the time to read them...

Books I have read. More for me than for you, but I guess that depends on who you are. If you stalk me, than this will probably be more useful for you than me.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cell by Stephen King

I love horror and I used to read a lot of King. But then he got kinda boring and he is a bit wordy. But I love the concept of this, since it's a cell phone virus that kills people. I have been saying for several years now that cell phone technology completely obliterates a lot of classic horror, since cutting the phone lines is so crucial in so many films.

And I started out loving this book. The characters are GREAT. But after King killed off my favorite character (I won't say who), I lost a lot of interest. The last 1/2 to 1/4 of this book, there is no action. And the ending is SO BAD. There is really no explanation I had been waiting for the entire time.

Based on the let down ending I dunno if I can recommend this, because the beginning was SO SUSPENSEFUL I could not wait to read more.

Love Sick

by Michael J. Nelson

I wanted to like this, because I love Mike Nelson/MST3K so much. But mainly this is a book of cool clip art/graphics with really unnecessary commentary by Mike Nelson. His commentary seems sort of non-relevant.

It was especially weird since I am also reading this other book called Love Sick:

Potato Salad

I have determined that potato salad without greens is much tastier than potato salad with. This seems like one of those recipes that masks gross food/tastless healthy food by putting it in (relatively) less healthy food. Turnip greens appear to have no flavor, but the same creepy soggy leaf texture.

I am happy with the turnips, but I am throwing away the greens. What is this the Depression? Do we have to eat garbage? :P

Veggie Update

This week I got more spinach and radishes. Both of those will go towards salad, especially in this hot weather.

I also got turnips. I made this amazing soup from the CSA cookbook. I altered it a little. Basically:

Saute a cup of onions or green onions in butter
Add 4 cups of chopped turnips, cleaned
Add a few chopped potatoes, skinned.
Add 2 cans of chicken (or your preferred) stock
add a tbls. of sugar, a tbls. of lemon, a bunch (figurative) of parsley, sprinkle of lemon pepper.

Cook covered for 45 mins, or until turnips are mushy.

Puree in blender/food processor.

Put back into pot and add a little less than a cup of yogurt (they suggested milk or cream, but I never have those, and I like how yogurt tastes).

Then I added some chives and salt, and a lot of white pepper, which gave it a really nice heat.

Bring to a boil, then shut off, serve chilled. (Though also tasty hot.)

I couldn't find a good recipe for radish greens, but it seems like radish greens are spicy like mustard greens. So then I found this amazing looking radish green potato salad which I am making as I type. It's carbtastic over here.

I got some green onions, which I will use in both of the above and probably a test batch of cornmeal grean onion pancakes. But that still left 2 things: the much dreaded bok choy and turnip greens leftover from the turnips. I foisted the bok choy onto the aforementioned bokchoy lover Kurt. But turnip greens are sort of yucky seeming when raw. Websites seem to call them bitter, but I think of them more as sour. All recipes seem to have the usual "cook with pork" suggestions. So I searched in the cookbooks and found nothing appetizing. I am sorry people, but wilted greens? Yuck. Consistency of grossness. But then I found this. Mmmm anything cheesy can't be bad, right?

If anyone has more turnip green ideas, let me know. Hey I always thought you threw out this part of the plant.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Road Trip

Anyone up for a Maine to Nevada road trip?

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Recipes from America's Small Farms: Fresh Ideas for the Season's Bounty

I am generally not a food snob. I like hot dogs way more than the next guy. I honestly like malt liquor. I also love lobster (which, depending on how you construe it, is sort of dirty so probably a bad example) and fois gras, no matter if the place I first had it (Chicago) has now outlawed it. I pretty much like the whole gamut. While I am known to my friends as a person who will eat "garbage" (meaning leftovers from strangers) or to my family as a risktaker (I think refrigeration of cooked meat is optional for about a day after it has been cooked), I also enjoy good for you/non decaying food.

Wow, you guys are never ever going to trust my food recommendations or eat at my house again, are you?

Anyways, short story long, I think I should try more things and eat more vegetables. So I joined a farmshare aka community supported agriculture. And all of the correspondance I get from my CSA pretty much is about how I am better than YOU, the big box consumer. I think that's a pretty good marketing scheme, making me feel better than you.

Even tho we CSAers are much better than you, many of us are probably unfamiliar with how to cook the kooky veggies they give us, so they made us buy the above cookbook. So far I haven't really cooked anything out of it, but it's care/handling/general cooking instructions have been very helpful. I am not a very "stick to a recipe" person anyways.

