i recently read Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette and loved every sentence of it. the book is told through various pieces of correspondence between the main characters with commentary/narration by Bee (Bernadette’s daughter). I laughed out loud several times and even when she was depicted at her worst, i couldn’t help but root for Bernadette the entire time. i am not going to describe anything in detail, because this book was so fun to read i don’t want to spoil any little bit of it for anyone. this book would be the perfect kick off for your spring/summer reading list. i promise.
under the banner of heaven – jon krakauer if you’re like me, you have a morbid fascination regarding mormon fundamentalists. and this extreme interest was brought on my watching big love. particularly when you burn through the latest 3 seasons in about a month and just want more episodes! under the banner of heaven delves deeply into the lives several mormon fundamentalists and the history of joseph smith and his successors. truly some harrowing stuff in this book. a few nights i read some of the chapters right before bed and had nightmares of being kidnapped and taken to a commune. eek. i would definitely recommend this book though. it’s like a really horrible car crash – you just can’t look away.
running with scissors – augusten burroughs this book was crazy and sad. it’s burroughs recounting his childhood where his father left him and would not even take his calls and his crazy mother signed him off to live with her extremely unorthodox psychiatrist. i won’t tell you much about it in case you want to read it, but it’s a little bit funny and a really sad story about some supremely messed up people. also fascinating in the car crash kind of way. he has other memoirs and i ended up liking his writing style so i may check others out.
2 non-fiction books in one month! i normally don’t read non-fiction and i’m actually on a third one right now. perhaps i will make it the summer of non-fiction. we’ll see.
new dress #2! i love the ruffle detail and that it looks tailored but the fabric is really versatile and lightweight. i wore it on a 4 mile walk the other night and didn’t get too hot at all. i also like that it’s sleeveless so even on warm days i can pair it with a cardigan and have it not be too heavy.
the master and margarita – mikhail bulgakov: this was an absurd story about the devil showing up with his posse tied together with the story of pontius pilate. if you’ve ever read any russian literature, the best description i can give this book is that it is VERY russian. EXTREMELY russian. i didn’t much care for it, but then again, i don’t like many russian novels. i like a few though, however, i can’t think of anyone i would recommend this too.
big machine – victor lavalle: i was also unsure about this book when i first started reading it. the protagonist is entirely hateable and i did not think there was a very good flow to the story. however, once the background began filling in and more details were given on the characters backgrounds and the ties between the story lines were revealed, i began enjoying the book much more. the book is about a curious group of former cons/criminals who are recruited to be ghost hunters (of sorts). and there are swamp angels. and a former heroin addict becoming “the chosen.” there were some corny parts that i rolled my eyes at, but over all i thought this book was all right.
in other news, this puppy has totally consumed my life. i’ve still been cooking a bunch but haven’t taken the time to photograph anything to post – i’ve just been so tired! i probably wont’ be baking anything for awhile because i am earnestly trying to lose weight. and i have been meaning to post my great garage sale and thrift store finds, but lately whenever i’ve sat down to do so, a nap has won. i am REALLY going to try to photograph things tomorrow.
ahhhh i’m so behind with posting recipes. i also haven’t been happy with the way my food photos have been turning out. baked goods are so much easier to photograph for some reason. or i’m just being picky. it’s probably more the latter. however, there are 2 food recipes i made in march that i particularly liked so i’ll just link to the recipe and then list the changes i made.
