Blog Archives

The Runners World Cookbook edited by Joanna Sayago Golub

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If you have followed my journey, you know that the past year I have “dabbled” in running.  I still don’t think I qualify as a runner, but my cousin says that if I am not laying on the couch and I am out moving my body, I am a runner.

Ok… I guess that makes me a runner.

Right before Christmas I treated myself to a purchase just for me.  I bought this book.  Runner or not, I am always interested in working with whole foods and breaking the habit of the “fast food fix” that tends to occasionally plague my busy lifestyle. 

The Runners World Cookbook promotes eating well if you run 10 miles a week or one hundred.  (A hundred!)  It also encourages “eating the rainbow” a colorful array of fruits and vegetables every day.  Mmmmmm

The book starts out with explaining healthy antioxidants, carbs, grains, proteins and fats. Then the book breaks down into chapters:

  • Breakfast
  • Snacks and Smoothies
  • Salads and Dressings
  • Soups and Stews
  • Sandwiches, Pizzas, Burgers
  • Sauces and Pasta
  • Meat and Poultry
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Desserts

The recipes look delicious!  They are submitted from runners, marathon winners, Olympians, doctors, test kitchens and more.  At the top of each recipe is a little paragraph of when is a good time to eat this (pre – run, after run, recovery…. daily….).  It also shares how long to prep, how many servings, and of course nutrition values.  I also like that each recipe is labeled : V: Vegetarian,  VE:  Vegan, GF:  Gluten Free, Many of the recipes are also accompanied by a photo which I love to drool over!

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I admit, I have not had a chance to cook out of this book yet although I have spent time over several days paging through and making note of the ones I want to try.  A few that caught my eye are:  Egg and bean burritos with avocado and yogurt lime sauce, banana oat energy bars, spinach bacon sweet potato salad, Asian Noodle Salad with eggs and peanut dressing, Thai Avocado soup, Smoked Salmon and Vegie Wraps, Jerk Shrimp with sweet potato and black beans… I could go on forever :)

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Tonight, I think we are going to try the Chicken Mango fajita.  Seriously, look at that tasty picture.  It is labeled as Fast, Recovery and Low Calorie.  Since I am planning on running a 5k today to keep up my motivation for the half marathon I signed up for at the end of this month as well as a walk with my dogs in snow shoes- it sounds perfect. :)  I think you may see recipes coming out of this book frequently this year :)

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I am submitting this post as part of Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.  It is true, I always have more time to make good tasty and healthy dishes on the weekends. :)

 

Weekend Cooking – Hibachi Time!

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This past week for book club I was in charge of one of the main dishes for our group.  We love to theme the food to the book.  In Reconstructing Amelia, there is a part in the book where her mother was going to take Amelia out to her favorite Hibachi restaurant.  This was a chance for Amelia to share with her mom what was going on in her life, but then the doorbell rang and the neighbor was reminding Amelia that she had agreed to babysit that night.  This would have been the last meal that Amelia and her mom shared together.  (Want to know more?  Read the book!  ;) )

SO Hibachi.  My first attempt but it wasn’t that difficult and it sure was delicious!

Here is my modified recipe that I made for book club and now share here for  Beth Fish Read’s, Weekend Cooking:

19g

Chicken Hibachi

4-6 skinless chicken breasts

1 large onion sliced

3 -4 Zucchini Squash

2 yellow squash

3 cups mushrooms (I bought the pre sliced from the produce area of the grocery store)

2 cans drained bean sprouts ( or 3 cups fresh)

2 colored peppers (I used red and yellow – these are optional)

soy sauce

butter

salt and pepper

lemon juice

sesame seeds

olive oil

Slice chicken into bite size pieces and set aside. 

Take the mushrooms and slice into bite size pieces and set aside. 

Slice the onion, squash, and peppers into strips of bite size pieces, keep separate from the mushrooms.

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in two separate large fry pans.  Over medium high heat heat the oil in both pans.  In one pan place the chicken, in the other pan place the vegie mix of onion, squash and peppers.  Place 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of butter over the chicken.  Add salt and pepper. Place two tablespoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon of butter over the vegies.  Saute the vegie pan while occasionally stirring the cooking chicken pan.

When chicken is done (about 8-10 minutes), vegies should be done as well.  Take the vegies off the hot burner and set aside.  Take the chicken and slide it to one side of the pan sprinkling it with a little lemon juice and then sprinkle on sesame seeds over the chicken.  In the other half of the pan place a tablespoon of butter and as it melts stir in the mushrooms.  Put a little soy sauce over the mushrooms.  When mushrooms are cooked, mix it with the chicken and add the rest of the vegies from the other pan.  gently toss the mixture over medium heat for a couple of minutes. 

Place chicken vegie mix into a large serving pan. 

In the pan you just used for the chicken and vegie mix, place a tsp of olive oil and toss in the bean sprouts until they are hot.  place the bean sprouts on top of the chicken mix in the serving pan. 

Serve hot with the Hibachi Sauce.

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Hibachi Sauce

15 oz jar of mayo

1 Tbls sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp Katsup

3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce

1 1/2 tsp ground mustard

1 1/2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp ground pepper

1/8 cup water

Place the mayo into a bowl.  Stir in all the other ingredients.  Pour into a resealable container.  I used a canning jar as this makes quite a bit of sauce.  Chill until time to serve. 

Thank you to the book Reconstructing Amelia which caused me to look up how to make Hibachi style food.  It is an easy recipe to change to the vegies you prefer as well as adjusting quantities to serve larger groups.  It was fun to try and my book club enjoyed it, as did my hubby the next night.  Delicious with the sauce.

Weekend Holiday Cooking: Homemade Caramels

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Recently my husband and I were at an annual Christmas Party at a friends home.  She is an amazing cook and baker and as usual was handing our her delicious (dangerously so!) home made caramels.  Now this is something I would have never tried at home assuming that the gift of caramel making would never be something my fingers could do… but then, our host said something in conversation “They are so easy to make, its just having the patience to do all that stirring!”

Within a few short days, in preparation for our book club Christmas gathering where our theme this year was “home made”, I thought I would try my hand at caramels. (Don’t worry -I also had home made ornaments so I had not put all my hope in the caramels)  To my amazement – they turned out delicious and were one of the coveted items at our gathering.

This weekend, today actually, I made more.  We have our office party this week, and I thought they would be a wonderful treat for our mailman, and others as well.  This time I recorded the process so you an see how it is done and maybe make your own if you like.

Ingredients
  • 1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1½ c. packed brown sugar
  • ¾ c. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts (optional)

- See more at: http://simplykierste.com/2013/10/best-homemade-caramels.html#sthash.qtKJOoDN.dpuf

Ingredients
  • 1 c. unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1½ c. packed brown sugar
  • ¾ c. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ c. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. chopped walnuts (optional)

- See more at: http://simplykierste.com/2013/10/best-homemade-caramels.html#sthash.qtKJOoDN.dpuf

You will need:

  • two sticks of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (or a different flavor of extract to jazz it up)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • wax paper

some people add nuts, since mine are for gift giving and some people have allergies, I opt out from using nuts

Put all ingredients except for the vanilla into a large saucepan.  Cook over medium heat stirring fairly constantly until the mixture reaches a temp of 245 degrees on a candy thermometer or passes the hard ball test using a cup of cold water for testing.

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The beginning…. ingredients in saucepan over medium heat

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Heating and stirring to 245 degrees.

Remove from heat and add the extract (as I mentioned above, while vanilla is standard I have tried it with both cinnamon and orange extract as well and it is delicious, giving it more of a special occasion flavor).  Beat in the extract well and then pour the entire saucepan into a 9 x 13 BUTTERED pan immedietly before it starts to harden.

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Remove from heat and stirring in the extract

Place pan somewhere to cool.  This time of year is ideal in Minnesota as I set my pans outside in the garage to cool.  It does not take long, and once mixture is cutable (mmm hmmmm…. my word) cut into 1 inch by two inch squares, roll in fingers to make an oblong shape and roll up in wax paper.

*Note – if you do live in a cold area like me and you happen to cool the caramels too long and they become hard in the pan, place in a warm over for a few minutes until they reach the desired hardness.

Place in a bag or fancy container for gift giving or a cute bowl for your own holiday gatherings.  As you can see here, I tried mine in jars.  This would make a great thank you gift, teacher gift, or just “Merry Christmas” to a friend!

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Thanks to Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking, which inspired this post.

Have a SWEET week!

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

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Ruth Reichl was happy with her job at the Los Angeles Times as Food Critic.  Yet when an opening came at the New York Times for a food critic the buzz was that it was going to be her they would pursue…  while Ruth was thinking, “No… I don’t want to move to New York”, her husband, television producer Michael Singer was putting in for a transfer figuring the move was inevitable.

