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Monday, April 30, 2012

Recipe Review from 4/23/2012

A busy, busy week both at work and home:  had the usual yoga classes, then add in bookgroup dinner with a friend, and hour and forty minute vet appointment (hounds are fine, wallet is not; it was a preventative check-up) and then Husband came home from Ohio on Friday.  

Tex-Mex Rice Bowl  (Ckng Lght April 2012)
OMGoodness!  This was good!  And so easy too. Okay - my deviations: I pre-cooked a batch of brown rice earlier in the day and set aside using Cooks Illustrated's oven baked method.  I subbed turkey for the sirloin, added a cup of chopped onion, and used some regular picante sauce I had on hand.  Topped my bowl off with a dollup of sour cream and I could have eaten the whole. damn. pan.  Seriously.  Double check the taco seasoning - this should be GF.

  • 8 ounces ground sirloin  turkey
    Photo from
  • 1 (8.8-ounce) pouch precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
  • 1/4 cup water  (oops! missed this, but yet, never noticed till typing this out!)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons 40%-less-sodium taco seasoning (such as Ortega)
  • 1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fresh pico de gallo (I used Pace picante sauce, medium heat)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Avocado-Butter Lettuce Salad
  • Sour cream

  • 1. Heat rice according to directions.

    2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. [Cook onion until just starting to soften] Add beef turkey; cook 3 minutes or until done, stirring to crumble. Add jalepeno; Stir in 1/4 cup water and taco seasoning; bring to a simmer. Stir in corn, rice and beans; [add picante sauce] and cook 1 minute or until heated. Stir in rice. Top with pico de gallo and jalapeño. Sprinkle with cilantro.  Serve with a dollup of sour cream. 

    Robin Bashinsky,
    APRIL 2012

    I made myself a treat this past week!  The blurb on the article warned that the spices could be a bit "adult" in taste, but I used a chai blend that I already had on hand and I thought it was perfect.  A nice change of pace to the usual cinnamon and nutmeg.  The cardamom definitely adds some nice background notes to the sweetness of the banana.  I'll be making this again.

  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3)  
  • Photo from

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 10 ounce all-purpose flour (2 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons 1% low-fat milk   skipped.  Really not necessary. 

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350*

    2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended. Add sugars; beat at medium just until blended.

    3. Weigh or spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Combine flour, soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended.

    4. Combine cardamom and next 3 ingredients. Stir 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture and 1 teaspoon vanilla into batter. Pour into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan; cool.

    5. Combine remaining spice mixture, remaining vanilla, powdered sugar, and milk. Drizzle over bread.  Skipped.

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    Quantum Theif by Hannu Rajaneimi

    The Quantum Thief (The Quantum Thief Trilogy #1)The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    From  Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist, and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy— from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of Mars. Now he’s confined inside the Dilemma Prison, where every day he has to get up and kill himself before his other self can kill him.

    Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turnedsingularity lights the night. What Mieli offers is the chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self—in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed.

    As Jean undertakes a series of capers on behalf of Mieli and her mysterious masters, elsewhere in the Oubliette investigator Isidore Beautrelet is called in to investigate the murder of a chocolatier, and finds himself on the trail of an arch-criminal, a man named le Flambeur….

    The Quantum Thief is a crazy joyride through the solar system several centuries hence, a world of marching cities, ubiquitous public-key encryption, people communicating by sharing memories, and a race of hyper-advanced humans who originated as MMORPG guild members. But for all its wonders, it is also a story powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge, and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.

    This was a very cool book. It starts out a bit perplexing as I had to mull over what the authors terminology means and how it relates to this world on Mars, then suddenly I found myself being swept along in a mystery-thriller that is just as grandiose as the Red Planet it was set on. And the subtlties! Wonderfully done! I absolutely love a book that smacks me upside the head partway through to leave me giggling with delight.

    This book did that. Still mulling over some of the authors definitions and language, but still a fun read. I might have to read it again before bookgroup.

    Sorry, reluctant to say more becuase I don't want to give anything away.

    View all my reviews

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Recipe Review from 4/16/12 & Meal Planning

    Some queries have come my way regarding how do I manage to make all these new recipes.  So, let's talk about meal planning.   It started about 16ish years ago, Husband and I both recently graduated, student loans due, working part-time jobs, that I started meal planning.  It has been shown in studies that plotting out your meals for the week 1) saves money by avoiding impulse buys  2) saves money because you are only buying what you need for that time frame 3) saves money in less food waste  4) healthier meals and less snacking.   Providing you follow your plan, of course

    This does take some getting used to, but now, it's second nature for me.   Consistency and some flexibility is important. 

