Grillo Center Labyrinth

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

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saturday Morning Walkers - January 20, 2008

Hi everyone,

It was my turn to lead our walk this morning but due to the freezing temperatures and icy sidewalks, I made the executive decision for us to have a nice leisurely breakfast at Maries instead of walking. Jan, Barb, Mary, Christie, Laila and I stayed warm, cozy and well-fed.

Book Report:

Jeff told us about a book that he just read and really liked - Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet - Here's what Jeff had to say, "Tammet is an autistic savant with Asperger's syndrome who was featured on a Discovery Channel program called "Brainman". Anyhow it is his autobiography and is fascinating. It looks at how he struggled growing up and how his condition affects how he sees the world. I could not put it down and finished the relatively short book within two days. Check it out."

From Publishers Weekly
This unique first-person account offers a window into the mind of a high-functioning, 27-year-old British autistic savant with Asperger's syndrome. Tammet's ability to think abstractly, deviate from routine, and empathize, interact and communicate with others is impaired, yet he's capable of incredible feats of memorization and mental calculation. Besides being able to effortlessly multiply and divide huge sums in his head with the speed and accuracy of a computer, Tammet, the subject of the 2005 documentary Brainman, learned Icelandic in a single week and recited the number pi up to the 22,514th digit, breaking the European record. He also experiences synesthesia, an unusual neurological syndrome that enables him to experience numbers and words as "shapes, colors, textures and motions." Tammet traces his life from a frustrating, withdrawn childhood and adolescence to his adult achievements, which include teaching in Lithuania, achieving financial independence with an educational Web site and sustaining a long-term romantic relationship. As one of only about 50 people living today with synesthesia and autism, Tammet's condition is intriguing to researchers; his ability to express himself clearly and with a surprisingly engaging tone (given his symptoms) makes for an account that will intrigue others as well.

Barb's book group is reading The Tender Bar, a memoir by J.R. Moehringer
"Long before it legally served me, the bar saved me," asserts J.R. Moehringer, and his compelling memoir The Tender Bar is the story of how and why. A Pulitzer-Prize winning writer for the Los Angeles Times, Moehringer grew up fatherless in pub-heavy Manhasset, New York, in a ramshackle house crammed with cousins and ruled by an eccentric, unkind grandfather. Desperate for a paternal figure, he turns first to his father, a DJ whom he can only access via the radio (Moehringer calls him The Voice and pictures him as "talking smoke"). When The Voice suddenly disappears from the airwaves, Moehringer turns to his hairless Uncle Charlie, and subsequently, Uncle Charlie's place of employment--a bar called Dickens that soon takes center stage. While Moehringer may occasionally resort to an overwrought metaphor (the footsteps of his family sound like "storm troopers on stilts"), his writing moves at a quick clip and his tale of a dysfunctional but tightly knit community is warmly told. "While I fear that we're drawn to what abandons us, and to what seems most likely to abandon us, in the end I believe we're defined by what embraces us," Moehringer says, and his story makes us believe it.

Two suggestions from Jan - She is working her way through Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.
About the Author
Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the huge international phenomenon, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and The Sunday Philosophy Club series. He was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe and he was a law professor at the University of Botswana and at Edinburgh University. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

She is also reading Avoid Boring People, a memoir by scientist James D. Watson - I believe that Jan recommended avoiding this book!

From Booklist
In this memoir, Watson shows by example how to get to the top and stay there. Spanning his boyhood interest in birds to his resignation from Harvard University in 1976 to his leadership of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Watson's reminiscences encompass his claim to fame—cocredit for deducing DNA's structure in 1953––but focus on his ambition and his conduct of academic politics. He exhibits candor and indulges in gossip, qualities that contributed to the controversy surrounding his account of the DNA breakthrough (The Double Helix,1968) and that enliven this example of the academic memoir, not a genre renowned for excitement. Through arch character sketches, light self-deprecation, and a comic penchant for appraising the behavior and physique of the human female, Watson swings between his scientific aims and the resistance he perceived in Harvard's biology department to molecular genetics. Following each chapter, he appends "manners" derived from his experiences, which in the aggregate amount to making one's mark early and demanding commensurate perks thereafter. In angular and opinionated prose, Watson proves as engaging as ever. Taylor, Gilbert

Laila recommends Ganga: A Journey Down the Ganges River by Julian Crandall Hall.
Book Description
The Ganges has always been more than just an ordinary river. For millions of Indians, she is also a goddess. According to popular belief, bathing in “Mother Ganga” dissolves all sins, drinking her waters cures illness, and dying on her banks ensures freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth.
Yet there remains a paradox: while Ganga is worshipped devotedly, she is also exploited without remorse. Much of her water has been siphoned off for irrigation, toxic chemicals are dumped into her, and dams and barrages have been built on her course, causing immense damage. Ganga is in danger of dying—but if the river dies, will the goddess die too?