Michael, as it turns out was right.

After an interview with The New York Times that Ruth did not try very hard at, she started to allow herself to say dream a bit of what it would be like to take the position id offered…. then she became a little unsettled when they did not call…. had she blown it?  When the call did finally come Ruth said “Yes” and she, her husband and young son made the move to New York.

What Ruth did not realize was that the restaurants were waiting for her.  Her picture hung in ever highly notable kitchen so the staff would know when she came to their resistant and they could be sure to give her the best service so they would get the best reviews.

What they didn’t know was that Ruth was not about to let it play out that way.  She wondered how she could give people honest reviews of the restaurants if they were catering to her because of who she was.  The answer, as it turned out, came in the form of a petite friend of her mothers who was a make up artist… Ruth would go these restaurants in disguise.

Garlic and Sapphires is the true memoir of a critic in disguise who took on the personalities of who she dressed as and learned all too quickly which restaurants only cared about who were you were and what you could do for them.  Her reviews were cut throat and made a lot of people angry, but they were honest… and the average person who made a reservation (or not…) would know exactly what to expect.

 

 

I read Garlic and Sapphires once before a few years back.  At the time of this typing, I believe I reviewed it here at Book Journey but I am not sure and I refuse to look until I have finished writing this review so one opinion does not affect the other.  Does that make sense?  When my book club chose it last month to be our April read with the idea that is we read it we would all dress in disguise for the review I was in… all in.  I love it when we go the extra mile.  :D

SO this second reading of Garlic and Sapphires went something like this… I really enjoyed it.  I loved Ruth’s disguises and how each one transformed her.  She became the character and no one was the wiser.  She could walk by people she knew and they would not even do a double take.  No one knew who she was and with that she could walk into any restaurant and see how the “unfamous”, unadorned, were treated.  But that wasn’t all… Ruth would dress older, she would dress poorer,  and on some occasions she would dress as more confident and sexier….  and of course, she would also show up as herself – actually visiting a restaurant many times before writing her review.

I enjoyed the story behind the review, and then reading her review.  I loved the description of the foods she ate as my mouth watered in anticipation… could I taste it simply through her words? 

I enjoy reading foodie books.  I don’t know why I am so fascinated by them, by the life of a critic amazes me – at first thought I think, what a great job… tasting the best foods, in the best restaurants, but when I really think about being a critic must really be hard work.  You feel with the pressures of getting it right and the backlash of those who disagree…. 

If you are a foodie reader as well, I think you will really enjoy this fun twist on food critiquing. 

 

The Bookies….

Oh…. how I love my book club…..

When this book came up in the vote last month, Kaydi who nominated it added in that it would be fun to dress up as Ruth does in the book.  YAY!!!  I love bonus book club events!  :D

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7 of us the 12 of us who were there the review did dress up.  Brenda (back row – hot blond) said her husband told her as she left her house, “I think you really enjoy these dress up events…” 

Truth is, I think we do :D

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Having a little fun with it….

I think personally what I love about the dressing p is you really get see some fun personalities come out and I have to smile thinking these are memories in the making. :)

The Bookies over all rated the book an average read, while everyone seemed to enjoy it, a few brought up that it seemed to get tedious after a while.  We had a fun discussion of who we thought was Ruth’s best dress up and we mostly agreed that Brenda was her best as it really seemed to bring out the best in Ruth – and in others.  A line from the book was…

Is it possible to be jealous of yourself?

Of course we had food…. we were food critics after all….

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Chicken wraps with grapes and apples

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Spaghetti Carbonara as the recipe on page 139

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Thai noodles

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“Sapphire” Cheesecake!

Delicious food… fun conversation and then, Angie pulled out a chocolate tasting board… asn we all were able to try our own hand at being critiques:

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I think this was a fun book to review as a book club and would recommend it for other book clubs as well.

A am adding this to Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

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The Language Of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Bookies Review)

Victoria was one of those kids who fell through the cracks of the foster care system.  Placed time and again in homes that did not fit for her, or were flat-out… abusive.  The Foster Care program felt it was Victoria, she was labeled as difficult and uncooperative… and so Victoria continued moving home to home until at 18 years of age she outgrew the foster care age -

and then was on her own.

