Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review Fridays

War of the Worlds
Rating: PG
Genre: Science Fiction
Summary: England is being taken over by martians.
Author: HG Wells
Grade: D-
Length: 224 pages
I thought, quite a few years ago at this point, that I should read some Wells, and bought a collection of 4 of his better known novels, what I didn’t know at the time, was that although I normally enjoy science fiction, there is some science fiction I cannot stand, turns out the stuff I hate is written by Wells. And yet in the collection of stories War of the Worlds is actually the best one. It has one strength the others greatly lack, the main event and action of the book are all included, it’s not some retrospective. That being said there is absolutely no tension built up, from the start you know he’s going to survive, you know his wife is ok, and that  human kind will defeat the aliens, you don’t know how, but that they will. I suppose this book was written so long ago that the idea of an alien invasion was enough, and I’m alright with mankind being doomed, I would be ok with the idea that will all die, but that we are absolutely helpless and nothing but dumb luck can save us is a bit well boring, the constant description as fact of events and alien actions, just goes on and on, barely serving a purpose, beyond filling pages. 
I do see the broader picture, the aliens although all powerful are in the end easily beaten by the unforeseen, at the same time man kind has allowed itself to become something that cannot easily defend itself, far too reliant on only defeating the enemies they know, and that all that has been gained with the industrial revolution and the education of the people is too fragile to depend on if something really happens. If natural selection forces to rethink its’ priorities, all these new ideas will practically combust. The book then proceeds to end with mankind taking advantage of the intelligence of the aliens after their defeat. The relevance of this while not completely gone, still seems very out dated. 
Recommend to others: No, frustrating outdated, boring, there is nothing about this book that I would recommend, unless forced to choose between this and other books by Wells.

If you;re interested Buy HG Well's Collection

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sweet Potato Souffle- Set this aside for safe keeping

The first time i made this, it blew my mind, I didn't know sweet potatoes could taste like this. It's an entirely different level of good. You do have to taste it raw and adjust seasoning, trust me, you really do. I almost always add a little something. This will stand out at a holiday dinner. I get requests to make it every year.

5 Sweet Potatoes, the whiter the better, boiled and whipped

1/4 c butter room temp

3/4 c sugar

3/4 c brown sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

3 eggs

1/2 c milk

2 tsp white pepper

Candied pecans

Whip it all together (except pecans), place in a large oven safe buttered casserole dish, bake for 45 minutes at 350

Top with pecans, serve warm

I love this dish so much, and I somehow manage to lose it every year. This makes more than the average recipe, and is kind of spicy, which is what makes the dish stand out.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review Fridays

Wench

Rating: PG
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary: Follows the lives of slaves as they experience an annual trip to a resort with their masters in the free north. 
Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Grade: C-
Length: 304 pages
The title throws you off, this book is about slaves that were chosen to be their masters’ sexual partners Unlike last week’s book The Help, these women have very little in the way of self respect. The main protagonist is a woman who has two children with her master and is in love with him. You find yourself feeling sorry for her, an underdog character from the word go, pity is not the best response, and in fact lead me to not like the main character, her lack of strength of seeing the bigger picture. She can read, but does not really use that power or any to her advantage. If any other female character had been the main the entire book would have changed, almost all the others were fascinating in their own way, but the main falls flat. I suppose in many ways she has the most realistic view of the world at the time. A very simple story of a women figuring out she’s not very loved, and mainly observing the world around her. If the other POV had been covered, I have a feeling most of this mundane view would have been cut. 
Recommend to others: No, frustrating and too simple a book. Not worth the time.

If you're interested Buy Wench

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review Fridays

Help

Rating: PG

Genre: Chick Fic
Summary: Chronicles the lives of southern houseworkers and housewives in the 1960s
Author: Katheryn Stockett
Grade: A
Length: 464 pages
From the previews of the movies, this looked like a fun read. But it’s much more serious than that. I normally don’t enjoy books on the underclasses, class systems make uncomfortable, and the fact that the belittling of people is taken as everyday, I’m too sensitive to. but this book was different. It was about the change, wanting more and even getting more. It leveled the playing field, it even went as so far as to belittle the housewife (something I don’t normally enjoy, but in this in this book there’s a switch of the tradition roles)
Although some of the national and international larger events are too well observed, all that is ever mentioned is what will be remembered by the history books in time to come, which no everyday observer would be able to distinguish. 
All in all though a great book, a quick read with lots of great characters and events, lots of emotion and while some of the secondary characters felt a little flat, the three main characters allowed us an in dept view, that structurally changed the view of their world and made it much more complex, without being too complicated.  
I especially appreciate the open ended ending. Life does not have a simply summed up faith of its characters, and i tend to favor books that stay true to this. 
Recommend to others: Yes, fun quick read, why not go for it?

