Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cookish:Something Sweet

A friend's birthday is this weekend, so of course I had to make a sweet treat. She's a chocolate-PB fan so I needed to make something along those lines. I went with this recipe from Rachael Ray:
It's in no way healthy, but it was a big hit! I've rewritten it slightly below, because I made it with chocolate chips, so I measured them in cups, not ounces (I don't have a food scale).


1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 sticks (8 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon butter

1 16 ounce jar  creamy peanut butter*

3 cups crispy rice cereal

3 cups confectioners' sugar


  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Use the microwave to melt half of the chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter. Remove from the microwave; stir in 1 cup peanut butter, then 2 cups rice cereal. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan; refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes.
  2. In the microwave, melt the remaining 2 sticks butter. Remove from the microwave and stir in the remaining peanut butter and the confectioners' sugar. Pour half of the peanut butter mixture over the cereal layer. Top with the remaining 1 cup cereal.
  3. In a small bowl, microwave the remaining chocolate at medium power until melted, 1 1/2 minutes. Stir into the remaining peanut butter mixture. Spread evenly on the cereal-topped peanut butter layer; refrigerate until set, about 45 minutes. Cut into small pieces.
*The jar I bought was actually 16.3 oz. I used it all, minus a spoonful I ate straight from the jar.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cookish: What's for dinner?

My boyfriend had the audacity to go to Japan without me a couple years ago
(It was before he met me, but whatever). He still has longing for Japan, so he requested Katsudon for dinner, which I made with chicken rather than pork because I like chicken better. I adapted the recipe from and

2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken cutlets

If not using cutlets, cut your breasts in half horizontally and pound slightly. Dust with seasoned flour, dip in beaten egg, and coat  with panko. Heat your oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook each cutlet until golden brown on all sides. Allow to cool slightly and cut into strips

4 cups cooked Japanese sticky rice, white rice, or jasmine rice
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 TBS mirin
1 TBS sugar
several dashes fish sauce or worcestershire
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 eggs

Put stock in a pan on medium heat. Add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. To cook 1 serving of katsudon, put one quarter of the liquid in a small skillet. Add one quarter of onion slices and simmer for a few minutes on medium heat. Add 1 serving of chicken pieces in the pan and simmer on low heat for a few minutes. Beat an egg in a bowl. Bring the soup to a boil on medium heat, then pour the egg over chicken and onion. Turn the heat down to low and put on a lid. Turn off the heat and allow to sit on the burner for 1-2 minutes until the egg is set. Serve 1 serving of steamed rice in a large rice bowl, then pour everything on top of the rice. Repeat the process.

This was quite yummy and filling, if salty, which is why I suggest reduced-sodium products where possible Next time I am going to consider adding thinly sliced mushrooms, carrots, and/or peas to the onion. I did add some pre-cooked broccoli and it was pretty good

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cookish: What's for dessert?

I generally make my own desserts on my birthday, because it gives  me an excuse to try something new. This year, I made two treats.

The first was a chocolate and coconut pie by Martha Stewart:

It was good, but I had a couple issues. 1. The coconut in the food processor never formed a ball for me. 2. I used (not great quality) chocolate chips for the chocolate, because that was what I had, and I think that was a mistake.

The second were these salted Pretzel-marshmallow bars, which just sounded so crazy I had to try them:

They were amazing. Highly recommended if you like salty and sweet and blondies. Yum!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Bookish Review: Good Night, Mr. Holmes

Good Night, Mr. Holmes weaves a mystery using characters (and some overlapping plotlines) from the Sherlock Holmes books. The story focuses on Irene Adler, with Sherlock and Watson as ancillary characters. As a big fan of the new BBC Sherlock mini-series, I was looking forward to reading this, and I was not disappointed. Irene has her own "Watson" in Nell, who helps her in her cases and chronicles the story. The book uses the plot from the Sherlock story A Scandal in Bohemia, but extends it and includes other mysteries. This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I look forward to more from the author.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bookish Review: Advent

I really enjoyed reading Advent. I think they are  promoting it as an adult novel, but the main protagonist is 15, so I think teens would enjoy it too. It is a twist on the legend of Dr. Faustus. As Faust is  trying  to wield all of the magic in the world, his ship sinks and he is buried, powerless.

Hundreds of years later, a young boy sees things that he is told are not real. He is sent by his parents to stay with his aunt, when weird things continue to happen. Soon, Dr. Faustus is unleashed on the world again, magic is back, and ordinary people start to see extraordinary things. A few powerful children willl have to fight Faust as he attempts to control all the magical power in the world--no matter the cost.

