Not that you guys really truly care about what I have my nose stuck in these days…but maybe, just maybe, you do. What if you just don’t realize you care or are slightly intrigued? Or maybe you are looking for a new book to dive into. If so, you have come here on the right day! I hope to do these posts more often – maybe causing me to pick up my books more often instead of watching another Netflix something or other. Just be aware…I always have around 4-7 books going at the same time. Book ADHD.
If you have a book that you are like totally into, then leave me a comment and I will be sure to pick it up and give it a whirl. I am always looking for new books to read or cookbooks to try. Virtual book club maybe? I don’t know.
p.s. Also, I like ACTUAL books. I like the feel, the smell, the texture, the cover. I like to dog ear, underline, and bend the spine. I like to buy books that are worn and loved by their previous owner. I like to think about the person that read it before me, what was going on in their life when they read it, what did the story mean to them – was it life altering or just a summer beach read to relax the mind, did they take it on vacation or read it late at night when they couldn’t sleep. This is what I ponder when I pick up a book. A Kindle, while handy, doesn’t provoke those thoughts. It is a machine. But a real live book…well, it holds more than one story.
p.s.s. I can be a bit of a romantic when it comes to books and libraries and used book stores….just a heads up!
from bottom to top….
OK, so I do use my Kindle for one thing. Samples. Free samples. The sample generally consists of at least one chapter to several. A chapter or two will generally give you a decent taste of what lies ahead. If by the end of the sample, I want to read more….I simply add it to my ‘wish list’ and then make my way to the used book store. This works well for me.
Anywho, that is how I came about Cutting for Stone. I am only several chapters in and I am truly loving Verghese’s novel. What drew me to this book is that there is no apparent villain in the story beyond life itself. I do not like thrillers or suspenseful novels. I read to be transported, not scared to death.
The basic gist of this story is that it follows twin brothers that were orphaned when their Indian nun mother died during their birth, and their father, a British surgeon, abandoned them early. To say the least, the affair was a secret. The story unfolds from here….
I’ll give an update when I finish.
Jenny Lawson is the author/blogger behind The Bloggess. A blog that I have been reading for some time and has had me laughing until I have wept.
I have not yet opened this book, as the lovely U.S. Postal service just placed it on my front step last week. I am waiting for a moment in time where I have nothing planned, as I am sure I will blow right through it. Laughing, cackling, snorting, and giggling my way through.
Wanna cook real authentic Italian meals…get a cookbook written by a real authentic Italian. I bought this book when I heard Anne Burrell (a favorite of mine) state that Hazan’s cookbook was spot on for authentic Italian recipes/techniques. I then went to a cooking class with Loretta Paganini not a week later, and she not only sold this book, but is actually good friends with Hazan and recommended it. So, while the cookbook does not have any pictures ( I like pictures, sue me) the recipes, techniques, and essential information is top-notch.
And yes, I read cookbooks like novels.
I LOVE JOY. I love her blog. I love her podcast. And now I love her cookbook. Not a big surprise. I have made several recipes from her cookbook and let me tell you, the recipes do not disappoint. Neither do the photographs or the stories behind each recipe. Her voice and style of writing is easy, simple, and delightful. Simply put, I want to be her friend. We would be good friends, I am sure of it. If only she didn’t live in LA and I in Cleveland.
I am meeting her in July. Super excited! I am such a dork!
I was recommended this book by my yoga instructor. She often reads excerpts from it before class and they always left me wanting more. So I bought the book. This book is to be read with a highlighter. Or a pen/pencil. You will take notes in the margins and dog ear pages. You will come back to passages or chapters, rereading, recapturing the message.
Max Storm teaches ways to empower, to forgive, to strengthen, to show gratitude. A life with meaning. A present life. Most of us do not go around talking about wanting to be more present or wanting to lead a more meaningful life….but I think we should, because I think we all, at one point in our life, have given it thought. I know I have and do on a regular basis. And I think it is a good thing. We only have one life…and I think it would be time well spent to learn how to make it the absolute best. This book is helpful in that…at least opening the discussion and shining a light on where to start the journey of living a life worth breathing.
