Thursday, November 2, 2017

Cookbook Club Catchup: May - October

I lost track of blog posts this summer, but I want to be able to remember all the cookbooks we have cooked from and their notable recipes, so here is a quick blitz of what we've cooked in the last sixth months.

May
100% Real by Sam Talbot, picked by Dinesh. Featuring trivia about our past cookbook club authors and books and dishes.

Kelly made candied turnips and sweet potatoes with yuzu sauce and sweet potato hashbrown open-faced sandwiches.

Dinesh made shakshuka and apples foster with a whiskey caramel sauce.

Jared made white bean and cilantro hummus and mac and cheese (which was called shells and cheese with peas).

I made avocado and melon morning lassi, cinnamon and coconut chickpeas, and maple and turmeric marinated pork chops.

Mary made quinoa and vegetable salad with chicken.

Hanna made jerk chicken and pineapple.

Travis and Katie made chicken sticks with zucchini and apples, grilled squash with pine nuts, and frozen honey mousse with lime.

June
Family Table by Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner. Katie's pick, and her last cookbook club before leaving Boston to get married!

I made Thai beef and Asian broccoli.

Dinesh made a ham and cheese frittata and pushcart chicken.

Jared made orzo salad and a bell pepper panzanella.

Katie made a tomato panzanella that won the night and I have made more than once since then. She also made spiced eggplant

Travis made coconut cake that was gooooood and macaroni and cheese.

Kelly made lemon bars and cherry limeade.

Hanna made apple cheddar crisp that was so interesting and good.

July
Love and Lemons by Jeanine Donofrio, which we had been waiting MONTHS to cook from.

Travis (now acting alone because Katie had moved home to prepare for the wedding) made chipotle apple guacamole and coconut rice with brussels sprouts.

Jared made lemon rosemary roasted potatoes and cucumber and basil watermelon salad.

Hanna made veggie ceviche and grilled Mexican corn salad (always a winner).

Dinesh made a red pepper feta frittata.

Kelly made avocado strawberry caprese.

Mary made avocado breakfast tacos.

I made apple radish slaw (had to use up my radishes from my CSA somehow), a brussels sprouts and cranberry salad, and summer squash succotash.

August
Summer recess-- no cooking.

September
The Dead Celebrity Cookbook, by F. A. De Caro. This was Mary's pick for her birthday cookbook club celebration, and we maybe regretted it a little bit. Turns out people used to know nothing about flavor (besides mayonnaise and onions).

Jared made deviled eggs and quiche lorraine (so heavy on the onions LOL).

Kelly made banana pudding.

Hanna made zucchini bread.

Dinesh made scotch eggs.

Paige made cheese and olive puffs.

I made paella!

Mary made spicy cornbread and a lime tart.

Weston made carbonara.

October
Hanna wanted Halloween cookbooks, so we used The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz and Love At First Bite by Michelle Roy Kelly (which was maybe supposed to be the Twilight cookbook but I got the wrong one from the library? Hard to know).

I made pumpkin pasties from HP and killer chili from the vampire book.

Hanna made fruit pizza in the adorable shape of a pumpkin and fiesta casserole.

Mary made meat and potato pot pies from HP.

Jared made mac and cheese and pumpkin soup.

Eric brought butterbeer!!!!!! and sweet potato fries.

Grace brought tortellini "by twilight" (?) and also a cake that I guess Eric mostly made.

Kelly made "come closer kumquat pie" but actually with clementines instead of kumquats.

Weston brought nachos.


I keep meaning to take pictures of the food for the blog posts but the lighting is so bad in our kitchen at night and it's hard when we just want to eat it all!!!!! It's something to aspire to, I guess.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Reading Update: June

Since the beginning of June, I have read 18 of the books from my list, plus 5 audiobooks that I didn't have on my list. I requested a bunch of audiobooks from the library a while ago and while I was making my summer reading list, none of them seemed close to being delivered to me, but then they all came in at once and I had been waiting so long that I just had to listen to them right away. So, I'm just over 1/3 of the way through the summer, 23 books deep, with 28 more to go. I think I'm good.

