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Thursday Book Review: “My Inner Sky,” “Mrs. Frisby” and Nigella deluxe

April 1st, 2021

2021

(Meme by anon.)

 

Hello, babies. Sorry if you tried to get in and couldn’t. Technical difficulties.

Here’s a recipe (Judi i love you) to make it up to you.

Ginger Creams

From Angela (Grammy) Derby

Light with great flavor, without being overpowering, much like little gingerbread cakes. I’m going back to my big, red Betty Crocker cookbook, and not just for the recipe, but for the wonderful memories that accompany it.

Cook time: 10 Min  Prep time: 15 Min  Yields: 3 dozen

COOKIE INGREDIENTS:

1/3 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c molasses
1/2 c water
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
 
VANILLA ICING:
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 c confectioners’ sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp milk

Directions

1. Mix thoroughly shortening, sugar until blended; add egg, molasses and water with mixer. Stir in remaining ingredients, except frosting. Cover; chill 1 hour.
2. Heat oven to 400’F. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-8 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched with finger. Immediately remove from baking sheet; cool.
3. Vanilla Butter Frosting: Blend butter and sugar. Stir in vanilla and milk; beat until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency.
4. Frost cooled cookies and get ready for a real treat! Store in an airtight container after frosting dries; put waxed paper between layers. These actually get more moist and taste even better the next day!
 
Last Step: Don’t forget to share!

Yum, am I right? We’re OK now, tech-wise. So here is a glimpse into what’s new on the nightstand and on my desk at work…

I loaded my students up with juiceboxes and snacks and started reading them “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH,” the 1971 classic by Robert C. O’Brien. Snacks: gone. Juiceboxes: emptied. “More.” So we read more. Then I told them a story about my best, favorite teacher, Miss Howard, grade 4, and how she read us this book and I’ve remembered it ever since.

“More.” So we read more. Then they had lunch and I had them refill their water bottles. #hydration #lifeskills #aguaagua “Why do you always think we need so much water?!?” 

“Because when I was a kid, we didn’t even have water bottles, that’s how long ago it was. We drank from canteens. Or the water fountains. And the teachers always said noyoucantgogetadrinkagainyourefine.”

“Which is why at the end of the day, I always craved what?”

“WATER!”

“No. Orange Crush, with crushed ice. Because I was dehydrated at that point *and* low on sugar.”

“I love Orange Crush.” “Yeah, me, too.” “OK, read.”

If you’ve never read Mrs. Frisby, read it. It’s everything. An allegory, a parable, a great story, a glimpse into the future, past and present. It will let you see what life is like, from a mouse’s point of view. It’s genius and I’ll never stop loving it. (Equally incredible: O’Brien’s “The Silver Crown.”)

“My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night, and All the Times in Between,” by Mari Andrews (Penguin Books, 2021, 255 pages, $22), arrived a few weeks ago. This cool book of art/inspiration/writing and more by Mari Andrews, is lovely, and not just because the cover reminds me of one of the shimmer diamond paintings my daughter and I have become hooked on. I’ve been reading through/soaking in a bit of Andrews’ book every day. It’s like the sunshine we are so frequently blessed with and deprived of during springtime in the Pacific Northwest — it pops up when you need it, disappears for a minute, reappears again. I’ll go all arty here — I love her use of color (primarily watercolor), the rhythm, the ebbs and flows of the book. It’s a work of art, and a good read. It’s a happy book, and it’s just what we all needed right now.

“To live life to the fullest means to *feel* life to the fullest: Full pain, full boredom, full unfairness, full magnificence, full mourning, full lazy days, full joy, full disappointment, full creativity.”

Andrews’ woo-woo style (and I do mean that as a compliment — I’m a fan of woo-woo) is comforting and chop-chop at the same time. It is the kind of book that will give you something different every time you pick it up, and has layers of ideas and thoughts. Highly recommended, especially as a gift to a family member, friend or co-worker.

My cousin sent me a crate of books! She did. With a beautiful note (the girl has lovely handwriting, just like her mom) that said something like, at least one of these books is yours, I know, and the rest look like they should be. This made me happy, especially cuz one of the books was a healthy woo-woo (yeah i said woo-woo again) book from the ’80s, all carob and food tips for the housewives in the crowd, one is a slowcooker special, one has “eff you” in the title (yeah it effin’ does) and the rest are Nigella Lawson cookbooks.

Eff yeah. You wish you had a cousin as great as mine but you don’t. Sorry.

Now. Pasta a la vodka, anyone?

PENNE ALLA VODKA, by Nigella Lawson

INGREDIENTS:

Salt

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons garlic-infused oil

1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes (or 3 cups finely chopped fresh tomatoes)

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 pounds penne rigate

½ cup vodka

4 tablespoons butter

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

PREPARATION YIELD 8 to 10 servings

TIME 45 minutes

“Penne alla vodka is the perfect recipe for easy entertaining: short pasta is easier to cook in quantity than long strands and the sauce is amusingly retro — think 1960s Rome, where the dish originated. But it is seriously good.

Step 1: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, and add onion, oil and a sprinkling of salt. Sauté onion until soft and beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

Step 2: Add tomatoes and their juices, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add heavy cream, and remove from heat.

Step 3: Add pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain pasta and return to cooking pot. Add vodka, butter and salt to taste. Gently mix penne until butter is melted. Add tomato mixture, and mix until pasta is coated.

Step 4: To serve, transfer pasta and sauce to a large warmed bowl. Pass Parmesan cheese for guests to serve themselves.”

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

 

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