Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekend Cooking; The Geranium Farm Cookbook

by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton & 10,000 Geranium Farmers
(2006)               136 pages

At our church Christmas Bazaar we have a beautiful book table with used books from our members.  It is a wonderful way to share and recycle the books we have read all year.  We are a well-read and well-fed congregation as recipe books take up an entire table.

This year a had this one in my stack and my intention was to give it to my mother as she is a true cookbook collector.  I read through it one night though and fell in love with the uncomplicated recipes.  I love to read through the vignettes interspersed throughout the book as well.  I loved this quote from one
Baking Friday Afternoon
I could hardly believe my ears: Rosie requested that we bake a pie on Friday afternoon.  Always say yes when your teenager wants to do something with you-anything this side of legality.  It could be years before it happens again. (48)   ~  Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

Words of wisdom there!

I've made these two recipes from this book so far-both excellent.

Curried Olive Spread

1 block of cream cheese, light or otherwise
1 cup pitted, chopped green salad olives (more or less to taste and you can use exotic olives if you prefer)
1 T. curry (more or less to taste)

Cube the cream cheese, then put cheese and olives in a food processor.  Blend until mixture is slightly lumpy. Stir in curry. Can be served immediately, but sitting in the fridge for an hour or so allows the flavors to blend.  Serve with crackers, celery sticks, or toasted bread squares.

My grandmother gave me this recipe when I entered the working world. She told me there would be many occasions where I would be expected to bring an appetizer to a dinner, and this one was quick, easy, and tasted delicious.  After all, she mused, working women were busy and didn't have all day to create fabulous food...(108)  ~ The Rev. Laurie Brock, Mobile, Alabama

Can't resist grandmother advice either!  I served this dip with a loaf of my fresh homemade bread.  The dip made enough for leftovers and I've been eating that as a snack with gluten-free crackers all week.

Corn Spoon Bread

1 cup (organic) milk
1 T. (unsalted) butter
1 cup cornmeal
1 can creamed corn
2 eggs, separated
1 T. (sea) salt
1 T (freshly ground) black pepper

Scald the milk in a saucepan.  Melt the butter into the milk.  Add the cornmeal and cook until thick. Stir in the creamed corn.  Beat the egg yolks with the salt and pepper.  Stir the yolks into the corn mixture.  Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the corn mixture.  pour into a well-greased quart baking dish.  Bake at 350* for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted int eh middle comes out clean.  Serves 6-8
This is a favorite recipe of mine from my Indiana childhood.  ~The Rev. Gerald W. Keucher, New York, NY (123)

I have a thing about creamed corn-a childhood food memory-so this appealed to me on that level.  I made it for a church potluck and by the time I made it through the line it was gone, bowl scraped clean just as it should be at a potluck.

Link for Geranium Farm.  This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking meme.  Drop over and see what she is dishing about and many other food-related posts.

In other family news our new refrigerator has been ordered but is back-ordered.  My hope is that it arrives somewhere in the vicinity of the first two weeks of Feb.  Back order seems to happen with all appliance purchases now.
I'm reading Claire Marvel by  John Burnham Schwartz - beautifully written, taking many post-it's to mark my favorites.
I watched Burlesque last night and loved it-don't know why it took me a year.  Cher and Christina Aguilera were wonderful.  I watched Eat, Pray, Love also yesterday and while it dragged in spots was uplifting to me. Made me savor my own loves.  So decadent to watch two movies in one day-it was a "free" day in a way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

emma and me by elizabeth flock + A Giveaway!!

emma and me (2004)
292 pages

I don't even know where I picked this book up - it does have a second hand sticker on it- but one that I don't recognize so I can only presume the book has had a history before it fell into my waiting hands.  I love it when a book finds you at just the right moment in your life.

