Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Book Reviews: "Know Your Cat," Before the Dawn," "The Brothers K," "The Help," & "Walking Across Egypt"

 by Francesca Riccomini
Rating: *

This book was actually a Christmas gift to us from Gracie (Seth went and bought it for her). I thought maybe I should actually read it so Gracie would stop her whining about me not "understanding" her. Plus I figured it might help our relationship and bump me up a couple notches. I did actually learn a few things, some of which I've put into practice in order to make her life even more cushy than it already is. God forbid she feel any stress or discomfort on my behalf. I have to admit I do like that cat. I can't help it... even though she's constantly doing mean things to me. At least now I know how to read her subtle signs of impending wrath. Anyway, this wasn't the highest quality book I've ever seen, but then again, it was in the "bargain bin."

by Nicholas Wade
Rating: **

I liked this book. It took a little more concentration to read than a regular novel, so I had to read it in smaller chunks... kind of like a textbook, but not so dull. It just covered so much scientific information it took my brain a while to process it all. But, that's not saying it wasn't good. It really enlightened me on the whole humans came from monkeys viewpoint. For example, our ancient homo sapien ancestors lived at the same time as homo erectus and the Neanderthals. I had always been under the impression that we evolved from them. And there was so much information about our DNA and all of the information scientists can glean from it. They have found that our ancient ancestors came from Africa and how approximately how big the society was, where they dissipated to and when, when humans developed the ability to use language and tools, and so many other amazing things. Every night after reading I'd always have some interesting bit of knowledge to share with Seth (whether he wanted to hear it or not). Truthfully I got about half-way through this book and got distracted by other more tempting book options, but I may revisit it later.

 by David James Duncan

I fell in love with David James Duncan after reading The River Why. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this book at the library on CD! I was so excited. Although this book was centered on baseball (not fishing, like The River Why), I still loved it. Maybe even more than The River Why, which I didn't think was possible. The narrator had a great voice and added a lot to the story. If you've ever listened to a poorly narrated book, you know how much it can ruin a good novel. I honestly hated getting out of my car at the end of my commute each day and found myself wishing the drive was longer, just so I could keep listening to this book. Duncan is a literary genius. He's such a creative, engaging writer. I can't recommend his books enough.

by Katherine Stockett
Rating: **+

My sister, Corinne, sent me this book as a surprise. I had already added this to the list of books I wanted to read so I was excited to be able to start it so soon without having to go find it myself. This is a book about the civil rights era and the experiences of some black women who were maids in white homes. Truthfully I was a little put off from the very first chapter. Stockett began the book speaking as one of the black women named Aibileen, but used the stereotypical dialect we're all so familiar with such as "chillen" for "children," "Law" for "Lord", etc. Anyway, I thought this was a little cliché, but got used to it as the book progressed. I guess it's an important part of the book to differentiate between characters and how they speak, but I thought Stockett could have found a more creative way to do it than using the old standbys. Which isn't to say the book wasn't good despite all of that. You can tell Stockett is partially writing about herself via Skeeter. At least that's what I thought, especially after reading her bio. I think it was a worthy read and I enjoyed it. It constantly drew me in and made me want to read more. A good first novel for Stockett.

by Clyde Edgerton
Rating: **+

My mom recommended this book to me several times over the years and I finally got around to "reading" it.  I saw it at the library on CD and thought it would make a nice addition to my daily commute. This was a highly entertaining book about an old woman and all the experiences she has. A lot of the book is told from her point of view and it's funny to imagine her as all the "crazy old ladies" you know. There's a part towards the beginning involving a rocking chair... that alone is worth reading. This was a great, fun book and definitely a good choice as an audiobook in the car. The reader did a great job on the character voices and made the book really come to life. There's a sequel to this called "Killer Diller" so I'll definitely have to pick that one up now too! Thanks for the recommendation Mom!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Making Lemonade

We went out fishing twice this weekend and I didn't catch a thing on either day. Which is weird considering I've done pretty well lately. Must be those crazy fish getting ready for spring. Anyway, the other evening while I wasn't catching anything, I decided to make the most of it and take pictures of the awesome sunset. These views are just a skip away from my front door, which makes them even better.

There's a big horned owl that lives under that bridge. We named him Harold.