I read two magazines, from the first page (including Letters to the Editor) to the very last. Runner’s World and Oprah. I have many other subscriptions - all of which are food related, but none get read in their entirety, each and every month.
Runner’s World, while it has tips and tricks on running further and faster and tons of info on the latest gear, from shoes to sports bras, it also contains great pieces about people, ordinary and famous, fast and slow, winners and losers, heroes and nobodies, men and women, old and young…and how running has played a role in their life. Talk about motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even if not a runner, I would recommend reading…you might be lacing up and heading out before you know it. You know, for a walk
Oh and I read my magazines when I am running on the treadmill. It took some practice, but it is great talent/stupid human trick to have.
Warren Buffett’s biography. One thing you should know about me, I love a good story about a person’s life. I like traveling along side them as they maneuver through life. Therefore, I love biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs.
This one is taking me awhile to get through, but I can say one thing, Warren Buffett is one of a kind. At age 8, he knew more about stocks and bonds than I will ever understand. From the get go, Buffett was finding ways to earn money, be it selling gum or weekly magazines to golf balls. And then came the investing, which started early too. No surprise. He didn’t see money as something to earn and then spend, no he saw it as a ‘collection’ of sorts. Instead of Pandas or stamps, he collected money.
Be you a fan of Warren Buffett or not, I recommend the read.
Investments, stocks, business….that is not why I am reading the book. I don’t intend to learn anything, seeing how most of it goes over my head or has me running to Google to, well Google something or other. I am more intrigued by his relationships with his family and friends. Did you know that his mother was verbally/emotionally abusive? Or that his wife left him in 1977 and they lived separately until her death in 2004? Or that he lived with another woman during this time, whom he eventually married, after his wife’s death? I didn’t.
I like to read a story about a person’s life. The good, the funny, the heart warming, the ugly….I can only live my life. I can only experience my good, funny, heart warming, and ugly. But when I am reading a biography or a memoir, I am with Ben Franklin, sitting beside Thomas Jefferson discussing The Declaration of Independence, or with Einstein as he is wandering around Princeton’s campus. Or I am in Omaha, Nebraska discussing stocks and bonds.
The Glass Castle, Wall’s first book, was one of the best books I have read in the past few years. And when Half Broke Horse came out, it went straight to my wish list.
Half Broke Horse is a memoir of sorts, about her maternal grandmother. Well’s has a great writing style that brings to life, the time and the people. This book begins in the early 1900′s in Texas and follows her grandmother, as she overcomes many challenges from flash floods and bad marriages to world wars and prohibition. To say the least, this is one resilient woman. While the narrator is a women and it is about a women’s life, I think this book would be a good read for both men and women. As was The Glass Castle.
What are you reading?Read More
My cat crouches behind the toilet ( I really dislike this word by the way, always have)… ready to attack, when I am taking a shower. Weird, right? I thought so. He then slinks out of the bathroom once the water is turned off…as if I didn’t see him. Stan is a weirdo. A big furry weirdo. Proof is below.
I bought jeans online last week from Lands End Canvas and they were waiting for me when I got home. I LOVE Internet shopping. Let me tell you about these jeans….they fit better than any jean I have ever tried on in any store. In any store, alone, in the dressing room, near tears, under horrible lighting, silently hating my thighs. And my butt. Jean buying takes a day of high confidence because it is going to be in the gutter by the time you give up. Jeanless and mad at the world of fashion. But tonight, I am sitting in new jeans, feeling pretty darn good about my thighs and butt. Between Stanley and these jeans…I think the world might be coming to an end or Hell just froze over.
These jeans fit great even after eating
most some of the mango rhubarb crisp. I grab a forkfull with each pass through the kitchen. It is hiding in the oven right now. OK, so I put it in the oven to hide it from myself. But I know where it is…
Crisps are absolutely the easiest thing in the dessert world to make. Go here if you need a clear-cut guide to the differences between crisps vs. crumbles vs. cobblers vs. brownbettys vs. buckles vs. pandowdys. Or just trust me. A crisp is a fruit on the bottom and a flour/oat(sometimes)/butter/sugar mixture sprinkled on top. You get the pie like feel, but there is no crust to worry about. If the final product ends up juicier than expected…not bottom crust is gonna get soggy. Nah, the extra juice is just drizzled over an extra scoop of ice cream. Whats the harm in that? To say the least, crisps are a forgiving specie. And I love them.
