Sunday, September 30, 2012

Everyday Food; A reason to make brunch...

This recipe for Walnut-Chocolate Sticky Buns is a perfect reason to invite a few friends over for a late morning meal.  I love this small recipe magazine from the Martha Stewart publishing company.  It fits easily in my bag so I can take it to the store with me and each edition has a wide variety of recipes.

While writing this post though I could not locate the recipe on their website-frustrating-as I wanted to use the photo from the mag.  It also has a side note that says I can find a video for this recipe using my iPad-I couldn't find that either.  Once I make them I'll share my own photo.  For now, enjoy...

Walnut-Chocolate Sticky Buns
Makes 9
(I'm going to make a double batch, of course)

2/3 cup heavy cream, divided
1 1/3 plus 2 T. packed light-brown sugar, divided
1 packet (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups unbleached (spooned and leveled), divided,
plus more for work surface
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, divided, plus m ore for bowl and pan
fine salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts (I think pecans would be great also)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat 1/3 cup each cream and water and 2 T. sugar until liquid registers 110* - 115*.  Add yeast.  Let sit until foamy (my favorite part), 10 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and add 1 cup flour.  Using mixer, beat on medium to smooth.  Melt 2 T. butter; add to bowl, along with 1 tsp salt and egg, and beat until combined.  Beat in remaining 1 1/4 cups flour until combined.  Transfer to a buttered bowl; cover with plastic top. Let sit in a warm place until doubled, 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350*.  Butter a 9-inch round baking pan (2 inches deep).   In a pot, bring 3 T. butter, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 T. water, and 1/2 tsp salt to a simmer over medium.  Cook until sugar is dissolved; whisk in remaining 1/3 cup cream.  Pour into pan.

3. On a floured surface, stretch or roll dough into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle.  Spread remaining 3 T. butter on dough, leaving a 1-in border on long sides.  Sprinkle with remaining 2/3 cup sugar, nuts, chocolate chips, and  1/4 tsp salt.  Starting with one long side, roll dough into a log.  Cut crosswise into 9 pieces.  Arrange over sauce.  Bake until sauce is bubbling and rolls are golden, 30-35 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes.  Run a knife around edge before inverting onto a platter.  Serve warm.

Is your mouth watering?  Mine is.

Weekend Cooking is a delicious meme hosted by Candace at Beth Fish Reads.  Click on her link to find many interesting food-related posts.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Edward Tulane!

I love how Edward looks-Groovy Girl does not like to look at these
 beautiful illustrations while we read.  It is all in the imagination for her.
I've had a writer's crush on Kate DiCamillo for years. I loved Winn-Dixie first, then fell head-over-heals with The Tale of Despereaux, understood both Tiger's Rising and The Magician's Elephant more than most people and now I've swooned over The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane! Groovy Girl and I finished reading it tonight and were thrilled by Edward's crazy long journey!

The quote that stuck to us:
"I am done with being loved," Edward told her. "I'm done with loving. It's too painful."
"Pish," said the old doll. "Where is your courage?"
"Somewhere else, I guess," said Edward.
"You disappoint me," she said. "You disappoint me greatly. If you have no intention of loving or being loved, then the whole journey is pointless.  You might as well leap from this shelf right now and let yourself shatter into a million pieces.  Get it over with.  Get it all over with now."
"I would leap if I was able," said Edward.
"Shall I push you?" said the old doll.
"No thank you," Edward said to her.  (189)
Okay, I know this quote shares the true meaning of this tale which makes it a spoiler but one I had to pass on anyway. I specifically marvel at the line "where is  your courage?"  If you've read it, you know it and if not, hopefully it will spur you to read it.
 Buy it for a young friend for the holidays!

Edward Tulane's website.
Judy Freeman's Reader's Theatre of ET.
Kate's website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top Ten Series I haven't finished but should...

This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. 

Most of these are unfinished due to the time crunch that is my lovely life.

1. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.  I've read the first three and want to finish.

2. Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  I read the first two and moved on.

3. Rick Riordan writes faster than I can read. I have the last book of Percy Jackson and the two more Kane Chronicles and I haven't even started on his other series...

4. Michael Scott's The Alchemyst. I've read these first 4 and have two more to go.

5. Anna Godberson's second series, Bright Young Things. (not as riveting as The Luxe)

6. Lois Lowry's The Giver series. Keep meaning to get this done and now the last one is coming out.

7. The Daughters series by Joanna Philben. I've read one and want to read the next two.

8. Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series.  I loved the first one.  Promise to finish series before movie arrives in theatres!

9. Kristin Cashore's Bitterblue.  I've read the first two-loved them.

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.  I want to read the second one, Lola and the boy next door, before the last one is out.