I have started adding quick reviews to my Goodreads, so if you want more info, check out what I had to say over there.

Books I Loved
  • The Wednesday Wars
  • This Is How It Always Is
  • Come As You Are

Books I Liked
  • Lunar Chronicles series
  • SuperBetter
  • The Crossover
  • All American Boys
  • Paths of Glory
  • A Man Called Ove
  • When Dimple Met Rishi
  • Lara Jean series

Books I Thought Were Okay
  • Lab Girl
  • Things Fall Apart
  • The Price of Inequality
  • You Are a Badass
  • Charms for the Easy Life
  • Scrappy Little Nobody

I'm leaving tomorrow to go to Scotland and I am committing to Outlander, which is quite a hefty book, while I'm there. I have both the audiobook and a hard copy, so I'm hoping that with dedication and the additional fun of the book being set in Scotland, I will return in a week with another book checked off my list.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Summer Reading List 2017

My finalized summer reading list is here! There are 46 books, which is a lot, but I'm ambitious.

Last summer I aimed for 50, finished about 40 by the end of the summer, then got stuck on a big one that took a while to get through. Some of the books on that list I ended up abandoning, which is fine. Not all books are for everyone! I'm expecting the same thing to happen with a few off this list as well, and that's okay.

I have divided the books into 6 sections, which all felt natural. One issue I ran into last year was that I read more "easy" books early on and then left the books I didn't feel like till the end, which obviously made me want to read them less and less as they sat there, taunting me. I'll try to be better about balancing books from each category this summer.

Please read at least some of these books with me and then obviously talk to me about them!

Been Meaning to Read
This will be the year I conquer these books that have been nagging me forever (not in a bad way!).
  • A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman. Rec: Tyler 
  • The Magicians, Lev Grossman. 
  • An Untamed State, Roxane Gay. 
  • Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe. Rec: Nikki 
  • Tracks, Louise Erdrich. Rec: Nikki 
  • Wednesday Wars, Gary D. Schmidt. 
  • Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson. 
  • Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh. 
Based Only on the Recommendation
These are books I probably would have never picked up, but I'm doing it for you, friends.
  • Paths of Glory, Jeffrey Archer. Rec: Jared 
  • White Teeth, Zadie Smith. Rec: Carol Ann 
  • The Martian, Andy Weir. Rec: John Wiest 
  • Outlander, Diana Gabaldon. Rec: Hanna 
  • Lab Girl, Hope Jahren. Rec: Hannabeth 
  • Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese. Rec: Emma 
Series
For book club with Rebekah.
  • The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter, Fairest), Marissa Meyer. 
  • The Neapolitan Novels (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Story of a Lost Child), Elena Ferrante. 
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before; P.S. I Still Love You; Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han. 
Nonfiction
I'll be looking for an audiobook.
  • Sacred Symbols: Finding Meaning in Rites, Rituals, and Ordinances, Alonzo L. Gaskill. Rec: Jared 
  • A House Full of Females: Plural Marriage and Women's Rights in Early Mormonism, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Rec: Carol Ann 
  • The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government, Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer. Rec: Travis 
  • The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future, Joseph E. Stiglitz. Rec: Kara 
  • Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism, Susan Ware. Rec: Katharine 
  • Food Freedom Forever, Melissa Hartwig. 
Typical Summer Reads
Either easy-breezy, or very popular.
  • Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders. Rec: Rachel 
  • The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern. Rec: Jared 
  • Charms for the Easy Life, Kaye Gibbons. Rec: KP 
  • Dark Matter, Blake Crouch. Rec: Conner 
  • Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris. Rec: Hanna 
  • The Dog Stars, Peter Heller. Rec: Mary 
  • The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, Brady Udall. Rec: Tin Tin 
Diverse YA Books
Trying to find books that my students will like that aren't A Hood Chick Story.
  • Outsiders, S.E. Hinton. 
  • The Education of Margot Sanchez, Lilliam Rivera. 
  • How It Went Down Kekla Magoon. 
  • All American Boys, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. 
  • The Crossover, Kwame Alexander. 
  • When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon. 
  • Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge

I recently started following the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and I have enjoyed their reading-centered posts and book recommendations (although I'm not a huge fan of the name because I would hate to be Mrs. Darcy--I have an issue with Pride and Prejudice).