Website of the Week: - Bookmooch is another book swap site like the Paperback Swap site I mentioned a while back. You earn points for books you give away and use them to "buy" books from other members. They also give you the opportunity to donate your points to different charities who need books - that is totally optional but a nice feature.

Podcast of the Week: NPR: It's All Politics - -

Vocabulary Word of the Week - kerfuffle

From World Wide Words:
A commotion or fuss.

You will most commonly come across this wonderfully expressive word in Britain and the British Commonwealth countries (though the White House spokesman Ari Fleischer used it in January this year). It is rather informal, though it often appears in newspapers. One of the odder things about it is that it changed its first letter in quite recent times. Up to the 1960s, it was written in all sorts of ways — curfuffle, carfuffle, cafuffle, cafoufle, even gefuffle (a clear indication that its main means of transmission was in speech, being too rarely written down to have established a standard spelling). But in that decade it suddenly became much more popular and settled on the current kerfuffle. Lexicographers suspect the change came in response to the way that a number of imitative words were spelled, like kerplop and kerplunk.

In those cases, the initial ker– adds emphasis, as it does in other words, perhaps onomatopoeic but perhaps also borrowing the first syllable of crash. But we know kerfuffle was originally Scots and it’s thought that its first part came from Scots Gaelic car, to twist or bend. The second bit is more of a puzzle: there is a Scots verb fuffle (now known only in local dialect), to throw into disorder, dishevel, or ruffle. No obvious origin for it is known and experts suspect it was an imitative word. It is probably linked with Scots fuff, to emit puffs of smoke or steam, definitely imitative, which in the late eighteenth century also had a sense of going off in a huff or flying into a temper.

Some specialists think kerfuffle is also related to the Irish cior thual, confusion or disorder. It seems to be a minority opinion, though.

New this week: DVD recommendation - Jan saw Wit, an HBO adaptation of a very powerful and moving story starring Emma Thompson as a woman facing terminal cancer. You can check out the review and details at

Cooking and Dining Report:
Some good cooking going on in North Boulder this past week - Monday night we had book group at Janet's house and she made her delicious Spicy Shrimp in Coconut Milk - - even someone like me who doesn't generally like coconut really loves this dish.

I helped out with the appetizers and made Butternut-Squash Brushcetta, a recipe from 'Imo Restaurant in New York City which appeared in New York Magazine - - it was very interesting and I would make it again but next time I would splurge and get the already peeled and diced butternut squash you can get at Whole Foods.

I also made some very fun bite-size Crabmeat-Avocado Quesadillas with Mango Salsa (you could certanly use regular salsa) I also served them with sour cream - these were from Fine Cooking Magazine -

For dinner one night this week, we had Michael Chiarello's Italian Meatloaf - Jack loved it! -,1977,FOOD_9936_35425,00.html - it is just chocked full of some wonderful ingredients.

A great quick and casual recipe for lunch or a light dinner - FontinPanino di Prosciutto e a from Giada de Laurentiis -,,FOOD_9936_25162,00.html

A hearty soup hits the spot for a winter Sunday dinner - this is a recipe from the classic Silver Palate Cookbook - Minnestrone with Sweet Sausage and Tortellini - - I used turkey Italian sausage instead of the pork.

Health Alert - Here's a tip that Rae forwarded to me regarding recognizing strokes:

RECOGNIZING A STROKE Thank God for the sense to remember the "3" steps, STR . Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke .

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simp le questions:
S * Ask the individual to SMILE.
T * Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently)
(i.e. It is sunny out today)
R * Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE o f these tasks, call 999/911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher

That's all for now - have a great week ahead! Jack and I are looking forward to the Tattered Cover Writers Respond to Readers event next Saturday - I'll have a full report.



Saturday Morning Walkers - January 13, 2008

Hi everyone,

It has been a busy week here - Jexy and Jacob came in for a short visit. I loved having them here but Jacob was disappointed that we didn't have any significant snow. We didn't make it to the Oatmeal Festival yesterday - had a nice lazy morning here before they headed to the airport. Some of our walkers did get together for a walk on the Aquarius Trail - sorry I missed you all. Next week, with any luck, we can meet for a walk at the labyrinth before our Saturday walk - I'll keep you posted.

