Friday, October 29, 2010

Cookbook Lovers Unite: First Post

I was browsing Culinary Concoctions by Peabody this morning, as I was trying to catch up on blog posts again, and found a website linked to it called Cookbook Lovers Unite. As I have been collecting cookbooks for years, I thought this site was pretty cool, so I am following them. I decided to post for them, as long as I can remember to do so. So for the first post, they wanted to hear about your first cookbook love, though it didn't have to be the first one you ever loved.

My first cookbook was a 1950s black and white cookbook for kids that I picked up in a book sale at my school library when I was in 5th grade. It was horribly outdated then, but I found it amusing, so I kept it. My favorite cookbook for years, which I used through out high school and college, was the Fannie Farmer Junior Cookbook. I especially loved their veggie soup and banana bread recipes. Unfortunately somewhere in the last five moves, I've misplaced it. I know it's floating around here somewhere. 

So I will talk about my other favorite. I started watching Julia Child when she was doing those PBS Master Chef shows in the 1990s, when I was in high school, and that was something I loved doing on Saturday afternoons. So when she came out with her Baking with Julia, which was actually written by now famous dessert/baker Dorie Greenspan, I had to get it. In fact, I specifically asked for it for Christmas in 1996. This book got me interested in baking and I've done my fair share over the years. There's just nothing like the smell and taste of fresh bread out of the oven, or for that matter homemade pie. Julia Child made me want to bake and share it with the world, because of her idea that anyone can cook. I have been a Julia fan ever since watching that show, and still am fascinated by her, especially after Julie & Julia came out and I had to read her biography  My Life in France. Her time in France molded her into the chef that was to become and helped her earn her fame (though it came much later), after publishing Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol 1 & 2. Now I have only managed to cook one recipe out of this cookbook because even though has gorgeous pictures and fantastic recipes, created by Julia and other famous chefs,  the recipes themselves are rather long and complicated. In fact, the only recipe I ever made in it was the one for French Bread, which took 6 hours and yes was the best bread I ever made. However, that recipe is ridiculously long, so I will be reproducing a different one for the purposes of this blog. I will use the recipe for Alsatian Onion Tart because it looked delicious and relatively easy to make, and something that I would be likely to try in the future. 

Alsatian Onion Tart
Makes 4 servings. 
The classic Alsatian onion tart - a flat, pizzalike galette covered to its very edge with meltingly tender soubise, a mix of onions and bacon - was once typical Sunday fare in Alsace. On their way to church, the locals would drop off their tarts at the village oven to have them baked while they prayed (for redemption, not dinner, one assumes). Those crusts were always rolled very thin so that they would bake quickly, but this can be made in any size, and the recipe multiplied without care. 

About 1/2 pound puff pastry scraps, chilled
4 very large onions, peeled and diced
1 cup chicken broth (homemade or canned low-sodium)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 pound slab bacon

Preparing the Pastry: Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface until it is very thin, 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Using the lid of a pot as a guide, cut the pastry with a very sharp knife into a circle 10 to 12 inches across. Transfer the rolled out pastry to an ungreased baking sheet and prick the dough all over, using either a docker or the tines of a fork. Go overboard with this--try arming yourself with a fork in each hand and playing out a lively tattoo on the dough--the docking, or pricking, will keep the pastry from puffing, just what you want for this tart. Cover the pastry with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. You can prepare the pastry up to 1 day ahead. 

Making the Topping: Put the diced onions and the chicken broth in a medium saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, discarding any liquid, and let the onions cool. When the onions have cooled, stir in the heavy cream and season with salt and pepper. (Keep tasting--you may want to go easy on the salt because of the bacon.) Remove the rind from the bacon and cut the bacon into 1/4 inch cubes. Drop the cubes into a large pot of boiling water and boil for 1 minute, just to blanch them. Drain and rinse under cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Heat a medium skillet over moderately high heat, toss in the bacon pieces, and cook, stirring, for just a minute or two--you don't want to overcook these or they will turn tough; season with pepper. Remove the bacon from the pan and drain well on paper towels. At this point, the topping can be covered and refrigerated for 1 day. 
Assembling and Baking: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the pastry round from the refrigerator and top with the cooled onions, spreading the onions all the way to the edge of the pastry. Scatter the bacon pieces over the onions, pushing them down into the onions just a little (this will not only protect the bacon from burning, it will flavor the onions). Bake the tart for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately. 

