Monday, March 29, 2010

Books to be reviewed

I haven't completed a book review since sometime in November. While my reading did dramatically decrease with my return to full time employment, I have been reading some. Thus I have a long list of books to write about, most of which I have something to say about. Since I am probably never going to sit down and fully discuss each of them, I'll let you, my blog readers, partially decide which I write about. If you are interested in my thoughts on one of these books, please so note in the comments.

Joan Fry How to Cook A Tapir; A Memoir of Belize Whiny blond American discovering herself and that her new husband is a twit while in Belize, allegedly with recipes despite the fact that she doesn't cook. Thanks BiL.

A. J. Jacobs The Year of Living Biblically Great. See raych's review. New York Jew seeks spirituality by following rules in the Bible. Far more thoughtful, respectful and sincerely funny than the premise would suggest.

Wilkie Collins The Moonstone Also great, also see raych's review. A very Victorian detective story.

Diana Gabaldon Outlander Amazing that I had never read it before considering that the series contains well written time travelling adventures with a strong modern woman thrust into clan battles and lots of hot sex in the Highlands of Scotland. Gabaldon is a PhD ecologist too!

Dodie Smith I Capture the Castle Part of my discussion of Jane Austen's influence. A book that made me sad that "gay" is no longer usable for light-hearted and joyful. Thanks SiL.

Elusive Swan Smutty with pirates and good guys pretending to be pirates and a plot twist that kept me reading when the sex was fairly boring. Thanks, Irene.

Karen Joy Fowler The Jane Austen Book Club Lots of fun, but the best part was the fantasy reader beating the Jane Austen snobs at their own game. Obviously someday to be part of the Jane Austen discussion.

Ann Vileisis Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get It Back Actually, I'm still mired in the losing knowledge part. A well-documented historical account. Thanks Mister.

The Nature of Plants I'm using this as the text for my Plant Anatomy and Morphology class. I'm of mixed opinion about using a beautiful (and relatively inexpensive) coffee table book from a natural history specialist publisher as a text book.

Sandra Hill A Tale of Two Vikings Viking Twins! By the author of The Last Viking. No time travel buy just as deliberately cheesey. Thanks, Irene.

Michael Pollan Food Rules A much abbreviated (and thus very funny) version of In Defense of Food.

Let me know what you want to learn more about.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Southern Sparklers Herald Changes

One Tuesday in February, classes were cancelled at 3:30 p.m. for that night and the following day. The Mister and I celebrated the unprecedented advanced warning, and that I had on-campus interviews for both of the positions for which I applied over the winter, by popping open the bottle of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rose my parents had given us for Christmas.
This South African methode cap classique (the South African term for bottle fermented sparkling wine: methode champenoise) wine is made from mostly pinotage grapes, with some traditional French champgane varietals, pinot noir and pinot meunier, comprising less than 20% of the blend. It's a lovely coral-pink and, like brut rose champagnes, struck me as very dry for the color. Soup and sparkling wine while it is sleeting is not a classic combination, but one I'd be willing to repeat.
Over our spring break, the Mister and I spent the night at a local bed and breakfast that has great food (my Christmas present to him and our Valentine's meal) while my parents spent the night with Dianthus. We ordered the Graham Beck sparkling wine because it was listed as being from New Mexico, and we were shocked that anyone was challenging Gruet for the New Mexico-based sparkling wine market. The menu was wrong, it was regular Graham Beck from South Africa. I don't think the fact that I spent the next 48 hours in very close proximity to the toilet had anything to do with the sparking wine, and I think it tasted very good and went particularly well with the mushroom soup and the Mister's crazy seafood platter, but my taste memory is somewhat sullied by the after-illness.
Yesterday we made a decision regarding our future jobs: we'll be moving to Oklahoma over the summer, and we drank a bottle of Korbel to celebrate. (The Korbel is Californian, not South African, but I'm sure it fits in with "Southern Sparklers" somehow. California is "southern" compared to Champagne).
Thanks to Mom and Dad for the babysitting and the wine. Thanks to the Mister for looking for finding me jobs to apply for and we look forward to seeing many of you on our travels to and from Oklahoma this summer (which will include Colorado, Kansas and possibly New Mexico).

Monday, March 15, 2010

To post about noodle recipes, one must actually follow one

So I'm posting the photo mother took of Dianthus instead.

I have learned that rice noodles can make a great spicy soup but poor leftover soup. And that if you are going to cook beef stroganoff in a slow cooker, one should probably alter the liquid quantities from the simmered down stove top recipe.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Winter Gratitude

I love snow. I'm grateful that, unlike most of the world's population, I live in a place where it snows most winters.
It has snowed a lot here this winter. Far more than average. I'm grateful for the extreme quantity of winter weather because it made me joyfully giddy when spring weather arrived Friday.

And I'm particularly grateful for the sunshine today. Because it is sunny, I have a chance to avenge yesterday's tennis loss to the Mister in the opening set of the season. By the end of the day, we'll surely be tied.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Noodles from the friends I'm lucky to have

When I opted for noodles over gratitude for the year's resolution, I intended to add an intense focus on gratitude during Lent and spend part of every day being publicly grateful (i.e. posting about gratitude). Then late February happened. Snow delays, labs cancelled, midterms. all school cancelled, two trips out of state in the same week (involving 10 plane flights, three of them taking off at 6 am), four different talks as a guest lecturer, and adorable baby needing attention. The result: I haven't yet written about gratitude. But there is so much to be thankful for.
My friends are high on the list.
I live near very few of them.
I've become a poor correspondent.
And still, they remain fabulous.
In many many ways.
Among the many ways: within two days of posting my noodle resolve, I received photos of noodle vendors in Haiti and "beef satay chow fun for lunch".

I'm grateful for such great friends.