When I first started writing I thought I was keeping up but my list easily kept growing!  Thanks to  the lovely ladies at The Broke and Bookish for reminding me of all I need to read this Fall.  I've already clicked around to many other TTT and I have a new list started, Series I need to read!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo

Just being Audrey

I smiled when I saw this lovely cover sitting on the new shelf at my public library.  Our oldest child (a jr at Oberlin now) has a love of all things Audrey and I love her also.  Roman Holiday is one of my favorite films.  Give me a quiet Saturday, a bowl of popcorn, and this movie and I'm set! Hard to believe it was her first film.  Audrey exuded grace and confidence during her life and is a wonderful role model. This beautifully illustrated biography shares Audrey's spirit with everyone.

While I've adored her movies I've never read a biography about her and this picture book shares much about her life.  I did not know Audrey's mother was a Baroness, that she lived in Brussels, or that her family hid during WWII?  The book explains how she changed her interest from ballet to acting and landed a few small roles when she met the French writer, Colette.  Colette thought she would be perfect for her Broadway show, Gigi, which is how Audrey landed in NYC.

Each two-page spread is illustrated with gorgeous drawings.  The text tells just enough to keep us interested with out tiring out young readers and the illustrations match each segment perfectly.
I'm so happy I picked this one up!

Find the author, Margaret Cardillo here.
Watch this simple video as it shares the outstanding artwork by Julia Denos and visit her adorable blog, The Cinnamon Rabbit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday; Top Ten Bookish people I'd like to meet

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish this top ten list are the authors I would love to meet for dinner, coffee or maybe even a glass of wine.  I'd be so nervous to meet them I'd have to have a list of top ten questions to use for talking points! 
1. Barbara Kingsolver;  I would ask about  what inspired The Bean Trees and we could talk a long time about sustainable living.

2. J.K. Rowling;  I would nudge her to talk about  magic and her wonderful HP characters.  I might ask her even about her new adult book.

3.  Anne Lamott; I could listen to her stories for hours-she can make me laugh about parenting like no other!  And then when we are all done laughing we could talk about our faith as well.

4. Judy Blume; Just to give her a hug and tell her thank you for all those stories that helped me go from elementary to middle and beyond.  Thank you. 
5. Louisa May Alcott;  I would love to take a walk in the garden with her, just to listen to her tell stories about her sisters.

6. Henry David Thoreau;  Same here, a walk would suffice and I'm sure he could give me advice on the simple life and civil disobedience.

7.  George Washington Carver;  I think of all his accomplishments but would love to just talk about gardening with him.

8. Kate DiCamillo; I've loved everyone of her stories and have a huge crush on her writing style.  The Tale of Desperaux and Winn-Dixie are two books I could read every year.

9. Mildred D. Taylor; Roll of Thunder, Hear my cry is one of my favorite novels and I would love to have the opportunity to sit and share a meal with Ms. Taylor to talk about Cassie and her family.

10. Alice Hoffman;  Alice Hoffman's writing style fascinates me and I don't think I could keep up but I would love to hear her speak.  

Honorable mentions go to Dr. Seuss and President Barack Obama!  I've heard the president speak but would love to have a one-on-one conversation about some important issues over a cold White House brew.  Michelle could come also.   What bookish person would you love to eat or chat with??

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekend Cooking; One World Kids Cookbook

One World Kids Cookbook; 
Easy, healthy and affordable family meals
by Sean Mendez

"The most important ingredients in any meal are: Love, bonding and sharing."

Great advice for families everywhere!  Groovy Girl and I checked this book out from the library and browsed through it two days ago while we ate breakfast together.  Many of the recipes included odd ingredients that made her not interested.  We did love the photography and the sage wisdom sprinkled throughout made it a perfect start to our day.

"To the above, all you need to add is a dash of patience, a pinch of creativity and a heaped cup full of enthusiasm?"

Each two-page spread features a country with a map,  facts and proverbs related to food or culture.  This would make a wonderful tool for school as students research about another culture or country.

Russia's food proverb:

"The rich would have to eat money if the poor did not provide food."  (perfect moment for this conversation)

We settled on Rice with vegetables (like I need a recipe for that...) but this dish is from Somalia and we plan to try it soon. I have to admit adding the wide variety of spices to the recipe will make it very new for me.  Groovy Girl liked the vegetable choices except she requested we use only 1 garlic clove not 3!

Rice with Vegetables (Somalia)

1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 courgettes/zucchini, diced
2 peppers, any colors, diced
1 vegetable stock, cube
4 cardamon pods
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
2 1/2 cups water
4 T olive oil

Heat half the oil in a large pot.  Fry onion and garlic for about 8 minutes, stirring often.  Add the cinnamon stick and spices, and cook for 3 minutes to release their flavor.  Pour in the rest of the oil.

