Category Archives: Memes

Slade House Readalong & Reading in Peril Update #RIPXII

Readers Imbibing Peril badge
Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge (#RIPXII)

Completed
Slade House
by David Mitchell
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Something from the Nightside
by Simon Green
Lord of the Flies
by WIlliam Golding (audio)
The Premonition by Christopher Bohjalian (audio)

Still in progress
Magicians
Impossible by Brad Abraham
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King (audio)
Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings by Shirley Jackson

Scary Movies Watched
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (slow-paced, but chilling)

Slade House Readalong

audiobook cover image

Last month’s readalong of Slade House was organized by Andi of Estella’s Revenge.

Anyone looking for unusual, thought-provoking, often dark, fantastical literary fiction might want to check out Slade House or any of David Mitchell’s other puzzling novels, which all seem to be interconnected or tangential to each other. (The author calls the works taken together an “uber novel”. NOT a series!)

I’ve listened to some on audio (Slade House and The Bone Clocks) and read others in print. I recommend print or a combination of print and audio, because I kept wanting to flip back to early chapters while listening and that’s a pain to do with an audiobook. I’ve owned a copy of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob Zoet for several years, but just found out that it has some connection to The Bone Clocks and Slade House. It has always seemed daunting because it seems to be historical fiction and that always takes me a while to warm up to, but looking for the connections to his other novels should finally push me to tackle it!

Spoiler Alert! Don’t read these discussion questions and answers unless you don’t mind some minor spoilers!

1. Slade House is broken up into five parts and is narrated by five characters. Which one did you like best and why? 
I was rooting for the two sisters, Sally and Freya (#3 and #4), the most, but I eventually warmed up to the first two characters, too.  However, I was primed from listening to The Bone Clocks to like Dr. Iris Fenby (a.k.a. Marinus) the most, though, and vote her most likely to succeed.
2. In my opinion, this is not a traditional”scary” book. Each new guest in the house reveals more about Slade House and the Grayer twins. Did you find any of it unsettling? 
Oh, yes! Definitely unsettling and horrifying, but without the alternating suspenseful build-ups and moments of relief that you get with horror fiction.
3. This quote, discuss: “Grief is an amputation, but hope is incurable hemophilia: you bleed and bleed and bleed.”
I don’t remember where this comes in in the book or who says it. It’s a good example of the tone of the book — pointedly dark but with the possibility always there that good will win out over evil. Inside the heads of various characters at different times, readers hope each time that this character will survive the horrors of Slade House.
4. Norah and Jonah…sympathetic or nah?
Nah. Too much of a stretch to feel sympathy towards them!
5. We didn’t learn much about what Norah and Jonah do between each nine–year cycle, but we do know that they have a lot of freedom and many resources at their disposal. What would you do with a gifted existence like this one?
Nora and Jonah are immortal at the expense of other potentially immortal people, so I don’t think they can redeem themselves by doing good with their extended lives. (Not that those two “soul vampires” are interested in doing good!) I hope I would behave more selflessly than Nora and Jonah do, but having time and money to travel the world and live a multitude of different lives the way they do would be incredibly amazing. Although by the end of the book, Jonah seemed to be starting to feel that immortal life might not be worth the toll it was taking on him.
6. The ending. What did you think?
I’m waiting eagerly for the next book! I can’t wait for more about Marinus. There has to be more to the story of her/him and Nora…

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Fall Cooking with Maple by Katie Webster #weekendcooking

Just after I posted about 2017 food trends last weekend, there was an article in Sunday’s paper about how Maple may be overtaking Pumpkin Spice as the trendiest fall food flavor. Since pumpkin spice has “jumped the shark” with pumpkin-spice dog treats and pumpkin-spice ramen noodles. (Something like that…I can’t be sure because He Who Shall Not Be Named recycled the paper in a fit of tidiness only two days after we got it.)

Here’s an article from The Kitchn we can talk about instead: Forget Pumpkin Spice: This Is Fall’s Trendiest Flavor Right Now.

