Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

If you are going to read only one book this year, I would highly recommend The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea.

I downloaded the audiobook from my library and spent the last week or so listening to it in rapt attention.  Today, while listening to the final three hours, I often stopped and stood in place to give all my attention to the unfolding story.  I couldn't do another thing, just listen to the author as he told the story of Terese Urrea, a distant family relative.

 Terese was born to a teenage mother who lived and worked on the Urrea ranch in Sinaloa, Mexico in the early 1870's.  When she was two years old, her mother abandoned her to the dubious care of her aunt.  At some point after that she came to the attention of Huila, the midwife and herbalist/healer on the ranch.  Huila realized that Terese was special and kept an eye on her till she was old enough to be taught in the care and healing of the people. 

This novel is a combination of fact and fiction.  It truly brings Terese to life. I could easily imagine her as a little girl in Sinaloa and as a teenger finally being "recognized" by her father when she was living in Sonora.  The vivid descriptions of the "plaza" with its white benches, strolling path and central white gazebo transported me to a dreamland.  I could imagine the women as they strolled in one direction, meeting up with the gazes of the men who were travelling in the other direction.  The thought of the old people, including Huila sitting on the benches chaperoning everyone was so fitting.

I don't want to give away too much plot in the story other than to say that young Terese becomes a most powerful force in Mexico.  Her message to the people that they land belongs to them and not the government is seized by many and held close to their hearts.  They were ready to revolt against the government of President Diaz.

While much of the later part of the story is of a more serious nature, there are many lightheart scenes to keep the mood in balance.  I particularly loved the flowery salutations of the letters that Tomas, Terese's father, writes to friends and the salutations of the ones he receives in return.  I was practically rolling with laughter.

I felt that my enjoyment of this book was greatly enhanced by the reading skill of the author.  The wonderful pronunciation of the Mexican place names and phrases would have been bland had I spoken them, but they were rich in timbre and inflection rolling off Mr. Urrea's tongue.

Winner of the 2006 Kiriyama Prize.

This is my second read for the Read, Remember Recommend Challenge.

See my earlier review of Into the Beautiful North also by Luis Alberto Urrea.

Visit the Hachette site if you would like to Browse Inside The Hummingbird's Daughter.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the two cover photos.

Recipe Thursday - The Ace Bakery Cookbook by Linda Haynes

I have been buying bread from Ace Bakery, in Toronto, Ontario, at my local grocery store for several years.  They make the most awesome Black Olive Fougasse.  When I spied this copy at my library I had to bring it home to read.  It is filled with recipes for an assortment of breads as well as dishes that are best served with hearty slices of bread sitting along side.  This week I tried a few recipes.

This cookbook and it's followup are both still available directly from the bakery or your local bookshop.

The first dish I choose to make was the "Roasted Squash and Sweet Potato Soup with Apple-Shallot Garnish".  Click the title for the recipe.  This soup was amazing.  Well worth the extra bit of effort.  You have to roast the vegetables in the oven first, and then add the broth and puree.  I served it with the "Jalapeno Cornbread" which was okay, but it didn't seem any different to me than any other cornbread.

The next day I ventured to try the "Greek Salad Sandwich".  Click on the name for the recipe.  If I only ever get to eat one type of sandwich in the future, this is the one.  I didn't use the tapenade recipe called for, rather bought a jar at Vincenzo's, a local specialty food shop.  Tapenade is a chopped and spiced, black-olive spread.
The sandwich is made on a foccacia.  The picture was taken prior to putting the top on.  I would recommend using the best quality ingredients you can afford.  The feta cheese that I used was too creamy and not tangy enough for my tastes nor my expectations.  That's what can be bought late at night in a rural area.
Both recipes can easily be adapted for vegetarian diets. 
This cookbook is definately on my wish list even if I never make any of the bread recipes. 
ps,  I still have to try the "Cinnamon Banana French Toast with Sauteed Apples

Do you have a food related post that you want to share, then pop over to "Weekend Cooking" at Beth Fish Reads and add your post.  It could be a recipe, book or movie review or details on a most tasty restaurant meal, as long as it's food related.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Bruce Cockburn to Pen his Biography/Memoirs

Last week, I read in my newspaper that Bruce Cockburn is going to write his biography/memoirs.  He has signed a deal with HarperCollins and the book should be available in 2012.  I immediately sent off an email to my contact at HarperCollins and requested to be put on the review list for that book. 

