Teaser Tuesday March 30

Here's another book meme hosted by Should Be Reading, Teaser Tuesdays and it's a fun one.  The rules are thus:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two teaser sentences for somewhere on the page.
  • Do not include spoilers!!!
  • Share title and author.

 My teaser this week:

"Her mother came upstairs because she heard the sobbing. It had seeped through the grout of the tile and the soffitts and the plaster that made up the ceiling downstairs.  it would, in fact, become as much of this household as the bricks and the mortar, although neither of the women realized it yet."

It's from Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult which is a fantastic book.

March What's On My Nightstand

It's difficult to get a whole lot of reading done when you're chasing after 4 kids (that's not including husband-child), a new puppy and trying to sew an entire wardrobe for your family for the SCA...something new that needs to be made always comes up.  I look back longingly at the days when I could go through a book a day and now wonder if I'll ever even come close reading the 100 books in the 100 book challenge that I"m participating in.  It's March and I'm only at 12.

Nonetheless, I was able to read some, which is a good thing.  My stack this month looks like this (digital stack, since the read ones have been responsibly returned to the library.)  Join us for more stacks at 5 minutes for books

Book Review: Jane Austen Ruined My Life

I had really hoped to like this book, but I didn't.  I never really clicked with the heroine, whom I frequently wanted to slap some sense into or any of the other characters and the story just didn't engage me.  I have to force myself to finish.  The facts about Jane's life were interesting, but not enough to redeem the rest.  In my opinion, in a market current glutted by these Jane Austen-centric novels, this is one you can skip.

Menu Plan Monday: Easy week

Not much going on this week...Scott is gone Tuesday and most of wednesday doing St. Patrick's day activities with the band.  I've got lots of sewing to do in preparation for Spring Coronation for the SCA in 2 weeks.

Sunday:  Crock Pot Turkey breast with stuffing, cranberry sauce and roasted sweet potatoes.

Monday: Brats on Buns with grilled onions and saurkraut.  Fries. Strawberry shortcakes

Tuesday: BBQ Meatballs and macaroni and cheese. Tiramisu.

Wednesday:  Corned Beef, potatoes, carrots and Irish soda bread...Happy Valentines day!

Thursday:  London Broil Salad.

Friday:  Aunt to eat with Scott's aunt who is visiting from Maine on her way back from Scotland.

Saturday:  Happy Ostara!  Herb roasted lamb, roast potatoes and carrots, peep ambrosia and easter celebration bread.

Have a good week and check out more menus or join the fun at orgjunkie.com

Book Review: The Briar King

This evening I finished another book for the 4 month challenge, completing the "read a fantasy" category.  I knew that this wouldn't be a difficult  category for me because I'm no stranger to this genre.

This book was a standard entry in the genre.  There were the stereotypical fantasy characters with all of their stereotypical motivations.  Not a whole lot new going on, but still an enjoyable read.  If you liked George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series, this series will surround you like a familiar friend.  I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Teaser Tuesday: The Briar King by Greg Keyes

Here's another book meme hosted by Should Be Reading, Teaser Tuesdays and it's a fun one.  The rules are thus:

  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share two teaser sentences for somewhere on the page.
  • Do not include spoilers!!!
  • Share title and author.
I'm Reading The Briar King by Greg Keyes currently.  This is from the page I am on:

"A frost touched Stephen's spine. What in the name of the Saints did he have here?"
 Go visit our host for more entries!

BBA Challenge: Cranberry (read Cherry) Walnut Celebration Bread

 This bread is about as perfect as it gets.  Great chewy crust, great crumb, slightly sweet flavor loaded with fruit and nuts.  This would go great on a holiday table.  I didn't do the standard braid shape because, frankly, after gardening all morning I was tired.  It came out fabulous as a boulee though.  Also, didn't have cranberries so I used cherries.  I'm wondering how chocolate would go in here for a chocolate-cherry-walnut bread?

Cranberry Walnut Celebration bread
 By Peter Reinhart in The Bread Baker's Apprentice

13.5 oz unbleached bread flour
1.5 oz granulated sugar
19 oz salt
.39 oz instant yeast
.75 oz orange or lemon extract
3.3 oz (2 large) eggs
4 oz buttermilk
1 oz unsalted butter melted
2 to 4 oz water at room temp
9 oz dried sweetened cranberries (I used cherries)
3 oz coarsely chopped walnuts
1 egg whisked until frothy for egg wash.

I stirred the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together in bowl of my mixer.  Add the paddle attachment and start to mix on medium gradually adding the extract, eggs, milk and butter until it forms a soft ball.  I needed to add a touch more flour to reach soft but not sticky mess.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium for 5 minutes.  Add the cranberries, knead another 2 minutes.  Add the nuts, knead another 2 minutes.

