Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Monday and some musing


This week’s musing, hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading asks…


Which do you prefer: Adult -or- Young Adult books? Or, both? Why?




I prefer to read Adult Novels  (altho I've never thought of them in that term before), but I love Young-Adult books too.  I think lots of people miss out on really good books, good writing, good stories because they think of  YA as being for teenagers.   I don't think that's true.  Subject matter, themes, plot,  character development,  social issues in YA adult books are as engaging and intense and interesting as in "Adult" novels.  
Again...that would  "adult"  concerns me.  Good literature is good literature...I think a person  should read what interests them and not worry about labels.
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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.







Last week, I  finished  "The Hand That First Held Mine" by Maggie O'Farrell.
We read this one for one of my book clubs.  While I enjoyed it, I didn't love it.  I've noticed tho, that books we don't LOVE are the best books for our book club discussion.  We all enjoyed the book on some level, as well as we each had issues with the book on other levels.
O'Farrel's writing style was different than what some of us were used to.
If you remember, I read Cannery Row the week before last, for my other book club.   O'Farrel's writing style reminded me a bit of John Steinbeck's in Cannery Row.
I guess that's a compliment!
I liked the book and it was a quick and easy read for me.  I would recommend it to YOU.



I also finished   "Sugar House" by  Laura Lippman.  I love Lippman's Tess Monaghan.    She's one of my BFF's--in book land, that is.  I just love sitting down with a Tess Monaghan book and a hot cup of coffee in the morning  (along with a few homemade biscotti--perfect!)
I will be posting more about this book in a day or two. 


Up for this week?
Room by Emma Donoghue.
I'm 3% into it  (thanks Kindle), I can't wait to finish it.



And that is what I'm reading lately.



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Biscotti--Good things come in three's



A few days ago, Brenda at Brenda's  Canadian Kitchen made biscotti and it got me to thinking about making some myself. 
I am easily swayed by reading about food...the idea gets stuck in my head and I can't get it out.  And then it must have multiplied, because I ended up making three--yes THREE kinds of biscotti.   I wanted to do a contrast and compare taste test of my own.
I actually couldn't think of anything better than  getting up early in the morning,  getting a steaming hot cup of coffee, my book, and a couple  (or a few) biscotti and....well, need  I say more?  A perfect morning!
But oh my gosh, you should have seen my house yesterday.  Baking day.  I had biscotti all over the place, not to mention bowls and beaters and baking sheets.  I really should have taken a picture of that!

It seems that you either love biscotti or you don't.  I'm not sure there is any in-between.   I found this out yesterday after make three different kinds.  No one in my household would try any of it.  Not the Handyman nor my son, nor his wife, who were here for the evening.  I tried to give some to the twins (my grandchildren) ....they weren't that impressed either.

Maybe biscotti is an acquired taste.  Perhaps if you've had nothing but the dry, hard, rock like,  tooth-breaking, store bought, pre-packaged kind of biscotti,  you think you are not a biscotti liker. (unless you are a coffee dunker, but I am not that either, as I don't like crumbs in my coffee)  BUT,  you really should treat yourself to some homemade biscotti.  There is a world of difference  and enough varieties to make anyone happy.
Homemade, while also 2x baked, is just a bit fresher and moister, not so "rock-hard."  It's just better.  (I have such a way with words....better.  It's just better.  Really, seriously BETTER.  Trust me.)

Here are a few different varieties to try....the ones I made yesterday.




Talk about contrast and compare.  These are all biscotti.  Different varieties.

The biscotti on top is  Cranberry-Walnut Biscotti.    This is my friend Karen of Karen Cooks, recipe.  The funny thing is, I didn't get this off of her blog, I had her send it to me about a year ago, when she wrote about it on facebook.  But last night, I checked her blog to see if she had ever posted it, and she did....about 3 years ago.   


I loved this biscotti.  The walnuts gave it a different taste than the almond biscotti I am used to. I love walnuts in cookies, so this was a great taste.  The cranberries gave a great tart/sweet bite.
Mmmmmmm!


