‘book reviews’ Category

  1. flapper’s delight

    March 31, 2017 by Angie

    This is the second cocktail recipe I’ve made from the book, How to Drink French Fluently by Drew Lazor and Camille Ralph Vidal, that I got from NetGalley. I can’t just read the cookbooks, I have to make the recipes – for delicious, boozy research purposes.


    I changed it up a little because I forgot to buy limes, I do not like gin, and I wanted to reduce the amount of sugar in the simple syrup. The slightly altered recipe follows.

    Ingredients

    8-10 mint leaves
    3/4 oz simple syrup
    1 1/2 oz vodka (or gin, if you’re 100 years old)
    1/2 oz St-Germain
    3/4 oz lime or lemon juice
    Club soda, to fill
    Ice cubes

    Instructions

      1. If you don’t already have some, you can, and I would argue you should, make your own simple syrup. Boil a cup of water and add a cup of sugar unless you think that sounds like diabetes, then up your water to sugar ratio.
      2. Get a rocks glass. Put half of the mint leaves in there then pour in the simple syrup. Crush it up with a spoon so that the mint releases its mintiness into your drink.
      3. Add the vodka, St-Germain, and juice. Stir.
      4. Add the ice cubes. Pour in club soda until your glass is full.
      5. Garnish with a mint sprig.
      6. That drink looks good on you!

    flapper's delight with vodka


  2. St-Germain cocktail

    March 15, 2017 by Angie

    OMG, you guys. It’s been a minute.

    Life has been crazy nuts. But this week is SPRING BREAK. Therefore, so many drink recipes.

    I received and read a great, new cocktail recipe book from NetGalley, How to Drink French Fluently by Drew Lazor and Camille Ralph Vidal. There are four recipes I’m dying to try and can afford/find the ingredients to make. I made two tonight. The first is the St-Germain Cocktail.

    Ingredients

    1 1/2 oz St-Germain

    4 oz cava (prosecco, champagne, whatever you got just make it brut)

    2 oz club soda

    Instructions

    Easiest recipe ever. Get a champagne flute. Pour the ingredients in. Stir. Boom, you have a delicious champagne cocktail.

    SPRING BREAK 2K17!


  3. 2016 books

    December 31, 2016 by Angie

    I broke my record for books read in a year. Twenty five was the most since I started keeping track in 2007. This year I made it to 27! I realize many people consistently read much more than that, but for me it’s a biggish deal.

    I joined a book club, I read some of these books for work, and I started receiving eBook ARCs this year from NetGalley and Edelweiss. All of that brought more books to me than usual but I’m still apt to fall asleep if I’m not standing up so my reading time is still limited. I read and reviewed cookbooks, pattern books, and travel books on Goodreads this year but did not include those in my count.

    2016 Reading Challenge

    2016 Reading Challenge
    angeleen has
    completed her goal of reading
    15 books in
    2016!
    hide

    My favorite: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich – expected publication date is February 16, 2017

    Five star winners: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, and Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

    My least favorite: Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

    The longest: Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy at 433 pages

    The oldest: also Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy originally published in 1874

    Nonfiction: 5 (I’m counting a memoir.)

    Fiction: 22

    Here is the list in the order I read them. I’ve included reviews for some and ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 stars for all.

    1. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – 2 stars

    I should probably give this a 2.5. I read the first novella which eventually became part of this book. I just was not feeling it. I’m very sorry, Margaret. I still love you.

    2. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – work – 3 stars

    3. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger – 4 stars

    4. Rising Strong by Brene Brown – book club – 3 stars

    5. MLA Handbook, Eighth Edition by The Modern Language Association of America – work – ? stars

    I realize this is a style manual, but I read it six times this summer and fall so it makes the list!