*although the recipes linked are from a weight watchers blog, i am not a weight watcher, with the point counting and all that. so if you are and are strict about your points, you probably should not pay attention to my changes/additions. i keep using recipes from this blog, though, because everything i’ve made from it is great*
SPINACH LASAGNA ROLLS
– i love lasagna, so i jumped at the chance for lasagna variation. the easy single servings already made up are great and super easy to divide up to take for lunches. i have always been full with a salad, one roll and a small-ish hunk of baguette.
changes: i used vodka sauce instead of regular tomato. i also used it more generously than the recipe calls for because i love having extra sauce for bread dipping. i had fresh spinach on hand so didn’t bother to get frozen. i sprinkled some italian spices over the rolls before adding the mozzarella AND in half of them, i added turkey pepperoni’s to the rolls. YUM
SLOW COOKED PORK CARNITAS
-holy cow, this pork was AMAZING. looking at the recipe, i realized i actually didn’t change a single thing. so follow this recipe and you will have the most delicious pulled pork ever. the only thing i will do differently next time is add more chipotle peppers – i used 3 and wanted even more heat once i was eating the pork. i used the meat in three different ways (all with fresh avocado slices on top): with a corn tortilla like a taco (you don’t even need salsa or anything – the meat is so flavorful and full of juices), over a bed of quinoa and over a bed of cilantro lime rice (like from chipotle). we ate it for an entire week and didn’t get sick of it at all.
fool – christopher moore: i have one word for this book – MEH. this book could have been great. it’s about life in king lear’s castle as told from the viewpoint of the royal court jester. however, i think it pretty much flopped. unlike a fine wine, i do not think christopher moore’s career is getting better with age. my two favorite books by him are some of his earlier books. if you are going to check him out, i highly recommend Lamb and Fluke (or I Know Why the Wing Whale Sings). those are fantastic.
city of thieves – david benioff: this was one of the books for books and bars this month. i had never heard of the book or the author and ended up pleasantly surprised. i really enjoyed city of thieves. it’s historical fiction and the story takes place during WWII in leningrad while the germans are trying to starve the russians to death and run them out of their city. this was particularly interesting to me because i didn’t know very much about the siege on leningrad so reading this book lead to me reading up more on that part of the war. the two main characters (both russian) are sent to prison for various reason, but instead of being executed the colonel sends them on a mission – to find a dozen eggs for his daughter’s wedding cake. they have a week to do or else they will be executed. and then the rest of the book details their harrowing journey. i would recommend this book. random fun facts: david benioff wrote the movie the 25th hour and is married to amanda peet.
here is my special birthday cupcake i got. it’s from sweets bakeshop. it’s a banana split cupcake (banana cake with caramel and chocolate in the center. pineapple buttercream, strawberry buttercream, a dark chocolate drizzle with a cherry on top – whew!)
snow white – donald bartheme: this was a strange book. i’m not sure i would recommend it to the average reader, it was so unusual. but i liked parts of it very much. i bought a copy with the intention of sending it on as a gift (it’s a beautiful 1st edition) and decided to read it before letting it travel on. my favorite passage from it “I could fly a kite with this hair it is so long. The wind would carry the kite up into the blue, and there would be the red of the kite against the blue of the blue, together with my hair black as ebony, floating there.” (snow white, talking about her hair).
ender’s game – orson scott card: i read this for the first time when i was in 8th grade and was pretty astonished that i read something science fiction and REALLY liked it. zac and i decided to read it for the books & bars bookclub and i’m glad it gave me the chance to re-read. i discovered i still liked it! it’s part of a 3 book series so eventually i may read the others. it lost some of its intensity to me, though, since the characters were all children and the climax happens when they are 10-13, so as an 8th grader i think i felt their emotions much more deeply. i recommend it for non-sci fi-y people (like myself). at book club the people who regularly read science fiction seemed dubious of how “real” these characters were. *insert long skeptical pause from me here*
good in bed – jennifer weiners: i’mgoing to admit this was a bit of junk food reading on my part, being as a busy month was drawing to a close and i only had 2 books read and knew i could knock this one out in couple days. it was very ophrah book clubby and i don’t mean that in a bad way. an overweight journalist has a bad break-up but then falls upon some good luck before coming upon some bad luck and her trials and tribulations bring her to a new place in life and she meets some great people along the way. you know, one of those books. but it was fun and there were funny and heartfelt parts.