One home however, haunts her dreams in a painful loss sort of way and if filled with the “what if’s” of life.  When Victoria was placed with Elizabeth a woman who grew up surrounded by flowers and their meanings , Victoria soon learned the secret language as well…. aster meaning patience, honeysuckle for devotion, plum meaning keep your promises….

But a poor decision leads to an unthinkable tragedy and Victoria once again shuts down, holding within her secrets and not trusting anyone with her heart.  She finds herself in a world of flowers and in almost an unreal way she flourishes, knowing exactly what those looking for the right bouquet want and need… and while this keeps her busy and is fulfilling…

she still longs for what she came so close to having if not for her secret, and Victoria is about to learn that your past has a way of finding you… and that isn’t always a bad thing…

 

My book club the Bookies chose this book for our November read.  On synopsis alone, I wasn’t sure about this one… I had some sort of 70′s flower child image in my head, however the girl who recommended this one is usually spot on with her book suggestions and she had already read it and said it was wonderful. 

The Language Of Flowers, as it turns out is wonderful and an incredible discussion book for reading groups.  The beauty we found within the pages of Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s story line here was well worth discussing.  While Victoria is not always likeable, that makes the story even deeper.  She is flawed.  She will annoy the crap out of you (and did).  AND her decisions do not always fall back on her child hood and the “oh look what she has been through though!”  My response to that is, “yeah well, we have all been through stuff.”

However….

Victoria is three-dimensional, while you can not put her on a pedestal, you also can not fully dismiss her.  She makes you want to know more about the way she thinks and the underlining flow of flowers and their language is not only fun but interesting.  I highly recommend this read not only for flower lovers but also for discussion groups as there is so many ways to discuss this book further.

 

BOOKIES THOUGHTS

The Bookies over all rated this one a steady 4 out of 5.  While we differed somewhat on how we felt about Victoria, we still enjoyed the read and the characters.  The flower discussion was good and I had printed out lists for everyone of Victoria’s Dictionary Of Flower, found on-line and created by the author.

Fresh flowers of course adorned our get together as well as flower book marks.  Our food for the review looked like this:

 

The foods served were some mentioned in the book.  I went with Zucchini Linguini because Zucchini starts out as a flower. ;)

The Language of Flowers makes for a wonderful discussion book for book clubs. 

Also submitted to Beth Fish Reads, Weekend Cooking Meme.

Yes, CHEF by Marcus Samuelsson

Born in Ethiopia, Samuelsson was three years old when his mother walked him and his sister 75 miles to be treated for Tuberculosis.  Once they arrived at the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Adapa, Marcus’ mom died on the disease, but Marcus and his sister were treated and recovered.  Now orphans, they were both adopted by a middle class family that lived in Sweden.

And this is where Marcus started to learn about food.  His new Grandmother Mormor took Marcus under her wing and showed him how to cook and to use everything.  She made everything herself and taught Marcus that nothing went to waste.  Fresh baked bread was served the first day with lunch and dinner, on the second day it was good for toast, and then after that it was good for croutons and breading for battered fish.

As a teen Marcus first applied to work at a McDonald’s but was turned down for employment due to his color.  (How funny to think that now one of the most famous chefs in the world was once denied to flip burgers and shake salt in fries…)

As years went on Marcus worked in restaurant after restaurant learning the kitchen as well as the back of his hand.  He loved to try new things together and soon Head Chefs were looking to his for new menu ideas and new flavors.  Eventually Marcus was given opportunities to travel back to Ethiopia to learn the flavors of his home land.

When he was Head Chef at Aquavit he earned a coveted three star rating for his cooking in the New York Times that sent him forward in huge strides, including being on several Top Chef TV shows, and cooking for the White House.

Marcus’s story is not all up hill, there are times of career crisis, emotional happenings, law suits, and eventually he is led to opening his current Restaurant the Red Rooster in Harlem. 

Marcus first hand lets the reader know the price of ambition, the cost of wanting perfection, the battle to be respected by his peers, and ultimately his road to finding the restaurant of his dreams.

Fish Tostadas

Why did I want to read this book?  I first seen this book in a Shelf Awareness email.  Oddly, although I do not have the patience to cook, I love reading about those who do and succeed.  Marcus’ story from Ethiopia as a lost boy to the Big Apple as a household name was one I wanted to know more about.

