Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Monster Calls

Image result for a monster calls cover

 I don't use this word often when it comes to books.  But this time, there is no other word that works.  It is Breathtaking.

Did that help? :)

Ok so why should you read this book.  It's YA, more like JF fantasy.  It was written by Patrick Ness.  BUT the idea was gifted, bequeathed to Ness from Siobhan Dowd - a writer in her own right - before she died of breast cancer.  It is sparsely written, beautifully illustrated (though I read the version without illustrations as my kindle doesn't do illustrations really.   it's one of the older ones.)   I read it in all one sitting, which I think you kind of need to because it is so sparse, and it is so impactful.  To read it in portions I think would be like interrupting a symphony in random places.  To fully appreciate it, to take it all in, I think you have to read it in one sitting.  (I'm sure you don't have to, but I can't imagine breaking this up.)

Reading this book was like watching someone come into their own.  Like watching some one come into the same levels of reputation (for lack of a better term) as Gaiman, or Bradbury, or Pratchett.  He's not the same.  But he will fill in nicely at the table.   some might say the torch is being passed.  I'd say rather that it's someone lighting their own torch from another's, or bringing their own torch to light the way as well.   I think i may have a new favorite author to add to my list if all of his works are like this.

This is one book I truly hope they do not make a movie of, because there is no way they cannot muck it up.  (Of course there's already talk about a movie in 2016... but I hope that is only rumor.  It is too perfect on the page to put on screen.)

It is not what you think it is.  This is not horror.  There is no dystopian hunger games.  There is no one coming to rescue Conor (the main character, all of like twelve years old) and take him away to wizard school.  This is a book about stories.

  His parents are divorced.  He and his mom live in Ireland.  His dad moved to America.  Conor's mom has cancer and isn't getting better.    Then his grandmother is called to come help, and Conor can't stand his gran.

  But that is not where we begin.  We begin when the  yew tree in the field comes rushing up to conor's bedroom window, roars at him through the window, tears the wall off, and promises that he will come again.  And all Conor says is, "Is that all you've got?"  "Are you not terrified?"  "I've seen worse."   When Conor wakes up in the morning, house is put back together, and there is no clue as to the monster who came to call.  Except the leaves on the floor.

That is how we begin, and I don't want to say anymore.  But it is truly breathtakingly beautiful.  it is nourishing.  It is beautiful.  This book is art.  It is spellbinding.  And you absolutely must read it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

chickpea picatta from the post punk kitchen

thi is more for my own reference. but here you go anyway.
i have no clue what a piccatta is. i just know that this tasted really good. my husband even tooksoemf or lunch today :) for meat eaters it's easily adapted. make this and have them make whatever meat they like and they can stir it in their bowl.

this is copy and pasted directly from the post punk ( copy and pasting commences below.

Picatta is like an instant fancy dinner. One second you’re just sitting there, all normal like, but the instant that first forkful of lemony wine bliss touches your tongue you’re transported to candlelight and tablecloths, even if you’re sitting in front of the TV watching Dancing With The Stars. This version is made with chickpeas which make it superfast, and it’s served over arugula for some green. I know lots of people are accustomed to picatta with pasta, and that is the Italian tradition, but my first picatta was as a vegan and we vegans loved our mashed potatoes, so that is what I suggest serving it with. If you’d like to bulk it up even further, try a grilled or roasted portobello. Nutritional info is listed down below.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 scant cup thinly sliced shallots
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
A few dashes fresh black pepper
Generous pinch of dried thyme
1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup capers with a little brine
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cups arugula

Cooking spray

Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium. Saute the shallots and garlic for about 5 minutes, until golden. Add the breadcrumbs and toast them by stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. They should turn a few shades darker.

Add the vegetable broth and wine, salt, black pepper and thyme. Turn up heat and bring to a rolling boil and let the sauce reduce by 1/2, it should take about 7 minutes.

Add the chickpeas and capers to heat through, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon and turn off the heat.

