2 February 2009

Looking for a recipe to modify?

Posted in books, food tagged at 10:37 pm by Tricia

Following in the vein of the last posting…

I recently read The State of the Onion. It’s a culinary mystery, with the obligatory genre-supporting recipes at the end. The main character is the assistant chef at the White House. It’s a nice story, the kind of mystery I like (not too gory or sleazy), providing some interesting insights into the working of a professional kitchen and the White House. A little more rah-rah patriotic than what I’ve read lately – I didn’t mind so much, but I imagine some people might be irritated by that.

Anyway, after finishing it, I noticed this on the copyright page:

Publishers Note: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medial supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.

What? I’ve been reading culinary mysteries for over 15 years and never noticed such a disclaimer before. Bizarre!  [As an aside, while checking GoodReads listings for Diane Mott Davidson, I learned that her books were the first mysteries to include recipes. I hadn’t realized that before! I thoroughly enjoy her books, although after a while you do get that same sense as with Angela Lansbury: how can there be so many murders in such a small tight-knit community? (don’t hang out around Goldie, you’re likely to die!) Somehow, it’s not so surprising to have people dropping off in DC, especially if political intrigue is involved.]

So anyway, here is a recipe I was inspired to make after reading the book. it’s not theirs, because I could never follow a recipe that requires mayonnaise or dried dill (having neither on hand). But it goes well with spanakorizo:

Feta-Stuffed Cucumber Boats

1 long cucumber
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 Tab non-fat plain yogurt
Clancy’s Fancy hot sauce (or sub what you have on hand)
1/8 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped (oops, I forgot this!)
salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Toast pine nuts (I use the toaster oven at 350F).

Peel cucumber and turn into boats. (Slice in half, then slice each half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds out with a spoon.)

Combine cheese, yogurt, 2 drops to a dash of your hot sauce, pine nuts, garlic, and seasonings. Mix well.

Spoon into cucumber boats. Serve cold.

Like Berkeley Prime Crime, I expect you to be responsible for your specific health or allergy needs, but feel free to modify as you see fit!

State of the Onion (White House Chef Mystery, Book 1) State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy

My review on GoodReads


23 February 2008

Page 123

Posted in books, meme, Z-boy at 8:23 am by Tricia

A reader’s meme from Mindy via Deb. I decided to play along because the closest ‘big’ book was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules [obtained at a recent Scholastic book fair], which seemed potentially fun!

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)

Honestly, Diary of a Wimpy Kid was the closest I could find without standing up! Everything else in arm’s reach is a short picture book.

Find Page 123.

Find the first 5 sentences:

On the way back, Mom was really talking up Magick and Monsters, saying how it could help me with my “math skills” and stuff like that. All I can say is, I hope she isn’t planning on becoming a regular at these games. Because the first chance I get, “Mom” is getting handed over to a pack of Orcs.


After school today, Mom took me to the bookstore and bought just about every Magick and Monsters book on the shelf. She must’ve dropped about $200, and she didn’t even make me cash in a single Mom Buck.


I realized maybe I judged Mom a little too quick, and maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing having her in our group after all.

Oops, that was 6 sentences. Sorry. Anyway, it’s intriguing! After I get back from the Y, I’m going to have to read more, to find out how this turns out!

Feel free to play along if you’d like…

16 January 2008

What I read in 2007

Posted in books, reviews at 9:44 pm by Tricia

Inspired by Ruth sometime early in 2007, I started keeping track of the books I read. Sadly, I wasn’t able to keep up with her pace, but I still decided to share my list. I hope to read more this year! (I’m on #3 already :^)

Not counting assorted kid books, including multiple Junie B Jones (audio books while traveling, or read-alouds to Z and T) or Magic Tree House (ditto) or Tin-Tin or etc, here are the books I read/finished in 2007 – at least, the ones I remembered to write down! It does include 2 youth fiction books (4 if you include Harry Potter, which probably have more pages than all the ‘grown-up’ books I read!), because I read those to myself :^)

