Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, The Host, Prague Winter, Shakespeare in Italy, and Seven Daughters of Eve

Let’s talk books! The good, the pedantic, and Stephenie Meyer’s already-made-into-a-movie foray into science fiction.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three stars, because this book can only be described as uneven. On the one hand, I was absolutely fascinated by the Kingsolver family’s adventures in producing most of their own food for an entire year. Probably because I already had my own fantasies about moving to a farm and subsisting on my own heirloom vegetables and heritage farm animals. I loved the recipes and seasonal menus, as well as the practical information on homesteading, including hilarious accounts of things like mushroom hunting, using a year’s bounty of zucchini, and breeding turkeys. And of course I related to the trip to Italy.

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The Joys of a Liquid Diet

As I mentioned in my last post, I had jaw surgery two and a half weeks ago. No, I don’t really want to talk about it, since thinking about what my surgeon was doing while I was out still makes me queasy (if you’re absolutely dying to know, you can look up orthognathic surgery on Wikipedia and learn all the gory details. There, I just taught you a new word). Nor did I take pictures of myself after the surgery, when I looked like a cross between a gigantic chipmunk and a basset hound. Because some things are just better left to the imagination.

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Thanksgiving–the day after

Soooo . . . I was really dying to write this post, but then I decided not to because I figured nobody would really be interested in yet another post about what I ate for Thanksgiving. But then Michelle (through whom I am vicariously living in Umbria) asked me how it all turned out, and I figured, as I usually do, that if one person is saying it then there must be at least ten or twenty of you thinking the same thing. Right? So here’s a little rundown on how all those Thanksgiving recipes actually worked out for us.

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Thanksgiving Menu – Florida

It’s that time of year when I have an excuse to get the kitchen really messy. We have a family tradition of spending the whole of Thanksgiving Day cooking together. For normal everyday cooking I tend to make the same 20-or-so recipes over and over, although every time we move I change things up to reflect which ingredients are cheap and easy to find where we live. But for Thanksgiving, I like to try new recipes every year.

I’ve come a long way from our first Thanksgiving as a little family, in which my freshman sister Hannah arrived just in time to prevent me from sticking the turkey in the oven completely unseasoned and with the giblets still inside their plastic bag in one of the mysterious cavities.

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What do sugar gliders eat?

I know you’ve all been dying to read another post about my darling new pets. At any rate, I’ve been dying to write a post about them. Unfortunately, I have yet to get some really awesome photos that are truly worthy of their adorableness. So in the meantime, I’ll tell you about my exploits as an amateur zookeeper.

In the exotic pet world, diet for sugar gliders is a contentious topic with potentially serious implications. One of the most common hazards for pet sugar gliders (right up there with drowning in toilets and accidents with other pets) is calcium deficiency, which can cause paralysis and even death.

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Paris, His Dark Materials, Phineas Finn, and Food

Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa James

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I am a sucker for expat memoirs. So I picked up this one as a matter of course, without even glancing inside the cover. Maybe I should have looked a little closer.

As an author, Eloisa James’ normal genre is romance novels. But I don’t think even that explains the bizarre format of this book. It is, I kid you not, a compilation of her Facebook status updates for the year she spent in Paris. This means that the entire book consists of disjointed 5-10 line paragraphs. There are a few longer sections (of 2-5 pages each), which I paged through and read. But the rest of this book is virtually unreadable.

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Cooking in the Tropics

Last year while I was waiting for our Tunisian landlord to get air conditioning installed in our apartment, I did a couple of posts on cooking for hot weather. When we are not having hurricanes and tornados here in Florida, the weather here is also very hot. And unlike Tunisia, where the sweltering wind off the Sahara desert kept things pretty dry even by the coast, Florida is more of a tropical place. In fact, I’m convinced that if we let our lawn go for, say, six months, we’d probably end up with not a knee-high grassy field, but a full-out jungle. Seriously. You can almost see the grass growing.

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An Evening in the Philippines

Last night we had the good fortune to be invited to dinner by Estela, a friend of ours who is Filipina. There was a Filipino restaurant we used to eat at occasionally in Utah, but it’s been a long time since we had real Filipino food. Estela is an amazing cook, and she prepared several classic Filipino dishes for us. We started out with two kinds of lumpia, or egg rolls. The first ones were “fresh” (i.e. unfried) lumpia, which are like a very thin, light crepe wrapped around julienne carrots, palm hearts, and curly lettuce.

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The Three Billy Goats Gruff

These are our newest little friends. We recently met them through a passion we share: raw goat milk. We first got hooked on raw milk back when Tony was going to school at B.Y.U. Every week, I would drive with baby Axa out to a farm in Payson to see the gentle jersey cows and pick up a couple of gallons of what could most accurately be described as “liquid flowers.” When we spent a year in Washington State, raw cow milk was unavailable, so we were introduced to the glorious earthy decadence that is raw goat milk. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when we moved to our little 1-acre “farm” in Fallbrook, and became the delighted owners of two lovely (albeit devious) la mancha goats.

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A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen

The title of this post was the sign my college roommate posted in the kitchen of our six-person apartment my freshman year. It was made even funnier by the fact that her last name was Kitchen. I adored my roommate, but I’m afraid I was one of the offenders. Between my untidy housekeeping and the fact that I was always coming home at odd hours having forgotten my key, and knocking on our bedroom window to be let in, I was lucky we were such good friends. I guess maybe she figured I would grow up someday.

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