Monday, December 26, 2011

What's on the shelf today?

Reading: You may have been wondering what I am reading right now.  Maybe not, but I have noticed there are quite a few people who regularly ask me what I am reading.  And I kind of like talking about what I have on the shelf currently.  ("on the shelf" is not meant literally.  My current books are usually in a pile by my bed or in various rooms in which I have dropped them off after reading a few pages.)

Sunday night bookclub is reading The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan.  This non-fiction book tells the history of 4 plants (the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato) that satisfy four fundamental human desires (sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control).  I have finished the section on the apple.  The author shows how plants have evolved to satisfy human needs, and also how the plants have benefited from us as well, asking the question of who is really domesticating whom?  So far, so good. 

The former "breakfast club" that now meets for dinner has been assigned to read Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart.  This is the author's second book, a follow up to Haunted Ground (aka "the head in a bog" book), and this time involves bodies in a bog.  These books take place in Ireland and are part murder mystery, part romance, part history/archeology lesson.  They are pretty good.  We read the first one for Sunday bookclub a few years back (may have also read the second one - I can't remember off the top of my head) and people seem to like them.  I am kinda of "meh." about them, myself.

Creating:  I made a kind of cool hat for my brother-in-law for Christmas but now realize I didn't take any pictures.  Will have to beg my sister to send some for me...  I tried a new-to-me technique on this hat, which, in retrospect, may not have been the best idea when making a gift for someone.  It turned out pretty well but I was learning as I went.  It was made like a traditional hat in shape but was double knit, which makes it double thickness and also reversible.  I would do my decreases differently next time (the second row of decreases went better than the first) and would finish it off differently, but overall it looks okay, I think. 

A new kind of "creating" has entered my life - creating music on the electric bass guitar E gave me for Christmas.  It is beautiful, shiny and red.  The amp came with headphones so only I have to hear myself practice until I know what I am doing.  I went out tonight to buy a battery for the tuner because I could tell it was not tuned but couldn't hear where it needed to be.  Now the tips of my fingers are sore and I know a little how to play it, at least how to hold it and play some basic notes.  Look for me on tour soon - haha!

Eating:  This was mostly a weekend of other people cooking for me.  I don't mind, really!  E made dinner on Friday (Christmas Eve Eve) - steaks with bourbon thyme sauce and mashed potatoes.  So yummy!  Recipe is from Food Network - recipe says 8 steaks, but after you cook them to medium, you save 4 of them for another meal.  We make 2 steaks (because there are two of us, duh!) but all the sauce because it is super tasty and makes good gravy.
Seared Steaks with Bourbon-Thyme Pan Sauce
Heat 1 Tbls olive oil in a large skillet.  Season 8 boneless steaks (ribeye, sirloin, etc.) with salt, freshly ground pepper, and 1 Tbls dried thyme.  Sear 2 minutes per side until golden brown.  Add 1/2 C bourbon and cook 1 minute.  Add 1/2 C beef broth and bring to a simmer.  Cook 2 minutes, until cooked to medium.  Remove steaks from pan and transfer 4 of them to a serving platter.  Reserve 4 steaks for another meal. 
Dissolve 1 Tbls cornstarch in another 1/2 C beef broth and add to pan.  Simmer 1 minute, until sauce thickens.  Spoon sauce over steaks before serving.

Saturday night (Christmas Eve) we had meatballs with E's family.  His mother seasons her meatballs with ginger and nutmeg (I asked - I thought I had detected nutmeg but would not have guessed the ginger).  They are really tasty meatballs.

Sunday (Christmas Day) we had soups with my mom and step-dad.  How I love soup (you may have already guessed that from my previous 2 or more soup posts...)!  We had corn chowder, and a new one - Italian chicken noodle.  As Mom said, it's chicken noodle with Parmesan cheese and basil.  So yummy.  Quite the tasty holiday overall.

Hope your Christmas was tasty as well! 
Until we eat again,

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