I thought the backhoe was a nice touch.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Today's Special: Lots of New Stuff

Cube Steak with Mushroom Sherry Sauce- New Recipe. Holy crap this was SO good. The Mushroom Sherry Sauce was awesome. I used fresh thyme and I can tell it made it that much better. Have I mentioned how much I love fresh thyme? It smells and tastes amazing. This recipe is definitely going in the 'keeper' pile. I can't recommend this one enough.

Chicken and Asparagus with Melted Gruyère-New Recipe. This was just ok, nothing special and definitely not worth the price of the gruyère. If I were to make this again I'd use a cheaper cheese like parmesan or possibly even mozzarella.

Pasta with Creamy Mushroom Pea Sauce- New Recipe. This turned out really good. The proscuitto gave it a really nice flavor. Seth especially liked this one.

Lousiana Catfish with Okra and Corn- New Recipe. I had high hopes for this one, but it was just so-so. Not much to the catfish and overall a bit bland for my tastes, though it had potential. On a good note, this was my first time ever eating okra and I thought it turned out good.

Black Pepper & Bacon Drop Biscuits-New Recipe. These turned out really good. Nice flavor and texture. Great addition to the breakfast plate.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bragging Rights

I'm going to use this weeks' Thursday 13 to brag about my dad a little. He has been into photography for years and has some of the best work I've seen. I constantly compare his work to the photographs I see in little art galleries and boutiques and his is always at least equal to or far better. He rarely does any editing on his photos and doesn't use a lot of the color filters and such that a lot of people use. He is very skilled at knowing how to compose a photograph and how to use his camera. He puts in the time and effort it takes to be great and it definitely shows.

I've chosen 13 of his photographs that are my favorites. This was incredibly hard to do. Almost impossible. See what I mean by looking through his stuff over on Flickr (or you can click on "Dad's Pictures" on my Blogroll)----->














See more Thursday 13 participants or try it yourself!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A New Tattoo

I've always been intrigued by tattoos. I like to look at them on other people and it always brings out my curiosity... What does the tattoo mean? Why did the person choose it? Do they still like it? I have mixed feelings about them. I don't care either way if somebody has a tattoo, but sometimes they choose the weirdest things. I wonder why on Earth they would choose that particular tattoo to have on them for the rest of their lives. Other times I see the tattoo and think it's such a cool idea. Or that it's really beautiful. I've watched t.v. shows about tattoo shops and I'm amazed at the things they can draw.

I don't think I would ever get a tattoo. Mainly because there's nothing that means enough to me to get it tattooed on me forever. And at the rate I change my hair, I think I'd get sick of it really fast and wish I'd never gotten it. Or I'd get the tattoo done and see something the next day I wish I'd gotten instead.

It always amazes me how many people get the same tattoo. The "tribal band" around the bicep, the Chinese or Japanese character for Peace or whatever, a koi fish, a fairy or butterfly on the ankle, etc. You'd think people would want something more original. I don't know that this is any more original than those other tattoos, but I've chosen something I think would be kind of cool if I ever wanted to get one. I like the thought of getting a mayfly. Just a small one... maybe the same size as a large life-size mayfly. I'm not really sure where I'd put it. Maybe on my side or somewhere on my back. Or if I put it on my butt it would grow as I got older. And I think it would take longer for it to get wrinkly there than on my arm or something. Anyway, I think a mayfly would be cool because it ties in with the whole fishing thing, but it's not as common as getting an actual fish. Plus it's pretty.

Do you have any tattoos? What do you have? What does it mean? If you don't have any would you ever get one? What would it be? 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Ultimate Sportsman

Yesterday was such a beautiful day we decided to make the most of it in the best way we know how. We spent a few hours fishing on the Weber River by Wanship, enjoying the "warm" weather. The river was full of whitefish and a handful of browns, both of which we caught several. Once again the fly of the day was the olive zebra midge, though Seth landed one or two on his bead head hare's ear nymph. We are really getting attached to the Weber River. I always enjoy fishing other rivers, but the Weber feels like home.

Seth fighting his first fish of the day

It turned out to be a nice brown

Working the foam line

Reloading... I (unknowingly) kept trying to catch fish without flies. Seth calls this the "ultimate sportsman." If you can catch fish with just a line, you've reached the top.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Today's Special: Not Exactly Healthy but it's Delicious!

Sunday: Coffee-Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions-New Recipe. This was the best roast I've had in a long time. It was perfectly tender and moist and it still had that crunchy/chewy delicious outer crust. I had to thin out the braise liquid at the end of cooking to make the gravy as there wasn't much liquid left and it was really strong tasting and salty. I probably added at least a cup or so. This recipe may force the crock-pot out of the kitchen for a while.

