Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bookish Review: The Bucolic Plague

The Bucolic Plague is a memoir about a couple of New Yorkers who buy up a mansion in rural New York and try to start a farm, which they only tend on weekends. The Fabulous Beekman Boys also apparently have a reality show, but it comes on "planet green," which is a channel that I did not even know existed, let alone ever watched. The book is a very good read--funny and touching. This is not Kilmer-Purcell's first memoir, and I will probably pick up the other one--the guy has had a very interesting life, to say the least. In this one, readers get to experience the hard work that goes into running a weekend farm with goats and a vegetable garden whilst still working full time. The village depicted is quaint and homey, with an excellent cast of characters, including more gay couples than one might expect in a farming community in upstate New York (more than the author and his partner expected when they first stumbled upon the hamlet). The story probably would have been very different if not for the economic collapse and both Beekman Boys losing their high-paying Manhattan jobs. Though more fortunate than many, I think their plight is one many people can relate to, and the deterioration of their relationship, though hard to read, is very real. (Fear not, they bounce back!) You can read more about their projects and products on beekman1802.com. The book was quite enjoyable, and I wish I could watch the show.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bookish: A Feast for Crows

The fourth book in the Game of Thrones series, A Feast for Crows is an enjoyable read, if a bit more of a slog than the first three. Martin continues to introduce new characters and continues to have no compunctions about maiming, torturing, or killing off characters, no matter how beloved. Many of the most lovable, favorite characters are not even featured in this book. This book and the fifth actually encompass the same time period, so you're only getting half the story, which is rather frustrating, especially when you finish the book and the story feels so incomplete. Luckily for you and me, the fifth book is out now. The poor, unfortunate souls who read this when it first came out had to wait YEARS for the fifth one, which seems quite like torture. So, overall, a good read, though I was left with the feeling that I had to get through this one to get onto book five rather than really enjoying it for itself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cookish: Dinnertime

Spinach Pasta bake
Adapted from This Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine


  • 1 1/2 lbs. baby spinach (I used frozen--a bag and a half)
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 8 oz. wide whole wheat egg noodles
  •  Bechamel Sauce (see below)
  • 5-6 oz. fresh goat cheese (1 pkg)
  • 3 tbsp. prepared pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  1. Defrost the spinach and squeeze out any moisture. 
  2. In a large skillet, melt 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the spinach. Season lightly with salt and pepper and nutmeg; remove from the heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the noodles, stirring often, until al dente. Drain— but do not rinse—and return to the saucepan. Stir in the white sauce to coat.
  4. Lightly grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Layer in half of the noodles and press with a spatula. Dot with half of the goat cheese, spread the spinach on top and press down. Stir 3 tbsp. pesto into the remaining noodles and spoon over the spinach. Dot with the remaining cheese. Cover snugly with foil and bake until hot and bubbling, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. sprinkle  the crumbs on the baked pasta.
    Note: I think you could just use some panko and brown the top of the casserole with the crumbs on at the end of baking. I did like the fresh crumbs--I'd suggest adding them directly to each serving, and storing any extra in a ziploc outside of the fridge so they don't get soggy. 

    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • finely chopped shallot
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 2 cups milk, warmed
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • Salt and pepper


    1. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in warm milk; bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cookish: Snacktime

I call this recipe Crack Corn, though Paula Deen has her own name for it. Click here for Paula Deen's caramel corn recipe

The recipe works really well. You need about 8 quarts of popped corn. I pop 3 bags of light butter microwave popcorn, because it is easy. I usually use 2 1/2 bags of it, approximately, which is a little less than 8 quarts, but it works out well. I also usually add some peanuts when I have them on hand. Fair warning: only make this when you have a crowd coming over. It's virtually impossible to stop eating this, so you really don't want to be the only one in the house--this is not exactly health food, folks.