Buy Help

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Review Fridays

Fall of Giants
Thick Book, Fast Read, Let Down
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary: Follow the lives of various characters in different parts of the world before and during WWI. 
Author: Ken Follett
Grade: C+
Length: LONG 985 pages

Fall of Giants
My first reaction to this book, was it is way too long. After which I saw the cover that claimed it was part 1 to a 3 part series. I don’t normally read 1000 page books, and when I do, they usually are a collection of volumes, but nevertheless, bored 2 weeks ago today, I picked the book up and gave it a go. 
This is a page turner, and the beginning is great, the book had me hooked very quickly, and I really enjoyed the first couple of chapters, but there are problems, oh so many problems. Character depth is one of the big ones, they don’t have much, they have so little in the way of flaws. One flawless character we can take, but there are so many here. It was sort of like a old sitcom, everyone was basically good, slightly naughty at worst, you knew everything would be all right in the end, books about war shouldn’t have such a strong sense of security, they are supposed to break our hearts and the characters. There was so little drama, there was the content and sometimes a character felt sad or angry, but we heard it through their train of thought, not through their actions. nothing really made me nervous, it simply didn’t.
As far as history is concerned, I learned a great deal, especially since I had never understood how WW1 had started. For some unknown reason I felt I knew Russia rather well, and had a good understanding coal miners in Wales, but there wasn’t the same detail to the battle fields, to Paris, to London, or Washington, or anywhere else. I strongly suspect the consultants tor those areas were the best informed. So much more could have and should have been done here, if the same character goes from a small town in Wales to Cardiff or London, certainly to battlefields in France, their eye for detail should remain the same, their thoughts should convey it all to us, everywhere he goes. That was disappointing. 
Spoiler alert: 
Note to Author: Next people, kill people, have things not work out, hearts broken, we should see the hate, some characters should scare us, Violence, some anyhow. There should be immoral characters, and stupid mistakes, horrible outcomes, and add another 20 consultants, nail the history in every situation, make the characters consistent by making their reactions consistent. 
Recommend to others: Yes, with reservations
Buy Fall of Giants

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When I'm bored I blend

The secret to getting veg into people is soup, and the secret to getting fruit is the freezer. This is an alternative to the frozen banana.

Half a melon (or a box of the cubed kind)

1 cup yogurt (whole, low fat or non, they all work)

1/2 bag frozen raspberries (cheaper than fresh)

a couple of dashes of honey.

a blender

ice pop molds

First puree raspberry with a little honey, set aside.

Puree down the melon with the yogurt, (you can add some milk to get the machine going) add a little honey if its not sweet enough

Starting with the melon mixture layer the ice pops with melon and raspberry, Take a skewer and run up and down the sides for the swirl look.

They should be frozen in around 5 hours.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Frozen Strawberry lemonade for lazy summer days

The juice of 4 lemons

1 bag of frozen strawberries

1/4 of sugar or honey, to taste

a blender

Add the frozen berrys, the sugar, and the lemon juice to the blender, start it up, Stream in enough water to get things moving. This will create a great thick product, lovable and easy.

You can also make this with frozen blueberries or mangoes.

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Random zombie thoughts #1

(Felt like I needed an outlet for them.)

Instead of having the tooth fairy give coins or cash, what about books? She would need to have a secret stash somewhere, but making rewards reading, that sounds about right.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The ABCs of Desserts

I thought I'd run through some of my favorites, eventually there should be recipes for all of them,

Apple Pie the pan's the thing

Banana Bread, for when they're old, cause you'd feel guilty

Carrot Cake for the modern world

Day old Donuts meet Bread Pudding

Easter Bread for Zombies, warning you need to own a fancy mixer

Fig Free Form Pie

Ginger Snaps

Honey these are Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ice Cream Soda Zombies Worship

Jello Mold

Key Lime Pie

Like a lotta a lime cheesecake

Monkey Bread Bread Pudding

Nutz about Brownies

Oh my it is better than sex cake

Pavlova meets zombie

Quick no bake strawberry pie

She's so pretty and easy Raspberry cake

She brings out the California Coffees in me

Trifle, meatless recipe

Ultra Dark and flavorless (flourless)

Vixen

Who cares dump that in as well

X-rated version of BTSC

Yay Blueberries are in Season

Zucchini Bread

Super Salad - to give zombies super powers

What is a super salad?

All veg, no frills, but still yum. It's different for different zombies of course. This is mine, and through some sort of text messaging with the gods, my farm box this week created this salad for me.