If serving with mashed potatoes, place the arugula in a wide bowl. Place mashed potatoes on top, and ladle picatta over the potatoes. The arugula will wilt and it will be lovely. If you are serving solo, just pour right over the arugula.

Servings per recipe-4
Cal from fat-30
Total fat-3.5g
Saturated fat-0g
Trans fat-0g
Cholesterol- 0mg
Vitamin A-20%
Vitamin C-25%

Thursday, February 10, 2011

my days are slower that I am not teaching this semester. my best friend said there is a peace in my letters to her. i feel it too.

So full of discoveries are the days. Little ones, and big ones alike.


Some of you may or may not know that music is integral to my life. My Ipod is always going, or my computer's music library is reovlving and slowly burning out my speakers. I sang for years in choirs, choruses, and musicals. I was even recorded on a good friend's musical rough draft. (Somewhere if you dig deep enough in the versions and incarnations of his work, you'll find my voice in the background.) I actually began my college studies as a music major, intending to go onto being a conductor.
This didn't happen, and I switched to English (after having the professor who I swore took the elevator to work each day. When I graduated, I thanked him for being so hard on me, and setting me on my true path.)

Music is a balm like no other for me. Both times when I have gotten the news of a family member's death away from home, instead of running away and screaming, or drinking myself into oblivion (keeping in mind, I don't drink) I blared the music in my car, as loud as it would go. While others blare out hip hop or rap, my stereo is blaring out (until the windows rattle slightly) Copeland, Bach, Gershwin and Mozart.

When I think of key points in my life, it is book marked and cross referenced by Music. Perhaps I will go into that at a later time, more specifically in another entry.

So when I found out I was pregnant with our little one (who is now three yrs old) music was a major part of her time too. Still is.

But we don't do kids music. If I have to listen to it, it's not going to drive me crazy. So she has gotten to have a very ecelectic (at least I think so) taste in music.

She loves the Killers.

She loves Neon Trees

She loves Swing


yonder mountain string band

Kt Tunstall

ray lamontagne



Whale Songs

her newest discovery is Elizabeth Mitchell

the song that we love is called winter's come and gone and i cant find it on youtube by her..

also loving renee and jeremy

Thursday, February 3, 2011

swift delicious bean salad recipe.

This title is accurate. Honestly, i wasn't hopeful when i looked atthe recipe, and even some of the the making process. but i tried and i LOVE IT. absolutely a keeper.
from pg 148 of The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Diana Shaw

i am posting this for my own memory and to share the joy.

1 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove (i minced mine)
2 T minced fresh basil
1/4 c fresh parsley
1 large ripe tomato chopped but not peeled
1 tsp capers
2 tsp balasmic vingear
2 cups cooked chickpeas
salt and pepper tot aste

(my alterations - 1 can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans in place of the 2 cups. instead of the parsely and basil, i just put in a good couple pinches of dry italian seasoning. instead of the fresh tomato, i used 1 can of diced tomatoes no salt added. drained all canned ingredients before use.)

heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. when it's hot,a dd the garlic. turn the heat down to medium low,a nd swish the garlic through the oil. add parsely, basil, tomato and capers and stir untilt he tomatos begin to break apart. add the balasmic vinegar. stir well and thent urn off from heat.
place beans in another serving bowl. add tomato mixture over top of it, mix it in. season with salt and pepper. serve at room tempterature.


i added feta cheese to it, because, well i add feta to everything if i have it on hand. just a good sprinkle.

this was absolutely delicious. super easy to make. and very healthy. 189 calories. 7.7 g of protein. 7.3 grams fat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snobby Joes (meatless Sloppy Joes) from the Post Punk

This is not my recipe. But i made it and loved it. I served it with a little bit of shredded cheese on top of the mixture. Lovely. good the next day too.

copy and pasted from

Snobby Joes

Everyone loves Sloppy Joes! This version thinks its better than everyone because it contains so meat. And there’s no soy, either. Lentils are the perfect texture for vegetarian sloppy Joes.

