Thursday, December 30, 2010

Road to Tater Hill

by Edith M. Hemingway
210 pgs

      I brought this one home from my recent large library book order that came three days before holiday break.  I knew, from the description on Titlewave, it was one I wanted to read and it was worth it.  My husband went to school at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC and he often regales us with interesting tales of living in this part of the South.  Set in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in 1963,  Edith M. Hemingway draws on her own family's experiences to create this tale.
     Annabel (Annie) and her mother are spending the summer with her grandparents while her dad is stationed oversees.  Her mom is pregnant but the baby, born early, dies.  Annie spends the summer missing this baby sister, Mary Kate, wondering what her days would be like if things had gone differently.   She finds a nice sized rock and holds it like a baby, cuddling it,  as she sits by the creek.   Her mother struggles and cannot get past the baby's death, reeling in grief, forgetting she has a living daughter.   As Annie spends time by the creek, away from home, she meets a mountain women, Eliza McGhee who helps her come to understand her mother's depression.
     Eliza  is a most fascinating character and she slowly reveals her history to Annie.  Through Miss Eliza's revelations we learn of her abusive husband and death of her own child years earlier.  Their relationship leads to Annie's ability to help her own mother and also allows Annie to understand the other people in her life. 
     Perfect Quote: 
I was close enough now to see the woman sitting on the back stoop of her house with the door open behind her like a narrow slit leading to a dark cave.  She reminded me of a character in some fairy tale I had read years ago-not a scary person, but someone who had lived through hard times.  Her head was bent over an instrument that lay across her knees, and her face was hidden by the floppy folds of her sunbonnet.  She bobbed her head to the rhythm of the music that she plucked from the strings.  (58)
   I loved Miss Eliza's ability to envelope Annie into her life even though, previously, she shunned close relationships.  Ostracised  in her own community Miss Eliza deftly steps in and fills the gap in young Annie's life.  Annie leans on Miss Eliza for understanding and learns what it takes to be friend during difficult times; standing up for what is right and true.  These two share a love of reading which is a wonderful connection-I loved Miss Eliza's recollections of the librarian who brings books to her in prison. 
When I get back to school I know I will be able to book talk this one right into an eager student's hands.
Edith M. Hemingway's website
Here is a good book trailer video.
Sherry at Semicolon liked it too!
Buy it for someone you love at an Indiebound store near you-Road to Tater Hill

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What a holly, jolly Christmas so far

     The holidays started officially for us yesterday (thursday) as we hosted 6 young girls, ready to do some holiday baking.  Groovy Girl had her first cookie bake-off.  They poured, measured, cracked the eggs, learned the "scoop and sweep" flour method as she took them through her mini-baking lesson.  This is the same girl who two years ago "hosted" her own cooking show, which I taped but never got uploaded to a computer because the dog ate the Flip camera.Yes, that was not a very merry moment.  Her friends had a wonderful time as they made cookies and watched The Polar Express while they cut out,  baked and decorated the cookies.  Decorating and eating ranked the highest in fun factor.   I think gumdrops were being eaten as fast as I could cut them up.  I love to listen to children talk; they are generally so uninhibitated and yesterday was no exception as they shared their own baking experiences and knowledge with each other!  Hopefully, we've begun a new tradition with this holiday party.

    Four days ago I needed to make a treat for my daughter's school party;  luckily we still live in a school district that allows homemade snacks and that no one in her class is allergic to peanuts because we whipped up these delicious Double Peanut Butter Cups thanks to Kathy at Bermudaonion.  I didn't take a photo of mine (there is one with the recipe at Bermudaonion) but the Christmas platter came home empty and she told me several students had seconds. 

