Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
Meander and Meet....designed by George Peters and Melanie Walker of Airworks For more information contact Susan at

Monday, December 25, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - December 25, 2006

Ho! Ho! Ho! everyone!

We're having a bit of a lull in the festivites at our house so I thought I would put my feet up and catch up with all of you. Hope you're all enjoying the holidays and taking time to relax and enjoy the season. It has been a wild and crazy weather week here and much focus on our relatives getting in or out of town. We're disappointed that Jeff couldn't get here but we still have quite a full house and Libby's new puppy Violet is arriving this evening. Our Saturday morning walk turned out to be a Saturday morning coffee date - I'm sorry I missed you all.

Last night we had our traditional Cincinnati Chili with a twist - instead of ground beef, we used ground dark meat turkey - turned out great!
See the recipe posted on my November 5 blog.

Tonight, we're having roast tenderloin of beef with a port wine and shitake mushroom sauce (Janet has made this sauce and loves it)
and Giada' De Laurentiis Roman Style Chicken and Roasted Potatoes and Onions (see both recipes posted on my September 24 blog.

Tomorrow night, no cooking for me - we'll be having dinner at Brasserie TenTen - one of our favorite places in Boulder -

Jacob and I did a bit of baking earlier in the week and turned out some wonderfully decorated Hanukah cookies along with my rugulah, biscotti and chocolate whoppers (the best chocolate cookie ever!) - chocolate whoppers,,FOOD_9936_28255,00.html?rsrc=search - chocolate chip anise biscotti,,FOOD_9936_35322,00.html?rsrc=search - rugelach
- this recipe calls for raisins but we also made them with chocolate chips - Libby's preference

Not much time for reading this week but we did manage to get out to see Charlotte's Web on Thursday - we had the theater to ourselves. Jacob seemed a little bored by it but Jack, Jexy and I enjoyed it very much - it is such a wonderful story.

Let's hope that the weather will cooperate with us this coming Saturday and we can get out for a walk - I sure will need it by then!

Enjoy the week!


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - December 17, 2006

Hi everyone!

First of all, I want to send love and "mazel tov" to Rae and family (her daughter, Dawn, son-in-law, Michael, Adam and Jeremy) on the arrival home of her new grandaughter (that makes 8 grandchildren!), Maria. Rae and Dawn brought 6 month old Maria home from Guatemala on Friday and they are just thrilled to welcome her into the family.

We had a great turnout yesterday for our walk/hike. Andrea, Laila, Barb, Mary, Christie and I went out in search of the Mesa Trail. We drove up to NCAR and headed out. As soon as the trail looked a bit perilous to me (It doesn't take much!), I opted to head back and Andrea graciously kept me company. Apparently the others had a great hike but never actually made it to the Mesa Trail. Of course, we all re-grouped and headed back down to Caffe Sole where Jan joined us for coffee and such. Mary will let us know where next Saturday's walk/coffee will be.

Everyone is pretty busy with holiday preparations, so not much reading going on. Barb is taking her dad out to see A Christmas Carol to celebrate his 97th!!!! birthday - Happy Birthday, George!!
Laila is taking her granddaughter to see The Velveteen Rabbit at the Boulder Dinner Theatre. The Wadles are excited about all the kids coming "home" this week - Jex and Jacob arrive on Monday evening, Jeff arrives on Thursday morning, Libby, David and new puppy, Violet arrive on Thursday evening and Joe arrives on Christmas Eve. We'll have a full house - eased thankfully by Andrea's generous offer to use her house and refrigerator while she's away.

Jacob is very excited about Hanukah this year and Jex has come up with a great plan to play down the over-stimulation of gift receiving. As you may or may not know, Hanukah lasts for 8 nights and part of the tradition is that you get a gift each night - it gets to be a bit overwhelming especially when Hanukah falls at the same time as Christmas. This year, Jacob got a gift on the first night, on the second night he bought a gift to donate to another child, and tonight they are having friends over to light the Menorah and do a Hanukah craft (no gifts) - they'll repeat the process until Hanukah ends on Friday evening.
Here's a description of the significance of Hanukah:
Hanukah, the festival of lights, commemorates the time in days of yore
when the Maccabees went to rebuild the temple, which had been
destroyed during a war with the Syrians. When they went to light the
lamp in order to begin the process of rebuilding the temple, they
found, much to their dismay, that there was only enough oil to last
for one day. When they lit the lamp however--"nes gadol haya sham"--a
great miracle happened there. On Hanukah, we celebrate this miracle,
and eat potato pancakes called latkes, which are appropriate for
Hanukah because they are cooked in oil. Here is a recipe for
everyone's favorite Hanukah treat.

POTATO LATKES12 potatoes
2 carrots
1 onion
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
A dash of pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder (use with flour)
1/3 cup sifted flour, matzo meal, or bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten

Grate carrots, onion, and potatoes last, as they discolor quickly.
Drain off darkened liquid, add eggs and sifted dry ingredients. Drop
by tablespoonful into a skillet heated with 1/8-1/4 inch oil. Brown
and turn. Serves 8-10 adults.

Recipe compliments of Pearl Ruth Feder (note: I have not tried this recipe but it looks good!)

Our book group met this past Monday - Chris was our host and her book selection was 3 Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas and Micah Sparks. As usual we were more pre-occupied with her wonderful tapas menu and Prosecco wine to talk much about the book but here's the review from Amazon:

From Publishers Weekly

When bestselling author Sparks (The Notebook; Message in a Bottle; etc.) receives a brochure offering a three-week trip around the world,it's not hard for him to persuade Micah, his older brother, to join him in touring Guatemala's Mayan ruins, Peru's Incan temples, Easter Island, the killing fields in Cambodia, the Taj Mahal and Ethiopian rock cathedrals. His account of the trip is refreshingly honest and perceptive. At each stop, the brothers, both deeply committed to their families, cover the crucial moments in a life full of familial love and tragedy: Nick's role as the middle child always feeling left out; his marriage in 1989; the loss of Nick and Micah's mother two months later after a horseback riding accident; the death of Nick's first baby and the physical problems of his second son; the death of their father in a car accident; and the passing of their younger sister from a brain tumor. As the brothers travel together through these mythical sites and share candid thoughts, they find themselves stunned by fate's turns,realizing that a peaceful moment may be shattered at any time. Weaving in vignettes of tenderness and loss with travelogue-like observations, Sparks's account shows how he and his brother both evolved on this voyage. "Somehow there was a chance we could help each other, and in that way, I began to think of the trip less as a journey around the world than a journey to rediscover who I was and how I'? developed the way I did."

Here's a recipe for one of the dishes that we had:

Seared Shrimp with Pimenton and Sherry from Fine Cooking Magazine

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
Kosher salt
3 tbls olive oil
6 medium cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon sweet pimenton (or paprika)
Heaping 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tbls thinly sliced chives
3 tablespoons of dry Sherry (I used dry white wine)
Fresh lemon juice

Sprinkle shrimp with 3/4 tsp kosher salt, toss, and let sit for 10 minutes for refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
In a 12-inch skillet, heat olive oil on high heat. Pat shrimp dry, addto skillet. Sprinkle with 3/4 tsp kosh salt and sear until they're pink and a little golden on one side, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the garlic,pimenton, and red pepper flakes over the shrimp, and saute, stirring,until the shrimp are almost completely pink, about 1 minute. Add the sherry and cook, stirring to deglaze the bottom of the pan, until theshrimp are pink all over (the sherry will evaporate quickly, but youshould still have some juices in the pan).
Remove from heat. Toss with the lemon zest and chives. Pour the shrimp and juices into a serving dish, squeeze on lemon juice to taste and serve.

Note: Pimenton is a spice - it is smoked paprika
Note about Barb's recipe for Caviar Pie that appeared last week: Be sure to use regular block cream cheese, not whipped or lite.

Just a couple of quick reminders of upcoming events:
Lafayette Oatmeal Festival will be Saturday, January 13 - that's become somewhat of a tradition for us so let's talk about plans to do that together - info at
Tattered Cover Writers Respond To Readers will be Saturday, January 27 - registration is Monday, January 8 and it fills up fast - let me know if you're interested.
Okay, Okay - that's it for now! Have a great week!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - December 3, 2006

Hi Everyone!

Well, we had a snowy morning yesterday and missed all of you. Barb and I had a lovely time together and were so happy to run into Jackie and Keith. Unlike the two of us, they were on their way for a day of cross-country skiing.

I do have books to talk about and many recipes to share, also a restaurant review, so here goes.

Susan: I finished The Memory Keeeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. I definitely was pulled into the story and moral dilemma it posed - very reminiscent of Jodi Picoult's work.