This is the start of a trilogy, and was quite a compelling read. Recommended.

Atria Books sent me a free galley copy of this book for review. Their generosity did not affect the content of the above review.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bookish Review: Mathilda Savitch

This book is not a beach read. I took it on vacation without really remembering/knowing what it was about. It's not light-hearted, it's not fun, and consequently I did not enjoy it very much. It is not poorly written, just depressing. Mathilda is an unreliable narrator, trying to deal with her family falling apart in the wake of her sister's death. Mathilda can no longer make sense of her life and doesn't know who to blame for her sister's death. Her mother is a depressed alcoholic, her father doesn't know what to do, and Mathilda is caught between crying out for attention and wanting to destroy herself.

This is not a fun read. But it's not poorly written. If you like depressing books, you may enjoy it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bookish Review: Imperfect Bliss

There have been many novels inspired by the works of Jane Austen and many modern-day "retellings," and perhaps no Austen novel is more often flattered by this treatment than Pride and Prejudice. Imperfect Bliss is another such novel, set in modern-day America and featuring a bi-racial family, the matriarch of which wants nothing more than to see her daughters marry well. This is an inventive re-telling: Bliss (parallel of Lizzie Bennett) is a divorced mother, a reality TV show is involved, and this American family is headed by an English father and Jamaican mother.This is an extremely light and fluffy read, but it is funny and a perfect beach read. It was a great take-along on my vacation. Austen fans who don't take riffs on her work as offensive, but rather enjoyable, should find this a fun, fast read.

Atria Books sent me a free galley copy of this book for review. Their generosity did not affect the content of the above review.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bookish Review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches is the story of Diana, an American witch in England, who tries to ignore her powers and  live life as  a normal human. However, when she inadvertently summons a magical tome that has been lost for centuries she attracts the attention of witches, vampires, and daemons--and such a gathering of magical creatures starts to attract human attention as well. One vampire in particular starts paying special attention to Diana, but she soon realizes he's a friend, not  a foe, and all her beliefs about magic and supernatural creatures may be wrong. But  witches and vampires are not supposed to be friends--so this starts a whole new mess of trouble...

An enjoyable romp; good vacation read. First  in a trilogy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bookish Review: The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters is the story of 3 approximately 30-something sisters whose lives have not turned out the way they wanted. Daughters of a prominent Shakespearean scholar, their semi-dysfunctional family communicates in the language of the bard. But it is hard to find the words when mom is battling cancer, the eldest is worried about her engagement falling apart, the middle daughter is a disgraced thief, and the youngest is a pregnant wanderer. All 3 are home together again for  the first time in years.

Some of the characters are annoying because they have gotten themselves in some stupid messes, but  the Shakespeare references are fun and you do come to care for the characters and hope they turn their lives around. Good read overall, nice ending.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bookish Review: A Dance with Dragons

The 5th book in the Game of Thrones Series (I know that's not the official series name, but it's how everyone knows it) was confusing, but good. I had forgotten that the book overlaps with the 4th, so I was very confused about the timeline at first. Once again, Martin introduces dozens of characters, so it's a challenge to keep them all straight. Despite the fact that I know no one is safe in Martin's books, he surprised me yet again with who he seemingly killed off in this one (can't be completely sure,but I'm 99% confident the person is dead). He always makes me want to throw the book across the room in a rage when he does that, but I keep reading! I was happy to see more of Arya,Tyrion, Bran, and John Snow in this one. Martin better get writing--I want #6!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bookish Review: The Lost Angel

This is the first book I've read by Sierra, and though it was by no means my favorite mystical/religious thriller, it did keep me turning pages. The book includes an interesting glossary of people and places used in the book, highlighting the historical research behind the fictional work, which I thought was a nice touch. The glossary did not always make completely clear which aspects of the definitions are based on the mythology in the novel and which are based in historical fact or belief, but it was still a good addition. The book involves psychic power and mystical stones that open up direct communication with God--but the stones can also wreak havoc and possibly bring about the end of the world.

The main character annoyed me a bit, as she gets used a lot in the book and eventually decides she's okay with that, which seemed an odd conclusion, but as I said, the book did keep me turning pages once I started. Definitely not my favorite book, but interesting. I'd guess people who liked his other book would probably like this one as well.

Thanks to Atria books for sending me an ARC of this title. Receiving a free copy did not affect my review.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cookish: What's for dinner?