     In my family it is tradition to have oyster stew on Christmas Eve but my husband is allergic to certain types of shellfish so when I got married I had to throw the tradition out. We've done clam chowder for the last few years but I'm never quite satisfied with what my clam chowder tastes like compared to what I've eaten on my travels to the East Coast. This year I tried a brand new recipe from Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, which I also discovered thanks to a Weekend Cooking post at Bermudaonion.  As soon as I read her post about this cookbook I knew it was the perfect Christmas gift for my mother-a cookbook collector and brunch lover.   I found one last copy sitting on the shelf at my local Barnes and Noble, which, sadly, is our own local bookstore.  Local trumps indie when your making that last dash for gifts.   My family is totally okay with receiving books for gifts that have been "test" read by the giver so I spent hours  perusing the contents of this fabulous book.  I still plan to give it to my mom with the straight up knowledge that I may have to borrow it from time to time.  I've already tried two recipes from it-both were delicious and I just ooooh'd and aaahhhh'd as I looked through it.  This will be on my list of must-eat eateries when I visit NYC.  Thank you Kathy for brightening my holiday cooking TWICE!

If you missed out on getting yourself something merry this season, buy it here-Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

Enjoy the video (never did get the video to upload after three days of puttering with it)now, photos of the baking party.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good day, filled with roasting fires,  a few perfect presents, time to read and a dinner table filled with good food.  Don't you just love a young girl who bakes in a huge string of pearls. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fanny would make a great gift!

Fanny and Annabelle
by Holly Hobbie

We loved Fanny after our friend, V introduced us to the book awhile back.  With all the hoopla on expensive and more-is-better, Fanny was like a breath of fresh air.  This next one makes us love Holly Hobbie even more as she makes Fanny a writer girl, willing to tell her own story.  The story unfolds:

Saturday was drizzly and dreary, so Fanny decided it was an excellent day to make her very own picture book. 

At the top of the first page she wrote Annabelle's Adventure.  Annabelle was Fanny's favorite doll.  Fanny had made her, after all.  She didn't know what the adventure was yet.  She only knew Annabelle was going to have one. 

"Here goes," she said.

     The illustrations are a mix of Holly Hobbie's and Fanny's as they discover an adventure just waiting around the corner from Ted's Deli and like most, very unexpected.  This has just enough moral dilemna without being too didactic~just a pinch of honesty thrown in to the mix as Fanny finds an envelope with money in it on the sidewalk and must debate just what to do with her find.  Fanny is a well-drawn and likeable character and her mother is filled with soft, good sense advice.   
      We enjoy Fancy Nancy's escapades but Fanny just seems more our style.  Thank you Holly Hobbie! Groovy Girl and I highly recommended both books for a young lady on your gift list at this special time of year.

This copy is from our very own public library.
Great review by Energizer Bunny's Mommy.
Read my review of sorts of Fanny.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weekend Cooking-Is it still the Weekend?

     Here it is the evening of the weekend and I'm just getting to my food-related post for Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  I look forward to this event all week and I have been online a lot this weekend, Christmas shopping on Shutterfly, building calendars for my Mom, my in-laws and my other parents in AZ.  They are gorgeous, combining a wide variety of photos from this past year-our trip to Michigan, their visits here, and Teenage Boy's Alaskan fishing trip as well as all the usual Halloween costumes, and a few of the cute cousins thrown in!!  According to Shutterfly they should still make it by the 24th.  Considering I started assembling them on Wednesday night that's not bad but I'm really hoping it's true.  I hate to have worked so hard on something only to have them come December 31st.  I am joyful they are finished and that part of my "shopping" is done!!

Weekend Cooking:

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is one of my most treasured recipe books-you can tell by all the sticky notes fanning out from the book.  I love making fresh bread 'cuz it goes with every meal, especially in the winter when many of my meals are soup-related or hearty. 

Here is the general  recipe so you can try it too:

The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)  [edited down just a bit]

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T. granulated yeast  **did you know you can buy yeast in bulk at your local organic store-how great is that**
1 1/2 T. kosher, coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour, measured with scoop-and-sweep method
Cornmeal for pizza peel [I do not have a pizza peel~I put the cornmeal on my baking stone; I have one stone in the oven and one I use as the peel]

Mixing and Storing Dough

1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temp., about 100 degrees F.

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-qt. bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded but not airtight plastic food container or food-grade bucket.  Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve.  [My mom just gave me an early Xmas gift, at, this square dough container from King Arthur Flour-Thank You, Mom

3.  Mix in the flour-kneading is not necessary.  Add all the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula;  don't press down into the flour as you scoop or you'll throw off the measurments.  Mix with a wooden spoon, until it gets to difficult, then use your own wet hands.  Don't knead-just incorporate the flour so everything is uniformly moist. 