    6. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – 5 stars

    7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 4 stars

    8. Tampa by Alissa Nutting – book club – 3 stars

    9. The Vegetarian by Han King – 4 stars

    10. Teaching Information Literacy Threshold Concepts: Lesson Plans for Librarians by Patricia Bravender – work – 4 stars

    11. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 2 stars

    12. The Girls by Emma Cline – 3 stars

    It is a decent book, but the level of hype surrounding it is unwarranted. My favorite part is the way the author understands young women and puts that understanding into words via the thoughts of the main character. I especially liked her thoughts about the girlfriend who is abandoned at the house she’s staying at in real time (when she’s an older woman). For a book about a murderous cult, there was very little happening.

    13. Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat – work – 5 stars

    I’m not much of a memoirs person, but I really enjoyed this book. Danticat’s writing style makes the book flow more like a really touching, fictional story than an autobiography. I knew shockingly little about Haiti before reading this and, while I’m sure I still know basically nothing, I know more than I did and am eager to learn more.

    14. The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck – book club – 3 stars

    The pet names and “conversations” with the groceries drove me crazy. It’s Steinbeck so it was occasionally very good. I felt that the story was too drawn out. I don’t understand why the main character needed not one, not two, but three get rich quick schemes. I get that Steinbeck was saying something about materialism and morality and I appreciate that. I feel he could have said it much more succinctly. If you want a moral lesson, I recommend reading The End of the Affair by Graham Greene instead.

    15. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – book club – 4 stars

    16. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – NetGalley – 5 stars

    I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    I really liked this book! I’m not much of a science fiction or mystery reader, but this book features my favorite aspects of the best books/films/shows of those genres with great, “literary fiction”-style writing.

    Dark Matter is a book I couldn’t put down. I raced to the end. Once or twice, I thought I guessed the ending, but I believe Crouch wants readers to realize certain plot twists just before they are presented outright. There were more coming, so the book stayed intense and unpredictable. The physics and philosophy sprinkled throughout intrigued me and taught me some things I didn’t know. I enjoyed the questions this novel asks us to ask ourselves, particularly about identity and choices.

    Recommended for fans of not-so-cozy mysteries (a la Gone Girl), spooky/cerebral science fiction, and shows like The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror.

    17. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach – book club – 3 stars

    18. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison – NetGalley – 4 stars

    I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is a thought-provoking, post-apocalyptic, page turner for the rest of us! In the tradition of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, this is the end of the world from a female perspective. Just about every kind of person was represented by a complete character in this book: a gay couple, a bisexual woman, a sex worker, some LDS church members, young women, young men, people who decided to fight for their lives and people who chose to die. At no point did the book feel like a diverse checklist. Every character felt real and helped the plot along. If you like post-apocalyptic fiction like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven then The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is for you.

    19. The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff – work – 2 stars

    20. Bird Box by Josh Malerman – 4 stars

    21. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – 4 stars

    22. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich – NetGalley – 5 stars

    I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    I read more books than usual this year and Idaho is possibly the best of them all. I love Emily Ruskovich’s writing. She wove music, and one song in particular, throughout the entire book without it ever being cheesy or cumbersome. The song held the non-linear story together as we learned details out of order from a number of characters. I love that it’s a mystery and a love story. It shows characters capable of extreme violence and cruelty but also uncommon compassion and kindness. I think it’s really unique that one chapter was dedicated to a bloodhound’s experience while searching for the missing daughter.

    Idaho is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. I’m glad I didn’t skip this one and hope Emily Ruskovich’s future works are this great.

    23. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – 4 stars

    24. The Mortifications by Derek Palacio – NetGalley – 3 stars

    The characters have a lot of strongly held convictions that change too often and are too ambiguous for strongly held convictions. I enjoyed reading the book for the most part, but nothing really happened and I never became invested in any of the characters.