This is a really easy and pleasing pasta dish:

My adaptations are below:

  • ounces dried bow tie and/or wagon wheel pasta
    2 medium avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and coarsely chopped
    6 slices bacon, crisp cooked, drained, and crumbled
    2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
    2 ears of corn, roasted, kernels cut from cob
    1 small tomato, chopped

    Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain

    Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese. Add the hot pasta and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with cheese. Makes 4 servings.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cookish: What's for dinner?

My boyfriend and I have taken to making our own pizza lately. Here's what we do:

I make my favorite tomato sauce, using whole tomatoes in a can, and add some  pizza seasoning (mostly oregano and basil) and crushed red pepper, and cook it down a little more than I would for pasta sauce and then use an immersion blender to get it smooth.

To make the dough (adapted from
1 tsp honey
1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast
3 cups bread flour (plus more for kneading)
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbs oil (plus extra for the bowl)

Stir the honey into the water to dissolve, then stir in yeast and let it sit for 5 mins, until foamy. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to mix well, then add the oil and yeast mixture and blend until a ball of dough forms. Next, knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minuted (good workout!). Put the dough in a large bowl and toss with a small amount of oil til coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size. punch down the dough, turn out onto a floured surface and cut into quarters. Roll into balls and place in the fridge for 10-48 hours  (I have done less time on occasion), or place in the freezer for longer storage (defrost in fridge overnight). Let come to room temp for 1 hour before stretching into pizzas.

These size dough balls make smallish pizzas,depending upon how thick you like your crust. My bf happily eats a whole one by himself; I usually have a piece or two leftover.

Preheat oven with pizza stone to 500 degrees. Top your pizza as desired (he likes tomato sauce, cheese, and pepperoni; I like olive oil and garlic, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, and cheese). Bake for 8-10 minutes each.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cookish: Something Sweet

Summer means berries, and I made two tasty berry desserts lately that I would like to share with you.

First my new favorite blueberry muffin recipe, from Joy the Baker:

The only changes I  made were using skim milk instead of whole milk and using only 1  1/2 cups of berries. They are awesome! She also has a new variation I haven't tried yet:

The next one is a berry pound cake from Smitten Kitchen:

I used blueberries & blackberries, because that is what I had, and divided the batter between a 6-cup bundt and a loaf pan, because I don't have a 10-cup bundt pan. I used frozen berries and made my own buttermilk (1 tbs vinegar to 1 cup millk; let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and you're good to go). It was delicious and pretty.

You can't go wrong with either recipe!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bookish Review: The Magnolia League

When Alex's mom dies, she is forcibly relocated from the commune in CA where she grew up to her grandmother's mansion in Savannah. Suddenly she is a part of "society," and her dread-headed self doesn't really fit in. Still, she comes to find that life as a rich debutante is not all bad--especilly when the elite society you've been born to join has magical connections--ones that can keep you rich and beautiful and make lfe easy. But it's never that simple, is it?

Alex is at times an infuriating protagonist, as she can be stupider than it seems her character should be. But I might find her less annoying if I were actually a teen. The book is pretty well-written and fast-paced if a little cliche at times. Of course, this is the first in a series, so don't expect a lot of closure after reading this first one.

I got an ARC of this at some conference or somewhere, so thanks to the publisher. It didn't affect my review.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Bookish review: Triangles

Triangles is by a best-selling YA author, but this book is for adults--mostly middle-aged women, to be precise. I'm surprised she didn't shoot more for the 20s-30s audience, to get some of the readers who started with her YA and grew up a bit, but there you go. The book is written in verse--an interesting format that I haven't read too often in books for adults. I'm not really the right demographic for this book, and it's all about broken and breaking marriages, which is not my favorite topic. Still, it is well-written, the format is interesting, and it is rather compelling. The problem is that most of the characters are not very likeable. (one of the main characters is a bored housewife who decides to cheat on her faithful husband in some odd and kinky ways, neglecting her children in the process. I pretty much wanted to punch her in the face, which one of the other protags does, too, so she justifies to herself sleeping with her cheating friend's husband--so then I wanted to punch her in the face, too.) So, like I said, I don't think I was really the audience for this book, but there definitely is an audience for it. So if you like femme-midlife-crisis stories, this is well-written and in an interesting format.

Thanks to Atria books for sending me an ARC of this title. Receiving a free copy did not affect my review.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bookish Review: The Mostly True Story of Jack

I picked up an ARC of this at  some conference, so thanks to the publisher! It did not affect my review.

