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Guest Post: Seven Book + Drink Pairings to Cozy Up With

Happy Fall! I’m Grace from A Literary Feast, here at The Hungry Bookworm as a happy guest writer. Megan and I discovered each other’s blogs a few weeks ago and felt an instant kinship. Food in literature isn’t the most prevalent topic on the Internet, but we both love writing about it! I’m so honored that she wanted to introduce my work to you, her readers. I hope you enjoy this post with these fall-perfect book and drink recommendations.

Any time of the year is a good time for reading. There’s just something about fall, though. Cooler evenings, rainy days, falling leaves… doesn’t it make you want to curl up by the fireside with a warm drink and a cozy read? Me too. That’s why I’m giving you a list of the coziest books and drink pairings to carry you well into the winter.

1 The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

As much as I adore the Anne of Green Gables series, I prefer to read it in the spring. (Don’t ask me why – maybe it goes back to my Spring Break binge-reads. We bookworms know how to party.) As a whole, though, I think that L.M. Montgomery’s books are so perfect for cozy fireside reading. If you haven’t read beyond Anne, you have so much to look forward to! I love The Story Girl for, yes, the stories, but also for the coming-of-age and turn-of-the-season themes. I haven’t met one her books that I don’t like, so here are a few more suggestions while we’re at it: Pat of Silver Bush, Emily of New Moon, Kilmeny of the Orchard, and Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side.

It’s been a few years since I read The Story Girl, but I remember two things that influenced my drink pairing: Felicity loved to cook and there was an orchard on their property. I’m sure she would enjoy a fancy fireside drink. To pair with The Story Girl, try this Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Cider from Tastes Better From Scratch. Can you just imagine how amazing your house will smell?

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” Although I can’t give you specific details because so much water has passed under the bridge since I read this book, I consider it one of the coziest books I have ever read. Everyone I know who has read it has felt that the book’s homing instinct is spot on. Written in letter form and celebrating the love of all things literary, this book will warm your heart on a chilly fall night.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is set in England on a small island. Islands are known for their fog, and England is known for its tea. I can’t think of a better drink to pair with this book than a warm London Fog. Although the directions aren’t proprietary, I chose this London Fog recipe by Yours Truly, G because of her custom infographic drawing. Super cute!

 

3 My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier.

This is a book that I just reviewed on A Literary Feast, and it fits into this list perfectly. It’s not a thriller nor is it scary, but it is a delicious Gothic mystery that should be read by flickering light. Set primarily in an old manor in Cornwall, England, this story is narrated by 24-year-old Philip who is green, arrogant and stodgy beyond his years but also utterly confounded and besotted by the first female to reside there in decades. A female who, incidentally, may (or may not?) be the cause of his beloved guardian’s death. You’ll change your mind more than once!

The food in My Cousin Rachel is traditional Cornish fare. Apples are prevalent, and their cider is prized. Pair this charming book with a mug of perfect wassail. Here’s a Mulled Wine Wassail recipe with a light buzz from A Spicy Perspective (non-alcoholic version also available).

 

4 The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

To be honest, this is the first book that came to mind when I was thinking of “cozy books.” It’s also the first book I read by this author, although I have since devoured them all. Sugary sweet without being saccharine, Allen’s stories transport you into a world with a sprinkling of magic, where food goes beyond symbolic. Need I say more? You’ll leave this book wearing glasses a shade or two pinker in hue.

You can’t curl up by the fireside with a book called The Sugar Queen without adding some calories to your drink. With the picture of peppermints on the book cover, this book begs to be paired with a Peppermint White Hot Chocolate (this recipe from Creme de la Crumb).

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Call me names, but yes, I do insist on calling it by the original title.)

If I read Anne of Green Gables in the spring, fall is when the world of Harry Potter beckons. Fall heralds back-to-school, and what school is more exciting than Hogwarts? Harry Potter needs no introduction, but I am excited to say that this link leads to a new version of the first book. Or should I say “versions,” because there is one for each Hogwarts House, with different covers and illustrations and extra content specific to each! (I may have a problem. I already own one boxed set as well as a set on my Kindle and already have plans to buy the new fully illustrated ones. Have you seen them? Look here! They’re gorgeous.)

You must know where I’m going with this one: let’s drink some butterbeer! I’ve tried making it cold before, and it turned out to be really good! We’ll try a hot version this time. Creamy and butterscotchy – my mouth is watering already. Here’s a Hot Butterbeer recipe courtesy of Feast of Starlight.