From Publishers Weekly
Edwards's assured but schematic debut novel (after her collection, The Secrets of a Fire King) hinges on the birth of fraternal twins, a healthy boy and a girl with Down syndrome, resulting in the father's disavowal of his newborn daughter. A snowstorm immobilizes Lexington, Ky., in 1964, and when young Norah Henry goes into labor, her husband, orthopedic sur geon Dr. David Henry, must deliver their babies himself, aided only by a nurse. Seeing his daughter's handicap, he instructs the nurse, Caroline Gill, to take her to a home and later tells Norah, who was drugged during labor, that their son Paul's twin died at birth. Instead of institutionalizing Phoebe, Caroline absconds with her to Pittsburgh. David's deception becomes the defining moment of the main characters' lives, and Phoebe's absence corrodes her birth family's core over the course of the next 25 years. David's undetected lie warps his marriage; he grapples with guilt; Norah mourns her lost child; and Paul not only deals with his parents' icy relationship but with his own yearnings for his sister as well. Though the impact of Phoebe's loss makes sense, Edwards's redundant handling of the trope robs it of credibility. This neatly structured story is a little too moist with compassion.

Jack: Jack just finished Erik Larsen's (The Devil in the White City) new book, Thunderstruck and he loved it. Once again Larsen weaves two true historical events and creates a work of non-fiction that reads like a novel

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. [Signature]Reviewed by James L. SwansonIn this splendid, beautifully written followup to his blockbuster thriller, Devil in the White City, Erik Larson again unites the dual stories of two disparate men, one a genius and the other a killer. The genius is Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of wireless communication. The murderer is the notorious Englishman Dr. H.H. Crippen. Scientists had dreamed for centuries of capturing the power of lightning and sending electrical currents through the ether. Yes, the great cable strung across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean could send messages thousands of miles, but the holy grail was a device that could send wireless messages anywhere in the world. Late in the 19th century, Europe's most brilliant theoretical scientists raced to unlock the secret of wireless communication.Guglielmo Marconi, impatient, brash, relentless and in his early 20s, achieved the astonishing breakthrough in September 1895. His English detractors were incredulous. He was a foreigner and, even worse, an Italian! Marconi himself admitted that he was not a great scientist or theorist. Instead, he exemplified the Edisonian model of tedious, endless trial and error.Despite Marconi's achievements, it took a sensational murder to bring unprecedented worldwide attention to his invention. Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen, a proper, unattractive little man with bulging, bespectacled eyes, possessed an impassioned, love-starved heart. An alchemist and peddler of preposterous patent medicines, he killed his wife, a woman Larson portrays lavishly as a gold-digging, selfish, stage-struck, flirtatious, inattentive, unfaithful clotheshorse. The hapless Crippen endured it all until he found the sympathetic Other Woman and true love. The "North London Cellar Murder" so captured the popular imagination in 1910 that people wrote plays and composed sheet music about it. It wasn't just what Crippen did, but how. How did he obtain the poison crystals, skin her and dispose of all those bones so neatly? The manhunt climaxed with a fantastic sea chase from Europe to Canada, not just by a pursuing vessel but also by invisible waves racing lightning-fast above the ocean. It seemed that all the world knew—except for the doctor and his lover, the prey of dozens of frenetic Marconi wireless transmissions. In addition to writing stylish portraits of all of his main characters, Larson populates his narrative with an irresistible supporting cast. He remains a master of the fact-filled vignette and humorous aside that propel the story forward. Thunderstruck triumphantly resurrects the spirit of another age, when one man's public genius linked the world, while another's private turmoil made him a symbol of the end of "the great hush" and the first victim of a new era when instant communication, now inescapable, conquered the world

Cooking Report:

I made 3 successful meals this week:

Meatballs and Spaghetti from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa -,,FOOD_9936_34023,00.html?rsrc=search

Basil Chicken Hash from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa -,,FOOD_9936_35293,00.html?rsrc=search

Flat Iron Steak with Red Wine Sauce from Giada De Laurentiis, The Everyday Italian -,,FOOD_9936_28065,00.html?rsrc=search

I've had a request from my friend, Lynn for my biscotti recipe - they're great to make for the holidays and for gifts - they're actually called Chocolate Anise Cookies from Giada DeLaurentiis -,,FOOD_9936_28255,00.html?rsrc=search

A terrific recipe from Barb for make-ahead mashed potatoes that she got from the NPR website:

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
(Serves 8 to 10), November 21, 2006 · Be sure to bake the potatoes until they are completely tender; err on the side of over- rather than undercooking. You can use a hand-held mixer instead of a standing mixer, but the potatoes will be lumpier.

5 pounds russet baking potatoes (about 9 medium), scrubbed and poked several times with a fork 3 cups heavy cream, hot
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Salt and ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Microwave the potatoes on high power for 16 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and place them directly on the hot oven rack. Bake until a skewer glides easily through the flesh, about 30 minutes, flipping them over halfway through the baking time (do not undercook).

3. Remove the potatoes from the oven, and cut each potato in half lengthwise. Using an oven mitt or a folded kitchen towel to hold the hot potatoes, scoop out all of the flesh from each potato half into a medium bowl. Break the cooked potato flesh down into small pieces using a fork, potato masher, or rubber spatula.

4. Transfer half of the potatoes to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the potatoes on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds, gradually adding the rest of the potatoes to incorporate, until completely smooth and no lumps remain, 1 to 2 minutes, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the
bowl as needed.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in 2 cups of the cream, followed by the butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Gently fold in up to 1/2 cup more of the cream as needed to reach your desired serving consistency. Once the desired serving consistency is reached, gently fold in an additional 1/2 cup cream (the potatoes will be quite loose).

6. To Store: Transfer the mashed potatoes to a large microwave-safe bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

7. To Serve: Poke lots of holes in the plastic wrap with the tip of a knife, and microwave at medium-high (75 percent) power until the potatoes are hot, about 14 minutes, stirring gently halfway through the reheating time.

Source: Editors at America's Test Kitchen

From Chris Rich a recipe from Martha Stewart for Sweet Potatoes with Carmelized Apples:

Restaurant Review: Restaurant 4580 at 4580 Broadway, Boulder - this is the trendy restaurant that was opened in "NoBo" by the former manager of the Flagstaff Restaurant. It is a more casual, hip sort of place, featuring small plates. The food was very good - Jack had Limoncello Flamed Jumbo Shrimp with Garlic Chips and Jalapeno Gremolade and Tomato Risotto; we shared a very nice Bibb lettuce salad with Cabrales (Spanish blue cheese), red onion, Marcona almonds and herb vinaigrette; I had Marinated Skirt Steak with Salsa Verde, Balsamic Onions and Frites.
The atmosphere was not great - lots of cold, hard surfaces, noisy, and an unappealing view into the kitchen. The prices were pretty reasonable.

Until next week........


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - November 26, 2006

Hi everyone!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We just got back from our visit to Jacob and family in California. We had a great time and a delicious turkey dinner - I'll have details below.
I did get some reading done and have a couple of other recommendations from Joe's mom, Barbara.

Book Report:
Susan: I finished Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer - a very timely account of Fundamentalist Mormons in Utah and a related murder. The story held my interest for most of the book and I learned a great deal but it got a bit tedious towards the end.

Amazon.comIn 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother Allen. The crimes were noteworthy not merely for their brutality but for the brothers' claim that they were acting on direct orders from God. In Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer tells the story of the killers and their crime but also explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalism from which the two emerged. The Mormon Church was founded, in part, on the idea that true believers could speak directly with God. But while the mainstream church attempted to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy, fundamentalist splinter groups saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence. While Krakauer's research into the history of the church is admirably extensive, the real power of the book comes from present-day information, notably jailhouse interviews with Dan Lafferty. Far from being the brooding maniac one might expect, Lafferty is chillingly coherent, still insisting that his motive was merely to obey God's command. Krakauer's accounts of the actual murders are graphic and disturbing, but such detail makes the brothers' claim of divine instruction all the more horrifying. In an age where Westerners have trouble comprehending what drives Islamic fundamentalists to kill, Jon Krakauer advises us to look within America's own borders

Barbara Rowland: Barbara recommended two books by Edward Rutherford, Sarum and London.


From Library Journal

A first novel, Rutherfurd's sweeping saga of the area surrounding Stonehenge and Salisbury, England, covers 10,000 years and includes many generations of five families. Each family has one or more characteristic types who appear in successive centuries: the round-headed balding man who is good with his hands; the blue-eyed blonde woman who insists on having her independence; the dark, narrow-faced fisher of river waters and secrets. Their fortunes rise and fall both economically and politically, but the land triumphs over the passage of time and the ravages of humans. Rutherfurd has told the story of the land he was born in and has told it well. The verbosity of a Michener is missing, but all the other elements are present, from geology and archaeology to a rich story of human life. Highly recommended.


