Monday, December 03, 2007

A Couple of Reviews.....

First, though...... Man, I don't know WHAT y'all would think of our weather this mornin'!!!! We've got general air-temps of -1 deg. F. (Yes, that's -1 below ZERO, not "below freezing" which is 32 deg. F.) And on top of that, we've got gusting wind that's dropping the temp down to -40 with "wind-chill factor". Of course all of y'all in the mid-west will know exactly what that's like. But, NOT a nice day to be outside, today. DD's best friend came over to get on the bus at our place and I've told them both to wait till 8:40 to go out for the bus. This is NOT the kind of temperature anybody wants to be standing around in outside. I pity the person who must empty the out-door bookdrops at work today. (Of course, I say that, so I'll probably wind up being the one who gets stuck doing bookdrop. Thank goodness for long-johns.)

I went to take the dogs out this morning and found that the wind was gusting so much that it had picked up DH's previously collapsed carport canopy & was attempting to carry the canopy itself off to our neighbour's house. The cinder-block tethers were the only thing holding the canopy to our property still. When I went back out just a bit ago as it seemed the wind had died down for a minute, I found that the wind had set the canopy back down, but it was dropped a couple of feet further back on our property from where it'd been set up. It's come darned close to knocking over the canvas shed of the couple who live in the house behind ours. When I was out there this last time I used a half-pallet that DH had leaning against our small metal shed, and some of the poles from the carport itself, to weight down the outter edge of the thing. We're hoping it holds, otherwise DH will need to take off work & come disassemble the carport to avoid it blowing away or damaging property.

Of course, with the constant knocking & creaking & groaning & such that the wind is causing on all buildings & such, Puck is scared to death to be outside. I'm going to need to tidy up the house & get any & all plastic bags out of Puck's sight, so I can leave him in today. If he has access to plastic bags, he'll tear into them to get at whatever's inside, whether or not it's something edible.


Now, for my reviews.

We saw Ratatouille last night, finally. That was one CUTE movie!!!! If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it. As the trailers showed, it's about a rat with a knack for knowing how to blend ingredients. This, of course, puts him on the wrong side of his rough & ready dad who believes rats shouldn't try to be other than they are by nature: thieves & rodents. Nobody in Remy's (the main-character-rat) clan understands him, though his "big" brother is friendly to him despite the lack of understanding between them. Anyway, Remy finds himself seperated from his clan, in Paris: the world capitol of fantastic food. He winds up with the ghostly "figment of your imagination" mentor of the once-world-famous & revered "Gusteau", a big, fat, fabulous Chef who, when living, believed that "Anybody Can Cook!" Remy, of course, takes this tidbit to heart & quotes Gusteau's cook-book of the same title frequently. Anyway, Remy winds up coming into contact with a bumbling clean-up boy, Alberto Linguini, in Gusteau's own resteraunt's kitchen. Remy & Linguini team up to become the best chef in Paris, to the anger of the resteraunt's head-chef (who stands to inherit the resteraunt itself following Gusteau's death, if an heir isn't found in 2 years; a time-limit that is quickly approaching and figures into the plot of the movie as well), and the anger of the world's biggest jerk of a restaurant critic, Anton Ego.

I LOVE the way the names are bandied around in this movie. The nasty critic is named Ego, he's a tall, skinny, gaunt looking guy who says he loves food but doesn't look like a bit has ever made it past his lips. The famous "Gusteau" is a play on the way he approaches food: with gusto! The poor Linguini is a tall, kinda gangly "loose-jointed" kid who's very flexible, much like the pasta he's named for..... I'm sure there were other plays on names, but the accents tended to be so strong (whether realistic or not) that I kinda felt like the movie needed subtitles to make it easier to follow what some of the characters were saying. But, it was a pretty funny movie, none-the-less. And it had a great ending. I strongly recommend it!


Next review: I just finished _Bread Alone_ by Judith Ryan Hendricks.

The main character is Justine Wynter Franklin (Morrison). She finds herself dumped by her husband, David, who expects her to promptly move out of "his" house with NO notice & NO resources, no job, and "friends" who are mere business contacts cultivated for the sake of David's business needs. After refusing for a few days to move out despite extreme animosity by her "husband" over her refusal to just leave his life, she decides to fly to Seattle to visit her childhood best friend for a few days to get a fresh perspective on the impending seperation from her husband. Her best friend lives in a quaint neighbourhood with a lively attitude & almost sesame-street attitude (the neighbourhood pub, the laundromat, the bakery, the "Thriftway" grocery & goods store, everything within walking distance). Wyn (as she is known, rather than Justine) starts spending a lot of time at the bakery while her best friend is at work, enjoying the ambiance & scents, remembering the semester she spent in France in a Boulangerie, learning how to be a boulangier. When she gets back to LA from Seattle she finds that her husband has changed the locks & placed all of her belongings on the front step for her to find when she steps out of the taxi. So, she winds up HAVING to move out & spends quite a while living with her mom, a widow with an active social life. Between learning that her mother has interest in dating and changing careers (which the mom does easily, going from school teacher to office manager, utilizing her strong orginizational skills), and increasing animosity from her ex (who's taken up with one of his coworkers, though he repetedly tells Wyn that he's not cheating on her, even when caught in the act early one morning when Wyn decides to go talk to him at home before work), Wyn decides that it's not in her best interest to stick around LA, growing increasingly bitter & depressed with her life situation.

So, Wyn moves to Seattle, finds a small "gardener's cottage" on the grounds of an old relic that's due for renovation but who's ownership is in question, and gets a job at the previously mentioned bakery, as an assistant to the competent but unimaginitive, angry Linda who rules the bread-kitchen as night-baker. A LOT of bread recipes are included in this book, illustrating how much Wyn loves experimenting with baking techniques & new tastes. Once in Seattle Wyn finds herself making friends, meeting potential love-interests, and moving on with her life, but there continues to be a looking backwards at both her marriage and her time spent in France.

