Friday, August 20, 2010


70. The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt
This book lost stars as it went on and on and on. I liked the book a lot at the beginning, but the detailed descriptions and zillions of characters barely kept my interest as I slogged through like the last 1/3rd of the book. I have had this experience with Byatt before. If all her books were like 25% less long, I would like them a lot better.

71. Naked Once More by Elizabeth Peters
This is a different series than the one based around Amelia Peabody, which I love, but it was still quite good. I didn't realize it was actually in a series until I finished it, but I will be getting the rest eventually. It was a fun, light hearted mystery with an awesome female romance-writer protagonist.

72. The Light Ages by Ian R. McLeod
This book just never came together for me. I couldn't get a good sense of the world it was set in, and there was a big huge mystery that did not compel me and did not interest me when it was revealed. I don't know, it seems like I should have liked this book more, but it just didn't work out between us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Beatles 3000

This is a hilarious look at what will be known of the Beatles in the year 3000. Also makes a good parallel to a lot of assumptions made in anthropology when reconstructing the past.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Blogroll business

So I subscribe to a lot of blogs on Bloglines, and my poor blogroll was long and confusing. I have culled some really old blogs that were not updated in a long time and I organized it by topic. So if you only want to know what food blogs I read or what book blogs I read, you can now easily see.

Plague Ship!

69. Plague Ship by Frank G. Slaughter
There is one book from my vacation reading that I must post about -- Plague Ship! This book is awesome. First, I bought it for 25 cents while visiting Katie (who doesn't get a link since she hasn't blogged since February). I can't believe the library was culling this! Mysterious plague from the past! Sexist doctors with sexist descriptions given of young secretaries! Giant plot holes and foreshadowings that never occur! Awkward exposition given through dialogue. This book is exactly like a bad movie that is so bad you have to love it. Really. Better yet, Frank G. Slaughter was apparently a real surgeon, and wrote other awesome sounding books like Epidemic!, Women in White and Doctor's Wives. I plan on reading more of this excellent author and highly recommend him to you, if you enjoy movies like you find on Mystery Science Theater.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is apparently an amazing miracle grain full of protein and able to make you leap tall buildings in a single bound. I mostly just think it is tasty and I like it a lot better than cous cous so I use it in many cous cous applications.

I have only had it hot until recently, but then I realized I could make quinoa in my rice cooker which doesn't heat up the kitchen and THEN I could put the quinoa in the fridge, making an excellent summer dinner. Here is my improvised quinoa salad.

Yummy Summer Quinoa Salad
(partially inspired by this one, on The Picky Palate)

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 orange sweet pepper, chopped kinda small
2 scallions, chopped, both white and green parts
1 avocado, chopped
1 small can mandarin oranges
1/2 a jalapeno (if you dare. Mine was really mild.)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil

First, unless you have indication that your quinoa was pre-rinsed, put it in a mesh colander and run a bunch of water over it. It can have a bitter/soapy taste if you skip this step. Rinse rinse rinse.
Next, put the quinoa and the water in your rice cooker and turn it on. In 15 or so minutes you will magically have cooked quinoa. If you don't have a rice cooker, simmer the quinoa and the water on the stove. Really, it cooks just like rice.
Let the quinoa cool some and put it in a big bowl. Add all the veggies and oranges. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil. Pour this over the quinoa and veggies and stir it all up. Put in the fridge for a bit and eat! Yum!

I did find this a little too sweet, so next time I will decrease the sugar by about half. You might want to start with that. Also, I meant to add fresh mint but forgot. It would be good though! Throw some in! Or parsley even.

I cooked the corn one of my two favorite ways. #1 is grilled, but here I steamed the corn. The idea is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Basically, put the corn in a big pot with like an inch of water, cover, and cook for like 15 minutes. I think it is sweeter and more tender than boiling the corn in a huge pot of water and it takes less water and is therefore faster.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


OK, if I write reviews for all the books I read on vacation I will be here the rest of my life. So here is a list. If anyone is super curious what I thought of any of them, you can ask. :) All were acceptable to varying degrees.

60. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

61. Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

62. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

63. Heat Lightning by John Sandford

64. Serious as a Heart Attack by Louisa Luna

65. The Quiet Dogs by John Gardner

66. Smiley's People by John le Carre

67. White Hot by Sandra Brown

68. Pretty Boy Floyd by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shahi paneer

R came across some paneer on sale at the grocery store, so we decided to try a new to us Indian recipe. Here is some shahi paneer; a dish with paneer (Indian cheese) and a tomato based sauce. It was pretty easy and I thought it was pretty flavorful. R thought it needed more spices, but to me it was good for an every day supper. I've put the recipe below. If you think your palate is more like R's than mine, feel free to increase the spices, especially the chili powder.

Shahi paneer recipe
(Adapted from
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp chili powder
4-5 Roma tomatoes, pureed
1/2 lb. paneer, cubed
1/4 c water
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
1/4 c cream
at least 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in the oil until the onions are golden brown -- about 10 minutes (less if you have a more powerful stove). When the onions are brown, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and chili powder. Stir it all around and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the pureed tomatoes and cook about 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until some of the liquid evaporates and the oil begins to separate out. You'll see a few pools of oil forming. Add the paneer, water, sugar and salt. From this point on stir gently so that the paneer does not break up too much. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the paneer absorbs the tomato sauce and turns kind of orange-ish, about 10 minutes.

Lower the heat to a simmer and add the cream while stirring. Simmer about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cilantro and serve.

We served this with store bought naan and jasmine rice. Yum yum.

Also, we are still on the hunt for a muttar paneer recipe, so if you have one, let me know!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Funny funny blog

So one of my new favorite blogs is Hyperbole and a Half. The illustrations really add to the hilarity. Also, I really relate to a lot of things about this blog. This is how I still feel about bikes and I have totally had this experience with a cat before.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


56. Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry
A series of vignettes about Perry's life as a writer and volunteer fire fighter in a small Wisconsin town. I really like Perry's voice and the setting, so I liked this book a lot.

57. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
The third in this super popular series. I liked this one, but I don't have the fanatical love for these books that some others have. I thought it wrapped things up pretty well, though, and through the whole series I really liked reading about Sweden.

58. The Snake, The Crocodile and the Dog by Elizabeth Peters
Another awesome Amelia Peabody mystery. Nothing more to say.

59. To the Edge: A Man, Death Valley, and the Mystery of Endurance by Kirk R. Johnson
This book was really interesting. It is the story of a reporter who signs up for Badwater, a 135 mile ultramarathon from the lowest point in Death Valley to the highest point. Johnson signs up for the race after his brother commits suicide -- Johnson's goal is to explore what makes a person able to endure. Johnson takes another brother and sister with him as crew, and aside from the family stories we also see Johnson's change from an observer of the race (as a reporter) to a whole hearted participant. The early part of the book was less interesting to me as I was not compelled by the questions of why some people do endurance events or even are able to survive certain circumstances while others cannot. What most interested me, was how the idea of Badwater started to obsess Johnson. The books does a good job of carrying the reader along on this transformation. At first I thought only crazy people would run the race, but by the end of the book I could understand its appeal. I'm unlikely to be running in the sauna to train for this race any time soon, but this book is a good glimpse into why someone might do something like that.


R and I just got back from an awesome 2 week vacation in Costa Rica. We saw lots of monkeys, we saw a hawk eat a snake that was planning to eat a frog, we saw sea turtles laying eggs and we saw a volcano. We relaxed and read books on a mountain. We swam in the ocean a little and braved walking on a windy road with crazy drivers in the rain. It was fun. Here are a few pictures -- more are on Flickr.