His music, no matter the song, always brings me to tears.  It didn't used to, but that  changed two years ago today.

I waited till today to share this wonderful news with you as Bruce was the favourite musician of my dear departed friend Julie Ann.  She passed away two years ago today. 

I remember  sitting in her tiny apartment, listening to Bruce Cockburn during our first year at university.  At that point, "Wondering Where the Lions Are"  was the song we played again and again.

A few years after completing her jouralism degree at Ryerson College in Toronto, she ended up in her dream job, working with Bruce and his management company.  For  years afterward she had a "magic pass" that would get her and her guests into all of Bruce's concerts and even back stage afterward.  When my son was six weeks old she took him (and us, his parents) to Bruce's pre-Christmas concert at the Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario.  For anyone who's been there, you know they don't admit infants to the theatre.  As Bruce's personal guest, Andrew was escorted in and shown to a lovely box seat.

I know that Julie Ann would be first on the phone to call Bruce, offering him congratulations, and then offering her editorial skills should he be in need of them.  Since she's unable to do so, I will offer them on her behalf.  Congratulation Bruce, well done.

A few years into the university, we began listening to "If I had a Rocket Launcher" each of us drawn to it for our own reasons.

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill

Lullabies by Little Criminals is a debut novel by Canadian author Heather O'Neill. 

As the story opens, Baby is living with her father, Jules, in Montreal, Quebec.  The one contant in her pre-teen life, is that they are frequently moving apartments.  She was born when her parents were just sixteen and figuring out how to grow up.  Her mother died when Baby was a few months old. Her father tries his best to raise her, but his poor health and recurring heroin habit has made that almost impossible.

As we follow Baby over the course of the next year and a half to two years, she grows from a girl still carrying dolls around to a street wise, though abused, young woman.

I found this a very hard book to listen to.  I had to repeat several sections as I felt that I must have misheard.  Those "horrible things" couldn't really be happening to Baby.  While my rational mind knew that this was a story, the mother in me cried copious tears for those little girls who fell through the welfare/social work gaps and ended up on the streets living just such a life.  In the final chapter of the story, Baby is given a chance to escape the life she has fallen into. I like to imagine that she had the strength to leave and seek helprefuge. 

Is this a coming of age story, a commentary on responsible parenting, or a diatribe  on the state of child welfare in Canada.  For me, I found it to be mostily the first, though with the continuing cuts to our social system....

The book was read by Miriam McDonald.  I felt that she enhanced my enjoyment of this novel.

Lullabies for Little Criminals was a finalist for the 2007 Governor General Awards in Canada, and the winner of the Canada Reads 2007 competition.

There is a wonderful profile about Heather O'Neill by Quill & Quire in the Novemember 2006 issue.

Click here to Browse Inside: Lullabies for Little Criminals.

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me this review copy.

This is my 19th read for the Canadian Book  Challenge.
Visit The Book Mine Set to see what other participants have been reading.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Needlework Tuesday

This is the tenth year of my local quilt guild The Elmira Needle Sisters.  At our celebration banquet in May we received a fat quarter of this challenging fabric.  It is blue, teal and a very light tan.  We were to make a small (48 inch perimetre) item that was to be displayed at last evenings meeting where we would vote for a viewers' choice.

The next two pictures show the 20 items that were completed.

Quite the assortment of projects.  Though I have to admit, with the exception of a few, I found them very boring and un-inspired.  A few people attemped to liven their work up with colour, but most stuck with monochromes.  Blah!

I was at the craft store on the weekend and in the clearance bin were colour wheels.  I bought one for myself and took it home to play with.  I turned the wheel to select blue-green.  The triad colours for this are yellow-orange and red-violet.  With my colours chosen I had only to select my fabrics and start sewing.

At Christmas my mother had given me a pattern "Clutter Bug" by Sherri K. Falls.  I spent the day at my sewing machine, listening to an audiobook, and completed my challenge item.  I found it a challenge in two ways: I had to use a fabric that I probably wouldn't have bought on my own, and second, I put together fabrics solely on the basis of what the colour wheel said would work.  In other words, I stretched myself.  I am left wondering though, how many of the other participants stretched out of their comfort zone to complete their project.

This final picture shows two versions of the bag.  The pink one on the left was made by my mother for my daughter, and mine is one the right featuring the challenge fabric.