 

6 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

A magical circus spun into existence by two dueling magicians. This book transports you into worlds of fancy among the highest stakes imaginable. You’ll have to think existentially at times, but never fear – the author weaves the plot seamlessly, and you’ll be as captivated as the members of the circus audience. If you love books that paint pictures in your mind, you will love the images that The Night Circus creates. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

What to drink with such a magical book? I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not going to do it. Whatever that crazy Unicorn Frappuccino thing was, that you can now find copycats for all over Pinterest, has to go AWAY. I get a sugar coma just looking at pictures. Such overkill. Blech. I have something else in mind. Here’s a hot drink that (hopefully) isn’t quite as sickeningly sweet, and looks like something that would be served at a fairytale night circus. I think Savor and Savvy has nailed it with this recipe for Pink Velvet Hot Chocolate.

 

7 Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley

I saved my favorite for last. If you were to ask me what my favorite Disney movie, fairytale, or Broadway show was, I will mostly likely tell you that it’s Beauty and the Beast. Belle is the perfect heroine: bookish, brainy, and adventurous. And this book by Robin McKinley is my favorite version of the story. Before I had kids and my reading time shrank down to the size of a “poor, provincial town,” I reread this book every year without fail. Until I can resume that lovely tradition, I am passing it on to you! Be my guest.

For such a special book, let’s take the time to make a special drink. Give a nod to the book’s most familiar symbol with this Spiced Rose Latte from Brit and Co. You may have to plan ahead to have these ingredients on hand, but I think that the results will be well worth it! (Invite me over, too, because I would travel far for an evening of reading Beauty by the fireplace with a Spiced Rose Latte!)

 

Hopefully this list has offered a few ideas for a blissful evening in. If you liked this post, I’d love to invite you back to my blog, A Literary Feast, for more food-and-book combinations you may enjoy! And, please add your own favorite fireside reads (or beverages) to the comments below.

 

book review, recipe

A Wrinkle in Time + Hot Chocolate

As you would probably expect, I read a lot when I was a kid. I remember reading my first chapter book (Black Beauty) in first grade, leading to a slight obsession with horses that continued into middle school. I have fond memories of my mom reading to my sister and me at night, with books like Stuart Little and The Borrowers that fueled my early interest in writing stories of my own. I also devoured The Baby-Sitters Club series and Nancy Drew novels, though honestly anything I could get my hands on was fair game. However, there were a few key books I’d missed (mostly because I watched the movies and/or didn’t realize they were based on books in the first place) such as The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Little Women, and The Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve rectified many of those misses in recent years, but A Wrinkle in Time was still outstanding.

For those of you who don’t know, there’s a movie adaptation coming out next year starring Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah, which is what really prompted me to pick it up at last. That and the fact that I found out the main character is named Meg. She and her three brothers live at home with their mother, who is a scientist. Their father, also a scientist, is no longer home and (depending on who Meg is talking to, or perhaps it was how I read it) it’s implied that he’s just gone on some sort of scientific mission and will be back eventually, or that he’s dead. Two of her brothers are twins and quite athletic, and Charles, her youngest brother, has a unique way of reading people. It is because of this skill that three mysterious beings named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which come into their home and ultimately take Meg, Charles and their neighbor Calvin on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

Since it’s a children’s book, it didn’t take long to read – I think I read it in an afternoon. It was absolutely entertaining, but because it had quite a lot of science (real or otherwise) and had some really abstract concepts, I found myself wondering, “Is this something kids can really understand?” (If any of my readers who read this as a kid and as an adult can provide some perspective here, that would be helpful.)

I decided to make hot chocolate to go along with this book, because not only is it comforting, but it features prominently in the scene where Mrs. Whatsit first appears, on a dark and stormy night. It was actually quite dark and stormy the night I concocted the hot chocolate myself, so I think it worked out nicely. 🙂

I followed a recipe from Ashlee Marie for the World’s Best Hot Chocolate and thankfully it was very straightforward. (Nothing more frustrating than just wanting something quick and comforting and finding out you don’t have the right ingredients or it’s a hassle to make.)

First, I combined the cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Then, I added the water and brought the mixture to a boil. I allowed it to boil for 1 minute, before adding the milk. Then, I continued heating the hot chocolate until it was the temperature we like – not too hot, not too cold. Probably a few more minutes is ideal, at most.