    I usually start contemplating the coming week about Wed or Thurs.  First I ask:  What do we have going on?  And I plot it out in my grocery notebook:

    Mon (K yoga/bkgrp)
    Wed (husband shooting)
    Thurs (K yoga)


    So I know two nights I only need dinner for one (Mon and Wed) and that one night will be a late dinner (Thurs).  Then I ask: what do we want to eat next week?   Lunches are usually but not always vegetarian, meat meals for supper.   Or if lunches are meat based, then I try to have at least two vegetarian dinners.

    Sundays are great for meal prep to jump start the week.   Having picked out my dishes below, I know that I need to make the tadziki chickn salad on Sunday for lunches.  The Saag Aloo will last for a couple of meals, then make something mid-week.  I do find that it is important to not over plan, to allow some flexibility if we choose to go out for dinner.    

    Sun  lunch - homemade raman noodles
            supper -  Saag Aloo (potatoes and spinach)  co-op recipe
    Mon (yoga/bkgrp)  Saag Allo leftovers for 1
    Tues  Vegetable Burritos   (Ckng Lght May 2012)
    Wed (husband shooting)  Saag Aloo leftovers for 1
    Thurs (yoga)  Burrito leftovers
    Fri   Broccoli and Cheese Rice Bowl  (Ckng Lght May 2012)
    Sat   leftovers

    Lunches - Tadziki Chicken Salad (Ckng Lght, May 2012), pita bread, fruit

    In this case, I'm buying a rotisserie chicken to save time, I have leftover potatoes that need to be eaten up, and part of a red pepper that will get tossed into the Saag Aloo.  I buy 16oz of spinach a week for my green smoothies, so I won't need to buy extra spinach.  I have some frozen leftover rice in the freezer that will go into the burritos.  And yeah, it's two back to back rice dishes, but so it goes.  I'll probably make cottage cheese pancakes (see last weeks review) so I'll have to buy some cottage cheese.  Fresh fruit to round out the grocery list.

    Plan to eat the perishable fruits and veggies first.  I don't keep a lot in my pantry (don't have the space in my house) so I buy what I need when I need it.  I try and utilize pantry and freezer items so I don't have stuff languishing.   The recipes for the meals are below.    My friend, who has a family of four, also meal plans.  She has to make a lot more meals and her leftovers (if any) are lunches for her or her husband the next day.   This is what works for me, there are other ways, and I don't always make a new recipes.  Summer time is not infrequently just something on the grill with a salad and veggies. 

    Tadziki Chicken Salad (Ckng Lght, April 2012)
    Quick and easy, yes.  Make ahead...only if going to be eating later that same day or at the latest, the next day.  Between the cucumbers and the yogurt, this became very liquidy by day 4.  And unappealing.   As long as eating shortly after assembly, good taste and a nice variation on chicken salad.  I served with pita pockets.

    photo from
    2/3 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
    1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
    3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 cucumber, seeded and shredded
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast  (thigh meat is fine too)
    3 ounces multigrain pita chips   (I did pita pockets)

    1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken; toss to coat. Serve with pita chips.

    Robin Bashinsky, Cooking Light
    APRIL 2012

    Vegetable Rice Burritos  (Ckng Lght May 2012)
    I ended up modifying and simplifying this recipe.  It seemed like overkill to have both cheese and a 'dressing', so I skipped the dressing.  I didn't buy cilantro (would have been a nice flavor addition, but wasn't worth the cost).   I didn't re-heat everything in little "burritos" after I was done, I just warmed up the tortillas and served like tacos.   Flavors were bright and summer-like and a nice change of pace.  Very quick once I dropped two steps.   This did not feed four.  Try two.   Still, I would make these again. 

    photo from
    4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
    1/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
    1 teaspoon chopped garlic, divided
    2/3 cup water
    1/4 teaspoon salt, divided

    1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
    1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

    1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño pepper
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
    1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
    1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced (about 3/4 cup)
    3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes 4 (7- to 8-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
    4 ounces quesadilla cheese, shredded (about 1 cup packed)   I used extra sharp cheddar because I had some in the fridge.
    Cilantro leaves (optional)

    1. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add rice and 1/2 teaspoon garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 2/3 cup water and 1/8 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork; stir in jalapeño.   I had some pre-cooked brown rice in the freezer that I just warmed up.

