Saturday, July 30, 2011

Too Good Not to Share

If it's true you are what you eat than my family will soon be summer squash. The zucchini and yellow squash have litterally taken over the garden. I had to cut a bunch back from covering my tomatoes and lettuce. While a lot of the branches are only producing flowers (which supposedly are delicious to eat too) we have a good amount of actual fruit (yes it's a fruit not a vegetable).

I have a lot of good green zucchini recipes - just last night I went crazy and made deep fried breaded zucchini and some yummy chocolate zucchini muffins. But I don't really have that many yellow squash recipes. So this morning I tried to look some up online. Then I said "the heck with it" and just made up my own. And let me tell you it's AMAZING.

Summer Squash and Potato Pancakes:

1 medium squash shredded (don't peel)
1 medium potato shredded (you can peel but I didn't)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 c finely shredded cheese
chopped up green onion - maybe two tablespoons, I just did one stalk
salt, pepper, garlic

After shredding the potato and squash put them either in a clean dish towel or a fine mesh strainer and squeeze out as much water as possible. Mix everything together.

Heat a non-stick pan with some oil - use a good amount so it wont stick and so you'll get a nice brown - and spoon piles of the mixture in. Flatten slightly with your spatula, once they start to brown flip them and brown the other side. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degree. You can probably skip the baking and just cook them longer in the pan but I had bacon cooking in the oven so it was just easier to keep them warm that way.

Bon Appetit

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Club #2 - Matched and Blue Plate

My second book club meeting was for the book Matched by Ally Condie.

After my first book club experience I was looking forward to discussing a book I actually liked (rather than seriously hated). This book has been compared to the Hunger Games - one of my all time favorite series. And I should have known - because I've done this before - that going into a book with high expectations is a mistake.

A side note: After seeing a tweet by the ever amazing Nina Badzin I'm going to try to be fair but not mean in my reviews. I don't think I mentioned this in the first post but if you're a writer, an aspiring writer, or dream of being a writer you really should follow Nina on twitter and subscribe to her blog.
On to the review. I don't know if it's because I read this with the thought that I will be discussing it for a book club in the back of my mind or if it really just wasn't up to my expectations but I felt extra critical of this book. Matched was slow. Very very slow. When I read a book I want to connect with my heroine and for the first 300 (out of 400) pages Cassia is dull; void of personality and character. I think a good author can build up the back story at the same time as she moves the plot along. IE I don't want 300 pages of back story and explanations. I found myself being easily distracted and having to go back and re-read paragraphs because while my eyes saw the words my mind didn't register the meaning. It just wasn't keeping my attention.

My second problem is that I don't consider myself well read. Yes I read a lot but I read a lot of fluff. And one of my literary pet peeves is when authors extensively use quotes and poetry that I recognize. There are so many amazing poems out there to choose from that when I see one in a book that I recognize I think the author was not motivated enough to search from something unknown and they took the easy way out. This stems from the fact that I don't usually recognize poetry quotes because of the actual poem but because they are quoted so often by others. Condie bases a large chunk of Matched on Dylan Thomas' Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. Who doesn't recognize the words "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Thirdly, I think Condie just tried too hard. She has a habit of repeating a sentence twice. She would take Cassia's thoughts and try to turn them into poetry. I understand she wants Cassia to be a poet and passionate but it felt forced - particularly during those first 300 pages when Cassia had no passion or personality.

But this reviwe is not all bad. After the first 300 pages Condie had me falling in love with Cassia and Ky, and even Xander and her parents. Finally everyone had fire and passion and emotions that I can connect with. I admit to crying on Trax and almost missing my stop because I was so into the story. If only she could have written like that from page 1 or even page 100. And that's where I feel like this book falls short of Tanya's standard of literary greatness. I have high hopes for the next two books. Hopefully Condie can keep the momentum and fire alive and not revert to Society dullness.

The meeting itself was GREAT! I had my doubts after the first meeting which only lasted 45 minutes, had very little discussion, and terrible food. This time we met at Blue Plate. The family took me there after my confirmation earlier this year so I knew I liked it. I'm sorry the conversation was so good that I forgot pictures. I got the corned beef and hash with eggs. True to the waiter's words the corned beef is made in house with the breakfast potatoes as the hash. They add shredded cheader cheese - which is good but unnecessary and oily. Next time I'll get it with poached eggs sans cheese. The portion is huge and I'm excited to eat it for breakfast.

Next Tuesday we're meeting at Chapin Cafe and reading Room by Emma Donoghue. I plan to take notes as I read and write up a few questions that I hope encourage better discussions and analysis of the book. Why yes I am a nerd.

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Our Garden

You know how some people have green thumbs? They can make any thing grow? I seem to have the opposite effect, a black thumb... the black thumb of death... I look at a plant and it dies. Ask the poor African Violet my friends gave me. Ohh wait you can't he's DEAD.

Despite my handicap I decided to give growing a vegetable garden a try. The back of the yard was already set for one, with neat rows and wooden planks separating the rows. So while the naughties were gone my sister and I tackled our respective gardens. Utah received a ridiculous amount of rain and snow this year and so the weeds have been astronomical. Here are pictures of the garden before we started:

We rented a tiller from Home Depot and spent an entire Friday weeding and tilling and half killing ourselves getting both gardens weed-free and ready to be planted. Sorry I don't have an after picture - I could barely move and I had the worst sun burn of my life.

I took the advice of more seasoned gardeners and covered my newly tilled ground with black painters plastic to 1) cut down on weeding and 2) keep water from evaporating. I then cut holes and planted my tomato, onion, pepper, and chive starters and my zucchini and lettuce seeds. It snowed the next day and killed everything. BLACK THUMB OF DEATH!

With attempt two I used slightly more mature starters. I still lost some (including poor Peeta my pepper plant) and some came back to life after I was sure they were goners. In the end I have managed to not kill: 3 tomato plants, 4 pepper plants, 4 broccoli plants, one small row of lettuce, an unknown number of onions, basil, cilantro (which is doing some really weird things), mint, rosemary, and 5-6 zucchinis (best vegetable for beginners because they grow like weeds).

Here are pictures from June 8th right after I planted everything post-freeze:

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Zucchini breaking out of it's seed

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See the tiny green specks? Lettuce

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Then on June 25th:

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And this past weekend (ignore the weeds they're gone now):

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That I do believe is zucchini

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