Book Report:
I'm in the middle of two books at the moment - I'm listening to a novel by one of the upcoming presenters at the Tattered Cover Writers Respond to Readers event. It is The Uses of Enchantment by Heidi Julavits. I'm definitely hooked by the "mystery" story, not sure how I feel about the main character, Mary.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. On November 7, 1985, Mary Veal, 16, a not especially distinguished upper-middle-class girl, disappears from New England's Semmering Academy. A month later she reappears at Semmering, claiming amnesia, but hinting at abduction and ravishment. The events in Believer editor Julavits's third, beautifully executed novel take place on three levels: one, dedicated to "what might have happened," is the story of the supposedly blank interval; another is dedicated to the inevitable therapeutic aftermath, as Mary's therapist, Dr. Hammer, tries to discover whether Mary is lying, either about the abduction or the amnesia; and the present of the novel, which revolves around the funeral of Mary's mother, Paula, in 1999. There, Mary feels not only the hostility of her sisters, Regina (an unsuccessful poet) and Gaby (a disheveled lesbian) but Paula's posthumous hostility. Or is that an illusion? This structure delicately balances between gothic and comic, allowing Julavits to play variations on Mary's life and on the '80s moral panic of repressed memory syndromes and wild fears of child abuse. While Julavits (The Effect of Living Backwards) sometimes lets an overheated style distract from her central story, as its various layers coalesce, the mystery of what did happen to Mary Veal will enthrall the reader to the very last page

The other book was recommended to me by Jen. It is a lovely coming of age story with a focus on a young boy who is immersed in the world of the sea and sea life. I've just gotten started with it but I am enjoying it already. It is The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The fertile strangeness of marine tidal life becomes a subtly executed metaphor for the bewilderments of adolescence in this tender and authentic coming-of-age novel, Lynch's first. As a precocious, undersized 13-year-old living on the shore of Puget Sound, in Washington State, Miles O'Malley has developed a consuming passion for the abundant life of the tidal flats. His simple pleasure in observing is tested and complicated over the course of a remarkable summer, when he finds a giant squid, a discovery that brings him the unwelcome attention of scientists, TV reporters and a local cult. Meanwhile, Miles's remote parents are considering a divorce; his best friend, Florence, an elderly retired psychic, is dying of a degenerative disease; his sex-obsessed buddy, Phelps, mocks his science-geek knowledge; and his desperate crush on Angie Stegner, the troubled girl next door, both inspires and humiliates him. Events build toward the date of a record high tide, and Miles slowly sorts out his place in the adult world. While occasionally Lynch packs too much into a small story, this moving, unusual take on the summers of childhood conveys a contagious sense of wonder at the variety and mystery of the natural world.

Website of the Week - - interesting site that I heard about that assists you in planning just the right trip for your personality. I haven't used it yet but you might want to check it out.

Podcast of the Week - - do check out this interview that Diane Rehm has with Pulitzer Prize winning author, Geraldine Brooks. Brooks has a new novel just out called People of the Book. It sounds like a fascinating story of the survival of the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the earliest Jewish volumes to be illuminated with images. I can't wait to read it! You can either listen to the interview streaming it from your computer or subscribe to the podcast. As I told you before, Diane Rehm is one of my favorite interviewers.

Vocabulary Word of the Week - Haggadah
The Haggadah (IPA: [həˈgɑdə]) (Hebrew: הגדה) contains the order of the Passover Seder. Haggadah, meaning "telling," is a fulfillment of the scriptural commandment to each Jew to "tell your son" about the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus in the Torah.

Cooking and Dining Report -

Best meal around here this week was Spaghetti and Meatballs - that was Jexy's request for her belated birthday dinner - I did a combination of Ina Garten's recipe and Giada de Laurentiis recipe. Basically I used Ina's sauce with Giada's turkey meatballs. Check out the recipes - they're both terrific. Whole wheat spaghetti works just fine with these hearty sauces. I particulary like the Bio Nature brand.,1977,FOOD_9936_34023,00.html - Ina's Real Meatballs and Spaghetti,,FOOD_9936_22338,00.html - Giada's Penne with Turkey Meatballs

Dinner tonight was an old favorite - Beef Tenderloin Quesadilla - Jack and I had this years ago at the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe and it is definitely a popular one in our house. We've even done it with chicken and shrimp. The recipe calls for mango salsa but I've mostly used regular tomato salsa and that works well.

Beef Tenderloin Quesadilla - Serves 6 - steak can be prepared and grilled hours ahead.

Spice Mix:
1 T ground cinnamon
1 T paprika
1 T sugar
1 T ground coriander
1 T kosher salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper

1 pound beef tenderloin
2 T spice mix
6 flour tortillas
2 cups Asadero or Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup Mango salsa

1. Mix all spice ingredients together in a small bowl. Then, slice beef into 6 equal size pieces and coat in spice mix. Saute or grill until rare. Let cool and cut into thin strips and set aside.
2. Heat each tortilla lightly and lay flat on table. Sprinkle grated cheese on half of the tortilla.
3. Divide sliced meat evenly on top of grated cheese. Spread 1 tablespoon salsa over beef. Sprinkle remaining cheese over beef and salsa.
4. Fold other half of tortilla over to form half-moon shape. Lightly grill over low heat, 2 minutes on each side until contents are heated and cheese inside is melted.
5. Cut into 4 triangles and serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.


Well, that's all for now. Have a great week!


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Saturday Morning Walkers - January 6, 2008

Hi everyone!

