Category Archives: LibraryThing
In the fall of 1944, a massive American bomber carrying eleven men vanished over the Pacific islands of Palau, leaving a trail of mysteries. According to mission reports from the Army Air Forces, the plane crashed in shallow water—but when investigators went to find it, the wreckage wasn’t there. Witnesses saw the crew parachute to safety, yet the airmen were never seen again. Some of their relatives whispered that they had returned to the United States in secret and lived in hiding. But they never explained why. (From Amazon and book jacket)
I enjoyed reading the back stories of the 11 men from missing B-24 crew lost over the Islands of Palau in World War II. The story kept me captivated, wondering throughout the book if they would find the remains or clues about the Big Stoop Crew.
Prominently highlighted were the stories of Jimmie Doyle and Johnny Moore (two of the airmen) and you had a feeling of knowing them, feeling compassion for the families they reluctantly left behind. Jimmie Doyle’s son Tommy went through life second guessing whether his father had survived and lived in California with a new family (a cruel rumor that haunted him) or if his father perished in the sea.
Tommy Doyle’s wife was relentless in her quest to find information about her husband’s father, knowing what anguish he quietly suffered for years and years about his father’s disappearance. It was through some of her research and phone calls, one in particular to Pat Scanlon, which enabled that family to be so involved (with information updates) in the hunt for the missing plane.
“Something inside him was changed, but he couldn’t place what. He had come to the islands to escape the pressures of daily life, yet he found himself overcome by purpose. Somewhere nearby, young men died. They had come spirally down in a plane with one wing and probably either died on impact or drowned in the sea.
Were the remains still resting in the carcass of the plane? And where was the plane? Did the families know?”
This consumed the next twenty years of his life. “I just came around that bend in the coral,” he would say, “and I was a different person.”
Also of interest to me was learning of the American military’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and their never ending research to recover the remains of U.S. servicemen and women missing in action. There are some very moving stories in this book.
There wasn’t any food in the book and this was clearly not a foodie memoir. Reading about the men and the simple lives they lived before being called to war and thinking about the time period they lived in, I chose a simple casserole. Chicken Divan is a type of Sunday supper or toss together meal made from chicken leftovers. It’s homey, it’s a meal of a bygone era. It would have been something the Doyle family sat down to share and talk about their day.
*Chicken Divan Casserole*
Serves 4 to 6, depending on appetites
A delicious casserole that is not only simple to make but inexpensive as well. Also a great way to get your broccoli intake (I say this in case you are among the many who do not like broccoli)! You can use low fat ingredients you can also keep it healthy.
1 medium head of fresh broccoli
About a pound and a half of chicken tenders, rotisserie or whatever chicken meat you like
salt and pepper to taste
1 bay leaf
2 cups cooked or steamed basamati rice
For the sauce:
2 TBS butter
2 TBS plain flour
2 cups of milk (use skim to keep it lower calorie. I use 1% milk)
1 chicken boullion cube
4 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese
2 TBS finely grated Parmesan cheese
salt and white pepper to taste
a handful of crushed crackers (about 1 cup)
2 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese (1/2 cup)
2 TBS finely grated Parmesan cheese
Place the chicken into a saucepan along with cold water to cover. Add some salt and black pepper, the bay leaf and a splash of hot pepper sauce. Bring to the boil. Take off the heat, cover and set aside to cool.
Wash and trim the broccoli. Break up into bite sized florets. Peel the stems and cut into chunks. Steam until crispy tender, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Melt the butter for the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring for one minute. Whisk in the warm milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Crumble in the boullion cube and whisk in along with the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Taste and add salt and white pepper to taste. Keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Open the rice and sprinkle it over the bottom of the dish. Drain the chicken and break into pieces, sprinkle this over the rice. Top with the broccoli florets and stems. Nap the top with the warm cheese sauce, covering everything completely and allowing it to sink down into the casserole dish. Mix together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle them evenly over top of the casserole. If desired, spritz lightly with cooking spray.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until heated through, bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Delicious!
More on the author:
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“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted.…And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.”—Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
The Eat and Love part in the title had me very hopeful.
OMG did I ever hate this book. First off, I will state that I love the way Elizabeth Gilbert writes. She has a talent. This lady can string words and paragraphs together as an artist. But do I like the character Elizabeth ? No….not really.
