Month: August 2007

Why yes I am good for holidays and all year round too

 To mark the end of summer, my friend and I decided to bake two different types of biscotti. We started with an chocolate almond biscotti and then moved onto this one. This was the favourite even though we liked the other one very much. I think the key to the great result is the constant mixing of the eggs and sugar, so use a mixer. Biscotti are great all year round, and these are particularly good during the holidays because of the cranberries. They often use little to no butter, and have a long shelf life. Great for tea parties, gatherings and gifts.

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There was a widely bruited-about statistic reported last week, stating that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Clearly, we don’t fall into that category, but . . . how many of our friends do? Do you have friends/family who read as much as you do? Or are you the only person you know who has a serious reading habit? – BTT

We were talking about this on the Ravelry group Yarnwords. I’m not surprised at all since I am one of the biggest readers I know. Most of my friends do read a few books every year, but they do not have the compulsion for it nor do they get the anxiety that I do when I have not read a book for a few weeks. As I said last week, my parents aren’t big readers anymore. I have never seen my mother read a book. I have a couple of friends that read as much as I do. Most don’t. It can be rather isolating because you have no other people to recommend books.

At a big used book sale last year, my friend Annie (who is one of the biggest reading friends) and I went. At one point, we began discussing books with a lot of random people. I was convinced by an older gentleman than Anthony Trollope is better than Charles Dickens and promptly gave me a few of his books to buy. They are on my shelf TBR now. In the contemporary books section, this woman and I began discussing books we had read and she showed me this huge pile she had chosen and asked if I had read any of them and my thoughts. I had read more than half of her books and told her my thoughts. All this was very liberating and wonderful if you can tell. I just don’t talk about fiction with most other people.

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

 Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti. August 28, 2007. Recipe forthcoming.

Prickly Cactus Pear

After a good workout, I decided to treat myself to a couple bites of 99% imported Italian dark chocolate from Muzzi, but what to follow that up with? My new fruit discovery of course: the prickly cactus pear.

Native to Mexico and Latin America, but also found throughout the United States, Africa and Asia, this cactus fruit has been consumed raw and in dishes for centuries. As the name implies, it grows on cacti, and has tubercles with small prickly spines on its skin. The ends and base of the pear has glochids which are even more nasty when attached to the skin.

One must be cautious, but it’s well worth to get the pear open as it reveals juicy, red fruit with tiny seeds. The seeds are edible, can be chewed or spit out and dried later (and ground into flour for baking). I prefer to swallow and chew them. It reminds me of other rouge inclined fruit such as the tomato, watermelon and pomegranates due to its juice and seeds. Did I mention it was sweet and delicious?

There are a couple of methods of opening up the fruit. You can steam it lightly for one which will help remove the spines and allow for easy peeling. Personally, I love to eat fruit by itself and raw as a snack or for dessert after a meal. We’ll put the pears under cold water in a bowl or under the tap (remember those gloves) which should despine somewhat. Dry them with paper towels, rubbing vigorously around to further get the remaining spines out. We like to cut the ends, as that is the most nasty part of the pear. Then, we halve the pears and enjoy in whatever manner. In our case, we just use a spoon to scoop the fruit out and into our anticipating mouths.

Summer Read Cactus Pears
The pears would be very good in sorbet, ice cream, jams, salads, juices, soups, and of course, margaritas.

For more information…

Optunia (wikipedia)
Edible Cactus – Prickly Pear

Tomorrow, I will start Week 4 of the Cool Running Plan. Technically I’ve actually been running for two weeks as I skipped the first week. You shouldn’t skip weeks on the plan, but I had stopped running for almost three months. I did not make it Week 3 in May so I’m starting to feel the runner’s high which is good and makes things easier. I follow my running with 20 minutes of relaxation yoga. My hamstrings are still very inflexible, but once I feel ready for it, I’m going to purchase other yoga DVDs. On the days when I do not run (every other day), I do pilates; I’ve only just upgraded from a single 10 minute workout to a 20 minute. I would do more, but it really burns and tires me especially since I am suppose to take it easy on the non-running days this early in the running plan.

My favourite activity of the three changes periodically which changes my focus and long term fitness goals. Yoga has been winning for the last couple of weeks, but pilates is very useful these days now that I’m doing heavier cardio. Strength training for your core is important for all workouts. Back to flexibility and yoga, I don’t necessarily aim for headstands/arm balancing in my future, but I do want more flexibility and toning in my body overall.