Add the remaining vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Rinse rice until water runs clear.  Add rice and water to pot, crumble stock cube in and bring to a simmer.  Cook rice according to package instructions.

Remove cardamon pods and cloves, if you can find them!

Tasty Tip:  This dish is also nicely finished off with a handful of raisins or your favorite fresh herbs.  For those addicted to spice, sprinkle some Tabasco over your dish and tuck in!

Directions include step-by-step photographs featuring young chefs which really adds to the kid appeal.

My favorite proverb comes from Spain:

"For wine to taste of wine, you must drink it with a friend."

Countries included:

Russia, Brazil, USA, China, New Zealand, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Morocco, Columbia, Somalia, Spain, Philippines, Iran, Australia, U.K., Ghana, Greece, and Jamaica.
My favorite recipe hailed from Morocco-couscous with chickpeas and peppers.  An extra section on smoothies is included plus lots of cooking tips.

Check out Superchef's review with another recipe, Chicken and Spinach Curry from India.

This post is linked to Weekend Cooking, a meme hosted by Candace at Beth Fish Reads.  Click to her site for many more food-related posts.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Soaring with Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Ask the Passengers
October, 2013

I started my September ARC (advanced reader's copy) challenge with a bang!  This book seriously blew me away with how wonderfully-written it was.  Carrying just enough sarcasm, wit,and angst mixed with profound love; it made me smile, laugh, shake my head, and cry in rapid secession, it gave me such HOPE!

Ask the passengers is Astrid Jones' story.  She's a high school student in a small town where her parents have settled her after a major move from New York City.  Her parents craved the hometown experience without realizing the affect it would have on their two young girls; Astrid and Ellis.  Astrid feels she's never quite fit in to this small-town, small-minded community. Ellis, on the other hand, seems to have made a life with the popular kids. In a way each  member of the Jones' family struggles with new identity after the move and they've gotten stuck in crisis mode. Eventually they come to realize it is just another way to not accept themselves. A.S. King weaves this drama around this family's journey back to each other.

But first the gossip.  Lots of gossip.  Small towns are never as idyllic as they seem. Astrid's family feels rocky and she takes her life cues from this.  She's busy keeping a major secret for her neighbor and best friend, Kristina, and her boyfriend, Justin.  They fool everyone into thinking they are the perfect couple-prom couple perfect. But when Kristina and Justin go out on  their cute weekly Friday double dates they actually are dating the other person.  Yep.  Kristina and Donna, and Justin and Chad have it all worked out.  Nicely.  Modern set up.  Astrid keeps their secret.  See how small towns are not what they seem to be...

What Kristina doesn't  know is that Astrid has her own secrets and she's not ready to share at all.  Instead she sends her love out to passing airplanes. Better to give it away than store it up or throw it away.
"So I send my love, and I ask the passengers: Where are you going? Can I come with you? I could finally feel at home."  (98)
When she talks to the plane passengers we get a message back, showing us the profound effect an outpouring of positive emotion can have.  So while Astrid misses the big city idea and what that represents the plane people are having their own problems thousands of feet above her. And the small town people might catch her off-guard; people are filled with surprises as she discovers along her journey. Through her narration we hear odd angles like her humorous thought-process of small town gossip:
"They say: I bet her and that Justin Lampley will have some damn pretty kids.   They say: I can't figure out why she hangs out with that weird neighbor girl.That's me. (Astrid)" (4)
The proverbial "they" is always a fear; whether in her mind or truthfully being told it's hard to bear the fact that in small towns people are watching your every move.  And one night the double daters and Astrid are caught in their secret world, busted, and tossed back to their families.  Do they recover from stepping outside the small-town boundaries?  Maybe.  Yes.  No. Out of negative we know that good often occurs and this book has so much good mixed in with everything. I could read it all over again!

I let a friend borrow it today-she sent praises within the hour!  This book deserves much attention as a story filled with love, redemption, and what it means to be yourself where ever you live. I'm curious about A.S. King's other titles-what wonderful messages might be revealed within their covers.

ARC received from Little, Brown, and Company.  Thank you Zoe! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday; Top Ten books that make you think...

It's been awhile since I've particpated in The Broke and the Bookish's weekly Tuesday meme and as I mentally promised to blog more in September I'm jumping in.  There were several on her list that I completely agreed with.  

1. The Book Thief-Death as a character was an amazing point-of-view to read from.  This should be required reading at the high school level.

2. Revolution-I didn't know much about the French  Revolution before reading this book and I had to do some research to make it all fit together.

3. One Thousand White Women-made me question my knowledge of Native Americans and our government.  Plus the whole book makes you feel like you are reading a true account and I kept having to tell myself "this is fiction, this is fiction..."

4. Along Way Gone: Ishmael Beah's tale of his years as a boy soldier in Sierra Leonne.  I had to stop many times to readjust my ideas and attitudes toward the human race.  My husband lived in Sierra Leonne as a young boy and we shared many in-depth conversations about this country.