Cranberry-Walnut Biscotti



1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (room temp)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup Sherry
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, cranberries, walnuts, and sherry. Blend in flour and baking powder.

Form two loaves, 2"x 2" x 16" (dough will be sticky)
Bake at 375 degrees for approx 20 minutes.

Cut into 3/4" diagonal slices; place flat side down on cookie sheet. Bake for approx 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
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The biscotti in the middle of the plate is  from a recipe I received from an older Italian lady when I lived in Los Banos, California.  Her name was Alma Petrocelli and she called them,  "Italian Almond Cookies".


 


If I make biscotti, this is the recipe I usually use.  Very simple and very good.

Italian Almond Cookies

1 stick of butter
1 stick of margarine
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
Mix together until well blended

1 cup toasted almonds--roughly chopped
1 tsp vanilla
add to the mixture and stir well

3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
add to mixture and mix well with a large spoon.

Heat over to 350.
Place the dough on a floured board and make 6 pieces.  Roll each piece into an oblong roll 6" to  8" long and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes...till lightly browned.  Remove from oven and cut with a very sharp knife, diagonally into 1" wide pieces...return to cookie sheet and bake about 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and place on paper towels.  Let cool for about 20 minutes and then sprinkle  with powdered sugar.
When completely cool, place in canister and you can freeze or not.
Makes about 6-7 dozen cookies.
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The third one on the plate is a recipe I have in my kitchen notebook.  I
e-mailed it to myself, which means I did find it on someone's blog.  I just didn't e-mail that part of it.  I try really hard to give credit where credit is due, but in this case, I'll just say:  one great biscotti!  (whoever... ?)
Coconut Pecan Biscotti




I could really taste the brown sugar in this recipe.  I love coconut and I love pecans, so this too is a win-win.



Coconut Pecan Biscotti

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T. sweetened shredded coconut
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
 1 cup finely chopped pecans
*optional: chocolate for dipping

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in coconut.  Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Gradually stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Mix in pecans.
Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to  350.
Line cookie sheet with parchment.  Turn dough out onto a floured work surface.  Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 2-inch-wide log.  Transfer logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.  Bake until logs are golden brown, firm to touch and tester inserted comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on cookie sheet for about 20 minutes.

Reduce oven temp to 325

Transfer logs to work surface, discard parchment.  Cut each log diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange cookies flat side down on unlined cookie sheets. Bake until golden and crisp about 15 minutes.
Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

*If desired, dip one end of biscotti into melted chocolate: cool on racks.



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We all have our ways of taking our pics.  And before I got my good camera, I had a little folding white board that I used as my backdrop.   I used it again this time.
Here are a couple of bloopers that took me by surprise while I was trying to get a good pic.
This was my son Mark's hand coming at me...or...coming at the cookies.
(WHICH, he wouldn't eat by the way!)



Sunday, February 20, 2011

lemon bars and Cannery row



I managed to get thru 85%  (I know this EXACTLY because of my Kindle) of Cannery Row before we met for book club on Thursday night.  I enjoyed it very much.  I like the way Steinbeck writes.  
There were only 6 of us present at Book club this month---last month there were 16.  It ebbs and flows.  I must say tho, that the discussion was much better with fewer of us--but of the 6 of us there only 3 had finished the book.  I will finish it, but I'm not sure the other two will.  While they appreciated  Steinbeck's writing style, the storyline was difficult for them.  It didn't hold their interest. 
If truth be told, I didn't love it so much that I had difficult putting it down, but I liked it well enough to want to finish it. 
At this book club,  The Lit Wits, we also feed the masses who show up, be it 6 or 16.  And most of the time we try to cook according tho the theme of the book.   This night we had clam chowder and salad and hard rolls and lemon cake for dessert.  We were all enjoying the chowder and saying how good it was and our host Heather had to 'fess up' and admit to using Campbell's Soup.  How funny is that?
It was really good and the evening was such fun!




