Monday, October 31, 2011

Meatless Monday: feeling autumnal

Hey friends. Happy Monday! (ugh.)

I can just tell that this week is going to be a doosy. This past weekend was really, really nice--complete with friends, family and rest. And then, the week sort of hit me in the face.

So,  I'm craving comfort food, big time. Yesterday, I made my mom's apple cake, which I managed to slightly burn, but it still tastes good. Actually, over at smitten kitchen there is an apple cake recipe almost identical to my mom's--just leave out the walnuts, and layer the apples with the batter, so they're inside the cake rather than on top.

The funniest part is that Deb mentions that it is "her mom's apple cake," also. I see. Well, mom's of the world, unite with your delicious apple-cake recipes!!!

Tonight, I think I'm going to make a now-classic in our house: spaghetti with kale and parmesan. But, I did not invent this dish. Oh no, I was inspired by Molly Wizenberg's story about how she learned to love kale..., at the time (our first year of marriage), I had never tried this mysterious ingredient, kale, before. This article made it seem so accessible. I've been obsessed with it ever since.

If I can make it by the store on my way home, though, I might pick up some black beans to try this meatless chili recipe that caught my eye instead:

It just looks super-easy and comforting. A win-win.

What about you? What are some of your chilly-weather, feeling *schmeh* comfort food recipes?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Audubon Birds

Aren't these prints breathtaking? 

As you can see, I've been a bit bird-obsessed these days. Maybe it's all the migrators, floating and swirling in the sky over the freeway as I drive to school. Maybe it's their hollow bones and bright plumage. Birds are just cool.

Hope your week is cool and swirling by nicely so far!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

book talk: birds of a feather

Last weekend, the hubs and I went to see this movie, because we like the actors, and thought it would be funny.

Guess what? It was funny. Maybe not pee-your-pants hilarious, but funny. I especially appreciated all the cool stuff I learned about birds from watching these yahoos chase down various species in their respective habitats (what can I say, I am a bit of a biology geek). What I also discovered was that this film is based on a book.

I think I want to read it. I know, it is a book that is pretty much all about birdwatching. I know, I know, it will be a classic case of reverse-book-adaptation-as-a-film-dilemma. But, I think it will work out ok. 

What about you? Do you have any favorite book-to-film adaptations? Any on your worst-experience list?

Shakespearean Insult-Strategy

Thanks for sharing, bluesman!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Meatless Monday: guacamole salad

Happy Monday, all! Today, I want to tell you about a super-delicious meatless dish that I made last week: the Barefoot Contessa's guacamole salad.

I made this with one extra avocado, and we ate it for a couple of days! It was delicious (duh, Ina Garten, hello!) and thanks to the black beans, it was as filling as it was versatile. I had it in a little bowl by itself for lunch, put it in tortillas for burritos, and baked the remaining salad onto nachos. Muy bien.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

bike daydreams

The other day, Jake showed me this cool video:

Doesn't it just make you want to go for a bike ride? I would ride this bike...

What about you? Do you have any autumn activities you're daydreaming about?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Gratitudes

First of all, can I just say that I am so, so grateful that it's Friday?! What a week.

Second of all, here are five other things I'm grateful for today:

1) I'm grateful for Madame Fromage and her marvelous and toasty breakfast post.

2) I'm grateful for my yoga studio and the free time to finally get back to class this weekend!

3) I'm grateful for a spontaneous date with my hubs, eating one of our favorite cuisines...

4) ...and splurging on (much needed) mid-semester massages!

5) And, last but not least, I'm grateful that right now, I can snuggle up with a cup of tea on this crisp night and watch a 30 Rock marathon with the man of my dreams. 

Happiest of Fridays to you, friends! I hope you find lots to celebrate and loads to be grateful for this weekend:)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

book talk: inspiring women enacting change

whoosh! (that's the sound of time flying by...)
Hey all! Sorry I've been so lax with my posts these days. Time is whipping by me and I feel like I'm scrambling to keep on top of everything. Now, does that mean that I've not taken time to sit on the couch, pizza in hand, to watch a movie or two? Certainly not.

This weekend, Jake and I saw an incredible movie: Pray the Devil Back to Hell.

It is an incredibly powerful documentary about the peaceful protests Christian and Muslim women in Liberia led, which eventually brought an end to their country's civil war. Amazing. 

It felt so relevant to me, because I had just heard on NPR that Leymah Gbowee, one of women integral in starting and sustaining the movement, had jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize this year, along with two other women. Also, activist Leymah Gbowee just published her first book:

I so want to read it! I found the documentary and these women's story so moving, I've been meditating on it for a few days, now. I was profoundly touched by the wisdom, the level-headed persistence, and the great forgiveness these women demonstrated in the face of unspeakable atrocities. They inspire me.

What about you? Do you have any inspiring stories/books? What are they?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

book talk: belated

Hey all! This has turned out to be the kind of week where "book talk tuesday" turns into "book talk wednesday." I feel like every half-hour of my week is full. Can you relate?

