Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tea and a Good Book...

I've taken to having tea... a lot. In all honesty I'm trying to curb my soda consumption. Tea is so much healthier for me, even if it's sweetened with a nip of sugar. I really wish America had developed a similar tea culture to, say, Japan. Vending machines filled with fresh, chilled, bottles of tea would be so much healthier for us! In any case, I've really been enjoying Foojoy's Jasmine Green Tea. It's like brewing pure awesome.

Foojoy: Individually Wrapped Awesome

I'd really like to try some of their other varieties, but first I have to find a place that carries it. I don't think the Wal-Marts here have it, and the box I have I purchased and the oriental food store in the city. Must, get, tea!

Coming off of finishing A Discovery of Witches, I decided to start A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. I've been waiting six years for this book, and I really am looking forward to it! But heaven forbid I go anywhere near a Barnes and Noble... and that's exactly what happened. I saw in an email that they had both Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern on sale. Both have been wildly popular, and I've really wanted to read both, so I went ahead and picked up both. And boy am I glad I did!

I'm so glad, I started this one first; being a teen novel, I ripped through it in just a few hours. Coming down off the high that Discover of Witches was, I was very pleased that the book ended up being fantastic.  As quoted from it's Shelfari page:
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children , an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows..........
Sounds brilliant, doesn't it? And it certainly lived up to it as well. From the first few pages, I couldn't hardly put it down. The only downside is it's the first of a series and the sequel has yet to be released! It's slated for Spring 2012 last I saw, so there's hope I may survive the wait!

The Night Circus which I've just started, has had all sorts of hype going around about it. All of the people I watch on Shelfari have added it, and the woman who checked me out at Barnes and Noble even told me that she loved it to pieces and highly recommended it. Here's the video trailer for the book.

I'm not real sure what the deal is all of a sudden with short video trailers for books. All of the recent new releases have had them. I suppose with the way social media is moving, people just can't be bothered to read the 'boring', old synopsis. In any case, they're kind of neat, and the one above is pretty fantastic in and of itself. Love to music.

I can't wait for November to roll around, so many of the things I've been waiting on are finally coming out! The last Eragon book is finally releasing on November 8th, and Revenge of the Dwarves by Markus heitz releases on the third. And on top of that the new Elder Scrolls game comes out the same day we move into our new apartment. So much excitement in November! I can't wait!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chicken Soup with Rice....

It's been a good week. I've been working on finishing off some books so I can start my coveted "A Dance with Dragons" by George R.R.Martin. I was caught up in the midst of reading Brandon Sanderson's "The Way of Kings" when it was released, and I didn't really want to get into the middle of a second thousand page epic! In any case, I've finally managed to put another book down- curse my need to read multiple books at once!

I found "A Discovery of Witches" to be quite an enchanting read. *Spoiler Alert* I'd seen some mixed reviews on amazon, and I must say, I didn't find of the same issues with my read through. Perhaps the biggest issue most people seemed to have with it was the seemingly sudden love relationship between the two main characters. They said it was impossible for anyone to form a relationship so quickly especially given the prejudice's between the two 'creatures', one a witch and the other a vampire. Based on this I was a bit leery, hoping I wasn't getting 'Twilight' in a more adult setting.

Whoever was writing that review however failed to actually read the book. The whole situation is perfectly and plausibly explained through fate, the will of the Goddess, and magic. It was prophesied that the witchy heroine would fall in love with vampire hero- and beautifully written and revealed too. It's entirely believable based on the magic of the book. If those naysayers are silly enough to be unable to enjoy it based on their being magic in the story, I can't fathom why they'd be reading a book about witches and vampires in the first place!

Besides doing a lot of reading I have started having progresso soups for breakfasts and lunches. I LOVE soup, hands down my favorite food form. I'll eat it for any meal, and pretty much any format. I'd been seeing commercials for Progresso soups (Perhaps even highlighting it's dietary uses..?) and was needing some quick and easy meals at the apartment, and decided to go out and pick some cans up.

It's like.... Soup Heaven!