Remove the dough, form into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl.  Turn to coat.  Let rise 2 hours until doubled.

Now is when you would form into a double braid, but I just formed it into a boulee making sure to reserve surface tension, then covered and let rise again.  Paint with egg wash before covering. The recipe calls for 90 minutes but it took mine another 2 hours to reach desired size.  It was a bit chilly in here.  I'm a heavy girl, I like it cold!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, paint with remaining egg wash, then bake for 25 minutes, turn 180 degrees and bake another 25 minutes.  Try to let it cool a bit before cutting if you can.

Book Review: Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia and the Biggest Funeral In The World

 I expected to like this book much more than I actually did considering what the author and I have in common.  Like him, I lived in Italy, though it was Naples instead of Rome.  Also like him I have twins which I had there.  Sure there were moments where I did chuckle a bit over tales of him, his wife and the twins and I did recognize similarities in my experiences in Italy with what he posted but there is where my entertainment with the book ended.  While I found his explanations of art and history interesting, mostly I felt that this book was tedious and very difficult to get through.  If you're interested in traveling to Roma, especially with kids and most especially with twins you may find it interesting even though I did not.

This book completes one category in the Four Month Challenge.

BBA Challenge: Italian Bread

The next bread in the challenge was Italian Bread.  I chose to do rolls  instead of a loaf, just for kicks.  These came out so good.  I ignored Mr. Reinhart's admonition to let them cool for an hour and instead ate mine right out of the oven.  They went perfectly with the braised shortribs that we had for dinner.

First, you make a biga, which is just some pre-made bread dough that you allow to ferment over night in the fridge so that it develops lots of flavor.

Italian Bread
From The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

18 oz biga
11.25 oz unbleached bread flour
.41 oz salt
.5 oz sugar
.11 oz instant yeast
.17 oz diastatic barley malt powder (optional, I didn't use)
.5 oz olive oil
7 to 8 oz lukewarm water or milk
semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting.

Take your biga out of the fridge an hour before you start, cut into 10 pieces and let sit to let the chill out.

In the mixer I mixed the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and biga.  Add the olive oil and water gradually and mix on low with the paddle attachment until it forms a soft sticky ball.  Then knead on 4 or 6 (medium high) with dough hook attachment for 8 minutes.

Remove and place in oiled bowl, rolling it around to coat in the oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 2 hours or until doubled.

Remove from bowl, cut into 9 pieces for rolls or torpedos or two pieces for loaves.  let sit 5 minutes, then form into the desired shapes.  Place on floured, parchment covered pans and let rise an hour or until 1 1/2 times the size.

Prepare oven as for home hearth...heat to 500F placing a steam pan inside as it heats.  When ready to bake, place pan with bread, then pour about a cup of boiling water in the pan, then spray the sides.  Spray the sides again after 30 seconds then repeat after another 30 seconds.  reduce heat to 450 F and bake 20 minutes for loaves or 15 minutes for rolls.

The Four Month Challenge: Part 3 (books)

I saw this fun challenge today and had to join up. It's hosted by She Read A Book  Basically, you have to read a book in each of the following categories.  Up to 2 audiobooks are allowed. You can overlap with other challenges as well.  My choices are listed after the individual categories in bold.

5 Point Challenges
Read a book by an author you’ve never read before - Far From The Land: An Irish Memoir by Thomas J Rice
Read a book with a one word title - Plainsong by Kent Haruf
Read a book with an animal name in the title - The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry
Read a book with a proper name in the title - Four Seasons in Rome - Anthony Doerr
Read a fantasy - The Briar King - Greg Keyes

10 Point Challenges
Read an ‘Austenesque’ book -Jane Austen Ruined by Life by Beth Pattillo
Read a book with a two word title - Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Read a book that is part of a series - Fade Out by Rachel Caine
Read a book about a real person - I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali
Read a mystery - Fatal Voyage Kathy Reichs

15 Point Challenges
Read a book written in the 60’s (any century) - The House On The Strand by Daphne du Maurier
Read a book with a number in the title - Nineteen minutes by Jodi Picoult
Read a book by an author born in March, April, May or June - Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchet (April)
Read a book with a three word title - Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Read a book by an author with three names - No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark

20 Point Challenges
Read a book with over 500 pages - The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker
Read a book with a four word title - The Magic of Recluse by L.E. Modesitt
Read a book by two authors - Forging the Darksword by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
Read a book written in the 70s (any century) - The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
Read a book that has been number one on the NYT Best-sellers list - The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova