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Archive for July, 2011

Yesterday was a long, tiring day at the library. Summer is in full swing and I was having a really busy day. Around 4 o’clock or so, a second grade regular came up to me and asked me to find her some books from her summer reading list. As I said, she is a regular, so we’ve done this multiple times. Every time I pull books for her, she asks if there are any “longer” books she could take instead. I explain that everything on the second grade list is pretty much the same level, so the book in her hand was the longest book she’d be able to get. Still not satisfied this time, she asks for other, longer books. I brought her into the Fiction section to show her that most of the books there (typically 4-6th grade level) would probably be a little too long. She’s persistent, though, so she asked me for “books about summer that are longer.” So, I looked some up and pulled out a selection of four. None of which she wanted. So I said, “Okay, well, these are the longer books if you want to browse through them and find something you like.” A few minutes later, she came up to my desk and said, quote, “Um, do you have any books that are longer, but shorter…but longer?”

It’s hard to find words to explain how questions like this make me feel. Luckily, it is illustrated perfectly by one Mr. Sideshow Bob.

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This was a pretty eventful weekend. First and foremost, I tried a new muffin recipe. Michael’s two zucchini plants are starting to go crazy, and we are becoming increasingly overrun with said vegetables. As a result, I have been scouring the internet for different zucchini bread and/or muffin recipes to test out.

The first batch came out pretty well—I found it on Simply Recipes. They were, as the site’s name would suggest, incredibly simple to make. Here’s the recipe:

  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter (I just used 1 stick)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional—didn’t use)
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional—didn’t use)

    The muffins are moist and sweet…maybe even a little too sweet. For the next round of muffins, I think I’ll try to find a healthier recipe that uses less butter and sugar.

    The other thing I did this weekend was take a trip out to Yankee Stadium to see this dude, Paul McCartney, kick off his “On the Run” tour. I think he’s relatively new to the music business, but he was pretty good nonetheless.

    In all seriousness, that was probably the best concert I will ever see. Aside from the simple fact that it’s Paul, he totally killed it. All of the songs were great, but the best performance was, hands-down, Live and Let Die. Paul may be 69 years old, but he still rocks pretty hard. My other favorite part of the night was when he played I Will, probably my favorite Beatles song. He also played The Night Before, which was only the second time the song has ever been performed live (I think Friday night was the first).

    A quick note on the new Yankee Stadium: I was not impressed. From everything I’d heard after it was built, I expected it to be very beautiful and palatial. Once I was there, I found it stark and impersonal. Now, I’m no stadium aficionado by any means, but I think Citi Field is way nicer. But that is neither here nor there.

    Anyway, it was a great weekend, thanks to equal parts Paul and muffins.

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Pixies & Pie

A couple of weeks ago, I made my first blueberry pie. I am not a complete stranger to the pie family, but my experience to date has mostly been with the pumpkin variety. I was really excited about this pie, but it didn’t turn out quite as expected. Beautiful, yes—but a little too runny. HOWEVER—this just in—after checking the recipe again online to repost here, I see that instead of 2 tablespoons of instant tapioca (thickening agent for the filling), I am 90% sure that I used 2 teaspoons by mistake. Yes, that was a total blunder on my part, but I still maintain that that little bit of extra tapioca would not have transformed the filling into something significantly more cohesive. But, I guess you never know.

Blueberry Filling

6 cups fresh blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater
2 teaspoons grated zest and 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons instant tapioca, ground
Pinch table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted better, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Place 3 cups berries in medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using potato masher, mash berries several times to release juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly. Place grated apple in clean kitchen towel and wring dry. Transfer apple to large bowl. Add cooked berries, remaining 3 cups uncooked berries, lemon zest, juice, sugar, tapioca, and salt; toss to combine. Transfer mixture to dough-lined pie plate and scatter butter pieces over filling.

I am not including a recipe for the crust because A) I don’t have it on hand, and 2) I think a lot of people have their own recipes that they like to use. If you’d like my pie crust recipe (it is delicious, flaky, and very easy to make and roll out!), let me know.

In other news, I’ve been really into this song lately:

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I just finished reading The Help and thoroughly enjoyed it. Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, it is told from the point of view of three women: two black maids and one white woman. The white woman, an aspiring writer who is desperate to get out of Jackson, decides to interview black women about their experiences serving white families. Overall, it was a great story, and what I liked most about it was the fact that it was narrated by three strong female characters.

I don’t think about it much, but the fact remains that most of my entertainment interests are male-dominated. The majority of my favorite authors are men, it’s the same with music (although there are notable exceptions for both categories), and I’ll always pick a Tarantino flick over something more…womanly. I guess it’s because I grew up in a more post-feminist era, where we’ve already been “liberated” and all that jazz. It’s probably also the reason why I’ve never had many giant female role models, except for various actresses who I’ve grown up wanting to look like (or characters on tv, like Agent Scully).

These days, I basically look up to any woman who isn’t afraid to speak up for herself. A characteristic I have not fully embraced yet myself, I especially like to see it in others. And that’s really what The Help was all about, which is why I found it inspiring.

And now, a list of women who I want to “be just like” in one way or another. Unfortunately, the desire to look like other women still occupies my thoughts (thanks, “the media”!), but other cool women are making it on to the list for a variety of reasons.

1. Tina Fey – for her general personality and comedic talent (side note: read Bossypants!)
2. Zoe Bell – for her athletic prowess and being a badass stuntwoman (see her playing herself in Death Proof)
3. Lisbeth Salander – fictional character, but another badass (read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series)
4. Stacy London – Technically, I don’t want to be like her as much as I want her to live in my closet and tell me how to dress (watch What Not To Wear). However, I do revere her for keeping that gray streak in her hair. I like a woman who isn’t afraid of grays (note: I am afraid of grays).
5. Mila Kunis – she’s hot!
6. Eva Mendes – she’s hot too!
7. Zooey Deschanel – talented actor and singer. And she’s hot as well.

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