Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Cooking: The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

I added The Recipe Club to my tbr list after reading about it on Staci's blog. I chose to read it now for the Foodies Read 2 Challenge.
The Recipe Club is about two women, Val and Lilly. At the start of the book, Lilly and Val are reconnecting after 26 years apart. This part of the story is told through emails. I was sort of confused at first since I didn't understand what drove two friends apart. But the second part of the book is told through letters when the girls are thirteen and continuing through to college. It's in these letters that the girls exchange recipes. They create their own recipe club and exchange letters and recipes for about ten years. It's during this time that I learned more about Lilly and Val. I liked both of them but never really connected to either one. I don't know if it was the format (the letters) or I just didn't really care for either of them. The third part was in a novel format with newspaper clippings and letters added in. This part felt a bit rushed to me. The end wrapped everything up neatly, but I just felt we got there way too fast.
Overall it was a sweet story of friendship. I did enjoy the recipes, so I decided to make and share one. I chose the Mighty Math Muffins (page 57). Lilly's having trouble with math so her tutor creates this recipe.
I couldn't find frozen cranberries but I had dried on hand. Really easy recipe and a delicious muffin.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.
This was my second read for the Foodies Read 2 challenge.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Did Not Finish Report

This is a first for me. I think this is the most books I’ve ever abandoned in a month. Perhaps it’s because it’s the start of the year and I don’t want to waste time reading something that isn’t appealing to me, but here’s what I haven’t been able to complete.

The Swerve- I was really looking forward to this one. But just because a book wins awards doesn’t mean I’m going to enjoy it. There’s a ton of history in this book, some I really enjoyed. Ultimately I felt like I was reading a school textbook. When I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm, I had to put it aside.

Corsets and Clockwork-Sadly, I had just read Home Improvement, another anthology. Too many anthologies. I might pick it up again in the future.

Eating India-I had high hopes for this one too. Part memoir, part travelogue, part history of Indian food. But like The Swerve after time, I started dreading reading it. I think it was the tone and voice of her writing that I ultimately disliked.

Did you read any of these? What did you think?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Meyer Lemon Bars

Tai loves anything lemon. So when I found a bag of meyer lemons at my local grocery store, I brought them home without a clear recipe plan. On Pinterest, I found this recipe for meyer lemon bars. They were a big hit. Score!
Meyer lemons are sweeter than other lemons and ideal for sweet dishes. You can use regular lemons as well. Tai said this recipe was a keeper!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
I've been restricting how many books I put on hold at the library so I don't get more than I can read. But I'm very excited about The Scorpio Races. I can't wait to dive in.
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Tuesday: Beef With Asian Mushroom

I had to wait til tonight to post this because this was our dinner! When I came across this recipe, I immediately bookmarked it. Beef, mushrooms and asian flavors, yum!
Tips on the recipe:
I had a huge (6 lb) piece of beef brisket. It worked fine. I cut it into 2 pieces so it would fit in my slow cooker.
I used my 6 quart slow cooker.
I used 8oz of mushrooms and a jar (8oz) of hoisin sauce.
I cooked it for about 12 hours total and the meat was falling apart.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kafka's Soup by Mark Crick

I added Kafka's Soup to my tbr list after reading about it on Marg's blog. I'm really glad I read it. It was an enjoyable read.
The book is actually 14 recipe/stories each "written" by a different famous author. Each story starts as a list of ingredients then as part of the story tells you how the character whipped up the dish. Each story is short, about 4 pages each. The stories I found the most enjoyable were the ones where I was familiar with the author. The Marque de Sade's was probably my favorite because rather than poking fun at sexually restraint, he was mocking healthy eaters/vegans. I had a hard time reading Irvine Welsh's Rich Chocolate Cake. His writing is a bit jarring and difficult to read but once I got the hang of it, I was laughing out loud.
Overall, it was a great read. Recommended for book lovers and foodies! Others who shared their thoughts on Kafka's Soup: Cookbook of the Day, Blogging Wolfe, and The Sumptuous City.
This was my first read for the Foodies Read 2 Challenge.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Chicken Piccata

Yay! My first Weekend Cooking post. I'd decided to try chicken piccata. Tai loves lemons so I figured it would be a big hit with him. And I was right.
I followed this recipe, but forgot the capers. I didn't miss them. Although I'll try to remember them next time to see how it is with the caper. It was kind of labor intensive, dredging the chicken and frying it but the sauce was pretty quick. Very delicious. I would make this again.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Tai found Community on Hulu and told me I would enjoy it. He was right. We both really enjoy it. I look forward to marathoning through the first and second seasons this weekend.