I poured it into our mugs and topped them with whipped cream, which I always like to cool it down and break up the richness of the chocolate. We settled down in the living room while the storm boomed around us and enjoyed!

World’s Best Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Print

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the water and bring to a boil, keep boiling for one min.
  3. Then add the milk and heat until it’s the temperature you like.
  4. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla, stir and serve. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, or your preference. Enjoy!


This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

book review, recipe

Commonwealth + Orange Drop Cocktail

I have never read Ann Patchett before, even though Bel Canto has long been on my to-read list. I had requested her latest novel Commonwealth from my library shortly after it was published last summer and it only just arrived. From the first chapter, I found it slowly engrossing. That is to say, it’s not an action-packed page turner, but I became so absorbed in the characters that I happily followed their stories over the decades the novel covers.

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The story of two families – four parents, six children – begins at Franny’s christening celebration, which is transformed by an unsuitable gift of liquor and a backyard full of orange trees. So, too, are their lives forever changed. We follow both families, which is a muddled mix of estranged spouses, sort of step-siblings and a black sheep or two, through the next 50 years of their lives.

A lot of the drama seems to happen in memories or flashbacks, but as with all families, nothing can be buried too deep and has lasting effects on each of them, even if they deal with it in their own ways. Once grown up, Franny becomes an avid reader and a cocktail waitress, giving her the unique opportunity to end up dating a successful novelist. This, too, has an effect on the family – one I’ll admit I didn’t expect.

It’s hard to say too much without spoiling Commonwealth’s bigger plot points, so I’ll get right to the recipe – this time, a cocktail. I didn’t use gin, which even those at Franny’s party thought an odd pairing with orange juice, but instead went with a more traditional vodka-based drink, the Orange Drop.

First, I made a simple syrup – equal parts granulated sugar and water – and allowed it to fully cool before mixing the rest of the drink.

Then, I measured it out before adding a citrus-flavored vodka and orange juice. With a quick stir, I poured the cocktail into two rocks glasses, more akin with the glasses used spur-of-the-moment at the party. Again, not to be too fussy, I garnished them simply with half an orange slice each, and served with ice.

Orange Drop

  • Servings: 1 drink
  • Print

Adapted from: Vanilla and Bean

Ingredients

  • 2 oz citrus-flavored vodka
  • 2 ½ oz pulp-free orange juice
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • 1 orange, cut into half slices
  • ice

Directions

  1. If you need to make simple syrup, add equal parts granulated sugar and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely before using in drink mixture.
  2. In a measuring container with a spout, add the vodka, orange juice and simple syrup. Stir with a spoon. Pour into glass of your choice.
  3. Add ice according to preference. Garnish with an orange slice, if desired. (Add an additional splash of orange juice, if you prefer a slightly less stronger drink.)

This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

of interest, recipe

Rory Gilmore Reading List + Salmon Puffs and Gimlets

Gilmore Girls is, without a doubt, one of my favorite TV shows. It was full of an amazing cast of characters – including, of course, some very strong and capable women, full of eating, and full of reading too.

gilmore-girls-cast

Photo Credit: TV Line

Since the new Netflix series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life just came out last weekend, I’m taking this opportunity to spend a whole week in Stars Hollow, so to speak. This is the first of three posts, all including recipes found in the Eat Like a Gilmore cookbook.

It is pretty well-documented that Rory Gilmore read 339 books throughout the seven seasons of the original show. For a while I’ve had the list saved in my book spreadsheet (yes, that’s a thing I have) as sort of a #bookgoals thing, but until now, I hadn’t really compared what I’d read with what she’d read. What a great way to kick off Gilmore Week.

Along with a cocktail and an appetizer, of course! But first, if you’re interested in my tally, click below. The books I’ve read are in green, and the books still hanging out on my to-be-read list are in blue.

 

Obviously I don’t love the Russians as much as Rory does. Check it out.