    25. The Futures by Anna Pitoniak – NetGalley – 3 stars

    I enjoyed this book, although it was very predictable. I graduated in 2008 like most of the characters in the book. It was a hard time to enter the real workforce. I liked the way Anna Pitoniak expressed, through the main female character, Julia, how difficult that time in life can be. The path to success is pretty clear up until graduation when things get confusing and young people are very much on their own to find work and their adult identities. The period just after graduation can be rough, even for the wealthy apparently. Much of the book is building up to a major event that I saw coming a mile away. As soon as I got the male characters’ absurdly white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant names (Jake Fletcher, Evan Peck, Adam McCard) sorted out, I knew what was going to happen. The predictability and then the slow build to a not-much-of-anything ending make this book just okay in my opinion.

    26. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman – 3 stars

    27. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – 3 stars


  4. spiced tofu

    October 31, 2014 by Angie

    This recipe for spiced tofu is from one of my first cookbooks, The Vegetarian Gourmet’s Easy International Recipes by Bobbie Hinman. I love this cookbook even though it doesn’t include a single photo. My loving it sans photos is testament to what a great cookbook it is. This recipe is a favorite that I’ve been making on and off for over a decade now so it was overdue for its own blog post. The Middle Eastern spices make this dish unique and so yummy.

    two bowls of spiced tofu

    Ingredients

    olive oil spray
    1 small yellow onion, chopped
    2 tsp minced garlic
    3/4 of a container of Pomi chopped tomatoes
    6 ounce can of tomato paste
    1/4 cup water
    1/4 cup chardonay
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    3/4 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    salt and pepper to taste
    1 container of firm tofu, pressed/drained and cut into small cubes

    Directions

    1. After preparing and chopping the onion and tofu, spray a large skillet (with a lid) with olive oil and heat to medium.

    2. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    3. Add all of the remaining ingredients except for the tofu. Stir to mix everything together well.

    4. Gently stir in the tofu. Put the lid on the skillet and reduce the heat a little. Cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    5. This is great over rice. We ate it in bowls with a side of toast and didn’t miss the rice at all.

    spiced tofu


  5. curry roasted sweet potatoes

    September 3, 2014 by Angie

    You know I’m always on the lookout for more side dishes. I semi-recently borrowed the cookbook More Peas, Thank You by Sarah Matheny from the public library and was intrigued by this recipe for curry roasted sweet potatoes. I am a sweet potato fan but have only cooked them a few times. Robbie and I both liked this and would enjoy having it again – the flavors and texture were great. The only downside is that sweet potatoes are really difficult to chop into wedges! We both worked at it for longer than seems reasonable.

    unphotogenic curry roasted sweet potatoes

    We ate this with Thai coconut tofu so the unphotogenic sweet potatoes appear oilier and less appealing than they were in real life.

    Yields way more than Robgeleen could eat.

    Ingredients
    2 tsp curry powder
    3/4 tsp ground ginger
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp garam masala
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 tbsp unsweetened soy milk
    1 lb sweet potatoes
    olive oil spray

    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 425 and spray a cookie sheet with olive oil.
    2. Cut the sweet potatoes into large wedges.
    3. In a large bowl, combine the spices, then add and combine the soy milk. Add the sweet potato wedges and stir to coat them with the spice mixture.
    4. Place the sweet potato wedges on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, turning at least once while baking.

    on the baking sheet

    The curry roasted sweet potatoes roasting on a baking sheet.


  6. tofu “chorizo” tacos

    June 26, 2014 by Angie

    For dinner last night, I tried out a new recipe from Mark Bittman’s cookbook VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 and Restore Your Health..for Good. We are obviously not going to eat meat before or after 6:00 but I wanted to check out the vegan breakfast and lunch recipes. I made his tofu “chorizo” tacos last night which he has listed as a breakfast food. Nothing is stopping me from eating tacos any time of day or night so I made it for dinner. In case you don’t want to commit to the entire book, he has this particular recipe on his website.

    mmm, avocado addition is the best addition

     Tofu “chorizo” tacos with a delicious avocado addition

    Robbie and I both loved this. We are huge Mexican food fans so a new taco recipe is always welcome. The flavors are great. It created very few pots/dishes to clean up. This will definitely be on the regular rotation at our house. I followed his directions exactly, including the optional red bell pepper. I added a bit of cumin and onion powder when I threw the chili powder in (maybe a 1/2 tsp each?) and we topped our tacos with a little sliced avocado. These tacos were so good that I didn’t miss the cheese or salsa at all.

