The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Book Cover: The Miseducation of Emily PostThe Miseduation of Cameron Post
Emily M. Danforth

This is the third book I’ve read recently featuring girls sent away to camps designed to solve their troubles (the other two being Maya’s Notebook and The Girls of No Return). This time, the camp in question is meant to de-gay the youth attending. News flash: not all that effective! Um, at all!

There was a lot I liked about this book. The focus on a girl growing up and coming to terms with her sexuality was well done. I felt tranported back to high school when all your emotions are bubbling up and you can’t think straight. I also liked that the book recognized that there is a difference between gender identity and sexuality and that these categories don’t necessarily exist as binary.

My main complaint about this book was that it was just too darn long. It felt like the author should have chosen to either focus on before the camp, or the camp itself. And the camp itself was mainly horrifying, so I think less focus on that would have been better. Reading about the camp kept me in a state of heightened awareness and sensitivity.

~~~~~~

Orange Juice and Ginger Ale

My new favorite drink

Towards the beginning of the book, there’s a scene that mentions Cameron drinking orange juice and ginger ale. I’m a big fan or mixing club soda and juice, but had never thought of using ginger ale. I like ginger ale, I like orange juice. I figured I’d try it.

OMG IT IS SO GOOD.

I filled my glass about three quartes up with ice, then Vernor’s Ginger Ale about halfway up, then topped it with Tropicana Grovestand OJ. Grovestand = lots of pulp.

Side note: Tropicana recently went back to all Florida oranges, so I bought it. I’ve been drinking Florida’s Natural pretty much exclusively for the past couple of years. I’m a Florida girl, and I try to keep it local. There are some other small groves near me that produce their own stuff, but I have to buy it at the farmer’s market, and it’s not always available. Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice is also super local, but they use a type of orange that’s sweeter. I like my OJ to have a little sourness to it, but if that’s not youthing, I encourage you to try Natalie’s.

Have you had this delicious concoction? What other Juice + Fizzy drink combos do I need to try? Let me know!

Weekend CookingWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

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Manazuru

Book cover for ManazuruManazuru
Hiromi Kawakami
Translated by Michael Emmerich

I loved the beginning of this book. Loved it. It has a sense of dreamy immediacy, which might seem contradictory but, whatevs. Here’s how it opens:

I walked on, and something was following.
Enough distance lay between us that I couldn’t tell if it was male or female. I ignored it, kept walking.
I had set out before noon from the guest house on the inlet, headed for the tip of the cape. I stayed there last night, in that small building set amidst an isolated cluster of private houses, run by a man and woman who, judging by their ages, were mother and son.

Who is following our narrator? What do they want, if anything? When I started reading, I ignored the follower, much like Kei did. She’s wandering around Manazuru, a Japanese beach town. She’s trying to sort through her husband’s abrupt disappearance, which, despite having happened years ago, still haunts her.

Speaking of hauntings, I started to like the book a little less when it’s implied that the things that Kei sees following her are ghosts. Maybe. Very Turn of the Screw-ish. It was off to me that a book so invested in the small realities of human life, eating, sleeping, bathing, would veer off into ghost story territory. But perhaps that’s exactly the kind of story where you should expect to find ghosts. The ghost of Rei, or at least the thought of him, rarely, if ever, leaves Kei. She cannot shake the unease of not knowing what happened to him. Did he really just up and leave her? Is he alive somewhere, or not? Towards the beginning of the book she mentions that he’s been gone long enough for a divorce, not long enough to be declared dead. But she makes no moves towards either resolution.

She drifts though life, like she drifts back to the sea.
~~~

Can we talk about the food for a minute? This passage had me ready to plan my next vacation in Japan:

I ordered a set lunch. Horse mackerel sashimi.
The fish wasn’t minced, as it generally is, but sliced into piece as large as the ball of my thumb and served with finely chopped ginger and perilla leaves. The mixture was sensuously moist and slightly chewy – the cook must have let the fish marinate in soy sauce for a time. I finished everything: the soup, a fish-bone stock flavored with miso, and a heaping bowl of rice.

This reminds me of Jeffery Steingarten’s essay about how when he travels he loves eating the local cuisine, but is always craving a juicy burger upon arriving home (to paraphrase something I read years ago and can’t put my finger on at the moment). That is, until he visits Japan and has the most amazing sushi of his life. Then he dreams of perfect sushi after his juicy burger. I can’t say I’d mind experiencing that for myself.
Weekend Cooking: Minding My Manners
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Medium Raw

Medium RawMedium Raw
Anthony Bourdain

Oh, Anthony. You’ve been growing up since your Kitchen Confidential days, certainly. I love that you are more contemplative, more thoughtful. You seem cognizant of gender inequalities in a way you didn’t before you had a daughter (at least that I never saw this before).  You continue to point out that the people who help feed us, who do back breaking work in America’s kitchens, are so often people vilified in the media and told to “go home.” You recognize that the Ecuadorian filleting fish will be treated differently than the Irishman pouring your beer, although their immigration status is the same.

You recognize that hard work is not enough, that you were tremendously lucky. “And luck is not a business model.”

Still, the targets of your most vicious attacks are often women. Alice Waters, Sandra Lee, Paula Deen. (I am NOT, under any circumstances, defending Paula Deen’s recent horror show. Bourdain’s attacks predate any of that.) And that just makes me sad. And disappointed. And hopeful that you will continue to grow.
I’m not saying that I hope Bourdain starts attacking more men. Instead, I hope that he will focus on attacking hypocrisy, on attacking issues. I’m sure he is smart enough to know the difference.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by BethFishReads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.
Weekend Cooking

Relish

Book cover for "relish" showing a cartoon girl with eyes closed eating an oliveRelish: My Life in the Kitchen
Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel memoir through food is really more of a celebration of good eating than a conversation about the author’s life. Sure, we get the broad strokes, but the book is mainly disjointed episodes displayed haphazardly.

However, it’s obvious she loves food. And I love food. I think it’d be pretty cool to have had a teenage summer job working a farmer’s market booth in upstate New York, or later in college at a fancy gourmet shop. I worked at a local grocery store, where it was a big deal when we started selling sushi in little plastic trays.

I liked the recipes between the chapters. Nothing fancy, but they show you can eat well without being a rocket scientist. I’m all for people taking a laid back approach to cooking. Try it! Perfection not required. I also loved the drawings, especially the scene with the chickens. The horror in young Lucy’s face is quite evident.

The book was less successful when Knisley snarked on people’s food choices or the obesity epidemic. Apparently, you can eat as many delicious flaky croissants as you want as long as you stay thin while doing so. Just stick to talking about delicious food, ‘kay?

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone with a food related post to share. Join the fun!Weekend Cooking: Minding My Manners

Weekend Cooking: Minding My Manners

Book

Emily Post on Entertaining
Elizabeth L. Post

I’ve had this book on my shelves for ages now, and have done little more than flip through it. I’d read the first chapter. “Party Planning” and decided it was so out of the realm of anything I could see my self doing that I put it down without a second thought.

But you know what? Despite the dreadfully stuffy bits, this could actually come in handy. Not that I plan on hosting a formal six course dinner party any time soon. However, it demystifies some of the impenetrable fog of secret Greenwich WASP code that surrounds these events.

It’s also got good tips on how to manage logistics of say, a beach picnic. Or a buffet lunch. It has pointers on housewarming parties vs. open houses (who knew?).

Honestly, it was almost fun to imagine myself in some of the less probable circumstances: How do I treat the servants? (politely, but not with familiarity). Can I leave before the President of the United States does? (absolutely not). Must I used engraved invitations when I have a reception for my Senator? (ha!).

Anyway, give it a try, even if it’s just to remember that your water glass is the one on the right.

Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads, is a weekly blogging event open to anyone with a food related post to share. Do check out what this weekend’s other participants are stirring up!

Hemingway Daiquiris, Finally

So, yeah. I had planned to make these daiquiris back during the Trish’s Pin It, Do It challenge, but I couldn’t find maraschino liquor anywhere. Finally, the brilliant hubby suggested I call Total Wine. I hadn’t thought of them, as there isn’t one super close to me, but I figured I could combine a stop there with some other places I needed to go. Of course, they carried two varieties! I went with the cheaper one, since it’s just a mixer. It was $16. The expensive one was $30. Also, the super helpful sales guy pointed me to an $8 bottle of white rum that he said was comparable to a Bacardi. I think he felt he had to throw me a bone since he also talked me into an eighty dollar bottle of single malt Scotch…
Hemingway Daiquiri, from The Kitchn

Anyway, on to the daiquiris. Yummy yummy yummy. Light, not too sweet, and you know you’re drinking alcohol. Rum, maraschino liquor, fresh grapefruit, fresh lime. Tumbler full of ice, sunny day, time to relax by the water with a book. I think Papa would approve.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. Go check out what everyone else is talking about this weekend.

Pin It, Do It: Cheddar Pecan Crisps

I’ve been wanting to join the Weekend Cooking fun, hosted by Beth Fish Reads, for a while now, but never had anything that fit the theme. Thanks to this edition of the Pin It, Do It Challenge, I do! Go check out this week’s other Weekend Cooking participants here.

So.

I had high hopes of writing about a delicious cocktail, named after serious drinker Ernest Hemingway. I figured if he drank a bunch of them, they had to be pretty decent. Unfortunately, the Hemingway Daiquiri calls for maraschino liquor, which is proving nearly impossible to find. My local liquor store said they’d order some, but when I called back to see if it had come in, they told me they were unable to find any. I tried ordering it online, but I can’t find anyone that will ship it to me.

When I find the elusive ingredient – and I WILL – I’ll be sure to let you know. I hope they’re good, because otherwise I’ll be using the stuff to make homemade maraschino cherries, which actually do look pretty lovely.

Instead, I’ve made Cheddar-Pecan Crisps (pin here). Last year, I read A Tiger in the Kitchen by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. I was impressed by her willingness to put in the work and learn how to cook some of her favorite foods. Ever since, I’ve been wanting to try some of her recipes. These crisps aren’t her creation, but she wrote about them on her blog, which is still actively chronicling her journey with food.

Crisp batter, photo by me.

As I’m writing this, the first batch of crisps is bubbling in the oven. They smell like HEAVEN.

The details of the recipe are a bit
lacking – it looks like maybe they were cut off. I’ve put them in a 350 degree oven and set the timer at 20 minutes. That seems to be working.

The batter is very thick – I ended up mixing it with my hands, as my poor little electric mixer just wasn’t cutting it. Ahh, to dream of a kitchen with counters and storage and a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Someday.

My crisps didn’t come out exactly like the picture. Here’s the first batch, fresh out of the oven:

Crisps, again, photo by me.

 I am curious to so if I could track down the complete recipe somewhere. Maybe I was missing a step, or not doing something completely right. Also, they aren’t nearly as cheesy as I expected, especially based on how they smelled when they were baking. They taste like savory tea biscuits. Good, but nothing I’d probably make again.

Lu-Lien Tan does have other recipes I want to try. Her family recipe pineapple tarts sound amazing, and served as the inspiration for her cooking project. The recipe makes A TON of tarts, though, so maybe I should wait until I’ve got the above-mentioned counter space 🙂

If you could make a recipe based on a literary inspiration, what would it be? Or maybe you have already – tell me about it!