    2. Combine sour cream, chopped cilantro, juice, and red pepper in a small bowl.   Skipped.

    3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic and mushrooms [and jalepeno] ; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add corn and zucchini; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and tomatoes; sauté 30 seconds or until tomatoes are thoroughly heated. Remove vegetable mixture from pan. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel.

    4. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide sour cream mixture evenly among tortillas; spread to a thin layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top each tortilla with 1/4 cup cheese, about 1/4 cup rice mixture, and about 1/2 cup vegetable mixture. Roll up each, jelly-roll fashion. Return skillet to medium heat. Add 2 burritos to pan, seam side down; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining burritos. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.  Serve. 

    Krista Ackerbloom Montgomery, Cooking Light
    MAY 2012

    Saag Aloo  *Indian Spinach and Potatoes*  (Whole Foods Co-op flyer)
    A super easy, great tasting dish made complicated by myself - I forgot I was out of garam masala, but knew I had enough ingredients that I could make a batch.  Which added an easy 20 minutes to my prep.   I also over cooked my potatoes so they weren't as firm as they should have been for the frying bit.   ((sigh)) some nights are like that.  Still, this was great on it's own and would be good as a side to some tandori style chicken thighs. 
    2 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp oil
    1 lb russet potatoes  (I used yukon)
    1 1/2 tsp jalepeno pepper, minced
    1/2 tsp ground tumeric
    1/2 tsp ground cumin
    1/2 tsp garam masala
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 tsp ground coriander
    2 tbsp lemon juice
    2 tbsp water
    12 oz fresh spinach, roughly chopped  (I used baby spinach and skipped chopping)
    I added 1/2 of a julienned red pepper - yum!

    In a medium sized pot, bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks and add them to boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain, set aside.

    Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Fry the parboiled potatoes for about 8-12 minutes or until lightly brown.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Turn down heat, add onions and pepper and saute until just soft.  Add spices and saute for 2 minutes, then add lemon juice and water and simmer for a few minutes more.  Add spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach is fully wilted.  Add potatoes to the skillet and mix well.  Serve hot.

    Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese Rice Bowl  (Ckng Lght April 2012)
    Doin' a Happy Happy Joy Joy dance here!  Yum yum yum!  Leftover rice works great for this.  As does leftover Rotisserie chicken.  I added some mushrooms (needed to be used up) and oh my gosh.  This is a repeater. Probably even as soon as next week!  Check the cheese, but this should be GF. 

  • 1 (8.8-ounce) pouch precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's)
    photo from
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces  (or thigh peices)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions Skipped
  • 3 ounces light processed cheese (such as Velveeta Light), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted Skipped

  • 1. Steam broccoli 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

    2. Heat rice according to directions.

    3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes or until done, stirring occasionally. Add onions and cheese, stirring until cheese begins to melt. Stir in rice; fold in broccoli. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with almonds.

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Secret Prey by John Sandford (Davenport #9)

    Secret Prey (Lucas Davenport, #9)Secret Prey by John Sandford

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    From Goodreads: John Sandford is back with his dapper, dangerous Minneapolis deputy police chief Lucas Davenport for a ninth "preyer" meeting. Fans of the series will be glad to hear that it's full of smart suspense and deduction as well as explosive action. Davenport and his fellow cops are still recovering from the deadly revenge scheme that maimed them in Sudden Prey, which seems to have ended the relationship between Lucas and his doctor lady friend. This accounts for the depression that dogs him as he is sent to investigate the killing of top banking executive Daniel Kresge in a hunting lodge north of Minneapolis. Any of Kresge's four fellow hunters--all employees at his Polaris Bank--could have shot him, and all had motives, as did his almost ex-wife. About halfway through the book we find out who the real killer is, just a few pages before Lucas does, and that villain is a masterful creation, an example of the banality of evil worthy of Hannah Arendt. This is where Sandford's beautifully honed skills at creating suspense really kick in: he keeps us fascinated as Davenport, revitalized by an affair with a jaunty colleague, tries to turn what we all know into hard evidence. --Dick Adler

    My astute readers will notice I skipped a few books here. I totally bounced off of Mind Prey (#7). It was too sqwicky for me and I couldn't bring myself to read more than the first couple of chapters. And somehow I became confused and thought Secret Prey was book 8 when in fact it was book 9. Small irony, I realized my mistake and the next day the library notified me that Sudden Prey (book 8) was available for pick-up. Will go back and read it even though I now know what happens. A downside of series books.

