Saturday, December 30, 2017

What I read this fall

I received a Kindle Unlimited subscription for my birthday, which shifted my reading list A LOT - more, shorter, trashier is probably the nicest way to summarize the change. The following are the best things I read in the past three months:

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves

Penhale Wood by Julia Thomas

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavalarro

And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker

Galaxy's Edge: Legionnaire by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach

It should be noted that only the last book in the list came to me from Kindle Unlimited...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The best things I cooked earlier this year

A few more great recipes, from earlier this year...

Ja Jang Myeon from My Korean Kitchen: just like my favorite restaurant version

Scallion and Coconut Rice with Pork from Food52: this is fairly dull the day you make it, but as leftovers it's just amazing

Irish Soda Bread Muffins from Well Plated: very easy, and the version with dried cranberries is something special

White Chicken Potpie from NYT: not easy, but so delicious! You can make the filling ahead of time, to speed things up at dinner time.

Thai Green Curry from Rasa Malaysia: easy and tasty. I usually add some extra vegetables.

Shiksa Blintzes from Tori Avey: delicious! remember to drain the ricotta really well before making these.

Custardy Apple Squares by Dorie Greenspan via Serious Eats: so yummy, but a little messy to serve

Friday, December 22, 2017

The best things I cooked recently

I set a more manageable goal of 52 new recipes year, and hit that number around Thanksgiving. Quite a lot of them were really good - maybe I'm getting better at reading recipes and picking out the ones my family will enjoy? Here are some of the best:

Apple Cranberry Tart (with almond paste) from Viking River Cruises: sweet, almond-y, delicious... I would use a better choice of apple than MacIntosh, but otherwise wouldn't change a thing.

Cranberry Brie Bites (on crescent roll dough) from these were a bit fiddly to assemble, and they made a huge mess of my mini-muffin tin... BUT they were amazingly tasty, and even the picky eaters in the family really liked them.

Bourbon Snickerdoodle Blondies from Broma Bakery: these were disappointingly dull on the first day, but got better with age.

Sourdough No Knead Dutch Oven Bread (with yogurt) from Tidy Mom: this is like cheater's sourdough bread and everyone loves it. I did a variation with 1 cup whole wheat flour replacing 1 cup white flour, and molasses replacing the honey, and it's our new family standard.

Easy One Bowl Oatmeal Cookies from Serious Eats: follow the directions exactly, and you'll get perfect oatmeal cookies.

Chocolate Chunk Orange Scones from Cookies and Cups: very good scones; made them without the glaze because they're already quite sweet.

Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onions from Smitten Kitchen: very good, even though I cheated and used Trader Joe's crispy onions instead of making my own

Teddie's Apple Cake from Food52: easy and delicious. My students loved it.

Pumpkin Bread from Smitten Kitchen: so, so good and much in demand since I first made it this fall.

Momofuku's Soy Sauce Eggs from Food52: use low-sodium soy sauce or they turn out WICKED salty... but still delicious. These are great to keep in the fridge as a high-protein snack.

Hobo Bibimbap from Food and Wine: not quick to make, but most of it can be prepped ahead of time. This was a HUGE hit at my cousin's birthday party, and even the picky eaters in the family enjoy it.

Shrimp Cocktail from Serious Eats: a lot of work, but absolutely worth it

Apple Weekend Cake by Dorie Greenspan (via David Lebovitz): easy and delicious.

Apple Ricotta Cake (AKA Lousia's Cake) from Food52: slightly sticky, but otherwise excellent. This is a great way to use up leftover ricotta...

I also made two great recipes that don't have online links: Copycat Panera Turkey Chili from a website that seems to have gone defunct... fortunately I wrote it down while making it, so I still have the original. It was delicious and made enough food to be lunch all week. Also the Raspberry Rhubarb Muffins from Flour by Joanne Chang. I found many of her other recipes to be frustratingly imprecise, but this worked perfectly except for making 20 muffins instead of jus 12.

What I Read this Summer

I read a lot, like 75 books or so, depending on whether you count "summer" as being the period between the end of school and the start of school, or June 21 - September 21. The best ones I read were

Miss Buncle’s Book by D E Stephenson
Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman
The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves
The Stone Sky by N K Jemisin
Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn
The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox
The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian
A Queen from the North by Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

Edited to add: somehow, this didn't post back when I wrote it in September, and I've been busy enough that I didn't notice. So here it is, almost 3 months late... 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Sunken Cherry Lemon Cake, with dog

I'm participating in the Food52 Baking Project. This month, the featured cookbook is Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan and my copy still hasn't arrived, so I'm limited to what's available online. Thus far, I've only made the Custardy Apple Squares and they were delicious!

