Monthly Archives: December 2012

An Everlasting Meal – Tamar Adler

An everlasting meal : cooking with economy and graceAn Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Grace & Economy by Tamar Adler
Age: Adult
Genre: Cooking, Food Essays
Source: My Copy
Publisher: Scribner, 2011
ISBN: 9781439181874, 250 pages
Find this book at your local library

To say that I was disappointed with this book would be a major understatement. I found this book to be mostly irrelevant although a few sections did provide a few key ideas for me. Although the title states it’s a how to on cooking economically, don’t think of this as a place to go for cost-cutting tips. On the contrary, much of Adler’s advice is towards high quality foods that are often well above an average person’s grocery budget. By economy, she means not wasting any food that enters the home. This includes onion peels.

By economy, Adler means making the most of every single food item that you buy. Ok, so this something that I am interested in learning about. The chapters discussed various aspects of cooking, from boiling veggies, to cooking with fish, meats and desserts. There is also a pretty lengthy section on cooking with beans and grains that I found to be interesting. The problem for me was that I couldn’t find anything new of inspiring in this book. There was nothing written in this book that I hadn’t read on some random food blog, or Martha Stewart magazine in the past 2 years. It’s a plus that all this information is in one places, but she mostly just touches upon a few narrow ideas rather than provide any tips that I can put into practice.

The only good resource I got from this book is to cook all the vegetables I buy at the farmer’s market in one day, and then mix them into meals throughout the week. Although a very good idea, I really wish I hadn’t paid $15 for it. I also appreciated her devotion to the idea of simple cooking. A sumptuous and filling meal does not have to be a big, elaborate ordeal. I like how she simplifies the meals which in turn simplifies the art of cooking.

The other irksome aspect of this book is that Adler is at times preachy and bossy. Sentences like “An omelet is the egg’s comeuppance”, “children must shell peas” and “you must make rice pudding with leftover rice” were scattered throughout the book and felt very strict and to over the top for me. Oh, and her love of salt. Good grief. The amount of salt she was adding to every single item of food was giving me heart palpitations.

This book is really more of a love letter to the philosophy of cooking, not so much a practical how-to-guide. Adler is gifted with her writing style, although some parts ran on for too long, and some chapters ended too soon (the chapter on canning. I wish she had provided more examples and advice on that one). I had high hopes for this book, but it really wasn’t worth the investment for me.

Monkey Monkey Underpants

What is perhaps one of my most favorite Lorelei monologues. Actually, it’s the only Lorelei monologue that I can patiently sit through…she’s super wordy sometimes. Please follow the Gilmore Girls Pop Culture References Tumblr for more awesome scenes like this!

Side note…Why can’t I find Santa sweaters like the ones R & L are wearing in this episode? It’s really not fair that they don’t exist anymore. =(

Tiny Book of Tiny Stories vol 2 – Review

The tiny book of tiny stories. Volume 2The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories vol. 2 by hitRECord & Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Wirrow
Genre: Misc. – poetry, illustrations.
Itbooks (imprint of) HarperCollins, 2012
ISBN 9780062121639
Source: Publisher

Find this book at your local library

Book description: “The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories.”

Volume 2 of The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is a wonderful companion piece to last year’s volume 1. I really enjoyed volume 1, so I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of volume 2. The book’s format follows the same formula that was presented in volume 1. Small stories (one to maybe 6 sentences in length) are paired with illustrations. This volume features 62 contributors from the 14,946 contributions submitted to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s collaboration project hitRECord.

In volume 2, the stories are just as haunting and introspective as volume 1. Most of the stories or the illustrations stayed with me after I finished the book. In a way, its good these volumes are published during the winter, as many of the stories have a dark & moody feel to them. It’s funny how much truth you can condense into 12 words or less. Some of the stories  I liked more than others, but I can say that each and every story was excellently paired with an illustration. One of my favorite pairings (not pictured) is the text that reads “one day she looked up and discovered an opening in her planet. She wondered if she wasn’t alone after all,” and is paired with a picture of a fishbowl. Although some of the stories and illustrations are expected, others, like the fishbowl, give a new meaning & depth to the story.

These two were a couple of my favorite stories/illustration pairings.

