Get the feed in a reader!Get updates by email!Get updates by email!

ExUrbanis

Urban Leaving to Country Living

Where Do My Books Come From?

November6

I’ve been wanting to break ‘radio silence’ for some time and get back into posting to my blog at least semi-regularly, hoping that there are still some of you out there reading!

So, inspired by Laura at Reading in Bed and Rebecca at Bookish Beck who participated in a meme started by Carrie at Pickle Me This (whew!), I was curious to know just where the books I read come from.

Library shelves photo library shels_zpsinalpzlr.jpg

Here are the statistics for my last 30 reads:

Public Library: 18 books 60%

Fire Burn by John Dickson Carr
A Different Pond by Thi Bui
Replay by Ken Grimwood
Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson
Deadly Appearances by Gail Bowen
Blood of the Wicked by Leighton Gage
Kindred by Octavia Butler
If This is Freedom by Gloria Ann Wesley
Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
The Longest Night by Andria Williams
The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
The Homesman by Glendon Swarthout
Death of an Englishman by Magdalen Nabb
Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman
The Gold Eaters by Ronald Wright
Mud Season by Ellen Stinson
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer

Purchased eBooks: 4 books 13%

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander
Send in the Clowns by Julie Mulhern
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

NetGalley or LibraryThing Early Reviewer: 3 books 10%

The Fight That Started the Movies by Samuel Hawley
The Shoe on the Roof by Will Ferguson
Remember My Beauties by Lynne Hugo

eBook Freebies through BookBub or Riffle: 3 books 10%

Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Pruitt Stewart
Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy
Live Free or Die by Jessie Crockett

On my shelf – Purchased new, but at a discount store: 1 book 3%

The 12 Bottle Bar by David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson

Scribd.com: 1 book 3%

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

 

There are no surprises there for me except for the number of eBooks that I actually paid for. I blame a reading challenge that required books that my public library didn’t have.

I really have to stop reserving library books and work at reading from my own shelves.

How about you? Do you rely heavily on your public library?

 

posted under Book stuff | 10 Comments »

Books I’ve Read in the Past (Feb – June 1998)

December16

 photo Books Ive Read text 400c_zpsrnpovccu.jpg

I first started keeping track of the books that I read in 1997 when I was already in my ’40s. These early records are incomplete, and some of the brief comments are laughable. But, inspired by JoAnn of Lakeside Musing who has shared her older journals in a series that she has named Pages from the Past, I’d like to share my journals with you. Herewith, a small sample from February through June, 1998. My record-keeping was thin on the ground!
 

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (Non-fiction, Autobiography)

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller photo helen keller_zpsuftcm1nz.jpgWritten when she was 22; includes various letters she sent as a girl and young woman. I was prompted to read by seeing a performance of Miracle Workerat Theatre Aquarius.

It’s really remarkable what this girl learned. In future I’d like to read the books she wrote later in life.

[2016 notes: I’ve known about Helen Keller all my life – well, at least since I saw the Patty Duke version of The Miracle Worker when I was eight years old. Keller was an incredible woman.

I never have gotten around to reading more of Keller’s books, so I guess that’s an oversight to correct.]
 

The Ragged Way People Fall Out of Love by Elizabeth Cox (Fiction, Southern USA)

The Ragged Way People Fall Out of Love by Elizabeth Cox photo ragged_zpsaaksgbzp.jpgRealistic, but not earth-shattering. I read the last half of the book while I was coming off Effexor [an anti-depressant] and perhaps I was not in a condition to grasp the story. Everything seemed strange.

[2016 notes: I cannot express how glad I am to be free of that incapacitating condition (clinical depression), and I’m sorry that I can’t comment further on this book.]
 

How to Make an American Quilt by Whitney Otto (Fiction, Women’s)
How to Make an Ame4rican Quilt by Whitney Otto photo quilt_zpslzihb8g4.jpgA good, quick read. I thought sometimes that the sections of “instructions” were overdone and too ethereal. But the stories of the people pieced together in this small town were fascinating.

[2016 notes: I remember little of this book, but it was made into a 1995 movie with Winona Ryder, Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes, Ellen Burstyn and Maya Angelou. I don’t think I saw the movie.]

 

Dogs Never Lie About Love) by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Non-fiction, Animals)

Dogs Never Lie About Love photo dogs_zpsyncct9f5.jpgThis was really interesting for the first half-dozen chapters, then it seemed to become a lot of padding and unsupported theories. In the end, no one really knows what dogs think or feel – we are limited by being able to think only in human terms. This I knew before I read the book!

[2016 notes: I had a spurt of rating my books around this time, and I see that I gave this only 2 stars out of 5.]
 

That’s all for the first half of 1998. Does anything interest you?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog

Weekend Cooking: Middle Eastern Tomato and Feta Baked Eggs

December10

When the days get shorter and I’m making supper when it’s dark outside, I want to make something cozy. It’s then that I often turn to eggs.

I could – and do – make scrambled eggs and toast, or fried egg sandwiches, but even my eight-year-old grandson recognizes these as a “last resort” supper. This classic egg dish, on the other hand, never raises his suspicions.

