Monday, October 07, 2013

It's Been a Long Time

So when one has been too busy with other things to post on her blog for, oh, about 4 months, she has a couple ways of proceeding.  Never post again and abandon the blog.  Start back and try to catch up with all that has happened in the time lapse.  Or apologize to the 15 people who read the blog regularly in the past, and go forward, leaving the readers to wonder what happened in the lapse. 

Having learned in college that once I fall behind (such as with reading for my religion class freshman year or philosophy class senior year), it is nearly impossible to catch up after a period of time.  There simply are not enough hours in the day or days in the week.  I apologize, but other than if the topics fit into what I plan on blogging about, you will likely not read about the books I have read, recipes I have tried, or other events of the last 4 months.  Sorry.  Just can't do it, so the second option above is out.

For people who hate this blog (there probably are some, though I would think that if someone hates it, they wouldn't continue to read it.  If they do, then it is their own stupid fault.), I enjoy blogging too much to abandon it.  Option one, out.

So, dear readers, my apologies for a long absence.  My only excuse has been excessive amounts of work, though there were plenty of other distractions as well, some enjoyable, some tolerable and some that just needed to be completed.  I am back now, so let me get started already!

Eating: The fall CSA is upon us.  The tomatoes have wrapped up.  The cabbage and winter squash are abundant.  The root vegetables are coming in.  Continuing a theme I started last year in When Life Gives You Kale, Make Kale Chips and then in Part 2 of that post, here are some additional recipes.

When Life Gives You Tomatoes...

Make Tomato Pasta Sauce.  My grandma called just to give me recipes to use up the 10+ pounds of tomatoes that I picked after we got home from vacation.  This was one of them.  I only made 1/3 of the recipe because I had already used a bunch of the tomatoes for Roasted Tomato Soup (already blogged on the first "when life gives you..." post), Chicken Pasta Fresca (posted here) which really has a different name that I can never remember, as well as Salsa (recipe to follow shortly).  I also froze some of the cherry tomatoes like I do with strawberries (wash them, freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then pack into freezer bags).  And I ate a bunch while picking them and as a snack (or 4 snacks). 

Anyway, here is Granny's Tomato Sauce recipe:
4 medium onions, chopped
3 small garlic gloves
3 Tbls oil
4 1/4 pounds tomatoes
4 six-ounce cans tomato paste
1 pound mushrooms, sliced (I did not add the 'shrooms)
1 C. chopped parsley
3 Tbls sugar
3 Tbls salt
4 tsp oregano leaves
2 bay leaves

In a large kettle over medium-high heat, heat oil and cook onions and garlic until limp.  Discard garlic (I left mine in but had crushed it and couldn't really find it to get it out).  Add remaining ingredients.  Simmer covered on low for 2 hours.  Refrigerate until chilled and freeze.  (Mine is in freezer bags in 1 cup serving sizes - 1/2 C for each of us - and I used the immersion blender to smooth it out.  Someone at my house doesn't like chunks in his sauce.)  Yummy and not full of preservatives and junk.

Reading: I have read about 15 books since I last blogged, so will only comment here on the most recent couple.  As you may know, I have been reading some of the Newbery Medal winners this year, starting with the one that won the medal the year I was born. I figured I would have enough to read if I just stuck to my lifetime for now.  The most recent NBM book I finished was Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, the winner in 1981. Ms. Paterson also wrote the 1978 winner Bridge to Terabithia.  I loved both of these books, enough that I plan to seek out more by the author. 

Jacob Have I Loved is the story of Sara Louise (aka "Wheeze" to her sister, and "Louise" to most everyone else) who lives in the shadow of her talented, beautiful, delicate twin Caroline.  They live with their family on a small island in Chesapeake Bay in the 1940's, where all struggle to make a living by crabbing.  Her cranky grandmother (who has dementia, per my diagnosis) lives with Louise and her family, and taunts Louise with a quote from the Bible: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated." which references another set of twins long ago engaged in a bit of sibling rivalry.  I learned a lot about crabbing, the Bible and sibling relationships.  Easy read and very good.

Bridge to Terabithia I read a couple months ago, and had actually listened to it in my car about 7 years ago (when I used to commute and listen to audio books to try to quell the road rage).  It is a story of Jesse, an artistic boy who is all alone even in a group or in his big family, and Leslie, a newcomer who is smart and tomboy.  Like Jesse, she also doesn't quite fit in.  Together they create an imaginary land where they rule as king and queen.  I don't want to spoil the book so will stop there, but overall an amazing story of the type of friendship that transforms a person's life.  This book was made into a movie a few years back (I have not seen it), and it is a book that gets challenged and banned frequently, so I believe it is better known than Jacob.  Both are worth checking out.

Book club just discussed The Romanov Bride by Robert Alexander.  This is the author's 3rd book of historical fiction about the Russian Revolution, the first being The Kitchen Boy.  I thought Kitchen Boy was the stronger of the 2 I have read (the middle one is Rasputin's Daughter and is on my shelf to read next) but liked this one as well.  In all 3, he has taken peripheral characters to tell the story of the Revolution from their viewpoints.  In Kitchen Boy, we are with Tsar Nicholas and his family during their last days, through the eyes of a servant.  In Bride, we learn the two sides of the Revolution - one through Pavel, a peasant-turned-assassin working for the revolutionists, and one through Ella, a Romanov duchess and the sister of Tsarina Alexandra.  The story is told in alternating voices between the two.  I found this a perfect way to tell both sides, how it displayed the mistakes made on the part of the royals as well as the way the Communists used propaganda and stirred up mob mentality to get the peasants to revolt and carry out assassinations.  The story of Ella herself was quite interesting (after her husband is assassinated, she starts a convent and provides nursing to the poor, soldiers, and whoever else needs it). Since the author had access to her letters and diaries, and since she was a real person, her story was the stronger of the two.  Pavel's story is more of a vehicle to tell the revolutionists' point of view and his character is more flat and stereotypical, though definitely serves it purpose.

Weeding: The veggie garden got cleaned out yesterday.  The asters are blooming their purple heads off and the mums are in full bloom as well.  Some of the plants (notably the Husker Red Penstemon) have beautiful fall color in their leaves.  The Husker Red is a deep burgundy color all summer, then turns brilliant red in autumn.  So lovely. 

Thank you for coming back to read my blog.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I missed blogging and will try to post more frequently in the coming weeks.

Until we eat again,


Anonymous said...

Glad you're back!

Hallie said...

Thanks Ann! You and Kirsten encouraging me at book club was just the push I needed.

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