Monday, January 17, 2011

Seasonal Cooking

It's the time of the season to curl up with a steaming bowl of thick soup with some fresh bread on the side. I love winter for its cooking. I love warm comfort foods that taste even better the next day.

Well because the current novel I am reading is going to take me a bit longer to get through, I decided to review a cookbook I bought in the fall. It is called Marie Claire's Seasonal Kitchen by Michele Cranston. It's not the women's magazine. This is a whooper of a book. It's dense and the pages are thick, but it's fabulous. The sections are split into seasons. Each section has an introduction to what's so great about that season. Throughout the seasons, the author talks about the foods that are great at that time of year and different ideas for preparing them. Each recipe has a picture either on the page with the recipe or the following page. This book is beautiful. The food looks homey and rustic. It's inspirational.

On the down side, some of the ingredients I never use, have never bought, or are expensive. That's not to say that I shouldn't push myself out of my comfort zone, but I hate when I have to buy some ingredient and then I only use a bit of it for the recipe and am stuck with the rest. What do I do with it now!? O I should also mention that it was published in Canada, meaning that some words differ as do the measurements. Luckily they translate measurements. I have learned from this book and my British friend that Rocket is Arugula, Aubergine is Eggplant, and so on.

Well I really am inspired by this book and although I may not be daring enough to try all the recipes, or afford all the ingredients, I say take a gander! It may give you some fresh ideas and it will help you see what's naturally fresh in each season.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Medieval Kid.

Catherine, Called Birdy makes for a fun, historical read. It is a young adult novel, but don't let that distract you. Catherine is the tom-boyish, imaginative daughter of a Lord and Lady who live in a small village. Her mother tries to improve her manners and make her into a lady, while her father mostly yells at her and attempts to marry her off to the highest bidder. The book is written as a journal, so it makes for fast reading and a look at the everyday lifestyle of medieval Brits. Catherine is an adolescent and the point of the journal is to help her become more mature.

Give this book a read and see if she succeeds. I would certainly recommend it. Cushman did a wonderful job of writing this piece. Catherine seems like any girl you might meet today, but with a twist. Plus this book won a Newbery trophy. It was a fascinating, fun look at the 12th/13th century through the daily life of a young lady and a sweet story of a girl on the brink of adulthood who is trying to cling to her childhood.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Elementary my dear Reader.

Does Sherlocke Holmes ever go out of style? That's a rhetorical question. If you don't know the answer please stop reading now. Yes I am being a snob, but I think by recognizing that it takes away some of the ill favor that marries itself with snobbery.

Anywho chaps, if you haven't read any Holmes, no worries. Sherlocke is a classic figure that nearly everyone recognizes for good reason. This is one bloody brilliant fictional character (though I doubt Doyle was a dim wit himself) and his stories make for good reading.

The Hound of the Baskervilles is perhaps his most famous book and my second literary encounter with Sherlocke. Always the logical, detail oriented, violin playing, addict, Holmes is up against what he takes to be his most worthy opponent. A family phantom in the form of a wolf is stalking the great Baskerville family, killing the current male taking residence at the family estate. Watson goes with the newest member to take possession to see if he can gather clues for Holmes and what follows is an interesting account of the people, place, and events that occur.

I enjoyed reading this book. I'm not terribly fond of mystery novels because I just want to know what happened or who done it. Doyle is a fantastic writer and keeps his audience engaged and fascinated by the story and Sherlocke's mannerisms and explanations. I still found myself wanting to get to the end so I could learn who the culprit was and why they did it. I suggest giving Baskerville a shot. It's a classic, and not one of the dry ones that everyone says they read, but never did. There is life within these pages and Sherlock is an intriguing character. Sit down, get your pipe, magnifying glass, and plaid cape ready and read perhaps the most famous and brilliant fictional detective that has been written.