The recipe for this Middle Eastern dish, also called shakshuka, ran in Canadian Living magazine a couple of years ago. The flavours are beautifully intense, and two eggs and the sauce are surprisingly filling as a single serving. I serve it with crusty or garlic bread to mop up the extra sauce.

Middle Eastern Eggs photo IMG_3517 450_zpsfwpkijlg.jpg

TOMATO AND FETA BAKED EGGS
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
half sweet red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 can (796 ml/28 oz) diced tomatoes
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
6-8 eggs

1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion and red pepper, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and light golden, about 10 minutes.

2. Stir in garlic, cumin, paprika, half each of the salt and pepper, and the cayenne pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes.

3. Scrape into 12-cup (3 L) casserole dish; sprinkle with all but 2 tsp of the feta cheese.

Using a spoon, make 6 -8 wells in the tomato mixture; crack one egg into each well. Sprinkle remaining salt and pepper over eggs.

Bake in 375ᵒ oven (190ᵒ) until whites are set but yolks are still slightly soft, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Remove from oven; tent with foil and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining feta cheese and chopped parsley (if desired).

Note: To my mind, the tomato paste is an essential ingredient but I’m loathe to put out three times the money for a tube (great idea) as for a can of the same size. My solution is to divide a can into 3 or 4 “servings” and freeze them in baby food jars or small plastic containers. When a recipe calls for a small amount of tomato paste, I slip a container out of the door of the freezer and into a bowl of warm water until the paste is thawed enough to slide out of the container.
 

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg

I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION from Revolutionary Road

December2

This link-up is hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best, and was inspired by Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy. In his 1929 short story, “Chains”, Karinthy coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’. The phrase was popularized by a 1990 play written by John Guare, which was later made into a film starring Stockard Channing.

On the first Saturday of every month, Kate chooses a book as a starting point and links that book to six others forming a chain. Bloggers and readers are invited to join in and the beauty of this mini-challenge is that I can decide how and why I make the links in my chain

6 Degrees of Separation December 2016 photo 2016-12 Revolutionary Road_zps9i7cdlfy.jpg

December’s starting book is Richard Yates’ 1961 classic Revolutionary Road. This is another starting book that I haven’t read yet. Amazon tells me that “It’s the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner.”

1. Revolutionary Road came into my sphere of awareness about the same time as Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwarz, which has nothing at all to do with Yates’ novel, except that I confused them in my mind for a couple of years. Reservation Road is the story of man who accidently runs over a young boy and flees the scene. It was made into a movie with Mark Ruffalo in 2007.

2. In 2011, the sequel Northwest Corner by the same author was published. It tells the story of the same man, after he is released from prison some years later and is trying to start his life over. I won a copy of this in a blog giveaway and read it in January 2012.

3. Another book I read in January 2012 was Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion 1917 by Sally Walker.

Imagine the greatest manmade explosion in history prior to the atomic bomb. That was what was detonated in Halifax Harbour in December of 1917, killing two thousand people, leaving more than six thousand wounded, many of them blinded by flying glass, and over 9,000 homeless. Relief efforts were hampered by a blizzard the day after the explosion.

The style of this book is a middle-school textbook but it’s well worth the read.

4. Since The Cartographer of No Man’s Land by P.S. Duffy is set throughout the year of 1917, in France and in Chester Nova Scotia, just a few miles outside Halifax, I expected the Explosion to play some part in the story. I was disappointed that it rated only a passing reference near the end of the book.

5. The explosion also has a bit part in Ami McKay’s The Birth House. The bulk of this story takes place in the years 1916-1919, in Nova Scotia, this time on the Bay of Fundy shore.

The protagonist, Dora Rae, is befriended and mentored by the community’s midwife/herbalist. Over the course of her life, Dora’s house becomes the birth house—or the place where the women of the community go to have their babies, rather than taking the sometimes dangerous trip into the nearest town where ‘modern’ male medicine suits their needs somewhat less.

The midwives offered onion juice as a tonic to their expectant and new mothers.

6. Another book where onions have medicinal purposes is Holes by Louis Sachar, a 1999 multiple award winning children’s chapter book. Our protagonist Stanley Yelnats has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center in the desert, where the boys build character by spending all day, every day, digging holes exactly five feet wide and five feet deep.

There’s a mystery told in flashback so the reader is always ahead of Stanley but just, and there’s piecing together for the reader to do too. It’s actually quite a bit of fun. (The onions play a part in the flashback bits.)

So there you have it: from 1950s suburbia to a 1990s boys’ detention centre, via the first world war. What do you think?
 

Why not visit Kate’s blog and see how she made the final connection to Rush Oh!

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Nonfiction November – Week 5

November28

Nonfiction November photo Fall-festival-300x300_zpssui2awry.png

The 2016 edition of Nonfiction November is wrapping up. This week’s link-up is hosted by Lory at The Emerald City Book Review.

Lory asks: Which of this month’s amazing nonfiction books have made it onto my TBR?

 

NEW TO MY TBR LIST THIS MONTH:

 Field Notes: A City Girl’s Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia by Sara Jewell

 photo field notes_zps1xgvqn8y.jpgAmazon: “Field Notes includes forty­-one essays on the differences, both subtle and drastic, between city life and country living. From curious neighbours and unpredictable weather to the reality of roadkill and the wonders of wildlife, award­-winning narrative journalist Sara Jewell strikes the perfect balance between honest self-­examination and humorous observation.” Plus, Jewell lives just an hour down the road from me!

