Thursday, August 28, 2014

Life is too short to slog through a book you don't like

I had been looking forward to the very popular bestseller The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The New York Times has this description on their best seller’s list :

A painting smuggled out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art after a bombing becomes a boy’s prize, guilt and burden.

Ok, that description doesn’t exactly make me want to rush to the bookstore but still, I looked forward to Tartt’s latest book. I put my name on the list at the library and was pleased to get notification that I could check it out electronically. Alas, I didn’t pay attention to the icon when making my reservation and received the audio version. I promptly signed up again. I was 70 in line but finally…finally I received the book.

Crushing disappointment. I slogged through a good number of pages before abandoning this best seller. Some gave it 5 star reviews. Good for you guys if you liked it but wow…….. I have too many books on my to-read list to persevere through one that doesn’t grab me. Different strokes, right?

Recently I finished The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh, In the Woods by Tana French and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. In each of those novels I was there with the characters.

I felt as if I were in the room putting an investigation together with Cassie and Rob in French’s book. The frustration of our main character in The Weight of Blood was palpable, something to which you could relate. With The Road you can imagine the biting cold, the hopelessness combined with great love between the Man and his son. Getting lost in a story is pleasurable. You don’t want to leave the characters but continue on with their story and travel with them, work through the scary parts, the romantic escapades, the heartbreak.

Reading The Goldfinch I was keenly aware that I was reading.

Well written doesn’t necessarily mean engaging. The characters didn’t grow on me and I was never lost in the moment. Having zero empathy for Theo Decker it was becoming a chore for me to read. I flat out didn’t like him. Rather, I should say I was indifferent to him but as he is the main character, it’s hard to invest in the scenarios and move along in the story with him.

Tartt painted very descriptive scenes but they were overkill. She imparted the idea and set the scene but for some reason kept telling you about three paragraphs later. Ok, ok, got it! This isn’t a book review because I didn’t finish it. It’s not the first book I have abandoned and certainly won’t be the last, best seller or not.

Have any of you read this book or anticipated it? I invite anyone who reads my ramblings (yes, all three of you!) to share your thoughts on books abandoned.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wine Wednesday - Foxglove Cabernet Sauvignon

This is one of the better cabs we have had in a while. Love the Foxglove label, the Zinfandel is very good. This Cabernet stands up to any steak, pork or red sauced dish.

We've fallen in love with this label as it never disappoints. Wanting to try the Chardonnay soon and see what else Foxglove has in store for us. A great wine for under $20. You won't be sorry if you try it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shrimp and Pasta to beat the heat
{Book #3 in Cookbook Countdown}

Earlier this month I talked about a few organizational projects I had going. One of those was culling the vast amount of books I have hoarded over the years.

That’s fiction, non-fiction, biographies and yes….cookbooks. I collect them and have an unhealthy obsession about bringing more cookbooks home. Well, I have a good start on going through the packed bookshelves which spill over in chaotic piles. I pull one book off the shelf and prepare something – then I decide if the book stays or goes to live elsewhere.

The Culinary Journey to the Mediterranean is book #3 in my Cookbook Countdown. This one won’t be put out of the house as it’s chock full of delicious and healthy fare. We’ve had several meals from this one and have enjoyed them all. The Espana Chicken is highly recommended.

This time we prepared the shrimp and pasta. It’s a summery type meal and one we enjoy when the weather is steaming hot. Fall may be around the corner for some parts of the US but not here. Today our heat index topped at 111 F (44 C ) – not fun. It’s certainly not patio weather so our meals have been taken inside.

This is my third book in the Cookbook Countdown hosted at Kitchen Flavours.


I am also sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wine Wednesday - Sancerre

This French wine from the Loire valley is now one of my favorites.

As soon as you bring the glass to your nose you get mineral and melon. It's a light wine you will enjoy with dinner and a cheese course, hard to stop at one glass its so juicy. Very affordable under $15 from Trader Joe's store in Tallahassee.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Angel Hair Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

It’s time for Potluck at I ♥ Cooking Club and I am bringing a dish from Giada De Laurentiis' cookbook, Everyday Pasta.