On Friday morning, I made some lemon bars.  I was inspired by Cathy from Wives with Knives.  Her pictures just looked so good!  And,  as you know if you read my post from yesterday,  I have my grandbabies this weekend and I wanted to make lemon bars for my daughter-in-law.  I was exchanging one for the other.  Babies for lemon bars.  Sounds like a fair trade, dont' you think?  I also gave her my Kindle for the weekend, so she can read a book I have on there.  (I will finish Cannery Row--Scouts honor)....it's not like I'm going to have time to read anything  this weekend anyway!



I have a 'go to' lemon bar recipe, that I usually use, but after seeing the pictures from Wives with Knives, I thought I'd try Cathy's recipe, which is Ina Garten's recipe.   It had much more fresh lemon juice.  Like 1/2 cup more.  Plus fresh lemon zest, which mine does not have.    These were very tart.  Very tart.  But I liked them very much.  Very much.  I am repeating myself---to make a point--they were very good.
The only thing I did wrong was:  I used a 8x12 pan instead of a 9x13.   So, they were a bit thicker than they should have been.  Perhaps they should have been baked  just a tad bit longer than I baked them.  But other than that, they were really good. 
A perfect dessert....with steaming hot tea or hot coffee...I want one now! 



Luscious Lemon Bars from Wives with Knives  (and Ina Garten)

For the Crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 pound granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt

For the Filling:
6 extra large eggs, room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbs grated lemon juice  (4-6) lemons
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar fro dusting.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Combine the flour and salt, and with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed.  Dump the dough onto a well floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9x13x2 inch baking sheet, building up 1/2 inch edge on all sides.  Chill.

Bake the crust for  15-20 minutes, until very lightly browned.  Let cook on a wire rack.  Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and the flour.  Pour over the crust and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the filling is set.  Cool to room temperature.  Cut into squares and dust with confectioners sugar.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

I have about 3 blog posts I want to put up....but I'm busy with my grandbabies. Twins.  So, this is the only one that will get posted today.
  And yes...that IS my phone stuck in the ball-toy-thing.   Oh...and it looks like there is a domino in there too!




We are off to Walmart now....to buy SLIPPERS.  And more balls, so perhaps they will use them instead of my phone...which is STILL stuck in the ball-toy-thingy.  It rang too--when someone called.  We all just sat and looked at it.

I'm linking this to Snapshot Saturday, a meme from Alyce, "At Home With Books".     Stop by and check out all the great 'snapshots'.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

White Chicken Pizza



You really must try this chicken pizza.  It's really good.   And it was really fast.
I don't like to cook much Mondays thru Thursdays.  I love to do it on the weekend, but coming home after work and getting supper started and then cleaning up?  Leaves little time to read books.  Seriously.

So, sometimes I get in a  'weekday rut' with what I make for dinners.   Actually, its usually leftovers on Mondays and we go to  $1 Taco night on Thursdays. but that Tuesday and Wednesday meal planning really gets to me!  I mean EVERY Tuesday, Wednesday, Tuesday Wednesday, Tuesday....well,  you get the picture.  How many times can a person make tacos and pork chops?  Tacos and pork chops, tacos and pork chops, and a sloppy joe thrown in every once in a while to spice things up. 

Okay, so maybe I exaggerate on how much of a rut I'm in--but you can sympathize, right?  Last night tho, Lara at  Recipe Shoebox came to the rescue.  She had a White Chicken Pizza recipe on her website, that I had printed out a few weeks ago and I have been carrying it around in my purse just waiting for the perfect time to try it out.
Yesterday was that day.  This was so easy, I even ran to the store at 5:00pm when I got off work.  And I dread nothing as much as I dread the "after work, grocery shopping crowd".   But as I said, this was easy.
I just ran in and got my 5 ingredients  and checked out and I was home by 5:15!  We had full and satisfied tummies only an hour later!    And clean up was a breeze too.  It was a good night.

Besides being a quick and easy weeknight meal, this was very good too!  We loved it.  If you like a white pizza, this is for you.  And caramelized onions.  And chicken.


