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Apparently I haven’t been here in, um, a week. Wow. I haven’t turned on my computer for a few days. I checked my email at work on Saturday (shhhh) to see if the world had ended, but apparently it hadn’t so I went back to my book (it was slow).
What have I been doing? Eating blueberries. Reading. Socializing. Housesitting. Watering the garden. Oh, and overheating at work. The worst thing about summer. And apparently not having all that much to say. I just looked at my sitemeter for the old blog, because I never deleted it and I was curious, and I’ve sure gotten a lot of searches lately for a certain key phrase that made it onto a bumper sticker. And, naturally, searches are from Portland. Hmm.
At the moment I’m reading Un Lun Dun, whose language has sucked me in if not the story. I could care less, really, that Zanna is the Schwazzy, but how I do love saying “Schwazzy” out loud as I read. Kitri was rather taken with the edible cravat when I read that bit aloud. The tiny illustrations are nifty. I hope the plot picks up, soon, because so far it’s heavy on the atmosphere and not much else.
I finished The Post-Birthday World, which was delightfully hard to put down, and rewarded the reader who pays attention to detail. Basically, if you don’t know, after the first chapter in which Irina faces a cross-roads decision in her life, the story splits into two stories – one for each possible choice. This could have resulted in two wildly different stories – and in one sense they are – but at heart, the stories are still knit together by the things that aren’t different. The same arguments come up, but in each version she falls on a different side. The same trip might be taken, but with different results. The same meals cooked. The same dinner had with a friend, but with opposite reactions to Irina’s news. You get the idea. Each story paves the way for the alternate chapter to follow, and at times the order really sets the stage for the alternating chapter, making it funnier or more heart-breaking than it would have been standing on its own.
The problem, though, is that once I finished the book, I fell out of love with it. I loved the idea, and the unfolding of the idea, and the ultimate chapter brought the stories back together nicely. I can’t quite put my finger on what bugged me. Maybe I like a nicer emotional ending. Maybe I wanted certain characters to ‘get what they deserved.’ I’m not sure. I definitely recommend it as a solid, engrossing read, but you won’t find me raving about it. I’m curious if anyone else has read it?
By the time I finished it was late-ish on Saturday night, but the neighbors were have an expletive-fueled party, so I turned the fan on for white noise and sat down with The Plain Janes, which Kitri had already read. I ate it up, except for two things: 1) the other Janes never break out of their stereotype roles. Sure, sure, they all knit together, and maybe the length of the book didn’t give them enough room, but still. Bugged. 2) If I didn’t know a sequel was planned, the ending would bug me to no end. Those things aside, I loved their art attacks, and the Jane-ness, and the graphic novel format served the story well. Definitely worth the hour or two.
Did I ever mention that I ended up loving The History of Love? Because I did. Three tapes into the audiobook, I was hooked. Now I’m listening to Kaaterskill Falls and am hooked on it. Not in an ‘I must bring the tapes in the house with me and listen at every possible moment’ way, but more in an ‘I can listen to lots on this 45 minute drive’ way.
Oh, and my June book roundup before I forget.
- 18 total, 9 children’s/YA, 9 adult (nice split!)
- 1 graphic novel, 5 audio books
- One walking mummy
- One opera singer
- Two sons of Poseidon
- Two acts of hostage-taking
- Three audio books about old men
- Three that I almost put down without finishing
- Five books about books, or that rely heavily on another author’s work, covering The Great Gatsby, the works of Shakespeare, a novel within a novel, the works of Jane Austen, and Stuart Little.
This week’s Monday Food Extravaganza* recipe was for a Nectarine & Raspberry Tart. Feeling contrary, I made a Peach and Blueberry Tart. Not like I couldn’t get my hands on the appropriate fruits, but I’m learning to embrace the act of messing with a recipe. Wild! That’s me!
The ingredients assemble themselves. Pretty simple, really. Blueberries (from you know where), butter, peaches (from California), puff pastry (from the freezer), eggs, sugar, raw milk, cornstarch. At this point the vanilla bean and milk were heating, so the bean was absent from the photo. It was, I might add, my first ever vanilla bean. Not shockingly expensive, but more than I care to spend on a regular basis.
There was plenty of whisking action (very Library Girl). Adding of egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch mixture (the recipe instructed me to beat until “very white and light” – self respecting egg yolks will never be part of a white batter, do you hear me? NEVER.) More whisking. Melting of butter. More whisking.
Slicing of fruit. More whisking.
Finally, the vanilla cream was set to rest and cool in an ice water bath. The oven was preheated. Some coffee was drunk. Needless to say, the vanilla cream was taste-tested at this point as well.
Finally, the layering began, with a one inch border left to puff.
I thought the ruler from my sewing box would make a nice photo opportunity. Peaches were added. Brown sugar was sprinkled.
It went in the oven. Since I didn’t use as much puff pastry as the recipe called for (about 9 oz instead of 13 – it was either the whole box or half) I had extra everything, so I had a snack while I waited.
Emerged, the tart was sprinkled with blueberries, and I used my patented tea-ball sieve to dust it with powdered sugar.
It requires vigorous tapping but does the job.
If I were feeling really brave, I would’ve attempted my own puff pastry. I’m not. I’m lazy, and there was some in the freezer. Thanks, Kate.
The rest of the photos are, as always, on flickr.
I might make another one for the Independence Day festivities, or I might get an early start on next week’s recipe. Either way it will involve blueberries.
*”The Ice Capades are an extravaganza, Jason.”
I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
And my on and off participation in the Sunday 7 Kicks continues.
- See above.
- See below.
- Sophie is getting married today. Or, probably, is already married. Either way, thinking of her.
- New skirt. Call me shallow, but it’s light and twirly and perfect for warm summer days.
- Warm chocolate bundt cake with vanilla ice cream.
- Stack of books to be read.
- Coffee with friends.