Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lazy Sunday With Baking Project Updates!

It has been COLD in New Orleans this past week. And I say that relatively speaking. You people who live in the north would laugh at my teeth chattering with temperatures in the 30s. The lows for Tuesday are in the TWENTIES. I don't think we got into the twenties all year last winter and it's only November! But I'm not complaining. I'll take the cold any day over the heat. Today it's overcast and it's supposed to start storming any minute now which I'm fine with. I love stormy days off of work where I can just read all night and be a bum :) My day would've been much better had the Saints not looked like complete shit as they have all season though :/

I woke up today to a tweet from Dorie Greenspan! Yes, Dorie Greenspan tweeted me! I've been working my way through her new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi, which is amazing and my new favorite cookbook and I got a compliment of "Nice!" on my custardy apple squares. For those wondering, they are beyond nice, they are amazing! Here's a picture of them:

They are such a simple recipe to make too. Dorie describes them as her "back pocket recipe". I can see myself making these over and over and over again. I sliced the apples thin and then you toss them in a batter that you make with eggs, sugar, flour, milk, butter and vanilla and pour that all into a dish and bake and you get this amazing....custardy treat. Almost like a bread pudding with apples. Next time I may add some raisins and cinnamon. I used almond milk and it came out perfect.

Last week, I made her Plain and Simple Almond Cake. Added bonus, this cake is gluten and dairy free! So it's good to know I have a recipe like that if the occasion ever calls for it. This cake is made with almond meal/flour and not much sugar for the size of the cake, so it's not super sweet for those who like dessert but don't like their dessert on the super sweet side. Think ACTUAL almonds, not almond flavoring. You make a meringue with the egg whites and fold it into the batter to make a fluffy batter though the cake isn't exceptionally fluffy. I cut it in half and put a layer of raspberry jam in the middle and I'm glad I did otherwise it would've been too bland for me. I like my desserts sweet :p And then dust it with powdered sugar! DELISH!

I haven't been up to much else aside from baking. My reading has still been crap. I did finish the audio of Amy Poehler's, Yes Please and absolutely LOVED it! That was no surprise. I adore Amy Poehler and her book was the perfect mix of humor, biography, memoir, life lessons and entertainment. In my opinion, the audio is definitely the way to go if you're going to read that one! It's  a true production and one of the best audio books I've listened to with appearances by Carol Burnett, Kathleen Turner, Patrick Stewart and Seth Meyers just to name a few. I'm in the middle of about 100 different books right now. I think I'm going to go back to The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer today...really enjoying that one!

Hope everyone else is having a good weekend!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Project Learn To Bake Everything

I have been HIGHLY anticipating Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi ever since I first heard about it a couple of months ago. Lucky for me, my copy arrived a day early! With Baking Chez Moi, Greenspan focuses on French baking. These are not fussy recipes for the most part, these are the recipes that are handed down for generations among families, the recipes that the French cook in their homes, cherished recipes of French chefs and a few of Greenspan's own favorites.

This cookbook is BEAUTIFUL. It's an oversized hardback, over 450 pages and separated into different categories including simple cakes, fancy cakes, tarts and galettes, baby cakes and petite pastries, cookies and bars, fruits, creams, frozen desserts and candies, and then a section called basics. The recipes are very conversational, which I love. You feel like Greenspan is sitting down and having a conversation with you and teaching you personally how to bake the recipe.

Because of this, I'm letting Mrs. Dorie Greenspan teach me how to become a master French pastry chef! It's exciting to learn how to bake all of these things that I otherwise never would've attempted to learn. So I'm going to bake all of these things one at a time in the order of the book. And I started tonight with the very first recipe!

Brown-Butter-And-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake. Holy crap is this cake GOOD! Good isn't even the word for it. This is the cake I've been looking for for years. I'm not even kidding. I've been looking for this recipe for years. This is exactly what cake should taste like. Greenspan explains that a weekend cake is a cake that the french make that can be picked on throughout the weekend and is actually better after it's sat for a day. She recommends that you let it sit for a day before cutting it. Yeah you can see in the picture, that didn't happen :p It was still hot when I cut it.

This cake has flour, sugar, eggs, lots of vanilla, rum and brown butter. I've discovered the amazingness that is brown butter, AKA burnt butter. Ok, borderline burnt. To make brown butter, you boil butter in a saucepan until it turns a honey brown color but you have to watch it closely as it can literally go from brown to black in a matter of seconds. Luckily I caught it before it went to black. And then you pour that goodness into the batter and incorporate it. I've only made this one recipe so far, but I would suggest this cookbook for this recipe alone.

Next up, Plain and Simple Almond Cake! But first I need to find almond flour....and eat and/or give away all of this brown butter cake first >_>

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dewey's Readathon Hangover Day

Well I disappeared well before I stopped reading yesterday. This was the first readathon that I've ever had real sleep problems the night before. Me and a 7 AM start time NEVER get along well as my usual wake up time is noon. I'm just not a morning person AT ALL. But seeing as my body seemed to think that it was taking a nap when I went to bed at 10 the night before the readathon and I only got about 4 hours of broken sleep, I just didn't feel right the whole day. But I still had a hell of a good time. As usual, I missed Dewey a hell of a lot yesterday. The readathons tend to bring out a bunch of people at the same time that all used to blog back then and seeing everyone together throughout the day just brings me back to that time and makes me think of her. And I also have a tendency to go back and read some of my old posts from when Dewey was around during the readathons and it's still just hard to believe that she's NOT around anymore. That one day she was commenting on my posts and then one day there was just silence. She had a personality that can't and won't and shouldn't ever be replaced. 

