Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Book Club Update: Skinny Legs and All: September

So, I made it through the first book in my book club. Boy did I pick a tough one to start with. This is the second Robbins book I have read and this one is much more philosophy driven than the other (Still Life with Woodpecker). One review I read said this was a horrible book to introduce someone to Robbins (sorry Pang!). After 150 pages and me still reading thinking "when is the story going to start!" I wanted to give up, but I kept on going anyhow and ended up really liking the book at the end, the story that is, some of the veils were too forced and took too long to come about.

Robbins deals with a lot of issues in this book like sex, money, religion, ignorance, art, to name a few. The section I found interesting was the section where the 6th veil falls and he discusses his view of religions that have a fixation with the afterlife. A quote from the book struck me because it reminded me of a discussion I had with Collin a while back. Actually I have been having this conversation all over the place for some reason, and its a personal thing where people are asking me what I think about religion in my life and how I feel about an afterlife. I took this quote in a personal way, so please don't misconstrue this to read me as attacking religions because that's not my intent. I really just was taken by surprise with this quote because it ties back to what I have been saying about my personal life.

Here it is: "to emphasize the afterlife is to deny life. To concentrate on heaven is to create hell."

While Robbins views here are a bit fanatical perhaps, in lesser degrees I have been hearing this topic around and it strikes a cord with me for several reasons (see my response in the comments, I go into this in detail, which I should have done to start with if I was going to write about it at all). Robbins personifies this idea with the character Reverend Buddy who wants to blow up the Temple of the Rock in Jerusalem to hasten the coming of the Lord and bring the apocalypse.

Another of Robbins' favorite topics is sex. He is graphic and sometimes shockingly blunt in his approach but he does have some interesting theories. Robbins postulates (more than once) that men do not in fact enjoy sex as much as they let on. They feel the need to constantly seek it and make a show of seeking it to assert masculinity but he theorizes that the reverse is true for women. That women actually enjoy it much more than they let on. In fact, he thinks they enjoy it more than men do. I will say though, he gives no real evidence to support this idea, perhaps this is a reflection of Robbins' own feelings. One thing is for sure, he loves writing about the nitty gritty, because as I recall there was plenty of it in Still Life also.

There is a whole lot I could get into with this book, but unless you have read it, it wont mean a thing to you. i had planning on having questions here for the readers and I to answer but as this book wasn't really a success (Pang doesn't like it, aka isn't done, and I told Annie not to bother because the first 150 pages was so boring), Lets just move on to the next book. Pang will be hosting the next book so keep a lookout for the next one, and I will remind you when she posts it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Asian Pear Cake

This week Jon's mom celebrated a birthday so we spent all day Saturday at his parents house just hanging out, cooking, eating and playing games. I wanted to do something for her so I offered to make dessert for her, and since I know they really love fruit and healthier style food I thought I would go for a Pear Cake. I got the basic recipe from Lemon Basil. This cake actually turned out quite lovely. It has a really nice vanilla flavor to it, assisted by the asian pears, and the batter comes out to an airy between pound cake and angel-food cake consistency. For the most part, this cake is the fruit, and the cake just kinda serves to hold it together (but it's also just a great cake). I can't wait to try this sometime with berries.

I didn't grease the pan well and the pears stuck to the bottom, so that's why my cake isn't pretty, I had to scrape some out of the bottom..but hey its rustic

1 stick salted butter, melted
2 to 3 asian pears
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 F

1. Grease 8 inch round cake pan. Cut fruit thinly and line the whole bottom of the pan (you can stack on top of each other, create several layers, if you want)
2. Whisk sugar and eggs for a minute. Add Flour, vanilla and baking soda and blend well. Pour in the butter and blend additional minute.
3. Pour over fruit
4. Bake 35 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Breaking in the Wok

So I am scandalized the say that this is the first time I have used my Wok after getting it for Christmas. I kept telling myself it didn't make sense to use it when I was cooking just for me and I would wait until I had a dinner for Jon planned out. But! Darnit! I will wait no more!

Basically I just threw some oil in the wok with some chopped garlic (2 cloves) and some nice veggies I've been meaning to eat:
Red Cabbage
Brussel Sprouts
Grape Tomatoes
Shiitake Mushrooms
(about a handful of each of these)

I let the garlic cook on its own a bit and then threw in the veggies, stirring occasionally. After a little while I added some chicken broth and let that cook in and then added a little more...maybe 3/4 cup in all? The mushrooms and the tomatoes really benefited from this treatment and in all it made a nice crunchy little wholesome side to my fatty left-over fried rice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fings I have my eye on

Crafty Bastards is this weekend! Yay! For those of you who don't know, Crafty Bastards is a craft fair where everything is handmade and lots of it is local. Stuff like screen printed shirts, recycled messenger bags, plushies, jewelry and more! Here is what I am looking forwards to seeing:

These would make a very modern addition to my growing cameo collection. Made by the artist Brookadelphia, check it out here.

These bags are super cute and could make some nice Christmas presents (must remember to think of others as I shop!). These are made by Dog Bone Art and you can see more here.