The opening sentences slam you:
"The first time Richard hit me I saw stars in front of my eyes just like they do in cartoons.  It was just a backhand, though-not like when I saw Tommy Bucksmith's dad wallop him so hard that when he hit the pavement his head actually bounced.  I s'pose Richard didn't know about the flips I used to do with Daddy where you face each other and while you're holding on to your daddy's hands you climb up his legs to right above the knees and then push off, through the triangle that your arms make with his.  It's super fun.  I was just trying to show Richard how it works.  Anyway, I learned then and there to stay clear of Richard." (9)
As a reader I was stunned and sad but pulled in by this little voice of eight-year-old Carrie.  The abuse she suffers at the hands of her stepfather and her mother's neglect are juxtaposed around her original family story; one where happiness played an important role and her father was kind and playful.  Flock twists the story from Toast, NC to a tiny mountain town where Carrie meets several unusual characters that see right through her family's struggles.  I can't give you any more details so when you read it the story can unfold and surprise you.

I loved Flock's writing style and would enjoy reading more of her work.  Carrie's voice will stick with me for a long time to come.  Because this book has already been through several readers I want to keep it traveling along. I will send this book to one lucky reader leave me a comment about one striking childhood memory and I will pick one unique answer.  Include your email and I will get the book to you quickly!

This book is on my TBR Pile Challenge and the first book I've read on my list. Lisa from Books Lists Life encouraged me to read it and it was a perfect book to start with- Thanks Lisa!  I hope the rest of my choices thrill me as much as this one did!

*the book does have some pencil marking in it from a child's drawing hand-this amused me as the story is about a child, it is only on the first few pages and does not interrupt the story in any way but thought I should mention it in case you are one of those paperback book swap people who like pristine books.*

Friday, January 20, 2012

Creepy Bugs

It's been over a week and my computer has been violently ill. It wouldn't let me get on our wireless and it was acting just plain loco! The frustration was high when my men were still surfing with their sleek Apples! Ugh.

Lucky I have a wonderful techie friend who's taken it home to restore it. He confirmed the buggy diagnosis. It seems to be going around as I got a quirky tweet from a friend who thought she'd been hacked-which is how it started for me right before Christmas.

When you haven't bloged for awhile it feels weird to come back-a little like calling an old friend after a long time. I miss Pinterest and Facebook but really miss my blogging friends!

Some life updates:

-Read emma and me by Elizabeth Flock and Sing Me Home by Jodi Piccoult.
-new refrigerator is backordered but at least ordered.
-today was an awesome SNOW DAY, allowing me to get holiday decorations put correctly back.
-cooked many wonderful meals that I'm anxious to post.

I'm typing on my son's IPad and hope to have my healthy computer back some time next week.
In the meantime have a peaceful day wherever you are!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This is all it takes for me.

A few weeks ago my husband and I decided we needed to amp up the idea of date night in our relationship.  What with kid activities, his many plays and meetings and my school life we some times don't see each other much in a week.  He sent me a text the other day and asked me out on a date and we went today for an early dinner at local sushi restaurant.  We each had a salad, several sushi rolls and I had a glass of wine and he, a beer.

Because we like to be efficient we stopped pre-date at the running store downtown to pick up the sneakers he had ordered me for Christmas.  After the date I had to stop at our local library to pick up a book for one of my student book clubs.  My husband reminded me as we were going in that we had a time limit to get home to the kids.

Within 5 minutes in the library I was able to pick up this stack:

1. Fever; 1793-this is the book I needed for one of my students.
2. The Palace of Laughter by Jon Berkeley
3. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
4. The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
5. The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule
6. The Parents We Mean To Be by Richard Weissbourd

Two, Three and Four were all very close to where I looked for Anderson, Laurie Halse and the last two just because I happened passed a display of parenting books.  Wow.  Just think if he'd given me 10 minutes.

All in all-two errands and a nice dinner made for a lovely night out and we were home by 6:30 with a pizza for the kids.  Hope your day was blissful too.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Simply Monday

We made chocolate chip cookies at our house tonight.  Groovy Girl and I owed Teenage Boy a batch because he walked her and two friends over to the cemetery on Saturday at dusk.  We live across from a cemetery and this is a favorite "challenge" activity when friends sleep over.  He remembers doing this when he was in middle school with a group of his friends.  To thank him for following through we made him the cookies. He's been eating them while he watches football and reads Inheritance, last in his favorite Eragon series..

I just made the recipe on the back of the Nestle package (yes, every once in awhile non-organic lands in my grocery cart-I don't know how?)  because it was there and easy.  I know I have several good recipes but I've never hit on one that was so amazing that I have to make that one ALL the time, they all seem to be pretty similar.  Do you have a favorite chocolate chip recipe?  If so, please share.