I was expecting this book to be some sort of twist on Jack and the beanstalk, but it's not. Jack is a boy who doesn't believe in magic. He has no friends and no one seems to pay him any attention--even his parents don't really see him. When his parents start divorce proceedings, they bring him to stay with his aunt and uncle in a small town in Iowa, and strange things start happening. He makes friends for the first time and he starts to believe that maybe his parents aren't his parents after all, and maybe magical things can be non-fiction.

A fun read. Good for kiddos who like magic and nature. A little scary (souls are being stolen), but with a happy ending.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cookish: What's for dessert?

Almond & Jam Tart-mmmm.

This recipe is from and it works really well. It basically produces a giant shortbead cookie with jam and almonds. It reminds me of the Pepperidge farm cookies wih the jam in the middle.

I used plain ol' Smuckers strawberry for this--nothing fancy, though if you had fancy I am sure it would be even better. I did  use a little more than the 1/3 cup they suggest, just to get a nice even layer. It doesn't look like much, but the flavor definitely comes through. enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bookish Review: One of Our Thursdays is Missing

I'm a big fan of the Thursday Next, but be warned: this one is really for only hard-core book nerds. It's kind of meta-fiction, drowning in literary allusion and even typesetting humor--if you only occasionally dip your toe into reading, it's really not for you. The books are very complex, so make sure you start with the first one.

In this one, the real Thursday Next is missing and it is up to the written Thursday to figure it all out. She races through the Book World and even makes a foray into the real world to try to uncover the mystery--all while trying to keep control of her series.

Another fun one from Fforde. Fans of Thursday will enjoy it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bookish Giveaway!

The publishers of Illusion by Frank Peretti were kind enough to give me an ARC to give away! If you'd like to get your hands on it, just leave a comment and make sure you include your email address. If you're the winner, I'll email you for your address and send it off to you--US only, please. I just ask that after you read it, you write a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or your blog and send me a link so I can share it here. Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cookish: What's for dinner?

I wanted these potatoes:

Om nom nom.

So I made them with little Yukon Golds. To go with them, I cut up some cauliflower and tossed with oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. When the potatoes went back in on the top rack, I put the cauliflower on the bottom rack. When I moved the potatoes to the bottom rack, I moved the top rack down one rung and then roasted for 10 more minutes.

In the meantime, I cut some chicken breasts into nuggets, tossed with salt, pepper, and coated with dijon mustard. Then I coated them with a mixture of bread crumbs, parmesean cheese, and garlic powder. When the potatoes and cauliflower were done, I turned down the oven to 375 and baked the nuggets for 10-15 minutes.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bookish Review: A Red Herring Without Mustard

Flavia de Luce is at it again! More mayhem and murder are happening in Bishop's Lacey, and who will solve the mystery if not Flavia? Flavia is still dealing with her sisters' tormenting as well as her father's impending bankruptcy--and there are gypsies in town! Another entertaining romp from Bradley; Flavia is one of my favorite characters. Make sure you read the first two in the series before this one. I'm sure you'll love Flavia too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bookish Review: The Sisters Brothers

Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book. I don't remember why--maybe I won a contest? At any rate, the fact that I received a free copy did not affect my review.

I had read numerous glowing reviews of this book before I read it, but the descriptions didn't make it seem like my kind of story. A Western about a pair of assassin brothers? Not my usual cup of tea.

However, the reviews were right. The book is imminently readable and DeWitt has given the narrator a unique and compelling voice. It's a very different and unusual book, but I recommend it. DeWitt might consider a new author photo, though.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cookish: What's for Dessert?

Bread Pudding for 2

adapted from New Orleans Home Cooking by Dale Curry

1 egg
1 1/4 cups milk
3/8 cup sugar
1/2 Tbs vanilla
a couple dashes cinnamon
1/4 loaf day-old French bread, cut into chunks