Edward Rutherfurd belongs to the James Michener school: he writes big, sprawling history-by- the-pound. His novel, London, stretches two millennia all the way from Roman times to the present. The author places his vignettes at the most dramatic moments of that city's history, leaping from Caesar's invasion to the Norman Conquest to the Great Fire to (of course) the Blitz, with many stops in between. London is ambitious, and students of English history will eat it up. The author doesn't skimp on historical detail, and that's a signal pleasure of the book. Ultimately, though, the structure of the novel determines the lion's share of its success. Rutherfurd is a good storyteller and each vignette makes for a good story; however, he has given himself the inevitable task of beginning what amounts to a new book every 40 pages or so. Just as one begins to warm to the characters, they are hurried off the stage. You can't read London without a scorecard—but that's part of the fun.

Jacob Rowland: Jacob and Jexy brought a Thanksgiving book to The Garden School on Wednesday for "circle". It is called The Firefighters' Thanksgiving by Maribeth Boelts and Terry Widener (illustrator)

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2 - On Thanksgiving Day, the firefighters at Station 1 are busy preparing a holiday dinner. While two of them are grocery shopping in the morning, a call comes in over their cell phone and they rush out, leaving behind a full shopping cart. After they've put out the fire, they go back to the store, help mop up the melted ice cream, and return to the station. Then another call comes in. In fact, every time they put out a fire and return to the firehouse, they inevitably get another call. In one of the later fires, Lou, who had volunteered to cook, is injured. This time, when the others return, they find a sumptuous holiday feast with a heartfelt thank-you note attached, and they take some of this food to Lou in the hospital. Vibrant, somewhat surreal illustrations vividly depict the firefighters walking through doorways ablaze in orange flames. Despite a tendency toward a crowded, sometimes confusing look to the spreads and some forced rhyming structure, firefighter fans should enjoy this story.

Food and Cooking Report: Needless to say, the featured player this week was our turkey. Following a long-standing tradition in my family, we always name our poultry. This year we named our bird, Borat. Jexy wanted to try the dry brine method that was featured in the LA Times. We did that and added a touch of our own, as well. Basically, you rub the bird with salt, inside and out, then seal it in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days before cooking. Once it was ready to go into the oven, we created an herb butter (we used Earth Balance - works great!) with some thyme, marjoram and sage. We rubbed that under the breast skin and all over the outside of the bird. You could use any herbs you like - we had those left over from other dishes we were preparing. Here's the LA Times recipe with all the details. It turned out great and I will definitely do it again.

Roasted Salted Turkey
Servings: 11 to 15

Note: This is more a technique than a recipe. It makes a bird that has concentrated turkey flavor and fine, firm flesh and that is delicious as it is. But you can add other flavors as you wish. Minced rosemary would be a nice finishing addition. Or brush the bird lightly with butter before roasting.

1 (12- to 16-pound) turkey

Kosher salt

1. Wash the turkey inside and out, pat it dry and weigh it. Measure 1 tablespoon of salt into a bowl for every 5 pounds the turkey weighs (for a 15-pound turkey, you'd have 3 tablespoons).

2. Sprinkle the inside of the turkey lightly with salt. Place the turkey on its back and salt the breasts, concentrating the salt in the center, where the meat is thickest. You'll probably use a little more than a tablespoon. It should look liberally seasoned, but not over-salted.

3. Turn the turkey on one side and sprinkle the entire side with salt, concentrating on the thigh. You should use a little less than a tablespoon. Flip the turkey over and do the same with the opposite side.

4. Place the turkey in a 2 1/2 -gallon sealable plastic bag, press out the air and seal tightly. Place the turkey breast-side up in the refrigerator. Chill for 3 days, turning it onto its breast for the last day.

5. Remove the turkey from the bag. There should be no salt visible on the surface and the skin should be moist but not wet. Place the turkey breast-side up on a plate and refrigerate uncovered for at least 8 hours.

6. On the day it is to be cooked, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

7. Place the turkey breast-side down on a roasting rack in a roasting pan; put it in the oven. After 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and carefully turn the turkey over so the breast is facing up (it's easiest to do this by hand, using kitchen towels or oven mitts).

8. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, return the turkey to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees, about 2 3/4 hours total roasting.

9. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a warm platter or carving board; tent loosely with foil. Let stand at least 30 minutes to let the juices redistribute through the meat. Carve and serve.

Of course, we had the usual cranberries, stuffing (we did not stuff the bird so I guess it is actually dressing), mashed potatoes and yams. Our veggie was particularly good - Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Proscuitto and Pine Nuts - this recipe was from Eating Well -

Dessert was Pumpkin Pie made by the students at Roosevelt High School and Brownies - a Wadle family favorite - here's the recipe:

2 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Flour
Pinch Salt
1 Cup Pecans, Chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease pan.
2. Melt chocolate (ideally use a double boiler)
3 .Cream butter until soft. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one a time, beating after addition.
4. Mix flour with salt and stir into mixture.
5. Stir in nuts, melted chocolate and vanilla.
6. Spread mixture in 8" square pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Let cool before cutting into squares.

We served the brownies with vanilla ice cream!

Well, now that Thanksgiving is over, it is time to gear up for Chanukah and Christmas holidays. Join me in keeping the emphasis on family, friends and great food. One thing that I'd like to share with you are a couple of traditions that our book group has established. We "publish" a cookbook each year which makes a great holiday gift and we collect children's books to donate to the Boulder Safehouse.

Also, Jexy and I were talking about how overwhelming last year was for Jacob with Chanukah and Christmas happening all at once. Jexy's idea for the eight days of Chanukah is to rotate activities throughout the eight days - one day for a present for Jacob to open, one day for Jacob to donate a present for a child who wouldn't otherwise have one, and one day for a craft activity related to Chanukah, etc.

Send me any special traditions your family has and share them with the rest of us.

Until next week......


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - November 19, 2006

Hi everyone!

Jan, Andrea, Laila and I had a great walk yesterday morning - we started out heading west on the Creek Path but veered off at 6th Street and took to the streets of Mapleton Hill and over to Pearl Street. We worked our way back east and a bit south to end up at the new Vic's on Broadway.

Book Reports:

Susan: This past week I read The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls who is a freelance writer and an entertainment correspondent for MSNBC. If you think you've had a hard life and an unfair childhood, check this one out. This is like Little Orphan Annie magnified and Jeannette wasn't even an orphan. I really did like the book even though it made me a bit crazy at times.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents—just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book—were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus—they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents—walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star—was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure."

Laila: Laila mentioned another memoir that our book group read a couple of years ago that we all loved - A Year By the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson.

From Publishers Weekly
"I'm beginning to think that real growing only begins after we've done the adult things we're supposed to do," confides Anderson, a journalist and author of children's books (Twins on Toes, etc.). She came to this conclusion after a year living alone in a cottage on Cape Cod. Feeling that her marriage had stagnated by the time her two sons were grown, Anderson surprised and distressed her husband by refusing to move out-of-state with him when he accepted a new job. In this accessible memoir, she shares the joy and self-knowledge she found during her time of semi-isolation. In order to supplement the income from her royalty checks, she found a job in the local fish market and began making new friends who sustained her. After her hot water heater broke down and her husband refused to help, she earned the additional money for the repair by digging and selling clams. Through vivid and meticulous observations about the natural world, Anderson makes clear her strong affinity for the ocean, with its changing tides, subtle colors and burgeoning life. A Memorial Day reunion brought Anderson and her husband closer; shortly thereafter she embraced his plan to retire and live with her in the cottage. Anderson has recently begun a "Weekend by the Sea" program for women who need time to reflect.

Andrea: Andrea has two suggestions:

The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan, a novel about Mary Magdalene

From Publishers Weekly
The standard religious-thriller architecture is evident in McGowan's much-heralded debut, which coincidentally shares similarities with The Da Vinci Code (e.g., murders, Vatican interference, nefarious secret societies), but mostly the characters sit and talk about biblical history and the search for Magdalene-connected treasure. Biblical dreams and visions plague American Maureen Paschal, author of the bestselling HERstory—a Defense of History's Most HatedHeroines. When she travels to France's mysterious Languedoc region at the urging of Magdalene scholar Lord Berenger Sinclair, Maureen finds what has eluded centuries of treasure hunters—the original Magdalene scrolls that detail her love affair with Jesus, their marriage and the crucifixion. Though the author makes no effort to render these gospel excerpts in period prose, they're the most compelling part of a novel otherwise freighted with romance-fiction stylings and unadorned facts numbingly narrated. Originally self-published, this first of a trilogy has already sold foreign rights in 22 countries

Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron

Book DescriptionIn the late summer of 1831, in a remote section of southeastern Virginia, there took place the only effective, sustained revolt in the annals of American Negro slavery...

The revolt was led by a remarkable Negro preacher named Nat Turner, an educated slave who felt himself divinely ordained to annihilate all the white people in the region.

The Confessions of Nat Turner is narrated by Nat himself as he lingers in jail through the cold autumnal days before his execution. The compelling story ranges over the whole of Nat's Life, reaching its inevitable and shattering climax that bloody day in August.