Well, I'm pleased to say that the "walkers" got back on track yesterday! Barb gathered us - Jan, Laila, Mary, Jackie and me - at Caffe Sole and then we took a walk on one of our old familiar routes around Viele Lake - it turned out to be quite challenging due to the high winds but we managed to get back to Caffe Sole in one piece and enjoyed catching up after all the holiday festivities. We set up our schedule for January walks - Barb will lead on the 12th, Susan on the 19th and Jan on the 26th.

Forgot to remind you all last week so I apologize for how last minute this is - The Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver is hosting their annual Writers Respond to Readers event on January 26 and tomorrow (Monday, January 7) is the DAY to call for reservations. Here's the message I received with instructions on how to get reservations

Writers Respond to Readers 2008

Heidi Julavits, Tahmima Anam, Min Jin Lee, and Samantha Hunt will be our guest authors at this annual event designed for members of book clubs. Tattered Cover Book Store Historic LoDo Saturday, January 26, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Tickets are $50 per person.

Reservations will be accepted by PHONE ONLY on Monday, January 7, 2008, beginning at 9:00 am (not before, please). Please call 303-322-1965, ext. 2739 and leave a message with your name and telephone number. We wi l l conf i rm your reservation by phone and request payment in full by credit card. Space is limited and we can accept no more than two reservations per phone call

I do want to acknowledge Mary for her "chutzpah", determination and fortitude as she participated in the Polar Plunge at the Boulder Reservoir on New Year's Day! Mary joined Jan's daughter, Jill, and some of her friends - Jan did record this amazing feat and I hope to have a picture soon that I will post on the blog site. The Polar Plunge is a fundraiser for the Alzheimer's Association of Colorado.

Do check out my review of The Cornbread Gospels Cookbook from Workman Publishing - it appears below in the Cooking and Dining Section of the blog.

Book Report:

Mary enthusiastically recommends The Deed of Paksenarrion, a science fiction/fantasy trilogy in one volume, by Elizabeth Moon.

From Powell Books..
Never in our experience has a new author burst upon the sf/fantasy field to such immediate enthusiastic recognition as Elizabeth Moon with her fantasy trilogy, Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, and Oath of Gold. Now at last we are able to offer all six hundred thousand words of The Deed of Paksenarrion in a single trade edition. Note that because of its size the complete Deed of Paksenarrion will probably never be offered in a mass market edition.

Jan listened to the audiotape of Steve Martin's new memoir, Born Standing Up. I have heard a couple of interviews with him about the book and it does sound wonderful.

Amazon Book Description
At age 10, Steve Martin got a job selling guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland. In the decade that followed, he worked in Disney's magic shop, print shop, and theater, and developed his own magic/comedy act. By age 20, studying poetry and philosophy on the side, he was performing a dozen times a week, most often at the Disney rival, Knott's Berry Farm. Obsession is a substitute for talent, he has said, and Steve Martin's focus and daring--his sheer tenacity--are truly stunning. He writes about making the very tough decision to sacrifice everything not original in his act, and about lucking into a job writing for The Smothers Brothers Show. He writes about mentors, girlfriends, his complex relationship with his parents and sister, and about some of his great peers in comedy--Dan Ackroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carl Reiner, Johnny Carson. He writes about fear, anxiety and loneliness. And he writes about how he figured out what worked on stage.
This book is a memoir, but it is also an illuminating guidebook to stand-up from one of our two or three greatest comedians. Though Martin is reticent about his personal life, he is also stunningly deft, and manages to give readers a feeling of intimacy and candor. Illustrated throughout with black and white photographs collected by Martin, this book is instantly compelling visually and a spectacularly good read.

Rae and her book group read Small Island by Andrea Levy. Rae said she would never have selected this for herself but she loved it and really encouraged me to read it and so I will!

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. After winning the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Levy's captivating fourth novel sweeps into a U.S. edition with much-deserved literary fanfare. Set mainly in the British Empire of 1948, this story of emigration, loss and love follows four characters—two Jamaicans and two Britons—as they struggle to find peace in postwar England. After serving in the RAF, Jamaican Gilbert Joseph finds life in his native country has become too small for him. But in order to return to England, he must marry Hortense Roberts—she's got enough money for his passage—and then set up house for them in London. The pair move in with Queenie Bligh, whose husband, Bernard, hasn't returned from his wartime post in India. But when does Bernard turn up, he is not pleased to find black immigrants living in his house. This deceptively simple plot poises the characters over a yawning abyss of colonialism, racism, war and the everyday pain that people inflict on one another. Levy allows readers to see events from each of the four character's' point of view, lightly demonstrating both the subjectivity of truth and the rationalizing lies that people tell themselves when they are doing wrong. None of the characters is perfectly sympathetic, but all are achingly human. When Gilbert realizes that his pride in the British Empire is not reciprocated, he wonders, "How come England did not know me?" His question haunts the story as it moves back and forth in time and space to show how the people of two small islands become inextricably bound together. Agent, David Grossman. (Apr.)

