Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cookish: What's for dinner?

Tortilla Soup

Well, folks, I have developed a bit of a cold. You know what the remedy for that is--chicken soup, no? But chicken noodle is...great, but not that special. I need a little more kick to power through this, so chicken tortilla soup it is.

Canola oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 serrano chile, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
chile powder
1 packet sazon (optional)
black pepper
1 quart of chicken stock
1 can tomato sauce
1 chicken breasts
3 carrots, chopped
1 can black beans
corn, canned or frozen (or fresh)
crushed tortilla chips (optional)

For garnish:
tortilla chips
sour cream

Put enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot and heat over medium heat. Add onion and chile and saute over medium heat. Once onions start to soften, add 3 grated garlic cloves. add cumin, chile powder, and oregano and toast. I also had some sazon con culantro e achiote, so I threw a packet in. That does contain MSG, so be aware, if you have an allergy. I wouldn't buy it just for this, but if you have it, why not throw it in? Add black pepper, chicken stock, and chicken breasts (you can even add these directly from the freezer--that's what I did) and a bay leaf or two and allow to simmer until chicken is cooked. While the chicken is cooking, peel and chop 3 carrots. Drain the excess liquid off a can of black beans. When the chicken is done (or nearly so, you are going to add it back to the soup), remove it from the pot and allow to cool slightly. Add carrots, corn, tomato sauce, and beans to the pot. If you have some leftover tortilla chips, you can crush them and add to the soup to help it thicken. Shred chicken and return to pot to simmer until everything is cooked and flavors melded. Taste, and add seasoning if necessary.

Serve with tortilla chips/strips, avocado, a squeeze of lime, and cheese or sour cream. You can make the tortilla strips yourself from flour or corn tortillas or just buy some chips. (You can even make the tortillas yourself--it's quite easy to make either corn or flour tortillas, but it is time consuming.)

The soup is quite tasty, and I feel that I am on the road to recovery!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bookish Review: The Book Thief

I had heard a LOT about The Book Thief. The book garnered lots of awards and buzz and praise, so I was very excited to read it. From the title, I am not sure what I expected. I think I had read that it involved WWII, so perhaps I was thinking it was about someone who saved books from being burned in the war. It's not.

First of all, it is set during WWII, so you have to know it can't be the cheeriest story. It involves war, and death, and deprivation.

Secondly, it's narrated by Death. So, again, doesn't point to the warm fuzzies.

But it is a lovely book. A story about a young German girl in an unusual home in a small town in Germany. Her family takes in and befriends a Jewish man during the war, but eventually it becomes too risky, for him and for them. The girl cannot read, but her foster father patiently and painstakingly teaches her until she becomes a lover of words and a stealer of books.

It's not the typical Holocaust story or just a book lovers' story, but it is beautifully written and touching.

Highly recommended.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bookish Review: Cross Bones

Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs is another book in her series featuring Temperance Brennan. This one takes Tempe on a crazy international quest to Israel to investigate the provenance of some bones that show up in Canada by way of France after disappearing from an archaeological dig in Israel many years ago. A possible conspiracy is involved, as some believe the bones belong to Jesus Christ, a find which would have huge historical and religious implications. The plot only gets more complicated, with more bones uncovered, once she arrives overseas.

The book is good and entertaining, but I have the same problem I had with the last book I read in the series: I am too much of a fan of the TV show Bones, which is (loosely) based on these books. The Bones depicted in the show is pretty much nothing like the Temperance depicted in the books, and since I like the show so much, I find that a disappointment. However, if you only read the books or don't watch the show, this is an interesting historical mystery with some grounding in actual archaeological finds. Fans of the Da Vinci code or Steve Berry books might enjoy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bookish Movie: Confessions of a Shopaholic

This movie was based on a so-so, fluffy novel by Sophie Kinsenella. The movie is rather vapid and feels a little long. Isla Fisher is cute and believable and the male lead is adorable, but the main character is not as loveable as she could be and the movie as a whole just feels slow & predictable. Easy to tell from the trailer exactly what you're going to get, which is not always a problem with a romantic comedy, but this one just falls a little flat. Not terrible, but not that good, either.