August 25, 2008

Remember the summer reading list?

Another list of 100 (this time books to read in a lifetime) from Ashley at The HamiHarri Update:

1) Bold those you have read.
2) Put an asterisk next to those you started but didn't finish.
3) Italicize those you intend to read (or have started and intend to finish).
4) Red the books you LOVE
5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

A few words of warning: I minored in classic literature in college.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien *
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling *
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien *
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy *
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams *
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky *
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding *
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel *
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (part of the complete works?)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

August 18, 2008

It's official. I was wrong...

After last month's culinary revelation, I had to know. Was it a fluke? Or had I found a new love in rhubarb?

I found my answer in Fine Cooking Magazine's Cinnamon Rhubarb Muffins.


You were right Mo. And this muffin's for you.

August 14, 2008

Celebrating summer's sun

Okay, I'm probably revealing my age here, but who remembers Sun In?

In 1970-something, you sprayed it in damp hair, slathered the rest of your body in coconut-scented Coppertone and headed out onto the back porch with your BFFs, knowing you'd emerge an hour later tan and blonde.

Unless you were me and Charity, in which case you emerged pink, with odd orange streaks running through your auburn hair...

The summer sun showed far more kindness to my father's tomato garden than it ever did to me.

Fast forward thirty-0dd years to 2008...

Sun-sweetened early girl tomatoes from John's parents' garden...

A handful of rapidly growing basil from my aerogarden (more on that soon)...

A hunk of leftover puff pastry in the freezer...

And this eye-catching recipe in my blog reader...

I may have outgrown my fascination with daylight savings time, running through the sprinklers and the searing sensation of bare feet on hot pavement and Sun In (which a Google search indicates is still widely available), but tomatoes will *always* remain the hallmark of late summer sunshine in my world.

Others who've experimented with this recipe:
Carmen of Carmen Cooks employed garden tomatoes and made from-scratch puff pastry in her adaptation.

August 12, 2008

Blueberry Bliss

After nearly six months of anticipation, it's my turn to "host" this week's episode of Tuesdays with Dorie. Back in June I counted the weeks and figured out I'd be in the hot seat in mid August and I flipped through the book in search of a couple of recipes I might choose from. I liked the sound of Dorie's Corn and Herb Muffins and I knew corn would be plentiful in August (at least in the northern hemisphere). The Brown Sugar Bundt Cake sounded simple and satisfying.

But something kept drawing me back to the Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream. Blueberries are plentiful in our local markets in August and fairly easy to find frozen in other climates. Oh, and they're healty superfoods. And we haven't done an ice cream yet. What better time for what Dorie dubs the "summeriest of summertime ice creams"?

The timing turned out perfect. My nephew's in town this week from Texas and the young man won't eat much that's not white... but he adores blueberries and he was excited about helping me out with the recipe. The result: a creamy tangy bowl of blueberry bliss.

What... you want photographs? As soon as my camera battery's done charging...

For now, here's the recipe for those of you who want to try it. And go check out the blog roll to see what 200-some other Doristas have to say about my choice.

Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream
as published in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup blueberries - fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw and drain)
1/3 cup sugar (or more to taste)
pinch of salt
grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon (or lime as you prefer) or more juice to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream

Put the blueberries, sugar, salt and lemon zest and juice into a medium nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture boils and the berries pop and soften, about 3 minutes.

Turn the berries into a blender and whir until you have a fairly homogeneous puree, about one minute. (It will never be completely smooth, and that's just fine.) Add the heavy cream and sour cream and pulse just to blend. Taste and, if you'd like, add a squirt more lemon juice or a tiny bit more sugar.

Pour the custard into a bowl and refrigerate until it is chilled before churning it into ice cream.

Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.

From the archives...
In 2006 we crossed the bay to check out the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market in celebration of farmer's market week.

August 10, 2008

Natural Highs

I saw this list of have and have-nots over at Dancing Around the House and it reminded me of a poster of "Natural Highs" that decorated the north facing wall of my bedroom in high school. Funny what triggers memories.

I've boldfaced the things I've experienced, proving that (as Stephanie so eloquently put it) I've lived a pretty amazing forty years and I've still got a fair amount of life left to experience:

If it's bold, I have...

1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby's diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said "I love you" and meant it
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar (a homeless man handed me a bag of hershey kisses on the breast cancer 3-Day in 2002)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster
31 hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabetized your personal files
48. Ever worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke - one video tape exists, and it's very heavily guarded. :)
50. Lounged around in bed all day
51. Gone scuba diving
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don't
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check
68. Read - and understood - your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi - Religiously!
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103 Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all fours
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse
111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Prepared a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway play
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco
118. Played in a band
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train
123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking
144. Learned how to take a compliment
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted
148. Written a fan letter
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox
160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
168. Attended the Olympics
169. Can hula or waltz and polka.
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint
178. Laughed till your side hurt
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hostel
184. Been a cashier
185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend
199. Helped solve a crime
200. Responded to a NJP newsletter

From the archives...
In 2006 I discovered bitter melon at Bautista Farms.

August 05, 2008

Lost My Marbles: A TWD tragedy narrowly averted

Well it was bound to happen.

To be honest, I expected it weeks ago, with the pie crust.

But no. I wait until the quick bread, one of the (presumably) *easiest* recipes I've encountered in my tenure with TWD to fail with a Dorie recipe.

It's my fault. I took a short cut, and tried to melt the chocolate in the microwave even though I know that method almost always gives me grief. I didn't want to be bothered with the water bath. As happens about 50% of the time, my chocolate started to seize. I *thought* I'd salvaged it.

But when I tried to free my banana bread from the pan it was pretty clear I hadn't. The chocolate sections separated from the pure banana sections so perfectly you'd have thought I *planned* it that way.

Sigh, not a pretty picture, but it made tasty parfaits with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Other people fared far better than I did with Dorie's Black and White Banana Bread, this week's pick from Ashlee over at A Year in the Kitchen. Go check them out!

From the archives...
In 2006 I kicked off National Farmers' Market Week announcing a week long field trip to the bay area's best markets.
In 2007 we found comfort in Sicily with Jamie Oliver's Italy.

August 01, 2008

Operation: Baking GALS

A week or so ago, fellow Dorista and Daring Baker Susan over at She's Becoming DoughMessTic put out a call to action I couldn't ignore.

A new daddy, her cousin Jason is stationed in Iraq. The problem? In addition to his young family, he's missing the tastes and smells of home. He knows Susan bakes, and he's hoping she'll send a treat or two his way.

Susan did one better. She sent out an email asking a few of her friends to bake up some treats and send them Jason's way. As often happens with brilliant ideas, her email request ballooned quickly into Operation Baking GALS, a growing group of baking bloggers, family and friends hoping to make a small difference in the lives of our service men and women with what we do best: a bit of flour, sugar, butter and eggs.

When I read Susan's request, I knew exactly what I was going to contribute to the cause. These are the cookies I blogged about over on Blake Bakes, my grandmother's icebox cookies. This recipe has a little military history of its own. Several of my uncles served in World War II and later in Korea, and these cookies were a regular feature in the care packages my grandmother sent overseas. I hope Jason and his friends enjoy them as much as my uncles did.

Interested in contributing something of your own to the next shipment? Head on over to Operation Baking GALS... round two is starting soon!