1984 by George Orwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Archidamian War by Donald Kagan
The Art of Fiction by Henry James
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Babe by Dick King-Smith
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
The Bhagava Gita
The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews by Peter Duffy
Bitch: in Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel
A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays by Mary McCarthy
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Bridgadoon by Alan Jay Lerner
Candide by Voltaire
The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman
Christine by Stephen King
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
The Collected Short Stories by Eudora Welty
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty
A Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Complete Novels by Dawn Powell
The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton
Complete Stories by Dorothy Parker
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Cousin Bette by Honor’e de Balzac
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Cujo by Stephen King
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Daisy Miller by Henry James
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
David and Lisa by Dr Theodore Issac Rubin M.D
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol
Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Deenie by Judy Blume
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx
The Divine Comedy by Dante
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Don Quijote by Cervantes
Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhrv
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Eleanor Roosevelt by Blanche Wiesen Cook
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn
Eloise by Kay Thompson
Emily the Strange by Roger Reger
Emma by Jane Austen
Empire Falls by Richard Russo – I remember picking this up and starting this back in high school… Not sure if I finished it, so for now it will remain on my TBR list
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethics by Spinoza
Europe through the Back Door, 2003 by Rick Steves
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Extravagance by Gary Krist
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore
The Fall of the Athenian Empire by Donald Kagan
Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World by Greg Critser
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Fellowship of the Ring: Book 1 of The Lord of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Fiddler on the Roof by Joseph Stein
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
Fletch by Gregory McDonald
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
George W. Bushism: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of our 43rd President by Jacob Weisberg
Gidget by Fredrick Kohner
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Godfather: Book 1 by Mario Puzo
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford
The Gospel According to Judy Bloom
The Graduate by Charles Webb
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (#4) by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (#1) by J. K. Rowling – She must’ve read them all, right? 
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad 
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
Henry IV, part I by William Shakespeare
Henry IV, part II by William Shakespeare
Henry V by William Shakespeare
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris
The Holy Barbarians by Lawrence Lipton
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende – Recently finished! Blog coming next week
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
How the Light Gets In by M. J. Hyland
Howl by Allen Gingsburg
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
The Iliad by Homer
I’m with the Band by Pamela des Barres
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Iron Weed by William J. Kennedy
It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan + Pork Dumplings
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jumping Frog by Mark Twain
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Just a Couple of Days by Tony Vigorito
The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Lady Chatterleys’ Lover by D. H. Lawrence
The Last Empire: Essays 1992-2000 by Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield
Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
The Little Locksmith by Katharine Butler Hathaway
The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
The Lottery: And Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Love Story by Erich Segal
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Manticore by Robertson Davies
Marathon Man by William Goldman
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Mencken’s Chrestomathy by H. R. Mencken
The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Miracle Worker by William Gibson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville – This one I half-read in high school, but I won’t count it here because I have no interest in ever picking it up again.
The Mojo Collection: The Ultimate Music Companion by Jim Irvin
Moliere: A Biography by Hobart Chatfield Taylor
A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman
Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret
A Month Of Sundays: Searching For The Spirit And My Sister by Julie Mars
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
My Lai 4: A Report on the Massacre and It’s Aftermath by Seymour M. Hersh
My Life as Author and Editor by H. R. Mencken
My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru by Tim Guest
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
Nervous System: Or, Losing My Mind in Literature by Jan Lars Jensen
New Poems of Emily Dickinson by Emily Dickinson
The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay
Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Night by Elie Wiesel
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism by William E. Cain, Laurie A. Finke, Barbara E. Johnson, John P. McGowan
Novels 1930-1942: Dance Night/Come Back to Sorrento, Turn, Magic Wheel/Angels on Toast/A Time to be Born by Dawn Powell
Notes of a Dirty Old Man by Charles Bukowski
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Old School by Tobias Wolff
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life by Amy Tan
Oracle Night by Paul Auster
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Othello by Shakespeare – the only Shakespeare play I actually enjoyed in school
Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
Out of Africa by Isac Dineson
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition by Donald Kagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
The Portable Nietzche by Fredrich Nietzche
The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill by Ron Suskind
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Property by Valerie Martin
Pushkin: A Biography by T. J. Binyon
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Quattrocento by James Mckean
A Quiet Storm by Rachel Howzell Hall
Rapunzel by Grimm Brothers
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi + Cream Puffs
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad by Virginia Holman
The Return of the King: The Lord of the Rings (Book 3) by J. R. R. Tolkien
R Is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton
Rita Hayworth by Stephen King
Robert’s Rules of Order by Henry Robert
Roman Fever by Edith Wharton
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Sacred Time by Ursula Hegi
Sanctuary by William Faulkner
Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford
The Scarecrow of Oz by Frank L. Baum
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman
Selected Letters of Dawn Powell: 1913-1965 by Dawn Powell
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Several Biographies of Winston Churchill
Sexus by Henry Miller
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Shane by Jack Shaefer
The Shining by Stephen King
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Small Island by Andrea Levy – tried and couldn’t finish (assigned reading for my study abroad in London during college)
Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
Snow White and Rose Red by Grimm Brothers
Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World by Barrington Moore
The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Song of the Simple Truth: The Complete Poems of Julia de Burgos by Julia de Burgos
The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker
Songbook by Nick Hornby
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
Sonnets from the Portuegese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Stuart Little by E. B. White
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
Swimming with Giants: My Encounters with Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Anne Collett
Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Tender Is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Term of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
Time and Again by Jack Finney
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Tragedy of Richard III by William Shakespeare
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson
Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 by Sylvia Plath
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Unless by Carol Shields
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
The Vanishing Newspaper by Philip Meyers
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Velvet Underground’s The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) by Joe Harvard
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Walt Disney’s Bambi by Felix Salten
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
We Owe You Nothing – Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews edited by Daniel Sinker
What Colour is Your Parachute? 2005 by Richard Nelson Bolles
What Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
Who Moved My Cheese? Spencer Johnson
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Grand total: I’ve read 59, with another 28 on my TBR list.