Yes Chef delivered everything I hoped it would.  Marcus tells his story in an honest and humble tone from beginning to end.  My copy of this book is covered in little post it arrows where I marked how he prepared truffles (you add them to the sauce at the very end so as not to cook all the flavor out), and his Spanish breakfast (ripe tomatoes peeled and then crushed on toast adding a grind or two of black pepper), and how to make a lobster lasagna.  When curing duck breasts Marcus would soak then in a large pan of salted water with a plate weighing them down for 6 hours.

Mouth watering yet?

And in between pages of mixing seasonings and different flavors is Marcus’ story.  Growing up and moving out… restaurant experiences that are detailed from where he got it right, and from when he should have been fired and by grace he was not.  And then into Marcus’ life as the one doing the firing and trying to find kitchen held that understood the demands of a kitchen, one employee even telling him,

“You can ask me to be on time, iron my shirt, shave or not to wear sneakers, but you can’t ask them all of me… it’s too much.”

~Page 309 Yes CHEF

 

Yes Chef was interesting and a fun book to read that I will refer to again and again.  Marcus is a true story of battling against the odds, fighting prejudices and coming out on top.  His tips on food throughout the book are things I want to try, things I would have never considered, but when I read Yes CHEF, I felt inspired.

Highly recommended to lovers of memoirs, cooking related books and success stories… I loved this book.

 

Marcus’ fried chicken served at Red Rooster

marinate chicken in coconut milk (I would use chicken breasts not whole chicken, but that’s me)

cure in lemon

steam it and bone it

fry in day old oil

serve with greens, sweet potato fries, buttermilk dressing and hot sauce and pickled watermelon rind

 

This review is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads

 

Purchased from Amazon

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

Marshmallow Madness by Shauna Sever

Sheila’s definition of marshmallows:  White sticky “globby” things that come from the grocery store and are delicious ONLY if used for making rice crispy bars, smores – or fully melted within a cup of hot cocoa.

While reading blogs a while back I stumbled across this book on Nikki’s site, Notes Of Life.  A book entirely about marshmallows caused me pause and at the end of her post about the book, she had a giveaway for a copy.  Finding it hard to believe there was a WHOLE BOOK about marshmallows, I signed up.  Imagine my surprise when I was the winner of this book!

When Marshmallow Madness arrived I was thrilled with the puffy cover.  Ok that is just fun, I thought, but a cute cover in not going to sell me on this….

then I opened that puffy cover…

Chocolate Malt Marshmallows…..uh…. hello!

It was fun to read that author Shauna Severs relationship growing up with marshmallows was much as mine… so how does one go from there, to the point of making delicious flavored marshmallows for family and friends who anxiously await for holidays to receive one of these gift packages?

Shauna takes us through the simple ingredients that make up a marshmallow:

sugar

corn syrup

gelatin(Knox unflavored)

water

salt

vanilla extract (100% pure)

coating made from powdered sugar and cornstarch

Key Lime Pie Marshmallows

Grab a sauce pan, candy thermometer, measuring cups and spoons, whisk, spatula, stand mixer (heavy-duty mixer is recommended), cooking spray, a bowl for the coating, food coloring, and an 8×8 pan and you are ready to get your mallow on!!!

After the basics for making marshmallows is done, you enter into a section of the books that is all about mastering your new skill with fun recipes and idea…

How about chocolate malt marshmallows?  Key lime pie flavored?  Lemonade?  Apricot?  How about flavored with alcohol to make margarita or Malibu flavored marshmallows?  There is even a recipe for homemade graham crackers so the next time you make smores – you are going to be the hit of the party!

By the time I was done with this book I knew marshmallows went far beyond what I thought they were used for prior to the reading.  The marshmallows in this book are lovely and delicious enough to serve as dessert!  A treat at place settings!  Weddings!  Kids and adult parties! 

In the end there is an entire chapter on gift giving which I am particularly excited about.  I am always looking for that kitchen goodie I can make for party hosts and for holiday giving that isnt what everybody else is doing.  I think I may have found that thing!

Margarita Marshmallows

I have not made any of the recipes in this book yet but I plan to.  And if I were to be asked where I would start I would say the Chocolate malt marshmallows and those delicious looking Key Lime ones are calling my name….

Chocolate Malt Marshmallows (as found on Shauna’s blog, and in the book)

Malted milk powder can be found in most supermarkets either by the hot chocolate mixes, or near the ice cream fixings. That’s right, I said fixings.

For the chocolate shavings, grate bar chocolate on the largest holes of a boxed grater.