I am curious if my readers participate in fabric challenges?  If so, do you play it safe or do you go out on a limb?

I am still stitching away on the star afghan.  I am on the final colour. Only left to decide whether to do one final pattern row and then purl a row and then cast off, or make the band wider with three pattern rows, then the purl row and finally cast off.  My hands and arms are getting tired as this is quite heavy now.  Also at almost 1000 stitches and round 123, it takes ages to complete one round.  If I finish tonight I will post a picture this day, otherwise you'll have to wait till next Tuesday.

For the curious mind, the audio book I am listening to is The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberta Urrea.

Have you finished a project this week and you want to share it with the world, then pop over to Lit and Laundry and add your link to "Finished for Friday".

Monday, 26 April 2010

Orange Prize Short List - Challenge

The short list is out for the books vieing for the 2010 Orange Prize.  Winner to be announced June 9.  That doesn't give me much time to read the six nominated books.    Deanna over at My Tragic Right Hip is going to try and read all six in the next few weeks.   She first wrote about it at The Savvy Reader and I decided that I would like to read the three nominated books that are from HarperCollins. 

I"m going to start with those and depending how quickly I go, will attempt the others.

My reading list: (The book title will link to my review when it is posted)
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke   Browse Inside
Wolf Hall by Milary Mantel    Browse Inside
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver   Browse Inside
The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison   Read More
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore   Read More
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey   Read More

Recipe Thursday - Catch-up

Last time on Recipe Thursday I introduced you to my new cookbook Company's Coming: most loved Casseroles.  I have now tried three additional recipes, or rather I have tried two and hubby tried one.  He stuck with the tradition "Wieners and Beans".  It turned out exactly as imagined.  It's a very hardy dish thats loaded in fibre and hubby learned about  a new to him ingredient called dry mustard.

Next recipe I tried was "Eggplant Pasta Bake".  While I was making this dish I was tempted to add more than the two cups of penne that were called for.  Glad I didn't as my pan would have overflowed.  My picture doesn't do justice.  Visit the Company Coming's website for the recipe and a much better picture. Again, I need to remember to read recipes more carefully before I shop for the ingredients.  I forgot to purchase the basil pesto and it was sorely missed.  I did add some dried basil, but it seemed as though something was missing.

I had much more success with the "Cheese Strata".  This was easy to make, turned out wonderful and tasted delightful.  And it even used the dry mustard powder again.
Cheese Strata

7 slices white bread slices, cubed
2 cups grated medium Cheddar cheese
4 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Spread bread cubes in greased 9 x9 inch pan.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Beat remaining 7 ingredients in medium bowl until combined.  Pour over cheese.  Chill, covered, for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Bake, uncovered, in 350 F oven for about 45 minutes until golden, centre is raised, and knife inserted in centre comes out clean.  Puffiness will settle almost immediately.  Serves 6.

I made this using  5 Wonder hotdog buns.  For reasons I won't go into, we had two dozen of these buns and no hotdogs.  It turned out terrific.  The left overs we ate both heated and cold.  Good either way.  This is definitely on the repeat list.

I feel that I have now exhausted this cookbook.  Not that I am going to stop using it, but I don't feel that I can rightly repeat any more of the recipes.  I'll be going on to a new cookbook shortly and will be hoping we enjoy it as much.

Thank-goodness I am back.

My grammar exam is finished and I have taken the past two days for recovery time.  Lots of family time, some reading, sewing today (which you can read about tomorrow in my Needlework Tuesday post.  Notice that I decided that Needlework Tuesday, being a regular post is akin to a larger body of work ie: a magazine, and thus is gets posted in italics.  If it were the title of just one post from a specific week, then it would get double quotation marks. ie: "I have Finished my Star Afghan" .  If you want to refer to the name of my website, Books and Quilts, it gets italics.
This also works for recipes.  Put the name of the cookbook in italics (or you can underline) and then the name of the recipe would be in double quotation marks.  Isn't this cool stuff.

I don't know how I did on the exam, since it was an online course the paper test has to be mailed to the issuing college, sorted to the correct professor and then marked.  I guess it will be a couple of weeks till I hear.  I'll be sure to post and let you all know and at the same time I'll post a review of the reference book I bought to help me out.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Hard at Work Studying for my Grammar Exam

Sorry that I don't have a recipe to review and post for you today.  I am busy studying for my exam tomorrow evening.  Yes, I chose to write it on a friday evening.  eeks, I really must be slipping.

