Grillo Center Labyrinth

Grillo Center Labyrinth
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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Saturday Morning Walkers - September 30, 2007

Hi everyone,

Well, we had somewhat of a "reunion" this morning. Two of our European travelers, Barb and Laila, were back and joined Christie, Mary, Chris (so glad to have you with us - its been a while!), and me on our walk along the Aquarius Trail in Louisville. We had a lot of catching up to do and it does sound like the trip was terrific (except for the part where the stomach flu seemed to make an appearance - yuck!)

Book Report:

Barb is reading and enjoying a very funny book, Cooking With Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson. It certainly seems to cover all of my favorites topics, Italy, Wine and Cooking!

From Publishers Weekly
Usually writers taking a holiday from their serious work will use a pseudonym (DeLillo as Cleo Birdwell), but British novelist Hamilton-Paterson (Gerontius, etc.), who lives in Italy, bravely serves a very funny sendup of Italian-cooking-holiday-romance novels, without any camouflage. Written from the alternating perspectives of two foreigners who have bought neighboring Tuscan houses, the book has no plot to speak of beyond when-will-they-sleep-together. Gerald Samper is an effete British ghost writer of sportsperson biographies (such as skier Per Snoilsson's Downhill All the Way!); neighbor Marta is a native Voynovian (think mountainous eastern bloc) trying to escape her rich family's descent into postcommunist criminality—by writing a film score for a "famous" pornographer's latest project. Each downs copious amounts of the title swill and carps at the reader about the other's infuriating ways: Gerald sings to himself in a manner that Marta then parodies for the film; Gerald relentlessly dissects the Voyde cuisine Marta serves him, all the while sharing recipes for his own hilariously absurd cuisine. Rock stars, helicopters, the porn director and son, and Marta's mafia brother all make appearances. The fun is in Hamilton-Paterson's offhand observations and delicate touch in handling his two unreliable misfits as they find each other—and there's lots of it. (Oct.)

Mae read and enjoyed Phillipa Gregory's historical novel, The Constant Princess. She loves that genre so if any of you have any other recommendations that she might like, let me know. Here are a few that Amazon suggests:
The Other Boleyn Girl by Gregory
The Queens' Fool by Gregory
Katherine by Anya Seton
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

Another recommendation from Libby and me - we loved The Secret Books of Grazia Dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park
The "secret book" of the title--or libro segreto, in the old Florentine manner--is the detailed account of Grazia dei Rossi's exciting and turbulent life, written so that her son might know his legacy. Inspired by a letter written centuries ago by a young Jewish woman to Isabella d'Este, The Secret Book of Grazia is a rich and complex work of fiction. This historical novel brings to life the sublime art, political corruption, and religious intolerance of 16th-century Florence from a rarely explored vantage point: the complicated symbiosis between Christian and Jew. Grazia dei Rossi, educated daughter of a wealthy Jewish family, has fallen in love with a young Christian nobleman. Forced to choose between her love and her faith, she chooses love. But her betrothed is whisked away by kinsmen, and the humiliated Grazia is ruined--until fate throws her another chance in the guise of a second marriage proposal, this one from the powerful Judah del Medigo, scholar, physician, and adviser to popes and kings. Under his guardianship, Grazia flourishes as a scholar and scribe, eventually becoming the secretary to Isabella d'Este, where she reenters the world of courts and courtiers.
And that's just the beginning; Park blends scholarship, imagination, and a compelling heroine to serve up good, old-fashioned literary stew, thick with the irresistible details of place, plottings, and passions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

I'm reading one more in the ever-growing list of Jody Picoult novels, Vanishing Acts. I've read The Pact and My Sister's Keeper and find Picoult to be a really good storyteller. Her characters come to life and I quickly become very engaged in the story. There are some distractions to the plot line that I find to be a bit much. Her books probably will not be considered great American classics but they do make for a good read! This review is actually of the audio book version.

