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 (?).