This woman is whiny. It’s no wonder David puts her at arm’s length. Do you know any man who loves a clingy woman? Her ex-husband must have a good story too. While the author does not go into his side of things (and that is fair enough) some of the comments attributed to him are quite telling:
“You are a cheat and traitor,” he tells her as they try and discuss the impending divorce.
For me, her story about talking to god was neither attention grabbing nor dull. I couldn’t relate to it or understand her near hysterical bouts of crying and insecurity.
Liz Gilbert very much needed to be defined by something, to connect to something. If she had never seen the framed photo of David’s spiritual teacher, perhaps Liz may have stumbled upon something else to focus her life. It’s as if she grabbed at the first “deep” or “cool” path she encountered. Ok, here’s an example from part seven in the beginning:
“I walked into David’s apartment and saw this picture on his dresser of a radiantly beautiful Indian woman and I asked, “Who’s that?”
He said, “My spiritual teacher.”
My heart skipped a beat and then flat out tripped over itself and fell on its face. Then my heart stood up…took a deep breath and announced: “I want a spiritual teacher.”
I literally mean my heart itself, and my mind stepped out of my body for a moment, spun around to face my heart in astonishment and silently asked, “You DO?”
“Yes,” replied my heart. “Since WHEN?”
My god, I wanted a spiritual teacher. I immediately began constructing a fantasy of what it would be like to have one.”
End of Quote
Oh. My. Constructing a fantasy of what it would be like…. sounds like a childish dream of fantasizing what it would be like to date a movie star, or own a horse, or whatever you dream might be “cool” to have in your life. But a spiritual journey on a whim? I didn’t get that.
I’m imagining if David had a framed photo of orphans in South America whom he “adopted” through an infomercial, Liz may have flown to Columbia and built them a village and fixed their teeth.
She was fortunate though ( or lucky, or however you’d like to define her financial situation) as not every woman who isn’t satisfied with her life can pick up and travel to other countries to “find themselves”.
In the next section she had her palm read and followed the advice given. Hmmmmm….
By section 10 she has moved to Italy on the first leg of her journey. She’d quit her job and paid off legal bills, given up her apartment and started her year of travel. Know how she did that? I quote from section 10:
“And I can actually afford to do this because of a staggering personal miracle: in advance, my publisher has purchased the book I shall write about my travels.”
If someone would pay me a “staggering amount” to write about a trip and the foods and my thoughts – I too could afford to make my spiritual journey.
The section on Indonesia was never ending.
Again, I love the way this author can thread words into an intelligent and lovely story. But the whining. The self-absorbed soul searching and crying. It was a real turnoff for me. People seem to either love this book or hate it. What do I think? Guess.
I was inspired to make something Italian because I love Italian food. And it’s a comfort food for me. I deserved it.
Recipe may be found at my Squirrel Head Manor site.
I am placing this review on the Italy in Reading 2011 site. This completes my fourth book in the challange.
I received this book free through Goodreads First Reads.
The main character of the book is Sally Ketchem. She learned to fly from her boyfriend, Tex Jones. Tex is dead at the beginning of this novel, Sally reflecting on the horrible plane crash that killed him and nearly killed her as well. What Tex gave Sally was the confidence to fly and take chances. She left behind the poverty and discrimination of her home in Texas after her alcoholic father dies, applying for the WASP program due to her love of flying
The women pilots who volunteered for the WASP program received none of the benefits accorded to male pilots, or any male serving in the US military. They were to fly planes and ferry them from one station to another, leaving the male enlisted pilots to fight and fly into battle. Many of the women had superior skills compared to some of their male counterparts, yet they were discriminated against as many of the men felt a female had no place in the cockpit.
When one woman pilot is killed, the other female students are shocked to find that as a civilian, the the military was not required to pay for her funeral or even for her remains to be sent home. All the pilots pitched in and when it came to the attention of Jacqueline Cochran, head of the woman’s aviation department, she arranged for donations as well. They collected enough money to send her remains home by train.
The character named Waterman, a lawyer hired by Congress to find a way to shut down the WASP program, turns out to be a villain in more ways than one. There is a twist at the end that puts all the pieces together regarding his hate of Sally Ketchum.