I finished listening to the audio version of Ann Patchett's new book, Run. Andrea recommended it several weeks ago. Patchett is a gifted storyteller who creates characters that are so engaging. It was definitely one of those books I just didn't want to come to an end. If you want to read the review again go to

Barb received a book recommendation from her friend Pamela and the author is someone that they both went to school with! Here's Barb's mesage to me:

"This comes from a very dear friend who lives in MA. I went all through school (starting in kindergarten) with Hank Kisor. He was also, for many years, the book editor and literary columnist for the Chicago Sun Times. He has written 3 (?) mystery novels and Pamela just finished reading the latest, Cache of Corpses".
Here's Pamela's review:I read Hank Kisor's book -- splendid -- loved the imagery, language, plot(s), history, characters, dialogue, prepositional phrases ... glad I had already taken a course on GPS. I read each night -- going slowly -- didn't want it to end, but today, I wanted to know how it was going to come out. I read 3 hours till I finished it;

Website of the Week - for those of you working mom's (at home or at the office!) and for those of you wanting to support the young mom's in your life, this is a great site to share - Very hip and entertaining as well as informative.

Podcast of the Week - Tony Kahn's radio production called Blacklisted which tells the story of his experience as a young boy enduring the McCarthy era of blacklisting that affected his father and entire family. It is a fascinating story portrayed by some first-rate actors like Ron Liebman and Stockard Channing -

Vocabulary Work of the Week - from Hank Kisor's book - fulminate

From the Free Dictionary Online:

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
Noun 1. fulminate - a salt or ester of fulminic acid
fulminate of mercury, fulminating mercury, mercury fulminate - a fulminate that when dry explodes violently if struck or heated; used in detonators and blasting caps and percussion caps
salt - a compound formed by replacing hydrogen in an acid by a metal (or a radical that acts like a metal)
Verb 1. fulminate - criticize severely; "He fulminated against the Republicans' plan to cut Medicare"; "She railed against the bad social policies"
denounce - speak out against; "He denounced the Nazis"
2. fulminate - come on suddenly and intensely; "the disease fulminated"
come along, appear - come into being or existence, or appear on the scene; "Then the computer came along and changed our lives"; "Homo sapiens appeared millions of years ago"
3. fulminate - cause to explode violently and with loud noise
blow up, detonate, explode, set off - cause to burst with a violent release of energy; "We exploded the nuclear bomb"

Cooking and Dining Report:

Cookbook Review: I was asked to review a new cookbook published by Workman Publishing - The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon. I haven't done a lot of cornmeal cooking or baking myself but I sure do enjoy eating it and was certainly inspired to try some of the recipes in this delightful book. I find that some of my favorite cookbooks are the ones that have a very personal tone. This collection of recipes from family and friends is really a celebration of this very American staple. I was inspired to go out and get a cast-iron skillet which seems to be a requirement for making really wonderful cornbread. So far, I have made the Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread, Simple Corn Muffins and the Lentil Soup with Garlic and Greens (yes, there are "go-with" recipes, as well). The soup was perfect for a cold winter night, chocked full of lentils, carrots and spinach. It went so well with the cornbread. I did have some assistance with the corn muffins - my young friends, Lauren and Evan, helped me make these mini-muffins - they turned out great and were great fun for the kids to make. I plan to continue working my through the book and will keep you posted on the recipes - I'm especially eager to try some of the more international recipes.
Here's the recipe for the Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread can order the cookbook from Amazon.

New Year's Eve - Jack and I celebrated with an early dinner at Frasca here in Boulder - Even at 5:45, they had a full house. The food was amazing but it was a pretty pricey fixed price menu. The food on Frasca's menu is based on the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area of Italy. We started off the evening with a Salumi course of Prosciutto San Daniele, Speck and Mani Salme Toscano. For the Antipasti, Jack had the Shaved Beef Salad with Roasted Romaine Lettuce and I had Escolar (a mild white fish) "Conserva" with Fingerling Potato and Pickled Green Tomato Juice. For the Primi course, Jack had the Gnocchi with Poached Maine Lobster and Montasio "Crema" and I had Butternut Agnolotti with Baby Spinach and Brown Butter. For the Secondi course, I had the Brioche-Crusted Roasted Colorado Lamb Saddle and Jack had the Grilled Maine Scallops. Dessert was a Valencia Orange and Fangipane Tart with Frozen Yogurt Gelato and just in case, we were still hungry, some hand-made Chocolates. Ho-hum - just another dinner out - not!!! So much for resolution to lose weight in 2008!

Some other recipes to share:

Two winners from Cook's Illustrated's The Best Make-Ahead Recipe - with Baked Chicken Fennel, Tomatoes, and Olives and Onion-Braised Beef Brisket - both were delicious! Here's the link to the Brisket - I can't find the chicken recipe on-line - if you'd like it, let me know and I'll get you a copy in word once I enter it into my computer.

