Not A Pink Girl

Kathie’s Kassoulet (with apologies to Julia Child)

December 16, 2010
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As a child, I was mesmerized by watching Julia Child make a true cassoulet. I decided (many years later) to make a much simpler one, & you can change the ingredients to suit your & your family’s tastes.

Sear about 4 bone-in Australian lamb chops in olive oil after dredging in mixture of flour, salt & pepper (go easy on the salt if you’re adding higher-sodium au jus or broth later), marjoram, winter savory & crushed rosemary (no regular rosemary for me; too much like little sticks).

Gather 1 plastic container of baby redskin *sniff* potatoes; 1/2 a bag of fresh green beans; a bag of baby carrots (REAL ones, not just big ol’ sinewy ones cut really small); a red onion, sliced; a bulb of garlic, each clove crushed (yeah I said it); a bay leaf & 2 cardamom pods left whole.

Spray the inside of a lidded iron French oven with Pam. Throw in baby carrots, cardamom (one pod on one side, the other on the other side), bay leaf (stuck in the middle), half the onions, & garlic. Put the lamb chops on top. Then add the rest of the onions, the green beans, & the potatoes (whole).

Now pour 2 jars of GOOD au jus on top of everything. You can also use a jar of high-quality demi-glace & a box of good beef, veal or vegetable broth (you might want to mix them with a whisk in a large measuring cup & then pour them over). You can also buy some good portobello mushrooms (rinse them well) & put them in (my fellas don’t like mushrooms). A splash of red wine wouldn’t hurt (we’re teetotalers).

Put the lid on & pop into a 300-degree oven for as long as you want. Can be reheated the next day on 225 for as long as you want.

You can increase the number of chops (don’t be like Mary Richards & not have enough when Sue Ann stops by unexpectedly) & use more or less green beans & carrots. As long as the lid goes on tightly, you’re golden.

The whole flippin’ house is gonna smell heavenly. And your family will suddenly notice you after years of benign neglect.

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The Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson

September 10, 2010
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Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword of Avalon (Library Edition)Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword of Avalon by Diana L. Paxson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love the book Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Diana L. Paxson took up the baton when MZB died. I’ve enjoyed her prequels. This one was good. I get the allegory of sword into fire is like a man & woman gettin’ bizzay, but a little of that goes a VERY long way. ;D I do want to reread Mists though!

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Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

August 9, 2010
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Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Shop Mystery, #1)Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh dear, where do I start? This was a selection for our Goodreads “cozy mysteries” book club (our July author was Laura Childs). I wanted to like it. I love tea & love the idea of the owner of a teashop as the protagonist for a mystery series.

Childs has an issue with writing in complete sentences. Also, she has an odd way of changing well-known phrases into you-almost-got-it-right word groups. For example, instead of saying “dribs & drabs,” she uses “drips & drops.” Instead of “slapdash” she says “slap-dab.”

I got to the point where I was convinced she just needed a decent editor. She wrote, “Rounded cobblestones poked at the soft leather soles of her Todd loafers…” She meant Tod’s loafers. http://tinyurl.com/27eh6yb She uses “noodled” instead of “doodled.”

Referring to the classic Parker Brothers board game Clue, a character says, “Mr. Mustard in the library, so to speak.” No, it’s Colonel Mustard. Little things like this are so easy to research (for the author) & should be double-checked or corrected (by the editor).

One loose end that wasn’t properly tied up was the character who had a romantic interest in Theodosia. He just rather faded away, instead of there being a substantive exchange between the characters to provide closure for the reader.

Some things I enjoyed were the descriptions of exotic kinds of tea, & the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina (where the story takes place). I like the idea of an ensemble of characters who work in the tea shop & share a sense of ownership & camaraderie.

This is the first book in the Theodosia Browning Tea Shop Mystery series. I also bought the first in the Scrapbooking Mystery series, Keepsake Crimes (which I haven’t read). Both books are going to Goodwill.

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The New Year’s Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

June 23, 2010
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The New Year's Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts, #11) The New Year’s Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love this series! I’m a quilter & quilt restorer so I really relate to the moments when Ms. Chiaverini’s characters are searching through their stashes or lingering over the fine stitches in an heirloom quilt. The narrator of this CD, Christina Moore, makes the experience of reading Ms. Chiaverini’s books all the more sublime.

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The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

June 23, 2010
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Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Epic trilogy about the Arthur legend from the point of view of Merlin. Engrossing story & characters. I adore Mists Of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, so on the recommendation of a good friend I read Mary Stewart’s take. My eyes glazed over during the in-depth & complex descriptions of the various battles. Wished there was more magical passages too. I liked that Stewart didn’t succumb to pressure from previous Arthurian accounts, & that she wrote her own story with its own outcome.

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Can’t Wait to Travel to Europe (someday)!

June 16, 2010
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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

June 16, 2010
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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reminds me of the 1957 book by Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders, & The Status Seekers, also by Packard. I found Tipping to be fascinating & memorable. BTW I’m a maven, connector, & salesman, but I’m not an innovator. Too much of a nervous Nellie… ;D

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Witches, Witches, Witches: Selections by Helen Hoke

May 10, 2010
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Witches, Witches, Witches Witches, Witches, Witches by Helen Hoke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a wondrous book. If you liked Women Who Run With The Wolves, you’ll enjoy this old book of legends & fairy tale stories. The illustrations by W. R. Lohse are spooky, but the stories are allegorical & thought-provoking. My favorite was Oscar Wilde’s “The Fisherman and His Soul.” I’ll always remember it.

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Dubliners by James Joyce

May 9, 2010
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Dubliners: Library Edition Dubliners: Library Edition by James Joyce

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was raised Irish Catholic. I know enough about what they’re really – with some exceptions – like (maudlin, exaggerating, drunken, brawling braggarts with sadistic streaks who can’t stand to see anybody enjoying themselves), so I avoid books like “Angela’s Ashes,” “‘Tis” & anything by James Joyce with a passion. Until now, I hadn’t read any of those books. After finishing “Dubliners,” I realize what I’ve been missing.

James Joyce seems to have “gotten it.” He doesn’t roll out the red carpet for these bilious lushes. He tells their stories from arm’s length, so to speak, without the usual “Irish people are the best God ever put on earth” offal. I love how he tells a story. To be a master of the short story is no small feat. Looking forward to my next read of his.

I adore the late Frederick Davidson, the reader of this book. He also read as David Case (his real name), Edward Raleigh, James Nelson, & Ian McKay. I highly recommend you read his John le Carre renditions (especially Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).

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Bet Your Bottom Dollar: A Bottom Dollar Girls Novel by Karin Gillespie

April 25, 2010
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Kathie’s bookshelf: read

Bet Your Bottom Dollar (Library Edition) (Bottom Dollar Girls Series) Bet Your Bottom Dollar by Karin Gillespie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Truly in the cozy mysteries genre. My first from this author (& first in the series). A fun read. I’ll read the next one too.

Reader Carrington MacDuffie (who also reads the Hot Flash Club books) was quite good in this performance. But she needs to know that “Toots” is not pronounced as rhyming with “boots.” It rhymes with “foots” (if there were such a word!). She also was guilty of “over-Southerning” a bit.

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