Storing: Both the pastry and the topping can be made ahead, but the tart is at its best just baked. 

Contributing Baker: Michel Richard

Football news and *Love the Liberry*

So apparently Wayne Rooney is not leaving Man U and just signed a brand new more money contract. Guess we can't get rid of him that easy. The rumor this week is that coach of Man U Sir Alec Ferguson (aka Fergie) wants to snatch up my favorite Liverpool player, phenomenal goalie Pepe Reina, after he's supposedly upset with the way coach Roy Hodgeson is running things. I hope that is totally incorrect as I would be rather ticked if he left! Luckily, I'm pretty sure it is not true as one of the new owners, John Henry, has personally come out to say that people should stop spreading malicious rumors. Go NESV!

Since I did not feature a blog this week, I figured I would now. I was browsing the librarians' blog Love the Liberry and cracking up at the patron's antics. It is done by three librarians, ast least one being a reference librarian. I  love the subheading of the blog: "Stranger than Fiction...We Couldn't Possibly Make These Things Up." Some of my favs so far include the Spelling post on Oct 20, Prescription for Disaster on Oct 13, and Can't Fool Us on Oct 10.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I am so out of it

This week has been a bit of a blur, and I've not been focusing at all. Case in point, my schoolwork, which I was caught up on a week ago and now I am behind again. Bugger. The library in Arizona has not gotten back to me as of yet. So I'm waiting for that as well, but will call back on Friday if I haven't heard anything. I just watched Glee's version of Rocky Horror Picture Show, which rocked, despite the lyric and character changes! I got up at the end and danced to "The Time Warp" again. I'm gonna have to watch the original version now. I discovered it in high school, much to my mother's chagrin. It's as Mr. Shu says in Glee, it's all about outcasts and I was definitely one in high school. Tim Curry was awesome as a transvestite and looks like he is having fun with it. I must say that Emma's rendition of "Toucha Toucha Toucha Touch Me" was pretty good, especially as Mr. Shu apparently has a rocking body (it's always the ones you least suspect, lol).

Friday, October 22, 2010

LOTR online update and football news

I am addicted to LOTR online. There I've said it, and admitting it is the first step. I played it for like 8 hours yesterday. It's cool now because I deleted my minstrel character and created an even harder character, a Lore Master (female elf). She's basically a wizard that can summon an animal companion to help her fight, which is great because she has low health and dies easily. But I've got her up to level 15 or 16 in two days, which is pretty awesome, and she finally joined the kinship that my other two characters are part of. I like her bear companion as he is less annoying than the earlier raven, even though the raven had some cool protection. I had wanted to create a female hobbit character, but they're mostly fighters, so maybe next time if I buy another slot. My other characters, the human female guardian and the elf female champion are finally getting some more play. I was able to start the Lone Lands quests (a separate set that you either have to buy with cash or Turbine Points from the LOTR online store) finally after getting enough TP, so that gives me 100 extra quests to do. I think I will buy North Downs and then Rivendell when I finish Lone Lands. I am loving the Lone Lands quests so far because it helps level up my guardian character, who is my favorite because she is easy to use, so she can do the upper level  Book 2 epic storyline quests.
I know most people will have no idea what I am talking about as they don't play the game, but it is basically like this: When you start playing the game, there is a limited amount of areas you can play in. You can basically play for free in Erid Luin (home of dwarves and elves), The Shire, or the Breelands. You can do epic storyline or craft quests in other areas, such as Lone Lands or North Downs, but you can't participate in solo quests there unless you buy quests in that particular area or you are a subscriber for $15 a month. So as I am broke and can't afford any extra monthly expenses, at least until I get a job, I am paying for things through Turbine Points (TP) or through occasional $7 purchases through the store, which is how I got my third character slot (as everyone starts out with two in the free-to-play game).

