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.