In comparison with volume 1, I’d say that more time and care went into volume 2. Although volume 1 was a great introduction and is also a wonderful collection of stories and illustrations, volume 2 seemed more consistent in its themes. It seems like more effort was taken to match the illustration to the story. In a world filled with reality TV shows/game shows and other nonsense, its refreshing to see individual minds invent such deep and meaningful messages through creative outlets. There is still a third volume yet to be created and published. If you follow JGL’s Tumblr, you’ll see numerous posts encouraging readers to submit their own stories & illustrations for the volumes. I can’t wait to see what the next collection has to offer.

Howard’s End by EM Forster – Review

Howards EndHoward’s End by EM Forster
Age: Adult
Genre: Classics
Source: My Copy
Publisher: Knopf
Find this book at your local library
 
 

Although written nearly 100 years ago, Howard’s End by EM Forster is as relevant today as it was progressive in its era. I think I can honestly say that this book is one of my absolute favorites that I’ve read in the past few years. Each page had me taking notes, underlining quotes, actually using the quotes in situations outside of my own head.

This book traces the lives of three families living in three different social spheres. There are the elite and unmarried Schlegel sisters, the upcoming middle class family of the Wilcoxes, and then there is lower class represented by Leonard Bast. Forster using these three families to discuss class, money, and social issues like feminism as represented by Helen & Margaret Schlegel.

Of the two sisters, I liked Helen more than Margaret. I found Margaret to be too forgiving of the Wilcoxes and their utter disregard for those considered beneath them. Helen, meanwhile was full of fire and energy, standing up for the poor.

The name of the book is titled after a piece of land that the eldest Mrs. Wilcox bequeathed to Margaret Schlegel after an intimate winter on year shortly before Mrs. Wilcox passed away. As a result of the Wilcox greed and high levels of ego, the property never made it to Margaret, who had no idea that it was even meant for her. Through a coincidental series of events, Margaret and Helen find their lives constantly overlapping with the Wilcoxes and the Basts. Everything was done smoothly. Although a bit lengthy, I didn’t find the pace of the novel to be too slow. There was just the right about of description to dialogue to action ration evenly divided throughout the entire novel. From start to finish, I enjoyed every part of this book.

Origins by Annie Murphy Paul – Review

Origins : how the nine months before birth shape the rest of our livesOrigins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul
Age: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Library
Publisher: Free Press, 2010
ISBN: 9780743296625, 240 pages
Find this book at your local library
 

Publisher description: 

What makes us the way we are? Is it the genes? The childhood environment? Or could it be that many of our individual characteristics–our health, our intelligence, our temperaments–are influenced by conditions encountered before birth? That’s the claim of a provocative field known as fetal origins. Scientists are developing a radically new understanding of our very earliest experiences and how they exert lasting effects on us well into adulthood. Their research offers a bold new view of pregnancy as a crucial staging ground for our health, ability, and well-being throughout life. Journalist Annie Murphy Paul ventures into the laboratories, interviews experts from around the world, and delves into the rich history of ideas about how we’re shaped before birth. The fetus is not an inert being, but an active and dynamic creature–and the pregnant woman is a source of influence on her future child far more powerful and positive than we ever knew.

As someone currently incubating a growing fetus in my womb, I found this book to be incredibly resourceful, informative and easy to digest. What I really appreciated about Paul’s writing, is that her facts, statistics and data are all based on detailed scientific research, and long-term studies.

The structure of the book is broken down into 9 chapters, each chapter titled after one of the months of pregnancy. The substance and topic of each substance had very little to do with the actual month of pregnancy. The tying factor is that Paul was pregnant while writing this book, so each chapter represents a month of her pregnancy. I could really relate to her worries, her fears, and her excitement about the baby. She discussed how various outside factors can effect the fetus. From chemical toxins in everyday items, the food we eat, how our grandparents lived, trauma and so much more. During the chapter discussing the effect of Hurricane Katrina on pregnant women, I couldn’t help but think of how pregnant women and their fetus’ are being ultimately effected after Hurricane Sandy in the East Coast.

Another plus side to this book is that it really helped calm my fears and worries about how I am handling my pregnancy. Based on her information regarding food, stress levels, and environment, I feel fully confident with this pregnancy and how well the baby is developing as the months progress. I highly recommend this book for anyone pregnancy and wondering just what exactly is happening to the baby in there. There are also very few books written on this topic. Very few that I could research at least. If anybody knows of any similar topics, please send them my way!