Cherylcan's Blog

Life and Literature

Archive for December, 2011

Secret Daughter

Every once in awhile a book comes along that reminds me why I write. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda is one of these.

I picked up the book at the library last night. It was so engaging that I read all evening and woke this morning to finish it. I loved the characters’ many perspectives which gave such depth to the novel. There are so many levels to this book I feel I will not do it justice, but for me it is about family. Family who is there with you, whether you think you need them or not. Family who we think misunderstands us but who loves us no matter what. It also provided my newest favorite quote about marriage:

“… the key to a successful marriage was for each spouse to give as much as they possibly could. And  then, to give a little more. Somewhere in that extra giving, in the space created by generosity without score keeping, was the difference between marriages that thrived, and those that didn’t.”

If you read one book in 2012, this should be it. Enjoy!

Quinoa… a new favorite

My journey to healthier eating and overall lifestyle has been lots of fun. There are so many great foods out there. One of my new favorites is quinoa. The quinoa plant is native to the Andean regions of Peru, Bolivia and Chile on the continent of South America. The quinoa we eat today has been cultivated in South America for around 5000 years. Archeological evidence suggests that some of the wilder forms of quinoa were also cultivated in this same region as long ago as 9,000 years. Quinoa was dubbed “mother of all grains” by the Incas, so much so that it came to have spiritual significance for them. Many traditions and ceremonies surrounded the cultivation, harvest and consumption of quinoa. My friend loaned me her cookbook (see thumbnail). I modified a couple of my favorite recipes to suit my diet requirements:

Quinoa Squash Soup

Cut 1 medium squash in half. Remove pulp and seeds. Bake squash at 350 F until softened (approx. 45 min). {If time is an issue you can peel and dice squash, and add with carrots to soup}.

Combine 1 onion, 4 medium carrots, 5 cups broth, 4 Tbsp curry powder, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1 parsnip (used as substitute for potato) in saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 hour.

About 8 minutes before end of simmering add  ½ cup rinsed quinoa. {NOTE:   Quinoa requires thorough rinsing (3 min.) Run warm water into a pot so the quinoa agitates but does not overflow. Rinse for 3 min. Drain well.}

At end of simmering, remove from heat & let cool slightly. {I left my soup chunky but some may prefer to puree at this point to make lumps disappear.}

Return mixture to saucepan. Add 1/3 cup coconut milk (or 1 cup almond milk), 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, and pepper and salt to taste. Gently reheat on a medium setting for about 5 minutes. Serve.

 

Italian Wedding Soup

Meatballs:

2 lb         ground turkey

1                     Large egg

2 TBSP   egg whites

10           rice crackers crushed

½             onion chopped small (or ½ cup green onion chopped small)

1 tsp      dried basil

2 tsp      freeze dried chives

 

Soup:

10           stock

½ cup    quinoa

5 cups   thinly sliced fresh spinach

Grated lemon zest from one lemon

Optional:             cheese for garnish

 

To make meatballs, mix turkey, egg, egg whites rice crackers, onion, basil and chives. Shape into 2 cm meatballs.

For soup, bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Add rinsed quinoa, reduce to simmer for 8 min. Drop meatballs into boiling stock and gently stir. Bring back to simmer, cover and cook for 5 min. Stir in spinach and lemon zest, cover and cook 5 more minutes.

Serve (with cheese if you can).

 

Genesis Mirus Book 1 by Kait Nolan

Nolan takes us to a world where paranormal beings are living all around us. Their paramount rule is to keep humans unaware of their existence. I love Nolan’s work and follow her blogs. Genesis is the compilation of two novellas and short story, previously published and available individually. I love how well they fit together. All connected by Le Loup Garou, a New Orleans bar with mixed clientele.

The bar is first introduced in Forsaken by Shadow, when the rouge enforcer Embry Hollister goes there with her former adopted brother and one time love, Cade Shepard. He is currently living under another name. His memory was wiped when he was banished from her world years ago. She needs him to relearn shadowwalking, and remember who he is, to aid in the rescue of her father, his former mentor.

Mick, the wolf-shifter bartender from Le Loup Garou, sees trouble when Sophie walks out of the hurricane into his bar. Sophie is intent on finding her human sister. Who is also Mick’s missing bartender Lisa. Mick and Sophie form an alliance to attempt the rescue of Lisa whose captor wants the Devil’s Eye.  Both realize that family or pack is what you identify it as, going to extreme ends in a rescue attempt, and become tied to each other for life.

The final story, Blindsight, follows Isla. Isla is a seer. Her talents caused her to captured and held by a paranormal crime lord for many years. She chafes at her bonds and longs to escape. Ransom, an assassin, offers her a chance to escape. However, when she touches Ransom all she sees is blood and death. Can she trust him? Does she dare run away?

Genesis is only the beginning of the series. I look forward to following more of these characters. Nolan is great at involving the reader in the action. The book was a quick read as I was so engrossed in the action I did not want to put it down.

Christmas Fellowship at Work

There is nothing like a lunch time potluck to get me in the holiday spirit. Top it off with a smattering of snow and I am feeling great.

There is a holiday tradition at my workplace that the team celebrates together over lunch. I was told that it was a big deal but still was not ready for covered tables with Christmas centrepiecs, and music. Man these people can cook. I had a few excellent salads, some meat, and even gluten free dessert. I was able to enjoy the holiday meal without being too bad. Now, a couple of hours later, I am really appreciating my restraint. Although I am a bit sleepy from eating too much, I am feeling fine. Thank you to everyone for such an enjoyable day.

Merry Christmas!