1 cup uncooked green lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard

4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (optional – for serving)

Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the maple syrup and mustard and heat through.Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait.

a change in life for life - or at least i hope so.

"It's easy quitting smoking. I've done it hundreds of times." Mark Twain.

I have been down this road before. A few of your who have read my blogs before or my livejournal will recognize the landmarks. That's why I connect with the above quote by Twain (even though I don't necessarily conenct with him a whole lot).

I'm going back to vegetarianism. I'm even feeling a strong leaning to veganism. I'm crazy aren't i?

So how come? I'm spoiled. I'll just say it. I have it pretty good. I can trace the route of my meat - chicken, beef, and pork/ham/bacon - pretty easily. I look out my front door. The baby and I go and feed the chickens. Then we walk up and take the cows some apples and scratch their noses. The pig I never met. Our friend raised our hogs if we babysat her crazy cow for a summer. Apparently she named one of them Truffle.

I recognize that this makes me very unusual in most cooking situations. Most people can't do this. I even have gone to the store and bought commerical chicken, ground turkey, or some fish.

When 99% of the meat in this country comes from factory farms, ( and I am one of the 1% to get my food this way or to have access to this kind of food so easily, why would I change?

It came from a talk with my doctor.

I was in for my annual gyno. appointment. I have a truly remarkable OBGYN. Love him. He's just a great guy, great doctor. Everyt ime I have an appointment, I bring him something. How weird is that? Most women hate their gynos. While I don't particualrly enjoy the whole stirrup situation, I know that he is there to keep me healthy. And considering on our first meeting he confirmed our pregnancy, I've got a soft spot for him.

Let's back up a bit.

My paternal grandmother (Esther) died of ovarian cancer.
My paternal great grandmother (Esther's Mother) died of ovarian cancer.
My paternal great aunt (Esther's half sister Helen) had breast cancer. It did not kill her, but she did lose a breast over it.
My paternal aunt (my father's sister, Gilda) had uterine cancer. Did not kill her. They found it and were able to get things taken care of. It was a small spot, so that they found it was pretty amazing.

That's three generations of women, every woman that reached maturity, for three generations has had some form of reproductive cancer. And it's killed half of them.

So I have grown upw ith this cloud over my head, watching, waiting, being very aware of what is most likely in my genes. I have not been tested genetically for the Breast Cancer gene. I don't want to be. (besides some insurance companies if they find out, won't cover you, though that might be changing.)

I just assumed that it's likely there.

For those of you who don't know, ovarian cancer doesn't usually show itself until it's too late. The symptoms are easily misdiagnosed, or ignored, of symptoms show up at all.

So there's this big shadow following me around, and I want to do all I can to prevent it from reaching me.

Every time we meet, we talk about if there's been any improvements in detecting ovarian cancers, or breast cancers, any new developments to keep an eye out for. (There's a protein test or a blood test that's in the works, that is coming out on the horizon yet, but that isn't out yet. It was effective, but for whatever reason, it wasn't approved. Soon..)

In speaking to my OBGYN, I aasked does a vegetarian diet help prevent cancer. With no hesitation he said yes. Absolutely. diets that are low in fat have been shown to cut the cancer risk. Vegetarian diets tend to be very low in fat.

Then I asked abother question. Is it factory farmed meat, or is it just meat?

That one stumped him. We don't know, he said. I wish we did. But if you look at 5 oz of boneless skinless chicken breast vs 5 oz of venison, the venison wins hands down for being leaner, because you think about what the deer eats. It eats berries, grass, leaves etc....

I left that appointment, leaning towards what I had been leaning towards before, about going back to vegetarianism. Not about being nice to animals and all of that. But it's literally for my health. And like I exercise every day, (almost every day) and I treat that as a prescription, I'm treating this like a prescription too.