This was recommended by Naomi of Consumed by Ink. I already have it reserved at the library.
 

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

 photo bucolic plague_zpsp8iaqz2l.jpgKilmer-Purcell writes with dramatic flair and trenchant wit, uncovering mirthful metaphors as he plows through their daily experiences, meeting neighbors, signing on caretaker Farmer John, herding goats, canning tomatoes, and digging a garden, as he and his partner fix up their 205-year-old house near the hauntingly beautiful town of Sharon Springs, N.Y.

JoAnn of Lakeside Musing recommended this to me. My library ‘holds’ list now also includes this title.
 

When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins

 photo when in french_zpsu7onyj3w.jpgAmazon: “What does it mean to love someone in a second language? Collins wonders, as her relationship with her French boyfriend Olivier continues to grow entirely in English. Are there things she doesn’t understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his native tongue? Does ‘I love you’ even mean the same thing as ‘je t’aime’?”

Language, French – this is for me! I first saw this book on Kathy’s blog at Bermuda Onion, and Kate at Parchment Girl also recommended it to me. I’m so looking forward to this!

 

Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live by Peter Orner

 photo am i alone here_zpsyfrnor2q.jpgAmazon: “‘Stories, both my own and those I’ve taken to heart, make up whoever it is that I’ve become,’ Peter Orner writes in this collection of essays about reading, writing, and living. Orner reads—and writes—everywhere he finds himself: a hospital cafeteria, a coffee shop in Albania, or a crowded bus in Haiti. The result is ‘a book of unlearned meditations that stumbles into memoir.'”

This was on one of Deb’s lists at ReaderBuzz.
 

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey photo wild snail_zpsy8vvfj50.jpgWhile an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own place in the world.

An Adventure in Reading‘s raider girl told me about this one, which is now also on my library ‘reserved’ list.

 
A couple of great recommendations that also made it to my TBR list came in after I wrote this post but this represents one new book for each fabulous week of Nonfiction November 2016! Are you adding any of these to your TBR list?

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog

WONDROUS WORDS: Howard’s Hobby

November23

In Melissa Harrison’s lovely At Hawthorn Time, I also met Howard, retired from his city job and keeping from going bonkers in the country with his hobby of restoring vintage wireless units.

First, a sound I know you’ve heard, but perhaps didn’t know the word for.

Heterodyne hɛt(ə)rə(ʊ)DINE/: Electronics of or relating to the production of a lower frequency from the combination of two almost equal high frequencies, as used in radio transmission.

Slowly he began to scan through the frequencies, adjusting the dial minutely, listening, waiting, listening again. Pops and crackles, garbled speech, snatches of music, and between it all the otherworldly heterodyne wails.

 

ceiling boss architecture photo boss 1_zps3bvut443.jpgBoss: a knob or protrusion of stone or wood. Bosses can often be found in the ceilings of buildings, particularly at the keystones at the intersections of a rib vault. In Gothic architecture, such roof bosses (or ceiling bosses) are often intricately carved with foliage, heraldic devices or other decorations.

The church was cool and empty, its roof timbers with their curved bosses lost in shadow, the air it held within it very still.


I’ve seen ceiling bosses scores of times, and never thought about the name for them.
How about you?

 
Wondrous Words Wednesday photo wondrouswordsWednesday_zps7ac69065.png
Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. It’s hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion. Hop on over and see what wondrous words other bloggers have discovered this week.

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Nonfiction November – Week 4

November21

Nonfiction November photo Fall-festival-300x300_zpssui2awry.png

This week’s link-up is hosted by Julz at JulzReads. The prompt for this week’s Nonfiction November entry is expertise.
 

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that I’m choosing to be the expert on moving-and-starting-over a new life in the country.
 

1. Country Matters: The Pleasures and Tribulations of Moving from a Big City to an Old Country Farmhouse by Michael Korda

 photo country matters_zpsx8tokudv.jpg From Amazon: “With his inimitable sense of humor and storytelling talent, New York Times bestselling author Michael Korda brings us this charming, hilarious, self-deprecating memoir of a city couple’s new life in the country.

At once entertaining, canny, and moving, Country Matters does for Dutchess County, New York, what Under the Tuscan Sun did for Tuscany. This witty memoir, replete with Korda’s own line drawings, reads like a novel, as it chronicles the author’s transformation from city slicker to full-time country gentleman, complete with tractors, horses, and a leaking roof.”

 
2. From Stone Orchard: a Collection of Memories by Timothy Findley

 photo stone orchard_zpsudjll6yr.jpgFrom Amazon: “As they say, if only the walls could talk …

The walls have never talked so eloquently or endearingly as they do in From Stone Orchard, a collection of Timothy Findley’s Harrowsmith columns – revised and expanded – plus new writings, all on life at a 19th-century farm just outside of Cannington, Ontario. Here are tales of the farm’s past, both distant and recent: the comic coincidences leading to the naming of the swimming pool, and why Margaret Laurence would never dip her toe in it. Or the night dinner party guests went outside in the twilight, dressed like royalty, to watch a herd of majestic deer pass through the gardens.”