4. Allow to rise:  Cover with a lid (not airtight).  Do not use screw-topped bottles or mason jars, which could explode as dough rises.  Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, approximately 2 hours.  Longer rising will not harm the result.  You can use a portion of the dough now if you like.  Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature.  Best to refregerate a day first before working with it. 

5. Baking Day:  Sprinkle pizza peel with cornmeal.  Sprinkle the surface of your cold dough with flour.  Pull up and cut off a 1-pound [grapefruit-size] piece of dough, using a serrated knife.  Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands.  Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.  Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it's not intended to be incorporated into the dough.  The bottom of the load will seem a bit bunchy but it will flatten out during rising time.  The correctly shaped final loaf will be smooth and cohesive. 

6. Rest the loaf and let it rise on a pizza peel:  Place shaped ball on the cornmeal-dusted pizza peel.  Allow the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes.  Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degreesF., with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8. Dust and slash: Unless otherwise indicated for another recipe, dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking.  Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross, "scallop", or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.  [This is where the photo in the book really helps...]

9.  Bake with steam:  After the 20-minute preheat, you're ready to bake, even though your oven won't yet be up to full temperature.  With a forward jerk, transfer loaf from one stone or peel to the hot stone in the oven.  Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot tap water into broiler tray and close the oven door.  Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is nice and brown.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

10.  Store remaining dough back in your refrigerator in lidded container and use over the next 14 days.  That means each time you make a delicious dinner-it just takes a few minutes to have fresh bread with your meal.  YUM!!  It looks like a lot of steps but it is really quite easy.  If I can handle it; anyone can handle this recipe.  Make this part of your holiday baking. 

Shop Indie Bookstores

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Books!

Two days ago 10 boxes arrived from Titlewave-my big shipment for the year and it is a little like Christmas here.  I don't plan to put them out until we come back from holiday but my volunteer, Janice and I have had a blast going through them, reading and stamping and just holding them!! 

Just a short run down of the many titles I now have:

Picture Books

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter ( Abigail Spells is a favorite of mine!)
Thunder Boomer by Shutta Crum (Amazing illustrations by Carol Thompson)
The Enemy; a book about peace by Davide Cali
Guinea Pigs Add Up by Margaret Cuyler
The Travel Game by John Grandits
Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt by Leslie Kimmelman
1 Zany Zoo by Lori Degman (Cheerios New Author contest winner)
Tacky Christmas by Helen  Lester
Shadow by Suzy Lee
Thank You Bear by Greg Foley (winner of the handsome author award*wink*)

Chapter Books

The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
The entire Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull (now I can finally finish reading the last two!)
Road to Tater Hill by Edith M. Hemingway
Palace Beautiful by Sarah DeFord Williams
The Problem with the Puddles by Kate Feiffer
The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell
Neil Armstrong is my Uncle and other lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino


The Red Hen by Emberley and Emberley
Do Bees Make Butter by Michael Dahl
Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer
and three new cookbooks for all my little cooking patrons including this one.

I did get a lot of nonfiction but I get less excited about it but these are my top choices-  I know that's bad as a librarian but I am a fiction fan.

My top two questions now

1. How am I going to get them all home to read and share with Groovy Girl over break?
2. How can I get a holiday extention so I can finish reading all that I want to read over my break?

I am glad we are staying here for the holidays so I can do lots of reading!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crazy to Calm-Bedtime Reading 101

     Groovy Girl and I had a few picture books to read for story time and she likes to put them in order of how we are going to read them.  No random just-pick-fro- the-pile for her-she puts them in calming order-the most vibrant first and the most soothing last, perfect to then fall asleep.  She's makes me smile!  Two nights ago this was her order:

1. Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos.  It has an exciting cover, bold words and was a lot of fun to read.  Groovy Girl now has her very own Goodreads acct. and she dictated in her review that she loved this one so much she read it aloud to everyone in her family.   True enough, I heard her beg her dad if she could read it to him and he was on Sunday during a football game and she stood right in front of him and read the whole thing.  Good for her!  It is a very cute book with a good message that kids will relate to.

