Friday, March 10, 2017

2017 Read Harder Challenge

Here's my working list for Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge.

Key to the colors on my list:
Black-books I intend to read but haven't started yet.
Lavender - books I'm currently reading
Green - completed books

Read a book about sports. -  Moneyball, maybe?
Read a debut novel. - Other Voices, Other Rooms - Capote
Read a book about books.  - The Uncommon Reader- Alan Bennett
Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author ?
Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. ?
Read an all-ages comic.  ?
Read a book published between 1900 and 1950. Planning to finally finish Is Sex Necessary by Thurber and White
Read a travel memoir Sahara Unveiled
Read a book you’ve read before.   ?
Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. 
Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location- The Hunting Party- A. Chekhov
Read a fantasy novel – LeGuin?
Read a nonfiction book about technology. Edwardian Farm, by Alex Langlands, Ruth Goodman, and Peter Guinn
Read a book about war.- The Naked and the Dead – Norman Mailer
Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+??? 
Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.  So many to choose from!
Read a classic by an author of color. Their Eyes Were Watching God?
Read a superhero comic with a female lead. ?
Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey  - Castaneda?
Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel  I don’t read romance novels.  Would Anais Nin count?
Read a book published by a micropress.
Read a collection of stories by a woman. – The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gillman
Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love.
Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.  The Color Purple

Friday, March 3, 2017

Au revoir, facebook.

I decided to take a break from facebook, semi-coincidentally coinciding with the beginning of Lent.  I've been clean for two days now, and I have to say I feel a bit better.  I've finished a few crossword puzzles and the latest New York Times Magazine, among other things.  

The only thing I really miss about facebook so far is sharing things I've read.  Easy solution:  restart this blog.  

One of the best things going on the radio these days is Kris Boyd's now-nationally syndicated (in Texas- happy belated Independence Day, y'all) program Think, broadcast locally on 90.1FM and at
Her interview with Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College, about his book The Death of Expertise, pretty much stopped me in my tracks.  He was speaking my thoughts!   In addition to citing the instant access to Google that is chipping away at the foundations of actual knowledge, he stated that the real problem with education and our schools is parents;  parents who have never allowed their children to fail, parents who email or call the teachers and professors of their adult children to complain about grades...  This behavior and the tolerance of this behavior is handcuffing and hobbling some truly caring and hardworking teachers.

The podcast:

The book:

The Texas Standard is another organization doing a bang-up job of broadcast journalism these days.

More to come. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I've outgrown sippy cups, and so has Mimie, but...

... every hotel I've stayed in over the past couple of years has supplied them, free of charge, along with bars of soap.  These same hotels, however, don't always supply soap dishes, so I've come up with a solution- the sippy cup soap dish.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pretty Quick Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie Using Mostly Storage Foods
2 poached or otherwise cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/3 c. Augason Farms (or other) Cream of Chicken Soup Mix
3 c. water
1 c. Pioneer Baking Mix (or Bisquick, or homemade version)
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1 Tbs dehydrated onions
olive oil or butter
1/2 a 14.5oz. can chopped carrots
3/4 can 14.5oz can red potatoes  (I used all but 3 of the small potatoes in the can.)
1/2 a 15-oz can peas
1 each small red, orange, and yellow peppers, sliced
3 scallions, chopped

Bring water to a boil in  a medium-sized sauce pan. Whisk in cream of chicken soup mix and dehydrated onion, reduce heat and let simmer 15 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, mix the baking mix, the milk, and the egg. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 400F.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, add enough olive oil or butter and sweat sliced bell peppers until they're tender, about 5-8 minutes.
Add  the diced chicken, canned peas, carrots, and potatoes to the pan with the peppers and stir till everything is warmed through.  (I deglazed the pan with a little white wine at this point.)  Add the cream of chicken soup to the pan and stir to combine.  (You will have leftover soup to use in something else.)
Pour the chicken mixture into a greased  stoneware, glass, or metal pie pan. Pour the biscuit batter over the top of the mixture in the dish.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two spoons.

I never write here anymore because I can't seem to make the time to do it, so, I will no longer try to make time.  I'll write what I have time to write.

I make meatballs of some sort a couple times a month, and ever since I started making them, I've used, or attempted to use, tongs to turn them while they were cooking.  I have discovered, though, that using two spoons to flip them over is MUCH easier than using tongs, forks, or fingers to do the job.

That's my blog post and I'm stickin' to it.

Next time- hamburger salad.  Really.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Week-day-lazy-day Chicken Stock

Before I started writing this post, I paused to look up the difference between stock and broth and found out there really isn't one. Good.  I love dictionaries, and although I HATE e-books and reading online, the online dictionary does prevent one from browsing and spending all afternoon looking at words and never getting to the one word you actually came for.

I hesitated at first to call this a recipe for chicken stock because "stock" sounds professional and complicated, and this method is anything but that.

This whole process is slow and easy and lazy from start to finish.

