Books


Well, it’s a rainy chilly Easter Sunday, perfect for staying in with a nice cup of a tea, a book and a few episodes of “Project Runway” and “Man vs. Wild” on the DVR. I am planning to venture out to raid the bookstore for a few new reads and who knows what else, to create my own Easter Basket.

I’ve read some seriously crappy stuff recently, but there have been a few gems mixed in. Here are a few things that Have held my attention recently.

Tales of The City” Arnistead Maupin. Blame it on the fact that I find myself falling more and more in love with San Francisco each day that I live here, but I went on a kick with these and read the first three of the series. The can get a bit soapy, but are fun easy reads.

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of A Lifetime” John Heilemann. If you aren’t tired of the constant political squabbles and found the election season fascinating on both sides, pick up this book. No candidate makes it through unscathed (though don’t you kind of expect people who run for president to be a little narcissistic and slightly out of touch?).

I’m about a quarter of the way through “City of Theives” by David Benioff. Heavy subject matter, but I love his writing style so far and the story is beyond intriguing.

So if you’re looking for something to read, check one of these out. Okay, off to add more books to the pile!

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Honestly, I don’t know how it keeps happening.
But I’ve done it again.
Another cookbook.
The Best Recipes in the World: More Than 1,000 International Dishes to Cook at Home” by Mark Bittman


The problem is this amazing store: Omnivore Books.

It’s a food lovers paradise. Cookbooks and all books food related.

So despite my promise that no more cookbooks would come through the door, this one snuck in. I can’t wait to try it.

In the meantime, In celebration of the wonderful weather and springs arrival, I made a killer shredded bbq pork last night in the crockpot. It was DELISH. While I’m normally not a huge pork fan, I make an exception for pulled pork sandwiches.  I was feeling to lazy to make my own sauce, so I used Bull’s Eye Hickory Smoke. Despite the store bought sauce it turned out really well, though it can’t compete with the best bbq joint in the midwest- Pappy’s.

As a side note, apologies for the lack of posts recently. A weeks vacation followed by a weeks worth of catching up at work leaves very little time for blogging!

And the pile continues to grow....

This is only the pile of actual books in my living room, not counting what is stored on my Kindle.  I have a 7 hour flight next week (hence the huge amount of chick-lit in this pile), so I should be able to make a pretty significant dent in my “To Read” list.  Is anyone reading anything good? I can always use more suggestions!

Clearly I haven’t been posting much lately. I blame laziness and an unusually packed schedule.  Work, friends in town, shopping for an upcoming trip and life in generally have kept me away from the computer.

Now, the shopping.  I’m headed to the beach so I needed to pick up a few things.  In picking up a “few things” I’ve realized I have too much crap!  It’s weird to think that seven months ago I arrived out here with 14 boxes and felt like I had given up/sold/thrown out the majority of my possessions.  But somehow the stuff seems to have mutlitiplied, especially the clothing.  It’s everywhere! It’s pouring out of my drawers closet and wardrobe.

While crusing the library a few days ago I found what I think might help.

It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan For Living A Richer Life With Less Stuff” by Peter Walsh.

While I’m not really the self help type, I’m also not the organized type so I’m willing to take the plunge.

So far, so good.  I’ve only gotten as far as my clothing, but that’s the major problem.  I’m taking his suggestions to heart.  If it hasn’t been worn in 6 months (and is in season) it’s outta here. So far I’ve filled up a bag for goodwill and one for the garbage  from my winter clothing.  Next up: cosmetics and accessories. After that, kitchen organization. The idea of it makes me cringe a bit.  Despite the total purge that my move forced me to make, I’m not good at giving things up.  I’m always afraid that I’ll need it, or want to wear it, or it has some sort of memory attached.  This book is making me brutal.  I’m cutting to the chase.  If in doubt I’m throwing it out.

The new rule? For every clothing item that comes in, one needs to come out.

I’m hating it.

But I’m loving the fact that my drawers will close.

Pete (yeah, I’m calling him Pete. I figure if I make him seem like a buddy I’ll hate what he is saying less) has debunked all of my excuses, so I guess I’ll have to take his motto to heart: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.  While I do think all of my clothing is beautiful, and my lip gloss and millions of lotions and potions are superb, I’ve got to thin the herd.