 
3. Heading Home: On Starting a New Life in a Country Place by Lawrence Scanlan
Heading Home by Lawrence Scanlan photo heading home_zpsvgcqeq7x.jpgFrom Amazon: What harassed and harried city-dweller has not dreamed of escaping to a quiet place in the country? With his wife, Scanlan moved from the city of Kingston to a 19th Century frame house on the Napanee River in the village of Camden East, Ontario (pop. 250).

Heading Home plots their transition from city to country, with its challenges and comic twists. The book’s twelve chapters, each devoted to one month, chronicle a year in the life of the village. Scanlan points to a wide range of data and interviews dozens of people who have opted out of city life–all to show that a major demographic shift is underway.

As lyrical as it is practical, Heading Home shows the way to a new life beyond the freeways and high-rises. Heading Home is the perfect book for all who have lived in the city but who yearn to start over–in a country place.

 

I could add to this list, but these three provide enough of a foundation for you to know if the country life is really for you.

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog

WONDROUS WORDS: Jack’s Navigation

November16

In Melissa Harrison’s lovely At Hawthorn Time, I met Jack, an itinerant farm worker who navigates his way across the England by a combination of memory and instinct. Here are a couple of words that give some insight into his methods.

 photo worker_zpsl8nmogip.jpg
 

Telluric: (təˈLOORik) of the earth as a planet, of the soil; a telluric current, or Earth current, is an electric current which moves underground

Usually he navigated by a kind of telluric instinct, an obscure knowledge he had learned to call on even when the land he walked through was unfamiliar(.)

 


Perturbation:
(pərdərˈbāSH(ə)n) 1. anxiety; mental uneasiness. 2. a deviation of a system, moving object, or process from its regular or normal state of path, caused by an outside influence.

The last two times he’d slept he’d felt the perturbation of a large town not too far ahead running like static through his dreams.

I couldn’t decide if that used the first or the second definition of perturbation. What do you think?

 
Wondrous Words Wednesday photo wondrouswordsWednesday_zps7ac69065.png
Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. It’s hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion. Hop on over and see what wondrous words other bloggers have discovered this week.

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Nonfiction November – Week 3

November14

Nonfiction November photo Fall-festival-300x300_zpssui2awry.png

This week’s link-up is hosted by Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves. The prompt for this week’s Nonfiction November entry is to make a pairing of a non-fiction book and a related novel.

The best match I can think of is Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse and the Bruno, Chief of Police series. Both are set in the same area of southern France. But I’ve talked about those books before.

So instead I’m going to present some of my reading from last year and suggest
Alan Turing: The Enigma Man by Nigel Cawthorne photo alan turing_zpssuudhnyh.jpg

 

Alan Turing, the Enigma Man by Nigel Cawthorne which supposedly was the book that the movie The Imitation Game was based on.

It’s not the most interesting lifestory I’ve ever read but it’s not bad, and it’s short.

 

 
Blackout by Connie Willis photo blackout_zpsoll3v2g9.jpg

I’d follow that up with Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis. Although these are two separate books, they’re not really, being just one long story that had to be divided up for publishing. Both concern time travel from the year 2060 to WWII England – London, Kent, and Bletchfield Park among other locales.

Willis’ time travel is complex but, in the end, it all makes sense. I did so enjoy both of these books.

 
Do you have interesting nonfiction/fiction pairings for me?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog

What are the Chances? Falling Trees

November13

what are the chances photo question-mark 100_zpsc52w0w9q.jpgIn our side yard, we have the (remaining of two) biggest poplar(s) that anyone I know has ever seen. It is at least 100 feet high (30 metres) tall. Muriel, who lives next door, is 93 and grew up in the house where we live. She tells us that those trees were big when she was a child. Another family member told us that the fishing boats used to use the trees to guide them into the harbour that is just over the hill.

But poplar trees don’t last forever, and over the past 13 years, we lost all of one tree, in pieces, until we finally cut down the dead trunk. Sad to say, but the remaining tree is going to follow soon.

 photo hurricane arthur 2014 450_zpsqnt8pcyv.jpg
Two years ago, in the aftermath of Hurricane Arthur, a large limb came down, breaking a window on the house and narrowly missing doing more damage.

 
2016 Oct tree down photo 2016-10-23 tree down 2 450_zps85uuoshl.jpg
Then, near the end of October another big windstorm took down another large (double) branch of the tree, this time sending it in the opposite direction, across the driveway.

 
But I think you’ll agree that the chances of limbs coming down from that tree in a windstorm are pretty good, so what’s this post about?

Sunday morning, we awoke to the tree down on our property and Tuesday evening, I read in His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay:

His Whole Life by Elizabeth Hay photo his whole life_zpsez41gl2w.jpg

 

Less than an hour later, (the storm) was over. They could see the near trees, the shoreline, the first island, the far shore, and in that moment the biggest tree of all came crashing down less than thirty feet away. . . The shoreline wasn’t shoreline anymore, it was fallen tree.

 
It was a giant hemlock that fell in the book, but I was struck by the description because that’s how it was: The driveway wasn’t driveway anymore, it was fallen tree.

