The Catch by Taylor Stevens // Book Review

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Book series appeal to me for many reasons, first of which is the development of characters from book to book.  Hooked by a character in book one, such as Lisbeth Salander or Cormoran Strike, I’ll continue to read books two, three, and possibly an indeterminate number more, to see his/her history more fully fleshed out.  Secondly, I enjoy reading series where plot is advanced across multiple books, such as in Lord of the Rings and the Song of Ice and Fire series.  Each book in a series may have its own distinct plot, but there is usually an overarching story connecting all the books, forcing it along to an ultimate ending.

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pic pf Maine blueberry muffins

Cooking My Way Around the Web

Instead of sharing my own recipe this week, I’d like to share some of the things I’ve made based on other bloggers’ recipes.  I am constantly inspired by my fellow bloggers and have made many delicious foods based on their recipes.  Here are a few foods I’ve made in recent months, with some tweaks here and there to suit my own needs.  I hope you visit each of these bloggers and try out some of the recipes for yourself.

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pic of red perilla

Asian Herbs & Vegetables

My mom has an amazingly abundant garden, helped along by twelve hours of sun in the summer days and her green thumb throughout the year.  Her garden is full of vegetables you’ll see in many gardens, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, and jalapeno.  In addition to the more typical plants, she also grows many herbs and vegetables you’ll only find in an Asian specialty market.  These plants are the real magic in her garden.  This is a look into my mom’s garden and a brief introduction to some common Asian herbs and vegetables.

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pic of sliced cherry toms

In My Kitchen // August 2014

Summer has been plentiful, comforting, and oh so delicious.  Summer has brought us juicy peaches and nectarines, plump figs, sweet gypsy peppers, gorgeous globe eggplants, silk wrapped corn ears, and the return of scrumptious heirloom tomatoes.  Salads have shown up in endless renditions on our table and the warmer temperatures have inspired us towards lighter fare and less time in front of the stove.  In my kitchen, behind the scenes, summer months still bring messes and the discovery of new foods and old favorites continue to inspire me to the point of exclamation (“I made that!?!).  Welcome to my kitchen!

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The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez // Book Review

pic of The Book of Unknown AmericansThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez is a timely and affecting illustration of the immigrant community and immigrant identity in the US today.  More than just a book about the prejudices immigrants encounter in America, this is a beautifully woven story about how communities and friendships are formed over shared differences, similar hardships, and a need for belonging.  Henríquez is subtle and successful in showing how home is not necessarily the country you are from, and how identities are multi-layered and shaped by your surroundings.

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pic of Jeremies from above

Jeremies // Go-To Appetizers

What’s that?  You’ve never heard of Jeremies?  You’ve never had a bite of delicious prosciutto wrapped goat cheese and arugula rolls stuffed with figs?  Sorry to say, you’re missing out!  These are some of the best appetizers I’ve had in a long time.  They are easy and quick to make and are a great summer party snack.  The savory flavor of goat cheese and sweet figs pair fabulously with salty prosciutto and bitter arugula.  You will thank yourself after you have one (or a dozen) of these little appetizers.

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pic of roasted gypsy pepper dip

Roasted Gypsy Pepper and Walnut Dip

The sweet, tapered, and thin-walled gypsy pepper is a delightful ingredient alternative to bell peppers in many recipes.  Smaller in size and sweeter in taste, the gypsy pepper has a softer skin and more flavor than the bell pepper.  Gypsy peppers can be eaten raw, stuffed and grilled, or fried in some oil.  We received two pounds of these peppers in our community supported agriculture box last week.  I wanted to prepare them in a different and fun way for our recent dinner party and decided on a roasted gypsy pepper and walnut dip.  It was delicious, with just the right amount of smoky sweetness from the peppers and nuttiness from the walnuts, and was subtly accented with cumin and cayenne pepper.  Served simply with some pita and cut up vegetables, this dip made for a nice snack while my friends and I chatted before dinner.

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View from Round Top 1

Tahoe-cation 2014 // Part 2

Ngan made it to the top of a mountain!  Yes, she did.  This is part 2 of my Tahoe trip, the final day we spent hiking during our hiatus away from suburban life.  With each trip to Tahoe, I reach new and different heights.  I work out hard and often, but taking on mother nature adds new dimensions to the concept of working out.  Still, here I am, fully recovered from tense muscles and an inexplicably huge and painful swelling of my arm that almost sent me to the hospital.  Don’t worry, I called California’s poison control center and was given steps to reduce my large skin reaction to what was probably a spider bite.  I’m fine, really, and I’m pleased I had this summer adventure.

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