Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Misery RAL

From Goodreads:
Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon had just killed her - with relief, with joy. Misery had made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing. 

That's when the car accident happened, and he woke up in pain in a strange bed. But it wasn't the hospital. Annie Wilkes had pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs. 

The good news was that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news was that she was Paul's Number One Fan. And when she found out what Paul had done to Misery, she didn't like it. She didn't like it at all.

From Me:
I had read this book years ago, but decided to join in the fun with Care's Online Book Club as she hosted a Read-a-long (#miseryRAL)  for Stephen King's book:
MISERY.
I had a lot of fun, but I'll get into that in a minute.

I had forgotten how CREEPY Annie Wilkes is!!!
Creepy!
With a capitol C!
It was a great King classic!
Ominous and horrible and twisted!
(I am over using the !  I know, but I can't help it.  I'm trying to get a point across on how--Stephen Kingish it was!)

I listened to this on audio and I know that some of the others in the RAL weren't impressed with the narration, but it worked fine for me.  
The story within a story (because Annie Wilkes makes Paul Sheldon write another Misery Chastain novel)  Eh.  That's never been a big draw for me, but it too, worked okay in this great novel.

Because I am late in writing my round-up,  I had the pleasure of reading every one else's reviews/opinions and I also noticed that their is mention of King's struggle with his endings.
I'm with you there #miseryRAL sisters!
I  have felt the same way in some of his books.
Also, they say the movie has a better ending than the book too.  I'll have to re-watch that sometime this summer.
As far as suspense tho, I feel this book far outweighs any King book that I've read so far.

At the first of the month, I had fun Tweeting  (#miseryRAL) every once in a while, but let's face it....I'm old.
(not really, but I figure if I say it enough now, it won't be so bad when it happens in a couple of years*)
And social media-- well, I could make a ton of excuses about why I'm not any good, but really--you don't care, do you?

So, let me just say---that when I did join in, it was fun!
And you all were very gracious and told me,  "yeah,  you just jump in, any time'.
So, I did.
And I would do it again.
In October!
I'm excited!

As well as having a fun time, I discovered some great blogs during the #miseryRAL
That's always a good thing.


*ps-- I'm not really that old.
except to my grandchildren.  Then I'm ancient!




Monday, June 29, 2015

Cooking Club -- CAJUN FOOD.


Cooking Club!
Meeting number 2.
You remember the rules, etc from the last cooking club meeting, right?
Of course you do.
You remember everything I've ever said!


Gina and Mark were away so Shelly and Lorin filled in as subs.
Shelly is a permanent substitute. 
We figure that someone will always not be able to make it...  that's where Shelly steps in.
And she was just MOVED beyond WORDS to have that honor bestowed upon her, as you can tell!




And the category was:
CAJUN FOOD
In a wild west setting.
This is it:


I wish I had been more vigilant about taking photos of April's backyard.
She was the host.
This photo above is  just one small part of her yard.
It's her husband's shop in the back.
She just has such a knack for decorating.
It's lovely.

While April was busy preparing her Cajun, low country boil, the rest of us were visiting and having wine.



 Sally snuck in to make sure that April didn't need any help!


While the rest of us sat with our wine glasses and enjoyed the evening.

One nice thing about summer evenings in Northern Nevada is that it cools off and there comes a slight breeze.
And we have hardly any bugs.


Um...what did I say about a 'slight' breeze?
LOOK AT THAT HAIR!
A monsoon came up---tropical hurricane winds!
Look at it whipping thru the trees!
( so I can take pictures of WIND but not the rest of April's backyard? )




These guys sat calmly thru the 5 minute windstorm, waiting for their food.



 Ta Da!!
And here it is!







 We learned
that....
  • CREOLE refers to the original European — particularly French and Spanish — settlers of New Orleans. They were mostly from wealthy families and brought or sent for chefs from Madrid, Paris, and other European capitals.
  • CAJUNS are the descendants from the former French colony in East Canada, called Acadia (Nova Scotia) who were exiled by the English in 1755.  Many made their way to Louisiana, settling in the swamps and bayous. Cajun cooking has very little influence of the classical cuisine of Europe--it is truly an American Cuisine.
The cultural difference between the two methods of cooking lies in the fact that Creoles had access to local markets, and servants to cook their food while Cajuns lived mostly off the land, were subject to the elements of the seasons, and generally cooked meals in one large pot.

It is said that a Creole feeds one family with three chickens and a Cajun feeds three families with one chicken.  