Lots of other interesting characters are developed in this book, other women choosing to become pilots and from all walks of life.
It wasn’t until 1979 that women of the WASP program were granted recognition and veteran status for their service to the military. If you have a chance to check out the women of WASP I’d recommend it. It’s a good story. After reading more about the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) program I realized the author really did his homework.
One scene in particular highlighted a delight of food. Two pilots who needed to make a forced landing in a famer’s field were treated to some home cooked meals. It was the first good food they’d had in awhile and they were encouraged to eat as much as they wished. Memories of their life before they entered the Army (and it’s structured and scant meal offerings) were warmly revisited. There is nothing like a loaf of homemade bread.
Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor
It felt more like reading a blog about Laura Ingalls and the Little House journey rather than a non-fiction book you could get your teeth into. Does that make any sense? I just didn’t get into this book as I hoped.
The writing was stream of consciousness and jumped around on subjects. Also, the author is rather dismissive of the television series and that seems to bleed over in her opinion of the show’s fans. I had hoped for more detail on the food she prepared – more description.
For a positive comment I will say I love the idea of Wendy making a trip to explore the Little House culture, walking around the land where the real Laura lived.
Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor
First off, I would like to thank you Janel of Janel’s Jumble for becoming a follower of Novel Meals!
Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is a semi-autobiographical novel set in Italy during World War I. The main character, Frederic Henry, is an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian Army. Henry’s attitude is hard to define – he looks at everything so matter-of-fact. Not a positive or negative side.
Early on he meets English nurse Catherine Barkley and falls in love. The rain, and I mean actual rain..…precipitation …ought to have been written about as a character it showed up so much. Once he falls in love with Catherine he wants nothing else but to get away from the war and start their life together. In the meantime Henry’s life changes further during an attack in which a mortar hits his leg, seriously wounding him and killing Passini.
“I ate the end of my piece of cheese and took a swallow of wine. Through the other noise I heard a cough, then came the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh- then there was a flash, as when a blast-furnace door is swung open, and a roar that started white and went red and on and on in a rushing wind.”
Henry gets sent to a hospital in Milan where he seems to wait an eternity to see a doctor. I’m thinking the leg is going to be amputated at this point. Catherine shows up at the hospital and you know then, they are committed to one another. They spend the summer in Milan as Henry recuperates.
Catherine states to Henry that she’s always been afraid of the rain. Henry pesters her to explain why and she banters, “Don’t make me” “Tell me” “No” and this goes on a bit.
And then she says,
“I’m afraid of the rain because sometimes I see me dead in it.”
“And sometimes I see you dead in it”
“That’s more likely, “ he tells her.
“It’s all nonsense. I’m not afraid of the rain. I’m not afraid of the rain. Oh, oh god I wish I wasn’t” She was crying. I comforted her and she stopped crying. But outside it kept on raining.
It’s almost like Catherine could see part of her future.
After Henry escapes an interrogation which, he knows, will end with his execution, he finds Catherine again and they escape to Switzerland. Catherine is pregnant now and they go to live in Lausanne as it is close to a hospital. The labor is hard and long and sadly, the baby is stillborn. To make it more tragic, Catherine starts hemorrhaging and dies. Henry is by her side through all of it. It was awful to read those last pages.
After Catherine dies, he walks back to his hotel room in the rain. That’s the end. Really sad.
“I sat down on the chair in front of a table where there were nurses’ reports hung on clips at the side and looked out of the window. I could see nothing but the dark and the rain falling across the light from the windows. So that was it. The baby was dead.” Chapter 41
“It seems she had one hemorrhage after another. They couldn’t stop it. I went into the room and stayed with Catherine until she died. She was unconscious all the time, and it did not take her very long to die.” Chapter 41
So many images that made you sad. In thinking of the meals and food items mentioned, I just didn’t’ want to make the sauerkraut and ham which were one of Henry’s meals in the last chapter.
I decided to prepare pasta asciutta as this was a meal Henry shared with Gordini, Manera, Gavuzzi and Passini before they were attacked and wounded.
“I took out my knife, opened it, wiped off the blade and pared off the dirty outside surface of the cheese. Gavuzzi handed me the basin of macaroni.”