Goals are to still lose some inches, tone my body, gain more flexibility, be in better physical condion, and losing a few pounds wouldn’t hurt either.

When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.) – BTT

My mom doesn’t read books. My Dad is the reader of the two, but of late, he doesn’t read books as much as he did before. He always reads newspapers, and my mom does sometimes when she’s bored. When I was younger, my dad took me the library which is where I spent summers so I’m fond of the library as a result. I’m the big reader in this family which is fine because of cultural differences, I’m quite different from my parents even if I’m close to them. My parents did not read to me, but I definitely will when I have children.

Auschwitz on a Spring Day

May 2006.

Cotton Close Up
Ballband Dishcloth, started August 9th, 2007, finished August 17th, 2007
Pattern: Ballband Dishcloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting
Made for: Steph
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Yarn in Hot Green and Hot Purple – less than one skein each
Needles: #7/4.5mm (Aero DPNs)
Lessons Learned: Surprisingly, my first time having to actually to switch between two balls of yarn.
Cost of Project: $4 for yarn.
Would I knit it again?
Yes, it’s very fun, quick, and nice. Good for gifting.

Hot Green Hot Purple Purl and Slip
Pattern Notes and Comments: Easy peasy lemon squeezie. Like many knitters, dishcloths were some of my first real knitting projects. I haven’t made one in a year, and I’m really keen on them again now that I have read Mason-Dixon Knitting. I have a few other dishcloths I would like to try, but they actually don’t get much use around here. I’m giving this one to my friend Steph is moving apartments soon so I hope she’ll use it and tell me how it goes. I’ve never used the Bernat Handicrafter so I hope it’s actually a decent cotton to use in the water. I’m going to use the rest the cotton eventually, but my knitting queue is large enough as it is. School will start for me in two weeks, and knitting and books will sadly take a back seat.Though, I think I will blog more about food now since it is getting colder.

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar?

(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)  – BTT

I am a book monogamous. I have tried to do the multi book reading, but I prefer to read one book and move onto another one. While I multi task most things in my life, but for certain things like books and sometimes knitting, I am monogamous. I like to finish one thing quickly and move onto another. I can bring my full attention to the book while I read it. I can also not be distracted about where I am in X number of books.


August 11, 2007.

Things are slowly going to get busier from here on out so I have less time to do the things I like which include blogging so I’ve decided to rec books and movies I’ve seen previously, but not formally reviewed on this blog. I’m not going to write full reviews because t’s usually been some time since I’ve read them. I am also going to aim to reccommend books and films that are relatively under rated.

I did review both of these on, so I’ve included them which I wrote over a year ago.

The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa and film directed by Luchino Visconti

The Leopard - film“I learned about the movie and book from Roger Ebert’s Great Movies II. I read the novel first, and I enjoyed that. This adaptation does the book justice. Both of them have the same maudlin and sad nostalgia that everyone may not appreciate, but they are lovely. The movie is a beautiful period piece. Burt Lancaster said this was his best work, and he captures the character very well. If you like sentimental, beautiful, historical, foreign movies, I’d recommend this.”

A Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman

“I tried to find this before I went to Poland, but I’m glad I read this after I came back. Having seen Auschwitz and other camps, and met Holocaust survivors, I’m able to visualize this book more. It’s very powerful in its understated imagery. I love the personal and meta commentary. It’s deeply reflective and introspective.

Books to Movies Challenge

Once upon a time, I use to read a lot more books a year than I do now, and honestly do not think that I can complete all my reading challenges for 2007 because my life will start getting hectic again beginning next month. Though, what Nymeth says is right, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t complete them. So here are choices for the Book to Movie challenges which I couldn’t resist because this is the sort of thing that I do often enough that I even keep track of it seen in the previous post.

The challenge is to select three books that were made into movies. It runs from September 1 to December 1. I plan on doing book and movie comparisons for at least two of the below.

1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I’ve already seen the film, but I’ve been meaning to read this for awhile. Also being read for the Something About Me Challenge. – Completed

2. Little Children by Tom Perrotta. – Completed

3. Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. – Completed

Not because I’ll have free time, but in the case I don’t manage a copy of one of the above, and I like alternates.

Minority Report by Philip K. Dick.
Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montogomery.
Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger. Most unlikely, but I love the TV show and have yet to read the book or see the film.