Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monday Memes

Mailbox Monday is hosted this month at Knitting and Sundries. It is the meme in which book bloggers share what books came in the mail, so stop by Knitting and Sundries and check out everyone's posts for the week.

The mailman only stopped at my house once this week, and he left a copy of
Christmas at Harrington'sChristmas at Harrington's, which is for a First Wildcard tour.

I did get one other new book this week, a memoir of an alumna of my university
Southern Fried Child In Home Seeker'S ParadiseSouthern Fried Child In Home Seeker'S Paradise  I heard Jimmie read from this book Saturday and it was hilarious.  I'll have a review soon.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey.  In it book bloggers tell you what they did last week and what they plan this week.

I spent Sunday catching up.  Click on titles for my posts.
I reviewed The Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook,and made their chocolate chip cookies.
I made corn pudding and reviewed James Beard's American Cookery
I have a giveaway of The Family Dinner cookbook.
I reviewed Letters to Ethan.
I reviewed The Tapestry Shop.

My plans for this week:
I started this a long time ago and have been reading it bit by bit but I need to finish it off, and I'm determined to do so this week.

About the book:  Walking with God  allows us to read the entire story of the Bible in one captivating and inspirational book…

We all have a deep sense of the importance of the Bible. But many of us get lost when we actually dive into the Scriptures, and our time spent with the Bible can be more frustrating than fruitful. We are reading a collection of writings drafted by an ancient people, in an ancient culture. But Scripture is the Living Word of God, and it is meant just as much for us as for those who lived thousands of years ago.

In Walking with God, Dr. Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins unpack the central story woven throughout Scripture and present it in an easy-to-read, concise manner. Gray and Cavins take readers on a journey through the “narrative” books of the Bible—the ones that tell the story—and present a panoramic view of God’s glorious plan of salvation. Their expert commentary dives deep into the mysteries of Scripture, unlocking its riches and showing you how you how these inspired words are meant for you today.

Enter into the Scriptures with Walking with God. Witness the fascinating story of our faith unfold, and see how you, at this moment in your life, fit into God’s plan for all of humanity.

I also want to read the two new books I got this week, and then, attack Mount TBR.

Mama Buzz Review: Throw Pillows

Isn't this a cute throw pillow?  My six year old adores it, and not only does it make an adorable pillow, 
it also can be fastened to be a stuffed animal.  

It is a favorite of its owner

In short, our family highly recommends these throw pillows.  Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a while to order one, but check out their website anyway.  You'll see throw pillows for every room in the house and even a blog about how to make and use throw pillows.

I'd like to apologize to Jennie at Throw Pillows and to Mel at MamaBuzz.  This review is late; it just fell off my radar.  However, my assistant says this is one of the best packages we've gotten in the mail in a long time.  

Clinton Street Baking Company Cookbook

Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond from New York's Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant

About the Book (from Amazon): 

The Clinton St. Baking Company is one of the hottest brunch spots in a city obsessed with brunch. A tiny thirty-two-seat eatery on Manhattan's trendy Lower East Side, the restaurant draws long lines of customers who come from far and wide to sample fresh-baked goods, hearty omelets, sugar-cured bacon, and light-as-air pancakes with maple butter.

In the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook, owners DeDe Lahman and Neil Kleinberg share more than 100 treasured recipes that have made their restaurant a sensation. Learn the secret to their house-made buttermilk biscuits and tomato jam, irresistible muffins and scones, delicious soups and sandwiches, and their decadent, eye-catching desserts. Helpful techniques, like Neil's patented omelet "flip and tuck," and gorgeous color photographs throughout will have readers cooking like pros in no time, and sharing the delicious results.

My Comments: This is a beautiful photo-ladened cookbook that features breakfast and brunch foods, including desserts and cocktails.  The recipes are clear and easy to follow (though perhaps a bit more complex than those found in the average community group cookbook) and use ingredients, which if not regular pantry staples at my house, are things my husband could locate at our normal grocery store.  Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook: Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond from New York's Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant would make a lovely Christmas gift for someone who enjoys making breakfast or brunch a special meal.  

