I requested this story from NetGalley when I was in a very "I need an easy read" mood. Amy E. Reichert's latest novel, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, has a touch of magical realism, a lot of food, and a quirky rom com love story.[Read more...] about Review of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club
The Bean Trees is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I picked up a copy years ago at a used book sale. It sat on my shelf untouched. In early 2020, I received another copy in the mail from a friend, and though that should’ve been the catalyst I needed, it wasn’t. So, in pursuit of my "read my shelves" goal this year, I chose it as my book club’s latest read — and finally, mission accomplished!
Barbara Kingsolver’s novel follows Taylor Greer, who grew up in Kentucky with a focus on avoiding pregnancy and getting out of town in the future. She heads west in a beat-up car and finds herself caring for an abandoned child, an American Indian girl she calls Turtle. The story is about their life together as they settle in Arizona with a group of friends who becomes family. It’s a short book, but one that I thought was perfect for a book club discussion.[Read more...] about The Bean Trees + Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Emma Donoghue’s latest novel, The Pull of the Stars, includes a couple of elements that would normally turn me off of a novel — and, in many cases, DNF one: no quotation marks and extremely long chapters. Luckily, it also is made of things I often look for in a new read: a female-centric story, a strong sense of place, and an utterly gripping storyline. In the end, the good far outweighed the bad. I loved it.
The story takes place over just a few days in an Irish maternity/flu ward during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Nurse Julia Power is tasked with taking care of flu-ridden laboring mothers and their babies until they're able to go home. The ward is really nothing more than a room, three beds cramped together without much support aside from Nurse Julia and an inexperienced volunteer. As you would expect with early 20th century childbirth on top of a devastating pandemic, the story is emotional. In it, Donoghue touches on such timely (or, in some ways, timeless) themes as healthcare, pregnancy/motherhood, societal expectations and abuses of power.[Read more...] about The Pull of the Stars + Irish Barmbrack
Max Brooks’ Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre is a wild ride. It is told primarily through the journal of Kate, a resident of the secluded Greenloop when it was attacked, along with a few post-massacre interviews. It’s both a scientific observation and a horror story, as we first discover Sasquatch (aka Bigfoot) with her and then watch as she and the other residents frantically scramble to protect and defend themselves when Bigfoot attacks.
This is the kind of book where I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that the book is not what it seems at the outset — which to me, at least, was a far-fetched romp about Bigfoot. Brooks does an excellent job of building his characters and the action. First, it progresses slowly, luring you in, and then aggressively so you can’t help but turn pages faster to keep up. I love seeing how different people cope in a time of crisis, and this is a study in those differences.[Read more...] about Devolution + Blueberry Lavender Lemonade Popsicles
Could you use a lovely read right now? If so, The Switch is for you. I was supposed to post this on Tuesday, but let’s be honest, I was preoccupied. I still am… and haven’t read anything in the last few days, but I need a distraction, so I’m going to share this relaxing, cozy story with you.
Beth O’Leary’s The Switch seems made for the movies. It’s a rom com where Leena switches places with her grandmother, Eileen — not in a Freaky Friday way, more in a The Holiday way. Leena moves out of her apartment in London and into her grandmother’s house in Yorkshire (the country). Eileen takes up residence with Leena’s roommates and decides to give online dating a go. They switch phones and find ways to busy themselves over the two months they’ve agreed to swap lives.[Read more...] about The Switch + Ooey Gooey Homemade Brownies
Sometimes you just need an easy read. My friends, 2020 is like all of those times combined. I recently read three rom com books in a row, and You Lucky Dog was the first. I chose it because it looked cute, and more importantly, it featured dogs, which meant I got to make some treats for my puppy again. (It’s been a while.) It was just what I needed.
Carly’s dog, Baxter, is the mopiest dog on the planet; Max’s Hazel is sociable and happy. It becomes almost immediately obvious to Carly, when she comes home, that the excitable basset hound laying on her couch isn’t hers. Cue the meet cute. Carly and Max meet when their dogs get mixed up through a mishap with their mutual dog walker.
I strongly related to Carly’s urge to go to NYC to get her career off the ground, no matter the consequences on her love life. (For those unaware, I did the same — after meeting my now-husband just a few months earlier… and ultimately moved back for him.) Outside of that, there are things to love about this novel — it’s an easy read; the dogs are cute; Max is a really loveable guy. There are also things I didn’t love so much, but none of that ruined it for me. I thought this was a charming book through and through. It whisked me off my feet just when I needed to be whisked.
And, as anticipated, it led me to dog treats. Mac and cheese dog treats, to be exact. Early on in the story, Baxter is eating macaroni and cheese when Carly finds him at Max’s house (a huge no-no!). Even beyond that, mac and cheese as a dog food is mentioned constantly. I knew it was the perfect pairing.
I found a recipe for cheesy dog treats and decided to do my best to make them into macaroni noodle shapes. As all dog treat recipes should, it contained few ingredients and was fairly easy to throw together. The hardest part was the cutting it into shapes, if I’m being honest. (A shape cut straight from a cookie cutter would certainly be easier.)
First, I whisked together eggs, olive oil and water until frothy. Then, added some shredded cheddar cheese. To that mixture, I added flour, about a half cup at a time to start.
When it got to stiff to stir, around the 1½ cup mark, I started adding just a tablespoon of flour at a time and used my hands to knead it in. (For reference, there are 8 tablespoons in a half cup of flour). After 2 cups of flour, my dough was ready and the cheese nicely incorporated from the heat of my hands.
I rolled my dough and then used two circular cookie cutters to cut thick O shapes. I used a 5-inch circle and a 2.5-inch circle.
Once I had the O shape, I cut that into about five pieces to make "noodles."
I laid them out on cookie sheets. You can get them quite close, as they don’t spread. (I probably had them too far apart here and had to use two cookie sheets.)
I baked them for about 15 minutes at 325 degrees, until the bottoms were lightly golden. The ultimate bake time will depend on how large your treats are; the original recipe called for 17-20 minutes.
Then, I turned off the oven and left them inside to cool overnight, which produces a crispier treat.
This recipe made about 7 dozen noodles, so I had a lot to go around! First, Beta sampled them.
And once she approved — as with most of my dog treats — I shared the love. I gave a bag to my neighbor, some to my coworkers and the rest to a couple of ladies in my book club with pups. They sent me pictures in as a thank you. Look how cute!
If you like curling up with your dog while enjoying a rom com now and then, I recommend giving this book a go. And, if you like spoiling your pup with homemade goodies, this recipe gets two paws up from Beta (and all the other dogs too)!
Mac and Cheese Dog Treats
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar or other strongly flavored cheese
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, olive oil, and water until the mixture is thick and frothy (approx. 1 – 2 minutes). Fold in the cheese.
- Add the flour, a half cup at a time, stirring to combine, until you reach 1 1/2 cups. When the dough becomes too stiff to stir, continue adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time, knead it in with your hands. As the warmth from your hands works the dough, the cheese will melt and smooth out the dough.
- If the mixture remains slightly crumbly even after you have kneaded it for several minutes, rinse your hands with cold water, shake them off and work this small amount of water into the dough – that should be just enough to bring it together perfectly.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out your dough to ¼” thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into shapes.
- Place the dough on a cookie sheet; the dough will have very minimal spread, so the cookies do not need much extra spacing.
- Bake your dog treats for 17 – 20 minutes until the bottoms are lightly golden.
- Allow the dog treats to sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes after you’ve taken them out of the oven, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- For a crisper, crunchier treat, turn off the oven and allow the treats to cool inside overnight.
- Store in an airtight container for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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