I have a feeling I’ll end up hating Pete, but loving the results.  Clutter be gone!!

A wise man once said, “You’ve got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, and know when to run”. Okay, so maybe not a wise man, but a man who had a successful singing career, a chain of chicken restaurants baring his name and in more recent years some really unfortunate plastic surgery.

In all honesty, the quote has very little do with anything, but who doesn’t love to quote Kenny Rogers? The point of the matter (yes I do have a point) is that sometimes you have to go all in. Take an idea and run with it.

You may recall that a few months ago I was lamenting the difficulties of meeting people in the city. My plan was to search high and low for groups as a way to meet people. I was even having a bit of trouble finding groups (or at least groups that would have me as a member). I put all my cards on the table and started to respond to anything that sounded remotely interesting.  The tide has certainly changed. I am now in SEVEN book clubs.

I think this might have gotten a little bit out of hand.

I have a logical explanation. The group I joined when I first got here disbanded after one meeting. So with that as precedent, I figured that I might as well join a bunch because I might not like one of the groups, or one might fizzle out. So far I’ve met with three of the groups and I really like all three. This is kind of turning into an embarrassment of riches. A few of the remaining 4 had better be duds, or I’m going to have zero life outside of reading!  And don’t think I haven’t considered swaying the votes to see if I could get several groups to read the same book, it has occurred to me.

My worst nightmare is that there is going to be a common thread in the groups. Like in Fight Club when Marla starts showing up at all the same support groups as the narrator? Someone is going to be at all of the same bookclubs and know that I’m a member of entirely too many of these things (though they will be too), and that I’m essentially shopping for the club I like best.

Seriously, If I end up liking all of these people and none of the groups fizzle my calendar and my kindle are going to become a nightmare!

Damn it! I accidentally bought another cookbook! It jumped in my amazon cart and followed me home. I blame it on the dreary months and slightly chilly weather. That’s correct, I’ve been craving comfort food. So one must follow the recipes of those who do comfort food best: The southerners. And one southerner seems to do it better than anyone else. Yes, Paula Deen will be on my shelves when I get home.


It probably didn’t help that I just finished her biography “It Ain’t All About The Cookin“. One can only hear about fried chicken, and baked spaghetti, and all other manner of delish sounding heart attack inducing fried foods, before you want to be able to make them yourself. She certainly has lived an interesting life and the book is worth reading, but beware, I don’t see how you couldn’t order a cookbook upon completion.

I have a new bookclub tonight! I’m hoping that this group of ladies is as interesting as they seem to be!

I’m LOVING my new recipe a week arrangement.  While it’s general hit or miss, the hits have been pretty great.

One of the best so far is Salt-Roasted Chicken.  I found this recipe in the Gourmet Today cookbook (more about that here).  It’s quick and easy, though you need to plan in advance as it needs to salt overnight.  Give it a shot:

Salt Roasted Chicken

1 (3 1/2 pound) chicken

2 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon gound black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 lemon slices

Sprinkle the chicken with seas salt and pepper, place in a shallow dish, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 F.  Rub the skin with butter and place lemon slices inside, place meat thermometer in the thigh, avoiding touching the bone.  Reduce oven temp to 425.  Roast the chicken, basting occasionally. Roast for around 50 mins, until thermometer reads 170.  Allow chicken to stand 10-15 mins before carving.

This chicken was GOOD! It was very moist (god I hate that word) and the skin was fantastic. It browned well and looked lovely, all with minimal effort.  The leftovers were great as well.  I’ll certainly make this again.

In addition to my fantastic dinners of late, I’ve managed to read a few fantastic books.  My favorite being “Tales of A Female Nomad: Living At Large In The World, ” By Rita Golden Gelman. It’s a memoir of a women who leaves a failed marriage and a comfortable life in L.A. to become a citizen of the world. Living in various villages and towns all over the globe.  Her experiences and the people she meets are so interesting that I was really sad that the book ended.  Luckily it looks like she has another coming out this spring! I’ll certainly be pre-ordering it.   The downside? It made me want to pick up and travel.  Just pack a bag and Go ANYWHERE.  I do wonder if and how 9-11 and everything that has followed has effected her ability to travel or the places she goes.  If you have the chance I would certainly recommend picking up the book. And if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, I may have packed up and flown away to join a village in Belize.

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