, one of the characters he set loose in the world, though Meggie does not know it. Capricorn is a true villan, and wants to get his hands on Mo so Mo can read him riches and other tools from books that will help him increase his power. When it is discovered that Meggie also has the talent, Capricorn is happy to use her instead.
The book is an adventure, a love letter to books, and a really good read. I will certainly write a review of the movie when I see it, and of the other books in the trilogy when I read them. Highly recommended for book lovers of all ages. I also found myself wanting to read many of the passages aloud--it would be a great one to share at bedtime with kids, as long as they are not too young. There are some scary elements in the book, and we don't want nightmares, now do we?
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
But there were a few problems with it, so I decided to tweak it a bit.
1. I don't have any 5-spice powder, but I have made curry before with curry powder and garaham masala, so I had that on hand and used it instead.
2. There are no veggies in this dish, and that just seems wrong. So, I added Cauliflower and chickpeas.
3. There's nothing wrong with white rice, but I think jasmine rice is a little more interesting, so I used that instead.
So, my revised ingredients were:
1 1/2 cups of Jasmine rice
2 teaspoons curry powder
Cauliflower (I think I used about 4 cups)
1 can coconut milk
1/2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 teaspoons garaham masala
salt and pepper
Cook the rice per package instructions, remembering to salt the water well and/or cook in chicken broth for more flavor.
While the rice is cooking, heat some oil in a pot over medium heat. When hot, add the curry powder and cook for one minute. Add in the cauliflower and stir to coat. add the can of coconut broth and allow to simmer to cook the cauliflower and reduce the coconut milk by half.
In another pan, heat another tbs of oil over medium-high heat. Coat the chicken breast strips with the garaham masala, salt, and pepper. Add the hot pan and saute. When you flip the strips to cook on the other side, add the chickpeas. When chicken is cooked and coconut milk is reduced, add the coconut milk and cauliflower to the chicken mixture and stir to coat. Serve over rice.
It was pretty good, but could use a bit of improvement.
1. I think I should have added salt and pepper to the cauliflower as well, not just the chicken.
2. It needed a little zip. I added tabasco to the finished dish when serving, and that helped. Next time, I may use crushed red pepper in the cooking instead
3. I used low-fat coconut milk, which tasted okay, but did not really thicken up the way I would have liked. Next time, I may use the full-fat stuff or add a cornstarch slurry to thicken it up a bit.
Overall, not bad. If you try it, let me know what you think, or post suggestions here.
This book is by Cecilia Ahern, author of PS I Love You. It's an epistolary novel, which is not usually my favorite format. (The first one I ever read was Dear Mr. Henshaw, and I HATED it.) I think the story is pretty effectively told through the notes passed in class, letters, and emails, though.
It is the story of Rosie and Alex, best friends all their lives, and all the missed opportunities to be more than friends. The book shows how they grow and how their relationship changes over time, but they manage to remain friends despite the geographical distance between them and their romantic entanglements.
So, the story is good, don't get me wrong, but I spent the majority of the book wanting to scream at either Alex or Rosie or both, "You are an IDIOT! What are you DOING?" because it is so blatantly obvious that they should be together and they are in love with each other, but of course, they can't realize that the other is also in love with them. SIGH.
So, it was good, but...I wanted them to get together sooner. It was frustrating. But, the frustration does speak to the fact that I cared about the characters, so points to Ahern for that.
Conclusion: PS I Love You is bettter, but this is good, too.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Ok, so this Vlog began in 2007 as Brotherhood 2.0. YA author John Green and his brother Hank decided to communicate exclusively through videos posted on YouTube. They now have a very devoted following of nerdfighters, who are apparently made of awesome. Think you might be made of awesome? Go check out the blog, and if you are hooked, you might be a nerdfighter, too.
The rules of the project changed a bit in 2008, and they have new rules for 2009, so there is more nerdfighting fun to come.
Now, I should do a review here of one of John Green's novels, since I am such a fan of him and Hank. Unfortunately...I have not yet read one. SHAME! It is on the list, though, I promise!
In the meantime, I will leave you with one of Hank's fabulous songs, which he created when waiting for the last Harry Potter novel to be released.
I highly recommend watching the "punishments" videos and "Must-See B20." Prepare to laugh.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Bring your kleenex! I think if you are a dog lover, you will like this movie, regarless of whether you have read the book. I have read the book (which I highly recommend), but I read it a while ago, so the differences between the book and movie did not bother me much; the spirit was still there. The book (and movie) is about John Grogan as much as it is about Marley, and it is funny and sad and very well done. Many people in the theatre brought little kids, but I don't think they knew how the movie ended. Just expect to cry, and if your children are old enough and like sad movies, then maybe you will want to bring them. If they are little and sobbed for weeks when their goldfish died, you may not want to.
Movie gets two thumbs up, and the book is even better. Highly recommended.
But back to the plot...where was I? The movie is based on the novel by the same name by Cecilia Ahern. (She was only 21 when she wrote it--can you believe that? I know I produced nothing that amazing at 21.) The movie and the book differ a good bit, but the spirit is the same. Pack the Kleenex for this one. It is a rather heart-breaking film, but it is funny and sweet and touching as well. Hilary Swank is a young widow whose husband has left behind notes to help her get on with her life--each one signed with "P.S. I love you."
If you rent the DVD, do yourself a favor and watch the additional scenes. Some of them are just as heart-wrenching as anything in the movie. It's enough to make you want to move to Ireland to marry a hottie like Gerard Butler, even if you'll only have 9 years together.