Sunday morning,  I made a coffee cake that required cooking at 400F. Once the cake was in the oven, I got a chicken ready for roasting.  Dried it off well, rubbed it all over with kosher salt, cut an orange in half and nuked it for thirty seconds or so and stuck it up the chicken's bum along with some herbs and garlic cloves. (I was out of lemons on Sunday, so I used half an orange.)  Laid the chicky down in a cast iron pan and popped her in the oven for an hour while I finished making breakfast, ate breakfast, including some of that cake, and lazed around with the family for a while.  After an hour, I checked for doneness, and let the chicken rest on a rack for a bit. I probably left my chicken out longer than the salmonella Stasi would like, but I'm still here. 

Word, bird.

Once the chicken was cool I broke it down into it's chickeny components- breasts, legs, thighs, etc., separated the meat from the bones and refrigerated everything separately.

I made a quick pan sauce with the scrapings in the cast-iron pan and some wine and refrigerated that right away.  That night I heated up the chicken, finished off the sauce, and served it all with mashed potaoes and apples (YUM!) and baby peas. Everyone was happy and nobody broke a sweat.

I had planned to make the stock the traditional way that afternoon, but never got around to it, so Tuesday- TUESDAY!- morning, I whacked up some baby carrots (how lazy is that?) and an onion and tossed them in the crock pot with the chicken carcass, poured in enough water to cover everything, put it on low, went to work and texted hubby to please turn it off when he got home.  Once I got home, the broth had cooled enough for me to strain it into jars, leaving plenty of room for freezing, and put some of  them in the fridge and some in the freezer. To be safe, I should have had Kevin put the crock part of the crock pot on ice till I got home, but he has Mimie to deal with after work and we all apparently have cast-iron constitutions.  Comes from playing in dirt while you're young. Still, safety first, don't let your chicken or your broth sit around at room temperature. You should refrigerate them as quickly as possible to prevent food-borne illness.  The best way to chill your stock, the method they teach you in culinary school, is to fill your sink with cold water and ice and place the stock pot in that. The book "Professional Cooking" by Wayne Gisslen has step-by-step illustrations for making stock the "real" way and cooling it down the safe way. Amazon has it.

For more on cavalier attitudes towards the nastier side of cooking, see the inimitable Harold McGee's column on the subject in the New York Times here.   For more on roasting the perfect chicken, see Michael Ruhlman here. I owe my lack of chicken-roasting trepidation to Mr. Ruhlman, and my technique, too.  You really can't go wrong with Ruhlman.

Anyway, roast a chicken and make stock with the carcass.  It's easy and it'll save you money and keep free from all those nasty additives in store-bought broth.

Peace out.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the 27th Time

Here's my second place-winning entry to The Colony Public Library's 30th anniversary writer's competition.  Thanks Kevin for encouraging me to enter.  I love you!                                    

                                  On Reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” for the 27th Time

I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of Harper Lee’s only novel. My mother and sister referred to it often, quoted it when the occasion presented, and Atticus stood but one notch below my own father in my personal pantheon of male achievement. 

I had heard so much about this book and seen my sister act out the main scenes of the film so many times that by the time the paperback became available to me through a school book sale and my mother handed over the $1.95 Scholastic wanted for it, I could hardly wait to get it home.

I still have that yellow-covered paperback with its red-block title font somewhere, although it’s the hardcover version I read now. I’ve read “To Kill a Mockingbird” every summer since my seventh-grade year. This story means summer to me. Summer and freedom. Freedom from school, freedom from kids my age, freedom to read whatever I feel like reading- the freedom of childhood. 

The opening sentence is never far from me: “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow,” and the last sentence “He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning,” crosses my mind every time my own daughter is sick.

This summer, though, I only managed to skim through the book, but I watched the movie with my three year-old daughter. I watched it and I watched her enthralled with the first half of the film, then watched her drift off to her toys when things got serious and sad and adult- just as I had drifted away from the sad stuff when I was a girl.

What strikes me now, listening to the book on CD and doing dishes while everyone else is sleeping, is how life carries on. I vividly remember thinking that things were “over” at each turning point in the book. Scout goes to school and isn’t allowed to read with Atticus anymore. Miss Maudie’s house burns down, Jem is waylaid by old Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, Scout is confined to petticoats and tea parties by Aunt Alexandra; Atticus’s fellow citizens show up to lynch his client and him, too.  How will things ever be the same?

As I grew up, each of these developments wrenched me, saddened me, laid me low, but I kept reading, kept loving this book. 

At forty now, it hits me. Alone at night, listening to the book on CD and washing dishes while everyone else is asleep- this is what happens: life carries on.

As children, as young people, every major shift in life is the end- how will we go on?  Our family moves, our friends marry and move away, our loved ones die- life will never be the same comforting tableau we’ve come to know. 

Then we wake up the next morning. We brush our teeth, go to work, take the kids to school- and things carry on. Tom Robinson may be gone; Boo Radley may have been explained and demystified, but still we go on. 

We carry on living and working and loving and reading- above all, loving and reading. Then we share “To Kill a Mockingbird” with our daughters. We share that sense of summer, of fun, of youth, of melancholy, of fighting even though “we were licked a hundred years before we started.”