Rhubarb is easy to find this time of year – you know, the pink/red celery looking stalks in the produce section that most veer away from. Rhubarb is commonly prepared with strawberries, which don’t get me wrong, is one of my favorite flavor combos out there. They are like peas and carrots or pb and j. But peas taste good with potatoes and pb is lovely with honey. What I am trying to say….rhubarb tastes great with other fruits. And guess what is in season now too? Mangos.
The sweetness of the mango pairs well with the rhubarb’s tartness. Mango rhubarb…watch, it’ll be the next big thing. You saw it here first
Eat this warmed with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream OR grab a pint of lemon gelato/ice cream. Lemon, mango, and rhubarb….sigh. So good and so tart. I love tart.
P.S. I also bought wedges. Boy do I love a good wedge. The shoe not the salad. I have never had a wedge salad (gasp!). They look quite difficult to eat. But wedge shoes, those are a cinch to wear! Okay, enough about shoes…go make this crsip for your family, friends, neighbors, or yourself. You will be glad you did!
Mango Rhubarb Crisp
9 inch round, deep dish pie plate
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed tightly
1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
pinch of salt
1 Stick Butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 Cups Rhubarb, large dice (about 4 stalks)
3 Cups Mango, cubed (about 2 mangos)
1/4 Cup White Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
Juice of 1 Lemon
Zest of 1 Lemon, grated
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Stir together flour, white sugar, brown sugar, oats, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in melted butter. Place bowl in fridge until needed.
In a large bowl combine rhubarb, mango, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and zest. Toss to combine. Pour mixture into a 9inch deep dish pie plate (or any deep dish that is oven able). Remove topping from fridge and evenly spread it over the fruit. Place dish into preheated oven and bake until topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling up along the sides. About 40-50 minutes. If the crumb topping begins to brown too quickly, tent with tinfoil to prevent further browning.(there won’t be a lot of liquid with this fruit combination, so not a lot of bubbling juice, but there will be a little bit)
Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. It is good cold too!
I made this soup Monday evening for dinner. It was after I had made a crisp ( to be posted about later this week) and was feeling like I needed to make something more , ah-hem, healthy to exist on.
Monday was my day off/pay off for working the weekend. I find it to be a fair trade. I didn’t have anything planned beyond running ( umm…that marathon is LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!), haircut/trim/got-my-bangs-back-that-were-no-longer-bangs, and puttering around the kitchen…all completed, just not necessarily in that order. OH, and a total un-necessary, necessary trip to Target. A little retail therapy if you will.
Once home and coming off my caffeine buzz – I am sucked into Starbucks in the front of Target each and every time. I don’t even try to resist anymore, I just get in line. Any who… I realized I needed actual food for dinner…besides the crisp. Something healthy, yet substantial. With a bit of green, because I hadn’t any veggies all day…and yes, I try to get some sort of green into my body each and every day. Also, it needed to last a few days…you know, easy lunches all week are a total requirement for any meal I make.
Therefore, soup is what I came up with. Real original right? I just love the stuff. And if I am adding requirements to lists…then I might as well add one to my list of requirements in the dude department. They must LOVE soups, or at least enjoy them from time to time. And by time to time I mean at least once a week. Otherwise, they might end up hungry or fending for themselves.
As you can guess, this soup contains sausage, beans, and swiss chard. I was a bit hesitant to toss in swiss chard because I was afraid it would get slimy…but thankfully it doesn’t. What a relief! I prefer thick soups or creamy soups and while this one has a bit of broth, it is chunky….which is a trade-off I can deal with. Brothy soups are for those that are sick and ailing. I need substance if the soup is going to be the main dish. Substantial is this soup’s middle name.
P.S. Check this out…had me giggling all day long.