Anyway, they created a 2017 Reading Challenge that I only just saw today. I have always been interested in doing one of these but have never actually followed through. As I looked at the categories, however, I thought of many books I have already read that would fit in. After a thorough search through my Goodreads shelves, I realized that I have either already read or planned to read books for every one of their 24 categories!

If you are interested in the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge and/or what I have been reading, here we go! Or look at any of the links above.


  • A book you chose for the cover: The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty, Amanda Filipacchi
  • A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able: Cinder, Marissa Meyer (I'm also trying to finish the rest of the series in the next two weeks for my two-person book club)
  • A book set somewhere you've never been but would like to visit: Anne of Green Gables series, L.M. Montgomery (get me to Prince Edward Island!)
  • A book you've already read: The View from Saturday, E.L. Konigsburg
  • A juicy memoir: This Is Really Happening, Erin Chack (I laughed out loud so many times reading this book)
  • A book about books: Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale
  • A book in a genre you usually avoid: My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem
  • A book you don't want to admit you're dying to read: Food Freedom Forever*, Melissa Hartwig (this category was hard because I'm not really embarrassed by anything I have read or want to read, but I guess I wouldn't talk about this book to just anyone)
  • A book in the backlist of a new favorite author: I read every book by Liane Moriarty within the last year
  • A book recommended by someone with great taste: Wide Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys (recommendation from Twitter after my rant about hating Jane Eyre!)
  • A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet: Where'd You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple (I have wanted to read this book a million times and even checked it out from the library without reading it. But I finally did it!)
  • A book about a topic or subject you already love: Women at Church, Neylan McBaine (I love talking about feminism within the LDS church)
  • A Newberry Award winner or Honor book: The Wednesday Wars*, Gary D. Schmidt
  • A book in translation: The Neapolitan Novels*, Elena Ferrante
  • A book that's more than 600 pages: The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova
  • A book of poetry, play, or essay collection: Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
  • A book of any genre that addresses current events: The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  • An immigrant story: Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue
  • A book published before you were born: Let's Kill Uncle, Rohan O'Grady
  • Three books by the same author: I read the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author: What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, Helen Oyeyemi
  • A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending: Eleanor, Jason Gurley
  • A book nominated for an award in 2017: The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  • A Pulitzer Prize winner: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz

*Books I haven't read yet but are planned into my summer reading.

If you have read any of these books, I am highly interested in discussing them with you. If you haven't, do it. Happy reading!

Friday, April 28, 2017

April Cookbook Club

April was Mary's pick and with some heavy influencing from Jared, she chose The Tucci Table. Jared also developed a Stanley Tucci-themed trivia night for the club which was so fun but so hard.

Jared made Tuscan tomato soup and lemon butter asparagus.

Travis and Katie made quinoa salad (he loves that stuff) with feta/pomegranate/pistachio, cauliflower steaks, and carrot cake.

Mary made grilled cheese sandwiches as an appetizer and they were so fun.

I made a sausage roll (very GBBO inspired).

Dinesh made homemade BBQ chicken wings and onion rings, which were delicious and fun to make from scratch.

Hanna made blondies (so gooey).

Kelly made raspberry ripple lemon cake.

Note: Mary won trivia, which is fitting, since apparently Stanley Tucci is her man.

March Cookbook Club

March was Travis's pick of cookbook, and he decided on Oprah's Weight Watchers-inspired book, Food, Health, and Happiness.

Mary made red pepper/sausage/fennel soup that was kind of DIY for assembly, which was cool, because it meant you could control the flavors/level of spice.

Kelly made corn chowder that was supposed to be DIY but she said screw that and put everything in the soup. It was so so good. She also made "skinny" cornbread that tasted a little skinny.

Dinesh made an Indian pumpkin curry (with butternut squash instead) that called for a million spices and luckily his roommates had them that we could borrow. Worth it.

I made "unfried" chicken (breaded with almond flour, spices, and parmesan and baked in the oven) and Vietnamese chicken salad. Salad needed more flavor I think.

