Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recipe 24: Lemon Ginger Applesauce

So many apples, so few ideas that
do not end in dessert...
Yesterday, I went apple picking.  Today, I had more apples than digits on my hands and feet combined.  Also, because I am a crazy person, I have decided that I will be going dessert free until October 31st.  That's right kids, one whole month without sweet treats.  Which presented a problem, since all my ideas for what to do with this plethora of apples fell firmly into the dessert family.  But then I realized the greatest way to get rid of many of them and make something that I can eat this month is so simple that babies eat it: applesauce.  Boom.  Plus, color me impressed that even though it is sweet, it has like 0.02% non-apple sugar added.  Applesauce for the win!  I also had a slightly grotty old lemon, so I decided to spice it up and make a lemon ginger applesauce.  I actually think I used too much ginger, and maybe would recommend using fresh grated ginger for more warmth than ground ginger, and would also recommend including zest (my lemon was too leathery). 

Lemon Ginger Applesauce

Adapted from The Apple Lover's Cookbook, by Amy Traverso

Lemon Ginger Applesauce, Le Creuset style


3-4 lbs apples, peeled, cored, chopped into large pieces (mixed types will work fine - better according to the original recipe)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar (more to taste if you want)


Nearly ready...
1.  With the heat set to medium high, add your apples, water, and lemon juice to your Le Creuset/Dutch Oven, stir, and cover. 
2. When it begins to steam heavily, turn down the heat to a low-medium setting.  Let it cook covered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The apples will begin to get very soft and break apart.
3.  When the mixture is slightly more than half sauce and the apples break apart easily under your spoon or spatula, turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes. 
4.  Add sugar to the mixture, and stir to combine.
5.  If you like your applesauce chunky, stop here.  If you like it smooth, continue.
6.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth.
7.  Cool, and enjoy! 

Et voila!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Case of the (unexpected online window shopping) Terribles: or, what I want for my birthday

Friends, I bequeath to you a online shopping experience, a web page filled with Cases of the Terribles (and/or people having way too much money, and not enough brains). Here it is: Case of the (unexpected online window shopping) Terribles.  

Incidentally, take note.  I know what I want for my birthday this year.

Who DOESN'T want a 20 foot Animatronic Triceratops?
Yes, Homer and the Enormous Egg is totally one of my favs. But really, they had me at "based on paleontological approximations of what sounds the original 67 million year-old saurian might have vocalized."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tidbits: Chicken Soup for your visual art appreciation

Chicken Soup: 
  • Do you have a heart?  Test it by readwatching this piece, written by a teenage boy about he loves to read.  It is aptly titled What's Wrong with Reading?  I just want to give him a hug in the form of a stack of books!
Design & Art:
 The Talkies:
  • Beautiful Creatures Trailer I'm not sure how I feel, guys!  I think I like it and the leads; I think I'm also nervous they took some Tim Burtonesque creative liberties in Harper Lee's backyard and it may go a little off the tracks.  I think I should also not watch things pre-coffee.  
  •  No link, but are you as excited that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is nigh?  Yayyyy! Yayyyy! Yayyyy! 
  •  Not only does Australia always get Christmas first, now you Aussies can brag about reading Quitana first. Color me jealous. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rollrock Island, by Margo Lanagan: Your momma's a seaweed lovin seal!

The Brides of Rollrock Island
by Margo Lanagan
Alfred Knopf BFYR, 2012
ISBN: 9780375869198

“Seals do not sit about and tell, the way people do, and their lives are not eventful in the way that peoples are, lines of story combed out again and again, in the hope that they will yield more sense with every stroke.” (p. 255).  Old Celtic fables tell of Selkies - seals who shed their skins and walk on land as people.  On Rollrock Island, the tales are part of island life.  Miskaella, a young girl, realizes there is truth behind the legends when she wakes one day with the power to lure seals from the sea, and eventually even the ability to call the bewitching selkies from their seal-skins.  Cruelly treated and branded a witch for her abilities by other villagers, Miskaella grows frustrated and contemptous from their mistreatment, vowing her revenge.  One by one, the men of Rollrock abandon the island women in favor of the mysterious seal-women Miskaella calls forth from the sea, paying her dearly for it.  The human female population of Rollrock abandons the island for the mainland, leaving it to the men, boys, and Selkie women, who long, silently to return to the ocean.  The sons of these women are not immune to this sadness in their mothers; they hatch a plan to return the skins to their mothers, who weave sea-skins of their own to bring their sons with them when they return to the sea.  This is a richly wrought and haunting tale, with beautiful descriptive language.  Though marketed as YA, it will find more success with adult readers who won’t be deterred by the alternating perspectives, sense that questions are left unanswered, and the serious tone.  