Last time I went to this I bought earings from this vendor and this time I want to check out her functional and super pretty pottery. Check out Tasha Mckelevy here.

I also may need to stop in and see what Daisy Lacy has for us gals. Check her out here.

So if any of your are close to DC come out this sunday and buy some handmade stuff

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wyatt Part 2

As promised more pictures of the new Ketten. Look at how well he gets along with wild Surrey :)

this one cracks me up. Matt Damon!

Surrey being cute but still untouchable

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Jon got a new ketten (kitten, I say it kEtten with a capital E) and he is a sweet little cowboy of a cat. We threw around a bunch of names (all of mine either food or animal related...like Curry and Bear) but in the end Wyatt seemed to be the best fit. The night I met him of course the only lighting I had was Jon's drab overhead (I really need to just get over my aversion to flashes and get some handhelds already!) so his color looks a little blah here. Also I took this picture during his first few minutes of meeting Surrey so that's why he looks a little mean - sorry Jon! but I promise I will get some better pictures up soon.

We got the ketten in hopes that this sweet little guy will tame our wild jungle cat Surrey into being nicer. Surrey is just feral, she doesn't like to be touched, she doesn't learn from punishment, she's just trouble...which :) before we changed it, was her name. Trouble. That's right. So hopefully now she will be happier because she will have a playmate and a better example to go from. We're keeping our fingers crossed that she doesn't just turn Wyatt into a jungle cat.

Drawing Class Update

As promised I am keeping you updated on my progress in my drawing class. We just finished this skeleton drawing and I have to say I'm kinda proud of myself. It's no masterpiece for sure but it's probably some of my best work so far as far as proportions go. So hurrah!

Every time I went to take a picture of this Hibou hopped up right in front of me to nuzzle the camera, crazy little attention needy princess. So I honored her with her own picture in which she totally plays the part of the demented little crack baby that she is. Thank you boober!

Soon to come will be a drawing of one of my classmates :cringe:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book Update- Twilight Saga

So I finished this series in a whirlwind week a while back and had moved on to other things when i discovered that Stephanie Meyer has a website at which she has posted out-takes and extra perspectives for some of the books in the series. It was while I was milling around there that I came upon the news that she had been in the process of writing a companion novel to Twilight in which the whole first book was told from his perspective. Also, I found out that 12 chapters into her writing there was a leak and her work was posted on the internet, because of that she has postponed finishing it indefinitely. And to cement it even more she also posted the 12 chapters on her website- so it seems pretty clear she will not finish it. A sad day (although I am behind on this news by weeks) for Lacey. Really it would have been cooler probably had she written the whole series from Edward's (the vampire) perspective. But oh well. You can read it here if you have an interest, but I warn you it leaves off right before the meadow scene so its kinda more of a tease than anything else.

Anyhow my sadness over this inspired me to write my own book for my own entertainment. I may post bits and pieces of it here but it would be way too long and too precious to write it all here, so keep your peepers open for that in the future. PS...Hibou is the main character

Sewing Scissors and Peach Cobbler

They came they came! My new old things! I ordered these cute little birdy shaped antique sewing scissors from ebay a few weeks back and they finally came (side note...why the f did they take so long!)

Don't look too closely at this picture, there are some rather unsightly Hibou hairs all over this chair, which just happens to be one of her favorite spots. Anywho, I plan to use these in many future projects. Next on the list of new sewing projects are pillow case bags and totes with my own dolls on them. Dolls like this one, which is the doll I made from my trip to Switzerland last year.

On the food side of things, I was feeling like cobbler the other day so I swung over to bread and honey where I knew they had a recipe and whipped up one of my own. If you haven't checked out these two and their awesome food blog do so now!

look at that sweet syrup spilling over

I apologize for the horrendous lighting at Jon's place. I like to use available light as opposed to flash and by this point the sun was down and I had only the drab overhead lights to work with

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yogurt and Honey Muffins

As soon as I finished eating my cheesy yesterday the sun came out! It must have heard my cries..of course the sun also came out just as I was getting ready to go to work. Curse you sun! Today was a lovely pre-fall feeling day though so I was happy again.

I had time before class today so I whipped up some of these.

I had been wanting to make them for a while because I love yogurt (even though its gives me a tummy ache, Im dairy sensitive) and I have grown more and more fond of honey/agave nectar the more I use them. These turned out quite yummy but I think I should have thrown in a small handful of dried cranberries to sweeten things up a bit. But I love how these are good for me, will give me a little energy boost and wont make me want to eat all of them in one sitting.

Yogurt and Honey Muffins (The Cookie and Biscuit Bible
makes 12

4 tbsp butter
5 tbsp honey (i prefer raw honey but Im sure it doesn't matter)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
grated rind of one lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of grated nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375 F and grease muffin tins
2. In a sauce pan, melt better and honey, remove from heat and set aside
3. In a bowl whisk together the yogurt, egg, lemon rind, and lemon juice. Add the butter and honey mixture.
4. In different bowl sift together the flours, baking soda and nutmeg. Fold into yogurt mixture until just blended.
5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 min. Leave in tin to cool for 5 min then transfer to wire rack.