Jeff brought over this delicious ice cream. I like the combo of peanut butter and chocolate but the peanut butter they use is so yummy. I'll be buying this again.


Jeff first exposed Tai and I to the Piano Guys. I love this song and could listen to it all day.

Tai does listen to this one all day. It's currently his favorite song.

This one makes me smile.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Tuesday: Risotto

I love risotto. When I spied a recipe using my slow cooker, I knew I had to give it a try. I'm glad I did. I can see myself making this one again.
Tips on the recipe:
I used a 2 quart slow cooker.
I skipped the parm since I didn't have any.
It took about 2.5 hours to cook. 
The risotto came out so creamy and buttery. You could add meat, veggies, cheese but I liked it as is.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Girl With The Steel Corset by Kady Cross

I'm so glad I relooted The Girl In The Steel Corset! I have to say the cover sold me but I also really enjoyed the story.
Finley is different. She has a dark side that gets her into trouble. While serving as a maid in a wealthy London home, her dark side comes out and she flees the house. While running away she runs into Griffin and Sam. Griffin is the lord of his own estate and different like Finley. Griffin helps Finley and she meet the rest of Griffin's friends (Jasper, Emily, and Sam) who are all different too. I liked that their abilities were more Heroes/X-Men type abilities. Together they band together to fight a killer. It felt familiar in that these kids had powers, wanted to help people, and still had some of their own difficulties as being people. I also really liked the characters. Finley is scared of her powers and doesn't understand why this is happening to her. Griffin can possess enormous power but he'd like avenge his parents death. Oh and Jack Dandy. Probably my favorite character. Dandy is that dangerous bad boy that I love in a story.  I really enjoyed the story and getting to know the characters. I love steampunk and this one has all the elements I like (Victorian era, mechanical enemies).
Overall, I really enjoyed The Girl In The Steel Corset. I cannot wait for the second in the series! Others who shared their thoughts on The Girl In The Steel Corset: Paranormal Indulgence, Books Devoured, The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader, and Read. Breathe. Relax.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley (plus a giveaway!)

If you've read my blog for any length of time you'd notice I don't accept review copies frequently. But when I got an email from Crown Publishing and read the excerpt about The Discovery of Jeanne Baret "history’s most elusive cross dresser, botanist, and global navigator. Jeanne is one of history’s forgotten hero’s – as a trailblazing woman and brilliant scientist whose life reads like a gripping historical fiction", I knew I had to read it. 
If you're like me, you've probably never heard of Jeanne Baret and no idea that a woman sailed around the world in 1766. Ridley does a lot of research to tell Jeanne's story. Not only research about Jeanne herself, but there is so much history packed into this book. I learned about women in France around that time and how herb women were teaching doctors and botanists about plants. I learned about naval history and how ships were packed for trips around the world. Also my geography skills are terrible. I kind of wish the book would have had a map so I could reference where they were and where they were going. I learned where the Strait of Magellan is and added Tierra de la Fuego to my list of places I'd like to visit. 
But no amount of research is going to tell us how the voyage was really for Jeanne. We only have the diaries of the men on the journey to tell us what happened. So there is some guessing about what would have happened to her and how she might have felt. But I was delighted to learn about this heroic woman who expanded the world's knowledge of herbs, plants, and insects. 
I'm delighted to have two copies of The Discovery of Jeanne Baret (courtesy of Crown Publishing)  for my US readers. To enter, leave a comment on this post (with an email address or someway for me to get a hold of you). This giveaway will close on 1/19 at 5pm PST. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vanish by Sophie Jordan

After reading Firelight, I was chomping at the bit to read Vanish. I know others didn't enjoy Vanish as much as Firelight but I loved Vanish!
Vanish picks up right were Firelight left off. Jacinda is forced to return to the pride and leave Will behind. Jacinda's twin sister, Tamra (who didn't get much love in Firelight) had a bigger role in Vanish. Things change a lot for both Tamra and Jacinda. Jacinda is a lot less whiny in Vanish. I felt her character matured a little bit and when she did rebel, I could clearly see her reasons.
The love triangle get complicated in Vanish. Cassian still has designs on Jacinda, but his cousin, Corbin, expresses his interest. I get that Jacinda is a rare fire-breathing draki, but seriously. This isn't a love triangle, it's a pentagon! Plus I felt Corbin was thrown in there just mess with Cassian. Corbin was stalkerish and kind of creepy. I could have done without him.
But the pacing was fantastic. Jordan had a clear goal to get to and I felt that everything moved along really well. Vanish was a wonderful ride but what an ending! Now when does Hidden come out?
Others who shared their thoughts on Vanish: A Room With Books, The Book Scout, Read. Breathe, Relax, Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile, and Makeshift Bookmark.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

End Of The Year Book Survey

I'm doing Jamie's year end book meme again!

