25 April 2015

Weekend Cooking: Pork, Bean and Escarole Soup (from Cooking Light)

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend 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.

Cooking LIght May 2015This week I'm co-hosting a workshop for my fellow bobbin lacemakers (more on that in a future post--I hope). As a consequence, I was all about fast and easy dinners. Thanks to the current issue (May 2015) of Cooking Light, I was able to get a healthful dinner on the table in under a half hour.

There are so many great dinners in the "Speedy Recipe" feature in this magazine, I'm sure I'll be cooking from it for a while to come. Two of the winners were Quick Chicken Vegetable Curry (see my Pinterest board for my notes) and the following pork soup, which I cooked as is. (NOTE: the scan is from the magazine; all rights remain with Cooking Light.)

Pork, Bean, and Escarole Soup
serves 6
    copyright Cooking Light
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 cups chopped escarole (1 large head)
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Combine pork, rosemary, black pepper, salt, paprika, and red pepper in a bowl.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl. Add pork mixture; saute 2 minutes. Add onion and garlic; saute 4 minutes. Add stock, tomato paste, and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Mash half of beans in pan with a potato masher. Stir in escarole; cook 2 minutes or until wilted.

Ladle about 1-3/4 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

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23 April 2015

6 Books for Music Lovers: Reading on Topic

Reading on Topic: Music @ BethFishReads.comYou don't have to have to know how to play an instrument nor do you have to be able to carry a tune to enjoy and appreciate music. I know, because my musical abilities are pretty slim, yet music has been a big part of my life, as I'm sure it has been for you.

Today's Reading on Topic: Music takes us from pop to punk to rock n roll. We learn about the music business through fiction, memoir, biography, and sociology. There are books for teens and for adults. Crank up your speakers, loosen your vocal cords, and get ready to rock out.

The Sound Truth

Jerry Lee Lewis by Rick Bragg, Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon, The B-Side by Ben Yagoda
  • Rick Bragg conducted a number of interviews over two years to collect the foundational material for Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story (Harper, 2014, ISBN: 9780062078223). Lewis's story is more than a rags to riches to rags story of a rock star who indulged in life with abandon. Lewis was there at the start of rock and roll and saw it through to the next century, surviving despite his fall from grace, his many divorces, the death of children, too many drugs, and several car crashes. Bragg gives us insight into both an era and one of rock's greats.
  • In Girl in a Band (Dey Street, 2015, ISBN: 9780062295897), Kim Gordon reflects on her life in New York during the 1980s and 1990s and her journey from childhood through art, music, and fame to marriage, motherhood, and divorce. This well-written memoir (illustrated by many photos) features Gordon's years with Sonic Youth and includes stories of other musicians, but it is also a tale of feminism and the music industry. After reading this, you'll understand why Gordon has become a role model for younger generations.
  • Ben Yagoda's The B-Side (Riverhead, 2015, ISBN: 9781594488498) is based on meticulous research and dozens of interviews with twentieth-century songwriters and examines, as the subtitle says, "The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song." This very accessible study looks at music trends and how business, technology, media, and socioeconomic factors affect the making of pop music and the careers of songwriters from all genres. Music lovers shouldn't miss this easy-to-read take on the popular American music scene.
Musical Stories

Driftwood by Elizabeth Dutton, Driving the King by Ravi Howard, I'm Glad I did by Cynthia Weil
  • Driftwood (Skyhorse, 2014, ISBN: 9781629144993) by Elizabeth Dutton is about twenty-seven-year-old Clem Jasper, daughter of a famous rock musician who dies unexpectedly, leaving her a series of letters as part of her inheritance. The notes, which contain clues to her father's past and hint at secrets he was unable to reveal in person, lead Clem on an epic road trip through her native California. The novel addresses, grief, self-discovery, family, and the power of music.
  • Ravi Howard's Driving the King (Harper, 2015, ISBN: 9780060529611) is a fictional account of the famous singer Nat King Cole's relationship with his childhood friend and driver, Nat Weary. The story, set in the postwar years, is told through Weary's eyes and spotlights issues of race, class, and the entertainment industry. Although the novel takes liberties with the facts of Cole's life, Howard accurately evokes the issues faced by southern black musicians in the mid-twentieth century.
  • Written by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Cynthia Weil, I'm Glad I Did (Soho Teen, 2015, ISBN: 9781616953560) is set in 1963 Manhattan. Despite her parents' disapproval, sixteen-year-old JJ Green applies for and wins an internship with a Brill Building music publisher. Armed with talent and enthusiasm, JJ enters the dark, competitive world of the music industry. This young adult novel shows the unromantic side of the business, as JJ witnesses stiff competition, racism, and questionable ethics. Drawing on her own experiences, Weil paints a vivid picture of the underbelly of the music scene at the dawn of a new age.