Monday: Shredded Beef Chimichangas- Whenever I make a roast I buy an extra large one so I can use the leftovers to make chimichangas. I don't really have a recipe for these... it's just something I made up. All you do is shred what's left of the roast, mix it with enough green enchilada sauce (or red if you prefer) to moisten the mixture and make it more cohesive and then if you like more heat, add a small can of green chilies. Wrap the mixture up burrito style in a large tortilla and fry in about a 1/2 inch of oil or so, flipping as each side becomes golden brown. I like to top mine with shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole & sour cream. So good and super fast!

Tuesday: Brie Stuffed Meatball & Red Wine Mushroom Sauce Subs- New Recipe. I got this recipe from Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen blog. I saw the name of the recipe and knew I had to try it. I felt like I was going to have a heart attack after eating this, but man, it sure was good!

Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie- Old favorite. I read on Annie's blog that she was making chicken pot pie this week and it made me realize I hadn't made it for a while. This is one of my favorite recipes.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 1/3 c + 1 tbsp. shortening (cold)
3 2/3 c flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
9-11 tbsp. cold water

Cut shortening into flour and salt until it forms particles the size of peas. Sprinkle in water 1 tbsp. at a time, tossing with a fork until flour is moistened. Gather mixture into a ball and split into two evenly sized balls.
Flatten one of the balls into a 4" disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Roll out the other ball on a floured surface until it is big enough for a pie plate or 8x8 square baking dish. Carefully lay crust into pie plate.


1 package (10-16oz) frozen peas and carrots
1/3 c margarine or butter
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped (optional)
1 3/4 c chicken broth
2/3 c milk
2 1/2-3 c cooked and shredded chicken

Pour veggies into a colander and rinse in water to thaw. Drain. Heat butter in 2 quart sauce pan over medium heat until melted. Stir in flour, onion, salt, pepper and rosemary (if using). Cook for 1 minute. Add milk and broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken and veggies.

Preheat oven to 425 deg. F. Pour filling into prepared pie crust. Remove second pie dough disk from refrigerator and roll out of a floured surface until large enough to cover pie plate. Drape over top of filling. Seal edges together and flute. Cut four slits in top of crust. Bake for about 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Thursday: Greek Gyro Pizza (Tzatziki Sauce)- New Recipe. A few weeks ago we had a Band Hero party with some friends. Seth and I were in charge of the pizza, so we ordered a few from The Pie, including their Greek Pizza. It was basically a gyro on a pizza crust. And it was so delicious! I figured I could make it myself, so I did! I just used the tzatziki sauce recipe above as the base sauce, mozzarella, pre-cooked gyro meat (from the butcher shop), thinly sliced red onions and tomatoes, and feta cheese. It turned out really good and we even had enough gyro meat left over for regular gyros. I'd definitely make this again.

Friday: Shrimp & Cheddar Grits- New Recipe. I wasn't really looking forward to this recipe... mainly because I'd never actually had grits before and wasn't sure it would turn out right. This was incredibly easy to make and the grits were awesome! I'm going to have to experiment with grits more I guess!

Bonus: Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bread- New Recipe. This recipe also came from the Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen blog. I had a bunch of ripe bananas to use up and this fit the bill. The recipe can either make two regular loaves, or you can make one loaf and use the rest to make muffins... which is what I did. Great addition to the breakfast plate or as a sweet snack!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday 13: My Favorite Fly Patterns

Most of you won't have any use for this, but that's ok. It's MY list! I took pictures of the exact flies I use... straight out of my fly box, so these are the colors, variations, etc. I prefer. And any of you who do any kind of fly fishing may be wondering why I don't have the Wooly Bugger on my list. That's because they rarely ever work for me. The 'Prince of a Bugger' is the closest thing to it and pretty much the only streamer I ever choose to use.

1. Copper John

2. Green Hornet

3. Orange San Juan Worm

4. Sow Bug (PMS pattern)

5. Pheasant Tail Nymph

6. Olive Zebra Midge (#22)

7. Madame X

8. Chernobyl Ant

9. Foam Beetle

10. Hot Butt Elk Hair Caddis

11. Copper Prince of a Bugger

12. Bitch Creek Nymph

13. Royal Wulff