2. Sugar Plum Ballerinas; Toeshoe Trouble by Whoopi Goldberg.  We enjoyed the first one in this series and like this one even more as we get to know the characters.  Brenda's cousin comes to stay and the cousin, who has money and is a bit snobbish about it, causes Brenda to make a terrible choice.  Lots of uh-oh moments in this one.  This series has a lot to say about friendship. We read two chapters and then moved on to my daughter's third reading choice:

3. Forever Friends by Carin Berger.  Calm, Japanese-style illustration on cover, Groovy Girl said this makes drifting off to sleep so much easier.  The inside pictures are beautiful, all natural, subdued colors, gracious cattails highlighted by one bird and one rabbit playing together.  I love how perfectly she put these in order-she is not organized about all things (her room) but about bedtime book reading she's got her own cool method!

Good Night, Sleep Tight.

Found this great interview
with Whoopi about Sugur Plum Ballerinas; Toe Shoe Trouble.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Spinach and Feta Lasagna wins over chicken

        The chicken was tender and good but the hands-down favorite at last night's dinner was The Grit Restaurant's lasagna so I decided I would share the recipe here so everyone else could make it too!  Today was our day to eat leftovers and my husband and son both ate the leftover lasagna, which I had planned on taking for lunch tomorrow-that's how good it was. I was really incredulous since they are the big meat eaters!!   Now I will be combing through this cookbook looking for other delicious recipes to tantalize them.

Spinach and Feta Lasagna

6 ozs lasagna noodles, freshly cooked
4 quarts water
1/2 block firm tofu, crumbled
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
1 pound frozen spinach, thawed and drained
4 cups Grit Marina (I used two jars of organic sauce-no time to make the sauce, this time.)
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried parsley, oregano, and basil

Preheat oven to 350.  Oil a 9 x 13 in.baking dish. 
Boil lasagna noodles in water until barely tender; Drain and seperate the noodles, set aside.
Combine tofu, soy sauce, mustard, pepper, feta cheese and spinach in a large mixing bowl.
Lightly coat bottom of prepared pan with marina sauce.  Cover the sauce with layer of noodles, running the long way.  Spread 1/2 of spinach-feta mixture, 1/3 of the marina sauce, and 1/2 of the mozzarella.  Cover with second layer of noodles and on up, repeating but this time put the noodles crossways (so you have to cut them to make them fit).  Cover with a third layer running the longway and top with remaining marina.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and parsely mixture.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until well browned on top.  Cool slightly before serving. 

     I do usually make my own sauce when I make other lasagnas but this time since I was preparing another meal practically with the chicken/roast potato combination from Jamie Oliver, I just didn't have the time.  I also used fresh parsley mix on top and I did not have any dry mustard so I just squirted in some stone-ground mustard from my refrigerator-it worked out fine.  I never preheat my oven until I'm almost finished with a recipe-it just doesn't make sense to have it on for  the 30 minutes or so it takes me to make a recipe.  Viola-it was easy to put together and even easier to eat!
     Our evening with friends was great even though it was snowstorming outside. We were toasty warm inside with our wine, food and holiday music playing.  Our Christmas entertaining is off to a fantastic start.  Through the weekend I did manage some reading;  I finished Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay and stared the Everafter by Amy Huntley, which I am fascinated by!  I need to review Sarah's Key as well as A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce. 

 Buy The Grit cookbook at their website-you won't be disappointed!!

     I am an IndieBound affiliate and some of my links will take you there.  I've earned nothing as of yet from this association but one can always have hope.

     In other news-we have a two hour school delay so I wll be sleeping in and reading in my toasty bed.  I may pad down to the kitchen and whip up some German Pancakes for my children if I feel up to it.  I would love it if they would just cancel the whole day-it is FREEZING out there!
Next week's topic-fresh bread!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Traditions

Teenage Boy, Groovy Girl and two friends, after tree search.
     We always get our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving at a lovely tree farm, Kris Kringle's, and they serve hot cider and have a fire in an outside pit.  It makes for a lovely few hours and two years ago we invited another couple and their children to join us, so we've added to our celebration. 

