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Archive for November, 2012

Free Book Friday!!

Friday, November 30th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Today the free book is First 100 Soft to Touch Words

Your little one will soon learn some essential first words and pictures with this bright board book.
There are 100 color photographs to look at and talk about, and 100 simple first words to read and learn, too.
The pages are made from tough board for hours of fun reading, and the cover is softly padded for little hands to hold.

This book will make a great stocking stuffer for a little one!

 

 

We will choose two winners at random from comments we receive here on the Blog from PBS members.

 

You have until Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 12 noon EST, to leave a comment.

Good Luck to everyone!

 

 

Note: All the books given away on Free Book Friday are available in the PBS Market. We have thousands of new and new overstock titles available right now, with more added hourly. Some of the prices are amazing – and you can use a PBS credit to make the deal even better!

 

Remember, every new book purchase supports the club and helps keep membership free!

Please consider shopping with us in the PaperBackSwap Market  for your holiday gifts!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Romance Review – Lord Gray’s List

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Lord Gray’s List by Maggie Robinson

 

Review by Kelsey O.

 

Evie Ramsay has lived her entire life either being really poor or living an okay life because of her father’s gambling problem. Now her father has developed dementia and all that is left is a printer’s shop that was won by her father. Still spurned by how things were left with Benton Gray, Evie decides to pose as a man and develops a gossip rag call The London List. Now all of Ben’s salacious exploits are splatter across the pages. Ben decides to stop this from happening anymore and purchases the paper. To his dismay he finds out that 1. Evie is the one doing this and 2. that London is not happy that he is shutting the paper down. One of its biggest supporter is his own mother!

Now Evie and Ben must bind together and make this paper work. Evie hates that she has to be near Ben but that doesn’t stop her from using her feminine ways to try to get him to leave the paper in her capable hands. Evie was Ben’s first love and obviously that is not forgotten. He plans to make sure that they work extremely close together.

The reader never really knows why Evie hates/loves Ben the way she does and Ben apparently doesn’t either. This is one part of the story that was confusing. It was never made clear were the hate comes from.

This was an enjoyable read and is like a historic version of what Gossip Girl would have been like during this time. This is a  good light read with some sassy characters and steamy love scenes.

 

3 STARS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday – Background To Danger

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Background To Danger by Eric Ambler

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

Also known as Uncommon Danger, this 1937 novel was a turning point for the spy story. In the Twenties, Somerset Maugham wrote the darkly realistic Ashenden stories and John Buchan wrote adventures like The Thirty-Nine Steps. In the Thirties, Ambler combined Maugham’s realism and Buchan’s fast-paced action with well-drawn characterization, political smarts and good but not flowery prose. Voila – James Bond for adults a la John LeCarre and Alan Furst.

The novel opens in London with a meeting of the board of directors of an oil company. Its detestable chairman, Joseph Balterghen, hints at regime change as the most direct method of grabbing up oil concessions in Bessarabia, which we post-moderns know as Moldova. Balterghen coerces approval from the board to hire fixers such as Saridza a.k.a. Col. Robinson to stir up trouble among the USSR, Hitler’s Germany, and a Romania that is going fascist.

Our hero Kenton doesn’t know this plot. He is a penniless journalist who feels compelled to smuggle an envelope stuffed with papers for a man he meets on train in Nuremberg.  The man ends up stabbed to death, the cops want Kenton, and Kenton is forced to make a run for it. He is alternately helped and hindered by two soviet spies, the brother and sister team of Andreas and Tamara Zaleschoff.

Tamara is not there simply to provoke romantic thoughts in Kenton. She schemes with her brother and drives the getaway car like Danica Patrick. Andreas is partly stage Russian, with large gestures, exaggerated facial expressions, booming voice, and frankly insincere conversation. He is also a shrewd spy, though prone to jump to conclusions. Practical Tamara reins Andreas in and so does Kenton. Happily for the reader, Andreas and Tamara re-appear in Ambler’s 1939 thriller Cause for Alarm.