The Kitchn picks on CVS as a prime example of Pumpkin Spice’s jumping the shark – making fun of CVS Pumpkin-Spice Cough Drops. Honey & lemon does make you think “throat-soothing” more than cinnamon & nutmeg does, but I feel sorry for companies who come out with stuff after the bandwagon is well on its way by. Libraries do it all the time. (You are not alone, CVS R&D Department!)

This time, I’m right on trend, because I had this cookbook checked out from the library LAST MONTH:

cover of Maple cookbook
Maple by Katie Webster (Quirk, 2015)

I have always loved maple, especially after we lived in Vermont for five years, but as a flavor, it is usually celebrated in springtime instead of fall. Maple syrup isn’t allowed on a low-carb diet, but everyone needs a splurge every now and then.

Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup is an inviting cookbook, with full-page color photos of some of the recipes. It looks like this multi-talented author takes her own photos. Check out the beautiful photos, layout, and table of contents on the publisher’s Web site.

I immediately wanted to make almost all of the recipes in this book, probably because most of them had “maple” somewhere in the name, but these are the ones I’ve marked to try soon:

Maple Tahini Chicken and Broccoli
Maple Ginger Chicken Thighs
Chicken, Peanut, and Napa Cabbage Pad Thai
Maple Ginger Roasted Salmon
Sherry Orange Quinoa
Cauliflower Salad with Black Sesame
Salted Maple Penuche Fudge
Maple Apple Almond Torte with Maple Cinnamon Glaze

The index separately lists Gluten-Free, Paleo, and Vegan recipes, but is otherwise only a recipe name index. The book doesn’t have an ingredient index (so you could look up chicken and find all the recipes using chicken, for example) which I believe every cookbook should have. But that’s my only complaint!

My Mom and I decided over the summer to schedule a night to cook and eat dinner together once a month to use recipes that she has been wanting either to make again or to try for the first time. For our last one, I strong-armed her into choosing a recipe from Maple for us to try, so we could A) use her non-gluten-free kitchen, and B) use some of the brand-new jug of pure Vermont maple syrup she had been given.

We both liked the sound of all of the main-dish recipes mentioned above, but I really wanted to make Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle. The author’s note on the recipe says:

I wish I could claim responsibility for coming up with the idea of drizzling maple on pizza. I first saw it on the menu of the local bakery of our little Vermont town. The syrup adds a lovely balance to the salty cheese. Trust me.

Mom had garden-grown arugula from my sister and Vermont maple syrup from my brother, and I brought fresh thyme from our home herb garden, so it would have been a real family affair if only we had gotten my other sister to come over to eat it!

While we were cooking and talking, I forgot the fresh thyme was supposed to go in with the caramelized onions after they finished cooking, so I had to sprinkle it onto the pizza after the fact. I forgot to put the cornmeal on the pizza pan, too, and had to lift the dough up and put it under. (I’ve decided it might be best to have the glass of wine with dinner instead of during dinner prep. )

I also didn’t add all the arugula the recipe called for (3 cups loosely packed) but I blame that on being misled by the food photography. The arugula wilted from the heat of the pizza just out of the oven, so we could have used all three cups, but the photo showed it as leafy greens atop a pizza, so I was thinking pizza would be hard to eat with all that arugula on it!

pizza
Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle

Due to time pressures, we used store-bought dough instead of trying the author’s recipe for Maple Wheat Pizza Dough, but the pizza was still delicious. Possibly a little too sweet, because I possibly went a little heavy on the maple syrup. (The recipe called for the pizza to be made in a rectangular baking sheet with sides and we used a round pizza pan, so we used the same amount of maple syrup on a smaller area, resulting in more maple syrup per bite.)

The cheeses on this pizza are a combination of sharp cheddar and feta, so there was a nice salty-sweet flavor to it, with pepitas adding crunch and the arugula to make it good for you.

Check out the recipe for Balsamic Caramelized Onion Pizza with Arugula and Maple Drizzle at The Splendid Table.

Oprah’s Web site has another recipe from the cookbook to try next: Slow-Cooker Chicken  Thigh Hot Pot.