“Start in to eat, Tenente”
“No,” I said, “ put it on the floor. We’ll all eat.”
“There are no forks.”
“What the hell, “ I said in English. I cut the cheese into pieces and laid them over the macaroni. “Sit down to it,” I said. They sat down and I waited. I put my thumb and fingers into the macaroni and lifted. A mass loosened.
“Lift it high, Tenente.”
I lifted it to arms length and the strands cleared…….took a bite of cheese, chewed, and then a drink of wine.
Recipe may be found at Life in the Slow Lane at Squirrel Head Manor.
I am linking to Italy in Reading Challenge. This completes my third book in the challenge.
Radishes with butter and sea salt, grilled lamb sausages, smoky eggplant and flatbread. Some of those delectable images are a far cry from what my own childhood dinner table offered. I am missing the lamb sausages but continue to dream about acquiring such.
WARNING: Some Spoilers
Reading this memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton, a fellow Pennsylvanian, was a treat. The first few chapters, where she talks about crossing the state lines between Jersey and PA could have been written by one of my childhood pals. For me, growing up in the tri-state area running between Pennsylvania, Delaware and Jersey (not to mention how close Maryland was for us) this portion of the memoir spoke to me…….so much, that I Googled an image of Gabrielle to be sure I didn’t grow up with her. Really! The experiences she had from say….10 years through 17 – mirror some of my own. Nuff said.
There are just so many chapters in this book that I enjoyed that it’s hard to tack one down as a favorite. Her unconventional upbringing by a French ex-ballet dancer mother and good ol’ Pennsylvanian craftsman were a treat to read. I will admit to wanting to know more about her brothers whom she did not write about very much. Except Todd…and even then, she didn’t share much. Her sister played a bigger role in Gabrielle’s life and evidently still does.
When her parents started the road toward divorce and mom moved out – young teenager Gabrielle and her brother Simon were abandoned at the family home/farm. Dad disappeared, wallowing in grief over his broken marriage. Simon also disappeared and Gabrielle made do …living on the canned goods and eggs and anything she found at her home to survive. Lying about her age to get a job at a restaurant (been there, done that) she had her first taste of the food industry.
Moving way on in the book, when she was in college working on her Masters degree, she landed back into the catering business to supplement her income while finishing her coursework. That is when she met Misty and realizing way later on ….. Misty was her mentor. Unbeknownst to both of them….but nonetheless true. They worked together in the catering kitchen preparing cold smoked chicken with apricot glaze and sirloin tips in molasses black-pepper sauce ….quietly moving through the prep, cooking, set ups in comfortable silences many times. But getting to know Misty in her natural environment awakened something in Gabrielle.
“My resolve to start a new kitchen-free life was further weakening in the direct warmth of Misty’s home style of cooking, her bumpy misshapen tomatoes ripening on her back steps, her cabbages shredded and broken down with salt and vinegar, her hunks of pork swimming in smoky, deep, earthy juices. Unwittingly, she was un-tethering me from my ten-pound knife kit, propane torches and ring molds and showing me that what I had been doing these past twenty years – and what I had come to think of as cooking – was just the impressive fourteen-ring string of a twelve-year old exhaling her first lungfuls of a Marlboro.
Nothing more than tricks of the trade. She was waking me, in her nearly monosyllabic way, out of a dark and decades-long amnesia.”
When Gabrielle walked through the wreckage of what would become her restaurant, Prune, she had images of her childhood and hoped to share some of the important ones with future patrons. “I might serve walnuts from the Perigord and a small perfect tangerine so that the restaurant patrons could also sit at their table after the meal and squeeze the citrus peel into the candle flame to make fragrant blue and yellow sparks as I had done on my mother’s lap as a child.”
So by dusk that evening, she decided to have a second look around the property.
She gets energized just thinking about cooking in her restaurant:
“Every time I step in front of those burners, in that egregiously tight space, less than 12 inches between the wall I am backed up against and the burning stovetop in front of me, I feel like we are two boxers—me and the heat—meeting in the center of the ring to tap gloves.”