Saridza is a sinister character. In the 1943 movie version of this novel, Saridza was played by Sydney Greenstreet – the rotund Gutmann in The Maltese Falcon – so Hollywood casting got it right for once.  But his bully boy Captain Mailler is odious. Ambler, who was a bit of a lefty at that time, gives Mailler a resume worthy of a fascist beast. Mailler was a Black and Tan, a paramilitary unit that suppressed Irish revolutionaries by burning property of IRA men and their suspected sympathizers. Mailler is wanted in New Orleans for murder of a black woman. In a dig at John Buchan’s goody-goody heroes like Richard Hannay, Mailler was the “only professional strikebreaker in the United States that was educated at an English public school.”

In the Thirties, Ambler also produced  Epitaph for a Spy, Cause for Alarm, The Mask of Dimitrios and Journey into Fear. All of them are worth reading. During World War II, Ambler served in artillery with thriller writer Victor Canning (The Rainbird Pattern) for a short time.

 

  

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Week Review – Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

 

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone

Edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler

 

Review by Pat L. (PitterPat)

 

Jennifer Ferrair-Adler found herself living alone for the first time in her life at the age of twenty-seven. She struggled with how to enjoy eating solo. She went looking for books that talked about cooking for one and dining alone. Not a cookbook but inspiration for solitary cooking and eating. When she found no such books her boyfriend suggested she write her own. She sent out invitations to various food and fiction writers to participate in the project. She asked them:
Do you have a secret meal you make (or used to make) for yourself? Do you have a set of rituals for dining alone (at home or in a restaurant), or rules?

The result is a collection of twenty-six essays on the joy and sorrows of dining alone. One is from a mother of three who dreams of a solitary meal of her choosing. Some of the essays are from deceased writers such as Laurie Colwin and M.F.K. Fisher. There are a few recipes thrown in the mix.

This is a chance to view how what others do when faced with cooking and dining alone. Some of the essays will make you feel better about those odd things you eat only by yourself. It’s okay to eat the same weird meal day after day, if you enjoy it. “Cooking for yourself allows you to be strange or decadent or both.” Learn to enjoy eating in public by yourself, maybe with this book as company.

Jennifer says “It is my hope that some nights in your kitchen you will reach for this book and be comforted or laugh out loud with recognition—and try another recipe” and “I hope it will remind that alone and lonely are not synonymous; you will have yourself—and the food you love—for company”. The book has done those things for me and it is going on my keeper shelf. Reading this book is a chance to feel connected to others even when you are alone. This is not a book to sit and read all the way through. Read an essay or two then take a break, otherwise it all runs together and is not very enjoyable. I liked hearing how other people view solo cooking and eating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Week Biography Review – The Pioneer Woman

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels–a Love Story by Ree Drummond

 

Review by Susan R. (Sue-in-AZ)

 

Story Synopsis

Ree is a city girl. Night clubs, high fashion shoes and all-night sushi delivery. But then she encounters the most sexy man she’s ever met. He’s a cowboy she calls Marlboro Man, a title that evokes a very specific picture of a man’s man.

This book is the true life story of Ree’s steamy romance with Marlboro Man, along with her journey from city girl to country girl. She started telling her story via her wildly popular blog The Pioneer Woman. Her simple blog grew from a few recipes and stories to become one of the most successful blogs on the web. In February 2010, Ree was listed as No. 22 on Forbes‘ Top 25 Web Celebrities — one of only three women to make the list.  She went on to author several cookbooks and a children’s book. She’s made multiple appearances on TV, and now has her own show on The Food Network.

 

My Review

I’ve followed The Pioneer Woman for years. I’ve made the recipes, followed the stories and watched the TV appearances. So I might be a little biased…but I loved this book.

Full of wry humor, Ree portrays the people in her life with generosity and grace. She takes the fall for anything bad that ever happens – usually in a hilarious, self-deprecating fashion. If you love romance novels but thought they could never happen in real life, you will enjoy this book.