  1. Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan (started in 2006 at the urgent care office when I broke my shoulder; read in chunks because it kept getting recalled by the library; finished just after my final shoulder follow-up appointment with the ortho doc)
  2. Man Eating Bugs, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio (started last year; finished mostly during the 15 minute sessions of “ice and stim” at biweekly physical therapy)
  3. Mountains beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder (the “community reads” book for my city in 2007, although I didn’t participate in any of the CR events)
  4. Troubling a Star, by Madeleine L’Engle (my all-time favorite author – so sad to read of her passing this fall, but she had a long and full life)
  5. Hans Brinker, by Mary Mapes Dodge (Even as an audio book, I almost gave up in the 2nd chapter, trudging through Dutch history or whatever it was!)
  6. Feeding a yen : savoring local specialities, from Kansas City to Cuzco, by Calvin Trillin (not as entertaining as I’d been led to believe it would be)
  7. The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers (odd and unsettling – sorry, Ruth!)
  8. The Last Chinese Chef, by Nicole Mones (very tantalizing descriptions of ‘real’ Chinese food; nice character development)
  9. major chunks of the very silly and bizarre Areas of my Expertise by John Hodgman
  10. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson (made me cry!!) (still haven’t seen the movie, though)
  11. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J. K. Rowling (re-read as preparation for…)
  12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling (loved it!)
  13. A Crossword to Die For, by Nero Blanc
  14. 101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher, by Lee Wardlaw (funny and poignant)
  15. 101 Ways to Bug Your Parents, by Lee Wardlaw (ditto)
  16. Dark Tort, by Diane Mott Davidson (murder mystery series, the main character is a caterer so the books always include recipes)
  17. Sweet Revenge, by Diane Mott Davidson

That works out to just barely more than 1 per month. Slow! I might be missing a couple between 13 (late August) and 14 (November), but I was also fairly busy in the fall so maybe I didn’t read anything else. I didn’t listen to as many books on CD as in 2006, because I now have a lot of podcasts that I listen to during my ‘commute’ (walk or bus ride).

Two things drew me to Man Eating Bugs. A while back, I heard an interview on one of my food radio shows with Menzel and D’Aluisio, a husband-and-wife team, and thoroughly enjoyed their back-and-forth banter. Menzel is the photographer and enthusiastic bug eater, while D’Aluisio is the researcher and a reluctant bug eater. Faith D’Aluisio made the point that there are 2 kinds of insect-eating cultures: the ones who like crunchy stuff (e.g. grasshoppers, ants) and the ones who like ‘creamy’ stuff (witchety grubs, termites, etc). I had to find out more! Plus, I read their Hungry Planet in 2006 and it was fascinating. Here’s a quote from the book’s afterword:

Eating insects never got easy, but I learned that it is possible. And I now realize the experience changed my life. Dropping by the local supermarket is not the same for me anymore. Though I’ve always been stunned by the sheer amount and variety of food available in the United States, the shelves of the supermarket carry only a narrow slice of what the world has to offer, one dictated by the preferences of North Americans like me. Except the small percentage of insect parts inadvertently included in our foods (and allowed there by U. S. law), there are not insects — except, sometimes, lobsters, which are relatives of spiders. I don’t really want a plethora of insects to choose from in my supermarket. But now I know there could be.” —Faith D’Aluisio. [Man Eating Bugs, Afterword. p 187]

With Harry Potter 7, I had a very different approach from many of my friends. They started reading the book as soon as they got it, and hid away from the world to avoid hearing spoilers. Although I pre-ordered from Borders and took C & Z to the midnight release party, I put off reading the book because I didn’t want the story to end. And when I started reading (a month or more later, without encountering any spoilers!), I read it somewhat slowly, because I wanted to savor every moment! I’m not saying my approach is any better, it’s just interesting to me to see the differences.

Here’s to more books in 2008!