Archive | March 2014

Random Recipe: Portabella Mushroom Sandwiches with Chipotle Mayo

It was a Saturday and lunchtime was approaching. My husband, lying on the sofa, would soon demand food…

A peek in the fridge determined that he would have portabella mushroom sandwiches with chipolte mayo…and he would like it.

Ingredients
1 pkg Portabella mushrooms
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
2-3 Chipotle peppers
1 cup Mayonnaise
1 Avocado
Salad Greens
Potato bread
Provolone cheese

Instructions

Mushroom Caps:
Mix EVOO, salt & pepper together. Brush on mushroom caps. Heat a skillet to medium and pan fry mushrooms, starting with the smooth side down. Cook for about 3-4 mins per side, pressing down on caps with spatula to release juices.

Chipotle mayo:
Mix 1/3 cup mayo with 1-2 chipotle peppers (pick your heat levels, I use 3 but I like it spicy). Chop peppers finely and then mix with mayo.

Portabella Mushroom sandwich

Put it together:
Toast potato bread and then spread on chipotle mayo. Put one-two mushrooms per sandwich, covered with 1 slice provolone cheese. Add slices of avocado and salad greens. Slice in half and serve.

Hero & Quest: “True” Hero vs. Reluctant Hero vs. Anti-hero

What is a hero? What does it mean to be a hero?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty dismayed by the whole anti-hero craze. I’m pretty honest about my dislikes and triggers: bloody, gratuitous violence, violence against women, rape, torture and horror. While the list is short, the implications are large, lol. There’s a lot that I avoid.

And I have added the anti-hero to that list.

In my previous blog post I pondered the “True” or “Mythological” Hero. This is my preferred hero, for the most part. In fact, my favorite series are The Belgariad and The Mallorean by David Eddings. Eddings’ MC for this series – Belgarion – gets quite a few points on the mythological scale: I’d score Belgarion at 11/22 points (I credit Belgarion with points 1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10-14).

But some really thought-provoking comments by SophieCale made me think about other types of heroes. There are several types of heroes – not just two. SophieCale mentioned that she enjoys anti-heroes to a degree: Any MC who balks at their “quest”, complains about it, undermines it or bends the rules falls into my anti-hero category. Basically, if they aren’t selfless, courageous, honourable or fair I consider them anti-hero, but that’s just my own personal definition.
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Hero & Quest: What is a “Hero?”

In today’s popular literature, the “anti-hero” has become the new hero. Why? Many claim this is in reflection of either A) reality (i.e. that no one is a “real hero”) or B) a symptom of the uncertain times we live in.

But haven’t we always lived in uncertain times? I can’t think of a single era or culture that was not lamenting the greatness of the past while gnashing their teeth at what they see as the destruction of the future (I mean, did nobody expect the Spanish Inquisition? *snerk*). So why has the tide changed against the “hero” in favor of the anti-hero? I don’t know but I’m desperate to discover why. Especially since my personal taste trends towards the typical hero.

I’m currently listening to a class, “Hero and Quest” taught by Dr. Larry George (subtitled “Heroes and Maidens”). This is a fascinating class thus far and it’s giving me great food for thought.

Today’s discussion was the “Mythic Hero.”

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B&M Bookstores: Atomic Books, Baltimore MD

I’ve always loved bookstores and libraries. I love the slightly musty, stuffy and dry smells that old books produce. I love the crisp smell of fresh cut paper that new books produce. I love looking at books, fingering books, organizing books and starting at book cover art.

I don’t find this strange at all. 🙂 What do I find strange? That other people DON’T do the same things.

I can spend hours staring at books. And if I find a book I find interesting? I love to sit in the middle of the isle on the floor and flip through books.

I love owning books. I am a bibliophile.

So it is heartbreaking to me that the brick and mortar bookstore is being lost in today’s internet focused world.

As a salute to those maintaining the brick and mortar bookstore for the love of books – I decided to start listing any [indie] B&M bookstore I visit.