The deeper and richer your cocoa powder, the more intense the color and flavor will be, so use the best one you can get your hands on (I like Valrhona).

Makes about 20

For the marshmallows:

2 tablespoons (about 2 packets) unflavored powdered gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup, divided
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
6 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For finishing the marshmallows:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely grated

Grease an 8×8-inch pan with shortening, using a paper towel to rub it lightly and evenly onto the bottom, sides and edges of the pan. Set aside.

Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water in a small bowl. Set aside to soften.

Place the sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan and stir gently. Clip a candy thermometer onto the pan, and place it over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, checking it occasionally–you are looking for it to eventually hit a temperature of 240-245 degrees.

Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/4 cup corn syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Heat the softened gelatin in the microwave to melt it, about 30 seconds or so on high. Start the mixer on low-speed, and pour the gelatin into the corn syrup. Keep the mixer running on low-speed.

Whisk together the cocoa, malt powder and boiling water in a small bowl until smooth. When the sugar syrup is up to temperature, whisk the cocoa mixture into it, followed by the vanilla. Carefully transfer the syrup to a large, heatproof measuring cup or a similar vessel with a spout for easy pouring. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the gelatin mixture. When all the syrup has been added, crank the speed up to medium-high and let it go for about 10 minutes–the candy will become fluffy and the color of a chocolate malt during this time.

Sift together 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder. Set aside, and keep the sifter handy.

Pour the marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula spritzed with a bit of cooking spray to nudge it into the corners and smooth the top. Sift the cocoa-confectioners’ sugar mixture evenly and generously over the top. Let sit for about 6 hours, or overnight.

Use a knife to loosen the marshmallow from the edges of the pan and invert it onto a cocoa-confectioners’ sugar mixture-dusted work surface. Cut the marshmallow into squares (a pizza cutter works great here). Dip the sticky edges of the marshmallows in chocolate shavings, and dab more all over the marshmallows. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Be sure to check out Shauna Severs blog, Piece Of Cake for her fun posts and great recipes!  Oh and of course, if you know a marshmallow lover (or even a skeptic like me!) this book would make a lovely gift!

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

Posted as part of Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

News Journalist, Ellen Gleeson is complete when she sees the little bot in the hospital with the heart condition that is up for adoption.  When he becomes hers, she is over the moon in love with her now son, Will. 

Two years later Ellen is coming home from another harried day on the job and as she sorts through the mail, a Missing Child flyer catches her attention… the boy in the picture, looks exactly like her Will.  How could that even be?  The birth mother and father has signed over their rights and a judge had awarded Will to Ellen.  Yes the flyer does not stop nagging her and Ellen used her journalist instincts to get to the truth, all the while knowing the truth… may cost her everything.

What Ellen uncovers leaves her shell-shocked and fearing for her and Will’s life.  She is the only one that knows what she knows… is it best to cover it all back up and pretend it never happened?  Or is it best to do what is right for Will, no matter the painful consequences.

(not a big fan of book trailers, with just a few exceptions… this one is one of the reasons why… they man’s voice… is a little too much I think.)

Why did I read this book?  My book club chose this book for our June read. 

When Lisa Scottoline’s book was chosen for our June book club read I am the first to admit, I wasn’t overjoyed.  I had recently finished an audio book of her’s that left me confused and with more questions in the end than I had in the beginning.  HOWEVER… I did say I would try her again.

I just didn’t know it would be this soon.  :D

Look Again is every mothers nightmare.  Imagine jumping through all the hoops of adopting a child.  When that day finally comes that the child is fully yours you are… ecstatic beyond belief.  (I have friends who have adopted – I have seen this first hand).  This child becomes as much your own as if you had birthed him or her yourself.  You know their every expression, their likes, dislikes, joys, and fears… and you love them so much you think your heart can hold no more…

Now imagine that something, or someone… can come along and take away that pure joy.

Ellen is a protagonist you can root for.  She is a strong independent single mom, doing the best she can between work and home.  It is apparent in this reading that home is the most important of the two as her whole life revolves around Will.

The storyline is consistently updating, but at first it was not at a pace that held me captive.  You spend time learning about where Ellen works, her co workers (BOO!!!! to one of them….) and her hot boss Marcelo (double kudos to Lisa Scottoline for coming up with that name…. it oozes hotness, it really does!) for the first half of the book I could have continued on or put it down… I was not overly committed, mainly I think because I had a feeling as to where it was going.