So what are the chances? Ever have life and your reading collide?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Nonfiction November – Week 2

November7

Nonfiction November photo Fall-festival-300x300_zpssui2awry.png

This week’s link-up is hosted by Rachel at Hibernator’s Library. The prompt for this week’s Nonfiction November entry asks what I look for in nonfiction reading.

Heading Home by Lawrence Scanlan photo heading home_zpsvgcqeq7x.jpg
More than anything, I want to learn from NF. I want to investigate ideas or times or places that I’m not familiar with. And I tell myself I’m particularly interested in anything to do with Canada, some things France, history, country living (especially moving to the country), or things bibliophilic. But what I’ve actually read over the last ten years leans toward food and memoirs. Oops!

 

I know I’m not big into how-to or self-help or business and I want my nonfiction to be narrative. Occasionally, I’ll work hard to take in a topic (and feel better for it) but generally I’d like to skip textbook or reference style NF.

For some reason, although the cover doesn’t seem as important to me as it does with the novels I read, the title does. And oddly, sub-titles have huge appeal for me.

The Table Comes First by Adam Gopnik photo table comes first_zps0w1raiv8.jpgSo books like Lawrence Scanlan’s Heading Home: On Starting a New Life in a Country Place (Canadian, country, subtitle) or Adam Gopnik’s The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food (France, food, subtitle!) have huge appeal.

For the record, I’ve read Heading Home more than once and love it, and since I’ve greatly enjoyed at least two of Gopnik’s other NF books (Paris to the Moon and Winter: 5 Windows on the Season) I’m putting The Table Comes First at the top of my TBR list – in fact, I just reserved it at the library.
 

What about you? What do you look for in your non-fiction reading?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog

WEEKEND COOKING – The Fibromyalgia Cookbook by Shelley Ann Smith

November5

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg

Weekend Cooking 05Nov16, sponsored by Candace at Beth Fish Reads, is a chance to share the food love. Follow the link to see what delish dishes other bloggers are talking about this week.

My daughter-in-law gave me this book as a gift. Thank you, Lyndsay!
Fibromyalgia Cookbook by Shelley Ann Smith photo fibromyalgia cookbook_zpsmifh71ds.jpg

The Fibromyalgia Cookbook is a small and slender soft-cover book printed on non-glossy paper. There are no illustrations or photos: this cookbook is all business! After a two page introduction in which she succinctly sets out the tenets of her cooking philosophy, and a short, two-page glossary, there are “more than 120 easy & delicious recipes”.

The first recipe I tried was Garlic Chicken Breasts. The glaze for them was made with chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and garlic, and they were delicious. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.

So I tried again: this time with Baked Chicken [Thighs] in Yogurt Sauce
Baked chicken in yogurt sauce 275 photo chicken amp yogurt 275_zpsew0t5jxu.jpgThis dish was better than delicious. The chicken was moist and tender, and the sauce cheesy and creamy.

It was easy to make and needed just a few ingredients, all of which I had on hand.

Baked Chicken in Yogurt Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1½ tablespoons prepared mustard (I used horseradish Dijon)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
2 tablespoons spelt flour

Preheat oven to 350ᵒ.
Arrange the chicken in a casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, mustard, thyme and chicken stock. Stir well.
In a medium bowl mix the yogurt and flour together. Add the cheese mixture. Stir. Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Bake covered for 40 minutes; uncover and continue to bake for additional 20 minutes.

Serves 4.

* * * * *

I can’t speak to how using strictly these recipes would affect fibromyalgia but, based on the two I’ve tried, I’m more than willing to incorporate them into my diet. If nothing else, this book seems to be full of easy recipes for yummy dishes. (If only it would lay flat!)

How about you? Do you need your cookbooks to have photos?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Save

Nonfiction November Week 1

October31

Nonfiction November photo Fall-festival-300x300_zpssui2awry.png

Nonfiction November has arrived and this year I’m going to try to join in.

 

Sheet pan suppers photo sheetpan suppers_zpslz7f7n0x.jpgThis week, we’re all looking back at our year of nonfiction, and for me, that’s pretty sad: my favourite NF books were cookbooks. In fact, the majority of nonfiction I perused this year was about food: cooking it (Sheet Pan Suppers, The Fibromyalgia Cookbook, One Pot French, Edwardian Cooking: The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook, Salad in a Jar, Fermented Vegetables), avoiding it (Minimize Me: 10 Diets to Loce 25 Pounds in 50 Days, Eat it Later: Mastering Self-Control and the Slimming Power of Postponement), or digesting it (Gut: the Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ).

 

 photo the shelf_zpsxtvy30cu.jpg

 

Out of the handful of non-cookbooks I read, I most enjoyed The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading by Phyllis Rose.

Rose chose a shelf of (ironically) fiction books in her library and read each of them, reporting on her progress, the history behind the books, and other literary tidbits.

 

 

Beginning French by Les Americains Neumeier photo beginning french_zpsikc9nfv1.jpg

 

However, the book I recommended the most was a short memoir about buying a old farmhouse in southern France and living there part of each year. Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse by Les Americains is charming and includes mouth-watering recipes. (There we go with food again.)

 

 

Although I read two other memoirs (Wildflower by Drew Barrymore and Paris Nights) and a microhistory (Frozen in Time: Unlocking the Secrets of the Franklin Expedition), I missed reading history or biographies that include history. I’m looking forward to getting some great ideas in that area this month from the other participants in Non-Fiction November.