Another major difference between Creole and Cajun food is in the type of roux used as the base of sauces, stews, soups, and other savory dishes. Creole roux is made from butter and flour (as in France), while Cajun roux is made from lard or oil and flour. This is partly due to the scarcity of dairy products in some areas of Acadiana (Acadia + Louisiana) when Cajun cuisine was being developed. Gumbo is perhaps the signature dish of both cuisines. Creole gumbo has a tomato base and is more of a soup, while Cajun gumbo has a roux base and is more of a stew.



We are certainly not experts at cooking, but we all like to eat, and we all like to learn new things.  And we like to enjoy each other's company and laugh.
We took a quiz on crawdads.  Because crawdads or craw-fish are big in Cajun cooking.
And by the way, it was split down the middle of this table on who said crawdad and who said craw-fish or cray-fish.

This time our theme was Cajun  Cooking.
Shelly had the appetizer --- Cajun meatballs  (was supposed to have alligator meat, she comprised with elk meat)
April  had the main dish-- Low Country Boil
Debbie E had a side dish --- Cajun cheesy corn bread with jalapenos
Debbie/me had a side dish-- Dirty  Rice
And Sally?

Here she is getting ready for her Bananas Foster!



Banana Liqueur AND Rum!!


 Paul tastes the rum to make sure it's good!
Very important step.


Smelled so YUMMY in all it's brown sugar and cinnamoniness!



 And then....the lighting of the rum!!




 Ta Da!
Flambe`


The finished project!
Mmm... Mmmm... good!


And the night wouldn't have been complete without some Cajun music.  Or... New Orleans Jazz.




As you know, I made Dirty Rice (much to the disappointment of Shelly's husband Lorin.  He was sure I'd make Red Beans and Rice)
I did discover that originally, Dirty Rice was cooked with chicken livers, but... well, I found a different recipe that  used ground beef and ground sausage.
We like to try out new things, but chicken livers is not  one of them.



Dirty Rice is really good!
A bit spicy, but not too bad.

Now  don't think bad of me, but I didn't pay attention to the recipe.
No, I didn't leave anything  out.
No, I cooked it according to directions.

But I didn't read the fine print.....
... serves 45-50.

I now have three 9x13 pans of dirty rice in my fridge!





We ate one pretty much at the Cooking Club.
One is going home with my son and his wife.
And... Rich and I are eating leftovers for a while.
Lots and lots of leftovers!

Dirty  Rice Casserole
from Taste of Home

2 pounds of ground beef
2 pounds of ground sausage
2 large onions, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 jar diced pimientos, drained
5 cups of water
2 cans each, undiluted of:
cream of chicken soup
cream of mushroom soup
condensed French Onion soup
2 T Creole seasoning
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t cayenne pepper
4 c ups uncooked long grain rice

In several Dutch ovens or stockpots

**this should have been my first clue--several stockpots!

cook the beef , pork and onions over med.  heat until meat is no longer pink.  Drain.
Stir in the celery, green pepper and pimientos.
Combine water and soups, stir in Creole seasoning, salt, pepper and cayenne. Stir into meat mixture, bring to a boil and stir in the rice.

Carefully transfer mixture to three greased 13x9 baking dishes. Cover and bake at 350F , stir. cover and bake for  30-40 minutes longer, or until rice is tender.






 At the end of the meal, we picked from a hat and next time our theme  is:

Let's Go To Hawaii!


Necessary Lies


From Goodreads:
Bestselling author Diane Chamberlain delivers a breakout book about a small southern town fifty years ago, and the darkest—and most hopeful—places in the human heart

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients' lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?

From Me:
I was surprised by how much I loved this book.
I didn't even realize they did Eugenics in the United States!  (forced sterilization)  I am so naive in some ways.
I thought the book was very well done, and so enlightening about historical events that are little known.
This book is categorized as Women's Fiction. I'm going to take a little issue with that.  What exactly is Women's Fiction? 
This book talked about a controversial social issue in the 1960's.  It was historically factual and very interesting.
The plot, the setting, the theme --- all well done.
The main characters were women.  
Does that make it women's fiction?

Just wondering. 

I listened to this on audio and I loved the narrator, Allison Elliot, she did a great job.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read.
I loved it.
I am giving it 5 stars!

************

This book was also chosen by Shelly for our Lit Wits club this month!

The Lit Wit's consensus was----4.5 stars!!
The only thing that bothered some of them was that the ending was a little too tidy.
It was, but sometimes I'm just in the mood for tidiness at the end of a book.


We always have food at this one.
And it's no pot-luck! 
It's all planned, cooked, presented by the host.
It's a bit of a pressure--having to cook for that many people!
It was a small group this time, only 12 of us.
We have 23 in the group.

It was a lovely meal of baked chicken and pork chops, and broccoli salad and fruit and a potato casserole and brownies and ice cream!
YUMMY!


I say this all the time, but I will say it again:
I love these women!

What is it about book club that bonds you?
Discussion on complex subjects?
Listening without arguing about differing opinions on such subjects.
Book talk leading to life talk?
Sharing secrets and memories?

Or -- the Alcohol? 
Just kidding.




Keeli is not going to like the photo with her eyes closed. (sorry)
And then someone told us about the TLC show  "Sex put me in the ER".
We had to take a look!
~it made us laugh our arses off~
Who thinks of these things?



After dinner, we got down to some good book club talk!
Shelly being our leader.



We had a great discussion about this book --- which segued into social work today, and the rights of spouses, and women.
It was a fun evening.
Read the book.
The Lit Wits recommends it!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #58 -- Oven Fried Zucchini


Friday Friend Recipe #58: Oven Fried Zucchini

Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.
What is the Friday Friend cookbook: I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county). At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions, exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts, had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

AND, we contributed recipes for a cookbook.

I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said,  "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him!  Maybe I will.

Which brings me to this... recipe #58

Barb's
Oven Fried Zucchini


I never do this anymore:


Do a tutorial.  I figure my way of chopping zucchini is not all that exciting. BUT-- (I can't remember what I was going to say.)

Hmmmm.... well, one thing,.... since this is a typed up homemade cookbook with recipes submitted by my friends, I am never sure if I am making it 'right'.  Or like they do.  None of them ever submitted one photo of their finished product, not to mention a tutorial on how I am supposed to make their dish!

Hey Barrrrrrbb--- does this look right?  Is this how you do it?




Oven Fried Zucchini
Barbara Brown
Buckeye, AZ

1/2 cup flour
1 large zucchini, cut into 4" long strips, 1/2" thick
1/2 cup egg substitute
3/4 cup cornflake crumbs
sour cream

Heat oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with Pam. Coat zucchini strips lightly in flour. Dip strips in egg and then in crumbs. Put on baking sheet and spray lightly with Pam.  Bake 15-20 minutes or till lightly browned. Turn with spatula and bake another 15 minutes or so.
Use sour cream to dip in.




It was really good stuff!
I made it and the Handyman and I spend the afternoon devouring it.
And it's HEALTHY for you!  And good.  I said good already.  But I was surprised. 
One thing, I didn't do, was I didn't buy egg substitute.  I just used an egg.




This is Barb's 12th entry into the FF Cookbook.
so, she really needs no introduction.
When we both lived in the state of CA, (neither of us does now), we used to spend weekends at each other's homes--we lived about  3 hours apart. And we would have marathon game weekends. 
(they are huge gamers in the true sense of the word-- with cards, dice, a board with pieces you have to move around.)
(and a tad competitive---they keep a record book of wins and losses---for Yahtzee!)

Anyway, one fourth of July weekend, they made me play golf.
They made me have a chipping contest in their backyard.
It was fun---- but I doubt I've ever held a golf club since!
And as you can tell (by the Handyman's hair color and the size of his glasses) this was a long time ago!

(I think I have red socks on---for some patriotic wear.  Or I had really sun-burned ankles!)



The Handyman and Barb must have won at least one game that weekend.



Barb and Doug.



I'm not sure what's going on here... but I couldn't pass up this picture!


GOODBYE!!
Y'all come back now!




I am going to link up with Weekend Cooking
hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Secret Life of Violet Grant (and other things)

From Goodreads:
Manhattan, 1964. Vivian Schuyler, newly graduated from Bryn Mawr College, has recently defied the privilege of her storied old Fifth Avenue family to do the unthinkable for a budding Kennedy-era socialite: break into the Mad Men world of razor-stylish Metropolitan magazine. But when she receives a bulky overseas parcel in the mail, the unexpected contents draw her inexorably back into her family’s past, and the hushed-over crime passionnel of an aunt she never knew, whose existence has been wiped from the record of history.

Berlin, 1914. Violet Schuyler Grant endures her marriage to the philandering and decades-older scientist Dr. Walter Grant for one reason: for all his faults, he provides the necessary support to her liminal position as a young American female physicist in prewar Germany. The arrival of Dr. Grant’s magnetic former student at the beginning of Europe’s fateful summer interrupts this delicate détente. Lionel Richardson, a captain in the British Army, challenges Violet to escape her husband’s perverse hold, and as the world edges into war and Lionel’s shocking true motives become evident, Violet is tempted to take the ultimate step to set herself free and seek a life of her own conviction with a man whose cause is as audacious as her own.

As the iridescent and fractured Vivian digs deeper into her aunt’s past and the mystery of her ultimate fate, Violet’s story of determination and desire unfolds, shedding light on the darkness of her years abroad . . . and teaching Vivian to reach forward with grace for the ambitious future––and the love––she wants most.


From me and the Totally Lit:
We thought it a great summer read!
A great Beach Read!
We all enjoyed it.
Some more than others, but overall, we thought it a fun, fast book and we are now excited to read 'A Hundred Summers" by the same author.

I give it 4 stars.
I liked the main character of Vivian.  She was quick witted and intelligent and I liked her repartee with her family and co-workers.
As an author, I think it takes talent to be able to write  witty word play/banter like that.  
(I can't think that fast myself....I'm  the kind that smiles and then goes home and thinks of a great comeback the next day)
While the story-line had some serious subjects, it was not too complex-- that's what makes it a 'beach' read-- and yet, filled with enough mystery and intrigue to keep you turning those pages.
You WANT to find out what happened!

I also like the fact that her books intertwine.  
We found out last, going over the discussion questions, that the  minor characters "The Greenwalds"  are in her book  "A Hundred Summers"! 
Which,  had just happened to arrive in my mail box on Tuesday.  I can't wait to read it.

**********
My book cover didn't look like that... Mine looked like this:



It was a small group last night. Summers are like that sometimes.
We shared a nice light summer supper of "Cool Beans Salad"  (yes, I did a blog post about cool beans salad once) and some fruit.


But as usual, we have a great time discussing the book, as well as what's going on in our lives.
Gini-- the second from the left just did an amazing job, painting our hillside letter (yes, I did a blog post about that once too... Hillside letters, only in the west), purple for Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Day-- The Longest Day, June 21st.  
She said that they had the  perfect color  of purple, but when it dried, it faded to a violet color. 
With her positive outlook she says that it is a symbol that Alzheimer's will fade away soon.
We can only hope.


I love these book club ladies!
Next month we will be reading  "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" by Chris Bohjalhin. 

In other news---I broke my 3rd computer this week.
I am having to do this blog at work.
One computer in the shop, 2 now waiting to follow.
We really need to just break down and buy a NEW ONE!!

I have so many blog posts to write:
Food and Flix
Stephen King Misery Read-along

Those 2 by Saturday!!
And I don't work on Fridays.

and then
Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown,
and another book club meets on Friday night!

I NEED A COMPUTER!





Monday, June 22, 2015

It's Monday!! And this is what I'm reading/doing


It's Monday, What're you Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.
She's taking a  little hiatus from it right now.
But all around the book blogging community, we put a shout out to her when we tell what we are reading on Monday!

I just finished these:
(and cannot wait to tell you what I thought of them)



And I am just starting these:




Much more intense than some I've read lately, but I think they will both be good.

This week, I am alone.  The Handyman is out of town and my son and grandkids just left.  
Yesterday,  I spent the afternoon watching a movie--The Butler, I thought it was really good.  2 episodes of Breaking Bad (I'm only on season 2.  I know I'm slow/later/whatever.  I want to like it--everybody else did--but it's very slow.)
And an episode of  Doc Martin.
Then I made popcorn for dinner and then I watched Masterpiece Theater,  the premier of Poldark.
And I liked it very much.

So..an afternoon on the couch, pretty much.  I did manage to do a bit of laundry tho.

Tonight?  Maybe a bowl of cereal and more Doc Martin and Breaking Bad.

**********

A couple of weeks ago, while we were up on Washington for:
a nephew's graduation, a granddaughter's graduation, the  birth of a grandniece....I thought we might be too busy to get to my favorite bookstore 
EVER!
The Bookworm.

It's been my favorite for  38 years.  Longer than the Handyman has been my favorite man.
I have not lived in the town where it is located for 36 years, but I always go in to say hello and spend money when I'm in town.
It  has moved locations 3 times and gotten bigger each time.
They had just recently moved into their present location and I had not seen it, but I was quickly running out of time.
On a trip out and about, the Handyman pulled into their new location and I ran inside.  I didn't have much time, but I did come away with a stack of books ---many recommend to me by Patty (or Patti).  She is  my new favorite bookstore friend!   She was amazing and nice and helpful. I tried to take her picture, but both of them were blurry.  She might be happy about that, I don't know.
Since I only had 15minutes, I was running around like a crazy person for the most part, but I did take a few pictures to share... cuz, it's my favorite.  
What can I say!

The new store is beautiful!
And I can't wait to go back.
Ask for Patty!






The Handyman finds a chair to sit and wait for me!
and to play on his phone.













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...