Sausage, bean and Swiss Chard Soup
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, diced small
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Lb Hot Italian Turkey Sausage ( or mild) – if using links, remove casing
2 Cans ( 15 ounce) Cannelini Beans, drained and rinsed
2 Cans (15 ounce) Chicken Broth
2 Small Bunches Swiss Chard, stems removed, roughly chopped (about 4 cups packed)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese for garnish
In a large pot/dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add sausage and continue to cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through (7-10 minutes). Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into bit size pieces. Once the sausage is cooked through, add beans, chicken broth, and swiss chard. Stir to combine, scrapping the bottom of the pan to get all the sausage tidbits. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to simmer and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve immediately. Top with parmesan cheese.
Store covered in fridge.
There is a pound of spaghetti sitting in the depths of my stomach…making me all happy and cozy and little sleepy. The sleepy bit might be because I have been up since 5am. Or it’s the carbs. It’s a toss-up. Either way, I am overly content…as my dad would say, ‘if I were any better, I would be two people’.
What is aiding in my contentment might be the roaring fire and endless amounts of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix. Did I mention pjs and a cat sleeping on my feet? Cozy comfort town … that is where I am livin’ it up. On a Saturday night. Maybe I should lie and say it is Tuesday night, but I am not a good liar (or poker player). I love simple Saturday nights (see previous post).
I had my Saturday night out on Thursday. I met up with 2 friends (who happen to be married) for a dinner date. Mel and Todd are pretty terrific and time spent with them always leaves me giggling, which leads to a good belly laugh, and all out cackling. OK the cackling is all me…I can’t help it. Sapore was our destination of choice, a tiny restaurant that we have been meaning to visit for many months. It is owned/ran by Loretta Paganini. Attending her cooking classes is one of our favorite girl’s night out events. She is possibly the cutest little Italian women ever to exist. She is full of knowledge and ready to share…we are total groupies.
The restaurant is tiny…maybe thirty seats in all and is only open Thursday – Saturday. Reservations only. The menu changes with the seasons (as all should but don’t) and your food is cooked to order (i.e. fresh). The menu is teeming with Italian dishes that literally made me swoon, out loud. While I went with the focaccia- crusted chicken smothered in tomato sauce, fontina cheese, and olives…I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the pastas. Fresh pastas. Mama mia!
I can’t wait to try her Fettuccine Alla Carbonara….which they top off with a poached egg. Genius! I LOVE a good poached/fried egg atop of anything, ranging from hamburgers to pizza…I hope it’s not a phase. And that brings us to my Saturday night. Check out that full circle. Carbonara = bacon and eggs Italian style. And instead of toast as the carb, we have pasta people. Pasta!! Seriously!?! Seriously?!? ( in my best Meredith Grey’s voice…not a word).
This dish comes together quickly…which means that all ingredients must be prepared and prepped before the stove is turned on. Thankfully there aren’t a ton of ingredients. We are talking pasta, olive oil, garlic, cheese, eggs, bacon, and bit of white wine. Simple ingredients. Nothing scary. Totally doable.
OK a little bit of scary…raw eggs are stirred into hot pasta, but I swear it cooks the eggs. And if you choose to top the dish off with a poached egg, well you will have to poach an egg, which is super simple…pinky swear! Just watch this video - total proof (and her laugh is great!). And trust me, the end result doesn’t have to look pretty. We are home cooks not Wolfgang Puck…plus, I have watched Julia Child make poached eggs on PBS and some of her eggs were ugly. Just make the poached egg, you will be happy you did.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara w/ Poached Egg (totally optional but not optional at all)
1 Lb. Dry Spaghetti ( I like whole wheat pasta)
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Large Eggs, plus extra eggs to poach (one per serving)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
1/2 Lb. Bacon, diced
1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
Poach eggs first. (this is how I do it, but there are umpteen million ways in which to perform this task…just google it.)
Crack egg into a separate bowl or small tea-cup. Bring a large saucepan of water (a few inches in-depth) to a boil. Add salt to boiling water (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon). Once the water is boiling, take a slotted spoon, and stir the water in a circle creating a whirlpool like effect. Gently pour egg into the center of the whirlpool. Cover saucepan with a lid (or a cookie sheet, I have used both) and remove saucepan from heat. Let sit, covered, for about 3 minutes (very runny) to 5 minutes (less runny). Gently remove poached egg from water with a slotted spoon and drain excess water. Place egg on a plate, cover loosely with tinfoil (to keep warm) and set aside.