My kitchen's not clean but the cookies are done.  Dinner was easy. My kids are happy.  Groovy Girl and I had a serious conversation about an article in her Discovery Girls magazine.  About bras. Ugh.  She's worried because other girls in her class have started wearing them.  Double ugh.

When I went up to get her headed toward sleep she was dancing wildly to one of her Taylor Swift CD's, lucky for her she was already in her pajamas with her teeth brushed.  We read the last half of The Snow Queen by Amy Ehrlich and talked for a few minutes.  She wanted to share one of Taylor's songs with me.  It's a sweet song and it made us hug repeatedly.  Listen to it; Never Grow Up, not an official video but still a good.

Hoping your Monday was peaceful and simple.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

312 pages

I consumed this book.
I finished it last night and even though the story ends wonderfully I just wanted it to go on.  Hazel is an astonishing girl heroine!

Things to know and love:

It took place in Minnesota.
It made me miss snow.
It is a retelling of the fairy tale The Snow Queen.
The two main characters, Jack and Hazel, are lovable.
The two symbolize the difficult journey of growing up.
The parents are odd and generally not helpful (typical).
Anne Ursu makes some wonderful references to other great literature.

I read this beautiful retelling of The Snow Queen by Amy Ehrlich and Susan Jeffers to Groovy Girl tonight just to compare with what took place in the book and it is pretty accurate.  Ursu has lengthened it by adding many adventures to the forest but it only makes the story more enticing.  I am extremely pleased I purchased a copy of this book as I love the front cover and it is worth rereading.  I will also want Groovy Girl to read it in her own time.  I rated it five stars on Good Reads.  Thank you, Anne, for this beautiful tale.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weekend Cooking; I love tofu and you can too!

I love transforming this basic square of protein into delicious dishes.  I fell in love with tofu soon after leaving college and exploring my own vegetarian choices after spending my college years eating mostly from the salad bar and well, mashed potatoes!

Tofu is so easy to cook and add to recipes but I run into many people, including vegetarians, who just don't like tofu.  I generally think it is because they haven't experimented with it on a deeper level.  Last week I made baked tofu with coconut rice and we ate it all up.  If you've wanted to experiment with tofu give it a try.

This is what the tofu looks like after you cut it out of the plastic container and dice it into bite-sized squares.  With other tofu recipes you often need to drain some of the water out of the tofu by wrapping it in a dish cloth and setting a plate on top.  This recipe didn't request that but it is good to know that you should squeeze water out first before cooking, which will help the tofu take on flavor better.

Gather the  tamari or soy sauce, organic ketchup and sesame oil together to create the sauce.  

Happily drizzle it over all that tofu.  Yum.

Stop to read the recipe again and have a sip of wine.
Start the coconut rice (recipe to follow)

Add the coconut milk after rice has had a chance to toast a bit with spices.

Sadly, once I plated this whole deal up and we sat to eat, we were all too busy eating to snap any final pictures.  There are mixed feelings about soy but my motto is "moderation is the key" and it is fun to experiment with and will pick up flavor from what you cook it with.  Groovy Girl's favorite tofu is stir fried with just honey and tamari sauce.  I buy wheat-free, low-salt tamari from the bulk section of my organic store.
Both of these recipes are from Moosewood Restaurant; Cooking for Health.

Any Easy Baked Tofu

1 cake tofu, 16-oz firm
2 T. dark sesame oil
2 T. soy sauce 
2 T. organic ketchup

Cut the tofu into bite-sized squares and place in an un-oiled baking dish large enough to hold a single layer.  Stir together next 3 ingredients and drizzle over tofu squares.  With a rubber spatula, gently turn to coat.  In a 400* oven, bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice until tofu is browned and firm.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Serve over rice or noodles and add a sauce ( like Trader Joe's wonderful simmer sauces.)

Basic Brown Rice 

1 cup rinsed organic brown rice
2 tsp olive oil
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water

In a saucepan or skillet on high heat, stir together the rice, oil, and salt for one minute, stirring constantly.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to very low, stir once and simmer covered until tender, about 45 minutes.  If you like a softer rice add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more water.