Moving on to football news, which is more realistic than all this role-playing fantasy gaming. So the two big news items of the last couple of weeks are Liverpool and Wayne Rooney. Liverpool was bought by New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the company that owns the Boston Red Sox. My hubby and I are hoping that they will do an equally good job revitalizing Liverpool as they did with the Red Sox. The other big news is that Wayne Rooney (aka Shrek - not my nickname btw) of Manchester United fame has decided he wants to leave the club and go elsewhere. Now personally I think he is overrated (I think there are better strikers out there and ones with much less attitude) and I find it interesting that this happens right after he has been caught with a prostitute while his wife was pregnant (which I think makes him the lowest of the low). He of course says it is because Man U can no longer "attract top quality players", and I'm sure it is a shock to everyone that he's leaving since he's been there since Sept 2004 and has always praised the club.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quotes & The Merry Librarian

I've been a bit behind in posting this past week due to my last-minute trip to Arizona, but I'm glad I went as I had fun and it was relaxing to get away for a few days and somewhat catch up on work. I got all my reading done for my classes, the only downside is that I spent nearly 9 hours of yesterday writing my paper and I'm still not happy with it. But that's a story for another day. So I'm catching up today by making up Sunday and Monday's post, and might write one for today later on when I have more free time.

The quotes of the week will be some of my favorite Christopher Moore quotes, taken from his books Coyote Blue and Fluke: Or I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings.  The second one is particularly funny as the kid in question, Kona, is a bit of a spacey stoner who Nate regrets hiring until he makes a brilliant suggestion about whales that proceeds this quote.
  • “He soon found, that his thoughts, like monkeys in church, were bad company.” –Christopher Moore, Coyote Blue
  • Nate was stunned. Not because he thought Kona was right, but because the kid had actually had the cognitive powers to come up with the question. Nate wouldn’t have been more surprised if he walked in on a team of squirrels building a toaster oven. Maybe the kid had run out of pot, and the spike in intelligence was just a withdraw symptom.” –Christopher Moore, Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings
The blog of the week is The Merry Librarian. It is a blog created by a librarian and  other people/librarians send in stories about the unbelievable but true things that go on in the libraries. She also has a links to many other librarian blogs (which I will definitely be checking out in the future), and to her book review site (book club) and bookstore. I discovered this site after a classmate posted this link to one of her posts from June 14, which like the Merry Librarian, made me laugh out loud, as did this one. The Father's Day story, which is unfortunately the most recent post, made me smile. My only gripe is that I wish she would continue to update the site. But if you go back through the older posts, there are some gems.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    The Red Pyramid

    So I finally finished reading Rick Riordan's newest book The Red Pyramid and wanted to post my review on here.

    Great first book of another fantastic mythology-based YA series by Rick Riordan! It's obvious from the ending that there will be another or several books, and I am excited to read them. It didn't take me over a month to read it but rather a couple days, I just started school in the middle so it kind of got put on the back burner. I must say for the first book in a series it was rather long, and a bit slow in the beginning, but definitely picked up from about page 200 on to the end. I started with the audio and great selection for the main characters, especially Sadie (voiced by the wonderful Katherine Kellgreen, who does all the L.A. Meyer "Bloody Jack" books as well and won awards for it).

    This book was about two mixed ethnicitiy (African-American and Caucausian) children named Carter and Sadie Kane. Carter travels the world with his father, a famous Egyptologist and Sadie lives in London with her maternal grandparents. It is time for Sadie's once a year visit from her father and it is on this day that he decides to summon ancient Egyptian gods from the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. Oh yeah and he disappears, and the Kane children are nearly killed. They are rescued by their newly-rediscovered Uncle Amos, who wisks them to NYC and away from danger, or so he thinks. Thus starts their great adventure to figure out who they are and who or what is hunting them. Highly recommended!

    Interview and other stuff

    Well I'm here in Arizona just hanging out after my job interview on Thursday in Flagstaff. I think it went pretty well and there wasn't that sense of dread like after my last interview. The questions weren't too hard and I got to actually go on the bookmobile and check it out. I think it will take a bit of time of get used to driving such a big bus, but I pretty confident that I will get the hang of it. My hubby was all mad that he didn't get to come with me and said it wasn't fair that I was getting "a four day vacation" when he didn't get one. I know he's been working really hard and know he needs a break too. Unfortunately we just couldn't afford it, especially as we had just recently bought tickets to come here for two weeks at Christmas. But it is nice to just be someplace else for a couple days. I really like it here and sincerely hope that I get the job, even if that means we would be moving across country in a very short period of time.