 

 

I  have an absolute favorite recipe from Ree Drummond. In fact, running across this recipe is how I first heard about her and her blog.

 

Crash Hot Potatoes

Added by Ree on August 7, 2009 in Potatoes, Sides

Prep Time
Cook Time
Servings 6 Difficulty Easy

Ingredients

  • 12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Black Pepper To Taste
  • Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.

On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.

Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Here’s a link to the recipe Pioneer Woman Crash Hot Potatoes . Going to the link is the best way to experience any of her recipes, because every recipe includes a big long “back story”, highly detailed step by step instructions with pictures, little discussion points of what works and what doesn’t, and then finally how her family liked/didn’t like the end results.

 

 

 

Food Week – Chuck’s Lasagna Saga

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 By Gail P. (TinkerPirate)

 

There once was a man named Chuck

Who would cut your hair for a buck

Though he was good

At cooking most food

With lasagna he had no luck

 

 

Grumpy, my dear husband, and I used to have the same barber. His name was Chuck. With a pair of scissors, he was a magician. Get him in the kitchen and – well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

A number of years ago, while having dinner with his father-in-law, Chuck mentioned that he made great lasagna. Well, his father-in-law replied that this was nice, but that he made BETTER lasagna. Chuck gently reminded his father-in-law that he was Italian and that everybody knows that Italians make the BEST lasagna. The father-in-law, being Sicilian, took exception at this. Well, after a number of “does too” – “does nots”, an oven mitt was thrown AND the Annual Lasagna Contest was born.

Great idea! But, who would judge the contest?

Chuck’s wife couldn’t. Her loyalties would be torn between the man who gave her life and the man who gives her love. So, they began to solicit neighbors and friends – but as they described the situation, those very friends and neighbors told Chuck and his father-in-law that they considered themselves to also be great lasagna makers and wanted to enter the fray. Great – now they had a bezillion lasagna makers. What started out as a simple dinner statement turned into the mother of all lasagna contests.

How did Chuck do? Well, the first year, Chuck made his regular lasagna and lost. The second year, he devised a new recipe: he cooked the noodles the day before and marinated them overnight in a “secret sauce”. The resulting lasagna was mooshy because the marinated noodles disintegrated. As you can guess…Chuck did not win…again.

For year three, Chuck developed a different strategy. Knowing that the best part of lasagna was the sauce and cheese, he would eliminate the noodles! He developed another “secret sauce”, threw in bread crumbs, and sought out the perfect cheese. Chuck figured the bread crumbs would soak up the juice from the wonderful sauce and combine with the perfect cheese to form a magnificently textured and flavorful lasagna. WRONG! What he got was a lasagna pan of goop…tasty goop…but goop none the less.

After loss three, Chuck gracefully “retired” from lasagna competition. He decided to just host the parties. And, his father-in-law…he NEVER did enter a single contest!

Now, that I have you all set for the really great lasagna recipe…here it is. How do I know? Well, first of all it’s NOT Chuck’s – it’s MINE and it won the very last Lasagna Contest!

 

Tricolor Lasagna

Serves 12

 

16 ounces lasagna noodles

2 pounds Italian sausage

6 cups spaghetti sauce

1 can black olives – chopped

1 cup pesto sauce

32 ounces ricotta cheese

24 ounces mozzarella cheese – shredded

Pour spaghetti sauce into a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until sauce reduces and is slightly thickened. Brown sausage, drain, and add to thickened spaghetti sauce. Add black olives. Continue to simmer for 30-60 minutes. Blend pesto sauce with half of the ricotta cheese. Blend the remaining ricotta with half of the mozzarella cheese. Prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package.