I'll be back at some point on the weekend with a casserole.  Also a review of Lullibies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill, and a review of Cut by Patricia McCormick.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Needlework Tuesday - Star Afghan update

Another good week of progress.  Not as many rows completed, but that is due to each row now having 900 stitches. eeks.  I am truly in the home stretch.  A handful of rows to go yet.  Currently using a varigated skein of Patons Decor.

Now measures about 35 inches from the centre to the stretched out point.  This is the size called for in the pattern, though considering all the different yarns I used, mine will be larger.  I plan to have the final pic for you next Tuesday.  Don't forget to return for the unveiling.

I am really am supposed to be studying for my grammar exam on friday evening.  I have been using the punctuation rules in my posts for the past few days. Trying to write fancy sentences and using new to me punctuation has been fun.  I'll let you know how I do on the exam when I get my results in a few weeks.  I am aiming for a pass and anything above that will be a bonus.

Back to composing dependent phrases.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Call of the Wild and three other Klondike Stories by Jack London - audiobook

The Call of the Wild
Buck has been dognapped in California and transported north to the Klondike.  Along the way he encounters a number of temporary owners who treat him in manners he is unaccustomed to.  Finally, when he is on the verge of death, he is rescued by an injured man who nurses him back to health. 

Love of Life

Two prospectors are trying to find their way back to their canoe so they can travel south before the winter weather sets in.  They become separated and try to make it on their own.  Examines what it takes in a man to will yourself to survive.

To Build a Fire

One prospector finds that fire is the key to life in the north and what happens when he ignores hard won advice.

To the Man on the Trail

A life in the north is hard.  In this story one man is trying to outrun the law and encounters help/resistance along the way.

This audiobook is from Brilliance Audio 2004 and was read by Roger Dressler.

Cover image courtesy of

I totally enjoyed all four stories and plan to read more by Jack London.  To learn more about this author visit the website of the Jack London State Historic Park.
Considering the number of stories and book that he penned, I find that rather surprising that I haven't read any of them earlier. I'm glad that I joined the Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Challenge and thus found this moving book.  This is my first read for the challenge.

The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale

The story is set in London in 1752.  Seventeen-year-old Agnes has a secret, and has fled her rural home in order to keep it hidden -- for as long as she can.  As night falls on her first day in the huge city, she finds herself on the doorstep of Mr. Blacklock, Pyrotechnist, who happens to be in need of a housekeeper.

I was first attracted to this book because it included fireworks.  My husband has the occasional job of setting up and launching firework shows.  I had to read this book and see how it compared to what he knows in practice.  While the field has advanced tremendously over the intervening 250 plus years, the fundamentals are still the same and even the names of some of the fireworks has been maintained.  It was exciting to read the passages where Jane and Mr. Blacklock were discussing the making of coloured fireworks.

Following is my favourite passage where he is instructing Agnes on working carefully in her work habits:
you must begin with basic comprehension of the materials you work with.  Nothing good was learnt too swiftly.  Knowledge should be a purposeful accumulance of observed experience, applied and tested to the full.
The interplay of the household staff; Mrs. Blight, the cook; Mary Spurren, the housekeeper; Joe Thamazin, orphan/assitant; and Agnes, showed the mistrust and jealousy that can occur when people of different backgrounds are thrown together.  I never really trusted Mary all the way through the book, and then in the end she showed her true colours which surprised me. 

I had no inkling of how this story would turn out and was pleased with the outcome.  Author Jane Borodale has written a thought provoking first novel with characters realistic to their time period and situations in life.  I am looking forward to her follow-up to this story.  Visit Jane's website for a video trailer and a Q&A section that will leave you wanting to rush out and purchase this book.

Thank-you to Penguin Books for sending me this book for review.

Marie at Daisy's Book Journal has also posted a review.

Friday, 16 April 2010

What to name a pig or three?

My friend Ellie has 3 new pigs at her place, Stone Meadow Farm, and she wants to name them(as teenagers are wont to do).  They are big and beautiful and black.  This picture is borrowed from her site.  She has additional photos posted.  Please visit there and leave a comment with name suggestions.  She'll be thrilled.  Name the pigs at Stone Meadow Farm.  Thank-you.

