Tuesday, August 23, 2016

July Books: A kindle post



Usually, when I let my stacks of paperbacks and hardcovers go stale, it's because I'm on the kindle. This is my second one, the first having broken down while traveling. I believe this is the regular Kindle. It uses e-ink, instead of a computer-like screen, and I really like that.

Having a kindle is both great and awful at the same time. The Whispernet thing they use means buying the books is instantly gratifying and horrible on your wallet. It's addictive. Anyway, I've downloaded quite a few books, as I used to travel a lot for work, and having the kindle meant not hauling four books in a suitcase. Also, it's easier to read while lounging. Kindle - the lazy book. Probably not the tagline they were going for.

Some kindle books I've read lately:

I've been binging on pretty much everything by Susanna KearsleyThe Rose Garden was the first book I found from her. Loved the time travel element, which was actually pretty mind-bending. Also, loved the setting in Cornwall. The next one you should read, should you fall down this rabbit-hole, would be The Winter Sea, which delves more into local Scottish history, and the abilities of the mind to see and hear the past, and after that, go ahead and fall right into The Firebird, which infuses the history of Russia with telepathic minds of two would-be lovers. I read the last two in the wrong order, and was kind of bummed I hadn't known about the connection earlier. Not only are the settings beautiful, and the characters strong and interesting, but she also does her homework, and includes notes at the end for you to help sort out the history you learned from the elements of whimsy.

One book I come back to far too often is The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, also of the famous GoFugYourself.com blog. Confession time: I'm an avid fan of WhatKateWore.com. Susan (the author) does a bang-up job on covering not only the stylings, but the events that Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, attends and their meaning to the country, and she handles the commentary extremely well. So, when she mentioned she was working with the GoFugYourself girls on a giveaway of their book, loosely based on Kate and Wills' courtship, well, I was intrigued. (I also became a fan of their blog. It's a slippery slope.) The book does a nice job of painting a picture that, while not accurate to their personal situations, is certainly fun, humorous and entertaining albeit in a respectful way. It reminds the reader that behind all the glitz and glamour and pomp and clothes and events, is a real couple, a boy and a girl that fell in love despite the circumstances. And that's pretty important for us to remember about every public figure, really. Also, I love that they made the not-Kate into an American, and she's from Muscatine, Iowa. Woot!

One new thing I read on kindle, that I kind of wish I'd read in book form instead is The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman, by Margot Mifflin. I picked this up because we're watching Hell on Wheels on Netflix, and the show has an Olive Oatman character. Not surprisingly, the tv show bends the facts on her a bit. The book, however, is a pretty scholarly treatise without being dull about it. It examines her life, and how things were written about her and her family. Local tie - the family started out in Whiteside County, Ill. And then things went south, both literally and figuratively. Excellent read, though, and while kind of sad near the end, the very last finish is both uplifting and a hat tip to the author. Fun stuff!

This last book is one I'm buying for sure at some point, because it is such a neat idea. The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century, by Ian Mortimer. Honestly, I'm pretty sure I would have died of sickness fairly early in life. Or lived in a hovel. Or crawled into a hovel and died. I am not built for the 14th century - those people were tough. And Ian (we're on a first-name basis) breaks it down from the travel to the food to the clothes to the houses, to what you'd see on the "street" of a small hamlet to a larger-sized town. He's a big fan of Chaucer, and quotes him on various linguistic issues, and so you'll learn some local slang as well. Just when you thought you forgot high school English, am I right? 

So there you go, a tour of my Kindle. I have a bunch of stuff on there that you've already heard of, since I like to take certain book buddies along when I head out of town - Big Magic, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Oracle, that kind of thing. What's your favorite ebook? Let me know!

Back to real live paper next time, possibly a recipe, maybe some photos? See you then!


Friday, August 5, 2016

Blueberry Crumble Pie

I know, I know, I owe you a July books post, and I promise, it's underway, although it may well be the Kindle post I mentioned earlier.

In the meantime, I offer humble pie. And by that, I mean blueberry.




I've emailed/texted my sister for this so many times, that this last time she just took a photo of the magazine recipe and texted it to me - maybe she thought that would just solve the issue? In any case, I made it not twice, just for us and then for book club, but three times in the last two months. Suffice to say, I'm finally satisfied with the amount of blueberries in my life. But if you are not, here is the solution: Blueberry Crumble Pie.

Notes: The original recipe calls for plain breadcrumbs where I've used graham cracker crumbs - it's just a matter of what I had on hand. But either will work just fine. If you do use plain breadcrumbs, add about 1/4 c. of sugar to that crumb/butter mixture to taste.

All you need:

4 cups blueberries
1 9-in. graham-cracker crust
3/4 c. brown sugar
3 T. flour
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. lemon zest, optional
1 8-oz. container sour cream
1/4-1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2-4 T butter, melted

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash, let dry and pour fresh blueberries into graham cracker crust.
Crush graham crackers in gallon-size ziploc bag until fine. Set aside.
Melt butter, and mix in graham cracker crumbs until the texture of wet sand. Set aside.
Mix brown sugar, flour, vanilla, lemon and sour cream until smooth. Pour over blueberries. Sprinkle over graham cracker crumb mixture. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 1 hour on wire rack.

This was a hit not only for book club, but also for breakfast. It is also excellent with vanilla ice cream.

Book recommendations to come!

Note: The original recipe came from Cooking Light, roughly circa 1997ish. Don't hold me to that, however, as I apparently can't be trusted to keep track of this recipe outside of the internet...