I recently visited Atomic Books which was recently featured in a Flavorwire post (#14): 45 Great American Indie Bookstores to Support This Holiday Season.


Atomic Books
3620 Falls Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21211 USA
410.662.4444
info@atomicbooks.com

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Review: The CarbLovers Diet by Ellen Kunes & Frances Largeman-Roth

The CarbLovers Diet

PhotobucketThe editors of Health Magazine (and top nutrition scientists) have big news: Eating carbs is the best way to get and stay slim. Breakthrough research revealed in this book shows how certain carb-rich foods-especially those with the amazing natural ingredient called Resistant Starch-act as powerful metabolism boosters and appetite suppressants. Rather than making you fat and bloated, as decades of low-carb diet gurus claimed, CARBS make you thin. They shrink fat cells, especially in your belly; boost fat burning; increase muscle mass; curb cravings; keep you feeling full longer than other foods; control blood sugar, and lower cholesterol and triglycerides!

Health Magazine, the expert when it comes to healthy living, takes this revolutionary new science and turns it into an easy-to-follow, real women-tested, dietitian-approved road map proven to melt off 10, 35, even 100 plus pounds forever. Our test kitchen chefs and registered dietitians also developed 85 delicious, simple recipes and foolproof meal plans that help you lose weight while you enjoy the foods you’ve craved for years.

I love carbs. LOVE. CARBS.

I love breads, cakes, flaky pies, potatoes, muffins, pasta… I could go on for days. Especially pasta…and bread…and cakes. Especially those carbs.

My conundrum is that I also love to work out, lift weights and look sexy.

And just about EVERYBODY tells you that there is no way to both love (and enjoy) carbs and look sexy at the same time. No matter what diet and no matter what exercise program – just about all of them tell you to avoid carbs.

This gives me the sads. 😦

So when I stumbled upon The CarbLovers Diet I had to check it out. The cover is a bright and happy pink with a picture of a fork full of pasta. Yum! The back cover mentions “revolutionary new science about carb-rich foods” and promises that the reader will have “pasta for dinner and chocolate torte for dessert.” Come on! Who doesn’t want that??
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Random Recipe: Rotisseried Chicken

Since both my husband and I work full time, I try to cut down on the amount of time I spend cooking during the work week.

One of the things that saves me time and energy when cooking for the week are whole chickens. I used to be rather afraid to cook whole chickens – I used only buy butchered parts – but damn I love whole chickens now!

When I cook whole chickens, I either bake or rotisserie them. My favorite is definitely the Rotisserie. It’s super fast and easy! I received my rotisserie as a gift but you can buy one for about $80 and up.

Rotisseried Chicken

Ingredients

1 whole chicken (4lbs or more)
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary

Rotisseried Chicken Whole

Rotisseried Chicken Whole

1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp basil
season salt (to taste)
2 1/2 tbsp butter
poultry seasoning (to taste)

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SPA-F: The Madness of Hallen (The Khalada Stone, #1) by Russell Meek

The Madness of Hallen

Half a millenium ago, the mind of Husam al-Din was ripped apart and scattered beyond the borders of the known lands. Although secured by bloody war, the peaceful legacy he brought has begun to collapse, and the world once again starts a slow descent into chaos. Against all who betrayed him, al-Din will be forced to reclaim those who survived.
There are none who can prevent his return, but there are three who would control him. All that stands in their way is their own sanity, and everyone they love.

In the mountain city of Brunn, a darkness gathers around Ohrl. Restlessness, a sense that his life should mean more than it does. On his first journey beyond the mountains he begins to understand that destiny cares not for his petty desires. It is vicious and brutal, and it will not stop until either he, or it, are totally consumed.

Na’ilah’s search is almost over. She can feel his mind pulsating here in the city, but she cannot take it through strength of arms alone. Her armoury is cunning, manipulation and betrayal. Her will is to be obeyed, and her cruel heart will show no mercy to those that stand in her way.

