Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bookish Review: Chocolat

I am a big fan of the movie version of Chocolat, so I finally decided to pick up the book. The book has the same magical feel as the movie, and the early chapters seem to follow it pretty closely. There are some differences, including that the kangaroo called Pontouf in the movie is a rabbit named Pantoufle in the book. Also, Roux has a different romantic involvement than in the book and the ending is not quite as concrete or quite as happy. Overall, I enjoyed the book, which tells the story of Vianne Rocher and her daughter and how they use their own brand of magic and chocolate to turn a small French town on its ear. I must say, though, that I like the movie better. I'm a sucker for a tidy, happy ending--what can I say?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Uncookish: Snack Review

I found the 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp bars on clearance at Target (which leads me to believe that they may be phasing out this candy bar), so I decided to try it out. As you may know, 3 Musketeers markets itself as having fewer fat/calories than a usual candy bar. This new twist on the classic bar maintains the lightness of the original and consists of a crisp bar at the bottom, which has a texture more like a meringue cookie than the shortbread cookie you'd kind in a Twix, with a chocolate "truffle" topping, which is a bit thicker than the usual 3 Musketeers filling, and the whole thing is dipped in chocolate. I found it to be tasty and light, with a nice texture. I think one bar could be a satisfying treat, as long as you're not too hungry, and if you eat just one bar (there are two in the package), it's less than 100 calories. Not a bad deal.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bookish Review: Water for Elephants

I really enjoyed this book. Before I read it, I knew it was critically-acclaimed and was being made into a movie, but I didn't really know anything about the plot. The book is told mainly in flashback, as the protagonist (now living in an assisted-living facility) looks back on his life working as a veterinarian with a travelling circus. Gruen works in interesting details about circus life, including unusual but true stories. The book also weaves a nice love story as our hero falls for the beautiful horseback performer--and she with him, but whoops! she's married. And her husband isn't exactly stable. The book is evocative and interesting. I recommend it highly, and I look forward to seeing what the movie is like, though I am already unsure about the casting.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cookish: What's for dinner?

Mom's Pasta Salad

So my momma makes awesome Italian pasta salad, despite being not even a little bit Italian. I am going to include her recipe below, and then list my changes below that.

1 bag/box rainbow rotini (16 oz)
1/4 head broccoli, chopped
1/4 head cauliflower, chopped
Parmesan cheese
1 package pepperoni, sliced
garlic powder
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, marinade reserved
1 bottle Wishbone Italian dressing

Boil the pasta. Two minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli and cauliflower to the pot. When pasta is done, drain. Chop the artichoke hearts. Coat the pasta and veggies with cheese while hot. Add garlic powder. When cool, add the rest of the veggies & pepperoni and add the dressing.

My changes: I leave out the onion and the pepperoni. I also use a whole head of broccoli and a whole head of cauliflower to up the veggie quotient. I also add a few chopped carrots and chopped sun-dried tomatoes and sliced black olives. I used the sun-dried tomatoes that come in a package, not the ones in the jar. They're a little salty, so I chop them pretty small. I also add everything together--except the dressing--while it's hot. I add about half the dressing while its hot--mainly because I always want to eat it, even while it's hot. Then I let it cool and add more as needed. I also use reduced-fat, store brand Italian dressing because I am cheap!

I love this pasta salad. It makes a really large amount, so it's great for a picnic or potluck, but I love it so much that I always eat way more than I should. Leaving out the pepperoni, it will make vegetarians happy, and if you've got vegans in the crowd, I guess you can leave out the cheese--but what a shame that would be!