One of the problems I had with this book is the way it jumps between present & past tense. It's narrarated in First person, which I don't usually prefer, but that wasn't too bad. It was at least consistent in this aspect. BUT, the present & past tense are jumped between rather frequently, making it somewhat hard to read. And not just jumping between her present life as it happens and her past time spent in France. But, as an example a sentence may read "I grab the towel" in one paragraph, and in the next the same sentence will read "I grabbed the towel". The author cannot seem to decide what she wants to do about this, so the entire book she jumped between present & past tense in talking about every activity. But, after a while it becomes a little easier to handle as the reader kind of forgets to think about tenses & focuses on the story, which is a decent one. But, on top of trying to decide whether she grabs or grabbed the towel, we also see Wyn discussing past activities with her ex., which are firmly in a past-tense, and even further back, her time in France, which are frequently written first-person, present tense, as a memory. It's rather confusing. But, this is undoubtedly the WORST part of this book. The story is a good one, the recipes look interesting, and the character is reasonably likeable, though moreso at the end of the book than at the beginning of the book, when she starts out as a rich-bitch trophy-wife who doesn't seem to understand what it means to work for a living.

The recipes mentioned include goodies such as:

** Plain Old Bread (to which Wyn adds the information that for best results, a tastier bread, a crispier crust, etc, reduce the yeast by half, and double the rising time to twice as long, placing the rising dough in a cool, but not cold, place, not a warm stove-top.)
** Patty's Cake with Espresso-Caramel Sauce
** Basic Whole Wheat Bread
** Oma's Sugar Cookies
** Misha's Pumpkin-Millet Muffins
** Jen's "Short" Scones
** Poolish for Pain de Campaigne (Sponge for Country French Bread) and the Pain de Campaigne recipe itself

Even though I've finished the book itself, I'm not going to return it to the library until I've at least copied (hopefully TRIED) at least one of these recipes. *grin* And not only does it give recipes, but as part of the story we are given a lot of tips on baking bread, on building a "levein" (a leven, a sourdough sponge, if you will). This is definitely a book I'm going to read again, even if just for the recipes & the baking talk. *grin*


Dinner the other night was yummy. I DID have my escargot & prawns. DH had a couple of my escargot & prime rib. We were both so full that we decided against dessert. It would have been good, I just didn't have room for any more food. *grin*

Unfortunately DH's tooth was bothering him so badly that he spent the entire drive up & back almost groaning in pain. He couldn't eat comfortably, but he DID eat enough to be full & appreciate the food. I'm pestering him to make a dentist appointment. I THINK he's lost a filling and will probably just need to have that tooth refilled. He's scared to death that whatever dentist he sees will want to give him novicain shots to numb things up. Well.... YEAH! It'll hurt worse WITHOUT the novicain to numb things. I told him to ask about them dosing him with laughing gas for at least as long as the novicain shots take, maybe even the entire refilling procedure, if he needs it. Better that then being in pain!!!! (Hell, better that than annoying the hell out of me with constantly griping about the pain and yet not being willing to do anything about it.)

Dad took DD to Chili's for dinner. That's her favorite restaurant, at this point. Evidently she had a small, spicy rack of ribs. She'd origionally asked for the Habanero ribs, but the waitress talked her into going down a notch in spiciness, which DD ended up being grateful for when she actually tried the ribs she DID get. LOL They were spicy enough to please her and make her eyes water, but not so spicy she couldn't handle them. *grin*


My menu for the week looks something like this:

Sunday: Kalops (we ended up going out to dinner friday instead of me making this, so we had it last night instead)
Monday: Pork Steak & baked potatoes
Tuesday: (leftover) Creamy Turkey & Wild Rice soup
Wednesday: fish (not sure what I'm doing with it yet, though. Using some frozen fish fillets we got from Sam's Club last time we were there)
Thursday: Brats & Sauerkraut
Friday: Dh's company Christmas party (at one of the nicest places in town)
Saturday: not really sure yet, but I'm STILL not going to get to make Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup like I keep hoping. DH is getting kinda burnt out on soup. *grin*


Ok, I think that about covers it for now.

Have a Blessed Day!


whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I am never coming to visit you in the winter!

I'm glad you liked Ratatouille. I've heard it was good and can't wait to see it.

You've made me hungry again.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I am never coming to visit you in the winter!

I'm glad you liked Ratatouille. I've heard it was good and can't wait to see it.

You've made me hungry again.

Celticspirit said...

-40 wind chill? No thanks. I grew up and MA and we did have a lot of below 0 days but I'm now acclimated to the warm weather after living in NM and SC. I'd like to visit Alaska when it's warm but I don't think I could take the cold!Your menu sounds good and I think I'd like to read that book you reviewed. I'll have to check for it at the library.

Tori_Z said...

Sounds like some pretty bad weather. The temp doesn't bother me that much, but I wouldn't want wind like that!

That book sounds good! Books that switch from past to present or future tense a lot are often a bit hard to follow, but if the story is enjoyable it tends to help. Glad this book was one of those with a good enough story to compensate for the writer's annoying habbit of swapping tenses.

I've seen the trailer for that movie. Saw it when I went to watch "Shrek 3" back in August. Looks really good!

Glad your dinner was good. Hope your hubby goes to see a dentist soon (before you get sick of his whining and drag him to one... physically!) LOL!

Robin said...

Just gave Jay a Ratatouille ornament for Tree Day, since he became a chef last year. We also have a 'Gustave' in a shadowbox in the kitchen (a kitchen witch, doncha know). At some point I will get around to watching the movie. :)