23 July 2016

Weekend Cooking: 4 Good Summer Recipes

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. 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.

Even though it has not gotten cooler, not even by a little bit, I'm back to cooking. All the great produce at the farmers markets are calling to me and I can't resist. Besides, we went camping last weekend, and after few days of eating all kinds of good, but not so good for you foods, I was ready to reset our diet.

Here are a few of the recipes that were hits this week. I took the cake camping, but the other dishes were served with or as dinner. All come from either online sources or from magazines (which I get through that magazine app Texture, which I've talked about before). Rather than type out the recipes here, I've pinned them all to my Tried and Like board on Pinterest, that way you (and I) can find them when you're ready to give them a try.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cake: Every year the people we camp with count on me to bring a breakfast or snack cake. I pretty much always make an apple cake. But this year I had a zucchini I wanted to use up before we left, so I checked out the King Arthur Flour site. I made two of these dead-easy (and no-dairy) cakes, which remained moist and good for the whole weekend. Despite the chocolate, they were eaten at breakfast and throughout the day. I read the reviews of the recipe and decided to listen to the people who suggested cutting the amount of chocolate chips in half. I'm glad I did because the cake really didn't need more. I will be making this one again and again.

Tomato Gratin with Sweet Onion and Balsamic Vinegar: The tomatoes are just coming into season here in central Pennsylvania and I had a craving for a baked dish. I thought about making the slow-roasted toms from What Katie Ate but then saw this recipe on Pinterest, which I think is from Weight Watchers. I had everything in the house so I went with it. It was delicious hot served alongside grilled salmon and tasted good cold for lunch the next day. The recipe calls for either parsley or basil, and I used the basil.

Corn-and-Zucchini Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese: Hey, it's zucchini weather! Summer squash is plentiful and inexpensive right now, so, yeah, I bought some more. This Food & Wine recipe was delicious, and served as as our main dish for dinner during the week. The recipe says you are to freeze the goat cheese and then shave it, but I forgot to pop the cheese into the freezer, so I just crumbled it up and mixed it into the salad. This was supposed to be fast and easy. It was easy. It didn't take a ton of time, but it did take both of us and was a bit much on weeknight. Mr. BFR took care of grilling the veggies and I did the rest. I'd make this again on weekend, but it was too fussy for after work.

California Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs: I found this one over at the Food Network site. I wanted a cold dinner that required very little prep and this fit the bill. I followed the directions pretty closely, but I added a red bell pepper and a poblano pepper to the salad . . . just because. We had this last night, so I can't tell you if it held up for lunch today, but I have high hopes. This was pretty and perfect for a hot summer evening.

In case you're curious, tonight's dinner will be Gingered Vegetable Curry and Sunday's is Sloppy Joes with Honey and Spice "Pickles." Both came from my magazine app. If the dishes are keepers and I can find the recipes online, I'll add them to my Pinterest board next week. I plan to make both of these in my pressure cooker, so I don't heat up the kitchen too much. The curry will be served over brown rice and I have fresh garden beans to go with with the sandwiches.

Note on the photos: the cake photo is my own, but the others come from the recipe sources.

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22 July 2016

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Odds & Ends

A personal note: Life has taken a crazy turn, and it seems as if I haven't had a free weekend for months on end. Not that anything bad is going on, we've traveled, we've camped, we've had holidays, we've socialized. I'm ready for a few days of just relaxing at home.

That isn't likely to happen until next weekend, but at least I have something to look forward too.

Last weekend was our annual camping trip with good friends. I loved getting a chance to catch up on gossip, congratulate new parents (and grandparents!), celebrate up-coming weddings, and enjoy being in the great outdoors.

Although not a lot of reading took place I spotted a handful of books: The City of Mirrors, Voyager (Diana Gabaldon), The Boys in the Boat, Woman in Cabin Ten, 11/22/63, and Flags of Our Father. I'm sure there were many more books, but I didn't notice . . . the beer and wine and good food and good people held my attention.

Listening and reading: I'm currently listening to The Bourbon Kings by J. R. Ward. It's a little soap-opera-y, but the audio is a good match for my current mood. It's a family saga that takes place in Kentucky: whisky, horses, and a whole lot of money. When I finish that one, I'll be back to listening to books for freelance reviews. I'm (as always) in the middle of a handful of print books, but The Hike by Drew Magary is at the top of my list. I started it Wednesday night and hope to have finished it by the time you read this. It's so weird -- but I mean that in a good way. A guy goes for a short hike in the woods and strange things happen. I'm not sure how this is all going to end up, but I have to find out!

Coming up: I've fallen behind with my reviews but plan to catch up with a series of quick takes, so look for those next week. I also have some themed lists in the works and a look at books you won't want to miss. As for the  weekend, I'll be working Saturday and Sunday mornings, but I do plan to participate in the 24in48 readathon as much as I can. It's not too late to sign up (I jumped in at 5pm last night!) and you don't need a blog to join in the fun. Click the link and check it out.

What are you reading (or listening to)? Anything I must add to my list?

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20 July 2016

Wordless Wednesday 403

Clouds at Dusk, 2016

Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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19 July 2016

Today's Read: Paradime by Alan Glynn

Paradime by Alan GlynnSay you're down on your luck, your relationship is crumbling, and you're suffering from PTSD thanks to your military service. What woud you do if you met your doppelganger, who just happens to be one of the rich and famous?

There's no app for this.

Though I seem to have one for nearly everything else. I can track my movements over the course of a day, every footstep, every heartbeat. I can monitor my stress levels, boost productivity, enhance cognition.

But relieve anxiety? Eliminate dread? Not a chance.
Paradime by Alan Glynn (Picador, 2016, p. 3)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: New York City; in the near future (?)
  • Circumstances: Danny Lynch has returned home from Afghanistan, traumatized by what he's seen. While working as a prep cook in a Manhattan restaurant, he notices Teddy Trager, who looks enough like Danny to be his twin. As Danny becomes obsessed with the other man, he begins to take on his mannerisms, eventually fooling people into believing he's Teddy. Can an ordinary guy pass for a world-famous technology genus? 
  • Genre: reviewers have called this novel everything from dark comedy to conspiracy theory, futuristic Gothic, and psychological thriller
  • Characters: Danny Lynch, a veteran with PTSD; Kate, his girlfriend; Teddy Trager, a billionaire techy; and (according to reviews) a handful of real people.
  • Why I might read it: A review in Publishers Weekly mentioned that the novel was a take on The Prince and the Pauper, but I'm under the impression that only one of the men is actually playing the game. From the Kirkus review, I'm expecting a fast-paced story with a few twists. Something about the premise has grabbed my attention, although I'm still on the fence.

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18 July 2016

3 Recommended Books Set in Imaginative Worlds

I've been doing a lot of reading and listening this summer, but not much review writing. Here are three books I can recommend.

3 Books Set in Imagitive WorldsThe Crimson Skew by S. E. Grove: I've written about the Mapmakers Trilogy before (The Glass Sentence, The Golden Specific), and I still have nothing but praise for the incredibly original world Grove created in her alternate history universe. About 200 years ago, the chronology of Earth shattered, resulting in a planet in which different regions exist in different time periods: from the prehistoric Ice Age to the faraway future. Our heroes are from 1890s Boston, and their adventures take them on dangerous journeys through other ages, as they pursue personal missions and get caught up in global politics. I love the imaginative beings, the flawed and sympathetic main characters, and the unique way maps are created and used. The Crimson Skew satisfactorily closes the trilogy but (yay!) leaves the door open for additional installments. The audiobook is from Listening Library (13 hr, 15 min) and is beautifully read by Cassandra Campbell. The print version was released last week from Viking Books for Young Readers.

3 Books Set in Imagitive WorldsMonstress by Marjorie Lu: I've gotten away from comics series lately, but when I saw the cover art of this collected volume of Monstress issues, I jumped in with both feet. This is an alternate history universe, set in Asia, with a mix of medieval and steampunk technology (may sound odd, but it works perfectly). The plot involves an ongoing clash between two species or cultures. As I said on Litsy, the comic features bad-ass women, an intriguing world, great art, and good action. I love the characters and the story line and the way the past doesn't quite stay in the past. The artwork by Sana Takeda is stunning, with a wonderful earthy color palate. Despite some violent scenes, there is a strong sense of humor running throughout. I'm not yet sure whom our hero, Maika, should trust, but I love her strength and loyalty both to an absent childhood friend and to two companions she's picked up on her travels. This is from Image Comics and will be released tomorrow. Don't miss it.

3 Books Set in Imagitive WorldsFeed by Mira Grant: Yes it took me six years and some prodding from friends to finally get around to reading this first book in the Newsflesh series. Feed is a dystopian novel set in the very near future. The world's population has been depleted after being infected by a virus that turns its hosts into flesh-eating zombies. Wait! Don't turn away yet, this is more than a walking dead story. It explores the shape of the Internet, news, and politics in the years to come. The main characters are a brother-sister blogging team who have been given exclusive coverage of a presidential hopeful's campaign. Double-dealings, good action, and some unpredictable twists make this an absorbing read. I loved the amazing details of the surprisingly believable world, from the weapons to the everyday concessions people undergo to ensure their safety from the zombies. Published in 2010 from Orbit. The audiobook (Hachette Audio; 15 hr, 10 min) was read by Paula Christensen and Jesse Bernstein, who keep the action pumping and the emotions high.

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