Saturday, May 29, 2010

Drowning Ruth

I finished the sappy Love is a Four-Legged Word and it was, well, sappy.  Very.  I got really tired of her describing how turned on she got by his muscles and him describing how very sexy he thought she was, yada, yada, yada.  I almost didn't finish it, but it was a feel-good happy ending (predictable) and so I stuck it out.  And now I feel good and happy.

Now I am going to read Drowning Ruth, by Christina Schwarz.  It's about sisters, right after World War I.  I love historical fiction, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Winning Salad

I made Avocado-Corn Salad With Creamy Salsa Dressing and I absolutely loved it.  I love avocado, and the sweetness of the corn, the crunchy chips, and the freshness of the tomatoes just added to it.  The dressing was really tasty, too.  I think I could put it on any salad.  I did add some fresh cilantro to the dressing, but otherwise, I followed the recipe. If you like avocado, you definitely should try this one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I love doggie stories

I finished North of Beautiful and it was a good teen love story/problem novel.  I liked the dynamic and resolution of the abusive father problem -- he is just awful to both his daughter and his wife.  I liked the progression of the relationship of the two teens.  I really didn't feel the impact of the birthmark on Terrra's life.  Maybe this would come through better in movie form.  I kept forgetting about her appearance.  The author mentions that she gets stared at once in a while, and then I would think -- oh yeah, she's got that birthmark on her face.  The same for the cleft pallette scar.  There were a few moments, in the orphanage, and throughout the end of the book that the impact of these defects was felt, but I didn't think it was the main theme of the book.  The book was well written and I enjoyed reading it.

Now I'm reading Love is a Four-Legged Word, by Kandy Shepherd.  It's a light-hearted romance featuring a dog.  I can't resist a sappy dog book once in a while. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Light Lunch or Dinner

I recently read most of The Flexitarian Diet:  What You Can Eat by Dawn Jackson Blatner.  I liked what the book had to say, I just really didn't think any of the recipes sounded that good.  They were, I guess, a little too "far out" for me.  My husband would find that hard to believe, since he thinks what I have been cooking is already way too far out.  One recipe I did try was the Bay Avocado Sandwich, and both my daughter and I really liked it -- my husband said it was OK.  He didn't like the tartness of the lime, so maybe if I used a different vinaigrette, he might like it more.  We put it in a whole wheat pita pocket.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Next book . . .

Absolute Brightness was a very interesting book.  Not what I expected, but I really enjoyed it.  The characters are well developed and realistically portrayed and it is easy to feel their struggles.  Not a book for every teen, but I would certainly recommend it to some of my avid readers.  Deals with issues of bullying, GLBT teens, parental abuse, death, and the death penalty.  Lots here to think about and there are enough surprises in the book to keep you interested.

My next choice is another teen book, North of Beautiful, by by Justina Chen Headley.  This is another book about teens with problems -- a port-wine birthmark, a cleft pallette, and an abusive parent.  The message is supposed to be about beauty coming from within.  I'll let you know.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Singapore Noodles

I made Singapore-Style Noodles last night and it was quite good.  I made a few modifications to the recipe, though.  I used ground spices, and didn't have any mustard, so left it out.   I left out the bacon.  For the chili garlic sauce I used sweet chili sauce, garlic powder, and sarachi hot sauce.  I used powdered ginger, since I didn't have fresh.  I used angel hair pasta, not rice noodles. 

I really like broiling the shrimp.  Ina Garten from Food Network gave me this idea.  You an put any spice (salt, pepper, garlic, etc.) on the shrimp, toss it in some oil, and broil for about 5 minutes, just like in this recipe.  It's much better than boiling.  Both me and hubby liked this recipe a lot.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Another book

I really enjoy Alex Cross novels.  They are so easy to read and once I start it, I can't put it down.  I always picture Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross, since he played that character in the movies.  I really haven't been able to get into Patterson's other series, The Women's Murder Club.  I find those characters too contrived.  But I enjoy Alex Cross (and yes, I know it's also very contrived.) It's just a personal opinion.

Now I'm going to read Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne.  I just picked this one up off the library shelves because it looked interesting, so I'll let you know.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Vegetable Pot Pie

I made Vegetable Pot Pie last night.  We liked it except it has a little too much oregano and tyme in it, for our taste.  Next time, I'll lighten up on the spices.  We just like the flavor of the vegetables.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two books again . . .