So in order to test this book, and because it's my blog and I say so, I will be logging what weird veggies I ate and how this book was useful. I want to keep track of my weird veggie intake. Also I am an extreeeeeeeme city kid. I don't think I can underline this enough (although I would never underline it here, because then you'd think it was a link.). I saw my first constellation at a rave at 22 since that was the first time I had been far enough out of the city to see one. I have never had a driver's license. I am allergic to all living things. And my family is meatcentric. So I discovered spinach at college and loved it. I am ignorant of non-Italian (ie not tomatoes, eggplant, onions) veggies pretty much, so this "weird veggie" list may look pedestrian to you!

Veggies thus far

  • Many kinds of salad-I like salad, so salad mix, red leaf, green leaf, spinach have all been good.

  • Radishes-I tried radishes in college as well and love them. Other than putting them in salad or dipping them in things, I am still sort of at a loss as to what to do with them.

  • Kale- This one immediately threw me. Okay kale sounds super super healthy. And super healthy things, by and large, just aren't very tasty. My opinion. But I really liked kale. So much so that I threw it in salads. I cooked one batch in a lasagna. It was good too, but I liked it raw better.

  • Green onions- Okay so not a weird vegetable. But I received a MASS quantity of green onions. Every week. I put them in salads. I love them. But then I accidentally found a green onion pancake recipe and oh boy is it awesome. Basically:

    1 cup pancake mix (less sugar if you are not getting it out of the box
    3/4 cup of water--make as thin or thick as you like
    salt and pepper
    10 green onions (the more the better. use way more than you think you should)
    cayenne (pinch or two)
    tumeric (to taste)

    Yumtastic. If I had made them thinner I think a yogurt dipping sauce might have been awesome.

  • Mustard greens- These also scared me. Looking up recipes for a lot of these new veggies landed me at websites like (made up). I mean I am already eating kale, must I eat tofu as well? I knew if I made this stuff into super healthy meals only, I would hate it and never eat it again. The other extreme was that basically, you can cook any green with bacon. Um, ANYTHING cooked with bacon is good because it TASTES like BACON and is covered in BACON FAT. I didn't think this would give me a real taste of whatever veggie it was.

    So for mustard greens I sort of made it up. I made a pasta salad with lemon and red peppers. On a side note, I LOVE lemon pepper. Like, way too much for my own good. So lemon + mustard greens=LEMON PEPPER. Amazing. I guess the longer you cook them, the less peppery they are. They were awesome and i look forward to buying them again.

  • Bok Choy- Now, I have had bok choy in chinese restaurants. And I sort of avoid all veggies at Chinese restaurants, because all the veggies are soggy, covered in some soy/gelatinous cornstarch mix that grosses me out. My friend Kurt who is moving to China has insisted that bok choy is great and encouraged me to try some of his bok choy and I do and pretend it's yummy and am secretly all icked out. My best friend and her bf expressed how awesome bok choy was and suggested a recipe. In fact it is the only recipe that seems to be available for bok choy, which made me slightly suspicious:

    stirfry bokchoy with garlic, ginger, soysauce, sugar.

    This made it taste like every other bok choy I have ever had--wet, soggy and PF Changy. IE like a fake imitation of Chinese food. I have come to the conclusion that bok choy is not for me.

But 1 bad thing is pretty good so far. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Running with Scissors

by Augusten Burroughs

I was led to believe this book was funny. The next David Sedaris. I have even read Dry by Burroughs, and I loved it. Even though it was a tad disturbing (since it's about the author's struggle with alcoholism) it was more funny and surreal than sad. Now Burroughs is also being compared to James Frey since his foster family is suing him over the book. And they're making a movie about it.

Generally if I like one book by and author, and he is compared in any way to Sedaris and Frey and his books is self-read on audiobook, there's no way I won't love the other books by the author.

But man, this book was SO DEPRESSING. I just can't really focus on the funny/weird things happening when a 15 year old boy gets anally raped by a 34-yr old man, and is giving random medication and "adopted" by his mother's shrink who's raped her.

I started reading this months ago and then had to return it and re-check it out. I liked it, I was just expecting a fun book. The movie trailer also looks pretty fun. I will totally see the movie, but I wonder how they can make it happy!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Washington Schlepped Here

by Christopher Buckley

This is another of the Crown Travel Series, and perhaps the complete opposite of all of them. This one actually is sort of a walking tour of the city sites, which made it immediately less interesting, since I am not walking through DC anytime soon. However, I can't fault a travel book for this!

It was pretty funny and of course the best parts were Buckley talking about his personal experience working for the (first) Bush administration. My favorite Buckley book, God is My Broker is a complete satire of the self-help genre. In parts, this book does the same with the travel genre, but not enough. i imagine Buckley's publishers actually wanted a real travel book.