    But, confusion aside  (I blame it on a particular hound who insisted on getting up at 3am because he either wanted a drink of water or needed to go outside, )I enjoyed Secret Prey for the simple fact that Sandford deviated from all the sexual predators that had been present up until Sudden Prey. We still have sexual abuse in the book, but it wasn't the sexual overtness that had been dominating the previous themes. I was beginning to wonder about Mr. Sandford's mental health as it is said a book is a mirror into the authors soul.

    I will admit, though, that the whole Polaris bank merger plot line left me zoning out on the iPod. The characters would start scheming about who had what board votes and my mind would just drift away on the sea of names being bantered about. More than once I had to skip back a couple of tracts because I was left going "Wha..? Wait a minute...". As plot dynamics developed and solidified, the twists nicely made up for boring bank mergers.

    There was also more humor in this book than previous Davenport books. I'm beginning to see flashes of wry wit that will later appear in the Virgil Flowers series. Fascinating to watch this development. Overall, a nicely balanced book that left me laughing in places, grimacing in others, and on the edge of my seat.

    View all my reviews

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Recipe Review from 4/9/12

    Grocery shopping didn't happen until Monday after my evening yoga class, so meals had to be easy and simple.  The Husband grabbed us a take-n-bake from Do North pizza with andouille (sp?) sausage that was quite tasty and had enough leftovers for an additional lunch and supper.  I filled out the rest of the week with the quiche recipe below.  Bonus recipe!  My favorite pancakes for breakfast!

    Mushroom and Swiss Quiche
    If you are not a mushroom fan, don't let the title turn you off!  This is a very versatile recipe and you can sub any veggie and cheese combo that appeals to you.  This week I did mushrooms, red pepper, and spinach with sharp cheddar cheese.  No onions because I forgot to buy them!
    Source: Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen
    Prep: 1 1/4 hours including baking
    Yield: 1 (9" pie) 6-8 servings

    1 (9") pie crust (premade or make your own), pressed into a 9 or 10" pie pan.

    1 tsp butter or margarine
    1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
    1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced or minced
    1/2 tsp salt
    black pepper
    a pinch of thyme
    1/2 tsp dry mustard
    4 large eggs (or 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites)  I do 5-6 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups milk (can be lowfat)  if upping eggs, drop back to 1 cup milk
    2 tbsp flour
    1 1/2 cups (packed) grated Swiss cheese

    *substitute other delicious cheeses for the Swiss
    *add fresh tomato slices
    *minced fresh herbs (chives, parsley, chervil, marjoram, basil, etc)
    *a hint of Hot - 1 tsp prepared horseradish and/or cayenne or Tabasco)

    1) Preheat oven to 375*   (I bake mine at 400*)
    2) Melt the butter in a small pan. Add onions, and saute over medium heat for a few minutes. When they begin to soften, add mushrooms, salt, pepper, thyme, and mustard. Saute about 5 minutes more and remove from heat.

    3) Combine eggs, milk and flour in a blender or food processor and beat well.

    4) Spread the grated cheese over the bottom of the unbaked crust and spread the onion-mushroom mixture on top. Pour in the custard and sprinkle the top with paprika.

    5) Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until solid in the center. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

    Cottage Cheese Pancakes
    Okay, for those of you who don't like cottage cheese or have kiddo's who shun the stuff, if you use and immersion blender you'll never know it's in the batter.  Seriously.  If you are a cottage cheese aficionado like myself, just mix well with a fork.  This is easy enough for a weekday breakfast.  AND!  High in protein, low in gluten. 

    1 1/2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
    1/2 cup flour 
    6 eggs
    1/4 baking powder

    Mix.  Cook.   Eat. 

    You can keep the cakes warm in the oven till ready to serve.  The make very tasty leftovers with a dollup of jelly.  I eat them cold right out of the fridge...but I'm a bit weird.  You already knew that.

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Circle of Enemies by Harry Connelly

    Book Three in the Ray Lily Series.

    From Goodreads:  Former car thief Ray Lilly is now the expendable grunt of a sorcerer responsible for destroying extra dimensional predators summoned to our world by power-hungry magicians. Luckily, Ray has some magic of his own, and so far it’s kept him alive. But when a friend from his former gang calls him back to his old stomping grounds in Los Angeles, Ray may have to face a threat even he can’t handle. A mysterious spell is killing Ray’s former associates, and they blame him. Worse yet, the spell was cast by Wally King, the sorcerer who first dragged Ray into the brutal world of the Twenty Palace Society. Now Ray will have to choose between the ties of the past and the responsibilities of the present, as he and the Society face not only Wally King but a bizarre new predator.