I tried something today that has been intriguing me for some time - an Apple Crostata. The recipe is from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa -,1977,FOOD_9936_21686,00.html. It is a very rustic, free form apple "creation" and my version is quite rustic and free-form and tastes great! The crust is tender and flaky, similar to my rugelach dough.

I do enjoy these winter weekends of cooking. We're getting ready for a visit from Jexy and Jacob. They arrive tomorrow. Jexy is celebrating her birthday today and we will continue the celebration once she gets here. We'll probably go to Trattoria Radda tomorrow night but she has requested meatballs and spaghetti for her birthday dinner which we'll have on Tuesday. I have other dinner plans in the works and will report on those next week.

Last but not least - I'm pretty pleased and excited about the results of the Iowa Caucus - if you missed Barack Obama's speech that night, you should definitely check it out on YouTube -

Have a great week!



Saturday Morning Walkers - December 30, 2007

Hi everyone!

One last blog entry for 2007! Sorry I missed sending out a blog last week. Like all of you, we've been busy and on the move over the holidays. I'll give you some of the highlights of our trip to LA along with our usual reports.

We had a great visit with Jexy, Joe and Jacob. We arrived on the 20th in time to pick Jacob up from kindergarten at the Odyssey Charter School and then spent a little time there with him on Friday morning. He is thriving there and we are so impressed with the kindergarten program.

I'll talk more about some of the food highlights but I did want to mention a couple of special things about our trip. On Saturday, Jex and I stopped in to visit her friend, Christine Moore's fabulous new candy and pastry shop called Little Flower Candy Shop in Pasadena. Christine is a highly regarded pastry chef and candy maker whose flavored marshmallows and caramels can be found in the finest shops. Christine just opened up her own retail shop earlier in December. If you're lucky enough to be in the area, be sure and stop in for a cup of coffee, a sweet treat and a visit with Christine. Even if you don't live in California, you can enjoy these delectable morsels by ordering online from

We had a "field trip" on Sunday to the Skirball Cultural Center to see the Noah's Ark exhibit. What a fantastic experience! We all enjoyed it so much. If you're ever in LA, with kids or not, the Skirball Center is a must-not-miss!

Book Report:

I read The Wholeness of a Broken Heart by Katie Singer - this is a first novel and is a warmhearted and sentimental look at a multigenerational Jewish family from their beginnings in the Old Country to their eventual settlement to Cleveland. I am so drawn to books like this - there's a strong sense of the familiar as I relate to these different family member.

From Publishers Weekly
Singer's first novel brings fresh energy, style and perception to a familiar formula as she traces four generations of Jewish women from Eastern Europe to modern America. Young writer-teacher Hannah Fried is disturbed and mystified when her doting mother, Celia, suddenly and brutally rejects her. She seeks an explanation from her grandmother Ida, her estranged father, and photographs locked in an old trunk in Ida's attic. Family history begins with two great-grandmothers: Channa, for whom she was named, and Leah, a Latvian peasant girl married to a widower with five children. Leah's daughter, Raisl, saves her brother Moshe from the czar's army by sleeping with a Cossack who helps Moshe escape to America.

He becomes Moe, a successful, cold-hearted businessman, married to Ida, who cannot prevent him from abusing their daughter, Celia. Celia, in turn, grows up emotionally disconnected to all except her own daughter, Hannah.

Maternal love, sacrifice, the breaking and mending of family ties, loss and reinvention A common themes in Jewish sagasAare woven together here in personal narratives, including heart-wrenching passages from Channa's stillborn daughter, Vitl, and Leah's ghost. The individuality and authenticity of each voice springs from Yiddish proverbs, old country syntax and an endearing practical idealism. Singer even captures with precision the varied multicultural voices of Hannah's writing students.

Well-defined characters, emotion (but not sentimentality) and compassion (not pseudo-psychology) set this account of the survival tactics of Jewish families apart from similar tales. Focusing on mother-daughter and grandmother-granddaughter relationships, Singer has written a novel filled with authentic human feeling, humor and hope.

Joe and Barbara talked about Frank McCourt's third memoir, Teacherman, during Christmas dinner and then Cass mentioned it as a book that inspires her as a teacher. I've added it to my list of "must-reads".

