Friday, December 21, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - No Angel

Here we are days from Christmas (and hours until I am on a plane back home for the holidays!) and I'm going to review a dark non-fiction book!

This is Jay Dobyns story of infiltrating The Hells Angels on behalf of the ATF.  He talks about the struggle of balancing his job family and his real family.  Of wanting to gather more evidence, bring more people down.  Of the awe of meeting and hanging out with some key Hells Angels leaders.  About the comradery that is found within the organization as well as the crime, violence, drug use and level of despair.

This story was interesting.  From how he went about the operation, how things fell into place, how he avoided drugs and performing violent crimes.  How he tried to stay ahead of the "game" and not consumed by it.  I enjoyed the book - but it is filled with a lot of words I skimmed ;-)

Friday, December 14, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - The Chaperone

Another historical fiction book ;-)

This follows 15 year-old Louise Brooks (who became a silent film actress) as she moves from Kansas to New York City for a summer dance class.  Given the era - she needs a chaperone.  Thirty-six Cora volunteers for the job even though she does't know the girl...she has her own reasons for going to NY.  The story follows these two as they explore the city, form a relationship and navigate their lives as they are changing.

I enjoyed this story.  Both story lines reveal to be kinda sad for different reasons.  There is some "adult content"  and a lot of things in this story that made me wonder how much "wow" factor the author was really trying for!  But the story works - you especially get involved in Cora's life as she is the narrator of the story.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's Cookin' Wednesday

Chocolate Chip Snack Cake (from Light & Tasty June/July 2007)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 egg whites
1 cup (8oz) reduced-fat sour cream
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (I used more)

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until crumbly, about 2 minutes.  Add egg, then egg whites, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the sour cream, applesauce and vanilla (mixture will appear curdled). Combine the flours, baking powder, salt & baking soda; stir into butter mixture just until blended.

Pour half the batter into a 13x9x2 baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle half over the batter.  Top with half the chocolate chips.

Gently top with remaining batter; spread evenly.  Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar and chips.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

This was good.  Good texture and kinda good for you (cake is 15 servings: each serving is 215 calories, 7g fat, 194 mg sodium, 2g fiber).  Next time I'd skip the cinnamon on the top...but that's because I like the more chocolate flavor ;-)

Friday, December 7, 2012

What I'm Reading Now - Guest of Honor

I'm a sucker for historical fiction!  While I've read lots of fiction (and non-fiction) about the 1920's - 1950's, I haven't read a lot focused on time before that.

This book follows the two gentlemen as they are growing up.  One in the South and one in New York.  As they begin to create their path's in life.  The similarities and differences - and the same (bull headed?) drive.  And then Roosevelt invites Booker T. to dinner at the White House.  The book - and our historical angle now - makes the reader think this is completely normal.  The two men want what is best for the country, both have strong ideas & ideals and both have no issues with creating waves.

The story is interesting and well written.  I feel like I know much more about both of these men and the part they played in our country's history.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's Cookin Wednesday

Broccoli & Mushroom Salad (from Real Simple November 2012)

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
salt & pepper
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and stems peeled and sliced
1 pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbl chopped fresh dill
3 Tbl chopped fresh basil
1 Tbl chopped fresh tarragon
1 clove garlic, chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, canola oil, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper.

Add the broccoli, mushrooms, onion, dill, basil, tarragon and garlic - toss to combine.  Refrigerate, covered, tossing occasionally until the vegetables are tender, at least 8 hours.

Tips that came with the recipe: don't use only olive oil - it will overwhelm the flavors of the vegs.   Make a day ahead to let the vegetables marinate more.

This was delicious!  Loved all the flavors.  And they were right - it was even better the next day!