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Showing posts from 2015

International Cookbook Roundup Reviews

I have a vast and ever growing cookbook collection. It's sorted into 3 major groupings- international cookbooks (sorted by country), US regional cookbooks (sorted by state or region), and the hodgepodge that is the rest of the books (sorted by unifying theme such as "salads", "pressure cooker cookbooks", "cheese course", "desserts", etc). 
Just like it's a good idea to systematically rotate through one's closet at least once every few years - challenging yourself to find a way to incorporate each outfit you own before you allow for a repeat - it's a good idea for cookbook collectors to cycle through our culinary volumes.  
This summer I started working my way through the international cookbook section of my collection, starting with African cuisine. So far I've only made it up to Canada (cooking a few culinary treasures out of my Canadian cookbooks this week) and I have some thoughts to share on the various cookbooks I've b…

Book Review: As American as Shoofly Pie

When I hear the phrase "Pennsylvania Dutch", I think of the Amish. I think most people do. So when I received a review copy of William Woys Weaver's latest book on the culinary history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, As American as Shoofly Pie, I have to admit I wasn't too excited. What's there to learn about pickled beans and shoofly pie really?

Well, as it turns out, the Amish are only a subgroup of the Pennsylvania Dutch (PD). Weaver explains that the PD include all German speaking (Dutch in the context of PD is a bastardization of Deutsch, the name for German language) peoples that immigrated to Pennsylvania during the 17th and 18th centuries. From Wikipedia: "The majority of these immigrants originated in what is today southwestern Germany, i.e., Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg; other prominent groups were Alsatians, Swiss, and Huguenots (French Protestants)". Weaver goes on to explain that about a third were the Palatinates, a third wer…

Trip Report: Amazon Jungle 2012

I've generally made a tradition of spending Thanksgiving out of the country and 2012 wasn't any different. I wanted to get away from it all and do something adventurous. I had my eye on traipsing around the Amazon rainforest but was hesitant to go by myself. I managed to talk a few friends into going with me and so after a couple of months researching the various jungle lodges in Peru, I settled on Muyuna Lodge. I was looking for a place that had plenty of scheduled activities and good food but was ensconced in the jungle and offered rustic accommodations (ie no tv or phone or internet). There's a handful of lodges that match those specifications but Muyuna was the only affordable option. 

We had two full-day layovers on the way to the lodge and we made the most of them by signing up for some tours. 

Our first layover was in Mexico City. We met up with Carlos, a local guide I'd found on Viator and he led us through the city, pointing out the highlights and history as we …

Peer to Peer (P2P) Financing

I've been carefully researching Peer to Peer (P2P) financing as an investment vehicle for my portfolio. While P2P financing has always been with us in one form or another (think of no-bank-needed owner financed home sales) the mass market availability of P2P funding emerged as a disruptive force in the lending marketplace about 8 years ago. Someone in the UK wondered out loud if buyers and sellers could come together easily on eBAY, with eBAY taking a cut of every sale, why couldn't investors and borrowers come together on a similar platform with the platform owners taking a cut of every loan?  That way, borrowers could borrow at rates lower than the "evil faceless" banks charge and investors could earn a much bigger return than banks offer. Win-win all around, neighbor helping neighbor, kumbaya, and all of those fuzzy sentiments. Venture capital was secured, the concept was launched into production, and the money began rolling in.

Nearly a decade later and the idea …

Trip Report: Singapore 2012

So, it's been quite awhile since I've written a trip report. Not to worry, I've got my pics and itinerary notes for all the trips I've taken since the 2012 Guyana trip (that was the subject of my last travel entry). I just haven't been very disciplined about getting the reports on the web for everyone (I'm looking at you Suzanne!) to read until now.

A few months after the Guyana trip, I gathered up a group of friends and headed for Singapore for the weekend on a sale fare Delta Airlines was offering. We were to meet up in Singapore to check into our hotel and then we'd spend the rest of our weekend together, following the itinerary I'd written (I love to play tour guide!). Only problem was that I got confused while making the hotel reservations and noting that we arrived on Oct 27th, I made the hotel reservation beginning on the 27th. But...we arrived just after midnight on the 27th, which meant I should have made the reservation for the 26th. Oops! To …

Book Review: The ADHD Advantage

Recently, I was asked to review Dale Archer's new book, The ADHD Advantage. This is Archer's second self-help book on mental health and takes a novel approach in guiding those who have received or those who care for one who has received an ADHD diagnosis.