Jared went rogue and brought zucchini bread not from the cookbook.

Travis and Katie brought spiced applesauce minicakes (I think those are called muffins), breakfast cookies, and quinoa salad.


Monday, February 6, 2017

February Cookbook Club

We had to do an early cookbook club this month because lots of us will be traveling later in the month. It took forever to settle on a date, but we ended up doing it last night, which made it probably my most delicious anti-Super Bowl party ever.

Note: it was only an anti-Super Bowl party for me, because I didn't/don't watch the Super Bowl. Other members of the club did watch it.

We used the cookbook Date Night In, which features seasonal menus to cook together with a date. We didn't really end up cooking with dates, and definitely didn't follow all the seasons designated for the menus, but we did have a ton of delicious food, as always.

Jared made WINGS (because Super Bowl), pickled celery, and wedge salads (kind of. We had to assemble our own and they didn't all end up in wedges). Kelly made a rainbow chip birthday cake (everything from scratch, including the sprinkles).

Travis and Katie (maybe the only ones who actually used this cookbook club as an opportunity for a date) made a leek/bacon/ricotta tart (OMG so delicious), an endive salad, and Nutella ice cream (no ice cream maker required, so I need to get on that).

Hanna made pizza with sausage and ricotta and bittersweet chocolate brownies with peanut butter frosting.

Mary made a salad with Brussels sprouts, feta, leeks, and grapes.

Dinesh and I made sausage patties (which were seriously delicious and I will make them again and again), baked eggs, and croissant French toast.

Until next time, Cookbook Club.

Friday, February 3, 2017

January Cookbook Club

In January I checked out 7 of Ina Garten's cookbooks from the library to make a Barefoot Contessa feast. We ended up using recipes from only 4 of them, which I guess means we'll have to come back to her recipes at some point.

While flipping through, it seemed like the majority of her recipes involved seafood (which we mostly don't like) and/or alcohol (which we don't drink). There was also the added complication of Whole30, which I was following during this month. Luckily, however, we ended up with some delicious food, as always.

Travis and Katie balsamic roasted beef and guacamole salad (which was SO flavorful).

I made kale chips and a mustard chicken salad.

Dinesh made tortilla soup (no tortillas though. #Whole30).

Jared made herb-marinated pork loin which might have been the most delicious meat I have ever eaten in my life. He also made garlic roasted cauliflower.

Mary made orange braised parsnips and carrots (thank you to her for the veggies).

Hanna and Kelly handled the desserts (chocolate caramel and salted caramel), which I didn't try, so I can't comment on them, but they were definitely popular.

I couldn't check out her new book, Cooking for Jeffrey, because it was too popular, but I have heard amazing things, so we'll be back, Ina Garten!!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Chronicles of Narnia

Over the past three months, I have read or listened to all 7 books in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was young, but I must have never made it around to the others, because I didn't remember anything. However, I highly enjoyed them as an adult and I'm in a much better place to understand the allegory, so I'm not too sad I missed out earlier.

These books are all part of a very strong Christian allegory, and they do a good job of making me think about life on Earth, heaven, my relationship with Christ, and right vs. wrong.

They also helped me see evil in new, powerful ways. Although I have understood the concept of gaslighting abstractly, The Silver Chair gave me the most concrete example I have ever found. And reading The Last Battle made me very uncomfortable when I started to draw connections with the current government.

Two of my favorite quotes, both from The Last Battle, speak to what happens at the end of our lives, which aligns very well with what I was taught and what I have always believed.

A lot of sad, hard things happen at the end, including Susan, one of the original children from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, not returning to Narnia with the rest.

SPOILER ALERT [but can it really be a spoiler for a book that was published 60 years ago?]: At the end of the book, all the good characters from the whole series watch the Narnia they have known and loved die, and then they go into a new land, where everything seems familiar but better.

"The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this."

"For all find what they truly seek."

I love the idea of heaven as an improvement of this world, where we'll be comfortable and happy but know it's an upgrade. I also like thinking that people will end up where they are happiest. Bad things happen, but at the end, it will be alright. I look forward to the feeling of reunion with everyone who has ever left me. The end of this series feels hopeful, even with the heartache that accompanies it.