The storyline involving her dating life with an Italian doctor, he being 10+ years older than she, was something you just can’t make up. Dr. Michele Fuortes, a teacher and researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College , was wooing a lesbian so he may bed the 35 year old chef-owner of Prune and persuade her to marry him for US citizenship. As this courtship heats up, Gabrielle is still living with her girlfriend and still working her ass off at Prune. They had an unconventional courtship and marriage.
Some of my favorite chapters were her interactions with her mother-in-law Alda. It was clear Alda was beloved by her Italian family and Gabrielle fell in love with her too. Even without the fluency in Italian she could see, by actions, how the people coming to see Alda held her in great esteem with respect and kindness. As she studied her mother-in-law, and cooked beside her (cooking being a common language of its own) Gabrielle knew she needed to teach her young sons, Marco and Leone, about their Italian side. About kindness and respect. “Somehow, July with Alda and the Fuortes family has become the most important and anticipated month of my year.”
I was between a few meals which I was inspired to prepare after reading this book. But ultimately it came down to the love and shared experiences between Gabrielle and Alda. – a rich meaty eggplant dish with the appropriate accompaniments.
If you enjoyed Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, I think you’ll devour this book. It was hard to put down.
Happy Reading !
Links for more on Gabrielle Hamilton:
NY Times Articles and more links!
From the Washington Post:
“Like Bourdain, she strips the work of restaurateuring – and catering before it – down to its least glamorous realities. There are maggot-filled rats to deal with, a neighbor wanting to talk about the water bill during the chaos of the Sunday brunch rush, a line cook giving eight days’ notice when Hamilton is nine months pregnant.”
This is the first book I have read by author Stephen Mansfield and I can report that I found it very interesting. It was Guinness that attracted me to the book cover and upon picking it up, found I had read several pages whilst leaning against the bookshelves at my local library. Why not bring it home?
This is story about the humble beginnings for Arthur Guinness’ career in brewing beer. While many people are under the impression that Arthur started up the family business after acquiring long lease on St James Gate, you will be quite engaged to read about the real beginnings of his brewing experience. Arthur had roughly 25 years of experience before he started up at St James Gate. As a matter of fact, he brought hops from his family home in Celbridge and began brewing in Dublin after years of experience with his father and on his own talent.
The company treated the employees very well. You’ve read or heard about the benefits provided by Google to their employees? The Guinness family were the precursors for that business model.
Each of the facts I listed below is written about in detail in this book, telling of the circumstances.
From the book
Some Guinness facts:
* More than ten million glasses of Guinness are consumed each day worldwide. That is nearly two billion pints a year.
* In 1759, Arthur Guinness founded the Guinness brewery in Dublin by signing a lease for famous property St James Gate – a lease that has given him rights to that property for nine thousand years!
* It is a myth that the water for brewing Guinness comes from the River Liffey. Most of the water comes from the streams of the Wicklow Mountains which lies just south of Dublin .
* A Guinness worker during the 1920s enjoyed full medical and dental care, massage services, reading rooms, subsidized meals, a company funded pension, subsidies fro funeral expenses, educational benefits, free concerts and lectures and a guaranteed two pints of Guinness beer a day.
* During World War I, Guinness guaranteed all of its employees who served in uniform that their jobs would be waiting for them when they returned home. Guinness also paid half salaries to the family of each man who served.
* A Guinness chief medical officer, Dr John Lumsden, personally visited thousands of Dublin homes in 1900 and used what he learned to help the company fight disease, squalor and ignorance. These efforts also led to the establishment of the Irish version of the Red Cross, for which Dr. Lumsden was knighted by King George V.
Guinness was known for its care of its employees, One Guinness family member who headed the brewery said, “You cannot make money from people unless you are willing for people to make money from you.”
There were so many, “Oh I didn’t know that, how interesting” moments that I would stop and call out to Doug, “Listen to this” and proceed to share parts of this book.
We had been fortunate to have a family vacation in Ireland that took us to Arthur Guinness’ hometown of Celbridge and we enjoyed a pint there, talking to the bar maid about the town history, sipping our pints in the old pub on a chilly afternoon. We also took a tour of the brewery in Dublin and have our photo at the famous St James Gate. The tour was great but I wish I had read this book prior to going to Ireland .
A good read – I recommend it!
On to the Beef and Guinness Pie.
I made this (and read the book) a bit before I am posting this review. What with medical issues for our beloved shiba inu, everything else took a back seat while we got a handle on the problems. Without further wait – please enjoy the following!