    It's my understanding that this is the final book in the series and that the author won't be writing any more.  Alas, I say, alas.  I'm usually not a fan of the "let's wring every penny out of this series" camp, but this was one I would have liked to have seen a few more books. 

    Ya know, I really don't have much to say about this one other than I enjoyed it - a lot.  It was fast paced, engaging, interesting things are happening and it had a satisfactory conclusion.  If I had to pick a criticism, it would be that poor Ray never gets to sleep once he's on the job.  It's go go go.  But yet it seems to work for the plot line.  One thing Connelly doesn't do is drag a book out in my opinion.

    I recommend this if I could only talk my book group into reading the first one...

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    2012 Hugo Nominees Announced!

    Minicon 47 this year held a fun little surprise: it was one of five locations that simultaneously announced the 2012 Hugo Nominees and John Campbell Nominees.  Since I went to Worldcon in Reno last year and will be heading off to Chicago this year, I am eligible to both nominate (which I didn't) and vote on the final nominees (which I will).    Yes, I am showing my Geek colors here... 

    Since 2000 when I was introduced to Worldcon (in Chicago, ironically) I've made a strong effort to read the nominees in at least the Novel category for each year.  Time permitting, I read novella, novelette and short stories.   This year I have a head start in that I've already read Leviathan Wakes by James S A Corey. 

    From the Locus Website (which contains the full listing):  Nominees for the Hugo Awards and for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer have been announced by Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Chicago, Illinois, August 30-September 3, 2012. The Hugo Awards ceremony will take place September 2, 2012.


    •Leviathan Wakes, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
    •Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
    •A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin (Bantam; Harper Voyager UK)
    •Embassytown, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
    •Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)


    •‘‘The Ice Owl’’, Carolyn Ives Gilman (F&SF 10-11/11)
    •‘‘Countdown’’, Mira Grant (Orbit Short Fiction)•‘‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’’, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/11)
    •‘‘Kiss Me Twice’’, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s 6/11)
    •‘‘The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary’’, Ken Liu (Panverse Three)
    •Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)


    •‘‘Six Months, Three Days’’, Charlie Jane Anders ( 6/8/11)
    •‘‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’’, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s 7/11)
    •‘‘What We Found’’, Geoff Ryman (F&SF 9-10/11)
    •‘‘Fields of Gold’’, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
    •‘‘Ray of Light’’, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog 12/11)

    •‘‘Movement’’, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s 3/11)•‘‘The Paper Menagerie’’, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)
    •‘‘The Homecoming’’, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s 4-5/11)
    •‘‘Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)’’, John Scalzi ( 4/1/11)
    •‘‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’’, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld 4/11)

    Let the Reading Begin! 

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Recipe Review from 4/2/12

    This was a short week for me and my initial meal plan went out the window after we forgot to go grocery shopping at the conclusion of a bonfire social in town on Saturday.  Now in our defense, it was like 11:30pm at night and my brain tends to shut down about 10pm.   Lunch and supper on Sunday ended up being a creative endeavor as you will see in the Spanish Rice recipe below. 

    The short week comes in with my annual trek to Minicon!  A 47 year old science fiction convention held in Minneapolis, MN.  I've gone for 17 years now.  Holy Scifi Books, Batman!  Yeah...that's what I think too...   Tack on to that a quick visit to my see my new nephew and not too many new recipes were made.   I'll report more on nephew and Minicon in the next couple of days. 

    Spanish Rice (
    I was raiding the pantry for something to accompany the Chipolte Pork and came up with this recipe, which I greatly modified.  But even with as many substitutions as I did, it turned out pretty good.  Was a nice way to cut the heat of the chiplote sauce on the pork.   I'd make this again, as written even. 

  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion   (ran out of onion...)
  • 1 cup shelled green peas  (used up last of my frozen corn...)
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato (used 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cups 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium peeled avocado, cut into 10 wedges

  • Preparation

    1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add peas, tomato, broth, chili powder, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Spoon onto plates. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with avocado.

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Lost Fleet: Dauntless by Jack Campbell

    Fearless (The Lost Fleet, #2)Fearless by Jack Campbell

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Overview from Goodreads:  Captain John "Black Jack" Geary tries a desperate gamble to lead the Alliance Fleet home-through enemy-occupied space-only to lose half the Fleet to an unexpected mutiny.

