Monday, April 28, 2014

Half Bad, by Sally Green: Wholly Good

Half Bad
Sally Green
Viking: New York, 2014.
ISBN: 978-0670016785
ARC provided by publisher on NetGalley

Imagine a young British man with magical powers.  He is unique, monitored by his government for it, parentless, and disliked by most members of his family.  His name?  It's not Harry.  In this magical title, the grit is grittier, the dark darker, and the protagonist less of a crowd pleaser than in a certain other series about a young wizard.  Nathan a half code - the only person to have Black and White witch parentage.  He is consequently constantly monitored and tracked by the powerful White witches, whose ministry places ever tightening restrictions upon half codes.  In this England, White witches fear and hunt all Black witches.  Nathan's White witch mother is dead, and his at-large father is the most powerful Black witch alive.  As the edicts become more and more austere, Nathan is placed in a cage somewhere in the Welsh wilderness, and his family and the girl he loves - a forbidden White witch - punished for associating with him.  This gripping first in Green's new series is a start to finish, high stakes adrenaline rush, where good and evil aren't just that.  Thought it will appeal to fans of a certain other English wizard, it is much more gritty, crass, and violent, and is recommended to older teens and adults.  

Any more words seem unnecessary, and will slow you down in your quest to acquire and commence your magical reading experience.  It is one of the books I've most enjoyed reading in 2014.  You will not be able to put this one down.  Get at it, yesterday, team.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by BJ Novak

One More Thing
BJ Novak
Knopf: New York, 2014
ISBN: 978-0385351836

I don’t read a lot of short stories, for no other reason, I suppose than it not being habit, though I do appreciate a shorter format every now and then.  When I came upon BJ Novak’s book, I knew I had to give it a crack.  This is the guy who wrote for The Office, after all!  Plus – we’re from the same hometown (badass Newton, Mass.)  Now, bear with for a moment.  Though I totally loved reading this book,  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to having moments I did not totally love, due to Novaks occasional moments of awkward cringe and wince humor, much like on The Office.  The stories in this book are truly zeigeist works.  Novak aptly embraces and skewers a whole American generation (as well as those generations on both sides) – which perhaps causes those awkward, hard, societally introspective looks that caused me to wince in recognition. His stories entertain as he speaks truth through fiction, and he explores what seem to be generationally pervasive themes like hopefulness, dissatisfaction, selfishness, altruism, searching for self and love, the precarious balance between apathy and excitement, and the pervasive obsession with socializing through the Internet.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Red Lentil Soup (Recipe 4)

March guys.  March.  Let’s debrief.  Calling it a rollercoaster is not even a stretch; there were some lows, some sorrows, some craziness, some whirlwind highs, a whole lot of busy, and a really great trip down to see one of my bestest gals: Ms. J.  No, not that Ms. J

This Ms. J:

She and I have been buds since 1996, when I walked into my first summer camp cabin and she was there, all braces, curls, and sass.  We lived together in our castle in the clouds after college, and she’s solely responsible for my more guilty ladynerd pleasures. Ahem, ahem, OUTLANDER. Ms. J and I decided it was high time we take our friendship to a new level: honeymoon.  Sure, we’re not married to each other, or at all.  But shouldn’t best galpals get a honeymoon too?  Our ladymoon took us to some excellent eating and watering holes in Durham, NC, Savannah, GA, and Asheville, NC, but one of the most memorable meals was one that Ms. J made my first night in Durham.  

Breaking out alllll the Le Creusets
Her recipe is actually a favorite one of her mom’s, which was obtained at a cooking class at one of their hometown restaurants, Kareem’s.  Kareem’s (and the Ms. J parentals) are located in the fair city of Watertown, MA, made internationally famous for sadder reasons just about one year ago when the Boston Marathon bombing suspects when on the lam and had a dramatic shootout throughout this normally sedate town.  Watertown is home to a ton of delicious Syrian, Albanian, and Lebanese restaurants, and this recipe, adapted from Kareem’s original one, will bring a delicious spoonful of Syria via Watertown right to your own table, wherever you may be.

I did some light adapting, mostly because I am lazy, making it totally vegan, and by using things I had on hand (ie. I was too lazy to squeeze a lemon, so I used the lime juice I was using to make Moscow mules for my guest and I).   It is super quick, super easy, massively delicious, and I’m super glad to report it’ll likely become part of my repertoire for weeknight recipes.  Coincidentally, I am also super glad to have Ms. J as a friend (for more reasons than this recipe, duh).  

Red Lentil Soup (Recipe 4 - Le Creuset Challenge)

Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from an adaptation of Kareem Restaurant’s recipe for Ahmad’s Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4-6

2 cups red lentils
½ cup farro, quinoa, or other hearty ancient grain (or a mix)
6 cups water
1 14 oz can lite coconut milk
1 medium onion, minced
2-3 Tbsp coconut oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ c fresh lime juice
8 oz fresh spinach


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Case of the Terribles: When Altruism Goes Wrong

Spotted this at the Harvard Square Starbucks this morning.

Facetious genius, or clueless do-gooder?  
I have so many questions.  
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