Coconut Rice
Replace 1/2 the water with unsweetened coconut milk or dried, unsweetened coconut with the raw rice.  For a golden hue, add ground tumeric (1/2 tsp)

The baked tofu did not get as crispy on the outside as I was expecting.  The kids didn't seem to notice or care.  The rice was mellow and yummy and I liked cooking it this way instead of in a big pot of water. 

 I served the rice and tofu separately as all three of my children are not big fans of "mixed" food and this way they could add as much or as little of the tofu as they wanted.  I did add several shakes of curry powder to my husband and my plates of mixed rice and tofu to spice ours up.

This post is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking!

Happy Eating.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Thinking

I loved my week at school-it was short and easy-such a perfect way to end our holiday break.  This week and into next I am reading Jan Brett and Karma Wilson books to 1st and kinder students.  2nd graders are learning about ABC books and we plan to  make one some how-I haven't figured out the how-so if you know of a spectacular online (free) program that would create individual books with graphics let me know.

I did use this  alphabet organizer from Read, Write, Think as a mini project and we did it together using the Promethean Board.  It was a stretch getting them to think of one word for each letter that fit into their topic and it was a good way to begin but I want something I can import graphics into and make it into like an e-book for them.  I don't need to print them out, too much paper waste but would like to share them using the board during parent night.   Any ideas?

In my forever quest for learning I picked this book up from the library after Janssen raved about it on her blog, Everyday Reading.

Po Bronson's and Ashley Merryman's book, NurtureShock has literally shocked me of many of my previous thoughts on parenting and as an educator.  Can Self Control Be Taught? is one chapter that I plan to use as a jumping off point to recharge the kinder experience in my library. This chapter discusses a pre-k program called Tools of the Mind; I'm fascinated with the idea of this play-based classroom where self-regulation is more important than trying to teach youngsters to read.  By learning to regulate their social, emotional and cognitive behaviors students take charge of their own learning.

While I can't build this entire curriculum into my daily kindergarten classes I like the idea of pulling portions of it in and trying it.  One section of the chapter (162) describes how students study a topic by playing it out in all aspects.  The example given is that when you study fire stations they would then act out what they've learned about all aspects of a fire call from the family who makes the 911 call to the dispatcher who takes the call and on down the line.  By playing out the scene to its fullest students learn to work their brain instead of getting distracted.  At the end of this 45 minute play time the clean up song is played and students stop what they are doing and begin to clean up.

The idea of buddy reading is shared next-which I know our school does-but I don't know about at the kindergarten level.  It says kids partner up and share their books by talking through the book's pictures.  When my 4 classes of kindergarten classes rotate through next week I'm going to demonstrate buddy reading and let them do it all around the library.  I need to make ears and lips for this though as the listening child holds a set of ears and the reader holds a pair of lips.  I think I will make them on large Popsicle sticks form Hobby Lobby. Even though I'm not a fan of nonfiction I've loved reading this book; it takes me to a higher place (of thinking).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Important message from Ruby, the young Feminist.

Watch this fun yet informative video of Ruby discussing feminism with Amy Poehler!  I can't wait to share this with Groovy Girl, who should definitely be a guest on Smart Girls at the Party.  She'd have a few great things to say about women's rights.  She's been working on a biography project about Amelia Earhart and considers Eleanor Roosevelt one of her heroes.

Happy Deep Thinking...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm committed; 2012 TBR Pile Challenge

Sometimes Groovy Girl and I do story time in my room instead of hers.  This happens when her room gets messy what with Barbie and American Girl parties all the time and her complete and utter pleasure in a play-filled room-except when it's story time.  Then she wants to lay with me in my clean room (yes, I have book stacks), in my big bed, with my warm blankie turned to high.  I know you're thinking-a heating blanket-how eco-friendly is that??  I love my electric blanket and it lets me keep our gas heat at a low, low temp.  Each of us have them.

I digress.  After Groovy Girl and I finished reading and as she was falling asleep in my bed (yes, I know she's nine and probably should be in her own bed but very soon she's going to be a teen and not want to read with me AT ALL so I let her snuggle) while I was quietly reading Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursa, which is such a good book but after she fell asleep I disengaged myself (from her and the book) and perched beside my bed where 3 tall stacks of books live and I made a list; a list of 14 books that have been sitting in a stack for over a year, waiting to be read by me (or anyone, I'm sure)  and I'm using them to join Adam at Roof Beam Reader in his TBR Pile Challenge.  I could do this challenge probably 10 more times and still have another stack.  If you have stacks like I have stacks perhaps you should take the challenge like me.

Here's my list.

1. Abarat by Clive Barker
2. While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky
3. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
4. A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean
5. Flying Changes by Sara Gruen
6. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
7. Postcards from No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers
8. Losing Charlotte by Heather Clay
9. Joy School by Elizabeth Berg
10. Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller
11. Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock
12. I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson

Two Honorable Mentions:

1. Twilight by Stephanie Perkins (I had to brush some cobwebs off this one)
2. Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw

I can think of a story for just about every one of these books; like that my stepdaughter told me #1 was her favorite book and that was like 5 years ago, or that #6 has an inscription from my stepmother in 2009 and that I asked my mom to buy #10  for me at the book store like 3 years ago.  So I've dusted them off, put them all in a "new" pile and plan to work my way through.  Thank you Allen! I'm committed!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The History of Love; A Novel by Nicole Krauss


My stepdaughter, Kaylee, read this book earlier in the year and passed it off to me to read.  I picked it up right before Christmas break because she was coming and I didn't want to NOT have read it before her return.  I had no expectations as I hadn't heard of Krauss or the title on any blogs before. I have had several comments from other bloggers that this is a book they read pre-blogging.  I'm glad I went into it fresh and was rewarded with amazing storytelling.  I love fiction that is able to take two seemingly different tales and weave them together like a fine Persian rug.

The History of Love begins with Leo Gursky and his lamentable life.  He's a mixed character with such depth; he's unhappy but happy to be alive every day.  He does things like drop change in line at the grocery store so the people around him are forced to really see him.  He volunteers to model for a nude art class.  He does not want days to go past where he is invisible.  He is a character I fell in love with by his sheer will to BE.

The other half of the story is told by fourteen-year-old Alma Singer who is attempting to solve the mystery of her family.  Her father died when she was seven, her mother has been sad ever since and her brother thinks he's been touched by God.  Alma's name comes from a book, The History of Love, which her father gave her mother years before and Alma endeavors to find out more about the book and the author, which might help her understand her own life or at least how to make her mother happy again.  

I thoroughly enjoyed both parts of this multifaceted story and at times couldn't put the book down.  I plan to read more Nicole Krauss books as well as her writer husband, Jonathon Safran Foer.  Kaylee has a class at Oberlin that Foer teaches which is why she'd picked the book up in the first place.  

Have you read any books by this power writing couple?  If not, I highly recommend this one...
After finishing it I hugged it and then reopened it to reread the opening lines again.  I'm a little sad that stepdaughter is taking it away with her tomorrow.  

Here are the opening lines:
"When they write my obituary.  Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, Leo Gursky is survived by an apartment full of shit.  I'm surprised I haven't been buried alive.  The place isn't big.  I have to struggle to keep a path clear between bed and toilet, toilet and kitchen table, kitchen table and front door.  If I want to get from the toilet to the front door, impossible, I have to go by way of the kitchen table.  I like to imagine the bed as home plate, the toilet as first, the kitchen table as second, the front door as third; should the doorbell ring while I am lying in bed I have to round the toilet and the kitchen table in order to arrive at the door." (1)

I love her creative use of sentence structure and her imagery.  I can so easily visualize Leo's cramped NY apartment.  Thank you Ms. Krauss for creating and sharing Alma's and Leo's stories.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Reading Stats, Goals and Favorites

I've had such a great holiday hanging with children and husband this past week and today husband went back to work and stepdaughter is driving back to Chicago.  It's quiet-making it a perfect time to write up my accomplishments for the past year.  I've had fun popping around and reading everyone else's finished goals. Now it is my turn.

The biggest news for me was actually making the 100 mark of books-making this goal was a huge accomplishment as last year I only made it to 86.  This challenge was hosted by Amy at My Overstuffed Bookshelf.  She hosts again but this time she's changed it up to 150 books and at that I have to bow out.  I struggled with 100, reading my last book on December 31st so I'll search for another or just use my Goodreads account to make my own.  I don't know what other challenges I'm going to take on but I did find this intriguing one on Roof Beam Reader; a TBR Pile Challenge-which is one that will fulfill my desire to get more organized and you only pick 12 books to finish.  I can do that.

In 2011 I read:

Elementary/Middle Grade Fiction: 48
Young Adult Fiction: 16
Adult Fiction: 23
Non-fiction: 13
Cookbooks: 8

Women Authors: 61
Male Authors: 18

Where I got them from:

Library: 54
Own/Borrowed: 39
ARC's: 4

15 were for my 3 book clubs
15 were historical fiction
26 were fantasty/science fiction

My favorites by age level:
(links are to my reviews)

Adult Fiction:

Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska 
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel
The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman
A History of Love by Nicole Krauss (review soon)

Young Adult Fiction:

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Elementary/Middle School:  
(this is a much harder catergory; I read many of these for work and love them, making this longer.)

The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
Milo; Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpoole
The Shadows/Spellbound by Jacqueline West
Little Klein by Anna Ylvisaker
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (review soon)
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
A Drowned Maiden's Tale by Laura Amy Schlitz (loved The Night Fairy last year)
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (review soon)

Many of these were new authors to me and I especially appreciated discovering Jennifer Donnelly, Anna Ylvisaker and Nicole Krauss.  I enjoyed the fantasy worlds of Kristin Cashore and Jacqueline West. I'm so happy I've finally read both of Selznick's masterpieces!

I read massive amounts of Jennifer L. Holm for a class and adore her characters, even reading my first Babymouse!  What a fantastic year of reading I've had; click here or the tab at the top to see my full list.

What books do we have in common?  What books did you love this year?  What book did I love that you hated?

As I read over my full list a few titles kept pouting and poking their heads up at me so I leave these titles as honorable mentions because they are worth mentioning...

Ninth Ward by Jewell  Parker Rhodes
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
The Kneebone Boy By Ellen Potter
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Weekend Cooking; New Year's Day Brunch recipe

photo courtesy of
This is what is cooking at my house right now!

I was a whirlwind yesterday; trying to get everything done.  My goal was  to begin the new year with a clean house and with the help of my new vacuum cleaner I accomplished that.  I made three trips to various grocery stores to pick up items I needed.  After shopping together husband and I made a light lunch for all five of us and then I set to the task of pretty much spending the rest of the day in the kitchen.  I wanted to make the breakfast casserole that my mother-in-law created once before in my kitchen.  My thought was to have something pre-made and extra yummy so I could properly relax today.  After I finished making that I moved on to making dinner; my "family-famous" eggplant lasagna and two loaves of bread.

I got almost everything done on my list yesterday.  I finished my 100 books in time; spending the whole morning immersed in Selznick's Wonderstruck.  I'm excited because last year I didn't make it and really it seemed like such an attainable goal.  It's not unless you really read all the time or count picture books, which I choose not to. I also didn't get my weekend cooking post completed yesterday like I'd planned but hey, I did what I could and feeding the family is pretty high up on the to-do list.

Here is the breakfast recipe we will be eating in about 30 minutes, if I can get the teenagers up...

Cinnamon Apple Baked French Toast Casserole

1 loaf French or Italian bread
8 farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup sugar, divided
3 1/2 cups milk
1 T. real vanilla
6-8 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced (McIntosh or Cortland, preferred)
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 T. butter
Maple syrup (warmed) for serving

Slice bread into 1 1/2-inch slices.  Place the bread tightly together in a greased 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish. In a bowl beat together the eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, milk and vanilla.  Pour half of egg mixture over bread slices.  Place sliced apples over bread to cover and pour remaining egg mixture over the top.  Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle over top of dish.  Dot casserole with butter slices.  Cover and refrigerate over night.
In the morning remove foil or pan cover.  Bake at 350* for 1 hour. Place a cookie sheet under glass dish as casserole may overflow a little.  Remove from oven and let stand for 10  minutes before serving.  Cut into big squares and serve with maple syrup.

Later today we're having black-eyed peas, salsa and spinach over brown rice for dinner.  How many others participate in this tradition?
This post is connected to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking meme-drop by and check out all the food-related posts gathered there.
Happy New Year.  Happy Reading.