So far, they've all been pretty darn good. The worst I've had has been the french onion; French onion soup is one of my favorite varieties, although the only one I've found I like is Panera's. Although I wouldn't ever buy it again, it was still the best pre-packaged french onion I've ever had. Great big chunks of onion, thicker then most... Beats the heck out of any other canned or bagged! All the other varieties I've tried have been great. None of them are as good a fresh, homemade soup, but they're all very tasty and well worth the cost. I've yet to find a can of their Minestrone, another favorite variety of soup, but I'm hoping some of the grocery stores down in Oklahoma City will have some. 

So long as I don't find a can of this, I'll be good...


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Introductions and a Recipe...

Just me- posting stuff about me! Showcasing puzzles I've done, artwork I've drawn, plushies I've sewn, stuff I've cooked, books I've read. Stories about me and my family and friends. And probably lots of pictures of strange things I've seen on my outings.

I started a blog a while back for just such a purpose, and it got consumed by my World of Warcraft stories (I play a dwarf hunter). I changed it to be a WoW blog, but always missed having somewhere to post 'just me' stuff. So Puzzles and Things it is!

Now then, onward to last nights dinner! My fiance and I are in the process of moving to a new apartment, so I've been trying to use up stuff in the kitchen when cooking. Less to move, right? Yesterday I'd bought a package of ground beef, intending to make hamburger helper for a few nights. Slowly that idea shifted over meatloaf instead, and then to meat balls... And didn't I have a can of diced tomatoes as well, I thought? Now thoroughly excited to try and make a fresh spaghetti sauce I dashed to the pantry- and stood crestfallen looking at lots of canned goods, but no tomatoes. Drat!

So off I went to IGA, and I picked up a bell pepper too!

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs
Warning! This is by no means a refined recipe! This is a first attempt only! Also, I cook by feel and taste and less by measurement- amounts are not exact in many cases!

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2ish celery stalks, diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 small can of sliced mushrooms (Next time will use fresh)
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 small cans of tomato sauce
  • basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Vegetable or Olive oil, enough to coat bottom of large, deep skillet
  • 2.25 pounds ground beef (I like leftover meatballs, so I made a ton :3)
  • 2 eggs
  • About 1/2 small can of tomato sauce
  • Italian bread crumbs (Or crushed saltine crackers)
  • Salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder
In large skillet, heat cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion starts to get tender. Mind the garlic- It gets bitter if it burns! Add bell pepper and celery and sautee around 5 minutes until it too starts to get tender. Add in the tomatoes and mushrooms, season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste and let it simmer 3-4 minutes. Add in the tomato sauce, sugar and water, give it a good stir, stick a lid on it and let it simmer.

Don't worry too much if it seems very acidic and a little bitter. As it simmers it'll mellow and smooth out as the flavors combine!

Start making the meatballs (My sauce had been simmering for about 20 minutes by now). I'm afraid I'm little help with making meatballs. I don't use exact measurements for anything. I just mix the ingredients in until it feels right! I learned to make meatloaf as well as meatballs from my mum- meatballs are essentially just small, fried meatloafs! So if you've made a meatloaf, you'll be okay. If not, get your meat and seasonings, eggs and sauce mixed together and start adding in the bread crumbs. The consistency should be somewhat sticky and hold together well when you roll them into balls. Roll the meat into small balls (Not too big, or it's a pain to get them to cook through) and set them into a hot skillet. Brown them on all sides (I like mine pretty done) and then set them into the sauce.

By now my sauce had been cooking about an hour and ten minutes- it should be starting to thicken by the time you get the meatballs in. If it's still very watery, let it simmer longer. Add in the meatballs and simmer another ten to thirty minutes while you sort out pasta and bread.

And Voila! Sorry about the poor quality photo- I was more more concerned with eating the spaghetti then it's artistic nature. About 2 to 2 1/2 hours cooking time, but very good. Much different from other spaghetti sauces, and a lot chunkier, but tasty! I think next time I'll add in more sauce and tomatoes in comparison to the amount of other veggies, try and get a more saucy consistency. 

I'll definately be having spaghetti the next few meals too O.o It made a lot!