Recipe Thursday - Picadillo Pie

Do you remember when you bought that new cookbook?  You were going to try so many new recipes and then for whatever reason, it was put away and you forgot about it.  That's what happened with this book Company's Coming: Most Loved Casseroles.  I was looking for an easy dinner for son to make, and this book jumped of the shelf and said "use me, use me".  I don't know if he made one of the recipes, but I tried two of them.  They both were tasty.  "Quick Tuna Casserole" is a savory dish that you can't go wrong in chosing.  We all agreed that it could use a bit more ZIP, and added a few dashes of hot sauce to our plates.   With that success under my belt, I ventured further into the book and decided upon "Picadillo Pie".  I had to make a few substitutions as I didn't read the recipe properly prior to my shopping trip.  I skipped the mushrooms, used pizza olives with no pimento, and totally missed that there was a white potato called for. oops.  Still tasted great and will definitely make this again.  Note that the addition of the dried fruit does not make it a sweet dish.

Picadillo Pie

2 tsp cooking oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup chopped fresh white mushrooms
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano

28 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed olives
1/2 cup chopped dried apricot
1/2 cup dark raisins

2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 pound potatoes

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp yellow cornmeal
1 large egg, beaten with a fork
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)

Heat cooking oil in large frying pan on medium.  Add Beef.  Scramble-fry for about 10 minutes until no longer pink.  Drain.

Add next 6 ingredients.  Cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and liquid is evaporated.

Add next 4 ingredients.  Stir.  Bring to a boil.  Spread in a greased 3 quart shallow baking dish.  Set aside.
Cook sweet potato and potato in boiling salted water in a large saucepan until tender.  Drain.  Add remaining 6 ingredients. Mash.  Spread on top of beef mixture.  Score decorative pattern on top with a fork.  Bake, uncovered, in 375F oven for about 40 minutes until potato mixture is firm.  Serves 8.  About 450 calories per serving.
To follow up this wonderful meal, we had sugar cookies that my daughter iced.  I told her she needed to make the frosting and could chose the colour.  For the recipe visit 'The Sisters Cafe' for their Melt in Your Mouth Sugar Cookies post.  ps, you don't have to make vivid purple frosting.

Visit 'Weekend Cooking' with Beth Fish Reads to see what other bloggers are making this weekend.  Also features reviews of food related books and movies. All are inivited to join in the culinary fun.   

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith

A few weeks ago I bought this neat journal for my daughter for her birthday.  This is a picture of what it looked like 5 days later.  This is a fun journal designed by Keri Smith.  Keri has a few other 'books' that you'll want to learn about and possibly play with.  I haven't seen anything like it previously.  I guess those little activities books I used to get as a child are a pale comparision.This is a book that you are supposed to truly enjoy.  Savour each page to the fullest (even the one where it's suggested that you tear it out, crumple it up and chew on it).
She certainly followed instructions on this page. 
A few more days and the journal had really progressed.  She had dad take it to the drill press and make a hole so she could put it on a cord and carry it around.  Yes, those are Dora and Hello Kitty bandages.
The back of the book hasn't been spared.

My daughter is not alone in her destructive book practices.  Marie at Daisy's Book Journal is blogging weekly about her progress.  Cindy at Cindy's Love of Books is also noting her progress.  I'll be turning this over to my daughter and she will further update you one her destructive habits at her blog Illusion-esk.  Not sure when and what she will post there, but she is always amusing. 

Needlework Tuesday

I have been doing lots of knitting on my star shaped afghan.  I have passed row 91 and now have over 700 stitches on the needle.  Measures 24 1/2 inches from the pink centre to the outside edge.  That's a heck of a lot considering I started with 4 stitches.  I visited with my sister on the weekend and she sent me home with about 6 additional balls of yarn, mostly fancy ones.
This next photo shows the some of the 'fancy' yarns that I am including:

From top to bottom:
Bernat Bling Bling - Cabaret Crimson
Red Heart Hunny - Pink Blush
Hot Pink Eyelash yarn - maker unknown
Patons Cha Cha - Vegas
Patons Silverlash - Pink Champagne
Bernat Chenille Sherbet - Cherry Splash
Moda Dea Tutu - Raspberry
Moda Dea Aerie - Pink  **
Patons Glittallic - Maroon Shine **
Unknown Chenille - white/pink
Bernat Matrix - Web Wines
Unknown Pink Eyelash
Bernat Boa - Flamingo

** These are my two favourites and of course they are discontinued. oh drat.

Last week after posting my progress, Linda at Scrapmaster , commented that the afghan reminded her of the Citadel in  Halifax
For more information on this site, visit the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada website where I borrowed this picture.