I know C.S. Lewis is highly revered, especially in the Mormon world, but I have never been able to get into his nonfiction. These books, however, are perfect at bringing the reader into the story in order to speak some real truths. I'm excited to reread them, hopefully someday with my future children (?).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Resolutions!

Like I said, I am a goal person. I know a lot of people hate on New Year's Resolutions, but I like them and I'll never stop making them. Making goals for myself is how I show that I think my life matters.

I read Better than Before this year and learned some interesting things about myself and the way I set goals and create habits. I am an Upholder, meaning I am a rule-follower and I follow expectations, whether they are set for me or I set them for myself. However, I am also somewhat of an Obliger. I will always do things for other people, and having a person to keep me accountable is just what I need when my Upholder tendencies start falling away. I am also an Abstainer, not a Moderator, which means it's easier for me to give up things completely than indulge in them in moderation. I don't have a moderation setting. I am an all or nothing person.

I made some goals for this year taking into account these distinctions about myself, and I'm excited about all of them! I read some good advice that you shouldn't make goals/resolutions that you're not excited about, and I think that's a good point. Forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do is the worst. So, either find a way to be excited about it or cut it out!

Here are my 11 resolutions for the year!

1. Read 100 books. I didn't set a number last year until late in the game and I could have been working smarter the whole time to accomplish it. This year I will.
2. Start a savings account. My financial situation is kind of embarrassing, mostly because I have a checking account in Utah and a Banana Republic credit card and that's it. But I have a savings goal in mind and I'm gonna figure it out!
3. Figure out MY Food Freedom. I have done a million different food plans and I keep doing them because I like to try things so I can know what works for my body but eventually I want to just figure it out. And this year I have a different food plan for each month and I'm gonna journal the hell out of it so I can actually see how I feel and what's gonna work long-term. I'm starting with #JanuaryWhole30 (my third round)!
4. Personal training. I signed up with my gym and committed through June, and if it's great I'll continue. I can usually get myself to go to the gym, but the Obliger part of my personality needs someone to tell me what to do there. I'm looking forward to getting stronger and healthier.
5. Keep track of the good things that happen to me. I always see ideas like "put a slip of paper in a jar when something good happens and read them on New Year's Eve" and I want to do them but I never have. I've had a half-assed planner system ever since my mission (and maybe even before) where I recorded some things, but it was sporadic. I want to commit to remembering the good parts of my life. I have a fairly good memory and can often recall things that others can't, and I want this to be a way to maximize that.
6. Figure out my beauty routine. I'm not someone who tries really hard to be pretty, which most of the time works for me. But sometimes I want to be pretty, and I need to do the steps regularly that will allow that (wash my face, have the right hair products, grow my eyelashes, etc.). I started getting a monthly Birchbox last year and it's so fun but there are definitely a few areas that I haven't even tapped into, and I want to start.
7. Finish 15 post-masters-degree credits. My school district pay scale increases for every 15 credits after a masters degree, and I've been working on those credits for a while so it's time to actually finish and get paid for them. I'm working on a class right now and then I'll need one more 3-credit class.
8. Watch all 48 animated Disney movies with Dinesh. I've seen most of them already, but a lot I haven't seen since I was a kid, and he hasn't seen almost any of them! We've been watching together and it's so fun (except some of the early ones are so bad).
9. Commit to the life-changing magic of tidying up. I've done a lot but I haven't completely committed to the process and so there's always more to do. I want to get to a good clutter-free place this year.
10. Engage with the Savior daily. This hasn't been my strength lately but I want it to be. It doesn't have to be as complicated as it seems, so I'm starting small and feeling good.
11. Be okay with being alone. Whoaaaaa I know, so much vulnerability. I'm definitely an extrovert, but I also think sometimes I use that as an excuse for desperately craving validation and not wanting to face myself. So I'm working on strategies for being comfortable spending an evening or a day or a weekend (okay, that will probably never happen) by myself.

I'll be tracking these things to measure my progress and also to constantly remind myself that these are things I want to work on. Looking forward to continuing my growth this year!