     That is what I love the most about the holidays-it seems we make more time for friends and family.  We are having friends over tomorrow night just because we ran into them recently at my husband's play and decided we needed to get-together for dinner and before Christmas is really upon us.  They are coming for dinner tonight and I'm making a chicken.  If you've ever read my sidebar list it says I'm a vegetarian that eats locally-raised meat (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver changed my mind) but not frequently.  I met a farmer (through a friend) who raises chickens and other cute farm animals as well.  He started doing it 10 years ago for just the same reason I didn't eat meat-he didn't trust what was happening to our corporate- produced meat sources.  I've only been back to eating meat about a year now.

     I digress-this post is supposed to be about food and friends-not cute farm animals, who might be friends also.  My mother used to make this rosemary and goat cheese chicken so I searched around a little last night, looking for something similar and came up with a roast chicken recipe at Jamie Oliver's website.  He, like Kingsolver and Alice Waters, is making a difference in how people eat and I admire the work he's doing with the British school lunch program.  That would be my dream dinner party-cooking together with Barbara, Alice and Jaime!  Thrilling!!

     Tonight will have the roast chicken, mashed (home grown) potatoes, spinach and feta lasagna, brussell sprouts and a small salad.  Half the group is vegetarian thus the reason for the lasagna which comes from this fabulous cookbook from The Grit, in Athens, Georgia.  We're starting off with champagne, with pomegranite seeds tossed in and will move on to a lovely bottle of red, which I haven't purchased yet or I'd mention its name as well.  Thinking about wine makes me think I should check my old version of The Wine Trials to find a perfect (and reasonable priced) wine! 

     Could I mention any more food links?  Well, most definetely Yes!, but I'll stop there.  This is how things go at my house-inviting two people, one couple, for dinner has led me to all these dining spots, recipes and brought up all these whirlwind ideas.Like now my mind is thinking about a post debating hard copy cookbooks vs. online. My mind on food.  Don't ya just love the holidays!! Tonight will be filled with good conversation and good (hopefully) food and my mind will chill.
  Happy eating and reading! Cheers. 

p.s. last week's Morrocon-Style Lentil and Chickpea soup was a huge hit with my family.  We ate it simply, soup and fresh-baked bread.  Yum.
***This food-related post is linked to Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  Pop over there and read about Crescent Dragonwagon, a writer of children's books and cookbooks, and her new Cornbread book.  My husband might need this for a Christmas gift.  He loves cornbread but makes it from a box.  Hmmm.

Seriously, Have a Happy Saturday! 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Muliticultural Winner!

     Oh, okay so I'm a little behind in my life but I eventually get around to it.  I recently finished Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by the amazing Grace Lin, which was a Newberry Honor Winner in 2010.  Even though it took me a long time to get to it, it was definetely worth reading.  I loved the mixture of folktales into this family/friendship story.  Reading this book could make you a better person, really and the message of being true to yourself  will come through even for elementary students.  The message is subtle though even with the wonderful fairy tale-like ending. 

Book Synopsis:

In the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli spends her days working hard in the fields and her nights listening to her father spin fantastic tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man of the Moon. Minli’s mother, tired of their poor life, chides him for filling her head with nonsense. But Minli believes these enchanting stories and embarks on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how her family can change their fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest.

Grace Lin, author of the beloved Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat, returns with a wondrous story of happiness, family, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a timeless adventure story in the classic tradition of The Wizard of Oz.

My thoughts:

     I loved Minli's character as she was all good things, brave and kind, but not too perfect.  This is the type of book I want to save on the shelf for Groovy Girl to read as her chapter book skills improve.  As a struggling third grade reader she wouldn't make it all the way through it herself but one day soon and I want it to be waiting on the shelf with Beverly Cleary.  I should have read it aloud to her but I used it as my school chapter book-reading it to myself to model good quiet reading to 4th and 5th grade students (and read it during my own lunch time) and now I have several students in mind to pass it on to for their own reading enjoyment.