There are numerous star shaped forts around the world.  I quick google search on 'star shaped fortifications yielded many.

I'll be back with further updates on this project.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell (audio book)

I didn't enjoy this book.  I tried to.  I even wanted to.  I kept hearing from others how much they loved it.  Heck, there is even a movie made from the book.  It just didn't work with me.  Perhaps it was the audio version.  It was read by the author, and very few authors read their own works.  I found Julie's voice very heavy and plodding, almost as if she didn't want to be there reading this book.  This is in contrast to her interview with the producer at the end of the last chapter where her voice is light and animated.  I'm sure if she had read the book in that voice I'd have had a different experience. 

The concept of the story is terrific.  Spend a year and cook all the recipes in Julia Child's monumentous 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' and then blog about it. I wanted to hear more about Julia Child, more about the skills Julie acquired while cooking, but mostly I heard the whining.  Whining about her job, her apartment, it's bad plumbing and her husband.  Not what I wanted to hear.  She tried to be funny, but I didn't laugh even once in the five plus hours that it took to listen to the complete book.  My daughter sat beside me for one drive of one and one half hours and she broke into laughter several times.  Guess the book would work for her.

While the book didn't amuse me nor entertain nor enlighten me, I found it did work on one level.  At the beginning of the book Julie seemed depressed/unhappy with her life.  She seemed to be looking for a way to 'get it together' and that's why she turned to this project.  It seemed to give her the control that she needed at that time.  By the end of the book she did seem more confident and definitely in control.  Great success there.  If I had read this book from a psychology case study point of view I might have thought it was really good and helpful. 

The Julie & Julia Blog site
Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the cover photo.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Recipe Thursday - Linguine with Salmon and Lemon Sauce

I have had this little cookbook for a zillion years (ok, maybe early 1990's).  It is still available though it was reprinted in 2004 with a different cover.  i have made several recipes from it but keep coming back to this one.  Its a family favourite now.  My son even made the dish for his cousins this week and they enjoyed it (even the fish hating one).
Linguine with Salmon and Lemon Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vertically sliced onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp finely shredded lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp coarsely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1 can (7 3/4 ounces) red salmon
12 ounces linguine
grated parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a skillet over low heat; stir in onion slices.  Saute, stirring, until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic; saute 2 minutes.  Stir in lemon zest, juice, and parsley.  Add salmon; carefully break up with a fork.  ( i add the bones and skin, but mash the bones with the fork) Do not stir.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, or firm to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

Reheat sauce over high heat; do not stir.  Toss Linguine and sauce together.  Serve at once sprinkled with Parmesan.

(we made ours with Fettucine and it was just as good, we didn't have any parsley, but thats just ok with my kids, none of those icky green specks).

Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Reading Challenge

To celebrate the launch of her revised and new journals, Rachelle is hosting a year long reading challenge.  Using the lists in the journal (adult or teen version) read as many new books in the upcoming year and the person who reads the most books wins.  There are a few other rules, so I will copy in the details from Rachelle's site:


April 1st, 2010 to April 1st, 2011
Check out all the amazing books (thousands!) mentioned in Read, Remember, Recommend and plan your attack. Books do not need to be decided upon in advance. All books must be mentioned in the journal lists.
Write a challenge sign-up post on your blog. In that post provide a link to the Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Reading Challenge post. Please feel free to use the Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Reading Challenge button in your post. If you do not have a blog, introduce yourself in a comment below.

Add your name and the direct link to the sign-up post in the Mister Linky list below.

Each time you read and review a book as part of this challenge, share this with other challenge participants by adding a direct link to your book review to the list in a comment at this post. If you do not have a blog, leave your review as a comment.

Read as many books from the Read, Remember, Recommend reading journal as you can in one year. Books read before April 1st, 2010 do not count. Overlaps with other challenges (including the Read, Remember, Recommend Teen Reading Challenge) are acceptable – and encouraged!

Rereading doesn’t count – have fun exploring new authors, awards and books!
Audio, print, and e-books are all acceptable.
Post your review or link to your review in a comment below.

You can change your commitment level at anytime.