Well… color me wrong.  Once all starts to come together the books pace takes on a fast trot and now I do not want to put it down.  Every page, reveals a new twist, a new turn… what I think is about to happen… doesn’t… what does, is something totally left field… totally…

brilliant.

As I flew to the end of this book, tears on some pages, anger on others… I fully appreciated what Lisa Scottoline invested into this book.  It is smart and clever.  I did not see it coming…

while some (uhem…. Bookies book club members) found the ending a little too neat all wrapped up perfectly with a bow… I think I had bee through so much with Ellen that I liked the neat ending, what some would call the easy way out, I applaud in this case as it was just what I needed.

The Bookies (book club) thoughts:

Oh the Bookies….. a difficult group…. lol… I am kidding!  Our discussion was not passionate as it has been in some recent reads, and I admit I missed that, but it was a good discussion.  For the most part, the group found this book to be a slightly over average read.  A few found it predictable, and said they had figured out how it was all going to go down long before the end.  (I had not).  While the book did not blow anyone away with “WOW!!!!  Why did it take us so long to read this?” It was a good discussion and brought up conversations around adoption, and connections between birth parents. 

Oh, and of course we had food to go with the book:

Ellen and Will live in Philadelphia, so we had Phili cheese steak sandwiches

Seafood pasta!

Thai seasoned chicken on rice

These are for the end of the book…. which, I can not tell you about ;)

More about the end… sorry, no hints here ;)

And I don’t know how I missed this picture, but two of us brought lime jello, the abducted boy, Timothy Braverman’s favorite, as well as Will’s.

I am linking my review to Beth Fish reads Weekend Cooking because where there are Bookies… there is food. :D

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

Audible.com

Other fab reviewers thoughts:

Petrona

S Krishna’s Books

You’ve Gotta Read This!

By Book Or By Crook!

EAT This! NOT That! by David Zinczenko

Eating healthy (or healthier) in this day and age in really like walking through a field of land mines!  What is marketed as “healthy” is not always the case.  Shoot, I have this argument with my husband all the time around the dollar meal fast food chicken sandwich.  “But Sheila,” he says, “It is  a chicken sandwich.  Chicken.  Chicken is healthy.  AND it is only a $1.00!” 

I try to explain to him that it is not healthy and that $1.00 chicken sandwich and “dollar menu” fries may some day become a $20,000 coronary.

*sigh*

Eat This!  Not That! Is not only a wonderful book to skim through and find lists of the vegies and fruits that are the best for you but also how to maneuver your way through a grocery store AND your favorite places you enjoy eating out at.  This wonderful little book can fit easily into your purse or carry in your car and is filled with page after page of glossy colorful pictures and information to help you make better food choices for you and your family.

Warning:

The following pictures may be a bit graphic ( ;) )…. they may make you cry out in shock and pain and cause you to look away when you realize that what you have been eating that you thought was healthy has more calories than 80 double stuff Oreo cookies and 2 glasses of whole milk.

You have been warned. 

 

Holy moly… equivalent to 12 slices of Sara Lee Cherry Pie…..

You probably guessed this bad…. you may not have guessed HOW BAD…

I really love the comparison pages… the one on the left 618 calories, the one on the right 1,412.

I love me some Chines food!  I was excited to see that I actually prefer the meal to the left as I am not a big fan of white rice.

There are many pages like this as well that show you the best vegies, the best fruits…

And if you are like me this holiday weekend and plan on grilling up some dogs or brats…. this page will guide you through the traps.

This is my third book like this, I have the 2010 and another one and there is a 2012 as well that I do not yet own.  They make great reference books, but also great conversation pieces when your friends come over, flip through it… and groan.  :D  I highly recommend these books to anyone who wishes to be a little more health conscious in their food decisions. 

I wrote this post for Weekend Cooking brought to you by the delightful Candice at Beth Fish Reads…. pop in and see what people are cooking this weekend!  :D

Tea With Hezbollah by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis/Weekend Cooking

Is it really possible to love your enemies?  That is the question that surrounds this book and leads the authors into the hear of the Middle East in Summer 2008.  This is a trip that began in Egypt, to Saudi Arabia, and Beirut, before ending at the cradle of the world’s three major religions:  Jerusalem.

Ted Dekker tells his side of this amazing true story through the eyes of a first timer into this country.  Carl Medearis tells it from the side of a repeat visitor who had even been arrested and held in jail in the country on previous entrances in this country. 