    I loved the images in this book-the goldfish man, the brilliant red dragon, the mountains-I would love to see this made in to an animated movie (a good one, of course) because I can picture it all so well in my head.  I've enjoyed Grace Lin's other books and use them for my lunch time book clubs with 4th and 5th graders but this book, in my mind, is a whole new level of excellence on her part!  Way to go, Grace Lin!

Random Quote:
Feasting on juicy peaches, Minli and the dragon walked through the woods for many days.  At night, when the dragon slept, Minli missed Ma and Ba.  "But this is for our fortune, so they don't have to work so hard anymore," Minli told herself when she thought about the worry they must  have been feeling.  "When I get back, Ba can rest and Ma will never have to sigh again.  They'll see."  But the lonely moon never seemed to gaze comfortably down on her. [88]
If you have a young person needing a gift for the holiday season~this would be a wonderful book to receive!
I am an IndieBound affiliate and will earn a small pittance if you buy it from this site-Click on the title here....Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's Cookin'

        What a lazy Saturday I've had.  Somedays you just want to curl up and stay inside.  Today was one of those days except we started out with ice skating at 9:00, had a brunch date with some distant cousins in town and had to do a little Christmas shopping for school families.  I did get to spend the afternoon home and somehow I lost my bag with my book in it for the entire afternoon so I didn't exit to my room to read like I often do on a lazy Saturday.  I ended up knitting (and napping) to some sappy tv Christmas movie my daughter was half watching as she played around the family room.  While I'm sad about not reading-I'm reading Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay-it was nice just to hang loose.  The book is very good but not an easy read so taking a break was okay except I have a sappy Christmas book to read for book club Monday night.-gotta get going on that one also and I'm having trouble mixing the two.

This is what I'm making right now to feed my family tomorrow.  Lazy but prepared is my motto.

Morroccan-Style Lentil and Chickpea Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 med. sized yellow onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
3 small garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 cup dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
One 14.5-oz can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped (I just used diced)
1 1/2 cups slow-cooked or one 15.5-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable stock
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tsp. harissa sauce, to taste, plus more to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrot, and garlic, cover, and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the ginger, tumeric, cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom, stirring to coat the vegetables.

2. Transfer the onion mixture to a 4- to 6- quart slow cooker, add the lentils, tomatoes, chickpeas and stock, cover and cook on low for 6 hours. 

3. About 10 minutes before serving add the lemon juice and harissa and season with salt and pepper.  A small bowl of harissa may be placed on the table for those who want to add more.  (I'm not adding the harissa-a spicy chili mixture as it will make it too spicy for my children) if you want the harissa sauce recipe leave me a comment and I will get it to you.

This serves 6 and I'm hoping for leftovers so I can take it for lunch a few days this week. 
Rewritten from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker .
This is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.
Happy Cooking and Reading!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November ReCap

     November is gone and December has rolled in on an icy wind.  We have some white stuff floating in the air just to prove winter is here.  Time to hunker down by the fire or at least wrap yourself in a large blanket and read the day away.  I prefer to stay in bed with the electric blanket turned to high. 
I have several books lined up to read in December but first let's finish off November.

I read eight books for personal reading. 

1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
2. Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy
3. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
4. My Abandoment by Peter Rock
5. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
6. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
7. Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle by David Elliot
8. A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

     I haven't reviewed them all but they were all very good.   I think my favorites were #2, # 4, #5 and #6.  I enjoyed reading the classically wonderful Fahrenheit 451 but I didn't love it and the story started to drag for me.  The message is an all-important one though.  One of my challenges (451)  finished in November and sadly I failed-I read four out of five titles.  I didn't finish my quota but thankfully they are not coming to cut out my tongue or chase me down by helicopter for not finishing.  The last book I was to read for this challenge got left behind by accident at my brother's home.  Ooopsie!  I did get to read several classics though-and for me that was a win so all is not lost. 

I'm going to read at least this many in December to finish off other challenges and just because I want to.  I like reading-what can I say...
Thank you November...I have much to be thankful for, my blessings surround me.

Happy December!!