    Note: I used La Banderita Low Carb Low Fat Tortillas, microwaved for about 40 seconds between two damp paper towels, and they were perfect. Only 5 net carbs per soft taco shell!


  7. herb-roasted cauliflower and bread crumbs

    June 19, 2014 by Angie

    I tried a second new-to-me recipe from Appetite for Reduction this week. I made herb-roasted cauliflower with bread crumbs as our side tonight. Both of the things I made, (Robbie’s favorite) blackened tofu and the cauliflower side, are from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s fantastic cookbook. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again: you really should get this book because it’s great. If you’re not going to take my advice though, you’re in luck because the recipe is online at the Humane Society of America’s site.

    herb-roasted cauliflower & bread crumbs with blackened tofu

    Robbie loves blackened tofu

    Both halves of Robgeleen endorse this recipe. It’s a very tasty excuse for eating a bunch of cauliflower. Preparation and cleanup were easy as well so it’s definitely a keeper.

    herb-roasted cauliflower & bread crumbs out of the oven

    Herb-roasted cauliflower and bread crumbs right out of the oven


  8. masala baked tofu

    June 19, 2014 by Angie

    For dinner Tuesday night I made a new favorite tofu dish from Isa Sandra Moskowitz’s book Appetite for Reduction. I marked this recipe as one I wanted to try a long, long time ago and finally got around to it this week. You should really buy the whole cookbook but, if you don’t believe me you can find the recipe here, blogged by a kind Internet person.

    Masala Baked Tofu

    Masala Baked Tofu

    Next time, I will cut the tofu differently for thinner triangles and also marinate it longer. I did the minimum one hour of marinating and the flavor was excellent but didn’t quite penetrate all the way to the center of the thick tofu triangles. Even with those lessons learned, the masala baked tofu was reallllllly good. I made cracklin’ cauliflower to go with it for a yummy, low-carb, Indian-ish meal.

    Masala Baked Tofu & Cracklin' Cauliflower

    Masala Baked Tofu with Cracklin’ Cauliflower


  9. Korean BBQ satay

    May 23, 2014 by Angie

    I got a rad e-cookbook called Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen by Joni Marie Newman. I immediately needed to make this Korean BBQ satay. I changed things up a little and skipped the kabob situation because I grilled them inside on a pan so it seemed unnecessary. The homemade BBQ sauce is the star of this show. Lucky for me, the recipe makes enough sauce to cook this up twice.

    Korean BBQ satay

    Adapted from Fusion Food in the Vegan Kitchen by Joni Marie Newman

    Ingredients for the Korean BBQ sauce
    Yields 2 1/2 cups of sauce

    3 tbsp soy sauce
    2 tbsp sesame oil
    2 tbsp rice vinegar
    1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
    1/2 tsp ginger
    1/2 tsp onion powder
    1 tbsp minced garlic (let’s be honest, I probably put closer to 2 tbsps in there)
    1 10 oz jar of roasted red peppers (you will have some left over)
    1 tbsp red pepper flakes
    1 cup of water

    Ingredients for the satay

    1 container of (extra) firm tofu
    1 cup of the Korean BBQ sauce

    Directions

    1. The tofu has to marinate in one cup of the Korean BBQ sauce overnight so the night before you want to eat this spicy, flavorful goodness, follow steps 1-3. Press and drain one block of tofu while you’re making the sauce. (I place the tofu on a plate on top of two paper towels, put two more and another plate on top, then put a heavy glass bowl on top of that. It makes a watery mess but I place it on top of the range so it’s not hard to deal with and doesn’t leak onto the cabinets and floor.)

