Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
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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!