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This final memoir in the trilogy that started with Angela's Ashes and continued in 'Tis focuses almost exclusively on McCourt's 30-year teaching career in New York City's public high schools, which began at McKee Vocational and Technical in 1958. His first day in class, a fight broke out and a sandwich was hurled in anger. McCourt immediately picked it up and ate it. On the second day of class, McCourt's retort about the Irish and their sheep brought the wrath of the principal down on him. All McCourt wanted to do was teach, which wasn't easy in the jumbled bureaucracy of the New York City school system. Pretty soon he realized the system wasn't run by teachers but by sterile functionaries. "I was uncomfortable with the bureaucrats, the higher-ups, who had escaped classrooms only to turn and bother the occupants of those classrooms, teachers and students. I never wanted to fill out their forms, follow their guidelines, administer their examinations, tolerate their snooping, adjust myself to their programs and courses of study." As McCourt matured in his job, he found ingenious ways to motivate the kids: have them write "excuse notes" from Adam and Eve to God; use parts of a pen to define parts of a sentence; use cookbook recipes to get the students to think creatively. A particularly warming and enlightening lesson concerns a class of black girls at Seward Park High School who felt slighted when they were not invited to see a performance of Hamlet, and how they taught McCourt never to have diminished expectations about any of his students. McCourt throws down the gauntlet on education, asserting that teaching is more than achieving high test scores. It's about educating, about forming intellects, about getting people to think. McCourt's many fans will of course love this book, but it also should be mandatory reading for every teacher in America. And it wouldn't hurt some politicians to read it, too.

Website of the Week: - this is the site based on the book, The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner. I haven't read the book but I heard one of the authors on a recent interview and was so intrigued by the story of these three women from very different cultures and traditions who come together in search of peace and understanding.

Podcast of the Week: Jackie recently recommended the American Public Media's Speaking of Faith broadcast with Krista Trippet. It is available as a podcast and the most recent one features Naomi Rachel Remen, author of that wonderful book, Kitchen Table Wisdom.

Vocabulary Word of the Week: Resolution
Main Entry:
Middle English resolucioun, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French resolucion, from Latin resolution-, resolutio, from resolvere
14th century
1: the act or process of resolving: as a: the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones b: the act of answering : solving c: the act of determining d: the passing of a voice part from a dissonant to a consonant tone or the progression of a chord from dissonance to consonance e: the separating of a chemical compound or mixture into its constituents f (1): the division of a prosodic element into its component parts (2): the substitution in Greek or Latin prosody of two short syllables for a long syllable g: the analysis of a vector into two or more vectors of which it is the sum2: the subsidence of a pathological state (as inflammation)3 a: something that is resolved b: firmness of resolve4: a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent voted by an official body or assembled group5: the point in a literary work at which the chief dramatic complication is worked out6 a: the process or capability of making distinguishable the individual parts of an object, closely adjacent optical images, or sources of light b: a measure of the sharpness of an image or of the fineness with which a device (as a video display, printer, or scanner) can produce or record such an image usually expressed as the total number or density of pixels in the image
synonyms see courage

Cooking and Dining Report:
One of the highlights of our California trip was a visit to the brand-new Whole Foods in Pasadena - Jack, Jexy and I spent a couple of hours there on Friday, including lunch at one of the many "restaurant" options right in the store. Pretty amazing place with lots of wonderful options for creating outstanding meals.

Another interesting stop was to the Home Girl Cafe for breakfast one morning. The history of this place is quite interesting. It is one of the ventures of Home Boy Industries, begun by Father Greg Boyle in East L.A. where Jexy and Joe work at Roosevelt High School. Father Greg has been hugely instrumental in providing support and opportunities for at-risk young men and women in the neighborhood. We went to the new cafe near Chinatown which is a very attractive and inviting space. Unfortunately, we had some major service issues which were hard to overlook but we would certainly give it another chance. Check out the website for Home Boy Industries -

One of the meals that we made was Giada de Laurentiis' Cioppino - an Italian stew chocked full of fresh shellfish from the Whole Foods seafood department. This is so impressive and surprisingly easy. It would make a great New Years Eve or Day dinner. We served it with a Caesar Salad and a loaf of Ciabatta bread - nothing better!,1977,FOOD_9936_32499,00.html

Christmas Eve - we shared Cincinnati Chili with Jexy and Joe's friends - we made it with ground dark meat turkey this time and it turned out great - the recipe is posted on the November 5, 2006 entry of the blog. Go to and search for Cincinnatti Chili.

Christmas dinner was a traditional turkey done with a dry salt brine - delicious and moist - we used the technique that the LA Times recommended last year. We did a very tasty dressing (outside the bird) with a recipe for Ciabetta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta from Giada de Laurentiis -,,FOOD_9936_29172,00.html

Wishing all of you a very healthy and happy 2008. I plan to keep on blogging and hope you'll continue to enjoy as well as contribute to these entries and pass them on to your friends. I'm excited about an opportunity I have been given to review a brand-new cookbook put out by Workman Publishing. The book was waiting for me when I arrived home the other day and I'm hoping to try out some of the recipes over the next week. Check out their website - they publish a variety of books and calendars.



Saturday Morning Walkers - December 16, 2007

Hi everyone,

It is starting to feel a bit like last winter with these back to back snowfalls - not nearly as extreme, but enough to keep the Saturday Morning Walkers inside drinking coffee. Yesterday, Christie, Andrea, Laila, Mary, Barb, Jan and I stayed warm at the Dragonfly Cafe in Louisville.