    Yesterday we stopped at this place I've seen a couple times from Hwy 17 and though "Oh, they have pie, I should stop some time." Apparently Rock Springs Cafe is famous for its pie and they have a right to be because it was damn good pie. We got blackberry. I would love to try their other flavors but they are a bit pricey. Today my dad and I went to see the movie Red starring Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and Mary Louise Parker. I must admit, I've never really watched the Die Hard movies, although I did like Mr. Willis in The Fifth Element, but he was really hot in this movie (him and Keith Urban, aka Eomer from LOTR). I would've liked to have been a dark alley with those two, lol. Anyways, the movie was about these retired ex-CIA agents that are being hunted but they don't know why, so they spend the whole movie figuring it out. But it had humor and witty dialogue for the ladies and massive explosions/heavy firepower for the guys. Plus it had Helen Mirren shooting a machine gun on a tripod and my favorite part where she knocks out a guy with her clutch handbag in a dress and heels. Highly recommended movie! Then I got to go to Wienerschnitzel for mini corn dogs and a root beer float, so all in all a good day so far.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Cute Liverpool video

    So as I have explained in past blog posts, I am a Liverpool football fan. That's soccer for Americans, football to the rest of the world. This season has been painful to watch given our repeated losses, but still a fan, despite what my hubby says to the contrary. The club is in the middle of a bidding war for ownership of the club and an epic court battle, which will decide whether the club will be bankrupt and the players sold off for cash or can be sold to better owners who actually care about it (Current owners Hicks and Gillette are making me ashamed to be American), and will get rid of the debt and pump fresh new money into the club. So I'm waiting on news of that later on today. Anyways, I'm a part of Liverpool FB fans and they posted this cute video of primary/elementary school kids asking the captain of Liverpool, Steven Gerrard, random questions. Their facial expressions are so adorable, even when they look spacey and forget the questions (which is frequently)! The video is pretty long, about 21 minutes, but also features goals by Stevie G (as he is affectionately called by the fans), Fernando Torres, and John Barnes, as well as a nice goal save by my favorite Pepe Reina (who is apparently also the strongest guy on the team).

    Monday, October 11, 2010


    Today I've been catching up on my missed blog posts as I've been busy and haven't had to read in weeks. Culinary Concoctions by Peabody's posts were especially amusing, especially the Turtle Caramel Corn post from Oct. 6, where she making the dessert "to get revenge on her dentist". I'm also drooling over her evilly delicious-looking Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes. I also just found out that I have a job interview on Thursday, which I'm flying across the country to go to. So wish me luck!

    But anyways, on to my website/blog of the week.This week it is YA author Shannon Hale's blog/website named Squeetus, because she recently gave birth to twin girls and posted the most adorable picture of them here. I loved her Forest Born series, as well as the graphic novels she did with her husband entitled Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack. I found the website when I was looking up more information about the author. I like that she is against vehemently against censorship of books, as exemplified by this post here, plus she makes funny posts about pregnancy and other random mostly YA book-related topics. Her website features not only all of her books written, but also, FAQ, events she will be attending, games and quizzes, a create-your-own-fantasy story, book recommendations, author biography and contact info, and ramblings on books and reading. Highly recommended!

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Quotes of the day

    I collect funny, weird, romantic or insightful quotes. I've done this ever since I was an undergraduate. Most of them are book or movie-related, some are historic quotes from famous people. Since I have established Mondays as awesome website/blog day, I will make Sundays "share two cool quotes" day. So here's the first, in hopefully a long line of great quotes. The theme is on love. The first comes from the YA book series everyone loves to hate, Twilight, specifically from the second book, New Moon. This one is something Edward says to Bella:
    • “Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars—points of light and reason…And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason for anything.”
    The second will be from a totally different book genre and is the adult historical fiction classic Shogun by James Clavell. John Blackthorne, the main character, is getting a description of how Japanese women show their "love" to their men.
    • “We admire simplicity, so men and women can take pillowing for what it is: an important part of life, but between a man and a woman there are more vital things. Humility, for one. Respect. Duty. Even this ‘love’ of yours. Fujiko ‘loves’ you.”…”No she doesn’t!”…”She will give you her life. What more is there to give?