Demerara sugar

Butter Pecan ice cream (or vanilla), optional

Mix eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add bread and stir. Allow to soak 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Divide the bread mixture between two medium ramekins or individual-sized Pyrex casserole dishes. Sprinkle demerara sugar on top. Bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and top with ice cream. Makes two generous servings.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bookish Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars is the latest from YA author John Green. I became a fan of the Green brothers through their YouTube channel ( long before I read any of John's books, so I was very excited when I heard that both John and his brother Hank were coming to my town on the Tour de Nerdfighting to promote this book. Even before it was released, this book was getting a ton of buzz and has been widely lauded as Green's best book to date, as well as being on the NYT bestseller list. John has said that he worked on this book for over a decade, and the end result is lovely. The book begins with a sense of doom, since the main character has terminal cancer. But, she's not dead yet, and the book talks a lot about how life changes and what your life should be--if it should be any different--knowing that it is about to be over. John has said that being a parent helped him write this, and the scenes with the parents of the terminal characters are some of the most heart-wrenching because what is more terrible than outliving your children? There are a few predictable and a few outrageous scenes, but overall the book is funny and touching and heart-breaking and very hard to put down. Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bookish Review: P is for Peril

P is for Peril is the latest addition to Sue Grafton's series. I have read other books in the series, but it has been so many years since I read one, I could not even tell you which ones, though I am fairly certain A is for Alibi was among them. The main character, Kinsey Milhone, is a private investigator. In this one, she has been charged with finding a doctor who just disappeared, seemingly into thin air. There is also a side plot line involving the new landlords she gets herself involved in. Some things are rather far-fetched, but it's overall a quick, pretty enjoyable read. You can absolutely jump into the series with virtually no problems from not having read the earlier works. Not a must-read, but not bad.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bookish Review: Learning to Breathe

Memoirists face the danger of coming off as self-absorbed, neurotic, or both. In Learning to Breathe, Priscilla comes off mainly as neurotic, but I don't think she'd argue too much with that description. She's mostly more likable than Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), though the book is not quite as compelling. Priscilla struggled for most of her life with panic attacks, and the book covers her exploration into meditation (among other things) to try to gain control of her life and her breath. My own prejudices gave me a hard time deciding how I felt about this book. On the one hand, Priscilla has a pretty great life and I was often thinking, "Suck it up!" or "What do you have to be panicking about?" On the other hand, although I have never had a panic attack, I have had asthma attacks, and the inability to breathe is a VERY scary feeling. To have that come on suddenly and frequently such that you felt you could not trust your own body and felt somewhat hijacked in your own life--that is nothing to scoff at. In addition, I sometimes have trouble reading about the granola-crunchy benefits of meditation and chakras and yoga, while at the same time, I practice yoga semi-frequently and find that it can do amazing things. I don't know if it is my Western mentality struggling with Eastern ideas, or if I am too much of a pragmatist most of the time to be thinking about clearing energy channels (which requires more openness and imagination) without rolling my eyes. Still, I think Priscilla's story might be helpful for those who suffer from panic attacks or who are looking for a source of calm. Definitely not a must-read, but it could be beneficial for some.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bookish Review: Falling for Hamlet

Falling for Hamlet retells Shakespeare's "Hamlet" from Ophelia's point of view, set in the present day. In this one, Ophelia is not crazy and doesn't kill herself, just pretends to. The book is sprinkled with lines from the play (and some from other Shakespeare plays), but the majority is re-written prose. Hamlet is a college student and Ophelia is a modern-day high schooler who lives in the building with the royal family. They're together, though their families do not approve. When Hamlet's father dies, things start to fall apart. The book was an enjoyable read, and the transition of the classic story to the present-day is pretty well done. It seems this could be used to pique teen's interest in the play.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cookish: Snacktime


3 ripe Haas avocados
1/2 medium tomato, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
grated onion
garlic powder

Slice the avocados in half, remove the pit, and spoon the flesh into a bowl. If your avocados are not perfectly ripe, you can chop them, but if they're really ripe, they'll be pretty mashable just as they are. add the lemon juice (you can add more if 1/2 is not enough). Add salt, pepper, and a few shakes of garlic powder (or granulated garlic). Use your microplane grater and grate a couple teaspoons of onion juice in. (You can just add chopped onion, if you like. I don't really like chunks of raw onion, so this is my alternative.) Mash the avocados to the desired consistency and stir in the tomatoes. You can also add a few shakes of Tabasco. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bookish Review: Seven Sorcerers

Seven Sorcerers is the start to a series, so don't expect a very tidy ending. This middle-grade novel involves a girl, Nim, who wakes up to find that every trace of her brother has disappeared and she is the only one who remembers him. He's been snatched by a bogeyman, and she is the next on the list. She joins up with another kidnapped child who managed to escape the bogeyman's grasp and goes on a quest to find her brother and return everyone's memories of him and her. They travel through a magical world fueled by human's hopes and fears that is slowly dying, encountering magical creatures and danger along the way. Nim is a very likeable character, and it's a pretty good read. Recommended for fans of Fablehaven. (It is not, as one person told me it was supposed to be, "the next Harry Potter.")