I finished The Hobbit, and really enjoyed it again.  I kept comparing it to Harry Potter, and I think both authors did a great job of creating many different species and developing them fully enough to allow them to grow and evolve through several books.  Both were able to create very intricate, rich adventures that can be read over and over.  I can't say that about many books, and I certainly cannot say I'm a big fan of fantasy -- but I do read them and there are many that I enjoy including The Hobbit.

Since we were camping again this weekend, I also read A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby.  I've read about this book repeatedly, but I don't remember what compelled me to add it to my list.  I really like the beginning of the book -- I was laughing out loud in several places.  Which is a funny thing to say when, at the beginning of the book four different people are contemplating suicide.  These four people meet on New Year's Eve on the top of a building that they all intend to jump off of.  There is where a relationship begins.  The rest of the book I found rather plodding, and not nearly as entertaining.  The book doesn't even had an ending.  It just stops.  There is more character development as these four explore their lives and the things that brought them to that roof.  It's just slow and not really very earth shattering.  The references to cultural icons, literature, and almost all other humorous anecdotes end after Part 1 of the book. It was disappointing.

My next choice is Double Cross by James Patterson.  I love Alex Cross and I had read all of them, but somehow I got a few novels behind.  Which just gives me something to look forward to.  So I've decided to treat myself and pick up a Patterson novel.

Grilled Pizza

Went camping again this weekend and had a lot of fun.  Most of the food was less than stellar.  I'm trying to cook ourdoors, without cooking large hunks of meat.  It's a challenge.  But .. we did make grilled pizza and it was fun and tasty!  I used frozen bread dough.  We decided I need to make a crust or try a different one, because the bread dough was a little to bland.  But the method worked well.

We'll do this again!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another good recipe

I made Sweet Potato, Corn, and Black Bean Hash last night.  I did serve it rolled in a flour tortilla with sour cream and a little cheddar cheese.  I also added some salsa -- to me a burrito needs something tomatoey!  I loved the sweetness of the sweet potato and corn against the spiciness of the peppers and the coolness of the sour cream and cheese.  A really nice combination.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Time for an old classic

I finished The Orange Houses and I'm glad it was short.  Between that book and Rucker Park Setup I've had plenty of urban, ghetto, poor underprivileged teen stories.  Orange Houses has the illegal immigrant aspect also, and it isn't a happy book.  It is well written, and Griffin's descriptions are compelling.

I've decided to read Tolkien's The Hobbit again.  It's probably been over 30 years since I read this book, but I really love it and want to experience it again.  The first time I "read" this book was when my seventh grade teacher read it aloud to us.  She was an excellent reader and did all the voices so well.  It was a wonderful experience.  I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy after that and at some point read The Hobbit again.  I'm looking forward to it after all these years.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Double books . . .

I was almost finished with Rucker Park Setup before the camping trip, and then I forgot to bring it!  So I started Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen and I have finished both books.  Rucker Park was a very "teen boy" book -- it's about a basketball street tournament.  It is also about murder and betrayal in the inner city.  It's short and absorbing.  I think a lot of teen boys would like this book and, as always, Volponi's book packs a powerful message.  I think some of the emotion is absent -- J.R. get's murdered and all of the sudden it is two weeks later.  Maybe it's that way because of the appeal to boys, but I thought there was a missing emotional progression.  Volponi does flash back and fill in some details, but it made the whole murder kind of superficial to the story.

Jerk, California is about a boy with Tourette Syndrome, but it really is much more than that.  It's a "coming-of-age" novel in the truest sense.  Sam has lived with a dysfunctional step dad (who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder) and after Sam graduates from high school, circumstances allow him to get away and begin a quest to find out about his real dad, and in the process, discover himself.  Touching, heartwarming, and uncomfortable -- all at the same time.  This book is the last one left for me on the Abe Lincoln High School Book Award list for 2011!

I have now chosen The Orange Houses, by Paul Griffin.  I don't remember why it's on my list, but it is also about some struggling teens, one of which is partially deaf.  I guess I'm stuck on a "troubled teen book" kick.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Camping food

Went on the first camping trip of the year this weekend.  I made Brown Sugar Grilled Salmon and it was a hit.  The next time I make it, I will ease up on the thyme, it was a little strong for my taste, but we really enjoyed this recipe.  I also bought a wok for the grill and used it for grilled vegetables which worked well and they turned out very tasty.