Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Joy of too many books to read

My parents were visiting this weekend, which means they brought me my favorite things: books, and then bought me my favorite things: books. was a very enjoyable weekend hanging out with the 'rents.

the now out of control "to be read" list looks something like this -

The Servants, by Michael Marshall Smith
The January Dancer, by Michael Flynn
A Voyage Long and Strange, by Tony Horwitz
Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
A Storm of Swords, by George R R Martin
Soul Catcher, by Frank Herbert
Action Philosophers, Volume II, by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey
Rice & Risottos (cookbook), by Elizabeth Wolf Coren

Not to mention that I'm desperately trying to finish "Someplace to be Flying", by Charles deLint, which i am happy to say i am in love with. Many years ago, i read most of deLint's discography, till i realized he only had maybe a story and a half to tell. I'm thinking Neil Gaiman and deLint had a sit down one day, where Gaiman said to deLint "what the hell are you doing? Can i show you how it's done?" and he did. and it was. review forthcoming. . . eventually.

That said, where did all my time to read go? I work less hours these days, have fewer obligations, yet i barely get through 50 pages a day, when in previous years, i could easily get through 150 pages a day. What's the most tactful way of saying to a loved one "leave me alone so i can finish this damn book!"?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finally! Carrot Salad Success!

AC has been blasting non stop for a few weeks, the dog days of summer are here, husband and I haven't been very inventive lately. we're cooking old standbys, not cooking at all (tabbouli or tuna salad anyone?) or not having success with new creations.

101 Cookbooks to the rescue. Ok, so everything she does is vegetarian, and there's a little too much tofu for my tastes, but can i tell you that her website is the best thing to keep me from falling asleep during a slow day at the office? then i hit on the idea of blending two different Carrot salad recipes that i found there. the results were heavenly, easy, vegetarian friendly, and probably passover friendly. thank god for that last one, i don't ever want to have to choke down another overly sweet carrot tzimmes again.

here is the easiest, and only Carrot Recipe you will ever need:

Carrot salad with olives

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pine nuts
olive oil
1-2 lbs young spring carrots, skinned and sliced thin on a mandolin *
1 tbsp honey
lemon juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, each olive cut in half
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped mint

* what the hell is a mandolin?. Or, you could use an uber sharp knife, or put the carrots through a food processor for a more slaw type texture

put the orange juice in a small sauce pan, and simmer till reduced to 1/2 cup (this takes about 15 minutes). meanwhile, toast the pine nuts by putting them on a foil lined baking sheet in your toaster over, and using a medium "toast" setting. When toasted, set aside to cool.

put a little olive oil in a skillet, and gently saute the carrot slices until they have lost most of their rawness. the center parts will turn a yellowy color when they are done. put carrots in a bowl with any oil remaining in the pan and add a few good pinches of salt (don't skip the salt. seriously. don't do it.). add honey, lemon juice, olives, reduced orange juice and cumin, and mix well. Just before serving mix in the cilantro, mint, and pine nuts.

is excellent served over lettuce, or with couscous, or with anything, or straight. the pine nuts are awesome. and i was able to get the most awesome baby carrots at the farmers market.

I haven't made a salady type thing that i liked this much in a really long time. the carrots and honey are sweet, the citrus juice and olives are twangy, and cumin and pinenuts are earthy. it's just super good. and good for you! now i'm starting to sound like the 101 Cookbooks lady!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Too hot to cook

it is really, truly, too hot to cook. 80 degrees outside, 80% humidity. I was at an outdoor bridal shower last night and got eaten alive by bugs at the hosts house (her backyard garden looks like a gardening magazine!!)

home made salsa to the rescue. i shouldn't even have to post a recipe to this, because not only is it that easy, but everyone makes it different, so your favorite recipe is bound to be different that mine (also, see above:too hot to cook, so i ain't got nothin' else going on right now). but this did come out mighty tasty, and only burned my mouth off a little.

3-4 large tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced, with seeds
1/2 a red onion, finely chopped
small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
good pinch black pepper
am i missing anything?

put chopped tomatoes in a colander to drain some of the juice out. blend all ingredients in a bowl. chill for about an hour. enjoy! is beyond excellent in an omelet. in fact, i think that's what i'll have for lunch today.

books!! getting through Martin's 2nd Song of Ice & Fire book, and if it's taking me this long to read it, that means i liked the first book better. The first book flowed easy, because it focused mainly on the Stark family and Danearys. 700 pages in which to develop those characters, and mainly the development of the children. A good balance of action and "coming of age". One of the best books i've ever read.

but now that i'm slogging through book 2, i feel like i'm in for 1500 pages of build up, build up, and more build up. As the series progresses, i know i'm in for the introduction of countless new characters that will take pages away from the characters i've grown to love and fear for. Maybe i'm just getting cranky waiting for book 5 to come out? Or maybe i need to take a break from this series, wait for Martin to FINISH the DAMN THING already, then read all 9? 10? books and not have to worry about waiting. i hate waiting.

the only thing i hate more than waiting is being itchy. which i am, from the swarms of mosquitos last night. i am a bucket o' itch.

Friday, July 4, 2008

there are monsters in my garden

the trials and tribulations of a gardener who has been reading Science Fiction since she was old enough to pick up a book.

do you understand now why i find weeding so bloody scary????