5. The Poisonwood Bible-Challenged my ideas of what a family and faith meant.

6. The Lacuna-like Revolution this book made me search for more information about the artists and the time period, opening up a whole new era for me.

7. The Red Umbrella-I learned so much about Cuba and what it was like for immigrants to settle here.

8. The Newman's Own Organics guide to the good life-This was the first great book I read about being mindful of all that I did.  Simple things stuck with me like why preheat as the first step of a recipe.  Yes, we know that when baking something it is important to preheat but for cooking dinner there isn't a reason in a world for that oven to heating up the entire time I work on a casserole in order for it to cook properly.  If you lean toward organic this is an essential guide.

9. NutureShock-Made me rethink  how I teach and how I parent; mind-blowing and well-written.

10.  Stiltsville-A brilliant novel that shares so many snapshots of our world; women, gay, rich, poor, married, divorced, difficult and happy that you can't help but think more profoundly after reading this adult novel.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Birthday Girl week begins!

Groovy Girls's birthday is on Wednesday and yesterday we hosted her birthday party for 7 friends. We have a downtown art fair that takes place yearly and right before her big day so this year we combined the two. My husband, the creative driving force, designed a treasure hunt for the girls. Downtown stores held clues leading them ultimately to our unique candy shop where bags of sour, gummy, and delightful candy awaited them!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Four days into September already...My challenge.

I've planned this for awhile and can't believe we are four days into the month!  Thanks to Zoe at Little, Brown and Company I receive several beautiful packages a month of ARC's. Thank you Zoe for keeping me on this list! Sometime at the end of the school year I started to get really behind on reading these lovely new books.  Time to change that.

I'm dedicating September to reading as many ARC's from this pile as I can and reviewing them.  I still have a half-done review of The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker to finish and share. While this stack of books is not cluttering my house per se it does clutter my conscience.  Time to get many of them read and spread the word.  I started reading Ask the passengers by A.S. King yesterday and I love it.

My friend Tina might join me in reading a few of her stacked-up ARC's also.  If you have a small or large stack of Advanced Readers maybe you want to join us as well.

I'm not going to set a number and set myself up for failure but I'd like to read at least this stack and review them before them become dusty antiques in the corner.

Weekend Cooking: Random Eating

All five of us were together this past week as Kaylee came to stay in between her NY internship and the beginning of her junior year at Oberlin.  I tend to go an extra mile, culinary-wise, while she is here.  We have happy hour with lots of tomato-based appetizers; like bruschetta and tomatoes layered with fresh mozzarella and basil clipped fresh from the garden.

Tofu stir-fry
This week I made a frittata, quesadillas with lots of toppings, and an Asian stir fry with peanut sauce.  The stir-fry is Groovy's Girl's dish-she honestly said to her older sister-"it's my signature dish" sounding a bit like a nine-year-old Martha Stewart as she brought the big bowl to the table. We made a quick peanut sauce, tossed it with stir-fried veggies and tofu and mixed it up with Asian rice noodles. She loves to whip it up.

The quiche was beautiful also but I failed to get a picture-people were hungry. I used a recipe from Super Suppers Cookbook; More Everyday Family Recipes by Judie Byrd.  

Frittata with Spinach and Tomatoes

Makes 4-6 servings

4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 T. vegetable oil
1 10-oz bag prewashed spinach
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375*F. In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, Monteray Jack cheese, basil, salt, and pepper; set aside.

In a large ovenproof skillet cook onion in hot oil over medium-high heat until tender.  Gradually add spinach to skillet; cook just until wilted.  Stir in egg mixture.  Cook until eggs are almost set but still moist, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Arrange tomato slices on top and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  

Transfer to preheated oven.  Bake frittata for 5-6 minutes until set in center.

Serve right out of the skillet.  This was such an easy meal to whip up after school, serve with a tossed salad, and orange juice.  Groovy Girl said it looked disgusting and refused to eat more than three bites but the older kids ate it up.  

She did finish these cupcakes though...
We had Williams-Sonoma Sweet Treats checked out from the library and Groovy Girl chose Sweet Lemon Cupcakes to make.  They are delicious and this is a wonderful kid's cookbook.  It gives detailed descriptions so she really understood the steps.  It also has problem areas included for some recipes to look for and the cupcake example was about overfilling your cupcake tin.  Science corner also pops up in a few recipes so kids (and adults) can understand ingredient combinations like vinegar and baking soda.  Beautiful photography shows a diverse population of both boys and girl baking and creating through the steps of each recipe.  

It was a great week for eating at our house.  It's not even the weekend anymore but I'm still in my pajamas and it is afternoon here-it's a lot like a weekend day!  I love a three-day weekend...