Friday, September 23, 2016

2016 CSA Week 15: The Arrival of Sweet Potatoes

This week is one of my favorite weeks.  We're getting some seriously delicious treats:
Napa cabbage
Yellow onions
Sweet potatoes
Sweet peppers
Hot pepper


  • I'm going to roast those potatoes and eat them for dinner tonight. I'm going to eat them all. Maybe Dr. BB can have a bite if he asks really nicely.
  • The napa cabbage will be used in a slaw. I have a new recipe I'm going to try that involves slivered almonds, honey, mustard, and carrots, so that might be what I use when I have napa cabbage from now on. We'll see how it goes.
  • I'll eat the peppers and most of the carrots raw with lunch.
  • The garlic and onions...we're so buried at this point that I need to take a giant donation of them over the local food bank.

*We are people who think cilantro tastes like soap, so I happily put our bunch into someone else's basket at our drop off site. I hope they aren't the kind of people who think that cilantro tastes like soap or they're going to be pissed that they have twice as much cilantro as they were supposed to get.  The lettuce didn't look at all appealing, so as soon as I took this photo, I dumped it in the trash. If I think it looks dodgy, there's no way Dr. BB is going to eat it, so that was a bummer.
And I'm actually pretty excited. I think we can use most of this basket fairly quickly and painlessly.  Yay for autumn baskets.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was a book club book, chosen when I stood up to powers of books about World War II and demanded a non-war book. Well, I guess I should have been more clear in my expectations because while this was not specifically a book about war, it's not exactly a peaceful book, either.

Purple Hibiscus, published in 2005, so don't give me any guff about spoilers, is a coming-of-age novel (bildungsroman!) of a girl growing up in an abusive household in Nigeria, filled with references to local foods, customs, and civil unrest while maintaining vivid details of what it's like to grow up in a household in which your every move can be the difference between safety and bloodiness.  Not exactly a humorous romp to finish our summer book club books, I tell you.
I, for my part, have not read much African literature. I tend to stick to European and American authors in a way that I acknowledge is problematic. Some of the more knowledgeable members of my book club mentioned that Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe as a sort of prequel to Purple Hibiscus, but I have not done that. Maybe I would have enjoyed the book more if I had done more homework on Nigeria.

I did enjoy the descriptions of the food, vegetation, and clothing in this novel. I really could feel like I was there. I had to look up so much as I was reading it, though, that I think my experience would have been greatly improved if I had read it on my Kindle. It's great that I know what fufu, onugbu, and moi-moi are and I'll someday be able to drop in religious terms like deuterocanonical, missal, oblate, and soutane into casual conversation, but having to stop every other paragraph to look up words and jot definitions onto a sticky note did not necessarily make for a convenient reading experience.

Otherwise I thought this novel was fine. The story wasn't particularly innovative or interesting and I thought it was revealing that our book club spent all of twenty minutes talking about the book and then spent an hour and a half laughing at the marginalia in one of the library copies of the book floating about the room that included a variation of a perverted poem about a centaur. So good times were had at book club, but not so much to say about the book.

I don't know if I would recommend this book unless you're super interested in how colonialism continues to manifest itself negatively in former colonies, Nigerian food, or class differences within families. Otherwise, you might want to find something else.

Friday, September 16, 2016

CSA 2016 Week 14: Tomatoes Are Back

This week's basket is definitely a transition basket between summer and fall veggies. There is some interesting stuff here:
Red cabbage
Red onions
Cherry tomatoes
Red peppers

  • So I'll eat the peppers and tomatoes raw with lunch.
  • Dr. BB will handle the lettuce. We'll use some of it on tacos and then he can use the rest on his sandwiches for lunch.
  • I'll use the cabbage for some slaw. I'll have to get some other crunchy stuff (kohlrabi, turnips, or fennel) at the farmers' market on Saturday to go along with that. I might try the lovage in the slaw, too.
  • We didn't use the broccoli last week and honestly, I kind of hate broccoli, so I'm going to tell Dr. BB that it's his responsibility. Why couldn't it be cauliflower? I would eat that raw.
  • The onions and garlic will just get added to the rest. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

I read Anne of Green Gables and assorted Montgomery novels rabidly when I was a teenager. When I first got my Kindle, the first thing I downloaded was the complete Anne Shirley canon. As an adult, I must admit to not LOVING Anne as much as I did when I was a child. The entire series seemed based on an assumption that Anne was just so charming and unforgettable that she seemed a bit too perfect for me to relate to. I can see why these books, especially the first two, really touched me as a young teenager, but I pretty much forgot about L.M. Montgomery after that.
During a routine questioning of what my husband's grandmother's favorite book was, she mentioned The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. I was a bit puzzled because I had never even heard of it.  It's a completely standalone, non-Anne book. She seemed to swoon a bit when she was describing it and it was as if we had entered a new stage of closeness in our relationship.

So I, of course, went on a search for this book. For any book I'm reading for the first time, I like to get it either free or super cheap. My local library system did not have it. My university library system had it, but only in a library four hours from my home that would require me to obtain special permission. I went into three or four used bookstores and scoured countless library sales.  No dice. It finally dawned on me that I should look at Amazon and, lo and behold, there it was at the bargain price of 99 cents for the Kindle version.  

And I agree with the swooniness of this book. It's just delightful. A not-really old maid, Valancy, gets sick and tired of her bickering, obnoxious family members and takes matters into her own hands. Hijinks, love, and long paragraphs detailing the beauty of freshly picked berries ensue.  It's also a great example of fiction in which love  between two complex characters develops over time, a true love that you know when you leave the book, that will last for the rest of their lives. This is not "love at first sight," but a mature, lovely love.

It's funny, it's sad, it's breathtaking, and it's probably going to go on my list of books to be reread every so often. I can't wait to spend time with Valancy again. This is definitely going to force me to read that download of L.M. Montgomery's short stories that I shelved after that disastrous Anne of Green Gables reread.

Read this book!

Friday, September 09, 2016

2016 CSA Week 13: No More Tomatoes

This week's basket brings us so many goodies:
Peppers (5!)
Napa cabbage
Fennel (2 bulbs)
  • The kohlrabi, cabbage, and fennel will be used in a slaw I'll make for lunch.
  • The peppers and carrots will be eaten raw as snacks.
  • Dr. BB will eat the broccoli for a side dish for dinner (probably roasted). I don't actually like broccoli that much, so it's all his.
  • The onions and garlic will just get added to our collection. There's no hope for using all of them!

Friday, September 02, 2016

2016 CSA Week 12: Autumn is Almost Here!

This week's haul is absolutely glorious:
Cherry tomatoes
Delicata squash

...and I'm not ashamed to say that I have rosemary and thyme in the fridge, too.  S&G for the win!

So I'll eat the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and peppers raw.

The kale will end up in an egg dish of some sort.

The squash will be hotly contested. Delicata is probably our favorite squash, so we'll bake it with just a pinch of parmesean cheese on it and then share it. And love every bite.

The onions and garlic will get added to our stock. Please come visit me and take some with you.

The parsley and sage are mysterious.

And, for the record, someone else is excited that we are FINALLY opening the windows again.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

I have begun asking people the following question: If you were going to recommend one book (and only one!) to me, what would it be?  And, if I like that response I might follow up with a question about whether or not that answer would be different if I were a man. 

(Total tangential note: For women, I would recommend A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. For men, I'd recommend either Ready Player One or The Martian, depending on age).

The Secret History came to me from one of those recommendations. I've found that when you limit book people to only ONE book, the cream rises to the top and I've rarely been steered wrong by this (although I don't really want to talk about Dr. BB's suggestion - The Rebel by Albert Camus - because he really doesn't seem to GET my literary desires, although to be honest I haven't read it and now feel like I need to ask to borrow his copy) so when this book was just sitting there, shelved exactly where it was supposed to be, a rarity at my public library to be sure, I snatched it up like there were hordes of people lined up behind me in search of this novel published over a decade ago. 

And it was an interesting read.

Summary: Six twits who study "Classics" at a New England liberal arts college do A Very Bad Thing and the whole novel spins a tale about the consequences of that Very Bad Thing.  I mean, you find out the Very Bad Thing in the first paragraph of the book, but I still can't find myself to actually type out what the Very Bad Thing was.  Anyway. All of the characters, our narrator included, are insufferable little pretentious snots.  I don't truly understand a mindset that allows someone to sniff some cocaine and then just drive downtown for some snacks, let alone waking up the next morning and sort of mindlessly wondering if you'd had sex with the girl down the hall. I mean, this was set in the 1990s, so this was not the era of free love.

(Total tangential note #2: I was once with a then-boyfriend/fuck buddy at the apartment of a guy he worked with and my then-bf mentioned to me that the last time he had been at that apartment, people were snorting lines of coke off the coffee table in the living room. I walked out, called a cab, and never saw that guy again.  I mean, I've never smoked pot, let alone KNOWINGLY been somewhere with cocaine or heroin.  And that ex-bf told me that I was naive and foolish and maybe so, but rampant drug use and indiscriminate drinking make me bonkers and this book was SO FULL OF IT. )

Anyway, this is coming off sort of negatively. Despite the dimwits as characters, the strange drug and alcohol use,

(seriously, my college experience was NOTHING like this at all!)

I did enjoy this book. It was gripping and psychologically interesting, the setting was well done, and there was a fabulous, ominous sense of dread that just loomed over every word you read from start to finish, and I think you would probably enjoy reading this book, too.  There's a ton of moral ambiguity that the author develops through characterization and plot. I mean, by the time you get to the Very Bad Thing, you might, as a reader, actually find yourself wondering if it was such a Very Bad Thing after all. Isn't that what you would do, after all? And the answer is NO, OF COURSE NOT, but that's because you wouldn't have gotten yourself into this crazy mess in the first place. But there you are feeling bad that you are a morally reprehensible person who buys that this Very Bad Thing is absolutely a normal response to an abnormal situation when, in fact, it's not. 

So read this.

But it won't be replacing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in my heart any time soon.
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