Angel Hair Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Goat Cheese is an easy meal to put together. Honestly, I had it on the table in under 18 minutes and that was because the pasta took 15 minutes to boil.

I don't know why I haven't had Giada's book out in a while. As I flipped through I found quite a few recipes I would like to prepare. Since we have issues with wheat now I made a substitution from the angel hair pasta to a wheat free pasta from Tinkyada.

The sauce comes out rich and thick with minimal time on the stove top. Usually I simmer a sauce for a long time but this combo is perfect for a fast meal.

Angel Hair Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
from Everyday Pasta


1 8-oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil. (Chop the tomatoes unless you buy the julienne cut)
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
¼ cup tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 pound angel hair pasta (I used Tinkyada brand)
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 ounces goat cheese (I used Ile de France)


Use roughly 3 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Heat in a saucepan and add the onions. These will cook and get soft in 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another 2 minutes or so. Add ¼ cup tomato paste and mix well. Add a cup of white wine and 8 ounces of sun-dried tomatoes. Let this simmer a bit until it reduces.

While this is simmering boil the pasta and get your table set. Once the pasta is in a bowl and sauced up, scoop out a generous helping of goat cheese and add to the pasta.

We had a small salad and a bottle of Sangiovese with this meal. Lovely pairing. This is a vegetarian meal but if you had to have some meat I’m sure some crumbled bacon or sausage would go well too. It was perfect all on it’s own though and I’m sorry to say there weren’t enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

This is my second book in the Cookbook Countdown hosted at Kitchen Flavours. Check out the other Potluck selections at IHCC.

Coming up will be some wine reviews, book talk and more on Nigel Slater.
Hope all is well in your world!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Against the Grain

I have had one of those weeks that seemed to last a month. Ok, it’s not that bad but wow, I am delighted to see the weekend arrive. We are going to have a pizza and chill out and watch a show we ordered from Netflicks.

First let me tell you about the pizza. It’s from Against the Grain and it's one of the best wheat-free pizzas we have had in a loooooong time.

Some Friday evenings past we would grab a pizza from Oscar’s, open a quaffable wine and pop a DVD in the player. It’s relaxation night. Mindless entertainment after a week of doing the Government Drone duties. It’s not quite like Azkaban but when you have a longish week, there is my comparison. So, here is the pizza which we topped with juicy tomatoes, green bell pepper, scallions, olives, mushrooms and garlic.

Served with a loaded salad and you have a substantial meal.

Since I didn’t intend this to be a long post (just a hello from Squirrel Head manor), let me give a shout out to my friend Janel. She is an author and just released her book Pies and Peril. How cool would it be to see your name on a published book? I would be over-the-moon excited!

Now I am going to shamelessly steal a theme she has on her website (Check it out HERE) to give you a snap of what’s happening here.

I am......

Reading…In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad) by Tana French
Getting ready to watch Boardwalk Empire from Netflicks
Cooking… Pizza and salad
Writing…letters to family
Loving…My new Kindle reader
Hating…All the branches we need to pick up and drag away this weekend
Planning…A few projects I want to take on soon

I think it’s a very cool idea for mini blogging. You should copyright this meme, Janel. Apologies for stealing borrowing.

Also want to send a happy birthday wish to Jo, Welsh cook extraordinaire, and her mum Vin. Hope you ladies are enjoying all the good things France has to offer you. Lucky devils.

Ok, happy weekend all! Off to eat, drink and be merry!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wine Wednesday - Kono Sauvignon Blanc from New` Zealand

A 2013 Kono Wine of New Zealand

This is a 2013 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 13% alcohol volume with a harsh finish. First sips were fine but there was a certain aftertaste, hard to put my finger on it. I look forward to trying more New Zealand wines but will stock up on other whites for the hot weather.

It would do during an apocalypse when wine was scarce. Otherwise we'd would give this a pass next time we shop for wine.


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