How many have you read? Let me know in the comments!

 

My friend and fellow Gilmore Girls fan, Deanna, was just as excited as I for the recent revival, so when I proposed a day full of Gilmore-inspired cooking and eating, she was totally on board. We made something from every section of the cookbook, but we will start in true Emily Gilmore fashion – with a cocktail and an appetizer.

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For our old-fashioned gimlet, we needed simple syrup, limes, ice, and gin. Don’t forget the shaker!

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To make a simple syrup, combine equal parts water and granulated sugar in a saucepan, heating over medium-high heat to dissolve the sugar. Once it thickens and becomes syrup-y, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool (for at least 5 minutes). To make 2 gimlets, you’ll need 4 tablespoons of each.

While that cooked, I juiced some limes and cut them into slices for garnish.

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Then we could really get down to business – mixing the drinks. To the shaker, already half full of ice, Deanna added 6 ounces of gin, 3 ounces of lime juice and the simple syrup. She shook it for two minutes (or a little longer, while I snapped pictures), and then the drinks were ready!

Drinks in hand, we began making the Salmon Puffs, one of Emily Gilmore’s most highly sought-after hors d’oeuvres. See how we exude confidence?

First, we prepared the salmon filling. Deanna removed the skin and then I cut the salmon into smaller chunks before adding into the food processor. We also added the lemon juice, cayenne pepper and dill. Once it formed a coarse paste, we added the mustard and maybe a little bit extra cheese. After just a bit more processing, the salmon filling was ready.

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If you don’t have a pastry cutter (I left mine at home), hopefully you have a dixie cup lying around. At exactly 2” in diameter, it makes an excellent substitute once you cut out the bottom. We were excited at our ingenuity. (Cheers! Take a sip of your classy gimlet.)

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We were easily able to eek out 9 additional rounds from our pastry dough, perhaps you can get 10! The goal is to end up with at least 30 puff pastry circles, but no more than 40 as you won’t have enough filling. Place them in your mini-muffin pan and push them down to form small cups.

Once the pastry cups are complete, use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of each. Then, using a pastry bag with a wide tip or a small kitchen spoon, fill them with the salmon mixture.

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Make sure your oven rack is in the center before placing the pans in the preheated oven. After 12 minutes (or possibly a few more – ours took 15), the salmon puffs should be ready. If the salmon pops off of any of them, simply push it back down into the newly puffed cup.

Using a skewer or toothpicks, form a hole in the center of each to ready for the garnish. Place 3 pieces of chive into each hole so that they are sticking straight up.

Put on a platter and serve. Hopefully people at your fancy cocktail party won’t be able to get enough! We sure couldn’t!

Gimlets

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients

  • 4 TBS water
  • 4 TBS granulated sugar
  • Ice
  • 6 oz gin
  • 3 oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 lime slices, for garnish

Directions

  1. Make Simple Syrup: Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, stir until sugar is fully dissolved and a syrup-like liquid forms. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix Cocktail: Half-fill a shaker with ice. Add the simple syrup, gin and lime juice. Shake vigorously for 1-2 minutes. Strain into glass. Attach lime slices to edge of glasses. Serve.