White Chicken Pizza with caramelized onions

2 Tbs butter
3 cups thinly sliced onions
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp thyme
2 oz garlic herb cream cheese
1 pre-baked pizza crust
1/3 cup Alfredo sauce
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 cup Italian blend shredded cheese

Melt butter in a skillet and cook onions and sugar for 20-25 minutes until a deep golden brown and caramelized.  Stir in thyme.
Stir cream cheese and Alfredo sauce together. Spread over the pizza crust. Top with chicken, then onions then shredded cheese.
Bake at 450 for 10 minutes or until heated thru.

There you have it!  Practically perfect in every way!
Altho.....if I were making it on a weekend,  I would make my own pizza crust.   And I would use more of the garlic cream cheese.  And more onions.
But come a Tuesday or Wednesday....Boboli Crust all the way!  


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

2 new memes for me

I just found a new meme. A bookish meme.

I must be feeling bookish lately and not so much foodish (foodish? Cookish?)
But it sounded like fun, so I thought I'd give it a try!


It's Tuesday, Where Are You? is a meme hosted by An Adventure in Reading. The object is to tell us about the book you are reading by describing where you are fictionally.


Let me see..... right now I am extremely poor and living with a group of friends or acquaintances in an abandoned house on a certain street in a small town on the coast of central California. Our street is lined with fisheries. It's during the depression and we are living by our wits, which sometimes doesn't turn out to be so good. I am the leader of my group and we want to do something nice for Doc, a man who has helped us all at certain times.


I am in Monterrey CA, the setting for John Steinbecks, Cannery Row. I am reading this book for my book club "the Lit Wit's".
*****************************************************************************

Another new meme I found is
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
This week we're being asked to list our Top Ten Love Stories.


This was a bit difficult for me.  I looked at everyone else's lists before posting mine.  There was a ton of Jane Austen and a lot of Vampire Love going on.  Some Harry Potter and Ginny  Weasley, and again, lots of Austen.   But it says "our" Top Ten.  'MY' Top Ten.  Mine.  Love Stories that spoke to me.

So, here goes.

1. Mrs. Mike by  Benedict and Nancy Freedman--1949.  I didn't read it in 1949, I'm not THAT old...but I did read it in 1972 when I was in Jr. High School.  I love Mrs. Mike, the Story of Katherine Mary O'Fallen  and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergent Mike Flanigan set in the Canadian wilderness in the early 1900s.
It's a great book!  A great love-story.

2. Seventeenth Summer by Maureen Daly--1942.   It was my first love story, about a boy and girl who dated the summer after high school graduation, and (God forgive her) kissed on the 3rd date!!

3. Out of Africa by Isek Dinesen.   Just a beautiful book.

4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger.

5. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Laud Montgomery.  I don't need to say a thing, do I?

6. Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding.  I actually read the book.  And I liked it.   Just the way it was.

7-10.  I am not going to lump all romances together, but a lot of mystery books with recurring characters together.   Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli/Ranger books by Janet Evanovich.  Tess Monaghan and Crow by Laura Lippman.  Deborah Knott and Dwight Bryant by Margaret Maron, Claire Ferguson and Russ Van Alstyne by Julia-Spencer Fleming.
It's been fun to watch these relationships grow over the course of many books.

In closing, I've decided that I'm really going to have to read "The Princess Bride" because it turned up on a lot of  lists.  A LOT OF LISTS.  I've seen the movie many times, but never have I read the book.

One more for the TBR pile.

 

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Monday--evening, but still, you want to know what I'm reading, right?

My little granddaughter 'fist bumped'  me last night on the computer screen while we were Skyping. She is 17 months old.

She is so cute!  As seen here showing off her new "high tops"







Let me tell you something about the 'fist bump'. When it first came about that everyone was doing it, the Handyman and I went to a college football game in Reno. UNR vs. WSU. We sat on the WSU side, as we are originally from the state of Washington and were showing our support. And our friends, who were WSU alumni were going, so we sat with them


There were some Fraternity guys sitting in front of us, who were having a grand time. I'm not sure what was in their water bottles, but they certainly were having fun!


