Finished Fledgling [12/22/2009]

Fledgling sucked me in and I cared about the characters right away. The plot moved along very quickly, and I even felt it was a bit rushed. (I know that's weird for me to complain about, as I normally always want fast moving plots.) It ended abruptly and I felt like there should have been more. I find it interesting all of the twists and variations that people come up with on the vampire myth. Listen to Margot Adler's npr story for one take on the popularity of vampires.

Oran's White Asparagus and Mushroom Soup [12/16/2009]

Oran's White Asparagus and Mushroom Soup

1 med onion
1 bunch white asparagus
8 oz crimini or baby bella mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic
3.5 oz oyster mushrooms
6 c broth
2 sprigs fresh thyme
~1/2 tsp salt
~1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c cream
~2 tbsp butter
[option 1]* 1 med potato
[option 2]* 1/4 c light roux
* Two options to thicken soup.

In a large pot, simmer the broth.
[If using option 1] Dice potato, saute in butter [2 min] and add to soup.
Rough chop onions, saute in butter for [2 min] and add to soup.
Peel white asparagus. Chop the bottom half, saute in butter [2 min] and add to soup.
Finely chop mushrooms and reserve half. With half, saute in butter [2 min] and add to soup.
Add salt, pepper, and fresh thyme.
Simmer soup for 20 minutes then turn off heat.
Finely dice garlic and add half to the soup, letting the soup sit for five more minutes.
Lightly saute in butter the remaining mushrooms, finely chopped asparagus tips, and garlic. Do not let these get too soft as these provide texture to the soup. Set aside.
If needed, put the soup pot in an inch or two of water to cool before blending.
In batches, blend soup in a blender until smooth. Return puréed soup to the pot and lightly simmer.
[If using option 2] Whisk roux into soup to thicken.
Stir in cream.
Shortly before serving, add the remaining asparagus and mushrooms and stir to equilibrate temperature.

Cheese Souffle [12/16/2009]

Cheese Souffle

2 eggs
2/3 cup cream
3/4 cup cheddar cheese grated
3/4 cup romano cheese grated

Beat eggs with cream.
Mix in cheeses.
Pour into 3 cup baking dish.
Cook at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Finished The Reader [12/16/2009]

The first half of the book keeps you reading out of curiosity because you want to know Hanna's secret. Something is strange about her and her past. The relationship between her and Michael (the narrator) is difficult to believe. Both of them are somewhat unlikeable. Their fights are annoying and don't make sense. After you find out about her involvement in the Nazi concentration camps half way through, there is little reason to finish the story. I wonder if some poetic elements were lost in translation, or if the original was as bleak and stark as this version. I know this was very popular book, but, I don't understand why.

Finished In Defense of Food [12/10/2009]

This follow up to The Omnivore's Dilemma is lacking in all of the statistics and details that made its successor so powerful. It is a much shorter and easier read though. The tone is positive, with much less of the doomsday quality. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in eating healthy and living sustainably.

Kale Salad [12/05/2009]

Kale Salad

2 bunches of Lacinato/Tuscan kale
2-3 tablespoons red bell pepper chopped
1 shallot or small onion chopped
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan or Parmesan/Romano mix
3 medium sized garlic cloves toasted and chopped
1/2 cup crushed bread crumbs

6 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Optional Addition:
1/2 cup pine nuts

In a small bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Fully submerge the kale in water and rinse several times.
Cut out the tough middle stalk.
Slice the leaves into very small strips.
Mix the kale strips with the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
Toss with the dressing until it is all thoroughly covered.

This salad will keep in the fridge for several days.

Fun Variation: Use one bunch of kale and one bunch of rainbow chard.

Adapted from various recipes online.

Finished the Lilith's Brood/Xenogenesis Trilogy [12/05/2009]

This was my first encounter with Octavia Butler. She impressed me right away, and I was kept captivated throughout the whole trilogy. These books were written in the late 80's and very little of it seemed dated. Butler's themes are still very relevant today. I am now hooked, and can't wait to read more. For anyone who enjoys science fiction, I'd highly recommend these books.