I would recommend this to only the fiercest Buckley fans, or anyone going to DC. It's got a lot of good and fun historical tidbots.

And through looking this up, I realized that this series has a book about Vancouver, BC by Douglas Coupland! I wish I had known that before going there, but I hope to read it anyway. Sadly, no library seems to have it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd

I started actually liking this book, and thinking is was funny. But I ended up yawning, wincing at Dowd's REALLY annoying voice, and mainly wishing this book had less politics and more facts.

This book is a lot of small blurbs. Some blurbs are really interesting. Those usually have references and are based on actual research. Then there's a whole bunch based on a few people the author is friends with who she interviewed. As i cannot relate to super rich, very urban late 30s/40s dating, I have no idea whether her assertions are true or not, and, more importantly I do not care. Since the chances of me going on dates with people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars at places where I have to buy expensive ball gowns is near nill, and that is so far removed from 90%+ people in the world, I don't really find any interest in reading about it. Another HUGE group of blurbs is about the presidency (Clinton and Bush II). This last group was least interesting to me. First, it was mainly really dated. Second, it was basically Dowd's personal opinion, which is fine I guess, but not really convincing to me. Mainly I just thought "Yes, Bill Clinton got a blow job OVER TEN YEARS ago now, why do I care?"

Mainly all of the situations and personal experiences detailed in the book are so far removed from most anyone I might ever meet.

Then, I found the book ended abruptly, with the title question, and I had no idea how that title fit in to the entire section. So mainly, I am totally confused at the end.

At least the cover is spiffy.

Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman

You may know John Hodgman from the new Mac/PC commercials (he's the pc). I had listened to his Little Grey Book Lectures and did not realize when picking up this book that it was the same guy. Actually, I have found the LGB Lectures a little annoying, inside jokeish, and overall way way too focused on Brookline, MA. I saw this in the bookstore months ago and thought it would be more like Schott's Miscellany. Instead, it is almost wholly made up.

It seems like everyone on Earth is reading this book. Over 10 people I know are, at least, and that's A LOT of people. First, just because I wouldn't have assumed the book is well known (although the author is on the Daily Show, so maybe that's why) and also because the content doesn't strike me as popularly accessible....

Anyway I did like this book, but apparently not as much as the other 10 people I know. There were parts of it which were brilliant, and going in, I read it pretty compulsively. But now I must say something that, when I have mentioned it to everyone who has read this book, makes me the object of derision. Hobos really aren't funny, or at least not for as long as Hodgman thinks they are. i guess that hobos are the new pirates. Seriously I just started skimming over all the hobo stuff. It was so freakin' repetitive and boring.

Generally I did like this book, but it way overstayed its welcome and generally had the same issues as the LGB Lectures for me.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cheap Hotels

This is a Taschen book with lots of great pictures of cheap hotels that are nice. It's not useful for traveling, but it is interesting. A major point of the text (there is little of it) is that how much money you pay for a hotel generally does not reflect its quality unless you are in a US Super-luxury hotel. It made me want to go on vacation!

Never a City So Real

I enjoyed this, although there were some semi-boring sections. I must confess I have little interest in American labor history, so that section sort of bored me. I am reading a few of the Crown Journeys series, and I have to say I liked the Austin/Kinky Friedman one better. First, this book would be really bad if you were a tourist, but I felt the Austin version did give you a comprehensive city history as well as info about sights to see. While I found the author's personal history of his father-in-law a really compelling story, if you have never been to Chicago and were looking for places to visit, it would be completely useless.

Basically almost none of the places mentioned (Austin, Robert Taylor Homes, cemeteries, 26th Courthouse) are big tourist spots. In fact the great majority of them I would strongly suggest people NOT go to. And some don't exist anymore. Which I guess makes this a tourbook of a different kind--Alex Kotlowitz went so you don't have to!

In that respect I did like the book. The best chapter, in my opinion, was about the artist who paints murals in public housing apts. It read like a This American Life episode and included info on the Bud Billiken parade, which was interesting. I think this book gives a great introduction to the ethos of Chicago, but maybe not a great physical tour. I guess that is much like the Portland edition of this series. Both this book and the Portland one did make me all nostalgic, so if you are a resident or former resident this will probably make you feel good. It reminded me of the Algren quotation "Once you've become a part of this particular patch, you'll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies, but never a lovely so real." Which is both why I love Chicago, and why I never ever want to live there.

Next I hope to read the D.C. version, since it's a Chris Buckley book!