Hello, you had me at selkie.  No, seriously.  That’s why I requested and then raced through this one.  Plus, it sounds slightly more exciting in the publisher press then it actually is - it’s rather more of a slow paced, methodically haunting tale.  In a way, I really liked this.  In another way, I really was less satisfied with it when I finished it than I had been while reading it, if that makes any sense at all.  I loved the selkies and the myth-made-real nature of this story...but it didn’t entirely add up, for me (the story does wrap itself up, and hopefully).  I wanted to know if Miskaella was actually content, or why none of the Selkie mom’s tried to figure out where their seal-skins were, or...just more.  I think it would have helped to have one pov from one of the selkies, since we seemed to hear from a representative of every other faction (Miskaella, dudes paying her to get them a sea-order bride, the scored non-sea order brides, the kids,  etc.).  Again, I do believe that this is a book with far more adult appeal than teen appeal - I just plain think adults will connect with it better.  I’m not even sure what, if anything, makes it fall into the YA family.  There are as many, if not more, adult voices than teen/youth voices.  Does ….anticipate that more adult readers will just buy it if it is marketed as YA, since adults are buying more YA?  If so, good call.  Anyways, you can read this book if you like Celtic mythology, but then again, if time is an issue, just watch The Secret of Roan Innish.  And then let’s all go have a whiskey and talk about whether or not a grown lady could actual fit inside a seal skin.  My vote: no. Also, fish breath.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Robopocalypse, by Daniel H. Wilson: We're onto you, robots

by Daniel H. Wilson
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011
ISBN: 9780385533867
Adobe EPUB copy from the Boston Public Library

Think, for a moment, about the number of times in a day you rely upon a machine.  We want our technology to do things we don't - to do the hings that we deem too tedious, too complex, too dangerous.  But what happens when the artificial intelligence we have harnessed to do this things gets too intelligent and figures this out?  In this recycled post-robot apocalypse thriller, the machines we rely on have rebelled against humans.  They are controlled and connected by a remotely located significantly intelligent artificial being, Archos, who views the human-robot relationship as akin to master-slave, and who wants to shift the balance.  In one fell swoop, robots control everything, from our dishwashers, to our cars, to our defense systems, and humans are either exterminated or sent to work camps.  Told in vignettes, Archos has watched and recorded the humans and machines who survive the initial apocalypse and lead the fight to successfully regain power.  Characters, both human and robot, are engaging, compelling narrators of their own stories in this rapid-fire, high-stakes, battle of the intelligences Sci-Fi.  Though published for adults, it will have strong appeal for older teens, and may even be an easy sell for reluctant male readers.  

Unless you live deep in the woods/dessert and are a technology eschewing hermit (which means you're probably not reading this), this concept (robots start thinking for themselves, overthrow the world) is not a new one.  Presumably, you've heard of the Terminator?  If you live in California, there's no excuse - you elected a robot governor! Some cooler kids may have even heard of Battlestar Galactica.  This story, however, while not new, is a fast-paced, exciting read.  It is also one with a global scope, taking place around the world, with a multicultural human (and robot) cast.  The writing is more servicible than fancy, but it keeps the pages turning and the readers hooked.  Stan, the YA lovin' PopStar of a friend, sent me a strong recommendation for this one; he correctly thought my male students would dig it.  He was right!  They will!  It is such an easy sell to reluctant reader boys, along with the rest of us who may be less reluctant or are not boys.  My only warning?  Good luck thinking your appliances aren't out to kill you.  I see your glowing red eye, toaster!

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I am only what is best described as incredibly behind, so enjoy this collection of links you've probably already seen elsewhere, while I enjoy sleeping past 6 am for the first time since my 9 day first week of school back started, 9 days ago.
The Talkies:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Recipe 25: Two Corn Grits

When one is drowning in corn and okra at the height of corn and okra season, one does not hesitate when one invites one's little siblings over for a Bon Appetit recipe dinner of New Orleans Shrimp, Okra, and Tomato Saute.  (And no, the Queen's fake twitter account is not writing this post, but hey girl hey, let's be friends?)  SO I DID.  And the little turds complained their way through the meal, which I thought was perfectly delish, and believe you will too.

New Orleans Shrimp, Okra, and Tomato Saute with
Two Corn Grits and a dose of sibling shame.
Goldibrownlocks and Brother Bear whined about spice.  They whined about it being shrimp.  They wined about dinner being served hot.  They dined, and they dashed.  I'm not going to pretend like it was a hugely time consuming meal to prepare, but it was hot, and I was bothered! (Clearly...) I, however, truly enjoyed this meal, and think you will find the grits recipe a great way to rid yourself creatively of some ears of corn when you hit the "I am sick of corn on the cob" wall I was reaching, six ears of corn in one week later.  Also, it is TRES easy, as they say in the Big Easy.  So, though it is a month late, enjoy (you can easily use frozen corn instead of fresh). 

Two Corn Grits
(adapted from Glorious Grits: America's Favorite Comfort Food, published by - you guessed it - Southern Living!)

1 Tbsp butter (if salted, taste before adding more later)
2 medium ears of corn (or 1 1/2 cups frozen, thawed kernels)
3 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup stone-ground grits
2 Tbsp scallions/green onions
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1.  Melt butter in your small Le Creuset/Dutch Oven over medium, stirring to coat the pot.
2.  Add corn to the pot, and saute for approximately two to three minutes; just saute, don't brown it.  Remove from the pot and set aside.
3.  Add water and salt to pot, and bring to a boil.
4.  Whisk in your grits, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Occasionally whisk to prevent clumps and burning on the bottom, as you simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the grits begin to thicken and grow softer.  You may need to add more water!
5.  Stir in corn and scallions, season with sugar, pepper, and any additional salt if you think it needs some.
6.  Serve under some spicy Cajun food and watch your whimpy siblings sweat, eventually make a disgrace of a peanut butter sandwich because they can't handle grown up food.

I think it only fitting to include this shameful image of Brother Bear making a peanut butter sandwich. With a spoon.   Which was obviously a better choice than the image at the top of the page.  If you are six. 
Shame sandwich.

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