coming up in march: fool by christopher moore and i don’t know what else, seeing as i finally have bookshelves and will be unpacking my books. including a box of entirely unread ones.
also, i recently found 1st and 2nd editions of raymond peynet’s books of his lovers’ illustrations. they should be arriving from the UK in the next couple of weeks here. i cannot wait to have them. his illustrations are so lovely and whimsical. perfect for spring.
for once in the history of minnesota winters, january positively flew by. i’m guessing that partially had to do with the 6 days of it i spent in tropical paradise, though. that might have to become an annual tradtion because it made the worst winter month MUCH more bearable. so…to wrap it up:
the road – cormac mccarthy i was leary of this book because i had started blood meridian in december and although i liked the story, it was an incredibly detailed and oddly written sloooooow read (i still haven’t finished it). but i decided to take a break from blood meridian and move on to the road. i started and finished the same day. it’s incredibly dreary, but incredible beautiful at the same time – i mean, if you’re the type of person that can find beauty in a post apocolyptic word. mccarthy has at least 100 different ways to describe desolation.
blink – malcom gladwell i really enjoyed this book. i usually don’t read non-fiction, but i think gladwell is great. blink is about how people are able to make decisions without really thinking about it – following our instinct or listening to the snap judgement maker in our brain. really interesting, especially if you are really into “reading” people like i am.
dance dance dance – haruki murakami murakami is so hit or miss with me – japanese ficition can be SO weird. this one was no exception from the strangeness that tends to encompass his novels, but i was really intrigued by the story and by the lead characters cryptic dreaming. i liked this one better much better than kafka on the shore which was the last murakami book i read a couple of years ago.
EDIT: I FORGOT A BOOK I READ
love is a mix tape – rob sheffield this was a cute bubble-gummy type of read. and sad. rob writes about the mix tapes he and his wife made each other before she passed away suddenly and what the songs mean to them.
i failed miserably in the crafts department in january. i’m still whittling away on the scarf i started in october, however, the end is finally near and i am going to finish it by the end of this week. i’m not going to feel too bad though, considering the sheer amount of cooking and baking i did in january, i think some of that should carry over to the craft section of my resolutions. also, i have already made specific craft project plans for the upcoming month so i expect to be able to post some new things by mid-february.
my new recipe of the week for last week was inspired by street food i had in puerto rico (though, i did research and discovered they are originally from south america) – arepas con queso. fried corn cakes with creamy melted mozzarella in the middle. a nice little crunch on the outside and warm cheese on the inside. mmmm
1 C finely ground corn meal
1 C milk
2 T butter
1/2 t salt
1/2 C sweet corn kernels
4 oz mozzarella
2 T neutral cooking oil
*this recipe makes 4 3-4 inch cakes and i used about half a block of an 8oz block of cheese*
put corn meal and salt in a bowl
heat milk in a sauce pan until steam is rising from it, add butter and stir until melted
pour into cornmeal and salt mixture, stir until thick batter is formed
fold in corn kernels
let batter rise for about 15 minutes
heat up a pan or griddle with the oil
form the dough into 3-4 inch balls and pat down to 1/2 inch thickness
fry about 4 minutes on each side
take off heat and slice arepa in half width-wise, add cheese, put halves back together and back on heat until cheese is melted
i still don’t have a working computer at home, so here are a couple of photos to tide your curious eyes over.
recent new additions to my book family:
stardust – neil gaiman (this is funny because i borrowed and read it from scott a couple years ago and now he’s gotten me my very own copy)
breakfast of champions – kurt vonnegut (a hilarious bootleg 1st edition from china or japan, printed on rice paper!)
the town and the city – jack kerouac
the trial – franz kafka
diary of a drug fiend – aleister crowley
the last picture show: artists using photography 1960-1982 (i have been coveting this book since i saw the show at the walker in 2004 and i FINALLY found it on sale)
fluke, or, i know why the winged whale sings – christopher moore (signed 1st edition!)