His mind will be a vessel for the betrayals of his kind, and in time he must decide upon their right to survive. Yet before that decision can be made, Faerl must release the six most powerful men that brought this curse upon them, men who died half a millenium ago.

The Khalada Stone is the first of four epic novels following the lives of two brothers in their quest against the rightful heir to the mind of Husam al-Din.

Amount Read: Prologue and Chapter 1

What did I think? Well, I feel like I have previously established a relationship with Russell Meek. When this book was originally released, Meek posted about it in a group I belong to. I thought the cover was really pretty and his website is beyond beautiful…I love his website. Everything is so polished and professional and branded that it was astounding that Meek is self-published. The blurb was horrific but Meek’s demeanor and professionalism really intrigued me. My biggest issue at the time was that there was no ebook available (that has changed) and Meek is a New Zealand author. Shipping from New Zealand is…cost prohibitive.
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Review: The Spirit Thief (The Legend of Eli Monpress #1) by Rachel Aaron

The Spirit Thief

Photobucket
Eli Monpress is talented. He’s charming. And he’s a thief.

But not just any thief. He’s the greatest thief of the age – and he’s also a wizard. And with the help of his partners – a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls – he’s going to put his plan into effect.

The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he’ll need to steal some big things. But he’ll start small for now. He’ll just steal something that no one will miss – at least for a while.

Like a king.

 

 
This one was a slog.

I bought this as part of omnibus based off of a great blurb. I started and stopped it a couple of times but I finally buckled down and read in starting in January.

It took me forever to finish this book – it’s not particularly small but it’s not that big, either. It’s well written and the writing is engaging.

So why was it such a slog for me?

I’d have to say it was the characters. Well, one character in particular: Eli. Eli Monpress is supposed to be rather charming. I’m guessing he’s supposed to give the reader a “gentleman thief” kind of feel – someone extremely likeable but untrustworthy – maybe like Pierce Bronsan’s Remington Steele or Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora.
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Flights of Fantasy: April 2014 Books of the Month

The April 2014 Flights of Fantasy group reads and my early decision on reading them:

 
 

SeraphinaYA/MG
Seraphina (Seraphina #1)
Decision: Maybe

In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, “Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.”

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

 
 
ViciousFantasy
Vicious (Vicious #1)
Decision: No

A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
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SPA-F: The Tribe of Ishmael (Afterlife Chronicles #1) by Heather Heffner

The Tribe of Ishmael

There are no heroes. Only villains…

Ishmael Abajian has always been a play-by-the-rules kind of guy, so when he stows aboard a train to escape from dangerous pursuers, he figures his guardian angel will overlook it. Except each train car appears to represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins. And the demon conductor informs him that he is no longer alive, deepest condolences. Not to mention the accidentally-going-to-Hell part—tough break. Too bad there’s no better luck next time.

Now trapped in a dark authoritarian world embroiled in power struggles and dreams of liberation, Ishmael teams up with a girl who may-or-may-not be a murderer in order to recover their lost memories and escape. However, as a free soul condemned neither to Hell nor Paradise, Ishmael is something that some demons have been waiting for, while others will stop at nothing to destroy: change.

The first installment in a brand-new epic fantasy series, THE TRIBE OF ISHMAEL is a dark metaphysical adventure containing hellhounds with nasty frost-bites and lots of adult content.

Welcome aboard the Sunnyside Express.
Next stop: the Afterlife.
Whatever you do, please don’t abandon all hope.
That wouldn’t be as much fun.

Amount Read: 3.5 Chapters

What did I think…

Well, so far the book is very readable – if that makes any sense. It took me no time to reach chapter 3 with this book. In comparison Wrona makes the reader work a little harder. The writing flowed easily and I only noticed a couple of editing errors.

I also took a few notes/highlights with this one – but the ones that stick out to me now is the negative portrayal of all the women I’ve been introduced to thus far. I’m assuming more female positive characters will show up later. I have to admit that was really turned off by the repeated references to a woman the MC nicknamed “Saggy Tits.” It felt harsh and unnecessary to any of the action that was taking place.
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