    2. To make the sauce, combine the ingredients from soy sauce to minced garlic in a blender, food processor, or the measuring cup that comes with an immersion blender. I chose the measuring cup/immersion blender option which is nice because you can see how much sauce you have as you’re making it and it’s the easiest to clean up. I put those ingredients in the measuring cup and blended briefly. I then added pieces of roasted red peppers from the jar in stages – blending, checking the measurement, adding more, blending, checking again – until I had a fully blended 1 1/2 cups of sauce. Then I added the red pepper flakes and stirred with a spoon. I measured out one cup of water in a different measuring cup and poured it into the sauce. Stir or blend a little more so that the water is fully incorporated into the sauce.

    2. Pour all but one cup of the sauce into an airtight container and save it for later. The cookbook author said it will last up to two weeks this way. I used leftover sauce one week later and it was just as good.

    3. Cut the tofu in half and then into thin strips, about 3/4 inch wide. I got 12 strips out of my tofu. Place the tofu in another airtight container and cover in the one cup of reserved Korean BBQ sauce. Store in the refrigerator until dinner tomorrow.

    4. On THE BIG DAY, heat a grill pan on medium heat. Place the tofu strips on the grill. Leave them until they have nice grill marks then flip to the other side and do the same. Mine were thick enough that I could actually stand them on their sides so I ended up grilling them on four sides.

    Korean BBQ satay on the new grill pan

    Cooking up the tofu in my new nonstick grill pan

    5. Serve the tofu with a side of something tasty, like asparagus.

    I’m sure there are other great uses for the extra BBQ sauce but I haven’t used it for anything else yet. It could be a good spicy dipping sauce for something.


  10. slow cooker French onion soup

    May 15, 2014 by Angie

    I love French onion soup but it’s usually made with beef (or chicken or both) stock. I have had excellent vegetarian French onion soup in the past, however, so I know it’s possible. The most heavenly soup of all time was eaten by us at Le Potager du Marais, a vegetarian restaurant in Paris, on our honeymoon.

    Le Potager du Marais

     At Le Potager du Marais. Mmm, I want to live in Paris and eat this everyday.

    The slow cooker version I made today is really good but I am open to trying different recipes and techniques in my quest to make the perfect French onion soup.

    slow cooker French onion soup

    Tonight’s dinner: slow cooker French onion soup

    Slightly adapted from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson

    Ingredients

    about 2 tbsp olive oil
    4 medium yellow onions, sliced thinly
    5 cups of vegetable broth
    1/3 cup of red wine (I used Finca Copete Malbec/Tempranillo blend.)

    Finca Copete
    1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 tsp thyme
    a healthy sprinkle of garlic powder
    a healthy sprinkle of dried parsley
    1 bay leaf
    salt and pepper to taste
    a fresh loaf of French bread (Thank you, Publix Bakery!)
    shredded Gruyere or (vegan) cheese of your choice

    Directions

    1. Pour some olive oil in the bottom of your slow cooker and turn it to low while you thinly slice four or five onions. Add the onions to the slow cooker. Cook them for about eight hours, stirring occasionally if you’re home and have that luxury.

    2. When the eight hours have passed, the onions will be caramelized and delicious-smelling. Add the vegetable broth, red wine, vegan Worcestershire sauce, thyme, garlic powder, parsley, bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. Continue to cook on low for about 45 minutes.

    3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Shred some Gruyere and cut enough 3/4 inch slices of bread to cover the tops of the soup for the number of servings you’re preparing. We each fit two in our bowls but could have done three if we were feeling ambitious/gluttonous.

    4. I baked the bread slices for a few minutes alone then took them out, placed the shredded Gruyere on top, and put them back in until the cheese was melted.

    5. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with cheesy bread slices and some extra shredded Gruyere. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    a bowl of soup