Sunday, November 23, 2014

June Reading

30. Murder by Mocha - book 10 in the Coffeehouse Mysteries series
by Cleo Coyle
mystery 2011
finished 6/6/14

As you know, I adore Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse mysteries, and even though this one was not a particular favorite just because the plot didn't interest me that much, I still enjoyed catching up with the characters who inhabit this series. And it holds a special place in my heart because three years ago, I won this book (you may read about that here) and owning it set me on my adventures with Clare Cosi, et al.

Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini who co-write these books, are two of the most generous of authors. They have sent me a few other books since this one.

31. The New House
by Lettice Cooper
fiction 1936
finished 6/16/14

I so liked this book. It is slow, quiet, pensive. People really thinking about their lives. It is about one family - some of whom are moving to a new house. I've not read anything like it before. It is my third favorite Persephone book, after The Fortnight in September, and Greenery Street. The bookmark and endpapers are
taken from 'Rope and Dandelions', a block-printed velvet designed and printed by Margaret Calkins James for her new house, 'Hornbeams' in Hampstead Garden Suburb, in 1936.
There are money problems. There are doubts about the course a life has taken, and the choices made. There is much interior monologue which is so my 'cuppa' when it comes to literature. I am someone who thinks a lot, and I enjoy reading about others who do the same.

32. Kaaterskill Falls
by Allegra Goodman
fiction 1998
fourth reading
finished 6/22/14

Back in the days when I used to rent audiotapes through the mail I listened to this book a few times read perfectly by Suzanne Toren. When I saw it at a local used bookstore, I bought my own copy. It never fades in my appreciation. Each time I read it I feel like this is the way a book should be. It is set in the mid-seventies, which now seems almost like ancient times. I live in a community where the Hasidim from New York City spend some of the summer and so was especially interested in this story of Orthodox summer people and the locals in upstate New York. I love this book beyond words. 

33. The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri
fiction 2003
second reading
library book
finished 6/29/14

This is a wonderful book. I also loved the movie. As with The New House and Kaaterskill Falls, this is a quiet book. I enjoyed this second reading fully as much as the first. The language is beautiful, the story compelling, the characters real and interesting.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vegetarian Cuban Sandwich

Two weeks in a row for Weekend Cooking. May I call this a roll?!

Have you seen the movie Chef? It’s a wonderful film about a guy who gives up being a chef in a restaurant and opens a food truck instead. It is a food lovers delight. Scene after scene of cooking. One of the featured items is the Cuban sandwich. I went online looking for a vegetarian alternative, and found this. We bought some great white crusty bread, and Tom proceeded to make his own variation. He chose to make an open-faced sandwich with what was available in the house.

Slice and butter the bread.
Cover with thinly sliced cheddar cheese. He’ll try Swiss cheese next time.
Sauté sliced medium onion, red or white, in olive oil.
Add to cheese.
Put on cookie sheet and low broil in oven until cheese melts.

That’s it. He ate a pickle with it, but next time will try cooking it. He would have added peppers to the sautéed onions if we’d had them. He isn’t that big a mushroom fan so didn’t use mushrooms. He also forgot the mustard but will add it in the future. He thought this was just delicious! 

I found a definition of a Cuban sandwich here. And please do rent the dvd of Chef if you can. You’ll love it! Here is the website.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Passage/The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon

In the home of my childhood there was a room we called ‘The Little Bookroom.’ True, every room in the house could have been called a bookroom. Our nurseries upstairs were full of books. Downstairs my father’s study was full of them. They lined the dining-room walls, and overflowed into my mother’s sitting-room, and up into the bedrooms. It would have been more natural to live without clothes than without books. As unnatural not to read as not to eat.

Of all the rooms in the house, the Little Bookroom was yielded up to books as an untended garden is left to its flowers and weeds. There was no selection or sense of order here. In dining-room, study, and nursery there was choice and arrangement; but the Little Bookroom gathered to itself a motley crew of strays and vagabonds, outcasts from the ordered shelves below, the overflow of parcels bought wholesale by my father in the sales-rooms. Much trash, and more treasure. Riff-raff and gentlefolk and noblemen. A lottery, a lucky dip for a child who had never been forbidden to handle anything between covers. That dusty bookroom, whose windows were never opened, through whose panes the summer sun struck a dingy shaft where gold specks danced and shimmered, opened magic casements for me through which I looked out on other worlds and times than those I lived in: worlds filled with poetry and prose and fact and fantasy. …

Crammed with all sorts of reading, the narrow shelves rose halfway up the walls; their tops piled with untidy layers that almost touched the ceiling. The heaps on the floor had to be climbed over, columns of books flanked the window, toppling at a touch. 

Eleanor Farjeon
Author’s Note to The Little Bookroom 1955

I read this introduction to Hazel Nina as she was beginning to drift off to sleep. I don't have a picture of the little lass sleeping but here she is playing in the crib when she awoke.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pizza Crust

I just checked back and, geez Louise, I haven’t done a Weekend Cooking post since March 2012! 

Recently a friend of mine on Facebook shared a pizza crust recipe from here. The first time I made it, I followed the directions exactly, but last night I changed a few things, and it was so easy and delicious that I thought I'd add it to my letters.  

Pizza Crust

Put 1 Tablespoon baking yeast in 2 cups of warm water. Add a little sugar (maybe a teaspoon). I do all my rising in the oven with the oven light on. It gives just a bit of heat, and is away from drafts.

In a bowl mix 5 cups white flour with 1 Tablespoon salt. Add 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil.

Add the risen yeast and stir well. I didn’t knead it. I just stirred it really well and covered it with a damp towel and let it rise in the oven for about an hour.

I floured my marble board and kneaded the dough. I divided it in two, and spread it out on two pans greased with cooking spray, one a round Fiestaware pizza pan, and the other a cookie sheet.

I topped with tomato sauce. The recipe is here which was actually my last posting for Weekend Cooking. 

I added grated cheese to Tom's pizza. The cheese in our house is Seriously Sharp Cheddar. As I have mentioned before I am not a cheese fan, so my pizza is always sauce and veggies, though this time I didn't have many on hand, just some red and orange peppers, and garlic which I gently sautéed. 

They baked for about 20 minutes. Tom’s was done faster than mine, so next time I’ll either use two cookie sheets or two Fiestaware pans.

I’ve posted recipes for pizza crust here and here but this is the one I’ll use from now on. It is so simple to make, and the taste is perfect. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Today's picture/a painting by Nora Heysen

London Breakfast by Australian painter Nora Heysen, probably painted between 1945 and 1948

A long-time internet friend, Linda, posted this painting on her Facebook page, a share from Prairie Lights Bookstore. I left her a comment saying that it could be me! My breakfast is almost a sacred time for me. I eat the same thing every day (2 slices whole wheat toast, yogurt with fruit, glass of water, and cup of coffee with honey), and always read, though not a book but one of the many magazines I subscribe to. As long as they make paper magazines I shall read them. Currently these treasures come in the mail: The New Yorker, Real Simple, Bookmarks, New Hampshire Magazine, Yankee Magazine, and I await one I just subscribed to, Modern Farmer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hazel Nina at 11 months!

I can hardly believe that this little miracle baby is now 11 months old! She weighed 15.2 pounds today, up from 2.2 at her birth! We are thankful every single day. I made the 1929 Sponge Cake and she loved it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Today's picture/Hazel Nina votes!

Such a treat to bring Hazel Nina to vote in the same hall I used to bring her mother and her uncle!