30 October 2004

Reads & Listens, October 2004

Reads:

Wonder When You'll Miss Me by Amanda Davis
Faith, a victim of gang rape, runs away to join the circus. I loved this book so much (a definite re-read) and looked forward to reading more of Davis's work only to find out she died last year. Aside from a short story collection, this is it (and yet Danielle Steel continues to churn them on out).

The Fandom of the Operator by Robert Rankin Better than a kick in the pants, but that's not saying much. If you've never read any Rankin, I wouldn't recommend starting with this book.

Listens:

Lake Wobegon Days & More News From Lake Wobegon written & performed by Garrison Keillor Nice light listen for the too long and too often repeated commute.

Emma by Jane Austen (read by Mrs. Elton Juliet Stevenson) Is it me or does Emma come across as a real bitch more often than not? And Mr. Frank Churchill is horrible! How could Jane Fairfax still love him? Grr. Regardless, this is a nice reading of an old favorite and kept me happily distracted while sitting in stopped traffic for ages at a go. Stevenson does a particularly good job with Miss Bates -- a little odd, because she played Mrs. Elton in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma so I was expecting her Mrs. Elton to be excellent and not to sound so very much like Miss Bingley in the BBC version of P&P, but what do I know??

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (read by Captain Hastings Hugh Fraser)
Ten strangers lured to a mysterious island under false pretenses and slowly murdered in accordance with an old nursery rhyme ... Brilliant reading of an old favorite.

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie (read by Hugh Fraser)
Poirot receives a rather interesting letter from "ABC," then Mrs. Ascher's found murdered in Andover and an ABC Railroad Guide is left at the scene ... what does it all mean? Can Poirot get to the root of the murders before ABC gets through the whole alphabet? Well, yes, obviously Poirot will win, but the figuring out of who and how and why is still quite fun.

Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding (read by Josephine Bailey)
Tried reading the book, but had a hard time suspending my disbelief. Also, kept finding references to 9/11 and Al-Queda a little jarring in what might otherwise have passed as a fluffy little chick lit novel with techno accessories. Happily, the audiobook was quite fun. Obviously, some stories are just better read aloud.

28 October 2004

Soup, Glorious Soup

Roasted the much lusted over turkey breast last Sunday and, oh, it was so good. Happily ate turkey sandwiches for two days -- thick slices of turkey with whole fat mayonnaise, fresh ground salt and pepper, and whole fruit cranberry sauce on some nice seeded "Italian" bread. Double yum with nobs on.

Made soup yesterday between class meetings, because turkey soup is nice and forgiving about time. Take all day or a couple of hours -- it doesn't seem to matter much.

How I made soup: threw the turkey carcass, carrots, onion, bouquet garni (parsley, cloves, bay, allspice, peppercorns), slightly crushed peppercorns, and kosher salt in a big pot. Topped the whole thing off with water and a liberal squeeze of lemon and then let it simmer for six hours or so while I ran about doing assignments.

Eventually, I drained the pot's contents through a cheesecloth-lined colander into a big basin and let it cool enough to handle. Picked the carrots and onion bits out and set aside. Separated edible turkey bits from inedible and was leg-humped by many lustful cats who believe there's no such thing as inedible anything. Skimmed the fat off the top of the broth and poured back in the pot. Mashed the carrots and onions a bit and also put back in the pot. Ditto the turkey, some diced potatoes, egg noodles, crushed garlic, a double fistful of parsley, and some leftover corn. Let cook for while and then taste-tested. Added a few bouillon cubes and a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce to round it out.

Ended up with 2 64-oz containers of glorious, scrumptious, turkey-licious soup -- a most productive and gratifying way to end the day, I tell you.

15 October 2004

Sippin' Cider Through A Straw

It's fall, you know. The drive to/from university is actually quite pretty now. All the trees are turning orange or red or that really nice greeny-gold. Little farm stands have sprung up everywhere selling pumpkins, apples, cornstalks, gourds, and mums. The cider mill is open and producing great gallon jugs of sweet cider for my consumption. Sweet, sweet unpasteurized cider in gallon jugs ... I love you. Fresh from the press, you go so well with gingerbread donuts and meatloaf sandwiches and if I pace myself and do not drink you down in a matter of hours, you eventually develop that perky tang suggesting there's a bit of fermentation going on. Mmmm. A perpetual supply of sweet cider just on the edge of hardness ... I'd give up chocolate for it.

Anyway, it's fall and finally it's nice weather for cooking. Roasted a chicken last week -- stuffed it with a quartered onion and then rubbed all the chicky's nooks and crannies with a paste made from olive oil, crushed garlic, fresh milled salt and pepper, and generous handfuls of thyme. Yummy. Then, of course, I made soup. Honestly, I made the chicken because I wanted the soup and you can't have the soup without the chicken carcass. Well, you could, but it wouldn't be real chicken soup, but some unloved cousin. Might as well just go open a can of something, instead.

There is a turkey breast in the freezer I've been dreaming about turning into soup for months now. Turkey soup takes a little more planning than chicken -- the bird takes so long to thaw, I have to make sure it will be ready for roasting on a day I have time to cook and then I also have to make sure I will have time to make the soup a few days afterward. Oh, I know, I could freeze the carcass and make soup later, but that isn't really any fun. I want to make the soup while the whole roasted turkey experience is still fresh in my mind.

Food geek.