The Confessions of Nat Turner is not only a masterpiece of storytelling; is also reveals in unforgettable human terms the agonizing essence of Negro slavery. Through the mind of a slave, Willie Styron has re-created a catastrophic event, and dramatized the intermingled miseries, frustrations--and hopes--which caused this extraordinary black man to rise up out of the early mists of our history and strike down those who held his people in bondage.

Cook's Report:

I mentioned last week that I was making Jamie Oliver's Fried Ricotta - it is not a keeper! I was very disappointed in it.

I'm sorry to say that I did not cook one meal this week but I thought I'd share the recipe for a wonderful dessert we had at book group. This is Cynthia Boatman's Aunt Myrna's Black Russian Cake - it is a bundt cake and she served it with vanilla ice cream - quite nice!

1 yellow cake mix
1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup vodka
3 Tablespoons Kahlua
2/3 cup water

For glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup Kahlua

1. Grease bundt pan.
2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, sugar, oil and eggs. Blend well, add rest of liquid ingredients and beat 4 minutes.
3. Pour into Bundt pan.
4. Bake for 55 - 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
5. Cool for about 20 - 30 minutes.
6. Glaze: Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup Kahlua together. Brush glaze over cake with pastry brush. It will make a crust when it cools.

I'll have plenty of cooking to share next week when I get back from Thanksgiving at Jexy's - we'll be cooking up a storm! Here's my suggestion for an hors d'oeuvres course before the meal. We often have a cup of soup a couple of hours before the meal - I think Jexy's planning a pumpkin soup. We'll also put out a variety of fun stuff like, assorted olives, caper berries (large, very tasty capers), cherry peppers, a hunk of parmesan cheese (or as Jacob calls it, Farmer John cheese), some proscuitto, walnuts, melon and honey. A little something for everyone.

An upcoming event of interest:

Boulder Historic Homes for the Holiday Tour
- - December 2 and 3 - University Place and 9th Street - always a fun event!

Wishing all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am particularly thankful for my wonderful friends and family.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - November 12, 2006

Hi everyone!

We had a great walk yesterday touring the CU campus - it really is quite beautiful. Barb led the way accompanied by Susan, Jan, Andrea and Laila (a friend that Andrea met who recently moved to Colorado from Alaska) - welcome Laila! Mary met us for bagels and coffee at Einstein's on Baseline.

A few books to tell you about:

From Laila:

She recommends Barack Obama's new book Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream and recommends it along with his first book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. She does think you should read them in order.

From Publishers Weekly on Dreams from My Father
Elected the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama was offered a book contract, but the intellectual journey he planned to recount became instead this poignant, probing memoir of an unusual life. Born in 1961 to a white American woman and a black Kenyan student, Obama was reared in Hawaii by his mother and her parents, his father having left for further study and a return home to Africa. So Obama's not-unhappy youth is nevertheless a lonely voyage to racial identity, tensions in school, struggling with black literature?with one month-long visit when he was 10 from his commanding father. After college, Obama became a community organizer in Chicago. He slowly found place and purpose among folks of similar hue but different memory, winning enough small victories to commit himself to the work?he's now a civil rights lawyer there. Before going to law school, he finally visited Kenya; with his father dead, he still confronted obligation and loss, and found wellsprings of love and attachment. Obama leaves some lingering questions?his mother is virtually absent?but still has written a resonant book. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.

From Publishers Weekly on Audacity of Hope
Ilinois's Democratic senator illuminates the constraints of mainstream politics all too well in this sonorous manifesto. Obama (Dreams from My Father) castigates divisive partisanship (especially the Republican brand) and calls for a centrist politics based on broad American values. His own cautious liberalism is a model: he's skeptical of big government and of Republican tax cuts for the rich and Social Security privatization; he's pro-choice, but respectful of prolifers; supportive of religion, but not of imposing it. The policy result is a tepid Clintonism, featuring tax credits for the poor, a host of small-bore programs to address everything from worker retraining to teen pregnancy, and a health-care program that resembles Clinton's Hillary-care proposals. On Iraq, he floats a phased but open-ended troop withdrawal. His triangulated positions can seem conflicted: he supports free trade, while deploring its effects on American workers (he opposed the Central American Free Trade Agreement), in the end hoping halfheartedly that more support for education, science and renewable energy will see the economy through the dilemmas of globalization. Obama writes insightfully, with vivid firsthand observations, about politics and the compromises forced on politicians by fund-raising, interest groups, the media and legislative horse-trading. Alas, his muddled, uninspiring proposals bear the stamp of those compromises.

From Susan:

I am almost finished with Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks - I can recommend it without reservation. It is a non-fiction account about Islam and women in the Middle East during the time that Brooks served as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. In addition to being a wonderful storyteller (see her novels, Year of Wonder and March), she writes a very insightful and informative account of this complicated world.

From Publishers WeeklyHaving spent six years covering the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal, Brooks presents an exploration of the daily life of Muslim women and the often contradictory forces that shape their lives.

Cooking and Food:

Some recipes to share:

Always Rare Roast Beef from The Craftsman's Cookbook (a request from Mary):

3 - 8 pound beef roast
freshly ground pepper

Place the beef in a roasting pan and sprinkle it generously with pepper. As salt extracts juices, salt it only after it is cooked.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and cook the roast 5 minutes per pound of meat. Then turn the oven off, but do not open it. The roast must remain in the gradually diminishing heat for a total of 1 hour per pound. It can stay in the oven as long as you like, but it must remain there the prescribed amount of time. A 3 pound roast must cook a total of 3 hours, with the oven at 500 degrees for the first 15 minutes. If you have an 8 pound roast, it must stay in the oven a total of 8 hours, with the oven at 500 degrees for the first 40 minutes.

This recipe is ideal when you can't be sure of your serving time. The beef will be warm, but not hot; it will be juicy, but not dripping "blood gravy"; it will always be rare, no matter when you take it out of the oven

Shrimp Scampi Pasta - from Gourmet Magazine - - simple and really delicious!

Boneless Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Thyme - from EatingWell Magazine - flavors were great - be sure to pound those chops so they're nice and tender - I might try it next time with slices of pork tenderloin.

Lentil Soup from Giada Di Laurentiis - The Everyday Italian - this is simmering on my stove right now for Sunday night dinner - based on the aroma and some tastings, I'm pretty sure this will be a "keeper". If it turns out otherwise, I'll let you know.,1977,FOOD_9936_26670,00.html

I'm serving it with Jamie Oliver's Fried Ricotta with Tomato Basil Salad (actually I'm cheating and using salsa). I can't review it yet but I'll let you know next week how it turns out.

In light of the Thanksgiving holidays fast approaching, I asked everyone yesterday to share any special hints or tips that have worked well for them. I will also share some other "interesting" tips that have nothing to do with a turkey:

Barb - soak a paper bag in oil and cover the turkey with it - you do not have to baste the turkey. During the last 1/2 hour of cooking add 1 - 2 cups of white wine in the pan.

Mary - recommends following Alton Brown's Good Eats method of brining the turkey -,1977,FOOD_9936_8389,00.html

Jan - uses a turkey cooking bag and creates a sling out of kitchen twine to assisting in lifting the turkey out of the pan.

- if you're stuffing the turkey (more and more I see it recommended not to do that), put the stuffing in the center of multilayered cheesecloth square and tie up in a bundle. It makes pulling it out so much easier. Also, like Jan, I create a sling using heavy duty aluminum foil folded over to form a multilayered 4 or 5 inch strip.

Barb - also mentioned that you can get a collapsible turkey rack with handles at Bed, Bath and Beyond - that makes it so much easier to transfer the turkey from the pan to the cutting board.

Now here are some random and pretty outrageous ideas:

Prepare fish (wrapped in foil) or lobster in the dishwasher!

When washing and drying an enormous amount of greens or spinach for a crowd - put them in the washing machine on the rinse cycle - Barb has done this!

If any of you have any other great ideas to share, please let me know!

Have a great week!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - November 5, 2006

Hi everyone,

Well, I was going to spin quite a yarn about our Saturday morning walk yesterday but I'm not feeling that creative. Barb, Terri, Mary and I indeed met for our monthly planning meeting at Caffe Sole but we were all a bit unenthusiastic about going for a walk - so we didn't!
Here's the schedule for November:
11/11/06 - Barb
11/18/06 - Susan
11/25/06 - Christie
Details on where and when will follow as each date approaches.

Book Report: Just a short one this week:

From Susan - I just finished a wonderful book, Modoc by Ralph Helfer - this is our current book group selection and I was a bit skeptical when I first saw the book - not something I would have chosen on my own and that's the beauty of a book group - you read things you might never had given much thought to reading. Modoc is a true story about a boy and an elephant who grew up together and devoted their lives to each other. It has romance, adventure and spirit. I highly recommend it.

From Kirkus ReviewsThe simply astonishing, exhilarating story--complete with high adventure, betrayal, and resurrection--of Modoc, elephant extraordinaire, told by Helfer (The Beauty of the Beasts, 1990). They were born on the same day, a hundred years back, in a Black Forest village: Bram Gunterstein, son of a circus animal trainer, and Modoc, an Indian elephant headed for big-top life with the Wunderzircus, a provincial troupe. Their love for each other develops early, when Bram is just a toddler and Modoc a youthful one-ton package, and Bram's father on his deathbed councils Bram to watch after Modoc. That he does, and the tribulations and pleasures they share defy the imagination: The circus is sold out from under Bram to the sinister Mr. North; Bram stows away on the vessel transporting Modoc, leaving behind the girl of his dreams; discovered, Bram wins over the captain, but the ship sinks during a hurricane; Modoc and Bram float to the shores of India, where Bram learns further tools of the trade at the maharaja's elephantarium; there he lives in a teak-built compound, tends to Modoc, and is honored to have an audience with the sacred white elephant; he woos and wins a woman from the village but is warned that North is on his trail. He strikes out with Modoc to the teak plantations of Burma, is captured by rebels, loses his wife, confronts North, journeys to the US and fashions a spectacular show for Modoc, wins back his earlier love, only to have the elephant sold out from under him again. Helfer (an animal trainer by trade) happens across Modoc and buys him in the 1970s, then Bram appears yet again. The story is told with a heart-tugging warmth that, granted, at times slips into Disney mode, but that feels credible: There is, amazingly enough, a truthful tang to the picaresque proceedings. One glorious pachyderm and one cracking story.

I'm just beginning Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks - this is a non-fiction account of Islamic women encountered by Brooks during her stint as a foreign correspondent in the Middle East. She is the author of two novels, The Year of Wonders and March. I'll let you know more next week.

From my niece Mandy: I did want to mention that Mandy and her book group recently read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
It is typical of Gabriel García Márquez that it will be many pages before his narrative circles back to the ice, and many chapters before the hero of One Hundred Years of Solitude, Buendía, stands before the firing squad. In between, he recounts such wonders as an entire town struck with insomnia, a woman who ascends to heaven while hanging laundry, and a suicide that defies the laws of physics:

A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs, went on to the other living room, made a wide curve to avoid the dining-room table, went along the porch with the begonias, and passed without being seen under Amaranta's chair as she gave an arithmetic lesson to Aureliano José, and went through the pantry and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack thirty-six eggs to make bread.
"Holy Mother of God!" Úrsula shouted.
The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whom José Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man's shade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with which to clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "the next time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what he was looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about the house."

Janet just finished listening to Phillipa Gregory's The Constant Princess. She loved it and has passed it along to me. Gregory has been pretty prolific - I also read The Other Boleyn Girl which I recommend.

From Publishers Weekly
As youngest daughter to the Spanish monarchs and crusaders King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Catalina, princess of Wales and of Spain, was promised to the English Prince Arthur when she was three. She leaves Spain at 15 to fulfill her destiny as queen of England, where she finds true love with Arthur (after some initial sourness) as they plot the future of their kingdom together. Arthur dies young, however, leaving Catalina a widow and ineligible for the throne. Before his death, he extracts a promise from his wife to marry his younger brother Henry in order to become queen anyway, have children and rule as they had planned, a situation that can only be if Catalina denies that Arthur was ever her lover. Gregory's latest (after Earthly Joys) compellingly dramatizes how Catalina uses her faith, her cunning and her utter belief in destiny to reclaim her rightful title. By alternating tight third-person narration with Catalina's unguarded thoughts and gripping dialogue, the author presents a thorough, sympathetic portrait of her heroine and her transformation into Queen Katherine. Gregory's skill for creating suspense pulls the reader along despite the historical novel's foregone conclusion.

Cooking Report: I have two recipes to share this week: one is an appetizer from Fine Cooking Magaine and the other is an old family favorite

Sun-Dried Tomato Tart with Fontina & Proscuitto
1 large egg yolk
all-purpose flour, as needed for rolling out dough
1 sheet frozen puff pastry sheet (about 8 ounces), thawed according to package directions
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup Fontina cheese (about 2 ounces), grated
4 thin slices proscioutto (preferably imported - about 2 ounces), cut crosswise into thin strips
2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese , freshly grated

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Whisk the egg yolk with 1/2 teaspoon water.

2. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and gently unfold the pastry sheet. Roll out the pastry, eliminating the creases, to a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise to make two 5 x 14 inch rectangles, and if the edges are uneven or ragged, trim them.

3. Transfer both pastries to the baking sheet. With the tines of a fork, press a 1/4 inch border around the edge of the pastry. Brush the egg mixture along the border (you will not need all of it). Poke the rest of the pastry all over with the fork to keep the pastry from puffing too much. Bake both pastry rectangles until firm and golden, about 12 minutes. Remove the pastry from the oven and increase the temperature to 475 degrees F.

4. Let the pastry rectangles cool slightly and press them gently to flatten any large air pockets. Scatter a thin layer of the sun-dried tomatoes on both rectangles. Scatter the Fontina over the top. Place the prosciutto strips on top of the Fontina, either draping them in a random pattern or arranging them evenly. Sprinkle the top with the Parmigiano. Bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into strips or small squares to serve.

Cincinnatti Chili
1 quart hot water
2 pounds ground beef, crumbled
1 12 ounce can tomato paste
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons chili powder
3 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground pepper
1 Teaspoon allspice
1 Teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
1/2 Teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound spaghetti, freshly cooked
1 cup cheddar cheese or monterey jack, grated
1 onion, chopped
sour cream

1. Pour water into large saucepan. Crumble in beef. Add next 13 ingredients. Simmer 3 hours, stirring occasionally, skimming off excess liquid.

2. Before serving discard bay leaves.

3. Place spaghetti on an individual plate or bowl and pour chili over it.

4. Serve with grated cheese, chopped onion and sour cream for garnish

We always serve this chili on Christmas Eve - ENJOY!

Have a great week!



Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - October 31

Happy Halloween!

This week's post is more of a "travelogue" about our weekend in Taos, New Mexico. Barb, Cass, Jan and I had a lovely journey to Taos on Friday and arrived at the Lily House around 7 P.M. We got right to "cocktail hour" and settled in. The house is so welcoming - well-equipped and nicely furnished - very comfortable.

After a feast of munchies, we also had Lamb Stew with Cippoline Onions (recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis),,FOOD_9936_31642,00.html?rsrc=search. I prepared it and froze it at home, then reheated it when we were ready - worked out really well and Cass's salad was a great accompaniment. Special mention also goes to Barb for her outstandingly "good, crusty bread". Jan made her Aunt Pearl's Fresh Apple Cake for dessert - thank you Aunt Pearl

Aunt Pearl's Fresh Apple Cake

2 medium apples
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Peel, core, and chop apples to make 1 3/4 cups. Add sugar and let stand 10 min. Combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Blend butter and egg into apple mixture. Add flour mixture stirring just until blended. Fold in raisins and nuts.

Put the batter into a greased 8" square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for

about 40 minutes. (the batter is very thick and does not pour. I use

a rubber spatula to spread it around in the pan)

Saturday morning, Barb, Jan and I headed out for the Santa Fe flea market and Cass stayed back in Taos for a "retreat" day - we picked up some good treasures - lunch was at this great market/restaurant called the Tesque Village Market on Tesque Village Road just outside of Santa Fe. After lunch, we went just around the corner to the Shodoni Foundry and Gallery - there is an amazing display of bronze sculptures on the outside grounds and we got to watch them "pour" for a piece in progress inside the foundry. The process is quite remarkable. Check it out next time you're in Taos/Santa Fe!

Saturday night dinner was quite special - we "dined" at Lamberts right in Taos. The ambiance was warm and inviting and we had a wonderful meal, although Barb was bit disappointed in her Buffalo Steak, which was one of several specials that night. Jan and I shared a salad with Roma tomatoes, Artichokes and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. Cass started with a corn chowder. Jan had King Salmon with Broccoli Puree, Cass had the Scallop special and I had Roast Duckling.

Sunday morning we met up with Chris and had a hearty breakfast at the Dragonfly Cafe which was a short walk from where we were staying. Cass and Barb had the breakfast tacos which I tasted and they were yummy. Jan had the quiche, I had a frittata (I didn't love it) and Chris had eggs and sausage (I should have gone with that!) It is a very nice place and I would definitely recommend it - their bakery was incredible!

We spent the rest of the morning poking around Taos and shopping. Cass was delighted with the Day of the Dead stores and got a wonderful alter/wallhanging called Celestial Help. Lunch was at Ogelvies right on the Plaza - great choice! Oh and we stopped at the Taos Inn to see the community alter. We ended up sitting there for a while and had quite a lively chat about religion and religious symbols.

After lunch we went to the Mabel Dodge Luhan house - it is a historical landmark that was built by Luhan and her Native American husband, Tony Luhan. Mabel was a patron of the arts and her story is pretty remarkable. The house is used today as a lodging/conference center. Natalie Goldberg often holds writing workshops there. Check out the website and read about Mabel's "colorful" life.
We ended the afternoon at the Anaconda bar at the El Monte Spa - very fancy! After that full day, we stayed in that evening, nibbled and finished off the lamb stew. A nice lazy evening!

Monday morning we packed up and headed out early to The Hacienda de los Martinez. It is an example of the Northen New Mexico style from the late Spanish Colonial period. Definitely a worthwhile visit. After a bit of last minute shopping, we had lunch at Orlandos and then hit the road to go home. We really had no choice since there was not an inch of space left in the car with all our packages.

No book reports this week - I think I've gone on long enough for now - but I am in the middle of our book group selection right now and I can't put it down! The book is Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer.

Have a great week!



Sunday, October 22, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - October 22, 2006

Hi all,

Before I get started, I want to explain this picture. This is the antipasto platter that Janet created for a party this summer. It features figs wrapped in proscuitto, cantelope, Grana Padana cheese, honey and reduced balsamic vinegar.

Well, it was just Barb and me at Ziggi's Cafe in Longmont Saturday morning - although we left Boulder early in the morning with snow and slush on the ground, by the time we got past Gunbarrel on the Diagonal, there was no snow there and skies were clear. After our coffee, we met up with the volunteers for Angie Paccione (Democratic candidate running against Marilyn Musgrave for Congress), got our assignment and headed out to canvas a neighborhood in Longmont. Although Barb is a pro at this, it was the first time for me. Let's just say we had more "no soliciting" and "beware of dogs" signs than warm welcomes. In spite of that, I'm glad that we did it and we will do it again before the election.

Here are a couple of book reviews:
Susan: I just finished Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston - this a classic true story of a family's experience of life in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. In contrast to When the Emperor Was Divine (One Book, One Boulder), it gives a much more detailed, rich description of the members of this family and their years during and following their time at Manzanar. Manzanar was the largest of the 10 camps located throughout the country at that time.

"[Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston] describes vividly the life in the camp and the humiliations suffered by the detainees... A sober and moving personal account." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description
Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp--with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. Along with searchlight towers and armed guards, Manzanar ludicrously featured cheerleaders, Boy Scouts, sock hops, baton twirling lessons and a dance band called the Jive Bombers who would play any popular song except the nation's #1 hit: "Don't Fence Me In."

Farewell to Manzanar is the true story of one spirited Japanese-American family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.

Rae: Rae told me about a book that she's reading and enjoying - Holy Unexpected: My New Life as a Jew by Robin Chotzinoff - Chotzinoff is a local writer from Denver.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The cadence of every conversion narrative is one of lost-and-found, and this edgy memoir by Chotzinoff, a freelance writer and convert to Judaism, does not disappoint. We learn of her rarefied and decidedly secular New York childhood, where music and free-flowing liquor framed intellectual discussions late into the night. This led to a wandering adolescence and young adulthood marked by drugs, sexual promiscuity, depression and binge eating. But Chotzinoff's conversion narrative eschews the traditional sudden epiphany for a gradual, postmodern transformation; when she discovers Judaism at an eclectic Denver synagogue, the change comes across less as a bolt of lightning than a long-desired and tentative homecoming. Her story is also refreshingly devoid of the usual convert's fervor—she considers herself observant, but does not strive to keep every jot and tittle of halakah. As she learns to quilt, make latkes (the low-fat version just won't cut it, she discovers) and keep Shabbat, Chotzinoff uncovers herself anew in the rigors of an ancient faith. Her writing is acerbically funny and generally devoid of sentimentality, which makes the memoir's more powerful moments—such as the haunting beauty of her daughter's bat mitzvah—unexpectedly emotional.

Mae (my mother-in-law) told me about a book that she read recently - Forever Young - My Friendship with John F. Kennedy, Jr. by William Noonan
Book Description
A uniquely intimate portrait of John F. Kennedy, Jr., from his closest friend

For twenty-five years, William Noonan and John F. Kennedy, Jr., were best friends. Sharing an adolescence in Hyannisport, Massachusetts, the two frequented beach bonfires and the Monday night yacht-club dances, took road trips, shared albums, sneaked cigarettes on the widow’s walk of John’s house, and scored beer together. And as they grew older, John and Billy never lost the connection they forged in the Kennedy compound as two young boys who had both tragically lost their fathers.
A humble and touching memoir, Forever Young uncovers the private John F. Kennedy, Jr., from the matchless vantage point of a longtime childhood friend. Forever Young is packed with never-revealed details of John and Carolyn Bessette’s courtship and wedding, the launch of George, John’s unusually close relationship with his mother Jackie, and the heartbreaking aftermath of the plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard that killed John, Carolyn, and Carolyn’s sister. Noonan also shares the more ribald episodes, including John’s many famous conquests, skirmishes with paparazzi, and his stint as People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” The definitive story of the son of Camelot, Forever Young is a touching and revelatory tribute to a friendship between two men—and a life cut devastatingly short.

Recipes to Share:

I haven't done a lot of cooking this past week but I did make a wonderful mussel recipe last Sunday - I'm not sure where it is from - I copied it out of a magazine (maybe Martha Steward) but didn't note which one:

Spicy Mussels and Chorizo - Serves 4

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes w/ juice
4 ounces dried, hot chorizo (Portuguese sausage), cut diagonally into 1/4" inch slices - I found it at Cheese Importers in Longmont
2 pounds mussels (I used black mussels but you could use green, as well), scrubbed and debearded

1. Heat oil in large heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add shallots, cook stirring occasionally until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes; cook stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.

2. Add wine, bring to boil. Add tomatoes and chorizo. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add mussels. Cover and continue to cook, shaking pot occasionally, until mussels open, about 10 minutes. Discard unopened mussels. Add parsley and toss. Serve immediately.

Great with pasta or just good crusty bread.

Tonight I made Giada DeLaurentiis' Short Ribs with Tagliatelle - tagliatelle is a wide noodle. If you can't find it I would substitute fettucine noodles. Its a great cold weather meal and very yummy! It has a unique garnish of shaved bittersweet chocolate - totally optional.,1977,FOOD_9936_34775,00.html
Next week, watch for a report from our trip to Taos!

Do check out the blog at - I'm going to insert the photo of the fabulous antipasto platter that Janet brought to a party this summer - I had a good time "consulting" with her on that.

Have a great week!



Monday, October 16, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - October 16, 2006

Hi everyone,

Hope all of you walkers had a great walk on Saturday - haven't heard any reports yet. I was with Chris and others from my book group at the Literary Sojourn in Steamboat Springs this weekend (we missed you, Terrie and Susan d') and Barb was there with some of her book group also. I thought that it was a huge success - for the first time ever I had read at least one book of each author and it did enhance the experience. The Sojourn is held each year in September or October at the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs. They bring together 4 or 5 writers for a day of presentations about their past, current or upcoming books and writing styles. This year's writers were particularly outstanding. Here's a list of the writers and a few of their books:

Lisa See:

On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family
- this is her first book, a memoir about her own family's history starting in China and moving eventually to Los Angeles. It was quite a "dynasty" and the book is rich in the history of Chinese people who came to this country during that period.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: this is one my all-time favorite books. It is about the ancient custom of foot binding and the secret language shared by women in ancient China. It reveals the strength and power of friendship between women that is so relevant for all of us.

Erik Larsen:

The Devil and the White City
: Larsen talked about his technique of using "dual narrative" in this writing and this was certainly evident in this book about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a horrific serial killer in Chicago at that same time. He is masterful in the way he weaves these two stories together. The book is non-fiction but reads like a novel. The Chicago Sun-Times calls him "a historian....with a novelist's soul".

Thunderstruck: This is Larsen's upcoming book due to be released in just over a week. In this book, he again uses the "dual narrative" in telling the story of an infamous murderer and Marconi who invented the radio during the Edwardian period in England. I'm looking forward to this one.

Myla Goldberg:

Bee Season
: This is Goldberg's first novel which was later made into a film. It is the story of a family tragedy around mental illness and the world of spelling bees. She says, "I did write it very consciously to get darker and stranger as it continues......I wanted it to lull people into this sense of complacency and then hit them over the head"

Wicket's Remedy: This is her latest book which is a historical novel set in Boston during the 1918 influenza epidemic. I did buy that book and will let you know how it is - be forewarned that I am morbidly drawn to topics like that. In fact, two other writers that were there have also written books about plagues and epidemics. No wonder, I had such a good time!

Stewart O'Nan:

O'Nan is quite a prolific writer - I'll just share two of his books here but you can check out his other work on

The Good Wife: This is the first novel of his that I read. He describes it as an "earnest account" of what it is like for a wife to be waiting for her husband while he is serving a lengthy prison sentence. He explores how people get through difficult day-to-day lives and discover resources within themselves which allow them to survive.

The Circus Fire: This is his non-fiction, journalistic account of the huge circus fire in Hartford, Connecticut during World War II. It is a fascinating and detailed picture of the Big Top at that time and meticulously draws a portrait of everyone involved in that disaster, from the circus employees to the survivors and victims of the fire.

Geraldine Brooks:

The Year of Wonders
: this is another historical novel about a small village in Europe and how they coped with a plague that threatened their survival. Brooks is a wonderful storyteller and as a former journalist, brings so much realism and well-researched detail to her story.

March: this is her most recent historical novel which was inspired by Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women. She writes this Civil War novel around the character of the absent father in that classic story, Mr.. March.

I have some other book recommendations that were given either by one of the writers or people I talked with at the Sojourn:

Stewart O'Nan recommends So Long, See You Tomorrow
by William Maxwell
Book Description
On an Illinois farm in the 1920s, a man is murdered, and in the same moment the tenous friendship between two lonely boys comes to an end. In telling their interconnected stories, American Book Award winner William delivers a masterfully restrained and magically evocative meditation on the past. "A small, perfect novel."--Washington Post Book World.

Chris' friend Linda Parker recommends Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos
From Publishers Weekly
"The dead, Margaret thought. They can be so loud." So muses the protagonist of this dreamy, powerful tale of familial warring, secrets and redemption. When elderly Margaret Hughes discovers that she has a malignant brain tumor, she refuses treatment and decides to take a nice young tenant into her huge, lonely Seattle mansion for company. What she gets is Wanda Schultz, a tough-as-nails stage manager who is secretly seeking the man who left her and prone to inexplicable weeping breakdowns. Wanda, ignorant of Margaret's illness, is intrigued by the museum-like house and its eccentric owner—so when Margaret unexpectedly invites her to a drink-champagne-and-break-the-priceless-antique-china party for two, she's delighted. But a dark history lurks; the houseful of gorgeous antique porcelain comes from Margaret's father's WWII pilfering of European Jewish homes. Meanwhile, Wanda's father, who deserted her years ago, is on the road trying to heal, and Margaret's mother's ghost is haunting the Seattle mansion, lounging about in expensive peignoirs and criticizing her only daughter. Wrestling to keep the dead and the ghosts of their pasts at bay, the two women slowly build an extraordinary friendship, and when Wanda discovers a talent for mosaics, the past begins to quiet. Though it takes a while to get started, this haunting and memorable debut is reminiscent of early Atwood, peopled by lovably imperfect and eccentric characters.

A friend of Barb's recommends Embers by Sandor Marai , a novel about male friendship.
In Sándor Márai's Embers, two old men, once the best of friends, meet after a 41-year break in their relationship. They dine together, taking the same places at the table that they had assumed on the last meal they shared, then sit beside each other in front of a dying fire, one of them nearly silent, the other one, his host, slowly and deliberately tracing the course of their dead friendship. This sensitive, long-considered elaboration of one man's lifelong grievance is as gripping as any adventure story and explains why Márai's forgotten 1942 masterpiece is being compared with the work of Thomas Mann. In some ways, Márai's work is more modern than Mann's. His brevity, simplicity, and succinct, unadorned lyricism may call to mind Latin American novelists like Gabriel García Márquez, or even Italo Calvino. It is the tone of magical realism, although Márai's work is only magical in the sense that he completely engages his reader, spinning a web of words as his wounded central character describes his betrayal and abandonment at the hands of his closest friend. Even the setting, an old castle, evokes dark fairy tales.
The story of the rediscovery of Embers is as fascinating as the novel itself. A celebrated Hungarian novelist of the 1930s, Márai survived the war but was persecuted by the Communists after they came to power. His books were suppressed, even destroyed, and he was forced to flee his country in 1948. He died in San Diego in 1989, one year before the neglected Embers was finally reprinted in his native land. This reprint was discovered by the Italian writer and publisher Roberto Calasso, and the subsequent editions have become international bestsellers. All of Márai's novels are now slated for American publication.

Did you know that there have been more novels written about male friendship than female friendship? I believe that it was Lisa See who said that while talking about Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I find that hard to believe!

Food Notes:

I'll try and keep this brief but our book group is as much about the food as it is about the books so our weekend is just filled with fabulous food. I don't have all the recipes yet but I will share them soon.

Dinner on Friday night - thanks to Janet and Kelly (a special thanks to Kelly for her warm and generous hospitality):

Mulligatawny Soup - a rich and comforting stew with chicken, celery, carrots, green apples and a creamy broth, flavored with curry. This was served with rice and a lovely salad.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - very yummy and perfectly decorated for Halloween

Dinner on Saturday night - thanks to Cynthia and Rita:

Lemon Olive Chicken with Vegetable Tagine - very exotic and delicious roast chicken from O Magazine - - this was served with Mango Couscous -

Breakfast on Sunday morning - thanks to Chris (I was her sous chef): we did a variation of the frittata that Chris made last year and it was a big hit - this easily serves 8 - 10 people especially if you're having other things.

Steamboat Breakfast Frittata
2 cups frozen shredded or country style potatoes

4 large eggs or egg-substitute equivalent

1/2 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup steamed asparagus, chopped (we used canned and they worked fine)

Bacon, browned and drained

1/4 cup leeks, sliced

1/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped

any fresh herbs (we didn't use any)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. In a large skillet with oven-safe handle, heat oil. Add potatoes and heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and salt. Pour over the potatoes.

3. Sprinkle with whatever veggies or meat you choose. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 - 7 minutes, then sprinkle with cheeses. Continue cooking until center of the frittata is set.

4. Heat the broiler. Broil the frittata 6 inches from the heat until cheese is melted and lightly browned. Let the frittata stand on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Other wonderful sweet treats that we had were Susan's Noodle Pudding, Judy's (to die for) Chocolate Whopper Cookies (found the recipe at - no question - they are the best cookies I've ever had (except perhaps for Mallomars) and Susan's Chocolate Chip Scones. I think I've already given you the recipe for the noodle pudding - if not, I'll include that in a future blog along with the recipe for the scones. If you don't know about Mallomars, check out this website

That's it for now - do check out the website for Literary Sojourn - - to learn more about this year's event. Think about coming next year!



Sunday, October 08, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - October 8, 2006

Hi everyone,

So sorry that I missed a week. I'll try and catch up. Last Saturday morning was so gorgeous and our walk around Waneka Lake in Lafayette was just idyllic. Barb, Mary, Terri and I did the walk and then met Chris at the Dragonfly Cafe on South Boulder Road in Louisville. Yesterday morning was equally spectacular for us as Barb blazed a trail around the wilds of Table Mesa. I couldn't even begin to describe where we were but the terrain was a little challenging and the views of Boulder Valley, ablaze in color, was amazing. Also, on both of these walks, we were serenaded by sounds of distant marching bands. Both of these walks were invigorating and great ways to start a Saturday in autumn.

Here are some books that came up during the last two Saturdays:

Terri's recommending a few books. One is the novel Up Country by Nelson de Mille:

From Publishers Weekly
That DeMille has written a sequel to The General's Daughter comes as no surprise; after all, that's arguably his best-known novel because of the hit film version starring John Travolta. Nor is it surprising that he's set this sequel in Vietnam; returning hero Chief Warrant Officer Paul Brenner, Ret., served two stints there during the war, and DeMille himself not only saw action in Nam but returned in 1997 for an extended visit. What is curious, and relatively unfortunate, is that the long narrative focuses so much on travelogue instead of intrigue and action; it's as if DeMille, a wickedly fine thriller writer, has been possessed by the soul of James Michener. Still, the overarching story line captivates, as Brenner agrees to return to Vietnam to track down a Vietnamese witness to a 30-year-old unprosecuted crime, in which a U.S. Army captain murdered an army lieutenant and plundered some treasure. Joined by beautiful Susan Weber, who says she's an American expat businesswoman doing a favor for the U.S. government, Brenner travels to the little village where the witness may still live; along the way, the pair flirt, sightsee, visit a nude beach, sightsee, have sex, sightsee, and talk a lot. The sightseeing carries serious emotional impact as Brenner processes his wartime past and Vietnam's present, and it carries serious risk, as Colonel Mang of the secret police tracks Brenner's and Susan's movements. There's some violence as the two Americans elude Mang and his minions, and a melodramatic finale as Brenner realizes just who the murderous captain now is, and some dramatic suspense as Brenner peels away layers of Susan's identity covers. And then there's blasted, resilient Vietnam, which DeMille captures expertly, in all its anguished pride. With a film version in development at Paramount and the Warner publicity machine working at top gear, expect this engrossing but not exceptional novel to shoot to the top. 15-city author tour.

Terri also recommends a non-fiction book that she found just fascinating. It is called Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson.

From Publishers WeeklyThis superlative journalistic narrative tells of John Chatterton and Rich Kohler, two deep-sea wreck divers who in 1991 dove to a mysterious wreck lying at the perilous depth of 230 feet, off the coast of New Jersey. Both had a philosophy of excelling and pushing themselves to the limit; both needed all their philosophy and fitness to proceed once they had identified the wreck as a WWII U-boat. As Kurson, a writer for Esquire, narrates in this debut, the two divers next undertook a seven-year search for the U-boat's identity inside the wreck, in a multitude of archives and in a host of human memories. Along the way, Chatterton's diving cost him a marriage, and Kohler's love for his German heritage helped turn him into a serious U-boat scholar. The two lost three of their diving companions on the wreck and their mentor, Bill Nagle, to alcoholism. (Chowdhury's The Last Dive, from HarperPerennial in 2002, covers two of the divers' deaths.) The successful completion of their quest fills in a gap in WWII history-the fate of the Type IX U-boat U-869. Chatterton and Kohler's success satisfied them and a diminishing handful of U-boat survivors. While Kurson doesn't stint on technical detail, lovers of any sort of adventure tale will certainly absorb the author's excellent characterizations, and particularly his balance in describing the combat arm of the Third Reich. Felicitous cooperation between author and subject rings through every page of this rare insightful action narrative. If the publishers are dreaming of another Perfect Storm, they may get their wish.

One more recommendation from Terri is a book called Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff. This is a particularly timely choice during this disturbing political climate.

Book DescriptionThis DVD/Book package is the essential toolkit for all progressives.
The DVD features a lively interview with George Lakoff, television news clips, and illustrative graphics. This is a must-see media tool for everyone who wants to better understand and communicate progressive values. Includes "How to Debate a Conservative,""Know Your Values," and much more. Each DVD includes a summary card of key points.

The book, Don’t Think of An Elephant!, is the antidote to the last forty years of conservative strategizing and the right wing’s stranglehold on political dialogue in the United States. This best-seller explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. Lakoff outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but are often unable to articulate and provides examples of how progressives can reframe the debate.

About the Author
George Lakoff is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute. He is one of the world's best-known linguists.

Chris recommends The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She has two audio cassette copies of it in case anyone would like to borrow that. Like the books on writing that I've been reading, its another way to get those creative juices going.

With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan lead you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.

This book links creativity to spirituality by showing how to connect with the creative energies of the universe, and has, in the four years since its publication, spawned a remarkable number of support groups for artists dedicated to practicing the exercises it contains.

Mary has two recommendations this week. One is The Enemy by Lee Childs. This one is for any of you "thriller" lovers.

From Publishers Weekly

The latest entry in what is arguably today's finest thriller series (Persuader, etc.) flashes back to series hero Jack Reacher's days in the military police. It's New Year's Eve 1990, the Soviet Union is about to collapse and the military is on tenterhooks, wondering how a changed globe will affect budgets and unit strengths, when the body of a two-star general is found in a motel near Fort Bird, N.C. Investigating is Reacher, 29, an MP major who's just been transferred from Panamaâ€"one of dozens of top MPs swapped into new posts on the same day, he later learns. Missing from the general's effects is a briefcase that, it's also revealed later, contained an agenda for a secret meeting of army honchos connected to an armored division. Then the general's wife is found bludgeoned to death at home and, soon after, a third body surfaces, of a slain gay Delta Force soldier whose murder contains clues pointing to Reacher as culprit. With Summer, a young black female lieutenant MP at his side (and, eventually, in his bed), Reacher digs deep, in his usual brilliant and violent way, butting against villainous superior officers, part of a grand conspiracy, as well as against members of Delta Force who think that Reacher killed their colleague. Unlike recent Reacher tales, the novel is as much mystery as thriller, as Reacher and Summer sift for and put together clues, but the tension is nonstop. There's a strong personal element as well, involving Reacher's relationship with his brother and dying mother, which will make the novel of particular interest to longstanding fans of the series. Textured, swift and told in Reacher's inimitably tough voice, this title will hit lists and will convince those who still need convincing that Child has few peers in thrillerdom.

Last week Mary was telling us that Janet Evanovich is one of her favorite writers and she was eagerly looking forward to her latest release, Motor Mouth. Unfortunately, Mary was disappointed in this one but would still recommend other books by this writer. Check out Amazon for a complete list.

From Booklist
Alexandra "Barney" Barnaby has a degree in engineering and a passion for the way cars work. Her passion for NASCAR driver Sam Hooker, for whom she works as a spotter and R & D person, has been put on hold since his one-night stand with a salesclerk made it onto the Internet. When Hooker loses a race and Barney thinks cheating is involved--the fancy, electronic kind--a wild ride commences, one that begins in Miami, then moves to the Carolinas and back again A corpse shows up along the way, and there's lots of NASCAR detail (fascinating even if you're not a devotee) and lots of doggy subplot (Hooker's St Bernard Beans eats a box of prunes that ends up having a great deal to do with the plot). Barney and Hooker find themselves in one outrageously hilarious situation after another: saved by tough granny Felicia and her myriad Cuban American family members; clocking a bad guy with a six-pack; disposing of corpses in some remarkably icky but entertaining ways. Evanovich, of Stephanie Plum fame, appears to have another winner on her hands: this one is every bit as lively as Metro Girl (2004), the first in the Barney series

Cooking and Food: I haven't cooked much since last weekend. I do have a couple of restaurant reviews and a food note or two. however.

A week ago Friday night, Jack and I went out to dinner at the Trattoria on Pearl. It really is a lovely restaurant and we've eaten there a few times since the new owners took over. Jack ordered Veal Saltimbocca and enjoyed it very much. I order one of the specials on the menu, Squash Ravioli in a Brown Butter Sauce with Sage. Sounded yummy but I knew as soon as the waiter brought the dish to the table that this was a mistake. Nowhere in the description did the menu indicate that there was cream involved. Now, I don't mind a light, delicate cream sauce but this was more like a vat of cream with a few pillows of ravioli drowning underneath. To add insult to injury, there were these two "globs" of white something (maybe crème fraiche?) floating on top. Not wanting to be difficult, I tried a couple of bites but it really was not edible. Now, here's the good news. When I said something to the waiter, he was very appreciative of my feedback - I tried not to be rude and avoided giving him the gagging sign - and sent the owner over immediately. He was very gracious and insisted he would take it off the menu immediately as well as taking it off the bill. I felt compelled to share with him that I had a recipe for a similar dish from Giada De Laurentiis - Pumpkin Ravioli in Brown Butter with Sage - and asked if he would like me to share it with him. He thought that was a wonderful idea. Here's what I sent him with the suggestion that his chef could certainly modify this to make it his own. Don't worry - you use store-bought ravioli - it is so easy and lovely!,,FOOD_9936_22455,00.html

So, even though I had a "yucky" meal there, I would recommend the Trattoria on Pearl (south side of the mall, just west of 15th) and certainly will go back.

Last night we went to an outstanding restaurant in Denver - Barolo Grill at 3030 East 6th Avenue - the atmosphere was delightful - certainly upscale but warm and inviting. This is definitely a bit of Italy transported to downtown Denver. Our waiter was so knowledgeable and hospitable - you really felt like your were a guest in his home. One great feature of the menu was a "pairing menu" where they had a several course meal and paired each course with a different wine. Jack and I made our selections from the main menu and we were not disappointed.

We started out sharing a wonderful hearts of romaine salad with fresh white anchovies, an elegant version of a Caesar Salad and then shared a pasta special made with agnolotti (similar to ravioli) and mushrooms. It was delicate and light and really just a "tasting" size. Jack ordered their signature dish, duckling braised in red wine and olives. It was crisp, not fatty and so moist. I had roast leg of lamb with artichokes, onions and potatoes, topped with sun-dried tomatoes - so many of my favorite things all on one plate - I loved it. No dessert this time but I did indulge in a double espresso with Sambuca - my new favorite drink - thank you, David!

Here's an easy appetizer suggestion that Barb introduced us to - a packaged wild mushroom pate from Les Trois Petits Cochons (that would be 3 Little Pigs!) - she found it at King Soopers but I'm sure it is available at other supermarkets. There's also a website where you can order it online - It was light and delicious and pretty darn impressive! The website is worth visiting - there are some other links to food sites that I want to check out.

Whew - that's a lot of catching up. Next weekend our book group is off to the Literary Sojourn in Steamboat Springs. I'll have a full report about that - lots of books and great home-cooked food!

Have a great week! OOOOOH! Don't forget the lineup of book discussions and films related to One Book, One Boulder has begun. Check out for details.