Book Report:

Andrea recommends John Grisham's first non-fiction book The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town - sounds like a chilling story of an innocent man wrongly convicted of a crime.
John Grisham tackles nonfiction for the first time with The Innocent Man, a true tale about murder and injustice in a small town (that reads like one of his own bestselling novels). The Innocent Man chronicles the story of Ron Williamson, how he was arrested and charged with a crime he did not commit, how his case was (mis)handled and how an innocent man was sent to death row. Grisham's first work of nonfiction is shocking, disturbing, and enthralling--a must read for fiction and nonfiction fans. We had the opportunity to talk with John Grisham about the case and the book, read his responses below. --Daphne Durham

Andrea's son Scott read and recommends Cormac McCarthy's novel, The Road.
From Publishers Weekly
McCarthy's latest novel, a frightening apocalyptic vision, is narrated by a nameless man, one of the few survivors of an unspecified civilization-ending catastrophe. He and his young son are trekking along a treacherous highway, starving and freezing, trying to avoid roving cannibal armies. The tale, and their lives, are saved from teetering over the edge of bleakness thanks to the man's fierce belief that they are "the good guys" who are preserving the light of humanity. In this stark, effective production, Stechschulte gives the father an appropriately harsh, weary voice that sways little from its numbed register except to urge on the weakening boy or soothe his fears after an encounter with barbarians. When they uncover some vestige of the former world, the man recalls its vanished wonder with an aching nostalgia that makes the listener's heart swell. Stechschulte portrays the son with a mournful, slightly breathy tone that emphasizes the child's whininess, making him much less sympathetic than his resourceful father. With no music or effects interrupting Stechschulte's carefully measured pace and gruff, straightforward delivery, McCarthy's darkly poetic prose comes alive in a way that will transfix listeners.

Website of the Week: - this is another site to catalog books you've read and share them with others in the online community. It is similar to which I use and really like. Check them both out.

Podcast of the Week: - NPR's Morning Edition's Holiday Story of the Day

Vocabulary Word of the Week - apocalyptic
Main Entry:
also apoc·a·lyp·ti·cal \-ti-kəl\
1 : of, relating to, or resembling an apocalypse 2 : forecasting the ultimate destiny of the world : prophetic 3 : foreboding imminent disaster or final doom : terrible 4 : wildly unrestrained : grandiose 5 : ultimately decisive : climactic
— apoc·a·lyp·ti·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Cooking and Dining Report:

Restaurant recommendation from Barb - the new Sobo restaurant in the Table Mesa Shopping Center (in the strip facing Broadway) - hip and trendy has arrived in South Boulder!
No website yet but here's a brief description that I found - "SoBo Bistro opened recently in South Boulder's Table Mesa Shopping Center. They use organic, sustainable and local ingredients where possible to create new American dishes. The official address is 657 South Broadway, but that's not as important as knowing which shopping center it is in; 303-494-SOBO.'

Restaurant recommendation from Jack and Susan - in Littleton, Cafe Terracotta, a lovely cafe that we went to this morning with Mae (Jack's mom) for breakfast - it is a very warm and charming place with a great menu - they do serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Some recipes to share - I made this recipe from Pino Luongo and Mark Stausman, Fresh Pasta with Meatballs and Mushrooms - so tasty and just a bit different from the usual spaghetti and meatballs. Note that I didn't use the pasta they suggest, I used store-bought spaghetti and I also used panko breadcrumbs.

Libby and David had a wonderful birthday dinner party last night - here are a few of the yummy dishes she served to her friends:

Emeril Lagasse's Lobster Roll -,,FOOD_9936_20191,00.html
Ina Garten's Sagaponack Corn Pudding -,1977,FOOD_9936_23371,00.html - Libby described this as decadent and when you see the list of ingredients, I'm sure you'll agree!
Spinach Balls with Mustard Sauce - a Wadle family favorite - I found the original recipe at this site -,191,157163-243193,00.html

A Random Tip! If you still have packages to mail out, a couple of suggestions to avoid the long lines at the post office or the mail box stores - there's a postal sub-station at the Ace Hardware Store at the BaseMar Shopping Center at Baseline and Broadway - the store is usually empty!
Also, there are a couple of obscure mailbox stores - I go to one at the Lucky's shopping center at Quince and Broadway - they're just never crowded.
For those of you who live outside of Boulder, I'm sure there must similar places in your neighborhood.

We're pretty excited about heading out to L.A. this coming Thursday to spend Christmas with Jexy, Joe and Jacob. We'll also be with Joe's mom, Barbara and her husband, Morrie for Christmas Day.
I'll try to check in with you all next week but not sure that will happen.

Enjoy the holiday - stay healthy and safe!