I'm so damn thankful though to Heather and Andi for continuing on the readathon in her tradition though. Seriously....there's not enough words for what you two ladies do. It's so much more than just this event. It's the sense of community, the memories, the entertainment, and of course the hard hard work that you all do. You two are amazing and I love you to death! 

So I ended up reading three books total and I started two more. My downfall was reading nonfiction. Should've never gone there, ESPECIALLY after reading something as awesome as The Graveyard Book graphic novels. Anything would've been hard to read after those books. And it's not even that the book was BAD! I started Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlyn Doughty and I'm actually really loving it, but I've learned that nonfiction requires a totally different part of your brain to process it and that part of my brain was not a happy camper after about 16 hours of reading. So then I moved over to The Last Policeman by Ben Winters and that went MUCH better but I only read 100 pages before calling it a night at about 2 in the morning. I actually started reading at 5 in the morning (2 hours before the start) as I had woken up at 4 :/ My total page count for the day was 872 pgs. which is actually my worst in readathon history but I'm ok with that as my goal yesterday was just to have fun!

Here's my end of event meme:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Probably right at about hour 16 for me...I started crashing hard and picked the totally wrong book AND was coming off of the high of a totally awesome book which would've been hard to follow with anything.

2. Could you list a few high interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Constable & Toop by Gareth Jones was incredibly awesome and so good that I flew through it and The Graveyard Book graphic novels by Neil Gaiman were so. damn. good. As in, I may have liked them even better than the novel novel. Which is saying a LOT.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the readathon next year?

Nope! Just keep doing what you're doing :)

4. What do you think worked really well in this year's readathon?

Like I said above, no complaints here. I think everything worked great. I really love the sense of community during these events and I think that just gets better each year!

5. How many books did you read?

I completed 3: Constable & Toop by Gareth Jones and The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vols 1&2 by Neil Gaiman and I read about 100 pages each of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and The Last Policeman by Ben Winters

6. What were the names of the books you read? the questions first Chris....see above.

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Definitely the Graveyard Book graphic novels

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes but only because it wasn't right for this event. I fully intend to finish it and enjoy the hell out of it. It's a fascinating and often hilarious book, but not for 16 hours into a readathon.

9. N/A for me

10. How likely are you to participate again? What role will you be likely to take? 

I will definitely be a READER again in April :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dewey's Readathon Update The Seventh!

Currently Reading: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Total Pages Read Since Last Update: 54

Total Pages Read Cumulative: 739

Total Books Read: 3 (Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones, The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vol. 2 by Neil Gaiman)

Time Spent Reading Since Last Update: 58 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 8 Hours 41 Minutes

Drinks Consumed: 2 big glasses of water, 1 iced mocha, 1 pepsi, half pumpkin spiced latte

Food Eaten: A waffle and fried ham, cheese dip with chips, turkey and broccoli rice, sugar cookie

Progress Report: Still here. I'm in that meh phase right now. I finally ate a real meal...left over turkey and rice from last night and then got out of the house for a bit and got a pumpkin spiced latte which was made WAY too sweet and I could only drink half of it. I started reading Smoke Gets In Your Eyes which is very entertaining and interesting but it's rough going from a graphic novel that you absolutely adore to nonfiction for a readathon. Honestly, I think it would be hard to follow up The Graveyard Book with anything though. I'm thinking I'm going to go soak in the tub with some epsom salts and my book for a bit. Laying around all day has my body in knots right now! Be back a little later!

Dewey's Readathon Update The Sixth!

Currently Reading: Nothing at the moment

Total Pages Read Since Last Update: 242

Total Pages Read Cumulative: 685

Total Books Read: 3 (Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones, The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Vol. 2 by Neil Gaiman)

Time Spent Reading Since Last Update: 2 Hours 16 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 7 Hours 43 Minutes

Drinks Consumed: 2 big glasses of water, 1 iced mocha, 1 pepsi

Food Eaten: A waffle and fried ham, cheese dip with chips

Progress Report: Phew! Well I just couldn't put down the Graveyard Book graphic novels so I finished vol. 1 and then read all of volume 2 and it just left me a big wreck. Damn was that good. Highly recommended if you were a fan of the original or even if you've never read the original. It was PERFECT as a graphic novel. I'm giving myself a break now. I think I'm going to jet off to starbucks and get a pumpkin spice latte and a sugar cookie. I should probably eat something substantial at some point :p But my eyes are definitely needing a break for a little while right now and I shall return later on! Hope everyone is enjoying their day!!

Dewey's Readathon Update The Fifth!

Currently Reading: The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman

Total Pages Read Since Last Update: 109

Total Pages Read Cumulative: 443

Total Books Read: 1 (Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones)

Time Spent Reading Since Last Update: 1 Hour 9 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 5 Hours 27 Minutes

Drinks Consumed: 2 big glasses of water, 1 iced mocha, working on a pepsi

Food Eaten: A waffle and fried ham, cheese dip with chips

Progress Report: Well The Graveyard Book graphic novel has certainly gotten me back into the spirit of things. DAMN that book is so good!!!! I forgot just how much I loved The Graveyard Book and it translates perfectly into graphic novel form. One thing I'm noticing about this book that I had forgotten is that there are so many things left open for Gaiman to explore further down the road if he chose to and I REALLY hope he does one day. I'd love to hear more of Bod's story. Seriously, if you have this in your pile you have to read it!!! So glad that I have Volume 2 as well because I'm jumping immediately into that when I finish this first one.

Dewey's Readathon Update The Fourth!

Currently Reading: Nothing right now

Total Pages Read Since Last Update: 69

Total Pages Read Cumulative: 334

Total Books Read: 1 (Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones)

Time Spent Reading Since Last Update: 49 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 4 Hours 18 Minutes

Drinks Consumed: 1 big glass of water, 1 iced mocha

Food Eaten: A waffle and fried ham

Progress Report: I finished up Constable & Toop and it was just the perfect little book! My lack of sleep last night is catching up with me now. I laid down for about 30 minutes after finishing my book but didn't really sleep. I think I'm going to go eat something and watch some tv for a bit and then start volume 1 of The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel. How's everyone else doing right now? Hanging in there?

Dewey's Readathon Update The Third!

Currently Reading: Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

Total Pages Read Since Last Update: 112

Total Pages Read Cumulative: 265

Total Books Read: Zero

Time Spent Reading Since Last Update: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 3 Hours 29 Minutes

Drinks Consumed: 1 big glass of water, 1 iced mocha

Food Eaten: A waffle and fried ham

Progress Report: I'm almost finished Constable & Toop and still really loving it! I was going to just finish it before I posted my next update but I still have about 50 pages left so figured I'd come do a quick check in first and go visit some other blogs. Plus my eyes could use a stretch. That 4 AM wake up call is really not agreeing with me right now. But I'm not feeling a nap yet either. So onward I go!! Here! Have some Halloween poppets to look at!

Dewey's Readathon Update The Second!

Currently Reading: Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

Total Pages Read Since Last Update: 85

Total Pages Read Cumulative: 153

Total Books Read: Zero

Time Spent Reading Since Last Update: 1 Hour 2 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

Drinks Consumed: 1 big glass of water, still drinking an iced mocha

Food Eaten: A waffle and fried ham

Progress Report: More than halfway through Constable and Toop and OMG do I ever love this book!!!!! It reminds me so much of something Neil Gaiman would write. So glad I took the time to hunt this beauty down. I think it might just be a top 5 of the year. It's a great book to start off the readathon. I just love the characters so damn much!!

Also, I LOVE Amanda's mini challenge :D For me, it's TOTALLY #TeamTrollope with iced coffee :D Though I may have some tea later on. Here's me slamming back the iced coffee (excuse the lack of sleep puffy face in ALL of my pictures today :p):

Also, Thank you Debi for bringing to my attention that half of my last post was not visible :p That's what I get for not sleeping, LOL. Back to the books!

Dewey's Readathon Update The First!

Good morning readathoners!! I've been up since 4AM, so I got an early start :p I've already started reading so here's my first update post along with the introductory meme :) I'm starting with Constable and Toop by Gareth Jones and LOVING it! And sporting my classic readathon "Reading This Shit Is Crazy" tshirt :p

Currently Reading: Constable & Toop by Gareth P. Jones

Total Pages Read Since Last Update: 68

Total Pages Read Cumulative: 68

Total Books Read: Zero

Time Spent Reading Since Last Update: 56 Minutes

Total Time Spent Reading: 56 Minutes

Drinks Consumed: 1 big glass of water, starting an iced mocha

Food Eaten: A waffle and fried ham

Progress Report: About 130 pages into Constable & Toop and just finally starting to wake up after being up for 3 hours. It's going to be a loooong day and I see some naps in my future :p It'll get better now though now that other people are up too! And now for the introductory meme!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Mandeville, Louisiana in my cozy little apartment :)

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Oooh...that's a toughy. Probably the one I'm reading now, Constable & Toop as I went ALL OVER THE PLACE yesterday hunting it down and finally found it at one of my library branches. Seriously, that was a hard book to find. 

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Velveeta and rotel dip. Hands down.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I've been doing the readathons since the beginning, I've been blogging here since January 2007 and I've made it tradition now to take the week before the readathon off of work :) That way, not only do I have the readathon to look forward to twice a year, but two weeks of vacation a year too!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Apparently get a lot less sleep :/ But that wasn't intentional. I think I'll be much more care free with this readathon. Blog when I want, nap when I want. Just have a good, relaxing time. I normally focus so much on numbers and I'll still do that but I won't be crushed if I don't hit my 1000 page mark that I always shoot for :p And I'm not going to fight sleep if I need it!