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bookish Review: Second Glance

I think this may be my favorite Jodi Picoult novel yet (she's written a lot more than I've read, but I have read a few). Her books are usually somewhat hard to read and tackle difficult topics. This one focuses on a ghost story, which was an interesting departure. It also touches on suicide, eugenics, selective breeding, rare diseases, discrimination against American Indians, and love--so, you know, nothing too complicated or controversial! It's set in Vermont and weaves together stories from the 1930s through today, mainly focusing on the impact loved ones can have on us, what family means, and some paranormal activity. Quite an enjoyable read and not as bleak as some she's written. Oh, and the eugenics information she includes is based on real-life happenings in the 30s, which I had not heard about. Pretty interesting--and scary.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bookish Review: One Day

One Day is a book that was made into a movie; I watched the movie first, I am sorry to say. I can't resist Anne Hathaway. At any rate, I have now read the book, too! First, I'll tell you that the movie actually sticks remarkably close to the plot of the book, which doesn't often happen, so well-done to the filmmakers. The story is about Emma and Dexter, two college acquaintances who hook up on the night of graduation and then become friends. The story is told by focusing on the same date every year and tracing their friendship, more-than-friendship, not-even-friendship saga. It is pretty well-written and enjoyable, but bittersweet, as might be expected. Both the book and the movie are recommended; read the book first. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cookish: Dinner time

So, this "recipe" is not really exact. It was more an effort to use up some leftovers from the pasta spinach bake a little while ago. As such, I didn't measure anything, and you could change all of the amounts anyway, depending upon how many you're feeding, so here are just some general guidelines:

Pesto (I used a couple spoonfuls)
Toasted pecans (a handful, broken into pieces or chopped)
Whole wheat pasta (I had less than 1/2 pkg of egg noodles)
Cream cheese (a tablespoon or two, just enough to add some creaminess)
Chicken (I defrosted 3 boneless, skinless tenders)
Peas ( about 1/2 cup)
salt, pepper, red pepper, garlic powder (to taste)

I cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, seasoned it, and sauteed til cooked through. Meanwhile, I cooked and drained the pasta. Then, I tossed everything together. Easy, tasty!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bookish Review: The Family Fang

The Family Fang is an interesting book about the damage parents can inflict on their children and whether those children can overcome the damage. Mr. and Mrs. Fang are performance artists and when they have children, the children become an integral part of the art. They refer to their children as Child A and Child B more often than their actual names and the question becomes whether they actually love their children or just love what they can do for their art. When their parents disappear, Annie and Buster must determine whether something has actually happened to them or if this is just another piece of art, and whether they should go along with it this time or not.

I wouldn't call this a fun read, but it is interesting and pretty well-written.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bookish Review: The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag

Flavia DeLuce is one of my favorite characters. First seen in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, she returns in this book to solve another mystery. A precocious 11-year-old, Flavia is ever trying to poison her older sisters, who torment her in many ways, under the nose of their inattentive philatelist father. Flavia misses nothing and her observations and machinations are always entertaining. This one is highly recommended, and I hope to find the time soon to read the others in the series.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cookish: Dinner time

Chicken Tortilla soup

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
lemon (you could use lime, I just happened to have lemon)
1/2 onion
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
3 chicken tenders
5 cloves garlic
1 box chicken broth
chili powder
Sazon seasoning (optional)
tortilla chips
jarred jalepenos (reserve 1 tbs of liquid)
hot sauce, to taste

I've made tortilla soup many times and many different ways. It usually fluctuates based on what I have on hand. Here's what I did this time:

I heated a little oil in a large saucepan and sauteed 1/4 onion, chopped, and 3 whole garlic cloves along with the cumin, chili powder, and sofrito. Meanwhile, I used the tomatoes, remaining 1/2 onion, garlic, jalapenos, and lemon juice to make this salsa.

I added the liquid from the tomatoes, the tbs of jalepeno liquid, and the chicken broth to the pan, and added the carrots and celery. I allowed that to cook for a few minutes and then added the cut-up chicken, 1/4 cup of salsa, and corn. I would also add black beans to this, but I didn't happen to have any. I let that simmer for 15 minutes, added salt and pepper to taste, and voila! To serve, I topped with crushed tortilla chips, cheese, an extra squeeze of lemon, hot sauce,  and diced avocado.