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Foodie Trends / Trendy Foods #weekendcooking

We’re in the final third of the year; did you follow any 2017 food trends? I had saved a December 2016 newspaper article predicting food trends for the new year, which hung around as clutter that I intended to do a 2017 Weekend Cooking post about…right up until this weekend when I actually looked for it! (I either need a filing system or should stop clipping from the printed paper and save everything online.)

Let this online article suffice: Jackfruit and Harissa? A Peek at Food Trends in 2017.

(I did not buy a single jackfruit so far this year, but I DID buy harissa. Haven’t used it, but I have it!)

As for past trendsetters such as deviled eggs and veggie chips, you’ll find them over there behind the box of Cronuts and plate of fairy bread. No, to the left of the avocado toast and stack of maple syrup-glazed bacon, next to the egg-white omelet. You need to move the ramen burgers, the ube and the chlorophyll extract to find them.

We gazed into a few crystal balls unveiled by some expert observers, as an indicative sampler. Continuing their runs from this year will be coconut everything, Asian noodles, gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese, flavored spirits, “authentic” Mexican cuisine, charcuterie, mocktails, oatmeal with unusual toppings, more farmers markets, grilled veggies, preserved anything, craft beers and cocktails, more flavors of granola, more uses of ancient grains, and creative ways to use fresh turmeric root in cooking, given the excitement over its purported health-inducing powers.

Farmers markets definitely seemed still trendy in 2017, with every town in my area offering at least one a week during the summer and into early fall. Craft beers and cocktails are another definite yes. We visited a couple of breweries in 2017, and like to try local draft beers.

At a brewery in Sturbridge, Mass. with photo-shy family.

Mocktails, not so much. Although I have seen a lot of recipes for them, actually, and they always sound good, if I’m going to splurge on something high-caloric and sweet it should either have alcohol in it or be a really good homemade cookie.

But would flavored waters and seltzers with lime count for mocktails? I did drink those occasionally in 2017.

Good call on the “‘authentic’ Mexican cuisine”! In 2017, we did go at least once to Jalapenos Grill, a restaurant where the menu points out which dishes are more authentically Mexican, as opposed to Tex-Mex.

Turmeric still seems trendy. My mom (a devoted frequenter of Farmers Markets, as well) has turmeric root in her kitchen. (I think she shreds it to add to salad.) Turmeric has been on my mind, especially because I caught several spring and summer colds, but I still haven’t made anything that’s predominantly turmeric-flavored, such as this hot drink:

https://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/tea-time-with-turmeric/

Keep in mind, 2017 isn’t over yet! There’s still time to use up your turmeric root if you have some.

Who doesn’t love the term “ancient grains”? Can you get more authentic than something that was eaten, as is, millennia ago? Although ancient grains have to be gluten-free for us to have them in the house, I did eat a delicious, if a little under-seasoned, farro salad at a buffet luncheon this fall. (Quinoa, millet, and black rice, I’ll still love you in 2018 even if you’re not trendy anymore.)

Coconut seems trendy still; I feel sorry for people who don’t like it, because it’s everywhere. I had coconut ice cream at least twice in 2017. Maybe 2018 will usher out coconut and jackfruit will come into its own. I believe cauliflower took over from kale as the trendiest vegetable of 2017. Here is a cauliflower, coconut, and harissa recipe to try before the year is over:

Vadouvan-Roasted Cauliflower With Harissa Chickpea Curry

As this Forbes article – How to Use the Food Trends of 2017 in Your Kitchen – points out, sometimes trend predictions can be self-fulfilling prophecies (When people see something mentioned multiple times as a trend, they may try it for that reason.) but from a business perspective, you want to tell the difference between a fleeting fad and a longer-lasting trend if you’re going to base a business on it.

Although the Forbes article predicted that street food would still be trendy in 2017, my advice would be: don’t start up a coconut-, granola-, or turmeric-based food truck at this point.

What food trends have you been following or ignoring this year?

Happy Weekend Cooking!

Weekend Cooking badgeLinked to Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click/tap image for Weekend Cooking posts from other bloggers.