Posts Tagged ‘Spice of Life challenge’

bookmarkNot too long ago, probably in June, I decided I wasn’t going to sign up for any more reading challenges.  I was particularly disappointed in the fact that two years in a row I did not complete the Book Awards Challenge.  And the books on my lists were books I really did want to read. 

Then, I found a few challenges that I just could not pass up and I am happy to say that I have done a lot better with these.  In the last 6 weeks I have finished three books for the Spice of Life Challenge and my first book for the Random Reading Challenge.

For the Spice of Life I read A Homemade Life, The Splendid Table: How to eat dinner, and The School of Essential Ingredients.  I enjoyed all of these books and have put the Splendid Table cookbook on my list of books that I need to own.  I am thinking of using it for a weekly cook something new challenge.

This last week I also read Bread Alone which could qualify for the Spice challenge as it is about a woman who returns to baking when her marriage falls apart but it was also my first read for the Random Reading Challenge.  When I started this book, I wasn’t sure if I would finish it.  It felt a little too fluffy but it is set in Seattle and that was a great draw for me.  I even came to like the main character after a bit and while the ending was easily anticipated, it was a very nice story.

 I have The Little Giant of Aberdeen County all ready for my second random read but I really must finish a book that I am reading for work.  Our admin retreat is next week and we will be discussing it so The Little Giant will have to wait another few days.

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blackberry sauceI return to work this week.  Just a few hours here and there but it will be work.  I have always wondered about those calendars that ask if you want the week to begin on a Sunday or a Monday?  I think of Sunday as the beginning of the week – the time I take to get ready.  But maybe it is the end?  This week was a blur of inactivity due to the heat.  As it let up a bit this weekend, I headed back to the trail for a walk and a bike ride.  And to pick some blackberries.  They grow wild along the trail and I have been watching to see when they would be ready.  It is hit and miss at this point but enough to make the thorns worth the battle.  Last night I made a blackberry sauce for our grilled chicken.  Tonight it will be sorbet.  The color is just too beautiful.

I begin this week with a new book for the Random Reading Challenge and a return to Salon Sundays.  My first book is Bread Alone by Judith Hendricks, another story of the healing power of baking.  I guess it would be a Spice of Life read too. 

The berries are cooling – the grill is ready for the bratwursts- time for a bit of reading- a glass of wine.  Week-ending seems right.

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july 28

What would summer be without some hot days and good books?

It is a far cry from the central air of my Arizona childhood but this is what we rely on during those few days of terribly hot weather here in the Pacific Northwest.  How hot can it be you might ask?  Well it was already 74 degrees at 6:30am and heading toward 100 today and tomorrow.  These are the days that I am thankful for our deck that doesn’t get much sun after 2pm.  Yesterday I spent those later afternoon and evening hours in my deck chair, a glass of iced tea, and my books.  I finished reading The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, a simple little story about a group of people who come together during a cooking class.  It reminded me a bit of Chocolat.  Lillian, the restaurant owner and cooking teacher, seems to know just what ingredient each participant needs.  A good read for a hot day.

Then I stared on Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez, another cooking school story but with a very different flavor.  I already like the main character and since I will be settled back in my deck chair this evening, I might have another finish for the week.

Finally, I have been browsing through a cookbook I picked up at the library but I know I will need to own this one.  The Splendid Table: How to eat supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper has some wonderful recipes and good side stories.  This would be a fun book to do a cook the book challenge.

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july 4 008I just finished reading A Homemade Life and for the first time in a very long time, I cried at the end.  Not because it was sad but because it was so honest and true.  This is not one of those dredge up the horrid past memoirs but one about the ordinary moments in life.  I have also been reading Ruth’s post this week about storytelling and writing and capturing the ordinary moments.  I wonder if it isn’t easier to do this when you have small children around?  I know that during the school year, I am always grabbing up those ordinary moments in the classrooms, the bits of conversation between children, the art, the block structure that tells me so much about who that child is. 

When I began scrap-booking (about 11 years ago) I got caught up in making every page a celebration.  It was fun at the beginning but  it is an exhausting task to keep up.  A few years ago, I began a smaller scrapbook using those odd photos of ordinary moments.  Why did I stop?  Something to think about. 

Here is an ordinary moment.  We walk on the trail, nearly every day.  I am usually a bit behind, partly because I am trying to take care of my knees but also because I get distracted by the water and the wildlife.  We walk by this fence daily and each day, I find my head turning toward the patterns the fence makes on the trail.  I imagine that most people just power past this fence, focused on the trail ahead or trying to stay out of the way of the riders coming and going.  It is just a chain link fence after all.  Ordinary.  But I remember those days when we couldn’t get this far on our walks.  His back was healing and we had to turn around about half a mile sooner.  Then getting to this bridge was the triumph and for a time it became our turn around point.  But the day came when we began crossing the bridge, turning around about half a mile up the trail and it was then that I saw the patterns.  So an ordinary fence; a daily moment;  not a celebration but certainly a marker.

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Spice of Reading

july 19I have been thinking a lot about cooking and food lately.  As I was driving home today, I was listening to The Splendid Table on NPR .  I really enjoy this radio show.  Later I downloaded The Botony of Deisre by Micael Pollan and I have been spending more time with my cookbooks.  I have been trying out different ways to prepare asparagus – a vegetable that I did not care for until very recently.  The Spice of Life reading challenge has really peaked my interest in reading about food and cooking.

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spice of life

I seem to remember saying recently that I wasn’t going to join any more challenges but my resolve is weak when it comes to the reading community.  I have begun a lovely book, A Homemade Lify by Molly Wisenberg which fits right in with this challenge and I have two fiction books coming that have been highly recommended, Comfort Food and The School of Essential Ingredients so I am taking up this challenge.  There are three levels of participation, I have chosen to have a Taste for this one – seems manageable!

The goal of the Spice of Life Challenge is to read and/or review books about food and eating our way through a good life. It will run from July 1, 2009 until December 31, 2009 so you can include all those scrumptious summer salads, savory fall soups, and yummy holiday books that get you in the mood for turkey dinner. Feel free to overlap your books with any other reading challenges you have. If you feel so inclined, share a favorite cookbook as well. The idea, however, is to find new favorites to fill our belly (and our minds!).

  • A Taste: Joining the Spice of Life Challenge for “a taste” means that, although you love food and you love books about food, just a taste of food books will satisfy you right now. You’ll read and review just read two books from any of two of the above categories (different categories).

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