My Experience:  I decided to try the recipe for Chocolate Chunk Cookies (p 197).  
1 1.2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350, if using a convection over, 325.  In bowl of electric mixer, cream together butter, sugars, vanilla and cinnamon on medium speed, making sure to stop and scrape the bowl.  This will take 3-4 minutes.  Add eggs and mis on medium low until combined.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl and add all at once to the batter.  Mix on low speed until combined, making sure to stop and scrape the bowl.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.  Flatten the dough into a shallow pan (such as a pie plate) and freeze for twenty minutes.  

Coat two cookie sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment.  With a 2 oz ice cream scooper, scoop cookies onto each cookie sheet.  You should have 12 to 14 cookies.  Bake 15 to 17 minutes until golden and just set on top.

My assistant prepares to cream the butter and sugar.

Ready to go in the oven

Removed from the oven 5 minutes early--not burned on bottom, but close; and still raw in the middle.  They do taste good!

Thanks to Anna Balasi at Hachette Books for providing a review copy of this cookbook.  

James Beard's American Cookery

James Beard's American Cookery

James Beard's American Cookery is an 800+ page book giving not only the recipes that define "American" cookery (as opposed to French, Irish, Italian etc.) but also the history of American cuisine along with basic cooking tips--like how to cook various vegetables.  

Each two-page spread has recipes on the outside of the pages while the inside of the spread is dedicated to giving the instructions for the recipes or telling the reader about the recipe or about the history of that food.  The book was originally published in 1972 and besides a new preface, no revisions are noted.  

I was asked to prepare a recipe as part of this review, so I looked for something relatively short (since I'm not crazy about typing) and something my family (including three kids) would eat (since I'm not fond of wasting food).  I picked a Corn Pudding recipe on page 514.
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 Tablespoon grated onion
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk (since this is a 1972 cookbook and since I figured the fat might be important to the recipe, I used whole milk)
1 can (1 pound) cream-style corn. (Since the can I had was 14 1/2 ounces, I added a bit from a second can.  
Directions:  (direct quote from book so you get to know the style)
This recipe for corn pudding, one of many versions, is from a family who have lived in Florida for generations.  It uses canned cream-style corn, which many people favor for the pudding.  Beat the eggs with the seasonings.  Heat the butter and milk, and fold into the egg mixture.  Add the corn and mix thoroughly.  Pour into a shallow 1 1/2 quart baking dish, set in pan of water and bake at 325 degrees about 1 hour or until just set.  Serve from the baking dish.

I thought it looked runny after an hour so I cooked it about 10 minutes more, and it didn't look much if any firmer.  Here is what it looked like on the plate:
 While there were definitely custard-like parts, the overall pudding was very watery.  My kids didn't like the look of it and two would barely taste it.  The other said it looked like I went to a lot of trouble to make something that tasted like corn.  I don't know if I didn't get the milk hot enough (was I supposed to be making a custard with the milk and eggs?) or if the recipe was supposed to be like that.  I was afraid that if I got the milk too  hot, I'd end up with bits of scrambled eggs.  My husband and I liked the taste of the pudding, but didn't care for the appearance.

Overall the recipes in the book appear to be the type of food real people make using ingredients found in the average grocery store.  Most do not appear to be complicated to assemble, but the directions aren't always as clear as they could be (like above).  While there are a few line drawings, there are no photographs of the food.

I'd like to thank Anna Balasi at Hachette Books for sending me a complimentary review copy.

Make New Friends, and Keep the Old

I'm a Girl Scout leader, and one of the songs we teach the kids is "Make New Friends".  For those unfamiliar with the song, the lyrics are simple:  Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.  This has been a weekend of old and new friends for me.

My roommate from Mississippi University for Women was driving through town Friday night and spent the night at my house before heading off to see her family in Mississippi.  We haven't changed a bit after all those years, have we?