Salmon Puffs

  • Servings: Makes 30-40 puffs
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Ingredients

  • ½ – ⅔ cup fresh salmon, skin removed (you probably only need a 4-5 oz fillet)
  • ¾ tsp fresh dill
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp grainy deli-style mustard
  • 4 tsp Port Salut cheese, rind removed (can substitute Muenster)
  • 2 puff pastry sheets
  • Chives, for garnish, cut into approx. 90 1-inch pieces (3 per puff)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Move rack to center position.
  2. In a food processor, add salmon, dill, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Process until a coarse paste forms. Add mustard and cheese. Process until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Lay out a sheet of thawed puff pastry (follow directions on package) on a lightly floured work surface. Use a round 2-inch in diameter cutter [in a pinch, the bottom of a dixie cup works] to cut circles from each sheet. [Original recipe calls for 30. We were able to cut 39 circles from our sheets and had enough filling to create 39 finished puffs.]
  4. Using a mini muffin pan or tart pan, press a round of dough into each cup. Use a small form to poke 10-15 holes into the bottom of the dough.
  5. Using a spoon, fill each cup with about 1 teaspoon of the salmon mixture. [Original recipe recommends using a pastry bag with a wide tip and piping in the filling.]
  6. Bake puffs for 12 minutes.
  7. Salmon may have popped up during baking. If so, press back down into pastry.
  8. Remove puffs to a plate or serving platter. Use a skewer or two toothpicks to make a hole in the center of each puff. Place 3 pieces of chive into each hole, so they are sticking straight up. Serve.

book review, recipe

The Girls + Watermelon Lemonade

Emma Cline’s The Girls turned out to be the perfect novel to close out summer. It follows 14-year-old Evie Boyd during the last summer before she leaves her home in Northern California to begin boarding school. Although heavily based on the Manson cult, it is not the charismatic leader who draws Evie in but one of the girls instead.

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After wondering at the girls from afar, it seems fated when Evie’s busted bike chain leaves her stranded. The girls (and Guy) pull up in their bus and rescue her back to their ranch for the summer solstice party. The celebration is nothing like a traditional party, watermelon broken open on the picnic table while greedy children dig at it with their fingers. Evie sees past the dirt, decay and deviance. She is entranced.

Suzanne, one of the girls, is entranced as well – but with the group’s leader Russell, always attuned to his presence and ready to follow his every whim. Over the course of the summer, Evie becomes similarly obsessed with Suzanne. Though she leaves the ranch often, it’s the thought of Suzanne that keeps Evie going back, and it’s because of her that Evie pushes the boundaries of her prior life.

Dependent on donations and stolen food, meals at the ranch are meager and infrequent. As the summer lolls by, the girls reach near-starvation yet remain devoted to Russell. Any appearance of food is a cause for celebration, any remaining sense of etiquette gone until the food, too, has disappeared.

Lemonade is a drink that invokes long, lazy days – a summer classic. When you add in some watermelon, to call back to the summer solstice party and the “sticky juice” one of the girls drips all over the floor during a trip off the ranch, it makes an excellent fit for Cline’s novel.  

I found Cooking Classy’s recipe for watermelon lemonade and made some this past Labor Day Weekend, a fond farewell to summer.

I cubed about a quarter of my too-large watermelon and pureed it, using my food processor in two batches. Starting out with 4 cups of puree, I ended up with about 3 cups of juice once I strained out the pulp.

I ended up using 5 lemons for the juice, with an extra leftover for garnish. I combined the water, lemon juice and sugar using a wooden spoon until the sugar was dissolved. I only needed to use the ⅔ cup recommended – it was a little tart, but it worked really well once mixed with the watermelon juice. Add some fresh mint and ice and serve on a hot day.

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Watermelon Lemonade

  • Servings: 6-8 (Yields about 8 cups)
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Ingredients

  • 6 cups cubed seedless watermelon, chilled* (2 lbs after peeling)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 3/4 cup fresh strained lemon juice, chilled*
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (more or less to taste)
  • Ice and fresh mint for serving

Directions

  1. Add watermelon to a blender and pulse until well pureed (there should be about 4 cups). Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
  2. In a large pitcher whisk together water, lemon juice and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Stir in pureed watermelon. Stir in ice and mint (alternately add ice and mint directly to individual cups and pour lemonade over). Store in refrigerator.

*If you don’t have time to chill the ingredients then just use more ice in place of some of the water.

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As a bonus, here’s my puppy Beta, who enjoyed her first taste of watermelon while I made the lemonade.