Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In the Garden—Sunflower

My one sunflower that survived the cat attack is flourishing beautifully.

It's got four flowers, with more on the way. For a while there was only one flower (now the largest) and it faced the wall so we couldn't really see it. But now there's joyful color in every direction.

Monday, August 20, 2012

In the Kitchen—Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

This is my take on grilled cheese and tomato soup. I wanted to have comfort food as part of a well-rounded nourishing meal. I include below my recipe for honey mustard dressing as well as vegan alternatives.

Grilled cheese sandwich. I used onion and chive cheddar from a Montana biodynamic dairy farm. Added a little fig jam (all-fruit jam from St. Dalfour); thanks to Katie for the tip. Sprouted whole-grain bread. Vegan? Daiya cheese is pretty good, and melts well.

Sweet potato fries. Or, as like to call them, yams. Toss with olive oil, sea salt, and cracked black pepper, put in the oven at 400 F, flip after ten minutes, remove when you deem them sufficiently crunchy.

"Chicken" salad. Boca's vegan chick'n patties cut into bite-sized pieces. Sliced green onions. A mix of spring greens and baby spinach. Honey mustard dressing: 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 1/4 c. dijon mustard, 1/4 c. honey, a cup or so of olive oil. Stick ingredients in a peanut butter jar and shake well. Vegan? Use any dressing you choose, or simply sprinkle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Tomato soup. Recipe in Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook (12th edition). Substituting vegetable bouillon for chicken bouillon, this soup is almost 100% fruits and veggies, way healthier than the Campbell's alternative. Fairly easy to make; you should probably double the recipe if serving for a lot of people or you want to make sure to have leftovers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Great Outdoors—Idler's Rest

My goal for the summer, or as long as the weather is decent, is to go on one hike a week. A week or two ago my gentleman and I set off for a bit of land at the base of Moscow Mountain called Idler's Rest.

The Northwest side of Idler's Rest winds underneath trees and through meadows, as the forest slowly reclaims old farmland.

On one side of the road Idler's Rest is a section of interweaving trails through forest, and on the other side it's a trail or two through meadow and orchard. This path on the Northwest side of Idler's Rest winds through brush and tree, then through an old apple orchard. Early settlers grew apples to make into cider, but now, abandoned, the trees grow as they wish, the woods slowly growing in around them. In early August, little green apples covered the trees, sometimes dangling in our path like ornaments, sometimes making a canopy above us in dappled shades of green. The gentleman and I hope to go back when the apples are ripe and collect some to make our own cider.

The southeast section of Idler's Rest follows Paradise Creek, almost dry this time of year. Trails intertwine beneath cedar trees, over fallen logs, up hill and down. When we went, a number of young children, maybe 5 years old, were on field trip, and their laughter echoed through the forest. We came upon a group of children with a guardian, and an outgoing youngster exclaimed to us that they had found a bear's footprint. Running into another group, a little boy hunched his back and made claws of his fingers, telling a little girl they were going to find a bear. 

We headed uphill, occasionally finding a bench beside the path, stopping to look at the domed spiderwebs that were prevalent. We backtracked, crisscrossed, and then came out on a golden hillside of long grasses, private farmland bordering Idler's Rest. A baby bird rustled in the grasses in front of us, and we stepped back to watch its fellows swoop around it, us wondering if it had fallen from its nest. As we hiked back to the car, we found a plaque on a boulder saying that the site was dedicated to Jim Manis, who'd died in 1974 at only 19 years old, who had loved the outdoors. We surmised that he had died in the war, but research since then has revealed Jim Manis was actually a student who'd died in a car crash.

Idler's Rest is not a difficult nor a long hike, but a pleasant place to spend a couple hours, with just enough uphill to make you feel like you're getting a work-out. For more information, go here and here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blog Under Construction

Having posts based on days (Literary Lunes, Gardening Wednesdays, Food Fridays) worked for a while, but I got out of the habit of posting three times a week. I don't think I've yet found the ideal format and content for this blog. So I'm going to be trying different things, and I hope you'll stick with me as I do.

Just wanted to let you know this is a BLOG UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

On the Bookshelf—Two Summer Reads

Here are two books I've read recently, a new release and a classic, both perfectly suited for summer enjoyment.

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand. This didn't seem like my type of book, but when we got an ARC at work I cracked it open. It was worth it.