    Saturday, October 9, 2010

    School and General Life Craziness

    October seems to be the beginning of the school and general life craziness for me. My school/personal calendar is jam-packed full of stuff and it's only the 9th of the month. I keep scheduling myself for volunteering and then finding cool things that are going on, or some other reason why I can't participate, and then having to cancel. Like for example next weekend, where I signed myself to volunteer helping with computer classes at the library but then I found out they were doing a state literacy summit for five hours that day (which frankly sounded much better) and so I signed up for that, only realizing afterwards that I had a previous engagement. I keep trying to do too much and then regretting it. Like Wednesday, I volunteered in the morning for Let's Speak English, my weekly gig where I converse with internationals learning to speak English and help them improve their English, then I followed it up with 1 1/2 hours of individual help with one of the internationals from LSE as he is taking the TOEFL at the end of the month and needs speaking help, then I went straight into volunteering for cataloging. Normally, I could probably do it, but with very little breakfast and sleep the night before, plus no lunch, I was dragging by 3:15pm and had to go home early. Once I relaxed and got some food I was fine. So I told the international that we were going to have to reschedule his extra help before LSE, as I was feeling overwhelmed, and planned on making the cataloging volunteering a regular thing. I got news yesterday that I may have a job interview in AZ next week, the problem is getting there, but I'm working on that. So that too is on my mind, along with the fact that I'm forever behind in my classes, something I'm hoping I can remedy over Fall Break, which is Thurs-Wed. Oh and we have a group paper topic due on Tuesday that we've not nailed down (to be done Sunday), I have a Doctor's appointment on Monday, and a different project for the same class due the following Tues. Oh and I'm trying to go to my grandparent's house Oct 21-24. Feeling the pressure yet? I am, lol.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    *Poor Girl Eats Well*

    Kimberly Morales is the creator of Poor Girl Eats Well, and it is her personal blog for food blogging and recipes. She specializes in creating delicious home-made nutritious meals for very low prices, as she herself is constantly doing temporary work, and has a very limited budget. She's even been on food stamps. Kimberly  is also up for the Project Food Blog award from the Foodbuzz website, where the winner can win $10,000 and a feature on Foodbuzz for a year. So I have been voting for her in the contest. She also had a cool feature on Anthony Bourdain (who I love watching and think he is great writer and TV presenter), who she got to see live at the Food Bloggers conference in August.

    I have been following this blog for a couple of months and love it! As her recipes are all cheap and easy to prepare, I have been coming every day or every other day to see what brilliant new recipes she has posted. For example, recently she made Kiwi-Basil Granita and Bobotie for the Project Food Blog contest, but there is also Tropical Fruit Crepes with Zabaglione, Warm Breakfast Quinoa with Cinnamon and Apples, and the Spanglish sandwich. Plus there are many more on the website. Please go to her website and check it out!

    Sunday, October 3, 2010


    I found this random video the other day when I was browsing videos on YouTube and playing stuff from my favorites to listen to while I worked. My music on YouTube are mostly Glee songs and a couple of random Hip-Hop songs thrown in, and I usually listen to Haven't Met You Yet by Michael Buble because I love the way he sings and he's dreamy. Anyways, I thought the video was funny because I am a Geek and Gamer Girl, especially now that I like LOTR online obsessively and comics/graphic novels/manga.

    Ooh the other random thing I found on YouTube on Friday was the new Eminem video Love the Way You Lie featuring Rihanna (weird combo right?). It was random not because of his co-singer but because his music video, which was surprise surprise again about Eminem and his ex-wife, but starred Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox. Most people know who Megan Fox is (aka busty chick from Transformers 1 & 2). Dominic played Merry in the LOTR trilogy and was also the druggie in ABC's Lost. And I love him, mostly for LOTR and a bit from Lost. But the thing that distracted me in the video was how hot he was, not the song that Eminem and Rihanna were trying so hard to sing.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    The New Doctor Who

    As a continuation of my post a few days ago on Doctor Who, I thought I would include this article that I found today that better explains about the new 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. I personally like him, though I will say that after David Tennant brilliant's performance and whom I really loved, I didn't think anyone could follow that. Matt Smith really came into his own about halfway through the season, despite the on-and-off writing of the entire season (not as good as the past three seasons, because I think, head writer Russell Davies left).