29 September 2012

The Air We Breathe

I really liked this, although I thought it was better at the beginning.  It lost a little something toward the end. 

28 September 2012

Chickpea Tofu

So the new Burma book showed up a few days ago.  I've been busy and haven't been able to try much, but we did have fried chickpea tofu with a new chili sauce for lunch.  The tofu was so good, and it was really easy to make- much, much easier than soybean tofu.  And the chili sauce was amazing and easy and convenient because it was based on dried peppers.  I think it's probably the best chili sauce I've ever made. 

There's a pureed peanut-rice soup I have my eye on along with a lot of other recipes.  I'll do a better review later when I've tried more things, but right now, I'm delighted and excited.

Griffin and Sabine

This was a very unique book.  It's always fun when you get to try something new with a book (even if I did feel a little like I was reading something designed for a four-year-old at times).  The story was going along so well, then all of a sudden it disappeared and the book ended.  And it was so short.  I can't say I didn't like it, but it sort of felt half-done, or like the story wasn't the point at all.  Maybe it wasn't.

27 September 2012

It Looked Different on the Model

I can't remember who recommended Notaro's because they're funny, but they were right.  There were several laugh-out-loud moments.  But there were lots of other times when her humor didn't quite sit right with me (ethnicity came up negatively a little too often, for example) and I don't know that I'll seek out her other books.

26 September 2012

The Bean Trees

Really enjoyed this even if it was a bit heavy-handed at times.  And the legal issue at the end was resolved way too easily. 

24 September 2012

Whole Wheat Round Hallah

1 cup warm water
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
4 eggs
1/2 tablespoon salt
2/3 cup oil
About 6 cups whole wheat flour, or maybe a little more
1/4 cup gluten, optional

Combine everything into a nice dough, rise till doubled.  Divide into two pieces and roll each into a snake about 30 inches long.  Coil each around to make a dome, place on a baking sheet and cover with plastic and let rise till nearly doubled.  Bake at 375 for about 35-40 minutes, or till very brown.

20 September 2012

Rivers of Flavor

I'm waiting not-so-patiently for this.  Just a few more days.

19 September 2012

The Silken Thread

I've read many, many travel books about Central Asia and most of them are pretty similar.  Hardly anyone who is feeling successful and accomplished goes off to Kyrgyzstan to write a book about it, so you end up with a lot of people dithering about their past failures.  Hardly anyone reads much about Central Asia before going beyond The Lonely Planet, so you get a lot of LP-based info (sometimes down to exact phrases).  Sometimes they've read about various British explorers/military guys, so you hear about them. 

Then they talk a lot about getting around and gross stuff they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.  And there's a lot of standard history thrown in- usually very basic with some mistakes thrown in.  And there's plenty about the other tourists they meet and the people who run their hotels and guesthouses and their taxi drivers. 

This book was all that, although this one was probably a little better than many, at least in some ways.  But please, if you need to work through all your past relationships, don't go to Central Asia to write a book about it.  Or stick it in something besides the travel section.

17 September 2012

Tamarind Ginger Fish

1 heaping tablespoon tamarind
1/2 cup hot water
2-4 tablespoons oil
Some chopped onions, shallots, or green onions
2 T julienned ginger
4 cloves garlic, sliced
About a pound of fish fillets
1/4 c brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce

Start the tamarind soaking in the water 20 minutes before you start the rest of the recipe, or stick it in the microwave and get it really hot while you're cooking. Push the pulp through a sieve and save the liquid.

Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok, then add the onions and stir-fry a few minutes to soften, then add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry till it's lovely and fragrant.  Add the fish fillets and quickly cook on each side, then add the brown sugar, fish sauce, and tamarind liquid.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5 minutes, or till the fish is just done.

16 September 2012

Left Neglected

I was interested in reading this after enjoying Still Alice recently and I really like this one too. There was, again, one preachy part, but that's forgiven too.

In a Perfect World

I thought this dystopian novel was surprisingly good.

15 September 2012

Pecan crisps

1 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted as above
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

Combine dry.  Beat butter and sugars till fluffy, then add rest.  Beat in dry, then half the nuts. Fridge one hour.

Divide dough in half and roll into logs, 2 inches by 9 1/2 inches.  Sprinkle with remaining pecans, pressing into surface.  Freeze at least four hours, or 2 weeks.

375, greased cookie sheet

1/4 inch slices, 1 1/2 inches apart.  9-11 minutes, transfer.

Pecan Praline Cookies

1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp powder
1/4 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup slight softened butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla

Toast nuts In preheated to 325 oven for 8-10 minutes, cool. Butter a plate or dish.

In small pot, mix sugar and 2 tablespoons water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, swirling to help dissolve.  Cover and boil 2 minutes, then uncover and cook 2 or a bit more minutes till syrup thickens a bit and turns amber.  Add toasted pecans and stir, then dump on buttered dish.  Cool and break into small pieces.

375, greased cookie sheet

Mix dry.  Beat butter till fluffy, then add sugars, egg, and vanilla and beat. Add half of dry and mix, then add rest. Save 1/3 cup nuts and is the rest in.  1 inch balls, dip in nuts, 2 inches apart. 10-11 minutes. Sit 2 minutes and transfer.

Cornmeal Cookies

3/4 cup slightly softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 3/4 cups flour

350, greased cookie sheet

Beat butter, add sugar, beat till fluffy, add egg yolks and vanilla and stir, add cornmeal and mix well.  Sit 2 minutes, then add flour.  Sit 5 minutes and shape, adding a little more flour if necessary to hold shape. 1-inch balls, 1 1/2 inches apart.  Press with palm.  14-16 minutes. Stand 3 minutes and move to rack.

14 September 2012

Cheddar Apple Muffins

1 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp oil
3 tbsp sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup yogurt
1 apple, chopped
1/2 c grated cheese

Combine dry ingredients, cream oil and sugar separately and add egg, then sour cream.  Combine with dry then stir in cheese and apples.  Bake 15 minutes at 425.  This makes 12 muffins.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

I feel like I'm late coming to this one (because I am), but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There was an over-dramatic moment at near the end, but I'll forgive that.

13 September 2012

Lemon Tart

I knew I'd forgotten a book or two from earlier this summer, and when I was thinking about the mystery thing yesterday, I remembered this one.  I got it as a free ebook and it was a nice little mystery too.  I don't think mysteries are quite my thing, although they're fine in small doses.  I think I always feel like the author is trying to manipulate me when I read one.  Other authors do too, but mystery authors are experts at it.

12 September 2012

In the Bleak Midwinter

I'm not sure I've ever checked a book out from the dedicated mystery section of the library (not that there is one at every library), but now I have.  I liked this, although I didn't love it.  And the title?  It was in the cold midwinter, not the bleak.  It (the title) didn't quite work for me, although that's not the point here. 

11 September 2012

Their Eyes Were Watching God

I don't have much to say about this one, but I did like it very much.

10 September 2012

Where the Streets Had a Name

This is a YA book about everyday life for a teenager in the West Bank.  It's simple in a lot of ways, but it's sad, and terrible in a few places, but mostly it's quiet.  Very little happens, but, like I said, it gives a good taste of how things really are on the wrong side of the Wall.

09 September 2012

Still Alice

I really liked this book.  It's written by a neurologist from the perspective of a woman with early-onset Alzheimer's.  I'd have been interested in the topic no matter what, but since a woman in the neighborhood I grew up in had this, it was a little more meaningful.  Anyway, it was a well-written book (although I felt Alice's speech near the end was the author preaching at me) and I really couldn't put it down.

This would be a great book to discuss sometime for a variety of reasons.

More Spellmans

I can't remember the titles of the other two books I read in this series, and I'm pretty sure I skipped one, but they were great while we were camping last weekend.  Lots of fun, even if there's nothing much to them.

04 September 2012

Shenandoah National Park, Again

We went camping again this weekend since we finally could go for more than one night and it was lovely.  I'm not sure how I feel about Shenandoah National Park though.  Yes, it's a lovely and peaceful place, but I'm used to national parks in the West where they're more than just a beautiful place.  I feel more like I'm in a popular nature preserve there instead of really getting away from (or getting to) anything. 

Or maybe I just miss Yellowstone.