After she left, I got dressed and headed to Mississippi myself.  Mississippi's First Alumnae Association, the original Alumnae Association of Mississippi University for Women was having a gathering in Bay St. Louis.  One of our members, Jimmie Meese Moomaw, had written a book (I interviewed her here) and we were going to have lunch and then head to the local bookstore for a reading.  Were these old friends with whom I had lunch?  Yes and no.  We were all participants in various email lists for alumnae/i of MUW, and have gotten to know each other through the years via those lists, and via work for MFAeA, but I'd never seen any of them in person until yesterday.  Still, it was more like a gathering of old friends than a group of strangers.

After the reading I headed to my Dad's house where I had dropped the kids.  Dad wanted us to go to mass with him so we did.  While there, I ran into four people with whom I went to high school, and learned that my Alma Mater's  football team was playing for championship this year.  Go Bearcats!

Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.  The circle is round, it has no end, that's how long I want to be your friend.

Winners! Simply Irresistable

Simply Irresistible (A Lucky Harbor Novel)

I have five winners of this cute romance:  

Marjorie, traveler, petite, apple blossom and Shannon.  They have been emailed.  Thanks to all who entered.

Family Dinner: Giveaway

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time

The producer of An Inconvenient Truth, Laurie David's new mission is to help America's overwhelmed families sit down to a Family Dinner, and she provides all the reasons, recipes and fun tools to do so.

Laurie David speaks from her own experience confronting the challenges of raising two teenage girls. Today's parents have lots to deal with and technology is making their job harder than ever. Research has proven that everything we worry about as parents--from drugs to alcohol, promiscuity, to obesity, academic achievement and just good old nutrition--can all be improved by the simple act of eating and talking together around the table.

Laurie has written a practical, inspirational, fun (and, of course, green) guide to the most important hour in any parent's day. Chock-full chapters include: Over seventy-five kid approved fantastic recipes; tips on teaching green values; conversation starters; games to play to help even the shyest family member become engaged; ways to express gratitude; the family dinner after divorce (hint: keep eating together) and much more. Filled with moving memories and advice from the country's experts and teachers, this book will get everyone away from electronic screens and back to the dinner table.

Giveaway:  Anna Balasi at Hachette Books is allowing me to give away one copy of The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time to a lucky reader.  To enter:
1.  For first entry, go to Hachette's site ( and find another cookbook you'd like to own.  Come back here and leave your email address and the name of a book  in a comment. 
2.  For a second entry, tell me your family's favorite thing to have for dinner
3.  For a third entry, follow me, and let me know you do in a comment.

Winner from US or Canada only, no PO boxes and you cannot have won this book on another blog.  Winner to be drawn November 15.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Letters to Ethan

Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love

About the book:  

Like the rest of us, you didn't come with an owner's manual. You'll probably wonder – more than once – why you're here. What is your life's purpose? How will you face the adversity your life will surely bring?
Despite appearances, no one's life is ever simple. We have our parents and our friends to learn from; they have much to teach us. And you'll hear a lot from, and about, public figures – athletes, newscasters, actors, politicians, artists…celebrities of every kind.

But making sense of the world we live in is something each one of us struggles with. The truth is, life is complicated. It's wonderful; it's awful; it's a thrill; it's a bore. And it can feel almost unbearable at times. Almost.

Fortunately, you're blessed with a family that loves you. Your grandfather, Tom McQueen, wrote you this book. No one has all the answers, but he's already faced many of the challenges you'll encounter.

Even those of us who've been around awhile can learn a thing or twelve from your grandpa. He's helped a lot of folks as a therapist; he's inspired audiences with his seminars; and he's shared his thoughts in several other books.

In these letters to you, Ethan, your grandpa reveals the mistakes and miracles that have shaped his life. Anyone can give advice, but true wisdom is hard-won. And the book you're holding contains plenty of it

My Comments:  

I enjoyed this short book of advice from one generation to another.  Each letter is about four pages long and focuses on one topic.  The topics include faith, heroism, will, integrity, conflict, prayer, fear and miracles.  There is often a short anecdote from the author's life, some advice for his grandson and then a poem, story or other writing from popular culture.  There is the story of the boy born a premie who described the smell of rain as the smell of God when you laid on his chest.  "Footprints" made the book, along with "The Man in the Glass" and Psalm 23.  

The author is Catholic and writes about his faith, but I wouldn't necessarily call it a religious book, though Ethan is urged to love God and practice his faith. 