At first UNR was winning, but then WSU started to make a comeback. When they made the touchdown to pull ahead, everyone on our side of the stadium was going crazy....one of the frat guys in front of me turned and presented me with his fist. In keeping with the celebratory mode and not wanting to appear old and uncool, I "one potatoed" him/his fist. (this was before you did the sideways fist bump--so to be fair to me, he did look like he wanted to play one potato, two potato)


Okay, that made me appear REALLY OLD, because I had forgotten the cool new 'fist bump'
This is what consoles me tho:  he was too drunk to notice.


Yes, even now up at Washington State University in his fraternity, I believe they have a secret 'one potato, two potato' handshake.
They just don't know why.




I'm supposed to be reading "Cannery Row" for my bookclub on Wednesday....Oh, it just dawned on me our meeting isn't until Thursday! HOORAY! I have an extra day. It's not that I don't like Steinbeck, because I really liked the one and only book of his I've ever read 'The Winter of our Discontent'. It was the kind of book that stayed with me for quite some time. He's a great author.
He won the Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize.


It's just that I waited to the last minute to start it, and his books, well I can't read them while watching TV. Not that I do that much, but I just mean they take a little bit of commitment. They deserve attention...and now at least, I get one more day of giving Cannery Row, the attention it deserves.





So, for "It's Monday, what are you reading" I guess you know what I'll be reading for the next couple of days....Cannery Row. Then I'll need to finish up "the Hand That First Held Mine" because we meet for that book club NEXT Wednesday. (see--it wasn't so strange of me to think I had to get one of the books done by Wed. It was just the wrong book and the wrong week)







Let me move on to "Musing Mondays"
This week’s musing (in honor of St. Valentine‘s Day) asks two questions, but you only need to answer one…

 If you read romance novels, answer this question:
Who are your favorite “romance” authors? Why?


If you do NOT read romance novels, answer this question instead:
Do you read love-themed books in honor of Valentine’s Day? Or, Valentine’s Day books, specifically? If so, give us some examples! If not, why not?

Well, I used to read historical romances all the time. In fact....and this is kind of embarrassing...my oldest son got his name from a romance novel by Rosemary Rogers, called "The Wildest Heart".    


  The Handyman did not know this at the time, he just liked the name Lucas, when I suggested it to him. I confessed to this when our Lucas was a preteen. Both of them, my son and my Handyman just looked at me without much expression and refuse to this day to admit that his name is taken from a romance novel.


He, the Lucas in the book, was tho: a devastatingly handsome half-Apache renegade, whose reputation as a feared outlaw both attracted and repelled her.
And I was in love with him (the character in the book)! How can one NOT fall in love with a devastatingly handsome half-Apache renegade?


(laughing)... I have not read romance novels in years and years, but there was a time when I really enjoyed them. And, no I do not read themed Love storys for Valentine's Day. I don't know why not. Maybe I should.


I remember once when I was in my favorite bookstore "The Bookworm" (see a small glimpse of my fav Bookworm store here  --only if you want.  It's a boringly long old post of mine)
and there were these 2 little old ladies (probably they were in their 50's like me now) and they had a notebook to keep track of their romances. They would confer, "Ethel, have we read this one?" and Ethel would look in her notebook and say, "No, Enid, but we really like that author".


I giggled to myself and ---on no, I just realized something ----OH MY GAWD!!!     I have a notebook now!!! When did I become old like them? Of course my notebook is not for romance novels, but for mystery and suspense with recurring characters---so I read them in order, duh!
Dang, that's funny.
Here is a link to my "notebook" which I wrote about when I used to do my "books only" blog.
This was from March 2009.
I'm really not organized at all...I just have a strange love affair with lists and small notebooks.


Hmmm... well, I give you a "fist bump" to getting older and still loving to read!!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Before I go to bed, I have to tell ya

I made these great Peanut Butter Cup Bars!
(just a little treat from another blogger)



....but before I go there.....


My friend Laura and her husband won raffle tickets to the Grammy Awards, so I've been watching the awards for the past 3 hours trying to catch a glimpse of them.  I'm not sure we saw them at all, but it was fun saying we did.


This is Laura in front of the Staples Center before going in. They didn't allow cameras but they had their phone, so were keeping me and other updated on facebook.