1. Best Book You Read In 2011? 
How about my top ten? The Night Circus, The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb, Graveminder, My Life In France, Lunch In Paris, The Hunger Games, Underdogs, Firelight, Water For Elephants and Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

Sweet Valley Confidential. It really left a sour taste in my mouth.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

I, Robot. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did. 

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Graveminder, Lunch In Paris, The Night Circus, The Autobiography of Mrs Tom Thumb were the ones I most often suggested to others. 

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

The Parasol Protectorate series and the Tantalize series have been my favorites this year. 

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

2011 marks the year I read Neil Gaiman. I look forward to more of his books in the years to come. I'm also enjoying Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate series).

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

A lot of the books for the War Through The Generations challenge were outside of what I would normally choose. But I still enjoyed many of them.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

The Hunger Games was both thrilling and unputdownable!

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

The Night Circus. As soon as I heard about it, it was on my library hold list. 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

It's a three way tie:

11. Most memorable character in 2011? 

The Wolfe family in Underdogs and Sylvie from Splendor Falls stuck with me long after I put the book down.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

The Postmistress had some beautiful writing. 

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011? 

No one book had an impact on me.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read? 

Interview With The Vampire. I've always loved vampires and Interview With The Vampire is one of those vampire books every vampire lover should read. I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would though. 

A few stats:

Total for 2011: 123 (That's 45 more than I read last year!)
Total number of pages read: 38, 040 (That's 11, 265 pages than I read last year!)

My beautiful pie charts:

I read twice the amount of YA I read last year. Perhaps joining the challenge was the reason. At the end of 2010, I wanted to double the amount of Graphic Novels I read which I did. (Disclaimer: these are only the most popular categories for me, not every genre I read.)

I read fewer books authored by men than I did last year. It's not intentional but it seems like a trend for me to read books by women. 

Most of the books I read are newer. I read quite a few that were published in 2011 but I'm glad the majority were in the decade before. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Library Loot

 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
I actually put this on my hold list because there's an October Daye story in it. I'd hoped to get this one before I read One Salt Sea but it didn't happen that way. 
I admit I put this one on hold after it won the National Book Award. Although it sounds really interesting and I can't wait to dive into it.
Another one for the War Through The Generations challenge. I don't know much about World War I so I hope this one gives me some history to start on. 
What did you get this week?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Slow Cooker Tuesday: Beef Chili With Pinto & Kidney Beans

This is the third time I've attempted chili recently and this is the first time I've felt the recipe worthy of sharing. I used to make chili all the time using a seasoning packet (like Lawry's) but Tai wanted me to try to make it without the seasoning packet and find seasonings that we preferred. And since I love using my slow cooker I really want to find a recipe that I could use in the slow cooker. I went with this recipe and it was a winner.
Tips on the recipe:
-I used a 6 quart slow cooker.
-I browned both the ground beef and stew meat.
-My stewed tomatoes came with onions and peppers so I didn't add any more.

We both enjoyed it and it made plenty which froze nicely. This is not a really spicy chili. If you want to add heat, increase the red pepper flakes.

Monday, January 2, 2012

December Book Tally & 2012 Goals

December Book Tally:
The Night Eternal by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

Nine books this month. I surpassed my goal. I wanted to read a 100 and read 123 books. I completed all the challenges I set out to read. Yay me!

My Goals for 2012:
  1. Read Pride and Prejudice
  2. Participate in the War Through The Generation challenge, The Western Genre challenge, and the Foodies Read 2 challenge.
  3. I'm keeping reading goal at 100. 
  4. Participate in Weekend Cooking. I've been invited numerous times to participate and I'm going to start in January. I'll still have my slow cooker Tuesdays but post non-slow cooker recipes on Saturdays. 
How was your December? Any goals for 2012?