I paired my muffin with a mixed berry jam :) Don't worry Jon I will bring some with me tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hearty Bread made into a Cheesy and Yummy Bulgar side

Its been kinda rainy and drab here so I decided to make some new bread to cheer me up. I have been wanting to try this bread for a while but have had difficulties finding the ingredients, in particular cracked wheat. If you ever need this stuff Bob's Red Mill makes it, and it should be either with the cereals or the baking goods. Some of you might be fortunate enough to have a grocery store that actually carries things like this but I was forced to go exploring and finally came across it at MOMs.

I was surprised by the deep greyish color of the bread when I cut into it. I've never made bread with buckwheat flour and I just didn't know to expect it. It has great flavor though - and something else I didn't know, buckwheat is actually an herb. New fings we learn. I got this from the book Whole Grain Breads

Buckwheat and Cracked Wheat Bread : 1 qt

2/3 cup water
1 tbsp canola or corn oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cracked wheat
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp rapid rising or active dry yeast

For those of you with bread makers, put the water in first at room temperature. Then put in all the other ingredients in order. Make a dent in the flour to pour the yeast into, making sure it doesn't get wet. Use Basic or Whole Wheat Cycle and set the crust to medium.
If you don't have a bread maker and want the other directions just let me know

So it's raining still and my shoes are wet and I can't find my umbrella and I just really want some bacon. So I make this

Boy does this do the trick.

Bacon Buckwheat Cheesy

2 thick slices Buckwheat Cracked Wheat Bread
Havarti with Dill
3 slices cooked bacon

You all know how to make a grilled cheese so I wont bore you - but man do the flavors play well with each other in this one :)

On the side there you may notice some rice looking stuff with tomatoes, that's actually bulgar. It's something new Im trying as a substitute to rice ( I eat rice so much at work I have to have other options at home) and its really good for you too! Again, I had to go to an organic grocer to get this, but here is the deal:

Bulgar Pilaf for 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups medium-grain bulgar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch spinach, thick stems removed, coarsely chopped (or just used bagged salad spinach)
1/2 cup fresh basil (my favorite)

1. put oil, broth, bulgar, garlic, 3/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper in skillet and bring to a boil
2. Reduce heat to low, cover, and summer until bulgar is tender, 15 to 17 min
3. Add spinach and basil, stir until wilted then serve with fresh tomatoes

This one I got from Real Simple but modified it to fit my needs. I also halved these ingredients so that I wouldn't be eating this stuff for the next 3 weeks. I made it last night and then ate it again cold today with the samich. Enjoy

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

New Fings and Curry Pasta Salad

If I have never mentioned it before Nola's in DT Frederick has some of the best if not THE best pasta salad around. A while back Jon and I went there for lunch and they had made a curry pasta salad that we loved and I though "well shucks..I can make that." And so I done did

This is pretty much the last of it but I made enough to last me for a week including giving some to Jon and Pang. I kinda just made up the recipe, throwing stuff in, but here is what the measurements were:

Chicken Curry Pasta Salad

half box double fiber pasta (I needs my fibers people), cooked
chicken breast, shredded
2 carrots, chopped
half can sweet peas
1 tsp curry
1 tsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp mayo

1. Combine the curry, lemon juice and mayo to make a uniform paste
2. Toss the pasta in a mix well
3. Carefully add carrots, peas, and chicken, mix well
4. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight

It's that easy! Paired with fruits and veggies like I have here and a little wrap and you got yourself a healthy little lunch

Also - a new fing from and old place:

Got this little tigers eye owl necklace from a thrift shop a few weeks back.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Curry Shrimp and Rice with Blueberry Cobbler Dessert

Jon and I had Trey and Mandy over for dinner tonight so I wanted to show off and try some fancy new recipes. It turned out really really well so I will pass them along for you to enjoy. ( recipes adapted from Real Simple)

Curried rice with Shrimp (serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup long-grain white rice
salt and pepper
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup fresh basil

1. Heat oil in large skillet (this has to hold all of the ingredients at some point so plan ahead) over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, stir and cook until soft (6 to 8 min)
2. Add garlic and curry, stir and cook for 2-3 min
3. Add rice, 2 1/2 cups water, 1 tsp salt, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer 15 min
4. Stir those little gems (shrimps) into the rice, cover and cook until the shrimp is opaque throughout. Fold in the basil and eats!

And plus! For dessert!

Blueberry Cobbler (serves 6 OR 2 hungry hippos)

2 pints blueberries
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon zest
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp cups heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat to 375 F. In medium bowl toss together the blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tbsp flour
2. In separate bowl combine baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and remaining flour and sugar
3. Add the butter and blend with your fingers until coarse crumbs form. Add 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp cream and mix until shaggy dough forms
4. Spread blueberry mix out in shallow 1 1/2 qt baking dish or a 9 inch deep dish pie plate (this is what I used). Spread dough out over this (you have to kind of break off chunks of the dough, flatten it in your hands then lay it over the blueberries and kinda stitch all the dough pieces together)
5. Bake 35 to 40 min or until berries are bubbling and crust is golden
6. Top with whipped cream if desired