I think Letters to Ethan: A Grandfather's Legacy of Life & Love would make a nice graduation or confirmation gift for a teen.  I read the whole book in a couple of hours but the way it is written makes it ideal for someone to read a letter a day.  Grade:  B.

I'd like to thank the folks at Phenix & Phenix for sending me a complimentary review copy.  You can read the first chapter here, and learn about the author, Tom McQueen, here

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hi, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. This is Catholic blogger's weekly chance to share our best posts with each other.  To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets.  In it highlight and link to one or more of your posts from this week.  Also include a link to this post.  Then come back here and sign Mr Linky giving a link to your post.  Finally, visit the blogs of other participants and leave comments!

This week I read two books I'd recommend.  The first is Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry which is a about a man who had a lot of tragedy in his life but maintained his faith in God.  The second is Emily's Chance, which is a basic Christian romance, but a fun one.

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tapestry Shop

The Tapestry Shop

About the Book (from Amazon):  The Tapestry Shop is the story of the trouvère, Adam de la Halle, a thirteenth-century poet/musician who entertained in France's royal courts. Adam's secular play, Robin et Marion, led to the birth of the comic opera form and the first penning of the Robin Hood legend.

The book draws the reader into the Middle Ages, where women joined the crusades and students held discourse on the Street of Straw, but the overriding appeal of The Tapestry Shop is Adam's connection to the legend of Robin Hood.

After enduring political exile, Adam returns to the city of his birth to confront the reality of his failed marriage, but first, he must find the hangmen who stole his purse and his dignity.

As protégé of King Louis's nephew, Adam attends the university in Paris. When he meets Catherine, a shopkeeper's daughter, his life takes an unexpected turn.

Catherine is bound to another by a secret she cannot reveal. Her deep religious convictions and guilt for her past bring danger to her and to those she loves. When she decides to join the king's latest crusade, Adam must confront his disdain for what he considers an intolerant Church, based on his knowledge of its treatment of Cathars and Jews.

Torn by conflicting ideals, they move toward their destiny, each determined to prevail, but the choices they make bring them both to heights and depths neither could ever imagine.

My Comments:  I'm a history buff, but after 100 pages I just didn't connect with the characters or the plot.  The book is filled with descriptions that put you in the middle ages, but I didn't care one bit about the characters or what was happening to them.  I will say though that detailed descriptions are not always my thing.  I don't think it is a bad book; it just isn't for me.

I'd like to thank Carol Fass Publicity & Public Relations for providing a review copy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday Memes

Hi! Mailbox Monday is hosted this month at She Reads and Reads.  It is where book bloggers brag about what the mail brought this week.

 It has been a busy week here, not much reading or blogging I'm afraid.  However, the mailman did drop by. I got:
Shotgun Grooms (Harlequin Historical, Westerns) (Lucas's Convenient Bride, by Mallery)(Jackson's Mail-Order Bride, by Child)Shotgun Grooms (Harlequin Historical, Westerns) (Lucas's Convenient Bride, by Mallery)(Jackson's Mail-Order Bride, by Child)   It was exactly what you'd  expect and almost funny, though it wasn't written to be.  It was one of those impulse grabs on Bookmooch from someone I was already mooching from--and I was in a real veg-out mood the day I got it.
Sisters, Ink (Scrapbooker's Series #1)Sisters, Ink (Scrapbooker's Series #1)  I've reviewed the others in the series but missed this one.  Now at least it is in my possession, via Bookmooch.
The House came to me from the author, Anjuelle Floyd and deals with a divorced couple--and now he is dying.  It is for review.
Keeper of Secrets: Translations of an IncidentKeeper of Secrets: Translations of an Incident was in the same package as The House. It deals with different witnesses perception of the same incident.  
Almost HeavenAlmost Heaven is from the Tyndale Blog Network.  My Review.  In short, I love it.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Journey and in it, book bloggers tell you what they read last week and what they plan this week.

I read and reviewed Almost Heaven.

As far as my plans for this week, well, we'll see.  Probably at least one of the new books from above.

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