From late night border crossings to hair-raising taxi rides, and back room meetings, follow the story of these two men as they seek permission to talk to – and are granted permission to such people as Hezbollah Leaders,sheikhs, muftis, and even Osama bin Laden’s brothers who tell you first hand, they don’t like their brother much. 

Finding the answers come from heartfelt interviews, surprising revaluation, and at times, life threatening situations, all to work towards the heart of this relationship we have – or more accurately – lack their of… with the middle east.

Imagine, going into a country that in many ways does not approve of Americans, or at least that is what many of us think.  The country is at war, it is not necessarily a safe journey – yet you feel called to do it.

Why?

Jesus says in Matthew 22:

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?  I think of my neighbors.  Sure we wave at each other as we go by, or occasionally chat about gardening or weather, but love them as myself? 

And really, if you take this text to what that means… doesn’t it mean to love all people as ourselves?  That is a heavy request.  And that is what Ted and Carl go to find out.  What does that mean in the midst of war?  Is that even possible?

Of course I made tea. What is it about tea that seems so inviting? It is such a universal tradition to share a cup with friends.

I was engrossed in this true story of the authors adventures into the middle east, and the interviews that revolved around this trip.  This audio is told from the authors perspectives, however the interviews, are word for word as told by the interviewed, and that I have to say was down right fascinating. 

The interviews were the best part of the audio.

Unfortunately the reading falls short of hitting an excellent or even very good mark from me.  I would say it was definitely good, and interesting, but it felt as though a goal was set, even implied in the synopsis, and I didn’t find it to have been reached.  There is a fiction story that weaves itself among the pages, entwined throughout the book and is working towards I believe, a common thread to tie this whole read together.  In some ways it works, it is definitely interesting, but in other ways I find it sad that this particular thread was not actually found as truth through all the interviews and traveling done in the book.  That may have reached me in a stronger way.  My take away is mainly what I already knew and what I strive to do anyway, and it is love everyone as myself, do not judge other people, and try to always put love and grace before all else.  I don’t always succeed… but for the most part, living this way gives me a great peace knowing that in most situations, I have done all that I can to show love and grace and at that point, any disagreements or differences are off me.

My aunts often refer to me when there is conflict in the family and someone wants to know my thoughts as “Oh Sheila?  Sheila gets along with everyone!”

I like that.  :) 

I am not passive, I can clearly speak my opinion and then let it go.  Life is too short to live angry. 

If you are interested in the middle east, the Biblical teaching of Love Your Neighbor’s As Yourself, or even what those interviewed had to say, I would say read this book or listen to the audio (which, yes, was narrated well by George Wilson.)

Why I listened to this book:  I have read and enjoyed Dekker’s non fiction through the years.  The last few years I have found his writing to become darker and I do not enjoy it as much as I once did.  Besides the three reasons I listed above being true for me as reasons to read this book, I also wanted to know what Dekker would do with non fiction.

Here are a few other opinions by awesome bloggers:

Book Nook Club

Life In The Thumb

Books, Movies, and Chinese Food

Chocolate and Croissants

For weekend cooking, I had stumbled across this little jewel on Pinterest yesterday and knew I had to make these:

What a great idea and what a great go along for a book about tea!  I got a late start on making these, but I am giving you a recipe for the shortbread cookie in case you have any ideas… as I brainstormed I thought these could also by used for luggage tags , perhaps for a traveling get together, room keys, baby showers with its a girl r its a boy tags, and I even have an idea for my book club on Tuesday but you will have to wait until Wednesday when I put up our review to see what I came up with :)

Shortbread Cookies

 

 

2 cups butter

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups all-purpose flour

For dipping:

I am using melted Ghiradhelli chocolate chips, but you can use semi sweet chocolate or whatever you prefer.

Preheat over to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add vanilla and stir.  Add flour and mix well.  Roll out onto a lightly floured counter top.  I used a cut out using cardboard to get the tea bag shape and then poked a hole in the cookie shape using a toothpick but making it big enough so it does not bake closed.  Mine are still in the process of being made so I do not have a finished product yet, but will show you once I do :) 

Bake 10-12 minutes, watching closely at that 9 minute mark to make sure the cookies do not get too dark.  Let cool, then run string through the hole and add your tags.  Fun!

Be sure to connect with Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads to see what other people are cooking this weekend!  :D

I purchased this audio from audible.com

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