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22 April 2015

Wordless Wednesday 338

Magnolia, 2015

cbl © www.BethFishReads.com

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

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21 April 2015

Today's Read: Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes

Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth HaynesSuppose you were in charge of finding a teenage girl who went missing during a family vacation in Rhodes but failed to recover the girl or her body. Then, by chance, ten years later, you find her back in the UK and working in a brothel under an assumed name. Contrary to your expectations, neither the now young woman nor her family seem eager to see each other. DCI Louisa Smith isn't sure what to make of it. The book opens with the girl's story:

To begin with, nothing was certain except her own terror.

Darkness, and stifling heat, so hot that breathing felt like effort, sweat pouring off her so her skin itself became liquid and she thought she would simply melt into a hot puddle of nothing. She tried crying out, screaming, but she could barely hear her own voice above the roar of the engine, the sound of the wheels moving at speed on tarmac. All that did was give her a sore throat. Nobody could hear her.
Behind Closed Doors by Elizabeth Haynes (HarperCollins / Harper, 2015, opening paragraph)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: UK (outside of London); Greece; Amsterdam
  • Circumstances: DCI Lou Smith is investigating a murder, an assault, and the abduction / discovery of Scarlett Rainsford. Because Scarlett is reluctant to tell her story to the police, Lou asks DS Sam Hollands (a specialist) to talk with the young woman. Meanwhile the DCI turns her attention to the other cases. As the investigations progress, Lou begins to think the three violent crimes may be related, but before Scarlett can reveal her secrets, she once again goes missing.
  • Characters: DCI Lousia Smith, DS Sam Hollands, and others in the police department; Scarlett Rainsford, her sister, and her parents; various victims and bad guys
  • Genre: mystery, thriller, police procedural
  • Topics & themes: family, human trafficking, relationships, women's issues, survival
  • What reviewers have said: Most reviewers comment on the taut, tense story, on the realistic (sometimes uncomfortably so) plot, and on the believable characters
  • Extras: The story is told from the alternating points of view of the three women (Lou, Sam, Scarlett). The author has experience as a civilian police analyst who worked with criminal behavior data; she wrote about the inspiration for this novel on her website. This is the second installment in a series featuring Lou Smith

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20 April 2015

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: The Spring Reading Edition

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts @ Beth Fish ReadsStacked-Up Book Thoughts are my random notes about books I've read, movies I've watched, books I'm looking forward to, and events I hope to get to.

The weather has finally broken here in central Pennsylvania and I've been spending a lot of time outside taking my camera for a walk or doing gardening or just enjoying the warmth.

That doesn't mean, however, I haven't been reading and writing. Here's what I've been up to.

Nonfiction You May Have Missed

Beth Fish Reads recommends nonfictionHere are four titles I recommended for Readerly magazine (for my mini reviews, click through to the magazine, where you'll also find additional timely book talk): The CSA Cookbook by Linda Ly (Voyageur Press, March 2015) will help you through your weekly vegetable boxes or navigate your local farmers' market. Cokie Roberts's Capital Dames is about how women in Washington, DC coped with the Civil War (Harper, April 2015). Alice Eve Cohen's The Year My Mother Came Back is an emotional memoir about mothers and daughters (Algonquin, March 2015). For mystery lovers, Matthew Parker's Goldeneye introduces us to Ian Fleming and his life in his beloved Jamaica (Pegasus, March 2015). If you aren't already subscribing to Readerly magazine, take a moment to sign up. The newsletter comes out every ten days and offers mini reviews, recommended reading, articles, interviews, and more.

Audiobooks to Get You through Spring

Audiobook Picks from Beth Fish Reads

I wrote a little bit about Mark Bittman's A Bone to Pick (Pam Krauss, May 2015) a couple of weeks ago for Weekend Cooking. For my full review of the audiobook edition of this insightful look at our food supply, check out AudioFile magazine. I'm currently listening to George Hodgman's Bettyville (Viking, March 2015), a memoir about caring for an aging parent, growing up gay in the Midwest, and struggling with love and self-acceptance. Next up is a book by one of my favorite authors: Kent Haruf's Our Souls at Night (Knopf, May 2015) returns us to Holt, Colorado, for one last time. It will be a bittersweet read because Haruf died in November at the relatively young age of seventy-one. If you haven't yet discovered his quiet, character-driven novels then you're in for some excellent reading or listening.

What I'm Currently Reading

Spring 2015 titles from Beth Fish ReadsI'm almost done with Sarah J. Maas's A Court of Thorns and Roses (Bloomsbury USA, May 2015). This is a super start to a new fantasy series about the Fey and humans. Sarah McCoy's dual-time-period The Mapmaker's Children (Crown, May 2015) introduces us to two women: one who lives in modern times and one who takes us back to nineteenth-century America, abolition, and the Underground Railroad. Tia and Tamera Mowry's Twintuition: Double Vision (HaperCollins, April 2015) is the first in a middle grade series about preteen identical twins who discover they have ESP just in time to help their mother get out of a sticky situation. Melissa de la Cruz's The Isle of the Lost is the start of her new Descendants series, perfect for middle grade fantasy lovers. Reviews of these titles will be up on the blog soon(ish).

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, have your caught spring fever yet? For everyone, what's on your reading list?

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