16 August 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Monstrous Beets

Needed a little help harvesting the beets! Left them too long and some are now the size of oranges!

14 August 2017

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware


Once there were four boarding school girls who did something terrible one night and then lied about it. Fifteen years later, the truth is finally coming to light. Will they stand together, united in their lie? Do they even really know what happened that night?

I enjoyed Ware's In A Dark Dark Wood very much (link) and was really looking forward to The Lying Game. Overall ... it was okay. It's possible my expectations were too high, but I felt like The Lying Game started with so much promise and so many hints at a deep, rich story ... and then failed to follow through. The hints were never fleshed out. I never knew enough about Kate, Thea, or Fatima to really care about them and Isa, as narrator, was pretty shallowly etched, too. While I liked that The Lying Game was a slow-burning mystery, neither the characters nor the central mystery were enough to keep me invested in it and I kept putting it aside for other books.

I'm also (still and ridiculously, I know) grumpy that the girls didn't actually do a murder. As soon as I realized where the story was headed, all my enthusiasm evaporated. I think I wanted a brooding, atmospheric Gothic mystery, but what I got was ... underwhelming. Yes, there were secrets and lies and people died for love (or something) in big fire in a suitably Gothic structure, but I was not emotionally connected enough to any of it to care much. I just felt very ehhhh about the whole thing.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware (Scout Press, 2017)

09 August 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Hyrdangea

Hydrangea macrophylla "Everlasting Revolution" blooming in the front garden. Love the combination of soft blue and pale green.

07 August 2017

The Hidden Blade


While The Hidden Blade is a prequel to Thomas's historical romance, My Beautiful Enemy, it is not at all a romance, but is straight up historical fiction set in late 1870s Europe and China. However, even without the romance, The Hidden Blade is a grand, sweeping story packed with lush descriptions, tons of historical detail, and compelling characters ... trust me, you're not going to miss the luv.

Ying-ying and Leighton's live are told in more or less parallel stories which, while linked by love of a mutual friend, come together all too briefly. Their individual coming of age stories are full of breathtaking tragedy and suffering. The small moments of happiness and peace are frequently followed by some new fresh hell. It's a novel to make you weep.

Yet, I loved this book. With determination and desire for a better life, Ying-ying and Leighton survive heartache and adversity to become characters worthy of an epic romance. I cannot wait to see what happens when they finally meet in My Beautiful Enemy.

The Hidden Blade by Sherry Thomas (NLA Digital LLC, 2014). Kindle edition.

03 August 2017

Zucchini Season: Cheesy Zucchini & Ham Bake

A glut of farmer's market and CSA summer squash has had me looking for new easy ways to use it up. I've noodled around with zoodles, but casseroles have really been my go-to. The original version of this particular casserole, "Ham and Zucchini Italiano," can be found in Taste of Home's Simple, Easy, Fast Kitchen which I received in the spring Taste the Seasons subscription box. While I've bookmarked a fair dozen recipes, this is the only one I've managed to make so far and I didn't even follow the recipe very well, so I doubt it counts!

You say zucchini, I say zucchinis. Zucchini. Zucchinis. Courgette!

I threw this dish together at 10 o'clock one night this week when I realized that, while I had nothing left to take for work meals, the pile of zucchinis on the kitchen side clearly meant I had no excuse to live off bagel sandwiches, either. Because it was late and I was tired, I altered the recipe to avoid sautéing the zucchini and dirtying an extra pot. The texture of the ribboned zucchinis, when combined and baked with the rest of the ingredients, was quite pleasant and the whole thing reminded me of a strata ... although, lacking egg and bread, it clearly wasn't a strata.

Whatever it is, I ate it all and am now eyeballing the remaining of the zucchinis.

Cheesy Zucchini & Ham Bake

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 6-inch zucchini
  • 1 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
  • 8 oz ultra-thin sliced smoked deli ham
  • 14 oz jar pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Using the wide ribbon blade on your spiralizer, spiralize the zucchini into broad ribbons. Place in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt, and let sit for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°.
  3. Wrap zucchini ribbons in a clean tea towel and mercilessly squeeze until you've gotten out all the liquid or your hands are tired.
  4. Place half of the zucchini ribbons in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with salt-free Italian seasoning blend. Layer with half of the ham, pizza sauce, and cheese. Repeat layers.
  5. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or cheese is all melty and golden.