Last month's cookbook was Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss. I've been a fan of her blog for years, so this is actually what convinced me to join the project. For yesterday's Throw Back Thursday, I made a Sunken Cherry Lemon Cake. It needed more lemon, and I lost track of time and slightly over-baked it. However, the whole excuse for this post is that I took a picture of it, and it came out surprisingly well. Here it is:

Please note the small hopeful dog in the bottom left corner. Sorry about the funky shadows...

The plate is by Calamityware; we have almost a whole set.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Rereading Patricia Wentworth's mysteries starring Miss Silver

I had the most awful headache and upset stomach for about three days, so I mostly flopped on the sofa and let the dog flop on me, and read. I have a large stockpile of the Miss Silver mysteries by Patricia Wentworth; they're all out on Kindle now, and a few of them have been on super-sale at various points.

I have a great residual fondness for mysteries from the "Golden Age" of British mystery writing. Agatha Christie is possibly my least-favorite of the women who wrote then, although she's definitely the most famous. I like Ngaio Marsh and Marjory Allingham, and I adore Josephine Tey and Dorothy Sayers. For me, Patricia Wentworth falls somewhere between liking and adoring. I think that her best works are very good, indeed, although not at the level of art described by Gaudy Night or The Daughter of Time.

However, reading all her works at once (a challenge, as she wrote over 60 mysteries) quickly reveals some of her weaknesses. Certain stock characters seem to reappear. Certain motives also get deployed too frequently. Many of the resolutions depend on unbelievable coincidence. The classism, racism, and sexism of the period does not charm me.

To be honest, I did not read all of them. I set out to do so, but realized I would be sick and tired of them long before I finished. (Also, buying almost 50 books at roughly $6 per, would be prohibitively expensive.)

The best two I've read are Through the Wall and The Clock Strikes Twelve.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

In which I run a lot of errands

It's always weird, the first two weeks after the school year ends. I always end up running a TON of errands, like all the things that I meant to do in April and May but somehow never quite got to. Thus, I have seen the optometrist and the dentist and will be visiting the podiatrist and the allergist next.

I've gone shopping at a Russian import store I'd heard about (Victory International Market, don't let the sketchy exterior put you off because the food inside is quite delicious and reasonably priced.) Finally went to the nearest L. L. Bean store and got a lovely utility skirt and two gorgeous flannel shirts. Bought food-safe mineral oil to bring all the wooden bowls and cutting boards back up to snuff. Bought stamps, deposited checks, mailed packages, ordered thank-you gifts, and began the long and thankless job of cleaning up my office.

In the next few days, I have to register for the July version of NaNoWriMo, write thank-you notes, do a lot more laundry, and begin seriously cleaning the house (once I finish with my office!)

So that's about it. Nothing really fun to report yet.

Edited to add: Oh, wait. Wonder Woman. That was fun. And so was King Arthur, although they should have just called it something else and stopped pretending it was related to the Arthurian legend at all. Just make it another fantasy about a sword and a couple of mages, already.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Studio Ghibli, on the big screen

So that's another school year in the books (although I'm still writing comments and ordering things for next year) and, as usual, I was terrible about blogging. Part of it is that I haven't been knitting. Part of it is ongoing concerns about the privacy of the people whom I teach. Part of is is that my New Year's resolution turned out to be, "Less time with screens; more time with people" and I've been doing a bang-on job of living up to it.

However, today's exciting news is that Studio Ghibli, makers of such classes as Spirited Away and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, will be the subject of a Fathom Events series, in which six classic movies are once-again shown on the big screen.

Details here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Three important dates

Presented without explanation (due to my job) but highly significant and I need to write them down somewhere.

Monday, January 9th, 8:24pm (CNTV)

Tuesday, January 30th, about 10:10am (CNTV again)

Thursday, January 26th, 2:15pm (RDK)

Edited to add:

You can put Tuesday, February 28, about 12:30pm on that list, too... (CCG)

And now, you can add Wednesday, May 10th, about 10am (IGK)

Edited to add:

And now, Friday, 27 April, about 12:10pm (SAI)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Day 21: life still sucks

I have a cough that won't go away and a massive sleep deficit.

I wanted to attend one of the protest marches, but my sons had a recital and I opted to do that instead. (Plus, you know, the cough...)

I haven't read a single new novel in the past two weeks.

I have over an inch of grading to do this weekend.

I haven't seen a new movie in the past three weeks, but I hope to rectify that tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day 17: well that week was weird

Last week was WEIRD. Good-weird, bad-weird, and everything in between.

Anyone reading this will note that I have, once again, massively fallen off in my blogging ritual after the first four days of singular virtue. Much of that has been due to business with the Swimming and Diving team. Much of the rest has been due to the stress of being around seniors who are not yet committed to a college.

So, due to the constraints of my job, I can't say much about the week. However, I will note that

1) Being in a fight with one of your closest friends SUCKS
2) Acquiring a new advisee mid-year eats up hours and hours of time. (The kid is delightful. The older advisees get along great with him. He seems to like them, too. But the meetings! oh the meetings! to make it all transition smoothly...)
3) Looking at resumes is both stressful and depressing. We're advertising for an AP Statistics teacher. We're getting everything except that, thus far.
4) My advisees will stretch a 2-hour outing to a 4-hour outing if given the opportunity.
5) Lots of my friends and colleagues seem very sad and grouchy about the upcoming presidential inauguration. I'm not going to a protest march because my sons have a concert that day. But I know where they're coming from...

So there we are. I'll just file this one under "Whining" and try to take pictures of my knitting to make better blog fodder for tomorrow.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Day 7: bits about diving

I've been trying to up my game prior to our team's big diving meet at the end of the month.

To remember the order of numbering, it's F-BRIT:
Front (100s)
Back (200s)
Reverse (300s)
Inward (400s)
Twist (500s)

The positions go
Straight (A)
Pike (B)
Tuck (C)
Free (D) but I haven't found a useful mnemonic for this yet.

(It's kind of like remembering the order in a medley relay: Back Breast Fly Free but at least that one's alphabetical)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Day 4: Reading wish list

I have a lot of books to read before Hugo nominations open. If you read my entry from the 1st, you've seen a pretty good estimate of what I've liked thus far. The things I haven't read yet include the following:

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Borderline by Mishell Baker
Dark Run by Mike Brookes
Remnants by Trust by Elizabeth Bonesteel
United States of Japan by Peter Tiervas
Super Extra Grande by Yoss, David Frye translator
Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja
The Vagrant by Peter Newman
Escapology by Ren Warom
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
After Atlas by Emma Newman

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Day 3: Wrapping up 2016, TV

We are finally almost finished with Person of Interest, which is available on Netflix. It's seriously one of the best shows I've ever seen. Go watch it if you haven't already!

I've also been watching Bull, Conviction (already cancelled, alas), Pitch, Timeless, and Designated Survivor.

I've also continued watching Elementary and NCIS: New Orleans.

I spent a lovely 17 days glued to Olympics coverage.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Day 2: wrapping up 2016, MOVIES

I saw 50 movies last year, which was far above my original goal of 26, but just under my stretch-goal of 52. I enjoyed quite a lot of them, so this post may run a little long...

My favorite movie, hands down, was Arrival.

After that, in no particular order... (out of the new arrivals in 2016 or very late 2015)
Rogue One
Finding Dory
Captain America: Civil War
Kubo and the Two Strings
Florence Foster Jenkins
Money Monster
Hail, Caesar!
Whisky Tango Foxtrot
Star Trek: Beyond
Ghost Busters

Watching things from previous years, I also really enjoyed
Ex Machina
Magic in the Moonlight

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Day 1: wrapping up 2016, BOOKS

I had a screaming headache all yesterday, so I mostly wrote stuff, moped around on the couch, and went to bed before midnight.

I read 144 books and novellas last year. 67 of them were by new-to-me authors. 14 were rereads, so 130 of them were new-to-me works.

Here's the best of the new-to-me stuff that I read last year...

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
Radiance by Catherine Valence
City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin
The Obelisk Gate by N K Jemisin
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Penric's Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
Summerlong by Peter S Beagle
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Kingfisher by Patricia Mckillop
The End of All Things by John Scalzi
Feedback by Mira Grant

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon
If I Stay by Gail Forman 

Harbour Street by Ann Cleeves

Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh
Artistic License by Elle Pierson
In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

Snobs by Julian Fellowes