1/4 pound of bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
2 lb of chuck roast chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 red onion, diced
2 carrots, medium chunks
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 red or green bell pepper (I used green, sliced in tiny pieces)
8 ounces of sliced mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 TB or chopped rosemary (my son brought home freshly cut rosemary!)
1 bottle or can of Guinness
1 cup of beef stock
1 box of puff pastry
2 cups of cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Dredge the chunks of chuck roast in flour. Shake off excess.
Over medium heat cook the bacon, then remove and leave the grease in the pan. Add the chuck roast with some salt and pepper. Cook in batches if you need to so you do not crowd the pan.
Pour all but 1 TB of the fat out of the pan and add in the onion, carrot, celery, and green pepper. Add salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook till softened (about 5 minutes) then add garlic and cook for another minute.
Add in the Guinness and bring to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen stuck bits. Add the stock, rosemary, thyme, bacon and chuck roast back into the pan.
Put the pan in the oven uncovered and cook till the chuck roast is tender (about 1 1/2 hours). Add more stock or beer if needed to be sure your dutch oven does not dry up before the meat is done. Once the meat is done remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Stir in the 2 cups of cheese.
Butter a pie pan or a pan that is 8-10 inches by a couple inches deep. Roll out a piece of puff pastry big enough to cover the pan with a little overhang. Pour the Guinness beef mixture into this. Beat the egg and spread it over the edges of the pan.
Roll out another piece of puff pastry large enough to cover the pan.
Slice through, making light slashes through the top. Place this piece on top and push down on the edges to seal. Brush the top with the beaten egg. Place in the oven till the puff pastry is golden brown (about 30-40 minutes).
I am placing this review on Goodreads and Librarything.
Hope you enjoyed this as much I enjoyed writing and eating!
Thank you so much to Kate, Nicole and The Blue Faerie for becoming followers of my blog. Happy Reading!
Warning: The are spoilers.
This is a story of three siblings – Alice, Griffin and Dinah Stenen – and how their adults lives intersect. It is also a story of exceptional loss and inner sadness. Common theme that seems unremarkable? It might have been if they were not all haunted by their (mostly) unspoken thoughts regarding the deaths of their parents when they were very young.
The mother, whom you do not get to know in life fell off a stool in her kitchen, hit her head, and died when Alice was 7, Griffin was 4 and Dinah was a baby. The children, incidentally, are all named after characters from Alice in Wonderland.
The father, James, is a Classics professor. He takes care of the kids best he can and one day, when they are in Greece (where he is happily researching ancient vases and vessels) James drops dead from a heart attack. Dead. The kids are shuttled back to the States to take up life without either parent.
This sounds depressing, no? But all of that happens in the very first part of the book so you have an appreciation for the loss the children share. Not once in their young lives but twice – they are robbed of a parent.
In their own ways, each child thinks about the person they may have developed into had at least one of their parents lived to guide them through life. The loss haunts them constantly.
Alice is an actress in New York, a very popular one cast in many plays. She can not commit to a relationship until she meets her new neighbor Ian. But Ian has a son and while Alice is hands off at first, she falls in love with the four-year-old.
Griffin and his partner Theo are settled into the happiest relationship (at first….wait for it) and live in a world of seemingly domestic bliss. Problem with them – Theo wants to adopt a child and Griffin doesn’t want to be a father. A divide in the relationship is evident and deepens when Griffin meets a hot neighbor named Ray. Ray is the anti-Theo and Griffin is interested.
Dinah, the youngest, has an affair – very uncharacteristic of her I must say – and of course, she gets pregnant. The father is engaged to someone else and Dinah decides to keep her pregnancy from him.
A strange part of the book is the intrusion of the dead parents, looking in on their offspring from a sort of heaven. They float around and see others that have died, gaining entry into the limbo-ish place they inhabit. Huh.
Why would you read this book after reading my review – because the charachters come together. They are there for each other even though each one is lost with their own problems, some which are not shared with one another.
I received this book as an advance readers copy from Goodreads. It will be available in store March 2011. Personally, I would be willing to read another of this author’s books.