Archer's credentials include a background and career in psychiatry and first-hand experience as an ADHD patient. I wanted to read and review this book because I've come to realize there is a clear pattern of ADD (ie ADHD without the hyperactive component) behavior over my life so far. Frequent notations from teachers on reports cards about talking less and listening more? Check. Trouble following through with tasks that don't excite me and constantly procrastinating? Check. Hyperfocused for hours on tasks that do excite me to the exclusion of eating or getting out of my chair? Check. Easily bored? Check. Problems with remembering things? Check. Check. Check.

So I settled in to read The ADHD Advantage and prepared …

Book Review: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Shades of grey was a bit more difficult to be pulled into than Fforde's other novels I've enjoyed (I've read both the Thursday Next series and the Nursery Crimes books). The dry wit and "clever" conversation between father and son in much of the beginning of the book was tiring. I also had trouble following some of the basic plot points FForde was trying to lay out for readers as his characters discussed the finer points of a caste system determined by the colors one can perceive. Things picked up midway through the novel though, and once they got interesting, they never fell back down. As soon as I was invested in the characters I wanted answers. Why can people only see part of the color spectrum? What happened to take society from pre color caste to post? Fforde takes readers to a cliffhanger ending and now I sit, waiting impatiently for the next novel in what I hope is a long series.



Seared Sweet Potatoes with Arugula

Made these sweet potatoes for dinner tonight as a side with roast pork tenderloin. I enjoyed it much more than the tenderloin and will make this again and again as a main entree by itself. It's adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe and features potatoes, first baked, then seared, topped with dressed greens and toasted pecans. 


Ingredients SERVINGS: 2
Sweet Potatoes And Nuts 1 garlic clove finely grated3 tablespoons plus ½ tsp. olive oil2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes, preferably garnet, scrubbedKosher salt¼ cup pecans, chopped
Assembly 1 large handful of arugula or other green2 tablespoons plus 1 tsp. olive oil½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or ¼ crushed red pepper flakes1 T brown sugar1 T balsamic vinegarKosher salt1 T plain yogurt¼ cup fresh mint leaves
Preparation Sweet Potatoes And Nuts Preheat oven to 400°. Mix garlic and 3 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl. Prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork and rub with half of garlic oil; set remaining…

Restorative Love

Something my sister Suzie taught me before she died was the restorative power of love. Most (maybe all?) people are marked with emotional wounds and scars that were inflicted upon them at earlier points in their lives. Sometimes the wounds are still open and very painful and cause torment, like a painful sliver in your palm. The self-help industry is booming with books, audiobooks, and live seminars on how to heal these wounds and move into a position of strength. And thousands and thousands of people flock to therapists annually to take a more formal, doctor-patient approach to healing. When Suzie lived with me during the summers late in the last decade, we would sometimes find ourselves having face to face conversations that lasted hours. In these interactions my sister and I were able to give each other a measure of unconditional love and support that healed emotional wounds and upended twisted, irrational, "broken" thinking in ways that traditional talk therapy or cognit…

Butter Roasted Salmon w Hazelnut Pesto

Modifying and combining two different recipes I sourced from Bon Appetit led to a fantastic dinner this evening. Really one of the best salmon preparations I've had in some time. I hope you give it a try.
ingredients 1/2 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped1 garlic clove, chopped1 T fresh oregano1 T fresh thyme1/2 cup (packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves1 tablespoon capers1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest1/2 cup olive oil (I prefer lemon olive oil)Kosher salt4 6-ounce pieces skin-on salmon fillets (optional, can also prepare with skinless fillets)2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into piecesArugula (about 1/2 cup per person)1 large honeycrisp apple, cored and dicedDash of lemon juice2 celery stalks, peeled1 T caraway seedsLemon vinaigrette (your favorite brand or recipe) preparation Preheat oven to 400°. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Let cool. Pulse garlic, herbs, capers, lemon zest, in a food processor until f…