    We have here, ladies, gents and aliens, a classic space opera, now complete with a romance. Personally, I do not care for romance in my sci-fi, but that’s my quirk. Still, I thought Campbell handled it well, and particularly enjoyed when Capt Geary reflects that it was easier to figure out how to engage the Syndic’s than it was to navigate the mind field know as ‘woman’.

    I couldn’t say exactly why I enjoyed this book. Perhaps it was because of the fairly well constructed space battle scenes. Perhaps it was because the reader was given an insight into why Geary is doing what he is doing with long term objectives. We have a modicum of dissent amongst the crews and personnel, but not yet so much that it detracts from the space battle happening around the planets in the system. This book was a good balance of fighting the known enemy the Syndics, handling internal conflict, with a tiny bit of romance thrown to round out the characters.

    The only thing I did find moderately implausible was the mutiny - Geary liberates a POW camp which has a fleet commander known far and wide (20 years ago) for his so-called fighting ability. He rallies the discontent amongst Geary’s ships and skips town with a quarter of them. I can’t say more because I’m getting into spoiler land, but how Geary handled it was just a little off for me.

    Looking forward to reading #3 Lost Fleet: Courageous.

    View all my reviews

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Recipe review from 3/26/12

    I think we skipped Summer and went straight into Fall: cool, windy, overcast with off and on misty rain.  40 mile an hour winds are not conducive for walking outside.  Not really good for doing anything outside. 

    The coming week is going to be on the short side as I am headed to the Cities on Thursday to visit my NEW nephew (now a month old) and attend the scifi convention Minicon.  A yearly tradition going on 17 years I think?  I've lost count.

    In the meantime, two good dishes for review. 

    Chicken with Wild Rice and Almonds  (Ckng Lght Dec 2009)
    I'm not sure how I missed this one originally, but it fit the menu plan for this week perfectly.  I roasted a chicken on Sunday night and made the salad from the leftovers, but a rotisserie chicken would also work well as a time saver.  We didn't have a full pound of meat, but that's okay, salad made lots anyway.  This would be a great potluck dish or for feeding company.  Serve with some cheese, fruit, crackers or crusty bread (which I did for our lunches).  Yum!   GF if you watch which broth you buy. 

    Dressing:  (Recommend doubling)
    1/4 cup fig vinegar or white wine vinegar
    2 teaspoons sugar
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 garlic clove, minced
    2 tablespoons canola oil
    Remaining ingredients:

    2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
    1 1/2 cups uncooked wild rice
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast  (rotisserie or leftover roast chicken would work fine)1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon black pepper
    1 cup chopped celery
     1/2 cup shredded carrots (I used diced baby carrots)
    1/3 cup dried cranberries
    1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted 
    2 tablespoons minced red onion   (skipped)

    1. To prepare dressing, combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Gradually add oil, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Cover and chill.

    2. Combine broth, rice, and butter in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove rice mixture from heat; cool.

    3. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 8 minutes on each side or until done. Cool; cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

    4. Combine cooked rice, chicken, celery, carrots, cranberries, almonds, and red onion in a large bowl. Add dressing; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

    Ashley Bone, Spring Hill, Tennessee, Cooking Light
    DECEMBER 2009

    Chili Cheese Mac  (Ckng Lght, Apr 2012)
    Not a typical meal for us, but this one was a winner.  My substitutions are noted in italics below.  Much to my dismay, I ran out of chili powder!  I decided to substitute 1/2 tsp cayenne and it was not quite right. As the Husband put it, it had heat, but added no body or flavor.  I would recommend subbing chipolte if you find yourself in the same bind.   I would make this again - easy, good leftovers and some nice cool weather comfort food. 
    photo from
    1 teaspoon canola oil
    3/4 pound ground round  (I used 1lb ground turkey)
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon ground coriander
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth  (I used 2 cups chicken broth)
    1 cup water   (I used 1/2 cup water)
    1 (10-ounce) (14 ounce) can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained  (this is why I cut back on the water)
    8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
    1/2 cup fat-free milk
    4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
    4 1/2 ounces finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
    1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add beef and next 4 ingredients; cook 3 minutes. Add broth, water, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Stir in macaroni; cover and cook 10 minutes or until macaroni is done.   (NOTE: If using ground turkey, cook and drain before adding spices.  I had over a cup of liquid from the turkey and my spices would have just gone down the drain.)

    2. Heat milk and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar. Add cheese sauce to macaroni mixture; toss well to coat.

    Phoebe Wu, Cooking Light
    APRIL 2012

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