The loss of a parent is a horrible thing, particularly when you have had a good relationship. I miss both my parents very much and the very smell of a cologne or aroma of fresh bread is enough to mentally transport me to the kitchen of my childhood.
Whole Wheat Honey Bread
2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 TB active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 or 5 cups all purpose flour
Disolve yeast in warm water. Add honey and stir well.
Mix in whole wheat flour, salt and vegetable oil.
Work AP flour in gradually.
Turn dough out onto floured surface, knead 10 minutes.
When dough is smooth and elastic, place in oiled bowl. Turn the dough so it’s oiled. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.
Punch dough down, shape into two loaves. Place in well greased 9×5 inch loaf pans. Let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes.
Be prepared to be awed by the aroma of comfort if such a thing may be smelled.
One of my favorites – fresh bread with a good quality marmalade.
Many moons ago, back in January 2009, I stumbled upon the Cook the Books website and was immediately struck that this was a brilliant creation, an outstanding website. Of course I say that because I love to read, love to cook, love to eat and love to write. If you have the same interests, please check out the website HERE
Once I dipped my proverbial toe into The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber , I was hooked.
From The Language of Baklava I have prepared several recipes and they were quite good. I loved the Distract Your Neighbors Chicken even though the grill looked like an inferno as the honey dripped onto the hot coals, sending flames licking up the sides of the Weber and all around the sticky chicken.
One of the recipes I had copied and planned to make, several times, was Eat it Now Shish Kabob. The sizzling meat, burning fingers as it was gingerly and hurriedly pulled from the hot skewer sounded mouth watering. A few times we’ve bought the lamb and last minute made something else.
Eat it Now Shish Kabob
4 TB Olive Oil
2 TB red wine vinegar
½ cup red wine
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons rosemary
Salt and pepper
2 lbs. boneless lamb, cut in small cubes
1 large onion, cut into chunks
1 large tomato, cut into chunks
Whisk together the oil, wine, vinegar, garlic and spices in a large bowl.
Add meat and stir to coat.
Cover and refrigerate overnight, turn occasionally.
Thread cubes of lamb on skewers, occasionally adding a piece of onion or tomato. Look at the kabobs…all ready for the charcoal grill.
Grill over hot coals, turning once. Cook to medium rare and eat while sizzling.
Grill for roughly 8 minutes for medium rare……..
Pair with a Shiraz…because Shiraz just goes sooo well with lamb. Pita bread and hummus. Salad……
Eating well, having fun, enjoying good company and a bottle of wine is as pleasurable an evening as you can hope for.
Please do check out the Cook the Books blog. Read and cook if it suits you or be a silent lurker like me And definitely try this lamb. Mmmmmm
Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters and Fields – American Terroir - a book by Rowan Jacobsen which Library Thing very kindly sent me to review.
Terroir, a French term usually associated with wine is about, in Jacobson’s words “the taste of place.”
You read about the history, science and culture in an entertaining way. It is succinct and imparts the information of how and why some foods taste the way do but it’s not overly scientific.
Almost all chapters of this book are devoted to specific foods in specific regions (terrior) for example maple syrup in Vermont, varietal honeys in Apalachicola area (special to me because I live in the area), Totten Inlet oysters from Washington, wines in California and many other specialties. There are color photos midway through the book – I love the one of the Florida bee swarm.
My only complaint would be that the book does not have an index. It sure is nice to go back and find a particular item and as a result, my book is littered with tiny slices of paper so bookmark my favorite spots.
Included in the chapters Jacobsen adds a recipe, highlighting the star of the chapter. I have prepared several. Here is one, the Maple Carmelized Apples.
Please Note: All recipes are from American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen
4 TB butter
¼ cup maple syrup
6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Zest and juice from 1/8 lemon
Heat butter and maple syrup in skillet over medium heat until bubbling.
Add apples and cinnamon, toss to coat in butter-syrup mixture and cook, stirring and turning apples occasionally, until they are browned and soft but not mushy. This should take 6 to 8 minutes.
Turn off heat and add nutmeg, lemon zest and juice – stir. Let the dish cool enough so the sauce thickens,
NOTE: Use a firm and tart variety of apple such as Honeycrisp, Jonagold, McIntosh or Granny Smith,
You could serve this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or to fancy it up, bake it in puff pastry.