Spread a small amount of spaghetti sauce/sausage mixture in the bottom of a deep lasagna pan. Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread a layer of spaghetti sauce/sausage mixture on top of noodles (keep 1 cup of sauce mixture in reserve). Sprinkle with 2/3 of remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread ricotta/mozzarella mixture on top of noodles (keep 1 cup of mixture in reserve). Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread layer of pesto/ricotta mixture (keep 1 cup of mixture in reserve). Cover with lasagna noodles. Spread reserved mixtures on top of noodles so it resembles the Italian flag. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Place in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake until sauce is bubbly and cheese on top is melted and starting to brown (about 50 minutes). Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

 

 

Pesto Sauce

3 cups fresh basil leaves – washed and dried

8 cloves of garlic – peeled

3 teaspoons pine nuts

1/2 cup parmesan cheese – finely grated

1/3 cup olive oil

Throw basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese into a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add olive oil. Pulse until solids are well chopped, but mixture is not liquefied.

 

 

Spaghetti sauce

A confession – I used jarred sauce…a combination of 3 cheeses and roasted red pepper…but use whatever you like. Or, you could look for recipes in the following books available on PBS:

 

 


Lasagna: The Art of Layered Cooking
by  Dwayne Ridgaway
 
The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces
by Diane Seed
 
Monday-to-Friday Pasta (Monday-to-Friday Series)
by  Michele Urvater
 
The Book of Pasta
by Lesley MacKley and Jon Stewart
 
Five-Minute Pasta Sauces
by  Michael Oliver

 

 

 

 

                                                                                
 

 

Food Week – Thankstromoing Day

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Thankstromoing Day ~ 2012 AD

By Greg Vostromo

 

Minions! As we join families, friends, my ex-brother-in-law’s really annoying new “horizontal consultant” who we’re all certain has an Adam’s apple (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and aren’t sure why they showed up, it’s traditional, if oft overlooked, to take a few minutes and express thanks for all the wonders of the world and age we live in, that we so often take from their rightful owners for granted. Life is full of great moments and small, bliss and heartache; for every Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffle there’s a loaf of meat on a tin tray calling itself a Salisbury Steak; for every Chipotle there’s Yours Truly, who can’t seem to eat them without dropping the whole thing all over the table no matter how carefully I follow the unwrapping instructions on the napkin; for each 99 Cent Store some tiny black-on-black print reading and up

No matter: one day the year we look to only that which makes our passing sojourns on this planet (wave to Newt Gingrich on Moon Base Alpha if you’re reading this anytime after 2027) the amazing and unlikely things they are. So keep looking for my sister, who did not after all lock herself in the woodshed, which we might have expected since this is a 12th floor apartment, though she clearly did make off with a bottle of Riunite and the cheesecake, but no silverware, so time is of the essence; take the wallet hand of the person next to you, unless – no, especially if – you’re on line for the bathroom at Starbucks, raise it to the sky, and cry out I am thankful! and remember the old cartoon, where a man standing by a factory wall emblazoned with CASEY’S TOOL WORKS says So does mine, but I don’t go advertising it.

Some things to be thankful for since the VostromoScope debuted in April of 2011:

 

  • more Bolivians live in Bolivia than ever before ~ https://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:BOL&dl=en

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK I’m not sure about that last one, but still.

So as you plate your ‘tates, entuck into your TurDuckEn, and wonder if there’s enough alcohol in the cranberry sauce to make it all bearable; as you fall into the groaning sofa and fool yourself into believing nobody saw you loosen your pants; as you insist against all familial experience that you are fully awake and you absolutely did see that last, NFL-record-setting play; as you wonder just how long it will be before you can reasonably say that perhaps it is time to go so you can beat the traffic, even as you hear the memoried echoes of that very sentence and wonder how you turned into your parents through some occult Novemberal trickery; as you find yourself taking a surprising small moment, alone for the first time in endless hours, walking solo to unlock the car, breath fogging in the greyblue evening light, in recognition of the blessings of fate that have all your loved ones, and the rest of the family too, heck, even the generously-gendered “horizontal consultant” itself, though now that you think about it nobody found Natalie or got any cheesecake, alive, o’erroofed, warmthed and fedful, remember what is really important at this reflective time of every year: me.

By golly, that is her ~ how did she ~ touchdown!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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