» Notable Newbie – 5 books

» Armchair Librarian – 10 book

» The Library of Congress Calls Me Daddy – 20 books

» A Book Intervention is Needed – 30 books

Visit Rachelle's site for a list of prizes and to access Mr. Linky to add your name. Thats me, the second reader who signed up.

I have started walking around my house collecting books that I already own but haven't yet read.  When I write my review I'll give you the details of each book and what award or list the book is featured on in the journal.  Following is that list (in no particular order).

The Known World by  Edward P. Jones (borrowed from library)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (borrowed from my sister)
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Resurrectionists by Michael Collins
Fmaily Matters by Rohinton Mistry
Slaugtherhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King
Eucalyptus by Murray Bail
Remembering Babylon by David Malouf
Solomon Gursky Was Here by Mordecai Richler
Street of Riches by Gabrielle Roy
Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin
Confessions of an ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam
Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje

I suspect that there are a few more around the house that will be on one of the lists, but this is a great selection to start with.

Let me know if you are joining in the fun.  Would love to link reviews with you/your blog.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers by Rachelle Rogers Knight

This is the coolest book journal that I have seen and used.  I received it from Sourcebooks a few weeks ago and started browsing through it right away.  Husband and daughter have also been caught perusing the book lists.  I have spent hours reading the lists of award winning books as well as the lists of recommended reading from various sources.  Beside each book are 4 check boxes where you can indicate whether you own the book, would you recommend it to others, do you want to read or have read the book, and finally whether you want to purchase the book.  Great way to avoid re-purchasing books you've already read.  Most lists also have blank lines so you can note the award winners for the next few years.  There are several blank forms at the back of the section where you can add your own lists.  You can also check Rachelle's website for regular updates to the journal lists as well as tons of other information. I have added a list of the books selected for the 'One Book One Community' program that my city has run each year since 2002.

My favourite lists at present are: The Governor General Awards from Canada, International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read.   this is not just a journal for American readers, it contains lists from many countries and regions.

The next section is where you can make notes of books you want to read.  Again, this section has the helpful check boxes found in the first section.

The third section has space to make notes on the book you've read or listened to.  Great idea if you find yourself recommending books to friends or need to check back on a series you started reading earlier.

The next 2 sections are smaller.  Not sure how much I'll use them. One is a list of books you would want to recommend and the other is where you can note the books you have lent out or that you have borrowed from someone else.

There is a great Resource section at the back.  Websites to check, additional awards not listed in the front, and index of authors included in the front section as well as an index of book titles cited in the journal.

I have  have kept several journals over the years, and they are now a mess  of notes, pictures, magazine cut outs and comments of library availability etc.  This new journal is one place to keep all that information.  Everyday for the past weeks, I have picked up this journal and updated information, checked to see if a particular author has won any of the noted awards and for many other reasons.  I have even ordered the teen version for my daughter.  Can't wait to check that one out as well.  I seem to recall that there are other versions in the works (romance, mystery?)

If you don't know which book to purchase for your favourite reader I would highly recommend this journal or the teen version.  Whatever you do, don't leave the book as you find it. Add your own titles, make notes, put in stickers, bookmarks whatever and make it your personal journal.  The one thing I would definitely add is your contact info inside the front cover so that if you accidently lose it, it can be returned to you.

I'll be posting later in the day about a terrific contest that Rachelle has posted on her blog. 

See Teddy Rose's review
Thanks to Source Books for sending me this reveiw copy and for the cover photo.

Star Afghan progress Row 56

Lots of progress since yesterday.  I had to move from the 32 inch/81 cm long needle (Susan Bates with metal needles) to the 60 inch/150 cm long needle (addi Turbo).  I figure I have over 400 stitches now after starting with a mere 4.

Its a lot of fun working with the different yarns, but some of them are kinda hard to see so I decided that I will use them only on the alternate rows where I am straight knitting, no increases nor decreases.

Now measures about 18 inches from the centre out along one of the points.

Books and Needlepoint: Waking Up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo (Book Review)

Books and Needlepoint: Waking Up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo (Book Review)

Waking up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo

"the most important element of design is to always keep the client in mind."

This is the story of Star (Estrella) Esteban and her search for herself.  Since she finished school, she has been drifting.  She runs the gallery that is part of her parents' restaurant and aspires to become a full fledged artist, though she hasn't yet determined what that means to her.  After a series of mishaps, her father gives her an ultimatum that she has to take responsibilty for herself, her career as an artist and to finish all those unfinished projects that she had started including the 200 centre pieces for the Arizona Craft Olympics. 