Disaster hits Nantucket on graduation night when four high schoolers get in a car accident. One is killed, another in a coma, and the two others, along with their families and the rest of the Nantucket community, must deal with the aftermath.

Demeter was one of the survivors of the car crash. That night she had told Penny a secret that sent Penny into the rage that crashed the car and killed her. Demeter holds the secret close and spends the summer succumbing to alcoholism.

Jake was one of the survivors, as well. He was Penny's boyfriend, and just as he has to deal with his girlfriend's death his dad whisks him to Australia under the pretense of helping Jake deal. But maybe it's a last-ditch effort for Jake's father, Jordan, to save his own marriage to an unhappy Australian woman.

Or maybe Jordan is running away from Penny's mother. The mother who has to deal with one child dead and one in a coma, the woman Jordan has been having an affair with.

This captivating page-turner weaves together the stories and perspectives of multiple people in the Nantucket community as they deal with tragedy, try to figure out why Penny crashed the car, and eventually come to terms with their new lives.

Before Lunch by Angela Thirkell. Angela Thirkell began writing in the 1920s, and while she has been likened to Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, she is somewhat obscure and her books can be hard to get ahold of. But get ahold of one you should!

Before Lunch opens with Mr. Middleton, an eccentric and endearingly unaware sort (not unlike Mr. Woodhouse) who knows nothing more satisfying than a farm cart pulled by "a benevolent monster with long hairy trousers and a shining coat," a farm cart "emblazoned with one's own name." Mr. Middleton soon learns that the Stonors, his sister and her two grown-up step-children, are coming to stay for the summer. "All he knew about the young Stonors was that the son was delicate and the daughter, as he shudderingly remembered her, not delicate at all, and at the moment both states of health seemed to him equally repulsive."

The arrival of the Stonors—the robust and brash Daphne, the sickly composer Denis—ushers in a summer of dinner parties and town meetings, a host of quirky characters, falling in love, and inadvisable engagements. One of the things that makes this novel really good is not that it has a happily-ever-after everyone-hooks-up-with-the-right-person sort of ending, but because it contains both expected lightheartedness and unexpected melancholy, to produce an amusing and pleasant, yet bittersweet, story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In the Garden—Photos

Photos from my garden today  

Saturday, August 4, 2012


This week I'll be finishing off the kale tacos and picante from earlier in the week. My attempts to re-create Sangria's picante went very well, and after I make it another time or two I'll post the recipe. The tofu benedict, also, is delicious. I used the hollandaise sauce recipe and marinade recipe from this site. Instead of portabello mushrooms I used extra-firm tofu because I wanted the extra protein. My only note is that you may want to use less salt in the marinade.

 tofu benedict

Some other things I'll be eating this week:

A breakfast sandwich of Field Roast, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, and sprouts.

The usual stuff, veggies, fruit, green smoothies, plus chickpea salad and banana bread. One of these days I'll write down my recipe for wheat-free sugar-free vegan banana bread so I can post it

in mid-morning, I like to put fresh veggies out to snack on through the day

Appetizers and Dinners
Peppers, heirloom tomatoes, green apples, goat cheese.

Cherries with taleggio, almonds, olive oil, and thyme. I'll probably pair this with the mead from the Camas Prairie Winery I got for Lughnasadh. Ideally I'd use robiola cheese, but I didn't see any at the Co-op. I should check out that wine and cheese store downtown.

Grilled cheese, tomato soup, sweet potato fries, and salad with mock chicken and honey mustard.

A curry involving roasted vegetables, shrimp, and seitan. At the farmer's market today I bought a variety of peppers good for roasting. There is a stand at the Farmer's Market that at the height of the season has over 70 varieties of peppers.

just two of the varieties of peppers at the Farmer's Market

Vegan chocolate pudding

Thursday, August 2, 2012

In the Garden

There's not much to report in my garden. On one of my tomato plants the fruits are turning orange. My sunflower gets bigger every day, though it's still under three feet probably. Morning glories flower all over my garden and in the grass.

Is there anything I can do in my garden in August, besides continue to weed and water? I've got plenty of space, especially where my flower seeds failed to grow, but I'm not sure what I can do this late in the season. As the weather turns cooler I can plant more spinach, but that's a ways off yet. What can I do right now to bring some excitement to my garden?