I've noticed something about the Grammy Awards--the music isn't all that good.  Not the songs, but the sound.   I mean, when you hear these people in concert or on the radio another media venue, they sound so much better.  But I don't know, it's like the sound system when they broadcast from the Grammy's, they just don't sound---as well, as I've heard them before.

It's just an odd little thought running thru my brain as I am STILL looking for Laura and Tony.



Here they are!  All settled in their seats waiting for the show to begin.  I hope that sometime during the night, she ran into someone fun in the bathroom!

While we watched, we ate these peanut butter cup brownie treats.  I got the recipe from Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.    If you'd like the recipe just click on the link to her blog.
They were a good treat to have  tonight, BUT, I have to take them to work with me tomorrow, because I don't want to eat the whole pan of them.   And I could.


Hmmmm....if you look close, you can see my thumb print in the middle of the  brownie.  It was falling off the spatula and I caught it.    Funny.
These were really good....and really rich. 
I'm off to try to read some of   'Cannery Row', which I haven't started but it's our book club pick for Wednesday. 
I better get to reading.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snapshot Saturday


Every Friday night, if we are not busy and our friends, The Miltons, are not busy, we have dinner together.  We've done this for years. 
Last night Robbie (Milton) brought the wine....in this cool blue bottle.  And I drug out my cool record player--circa 1973--from the garage, as well as my 45's from the  70's, the Handyman his LP's from the 60's, and we had a grand time.

We even had a stray 8-track to  try out.
But back to the records--it was great, all the scratching and popping and hissing  of the old records.  We accidentally put on an LP on 45 speed and got a big laugh out of that.  Or maybe we got a laugh out of the wine!

John (Milton) had just purchased Time-Life's Woodstock Collection on CD and he let me borrow them.
So, as I sit here writing a short post for Snapshot Saturday,  I am downloading them onto my computer, so I can upload them to my Mp3 player later.
Ha ha--times have changed.

Alyce at  "At Home With Books" hosts  Snapshot Saturday.
Stop by and check out everyone's snapshots.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I'ts Monday!

It's Monday, What are you reading"
This weekly recap is hosted by Shelia of One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.

Each week we recap what we’ve read and look at what’s coming up this week. If you’re interested head over to Shelia’s site and get involved

 I am right in the middle of Margaret Maron's "Christmas Mourning", a Deborah Knott mystery. I'm reading it on my Kindle. (which by the way, I just got a lovely red paten leather cover for. very trendy!)


I LOVE Maron's Deborah Knott mystery series. I think they are my favorite books of all time.




One has to have a favorite, right? It's not great literature, but it's a great read. For me.


I'm also reading (or listening to, on my Mp3 player), The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart.   (the book can be purchased by two different names....I'm not sure why)








I just finished up "Dead to the World" a Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris, and "Sizzling Sixteen" A Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evonovich.




The last 7 books I've read have been series mysteries with recurring characters. I love them as  much as I love old friends.    Sometimes it's not so much the story, but the character development and the setting for me. I love the settings of series mysteries. I love getting to know the towns and feeling familiar with the places I read about.


I should have really joined in Sheila's "Where are you Reading" Challenge, because I've already been to Maryland, Texas, Maine, Oklahoma, Illinois, New Jersey, Louisiana and North Carolina this year. (I wonder if it's too late?)


I've loved catching up with these familiar and comfortable characters and places this winter.
Next week tho, I'm moving on and will start "Cannery Row" by John Steinbeck for my Lit Wits book club and then "The Hand That First Held Mine" by Maggie O'Farrell for my Totally Lit book club.


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Monday Musings  
Hosted by MizB at  Should be Reading


This week’s musing asks…


How do you react to the “book police”? (people who judge what you are reading, and try to make you feel guilty) Do you respond to their judgments? Or, do you keep quiet? Do you let what they say influence your reading, or do you do your own thing, regardless?

There are certain things I am not confidante about---but what books I read is not one of those things, because I read everything. Everything. From Willa Cather to Wilma Flintstone--if Wilma Flintstone wrote a book,that is. I can hold my own (usually) in any book setting, discussion, class. And at the same time, I am not a reading snob. I do love a good paranormal book once in a while. Take for instance the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I love them. I put them in the class of recurring mysteries, but really, they are about vampires and shape shifters and werewolves. And I love Harry Dresden, the wizard private investigator in Chicago! And also Harry Potter.


This genre is not my top genre of choice, but there are times when they are fun for me....so I read them. Why would we be reading ANY book if it wasn't for the fun of it? It frustrates me that people would judge a book by its cover, or a reader by what they are reading.


I think I would probably just say, a bit sarcastically, "and .....you became my literature instructor, when?"     I would have no problem saying that.
 If they judged my hair, I would probably go home and cry, but my books-- I can stick up for myself.

I think.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cookbook Sunday--Stuffed mushrooms

It's Cookbook Sunday--and Superbowl Sunday--it's gonna be a great day--friends and food!

I've never made stuffed mushrooms before--can you believe it?    There are so many ways to stuff a mushroom, everybody has a favorite.  And there really is no wrong way, or wrong stuffing, I found that out in this cookbook, as there was a multitude of stuffed mushroom recipes to try.



I didn't make these for today--Superbowl Sunday--I made them for a wine tasting party we went to last weekend.  It's kind of ironic then that the cookbook I chose is #2 in series produced by MADD  (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), because as we ate these, both the Handyman and I were drinking wine.  Luckily for us, we only live 2 blocks from where the party was being held AND we are both very responsible and usually one of us is the designated driver if the other one is going to partake. 

It made me smile tho, to see this advice in the front of this little cookbook called "Quick and Easy Appetizers"  (which is cookbook #39, in my own personal countdown).



It's sound advice, and some we should all take to heart.  All the time.  Especially today, since there will be an abundance of partying this afternoon.

I chose to make the simplest, but I think one of the best, mushroom stuffings in the book:  Stovetop stuffing.
YES---Stovetop Stuffing!  The box you can buy on your grocers shelves.  I made the stuffing--a bit moister than it calls for, added some pork sausage and stuffed my mushrooms.
That was it.  And there were gobbled up in a flash.  I even made some extra for just the Handyman and I the next afternoon.    I love the cheese stuffings  that most mushrooms I've eaten have, but these were just really good.  And really easy.  And a bit different.  I would definitely make them again.



This cookbook was one I confiscated from my mother's  yard sale box.    It was published in 1993 from Dial Publishers.  It's the Food Writers Favorites for MADD and it's the 2nd in the series. 



Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
20 large mushrooms
1 box of Stovetop stuffing
1/2 lb.  mild pork sausage
grated Parmesan cheese

Rub mushrooms clean with a damp cloth.  Remove stems.  Fry sausage until crispy, make the stovetop stuffing according to directions on the back of the box, in the sausage pan (leaving sausage in the pan).  Stuff the mushrooms, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 350F oven for 20-30 minutes, until hot.

Okay, now go check out who else participated in Cookbook Sundays! 
And you too, can add recipe you've made recently from one of the cookbooks on your shelf.

By the way....what do you stuff your mushrooms with?


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Snapshot Saturday

I live in Northern Nevada--the High Desert.  We don't have the amazing saguaro cactus of the south,  we mostly have sagebrush and tumbleweeds.  And lots and lots of mountains, and on those mountains we have more and more sagebrush.  (NV is the most mountainest (?) state in the United States--we have the most mountain ranges, not the highest or the longest, just the most).
We are also home to the famous "Burning Man" Festival, which takes place in the Black Rock Desert about 100 miles from where I live--but in NV miles, that is really nothing. 

On the edge of the  playa before the "official" Black Rock desert, there is a dry lake bed.
One night last summer,  we invited some friends to go along out in the evening to look at the stars.  You can't BELIEVE  what the stars can look like out in the desert.  There are a million/trillion of them and they are bright and beautiful.
We took hot dogs and lawn chairs and books and, oh yeah!  Bikes for the kids. We took our grandson.

This is what it looked like that evening  before night fell.




Kids riding bikes on the dry lake bed.  Not one piece of vegetation. Not one plant, not one animal, just dry caked dirt.

**I am linking this to Snapshot Saturday hosted by Alyce from    At Home With Books.  Stop by to see all the links to lots of great photos.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Copy Cat Dinner and the Superbowl

Am I supposed to have a Superbowl food posted here?  Before Sunday?  Really?  Dang.  How about a Superbowl book to read between the commercials, before Sunday?
Yes, I did say  "between the commercials".  I love those (commercials), and while I am also a football liker, I'm not a football lover, so I don't have to keep both eyes glued to the TV.  The party is great, the food is great and the company is great....but do you want to know a secret?  If it were the Handyman and I alone on Superbowl Sunday, I'd make some nachos, open my book and read while he watched the game.  And we would both be happy.

And a great Game Day Book?  Janet Evonovich's Stephanie Plumb books.  Yes, I know I was crabby the other day and said they were all alike---  (see here) but I got over that quickly and just finished 'Sizzlin' Sixteen', a very fun read.
The SP books are quick, fun, and you fall in love with all the characters.  Simple enough to read and watch the big game at the same time.

I do need to make an appetizer for the big game on Sunday--we are going to friends--I guess I better search the food blog world for some great ideas!





Last night I made a copycat dinner.
I made dinner from Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.

You can go to her blog to check out the recipes. (and that way I don't have to write them all out--I hate that part about posting   -grins- )

I can tell you that  both the Jucy Lucy Burgers and the 'Lime in the Coconut' Frosted Cheesecake bars, were really good!!
(my toasted coconut on top was REALLY toasted.  But it was REALLY good too)
(I am laughing at myself because I just went to Brenda's blog and her  bars were very nice looking and mine are all crusty on top---a bit too much toasting?  but it's the taste that counts.  Check  out her bars!)


We liked the garlic toast as "the bun" too, for these burgers.  I sent the Handyman to the store once again, and once again he called me once he was there, "are you sure we don't need buns?" he asked.
And I used cheddar, because I had it at home.

So now....go check out Brenda's site for all the details and make your own
copy cat dinner.
It was very good!


Lime in the Coconut Cheesecake Bars

Cookie Base

1
pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
2
tablespoons Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/3
cup butter or margarine, softened
1
egg, slightly beaten

Filling

2
packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1
can (16 oz) cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
3
tablespoons lime juice
1
teaspoon vanilla
2
eggs

Topping

1
container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® Whipped cream cheese frosting
1 1/4
cups coconut, toasted
2
teaspoons grated lime peel
  • 1Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press evenly in bottom of pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes.
  • 2Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in cream of coconut until well blended. Beat in lime juice, vanilla and 2 eggs until smooth. Spread over cookie base.
  • 3Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set and light golden brown on edges. Cool 30 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate 1 hour to cool completely.
  • 4Carefully spread frosting over filling. Sprinkle with coconut and lime peel. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.
    ********************************
    INGREDIENTS
    • 4 slices American cheese (about 3 ounces)
    • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (15 to 20 percent fat content), chilled
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • Vegetable oil, for oiling the grill
    • 4 (4-inch) hamburger buns, split and toasted
    • Sliced pickles, for serving
    • Combine ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, and pepper in a large bowl; mix well. Form 8, thin patties from the beef. Each patty should be slightly larger than a slice of cheese.
    • Cut each slice of American cheese into 4 equal pieces; stack the pieces. Sandwich one stack of cheese between 2 ground beef patties. Tightly pinch edges together tightly seal the cheese within the meat. Repeat with the remaining cheese and patties.
    • Preheat a cast-iron or other heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Cook burgers until well browned, about 4 minutes. It is common for burgers to puff up due to steam from the melting cheese. Turn burgers and prick the top of each to allow steam to escape; cook until browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside; about 4 minutes. Serve on hamburger buns.

My Big Backyard (on Thursday instead of Wednesday)

Because I'm a nerd, I want to see how my backyard changes throughout the year. So! I'm going to take a few pictures of it ea...