Star realizes she can't do this on her own.  She enlists the aid of her well-meaning, but craft challenged friend Ofie.  Ofie has the best of intentions and enthusiasm, but her crafts rarely suceed in the eyes of all thouse around her.  Also mixed in up to her perfectly groomed eyebrows is Crafty Chloe Chavez, reporter for the local Arizona TV station.  Turns out that Chloe, who is seen as the craft maven of Arizona, hates crafts and is a fraud.

I have to tell you that I absolutely loved this book.  It was fun and exciting.  The characters all came to life for me.  I found myself dreaming of glitter and searching my house for that random bottle of the stuff that I knew I had bought some time ago.  I found the low temp  glue gun and some sticks of glitter glue and went for it. 

Each of the three main characters was striped of her carefully built image and her faults were displayed for all to see and ridicule (if they so chose).  With each others help, they all rebuilt their lives better than they had been.  It made me feel good reading how the women helped each other when they could have walked away.   You can read this book as a fun and light book, or you can examine how Star, Ofie and Chloe almost destroyed their friendship with lies, omissions and good intentions, but for what ever reason you read it, you are sure to enjoy it.  This is a debut novel for the crafty chica/artist Kathy Cana-Murillo.

View a video of Kathy talking about her new book:

Now if I could only get myself a bag of that green glitter....

Thanks to Hachette Books for sending me this review copy.

Additional Reviews can be found at:

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Star Afghan progress

I took this picture somewhere around row 28.  Every other row increases by 16 stitches, so it will grow quite quickly.  I have no set idea of hw I will alternate all the yarns, but I am having fun with it.  The fuzzy and eyelash yarns are more difficult to work with, but they look great.  It's about 16 inches point to point.
You can almost see the fuzzy strands in this picture.  Will try and post another picture in a few days..

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Needlework Tuesday

Last week I showed you the 'adult' version of this scarf knit with two shades of wool.  This week is the children's version.  It is knit with
Red Heart Kids Yellow and Bikini.   I describe the colour of the 'Bikini' yarn as being Jelly Bean camoflauge.
Since the scarf is finished, I needed a new knitting project.  This will be afghan #2.  It is from a pattern by Bernat called 'Star Afghan'.  I am using all sorts of colours and textures of yarns that are in the pink - purple range.  At this point I have about 22 rows complete with dozens more to go.  It was featured on the Bernat blog in November and December.

I haven't done any sewing in ages and really must get back to that.  My son has a shirt that he wants and we've ordered the fabric. Both kids are asking for more pairs of funky boxer shorts and I already have the fabric washed and ready to cut.  I'll see what I get to this week, but I really should be working on my grammar course instead.  (yeah right).

Let the Sunshine

When the sun won't shine on its own, you need to give it a bit of help. I love this commercial:

For more on this sunny commercial visit

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Deep Fried Easter Turkey

A day in the life of a typical celebration dinner at my house. 

deep fried turkey
baked Russet potatoes (in the crock pot)
home made cranberry sauce with orange
crescent rolls from the little tube
cranberry stuffing from a package
turkey gravy
home made Hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting

This is the huge pot that we cook the turkey in.  Must be done outside well away from the house.  The metal tube looped at the top of the pot is the custom thermometre.  Temperature of the oil is critical.

Look carefully in the top of the pot and you can see that the oil is bubbling vigorously.  We had a 15 pound turkey and it cooked perfectly in 45 minutes.

Views of the turkey from both directions.  It is so incredibly crispy and wonderful.  I didn't have to touch up these photos in any way.

That's my plate of dinner waiting for me to dig in.  If you have never done your potatoes in a crock pot you really must.  They are almost creamy. But make sure that you get Russet Potatoes.

My children helped me make this delightful cake.  I found the recipe at the Robin Hood Flour site.  Hummingbird Cake.  I measured all the ingredients and left them on the counter.  My kids then took over and did all the mixing and successfully got the cake in the oven. They didn't fling batter around the kitchen either.
We did substitute walnuts for the pecans as I couldn't find them in the store.  I had to leave it in the oven a few minutes longer. The cake is moist and light. Very yummy.

Thanks for sharing dinner with me and my family.

Visit Rachelle at for her comments and recipe for Hummingbird Cake.