Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Cookbook Club Round Two

For October's cookbook club we did It's All Easy by Gwyneth Paltrow. I wasn't as wowed by all the recipes initially as I was with Cravings, but luckily everything turned out super delicious anyway. There were some weird ingredients we had to buy, but now we have them so we can make everything again!

Here's the rundown:

Travis made Moroccan chicken salad wraps. They tasted like Morocco in a good way.

Dinesh made zucchini and leek soup. It was really simple but surprisingly flavorful (okay, and too spicy for some of our friends).

Kelly made carbonara which was seriously stressful mostly because the water for the pasta wouldn't boil for 40 minutes. Once it did finally boil it was so delicious.

Mary made chicken chow mein, which was a real winner. If it was actually less than 30 minutes, that would be a great alternative to take out (which I never really do anyway).

Hanna made taquitos which were so cute and fun! And there was a really delicious salsa that went along with them.

Jared made fattoush salad, falafel, and cilantro hummus, which were all SO GOOD, especially together. Also, he now has a food processor which is a miracle for all of us.

I made cauliflower mac and cheese which called for three kinds of cheese (cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan) and also fooled everyone into thinking there were no veggies. I also made this roasted beet and blue cheese salad (I love blue cheese for these things!) that I was nervous about because it called for radicchio and endives and hazelnut oil and specifically 9-minute eggs, but it turned out well.

We also had dessert this time, which was nice but almost too much because we were sooooo full. Travis made his famous pumpkin bread, Kelly made s'mores bars, and Hanna actually made a dessert from the book (coconut key lime tarts). Hanna's was gluten-free and vegan and paleo and it was good for being gluten-free and vegan and paleo.

Jared's parents came and I think they were impressed with the quality of the food and also that this is something we regularly do. Here's to impressing parents and eating a full, complete dinner at least once a month!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Books 40-42

40. Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin. I loved The Happiness Project so I was excited about the prospect of another life-changing book. I loved the first because I have always liked setting goals and it gives me a huge sense of accomplishment to achieve them. This book focused on habits, and those definitely aren't something I have been patting myself on the back for. I did get some good information, and a lot of the things she wrote changed the way I think about habits. I liked the book and found it useful.

But overall, I mostly realized that establishing habits is really hard and I am not going to be successful at it. It just takes too much work to make something happen every single day and that's not what I'm focusing on right now. Since reading this book, I've kind of felt bad when I don't do something that I normally do (get up 30 mins earlier than I have to so I can go for a walk, go to the gym right after school, say no to treats, etc.), but it hasn't made me keep doing them more often. Or maybe it has. I think it's worth reading, but I'm not at a place where I want to be a slave to my habits yet.

41. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte. OMG. I hated this book with the burning fire of a thousand suns. I read it in 9th grade for summer reading and I remember enjoying it, I guess. It's my mom's favorite book, plus about a million other people. People like this book. Especially women. But I despised it. Mostly because every man is an abomination. It's like reading a book full of Donald Trump characters. Yuck. Also, I just couldn't handle the sexism/racism/classism that I know was normal back then. This is a big part of why I don't like to read less contemporary books. Our world has changed for the better and I'm glad I live now. I get too angry reading about people being marginalized and it being okay because it's the past. Ugh.

Here are the things that I'd like to say to Jane: 1. It's not cool that Mr. Rochester uses his power over you as his employer to manipulate you romantically. 2. It's not cool that you act like teaching "impoverished" farm girls is such a worse gig than teaching at that uppity boarding school. 3. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE SIMPLY FROM LIVING IN INDIA. People live there. That doesn't cause them to die.

I also have a lot of things to say to Mr. Rochester and St. John but mostly it's language that I don't really use and definitely shouldn't be published on my blog.

TL;DR: If you like this book okay but I really don't get you.

42. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon. I have been meaning to read this book since 2009. Proof of that is the receipt I found inside the book from Smith's in Provo. Apparently on August 18, 2009 at 11:18 pm I purchased a bag of potatoes and an onion.

I'm glad that I finally got around to it because this is one of my favorite books from this year. It took me forever to read it (I started in August and finished today, yikes), mostly because of the vocabulary. I wasn't aware there are so many words in the English language that I didn't know! Motivation to up my vocabulary. It's also pretty dense. I couldn't just cruise through it like I have a lot of these books.

But, I think the time I spent with this book contributed to how much I loved it. I realized as I was nearing the end that I was going to miss spending time with [reading about] these characters. They were believable, they were heartbreaking, they taught me things I didn't know about the world. That's what I want out of books, honestly.

Currently listening to Henderson the Rain King and reading Lust for Life. Making progress.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

First Cookbook Club

My new roommate Kelly introduced an exciting idea in our lives this fall: Cookbook Club. Once a month, we choose a cookbook and invite our best chef friends to bring a dish from the book to a big dinner party.

I have had Cravings by Chrissy Teigen basically since it came out and I had only made one recipe from it, so we decided on that book for our first month.

Turns out I don't have a lot of chef friends, so I wasn't sure how the dishes would turn out, but they were all DELICIOUS.

Hanna made spicy chorizo and jalapeƱo queso.

Kelly made "I Can't Believe It's Not Gardetto's" and thyme-roasted carrots.

Travis made garlic ricotta cauliflower mash.

Dinesh made secretly spicy deviled eggs and sweet and salty coconut rice.

Jared made mac and cheese (Chrissy's mac and cheese, not John Legend's, which is important).

Mary made broccoli and sour cream potato cakes.

And I'm going to share the basics of my two favorite dishes so I can make them again and again.

KP made this salad that I assumed would be kind of whatever but NO. It was NOT whatever. It was everything and I need to make it again and again. Roasted cauliflower + orzo pasta + spinach + dried cherries + feta cheese + red onion + a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard, garlic and salt/pepper. I need to up my salad dressing game. I'm getting sick of white/brown balsamic vinegar on repeat.

Honestly my favorite thing of the whole night was what I made (and I knew it would be as soon as I saw the recipe). Brussels sprouts are life. So I roasted them with whole cloves of garlic (I was nervous but it was great), then mixed them up with crumbled crispy bacon, cranberries, and blue cheese, then drizzled this honey and balsamic reduction over the whole thing. I loved it. The flavors were SO good together. I left the blue cheese out because I know some people don't like it but the flavor wasn't too strong at all mixed with all the other things and it really added a lot to the whole dish. So seriously, just add in the blue cheese. Or if you're REALLY opposed try goat cheese or feta.

We ate so well that night, and leftovers the next day too. It was a dream.

Now I want to do cookbook club like every week and I already checked 15 cookbooks out of the library because I'm insane but I want to use them all!!!!!! Maybe I should start purchasing them. That would be a dream collection.

Next one is October 18 and we're doing Gwyneth Paltrow's It's All Easy by VERY popular demand. Can't wait to share all the delicious things we eat.