Bring it on!

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog

WEEKEND COOKING: Fish & Chips & Dressing (with Gravy!)

October22

Last week I accompanied my husband while he made a business trip to St. John’s Newfoundland. We had a wonderful time, in summer-like temps that seemed to descend for the week on most of Eastern Canada, and I may share some bits of our trip with you in future posts.

But right now I want to talk about fish & chips. Specifically, fish & chips in Newfoundland where you often find them served with dressing & gravy. When Bill told me about this after a previous visit to St. John’s, I was skeptical. Nonetheless, last week I ventured to try this dish myself: not once, but twice in five days.

 photo McMurdos Lane 150_zpsl5kxdnbx.jpg The second order was at the Duke of Duckworth, a downtown St. John’s institution of sorts. It hides on McMurdo’s Lane, a stairway that climbs the cliff between Water Street (below) and Duckworth Street. I’m afraid my attempt to photograph it doesn’t do it justice. Fans of CBC’s uber-popular Republic of Doyle may recognize the location.

Duke of Duckworth sign photo Duke of Duckworth sign 150_zpsdrfpgqkh.jpg
West Jet Magazine advises:

This popular downtown pub, just a few steps down McMurdo’s Lane, [ .  .  .] is a star in the show (the Doyle brothers actually “own” it, and the distinctive orange office building above the bar is the exterior of the Doyle PI office).

 

But back to the food at hand. Doesn’t this look terrific? It was!

fish & chips & dressing photo fish amp chips amp dressing 450_zpswxt2uths.jpg

The dressing was light and fluffy, and the gravy was the perfect topping.

It’s important to note that this is ‘dressing‘, not ‘stuffing‘, the matter being one of terminology only, I believe. Newfoundland was the last province to join Canada – in 1949 – and retains a lot of its British roots, as my family did when I was growing up in 1950s and 1960s small-town southern Ontario, Canada. As far as I can remember, the only place I heard ‘stuffing’ then was in books, or in reference to plush toys.

The language of most mainland Canadians has been so strongly influenced by American culture and advertising over the last five decades that one seldom hears ‘dressing’ these days. I’m reminded how my Floridian cousin was highly amused to hear my teenage self refer to the ‘chesterfield’ in the living room. That’s another Britishism of my youth that has been replaced in everyday speech, by the American ‘couch’ or ‘sofa’.

But enough of my Heritage Minute and back to the food.

Although the dressing and gravy were wonderful, the absolutely best part of the Duke’s fish & chips is the fish itself. You can see that there’s some on my fork: as soon as I tasted that moist, white flesh I knew I had to blog about it and dragged out my phone to take this photo.

If you are lucky enough to get to Newfoundland in this lifetime, be sure to try the fish & chips & dressing & gravy. If you are in St. John’s, get them at the Duke of Duckworth!

 

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg

I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.

 

 

WONDROUS WORDS: Gavage

October19

I ran across this “foodie” word in The Crowded Grave, the fourth in the Bruno, Chief of Police series.

“If’s there any cruelty, blame Mother Nature. Ducks and geese always stuff themselves to fill their livers before they fly off on winter migration. That’s how they store their energy . . .

From the look on Teddy’s face, it didn’t appear to Bruno that he knew that gavage, the force-feeding of the birds, was also a natural process.”

geese photo geese_zpsbm6yrxkj.jpg

gavage: the administration of food or drugs by force, especially to an animal, typically through a tube leading down the throat to the stomach.

Gavage
is a French word pronounced ɡəˈväZH and hardly needed that definition after the book excerpt. The Internet images for gavage are not pretty, so I chose the picture of these charming geese instead.

Do you have any other “foodie words” to share?
 
Wondrous Words Wednesday photo wondrouswordsWednesday_zps7ac69065.png
Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. It’s hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion. Hop on over and see what wondrous words other bloggers have discovered this week.
 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

#1947 CLUB: A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

October11

 photo The-1947-Club_zpsncnwxjcr.jpgI have watched with interest as Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings hosted the 1924 Club and the 1938 Club, but was unable because of circumstances to join in. When Simon announced the 1947 Club, I was determined to gain entry (but not so sure I could carry out my plan that I announced that to Simon – sorry, guys).

To find what others have been reading, also published in 1947, visit the Club page.

 

In the forward to the 2004 edition of A Streetcar Named Desire, Arthur Miller wrote that he vividly remembered the first time he saw the play on stage, before it opened to the public on Broadway in December 1947. How could one forget when the original production featured all the players we have come to so strongly identify with the movie roles of popular culture (except that Jessica Tandy , rather than Vivien Leigh, played Blanch DuBois)?

And yet, it wasn’t the players or their acting skills that Miller commented on, but the writing itself. “On first hearing Streetcar . . . the impression was . . . of language flowing from the soul . . . but remarkably, each character’s speech seemed at the same time uncannily his own.” Miller adds that, “What Streetcar’s first production did was to plant the flag of beauty on the shores of commercial theatre.”

 photo streetcar named desire_zps6g3vw1j3.jpgIf you know A Streetcar Named Desire only from snatched clips or even just your friends’ impersonation of Brando’s “STELLL- AHHHHH!”, as I had, then you’ve missed the quality of this writing. But even if you can’t attend a live production of Streetcar, you can still access the beauty of this play in the written word – a slim 179-page volume that reads quickly and easily and, thanks to many school curricula, continues to be in print.