The last time I went, was when my uncle died. He had cancer and it went from diagnosis to death in six weeks. I was veggie for almost a full year then.
But I wasn't clear on my reasoning. I was thinking, well it's the factory farmed meat. If it' our own meat then fine. I began to make compromises.

That's why it was so important to ask about factory farmed meat vs family farmed meat (which is so hard to find by the way. but if you want some, call us..)

When my dr didn't know, i said to myself then I'm not going to risk it. Meat is meat.

So I have begun down the path again. I have eliminated meat entirely from my diet. I am also avoiding soy at all costs because of the effect it has on upping estrogen, which can then lead to you guessed it, breast cancer.

I went to my favorite store in the world The Everything Natural Store in Clark Summit. (If you're in the area you have to go.) and did some talking to the lovely ladies there who told me it's totally doable to be a veggie without soy. "You just nee to make sure you're getting your protein. So eat an egg a day. eat yogurt, or cheese. get some nuts in you, some vegetables like the dark leafy veggies and you're good to go."

I posted on a great vegan forum and asked them hwo to go vegan without soy, and about vegan pregnancies. (WE ARE NOT PREGNANT.) And got some amazing feedback that all came back to saying yes you can do this. totally. And you can do it on the cheap.

Last time it was also a situation of some strife between my husband and I. He's a meat eater. I explained to him more why I was going this route. That I didn't expect him to do it with me. I wasn't going to make him do it, or to make our daughter do it. I will let her make her decision. If she chooses to go this route, then I wills upport her. If she chooses to be an omnivore, we're goin to be careful about where we get our food (ie eggs, milk, meat etc) and as long as we are, then I"m fine with it. She already prefers vegetables to almost anything else. This past week, she has eaten three helpings of vegetabels at dinner for three nights running. she eats whole carrots every day. Apples. she asks for fruit and veg before she asks for candy.

I think this time, it's going to be go better. I'm still alright about cooking meat for them as long as it is good safe meat. I'm ok with making meat dishes and having some spots left untouched or taken out before meat's added, or served on the side.

It's been a little over a week since this happened. I think from time to time i'll post some of the recipes i'm using to share with anyone who wants them.
Deborah Madison's cookbooks have been invaluable, as has been the website the The Post Punk Kitchen which is a fantastic vegan recipe galore website.

I haven't lacked for taste yet.

Last night was vegetarian sloppy joes (called snobby joes on and home made onion rings (also on
One of the first things I cooked was what boils down to a potato lasagna. Awesome. Amazing.

tonight, i'm not sure what it will be. But it will be good. Even the boy has liked what I've cooked vegetarian and all.

I have two Jamie Oliver cookbooks that aren't veggie at all but are easily adapted and lovely. I'm eyeing up a couple other cookbooks right now. But yay for my local library that carries a great collection of cookbooks that you can check out so you don't have to buy sigh unseen. Here's to the Library!

I have also finished reading a fanstastic book called Eating Animals by Joathan Safran Foer. It's about his journey towards vegetarianism, but also his really in depth research into food, and the farm industries, and all of that. I was horrified. It's not a preachy book. There's no condemnation of omnivores, or saying you have to become a vegetarian by the end of the book. It just lifts the veil with some great research, and takes Pollan's Omnivores Dilemma step further. It looks into the ethical element of animal treatment in food production. This was another major push in my decision.

Another element I ran into when I was a vegetarian ages ago (I think the first time) was the religious standpoint. I'm LDS. Being LDS I follow the health code commonly referred to as the Word of Wisdom as found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and covnenants. (It's additional scripture....) It's this chapter and health code that says we shouldn't drink tea, or alcohol, and tobacco isn't good for the body but an herb to be used with skill for thealing of sick cattle. Really. That's what it says.

It also says something meat in there. That it should be eaten sparingly.

My parents were not thrilled with my decision to be a vegetarian when I first went and often threw the Word of Wisdom card on the table, implying that I was being sinful and not obeying the modern day revelations. This eventually led to my ending being a vegetarian in the first instance. When I began to revisit the idea, I called a family friend of ours who is LDS, and is a vegetarian, AND someone my parents love and admire and respect....

I recently found this article.

A vegetarian group at BYU... and they also answer the question about DC 89.
It beautifull anwered the question. It brought upt he point of having dominion over the earth and the animals. But there is also somethign to be said about exercising unrighteous dominion over them as well.....

I find myself almost toying with the idea of being a vegan. But that's a whole other ball of wax and by no means something I'm ready for. Baby steps.

Recipes to follow.

Here's to health. Here's to life.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I can't stand Twilight.

I am one of the few people I know of that absolutely detests Twilight and the whole Twilight soap opera.
Which is totally weird for two reasons:
1. because I'm very into the paranormal, vampires, ghosts, goblins, etc etc.
2. I can see the potential of the story.

So why do I hate it?
Let's back up a bit.

When I first heard about Twilight, and the midnight release parties for the books, it was on the tail end of the Harry Potter dynasty. So I was a little preoccupied. (No I did not go to a midnight release party for the book. I did not dress up in costume for any event in Harry Potter regalia, though I do own the Charmed KNits book which has quite a few great knitting patterns to copy the thigns we see int he films, for the most part, up until the fourth film.)
But i had purchased the last book via pre-iorder which I never do.
Like I said, I was a little preoccupied and invested.

The great thing though about teaching freshmen girls, and sometimes high school girls, is they have allthe dirt on EVERYTHING. Gossip travels fast, but in the electronis age, divide it by the age of the user, and the lower the age, the faster it moves.
So I asked my female students, what's this whole Twilight thing.... Why is it so amazing?

The girls gushed as teenage girls do and made me swear to read the books.
I was already intrigued. I knew vampires, and I knew that could be cool.

I will say that I made an attempt. My husband borrowed the first book from a co worker of his. And by the end of the first couple chapters, I was ready to wring Bella Swan's whiney little throat.

So why the hate?

1. Firstly the writing is insulting. People are hailing thsi author as being amazing, as being wonderful. But really folks, if you can read, and have read any sort of literature, good literature, you can tell, that Meyer's can't write to save her life. She's mediocre at best.

Even Stephen King says so. So says the article on from Feb. 3, 2009. the direct quote being:

“Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people… The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

You have no idea how it was to hear that statement, or to read that stamenet since Stephen King is not in my Rolodex, or in my cell phone contacts, nor in my literary harem, as much as I would love him to be.

Someone else agreed with me that Meyer couldn't write!!! Hallelujah.

So why else do I hate Twilight?

Because Bella is needs to learn that stalkers aren't sexy. A guy coming into your bedroom to watch you sleep, while in teenage angst mind which we need to remember is completely out of whack, may appear devoted or attractive, but really it just seems a little bit obsessive and rapey. Really. Not all that cool.

Because Bella needs to learn that she shouldn't define her worth by the guy she is with.

And Because Bella needs to stop acting like spoiled whiney brat. Please.

She is not someone I want my daughter emulating. At all.

It's sad. I have tried gto read the books. I can't stand them. I can't bring myself to do it. I have actually watch and own the first film. I watch the first film when I feel the need some all out sugar fluff, that involves absolutely no brains, attention, or anything. And even then, I'm still reminded each time, of how much I don't like the book, and of how good it could have been. The whole thing is about regret. The possibility is there. but it got fouled up.

I watched the second one and it just left me yelling at the screen. I needed a good chaser of the Brothers Bloom to save my mind and faith in film.

go google What Twilight TEaches Young Girls - feminism doesn't sparkle...

I laugh when I heard that Meyer was being questioned for plagiarism. Of course it didn't go through because the article says that new Moon was put on hold until the issue was resolved. Well the film went through so we can assume that the issue was resolved.

Part of me wants to go and write an anti twilight. something that really picks up what could have happened, how amazing the storyc ould have been. But then, really... I just think, i have too much else to do. Maybe on a side project.