Reading: I am only happy if I have a big pile of books to slog through (is slog a word?). Wish I had thought that in college. Anyway... in my pile I have: Galileo's Daughter, The Cliff Walk, Living History (Hillary Rodham Clinton's latest--got it from the library), History of France, Grammaire Francais (yes, on a recent French kick), What Color is Your Parachute? and Discover the Best Job for You (also need a job). Diverse and different, wild and weird, eclectic and eccentric. Maybe that is just me, in a nutshell (why are we always packing things in nutshells anyway?) No comments on any of them except History of France--seems the French and British have NEVER agreed on much of anything (if you ever want to piss off a French person, refer to The Channel as "the English Channel"). Once, when I was in France, Molly the travel companion and I wandered into a bookstore to browse. They had wine and cheese there and were apparently having a party of some sort (grand opening, perhaps). One of the employees had been sampling a great deal of wine and stumbled over to us. He offered us wine and when we replied (in French of course) he noticed our non-native accents and asked if we were British. We said, no, we are americaine. He said, "C'est pire, mais ce n'est pas grave."--That's worse, but that's not serious (which here means something like when we say "but that's okay").
Eating: The other night we made Party Pasta Bowl from the Pampered Chef Celebrate cookbook. It was good but what the heck was I thinking making a whole batch? It serves 12 so I would advise halving it unless you actually are making it for a party. Here is the recipe, proceed with caution.
1 lb. uncooked pasta (ziti or manicotti)--cook according to directions and drain. Brown 1 lb ground beef, 1 medium chopped onion and 3 pressed garlic cloves. Stir 1 48 oz jar (2 standard size jars, in other words) spaghetti sauce, 2 T. Italian seasoning and 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes (with the juice). In a large casserole (I used my 9x13 stoneware baker), pour in cooked, drained pasta. Add 6 cups of the meat/sauce mixture and stir until well mixed. In a bowl, lightly beat 1 egg. Add 15oz ricotta cheese, 1/4 C. freshly grated parmesan and 1 C. shredded mozzarella to the egg and stir until mixed. Spread egg/cheese mixture over pasta/sauce. Top with remaining meat sauce. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Sprinkle with 1 C. shredded mozzarella and 1/4 C. grated parmesan. Bake an additional 10 minutes, until cheese is melted. We had ours with garlic toast. It is a nice easy lasagna-like dinner without the work. Although I have a very very easy lasagna recipe... stay tuned for that.
Gardening: The strawberries are weeded. Everything is weed-free for the moment. I wish I had a digital camera so I could post some pictures of all the planting and growing we have done this year. Maybe I will get one of those someday...