But while the reading is quick and easy, the story that unfolds is anything but. Williams’ classic play begins with Blanche DuBois’s arrival in New Orleans to stay with her sister and brother-in-law, Stella and Stanley Kowalski. Blanche puts on airs of gentility and seems shocked and shaken by Stanley’s frequently aggressive behavior. But Blanche has a secret past that is catching up with her, and the knowledge of it in the hands of her brother-in-law wrecks her last chance at happiness. Not satisfied with that, Stanley also physically assaults Blanche, driving her over the edge of sanity.

Look at the original cast list. Find photos of Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Jessica Tandy and Karl Malden in the 1940s. Then read the play and enjoy the language. You owe it to yourself.

 

Have you read this? Seen the movie? Attended a live production?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

WEEKEND COOKING: A Taste of Dordogne with Les Americains

October8

Beginning French by Les Americains Neumeier photo beginning french_zpsikc9nfv1.jpgIf any of you have been enjoying my recent Weekend Cooking posts from rural France, then you may enjoy looking at this menu supplied to me by the author of Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse.

I featured a recipe from that book in this post.

Now, here’s the whole shebang, an easy three course dinner: A Taste of Dordogne.

 photo france200_zpsyk6obdkg.jpg
Sara, the chef in the family, will walk you through these recipes so you can easily succeed on your first try.

Interesting note: The French call this area La France profonde, or ‘deep France’. It’s famous for its flavorful produce and unspoiled landscapes.
 

Thanks to Eileen and Marty – and to chef Sara!

 

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg
 

I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.

 

 

 

P.S. I received my copy of Beginning French courtesy of NetGalley and the author. This did not affect my review.

 

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION: I Love New York – from New York City to New York City

October5

This link-up is hosted by Books Are My Favourite and Best, and was inspired by Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy. In his 1929 short story, “Chains”, Karinthy coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’. The phrase was popularized by a 1990 play written by John Guare, which was later made into a film starring Stockard Channing.

On the first Saturday of every month, Kate chooses a book as a starting point and links that book to six others forming a chain. Bloggers and readers are invited to join in and the beauty of this mini-challenge is that I can decide how and why I make the links in my chain

Six Degrees of Separation October 2016 photo 2016-10 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close_zpsitfy3g83.jpg

October’s starting book is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s the story of nine –year-old Oskar who is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York City. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I haven’t read this book but I have read the first novel by this author:

Everything Is Illuminated which is a very busy, self-conscious novel. The main story concerns a young American Jew named Jonathan Safran Foer (yes, the same name as the author, though the book is fiction) who travels to the Ukraine searching for the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis in 1941. At the risk of giving you a spoiler, I will tell you that there is a grand betrayal waiting at the end of this tale.

Betrayal is the underlying current in Vasily Grossman’s autobiographical novel Everything Flows. Part of the book features a series of informers who step forward, each making excuses for the inexcusable things that he did—inexcusable and yet, the informers plead, in Stalinist Russia understandable, almost unavoidable.

Life under another Communist government—this one Mao’s China—is examined in Waiting, a novel by Ha Jin. The author portrays the life of Lin Kong, a dedicated doctor torn by his love for two women: one who belongs to the New China of the Cultural Revolution, the other to the ancient traditions of his family’s village.

While we’re talking about love and bad government, let’s move to Lily Tuck’s The News from Paraguay. Amazon describes this: “The year is 1854. In Paris, Francisco Solano –the future dictator of Paraguay—begins his courtship of the young, beautiful Irish courtesan Ella Lynch with a poncho, a Paraguayan band, and a horse named Mathilde. Ella follows Franco to Asunción and reigns there as his mistress.”

Another strong woman, married to a famous man, and in a Latin American setting, Frida Kahlo was a real-life artist. Barbara Mujica’s Frida is a haunting and powerful fictional account that chronicles Kahlo’s life, from a childhood shadowed by polio to the accident at eighteen that left her barren, from her marriage to larger-than-life muralist Diego Rivera through her tragic decline into alcoholism and drug abuse. This is the book that inspired the movie of the same name but I don’t recommend either to anyone sensitive about strong language.

(Did you know that you can buy Frida Kahlo paper dolls on Amazon?!)

And finally, my last link – from one artist to another (or two). Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon tells a story set in 1939 New York City, where budding magician Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and Sammy and the artistically-gifted Joe team up to produce uber-successful supermen.

There you go – NYC to NYC, albeit in different time periods. What do you think?
 

Why not visit Kate’s blog and see how she made the final connection to The Book of Royal Lists?

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

Books I’ve Read (in the Past): January 1998

September29

 photo Books Ive Read text 400c_zpsrnpovccu.jpg
I first started keeping track of the books that I read in 1997 when I was already in my ’40s. These early records are incomplete, and some of the brief comments are laughable. But, inspired by JoAnn of Lakeside Musing who has shared her older journals in a series that she has named Pages from the Past, I’d like to share my journals with you. Herewith, a small sample from January, 1998.
 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Fiction, Semi-autobiographical)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath photo bell jar_zpsdpv7jrnq.jpgFinally got around to reading this ‘classic’. Plath’s description of Esther’s descent into depression was so accurate a mirror of my own feelings, it was at once frightening and comforting. How far I could have fallen!