Today in my classes, we had a brief mini lesson on comma usage, and I used a piece (I've posted an excerpt below) by Adrienne Rich,  from What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics:

"As if your life depended on it"

You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.  That is not generally taught in school. At most, as if your livelihood depended on it: the next step, the next job, grant, scholarship, professional advancement, fame; no questions asked as to further meanings. And, let's face it, the lesson of the schools for a vast number of children--hence, of readers--is This is not for you.

To read as if your life depended on it would mean to let into your reading beliefs, the swirl of your dreamlife, the physical sensations of your ordinary carnal life; and, simultaneously, to allow what you're reading to pierce the routines, safe and impermeable, in which ordinary carnal life is tracked, charted, channeled. Then, what of the right answers, the so-called multiple-choice examination sheet with the number 2 pencil to mark one choice and one choice only?

To write as if your life depended on it: to write across the chalkboard, putting up there in public words you have dredged, sieved up from dreams, from behind screen memories, out of silence--words you have dreaded and needed in order to know you exist. No, it's too much; you could be laughed out of school, set upon in the schoolyard, they would wait for you after school, they could expel you. The politics of the schoolyard, the power of the gang.

Or they could ignore you.

This piece hits me every time. Not only does the fear of being ignored resonate deeply in my writer-heart, but there is so much here about literacy, and more particularly, literacy and school. It's also dripping with lots of glorious commas! It made for really good discussion in all of my sections today.

I used this essay to teach commas not because I want my students to write exactly like this in all of their essays. No, I wanted to talk about commas in the context of an actual piece of writing. I wanted to talk about being flexible writers, with the ability to manipulate written language to fit particular genres and purposes. And we did! Students asked good questions, pointed out the very things I was hoping they'd notice. Now, I think I need to read the rest of the book! Who knows what other contextual grammar discussions are waiting within?

Monday, October 10, 2011

meatless monday: dinner party style

Happy Monday! Today has turned out warmer than expected in the D. It is mercifully not as chilly as it was this morning, when my feet almost hurt when they touched the kitchen floor. Nope, today is balmy and coat-less; a no-stocking kind of day, when bare legs are happiest.

And I am happy recalling the success of a recent dinner party. Friday, I had my sister, brother-in-law and another couple over for a feast and some get-to-know-you conversation. The theme: make a dish (appetizer, entree, dessert) that tells a story about your relationship. My sister, made guacamole similar to  this, from her Rick Bayless cookbook:

The story was that my sister and her husband really bonded during their dating years over a mutual love of Mexican much so, that they decided to honeymoon in Mexico!

I made butternut squash and cheddar bread pudding, the dish that--I am sure--convinced my hubs that I could actually cook. In hilarious "us" fashion, though, neither of us can agree on when I first made this revolutionary dish. He says we'd been married two years, I'm positive that it was during our first year of wedded bliss...*sigh* at least it's damn delicious:)

Our friends brought a pumpkin pie. Their story may have been the most precious--the pie had a small cookie-cut-out of a church on it, and it was to show that they'd been waiting to find someone who shared their faith-practice. It was so precious, so utterly without irony, and just plain sweet.

So, overall, a lovely dinner party! And with a meatless entree, no less. What about you? Do you have any go-to dinner-party dishes?

Friday, October 7, 2011

underwater dreamin'

Jason DeCaires Taylor is an underwater sculptor who combines his knowledge as an underwater photographer, conservationist and scuba diver to create these dreamy installations.

Over time, the pieces become man-made coral reefs! The longer they exist, the more coral grows on them and the more beautiful they become. 

Here's to a beautiful and dreamy weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

book talk: what to read next?

So, I'm at that crucial moment in a person's life: choosing a book to read next. Last night, I was having a conversation with my dad about this crucial choice. He recommended this book:

It is, apparently, the recounting of a whaling ship that gets rammed by a vengeful, and ahem, white whale. Turns out, there was a true story inspiring that most famous of whaling novels. Fascinating!

I've also had a copy of this book floating around the house for awhile. Might be time to sit down a give it a good read, especially since it's short and sweet--a little instant gratification never hurts!

What do you think? Any next book recommendations for me?

Monday, October 3, 2011

meatless monday: feelin' hearty

So, for meatless monday today, I want to tell y'all about the savory and satisfying meatless meal I made last night. It was a recipe in my new Living that just came in the mail last week, and it was delicious. Martha called it "minestrone with parmesan biscuits"--and it ended up being a hearty casserole-type-thing with a thick, bean-and-vegetable soup for the filling and quickly whipped up parmesan biscuits for the topping. You'll have to grab the mag for the actual recipe, but I wager it is somewhere between this:

and this:

It was a perfect fall dish. I sauteed and simmered the veggies in a pot, threw the biscuit batter together, and then plopped it all in a baking dish and threw it in the oven. Surprisingly fast and easy!

What about you? Do you have any surprisingly easy, yet hearty cold-weather dishes up your sleeve? Do tell!

in stitches

Check out these amazing embroidered portraits!

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