From Publishers Weekly
Each of the five narrators in this excellent audiobook speaks intimately to the listener, capitalizing on the emotional complexity of Picoult's heart-wrenching tale. Delia Hopkins, read with simple grace by Gibson, immediately seizes the listener's attention when she relates how, on an ordinary day in smalltown New Hampshire, her beloved father, Andrew, is arrested for having kidnapped her, 28 years earlier, from the mother she long thought was dead. Delia's fiancé, Eric, and her best friend, Fitz (both of whom are given appropriately cultured New England accents), add dimension to this multifaceted exploration of love and identity, but Delia's parents, read by Jenner and Washington, offer the most noteworthy performances. Jenner successfully conveys the rainbow of personalities Andrew encounters while being held in an Arizona jail. Washington, meanwhile, embodies Delia's darkly tragic mother, who emerges as both a gentle healer with a dulcet Southwestern accent and a mother who was never there for her young child.

Website of the Week - - great food reference site for those obscure cooking questions.

Podcast of the Week - - great kids music site - adults will love it too!

Vocabulary Word of the Week - Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the mental and/or spiritual process of ceasing to feel resentment or anger against another person for a perceived offence, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution[citation needed]. Forgiveness may be considered simply in terms of the feelings of the person who forgives, or in terms of the relationship between the forgiver and the person forgiven. In some contexts, it may be granted without any expectation of compensation, and without any response on the part of the offender (for example, one may forgive a person who is dead). In practical terms, it may be necessary for the offender to offer some form of apology or restitution, or even just ask for forgiveness, in order for the wronged person to believe they are able to forgive. [citation needed]

Most world religions include teachings on the nature of forgiveness, and many of these teachings provide an underlying basis for many varying modern day ideologies and practices of forgiveness. Instances of teachings on forgiveness such as the parable of the Prodigal Son[1] and Mahatma Gandhi's forgiveness of his assassin as he lay dying, are well known instances of such teachings and practices of forgiveness. Some religious doctrines or philosophies place greater emphasis on the need for humans to find some sort of divine forgiveness for their own shortcomings, others place greater emphasis on the need for humans to practice forgiveness between one another, yet others make little or no distinction between human and/or divine forgiveness.

Words of Wisdom - these words come from Mandy's friend's daughter, Gabby (5 years old) -

My good friend, Amy, has a daughter named Gabby (she's the one who's a month older than Jacob). In school, they're learning about the U.S.-- the flag and pledge. This morning, Amy was looking at the school lunch list on her fridge and had this exchange:

AMY: Looks like you can have either a corn dog or a grilled cheese sandwich.

GABBY: Mommy, do you know why I can have a corn dog or a grilled cheese sandwich? Because I live in a country that's free.

I love it!

Cooking and Dining Report -

Restaurant Review - Janet and I tried the new Sugarbeet Restaurant in Longmont this week - - mixed reviews!
We shared an artichoke and fennel appetizer that was pretty disappointing. Janet loved her main course of shrimp with coconut rice. I should know better (having eaten crabcakes in Maryland for so many years) but I had their crabcakes - pretty disappointing! I would definitely give it another chance - the menu is impressive.

Sondra and I went to "happy hour" at Laudisios the other night. That is really a great way to sample a restaurant's fare at greatly reduced prices. We shared a 12" Margherita Pizza for $5.00. Wine was $3.50 a glass.

Here are a few recipes from Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis to share - I've made these over the past few weeks but haven't included them here yet:

Pork Chops with Fennel and Caper Sauce -,,FOOD_9936_34586,00.html?rsrc=search

Penne with Turkey Meatballs -,,FOOD_9936_22253,00.html?rsrc=search

Garlic and Citrus Chicken -,1946,FOOD_9936_32602_PRINT-RECIPE-FULL-PAGE,00.html - a reminder, I have been asking the butcher to "butterfly" my whole chickens by removing the backbone but leaving the rest of bird intact. If the recipe calls for a filling, then I just put that under the chicken. This is a great technique - I usually roast at 425 degrees F. and the cooking process is much quicker than if you roast the bird whole.

Have a terrific week ahead! Our book group and a few members of Barb's book group are heading to Steamboat Springs on Friday for our annual jaunt to the Literary Sojourn - I'm looking forward to a great weekend of books and dining which I will share with you next week.

One other note - I have updated the blog site so check that out - it is so much easier to read these posts from the site! . Feel free to forward these posts to friends and family and do let me know if there are any folks you want me to add to my weekly e-mail list.


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