[2016 notes: I suffered from severe clinical depression for several years and read this while I was crawling out of that black hole.]

 

Away by Jane Urquhart (Fiction, Historical, Canadian)

 photo away_zps8dm6s6ig.jpgRecommended by my daughter. My first Urquhart. Set between Ireland and Canada in the mid-1800s. Thought-provoking and enjoyable. Made me want more specific history.

[2016 notes: I still remember the complete break-down of the Irish peasant farmer’s food supply (which was much more than potatoes) when the potatoes failed. I’ve since read many more Urquhart novels; she is a favourite of mine.]

 

Box Socials by W.P. Kinsella (Fiction, Historical, Baseball, Canadian)

My first Kinsella. I had to reread the first chapter, since I was so busy paying attention to the run-on sentences the first time through that I lost their meaning. A look at life on the Prairies in the ‘40s – non-idealized, I think. Well worth the read.

Box Socials by W.P. Kinsella photo box socials_zps2tapyymx.jpg[2016 notes: Amazon says “Here’s the story of how Truckbox Al McClintock, a small-town greaser whose claim to fame was hitting a baseball clean across the Pembina River, almost got a tryout with the genuine St. Louis Cardinals — but instead ended up batting against Bob Feller of Cleveland Indian Fame in Renfrew Park, Edmonton, Alberta.”

It’s odd I didn’t remark on the baseball in my notes because I love baseball!]

 

That’s all for January 1998. Does anything interest you?

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.

More Rural French Cooking – à la Bruno – and Les Américains

September25

The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker Bruno photo crowded grave_zpsxh0jh4yd.jpg

As I’ve said before, one of my favourite mystery series is Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police. The books are set in Dordogne in southern France.

In the latest book that I’ve read, The Crowded Grave, Bruno is entertaining a visiting Spanish official and introducing him to the foie gras that the region, particularly neighbouring Sarlat, is so justly famous for.

He cut the baguette into five portions and brought out a small pot of onion marmalade he had made the previous autumn.

“Bon appétit, and welcome to the gastronomic heartland of France,” he said to Carlos. He took some of the yellow duck fat he had used to preserve the foie and spread it on the baguette before adding a healthy slice of pâté and a small dab of marmalade.

I happened to read this shortly after finishing a charming memoir-of-sorts by “Les Américains” called Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse. In it, Marty Neumeier tells the story of how he and his wife Eileen McKenna, Americans from California, ended up buying a house in Dordogne, in the very same area that the fictional Bruno lives. It was very intriguing to see French country life from the point of view of real-life North Americans.

Beginning French by Les Americains Neumeier photo beginning french_zpsikc9nfv1.jpgThe couple is joined by their daughter Sara who is a chef, which is a happy circumstance considering that they are now in the “gastronomic heartland of France”. (see above)

I loved Marty’s accounts of the town and village markets, particularly the night markets of which I was not previously aware, and which add to my list of reasons for revisiting southern France. At one of these night markets, the family enjoyed duck burgers with an onion jam.

There are several actual recipes in Beginning French. Many involve using duck breast and other ingredients which are not readily available in rural Nova Scotia, but I was intrigued by the instructions for the onion jam which Sara replicated when she returned to the house.
 

CONFIT D’OIGNON
Onion Jam

Sara’s note: We keep this on hand especially for duck burgers, but it’s also good combined with goat cheese in baked stuffed vegetables, or as a condiment with other roast meats or cheese.

6 large red onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Confit d'Oignon photo onion jam 300_zpsq0m43b8g.jpg Heat oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and beginning to turn golden, about 15 minutes.

Add balsamic vinegar and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until onions are a rich brown, 20-30 minutes. If during cooking onions begin to stick to the pan, add a few tablespoons water (or wine) and stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge any brown bits.

Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

NOTE:
We had no duck burgers or foie gras to try our onion jam out on, but it was delicious on our sausages in a bun.

And I will be sure to have this delightful book with me when I next stay in France. Our rented stone cottage had a full kitchen and I’m sure I’ll be able to source the proper ingredients for a genuine French feast.

 
P.S. The Crowded Grave goes on:

“This is wonderful,” the Spaniard mumbled through a mouthful of fresh bread and foie gras. He took a sip of wine, and his eyes widened. “Magnificent. They were made for each other.”

The wine that “the Spaniard” is referring to is Monbazillac, a sweet white wine produced in the village of Monbazillac on the left bank of the Dordogne River just across from the town of Bergerac in SW France.

I’m going to be sure to get some of that when I’m there, too.

 

Weekend Cooking new logo photo wkendcooking 125_zpsljojsy3j.jpg
 

I’m linking up with Weekend Cooking.

 

 

 

P.S. The links are affiliate links so I will receive a small percentage of any purchase you make after clicking through from this blog.
Also, I received my copy of Beginning French courtesy of NetGalley and the author. This did not affect my review.

 

« Older Entries
Every little bit of kindness is appreciated
Other Amount:
Your Email Address: