Saturday, January 30, 2010

Movie: "A Single Man"

[IMG_1612.jpg]Colin Firth plays a gay university professor in Los Angeles in the early 60's.  He's mourning the death of his lover and planning suicide when the pain continues nearly a year afterword.  He lives in a modern house with lots of glass, and is friends with a former lover played by Julianne Moore, who continues to think there's a possibility of restoring their sexual relationship.  Because the director is designer Tom Ford, everyone and everything is beautiful.  After meeting up with one of his gay students at a bar, he begins to think there's a possibility of happiness.  Alas, it's not to be.

Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

One thing leads to another.  I bought molasses for the baked beans, so this morning I baked molasses cookies to use some of it up.  It's a simple, spicy recipe that makes a very nice tasting cookie.  The recipe is from The Joy of Cooking.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Finished Object: Ninja Style Helmet Liner

One of my knitter friends is having a Superbowl knitting party and asked attendees to make helmet liners to donate to U.S. servicepeople.  I used this pattern and Shepherds Wool yarn.  It wasn't a very interesting pattern, but it went quickly and I love the yarn.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Book: "A Gate at the Stairs"

This Lorrie Moore novel takes on post 9/11 anxiety, racism, and the coming of age of a girl from the country who is attending university in the "Athens of the midwest."  As usual the characters are quirky and the wordplay plentiful.

My rating:  **** (out of 5)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicken Posole

 Even though this is a Martha Stewart recipe, it's surprisingly quick and easy, especially if you use grocery store rotisserie chicken.  I'd probably find her insufferable in person, but she does have some good recipes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Movie: "Crazy Heart"

I was predisposed to like this movie because I'm a sucker for both outlaw style country music and Jeff Bridges.  I realize that the Maggie Gylenhall character, a reporter for the Santa Fe newspaper, was living in a house that would easily go for $800,000 in Santa Fe and I also realize that Bad Blake's recovery from alcoholism was too quick and easy.  Nevertheless I liked the movie - a lot.

My rating:  **** (out of 5)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Book: "Olive Kitteridge"

This novel, in the form of 13 connected short stories, centers on Olive Kitteridge, an overbearing small town middle school math teacher who ignores many of the social niceties.  Although she's not always likeable, she is understandable.    It deserves the Pulitzer Prize that it won because it's a masterpiece.

My rating:  ***** (out of 5)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Epiphany Pie or Galette des Rois

Epiphany Pie began as a religious tradition, celebrating the visit of the three Magi to the infant Jesus, but has become a French cultural tradition.  It involves a flaky pastry pie filled with frangipane, a mixture of almond cream and pastry cream.

Hidden in the pie is a feve - originally a fava  bean, but now a small porcelain figure.  Traditionally the mother cuts and distributes the pie following instructions from the youngest family member who sits under the table.  The person who gets the feve is the king (or queen) for the day, gets to wear the paper crown that comes with the pie, and gets to choose who will be the corresponding queen (or king).

The French Institute of Michigan, where I take French classes, had a Galette des Rois event today and, as you can see from the photo above, I was lucky enough to find a feve.  For more information, click here.

Alton Brown's Once and Future Bean

Here's another recipe from my knitting friend Lynne.  She makes a vegetarian version, but I kept the bacon Alton Brown calls for, reducing it from one pound to  half a pound.  Jalapeno peppers give this dish some zing.  I expect to make this again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Black Bean Ancho Chili

The ancho chilies make this a very spicy chili, but the avocado salsa helps cool it down.  I liked it but was not crazy about it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Maple Granola

I got this recipe from my knitting friend, Lynne, and it's delicious!  Made a half batch because I wasn't sure how much I'd like it, but now wish I'd done a full batch.  I'm having yogurt and granola for dinner tonight.

Cardamom Streusel Coffee Cake

About 2 weeks ago I paid $8 for a jar of cardamom - needed it for Broccoli Spinach Soup (from The New Basics cookbook).  The soup was okay, but not something I'd make again.  So then I had to look for another way to use cardamom.  This coffee cake was also okay, but not anything exceptional.  Guess I'm still on the hunt for a tasty way to use an expensive spice.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book: "The Lacuna"

Harrison Shepherd by chance becomes plaster mixer, cook, and later secretary to Diego Rivera.  This leads to relationships with Frida Kahlo and Trotsky.  After Trotsky's assassination, he settles in Asheville, South Carolina to a life writing novels about ancient Mexican cultures.  But then comes the Communist witch hunts in America and he becomes a victim.  The McCarthy era section of the book was less satisfying than the earlier sections.

My rating:  ****

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Finished Objects: Felted Slippers

Patterns:  Fiber Trends Felt Clogs AC-33
              Fiber Trends Crocheted Felt Slippers

Yarns:  Cascade 220 (Blue and Purple)
             Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherds Wool (Greens)

These were lots of fun to make and I'm very satisfied with the result.  I got extensive felting assistance from Tina.