Super Salad

2 zucchini, chopped

2 ears of corn, boiled, cooled, removed from husks (slice off)

1 mid sized cucumber, peeled, chopped

2 cubes frozen chopped basil

juice of two lemons

olive oil to taste

lots of freshly cracked pepper, (secret power to the super salad)

some salt

Prep time 15 minutes.

Ok first things first, to boil corn you stick in a pot large enough to hold the corn (break them in half if needed) cover them with water, salt the water and bring to a boil. Once boiling take off the heat and let sit around 8 minutes, they should be done  I often do this with left over corn from a summer bbq party.

Frozen basil is available at grocery stores, including TJ's of course.

You can be adventurous and use raw corn, wash very thoroughly if you are, organic or not raw corn needs to be really clean.

 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Open the box and see all the veggies: Strawberries, and other sad tales of doom

One little tiny thing of strawberries, what! After trying to kill me with watermelon!? But it gets worse
Quality

Good strawberries are always a little rotten, they're usually a day away from complete destruction, thats why a non rotten strawberry never tastes good, the ones that rotted on the truck were the best. These were just as they should be, about to start falling apart. So far so good. I did taste a couple the first day, they were sweet and friendly, and well red.
So what did i do with the sucker,

Here's the sad part, i took them to work, and left them there on a Friday, certain DOOM. Had to call the office and donate them to the crowd still there. At least they werent wasted

The others in this category include cilantro, which is untouched

untouched lettuce

untouched carrots

Conclusion Hmm, i should consider changing my vote to mostly fruit...

On the post next time Avocado Salad, woohoo!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Open the box and see all the veggies: Tomatoes

They seem to think i have a thing for tomatoes, one thing i would never take to work for fear of early refrigeration, i found myself cooking not just one or two but all 8. And some of them were big.
Quality

There's nothing like a tomato in the summer time, in fact i wont even eat a tomato other time of the year, well not willingly anyway. These had the scent, and were all red, though i have learned to love and respect the green and yellow. They held together well, survived the heavy chopping and the lazy, this thing is going to cook for an hour, what does it need chopping for melted away as beautifully as i imaged it would.
So what did i do with the sucker,

I stuck 7 of them in Moroccan meatballs which shockingly turned out really spicy, probably should cut down on that in future. Had to made so many extras to take the heat away. Couscous, (what a shock) But then found myself having to take it further, embarrassingly, like a true California girl i found myself cooking onions down til slightly charred and adding gypsy peppers (cause they came in the box) and garlic, *Can you tell where this is going?) Then serving with sour cream, yes i will admit it, i mexified moroccan food, and may in fact need help, or salvation or something. Oh well, tasted good.

The last lone tomato, (though huge) ended up lazily cut up and toss in a pot with chicken and salsa, garlic, pepper, paprika, and anything else red I could get my hands on.

Tomorrow's post should focus on strawberries

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Open the box and see all the veggies: Watermelon

Oh the first box of a new (for me) organic to my door plan. The excitement and builds you open it up and find a small watermelon lurking inside. :( I'm allergic, not like this is going to kill me one day (that's cherry) but in the discomfort is just not worth it way. Plus it was cracked, a huge wedge right down the middle. So sad.
Quality

I have many uncalled for talents, one of which is picking watermelons, i can thump on them and tell you if its ripe or not, youre looking for a B flat, though seeing as how 99% of people cant tell what that is (expect possibly if there's a piano beside them) What you're really looking for is an echo. I play drums with them all til i hear a deep echo and then don't eat it afterwards.  With the crack the echo was lost, so took a risk and had a little taste, it was ok, not as sweet as it could be, but watermelony enough. It was dark seedless, they're never white seedless, in fact when was the last time you saw the seed? Aside from the toasted and salted variety I havent seen one since i was a kid.
So what did i do with the sucker,

I cut half up into little piece and then attempted to blend them with the blender that features the never turn on motor. Was planning on making watermelon lemonade and attempting to sell it at work, oh well. Lost that half to that and second half sits in my fridge mocking me. In its inedible glory. :(

Tomorrow's post should focus on tomatoes

Monday, June 6, 2011

Changing directions once again

So the last time I cooked something it was eggplant gratin, a dish i have made dozens of times, before that there was grain mustard potato salad, before that a cauliflower gratin. before that better than sex cake, and thats everything  I made in the month of May, not only uninspiring, but not much either.

So onwards and upwards we're changing again, have a short but ridiculously fun winding trip planned in July, and hopefully we'll cover some of that, also a large photo project coming up we're really excited about. Photography seems to be the flavor of the month these last few months, that along with growing herbs, all kinds of beautiful seedlings have sprouted, and ate doing so well, aside from cilantro, stubborn little thing, refuses to even give a little root. Oh well, you cant win them all.  Photos coming soon!