Whisk together 2 eggs and parmesan cheese. Set aside. But keep it close.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon). Place dry spaghetti into boiling water and cook for 8 minutes until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta.
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch-oven or large saucepan with high sides. Add smashed garlic and saute garlic until golden brown. Once browned, remove garlic and discard. Add diced bacon to pan and cook until bacon begins to crisp around the edges ( 5-7 minutes). Stirring occasionally. Add white wine to pan and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat.
Add cooked spaghetti to pan and toss to coat with bacon wine sauce. Pour in the egg/cheese mixture and stir vigorously until the egg is incorporated and the cheese has melted. Adding a bit of pasta water if a little thinning agent is needed. Make sure to stir quickly, you do not want scrambled eggs. The final dish will be thick and creamy and cheesy.
Top each serving with a poached egg and a pinch of freshly ground pepper.
Your poached egg can be rewarmed by placing it back into a bowl/pan of warm water for a few moments and then removing it and draining excess water before serving. Doesn’t take much.
Serve immediately with a side of toast…because whats one carb without another?
We need to discuss some things here today.
I am prematurely turning into an old person. And by old I am talking mid-70′s. There abouts.
1) I fell down the stairs yesterday morning. I stepped on the cat and tumbled down the stairs. Like an old person. Some how I managed to pull some sort of muscle in my chest, because I decided to grab for the wall because I figured that would catch my fall…because I am spider woman if you didn’t know. I didn’t know either. So that super human power failed me. I ended up with just a sharp pain just right of my breast bone…that is still there by the way. Old.
The cat. Stanley was limping, but seems fine now. I think the limp was exaggerated to make me feel bad. The cat was totally milking it.
2) I wake up before the sun rises on my days off. Before my alarm. Yes, I set an alarm for my days off. I don’t like sleeping in. Old.
3) I like scotch, and whiskey, and bourbon. Old people drink these…I should be drinking cosmos or pina coladas or other fufu drink, like other twenty year olds. But no. I have no idea where or how I started to enjoy these. It just happened.
4) I crave coffee after dinner. The only people ever in my life to drink coffee after dinner were my grandparents. Old.
5) I like to bake more than your grandmother. I spend more time in an apron than I would like to admit. I am cuter than your grandma…maybe. Grandmas are pretty darn cute…with their gray hair and wrinkles and polyester pants.
6) I LOVE cardigans with large buttons and pockets. I wear them year round. The only thing separating me from being an honest to goodness old lady is the fact that Kleenex do not live inside said pockets. At least not on most days.
I have come to the conclusion that when I get to be 70, God willing, I will be awesome at it. Probably better at being 70 than being 28 (almost 29). I am OK at being 28, I might even say I am good at it…but at 28, life is still up in the air. Right now, sometimes I feel like I am just aimlessly walking….aimlessy wandering is fun, but scary, a bit frightening, and a tad frustrating. I am cool with it. This is real life. I am not the only one in this boat…I have quite a few friends rowing along with me. We are having a grand time, on most days.
My 70 year old self is laughing right now…because she is awesome and happy with how life has turned out. She is whispering to just go with it, enjoy the ride, and take it all in. She is saying to chase after what scares me the most, because those are the most worthwhile opportunities. Those moments are what life is about.
Dear 70-year-old Mallory…
Your 29 year old self is working on it. Seriously.
While I am on this ride called life, thank goodness there are brownies to eat along the way. What is a good adventure without snacks? Am I right? I know I am right. Sorry, that was cocky…but there are just some things I am sure of. This is one of them. Snacks are my favorite part of any occasion. And these are kick butt….rich fudgy chocolate brownies with peanut butter frosting. The brownies are top-notch without the frosting, but I am a frosting girl on my brownies. Always.
I hope you have milk in your fridge…
Brownies with PB Frosting
Makes 9 x 13 inch pan
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 6 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate
- 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
- 1/2 Teaspoon Espresso Powder (optional)
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, tightly packed
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- 6 Tablespoon Butter, melted
- 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar Sifted to remove clumps
- 1 Cup + 1 Tablespoon Smooth Peanut Butter
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt