Grillo Center Labyrinth

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

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Saturday Morning Walkers - July 17, 2006

We had a lovely morning in Allenspark - Christie, Mary, Barb, Jan, Chris and I drove up and met Kris, Linn and Linn's friend, Dee. We hiked along a creek trail, quite beautiful and relatively cool (at least at first). We had a great breakfast at the Meadow Mountain Cafe. The omelets looked really yummy and I loved my grilled cheese sandwich with avocado and tomato.

Not much book discussion - we did talk about our book groups.

I did notice that Jan is reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - definitely one of my favorite books.

From Publishers WeeklyHosseini's stunning debut novel starts as an eloquent Afghan version of the American immigrant experience in the late 20th century, but betrayal and redemption come to the forefront when the narrator, a writer, returns to his ravaged homeland to rescue the son of his childhood friend after the boy's parents are shot during the Taliban takeover in the mid '90s. Amir, the son of a well-to-do Kabul merchant, is the first-person narrator, who marries, moves to California and becomes a successful novelist. But he remains haunted by a childhood incident in which he betrayed the trust of his best friend, a Hazara boy named Hassan, who receives a brutal beating from some local bullies. After establishing himself in America, Amir learns that the Taliban have murdered Hassan and his wife, raising questions about the fate of his son, Sohrab. Spurred on by childhood guilt, Amir makes the difficult journey to Kabul, only to learn the boy has been enslaved by a former childhood bully who has become a prominent Taliban official. The price Amir must pay to recover the boy is just one of several brilliant, startling plot twists that make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives. The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut, from the portrait of the sensitive, insecure Amir to the multilayered development of his father, Baba, whose sacrifices and scandalous behavior are fully revealed only when Amir returns to Afghanistan and learns the true nature of his relationship to Hassan. Add an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East, and the result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivot point in the global politics of the new millennium.
Chris' and my current book group selection is A World Away by Stewart O'Nan - I just started it and it seems like a strange start - I'm hoping to get hooked soon - I have read several of his books and generally like his writing. I'll let you know if I get through it

.From Publishers WeeklyGranta-listed O'Nan (Snow Angels) fulfills his promise with this affecting and nuanced examination of family alliances tested by infidelity, illness and the pervasive impact of WWII. James Langer, repentant over an affair with one of his high-school students, tries to reconcile himself with his wife, Anne, who responds with silence, fury and a lover of her own. Some rapprochement seems less possible yet all the more necessary as the strain on the marriage increases. As the novel opens, the couple and their tepidly unhappy adolescent son, Jay, have come to the Hamptons to care for James's father, felled by a stroke. Yet the wound that runs deepest is the uncertain fate of their older son, Rennie, a former conscientious objector who became a medic and is now missing in action in the Pacific. The potential for melodrama increases as Rennie's wife, Dorothy, joins the family in the Hamptons after giving birth to their child. Yet O'Nan avoids that pitfall by focusing on the continually shifting tensions and alliances that animate the family: Anne's ambivalence about forgiving her husband; James's anxieties about the damaged family around him; and young Jay's growing confidence as he cares for his ailing grandfather. The narrative's subtle balance falters a bit with Rennie's homecoming; frustratingly, O'Nan holds the returned soldier somewhat aloof from the reader, rigorously keeping the focus on James and Ann. Still, this is a compassionate, acutely observant and deftly understated novel that evokes the longings that tug at one's heart as it unfurls in elegant prose. 30,000 first printing; author tour.
Barb recently read O'Nan's, The Good Wife, which I included in an earlier "report".

I took Giada DiLaurentiis' newest cookbook, Giada's Family Dinners out of the library - it looks just wonderful (she is definitely one of my favorites) - I'll be trying some of those recipes and will share the winners.

From Publishers WeeklyWith her second cookbook, Food TV star De Laurentiis proves she's more than just a pretty face. Although the host of Everyday Italian is not hard to look at, and photos of her and her family cooking are scattered throughout, there are many more reasons to pick up this book. If classics like Escarole and Bean Soup, Chicken Marsala, and Basic Polenta aren't strong enough incentives, then perhaps modern interpretations such as Chicken Carbonara, Roasted Red Snapper with Parsley Vinaigrette, Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Swiss Chard and Pecorino Cheese, or Espresso Brownies will be. Like De Laurentiis's first, bestselling book (named after her show), this volume presents doable dishes, though there's an emphasis here on feeding a crowd (which doesn't mean small households can't make Italian Wedding Soup and freeze some for an easy weeknight supper). There are twists on Thanksgiving classics, including Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus, Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta, and Butternut Squash Lasagna as well as recipes for traditional Italian holiday foods like Easter Pie, Pizza Rustica, and Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce. Broader and more developed than Everyday Italian, De Laurentiis's second book nicely showcases her range and depth. (Apr.)

This week's recipe offering:

A fabulous salmon recipe from my pal, Janet Fremont (not to mention the fabulous salmon she brought back from Seattle!) - if you haven't cooked with fresh fennel before, don't be put-off - although it has a strong licorice flavor when eaten raw, it really mellows out when roasted and is an outstanding complement to the salmon. Enjoy!

2 small fennel bulbs - cut in 1/2" wedges
1 large red onion - cut in 1/2" wedges
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 t extra-virgin olive oil
(4) 6 oz. salmon fillets, skinned
1 lemon - haved

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a roasting pan, toss the fennel, onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper, lemon halves and the oil.

Spread evenly and roast for 20 minutes. Move the veggies to side of pan, add salmon, re-distribute veggies around salmon.

Squeeze roasted lemon haves over the salmon. Sprinkle salmon with remaining salt and pepper. Return to oven and roast until salmon is same color throughout and flakes easily, 15 - 20 minutes.

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