Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Wednesday Chef - Ginger Mo' Cake

Mmmmm. I'm pretty sure the mo' is for more, not molasses.
Luisa, aka Wednesday Chef, plucks recipes from the depths of a cookbook or the back page of a newspaper and brings them to life with photos, prose, and the voice of good taste.

If you like to be in the kitchen, and you haven't checked out Luisa's blog, get on over there. Not only must she be a phenomenal baker and cook, she is a gifted blogger, one who celebrates the quiet joys of the kitchen with her words and pictures. This lady can make you crave things... beautiful, bountiful cakes, spicy winter soups, simply made dinners with sumptuous ingredients.

The Dark Molasses Ginger Cake is my third Wednesday Chef-chosen recipe. Previously, I've tried Melissa Clark's Roasted Broccoli & Shrimp and - twice - the rich, homestyle Yogurt-Rubbed Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers, courtesy Liz Pearson.

Luisa always notes where the recipes come from, and often includes some family or friend anecdote. In the case of today's gingerbread cake, it's a recipe from Edna Lewis, renowned for keeping old-fashioned Southern cooking alive.

Now, I didn't have a cake pan (still getting set up!) so I used an 8X8 glass Pyrex - and I'm about to test the results. Here's a photo :

I've made a pot of tea and squirted out some whip-in-a-can (since we don't have an electric mixer yet, no chance of freshly whipped cream). I'll ask Jody for the verdict: "Yummy!"

Friday, April 10, 2009

Habitual Page-Turner

I have this habit. It's called reading.

My habit has suffered lately, due to:

-Not being a student
-Not taking public transit every day
-Not working at a secondhand bookstore any more
-Moving halfway around the world

That last one may surprise you. Jody likes to read too, and understands how much a good book and a cup of tea can do to lift my spirits. But when I was single, I used to read before bed nearly every night. Now there's someone to talk to, someone who wonders why it takes me so long to get sleepy.
Often I would fall asleep reading - just ask my dad, my sister, or Michelle (who at one time was my roommate). The light would be on, the book open, my glasses perched on my face - but I would be fast asleep.

I rarely read more than one book at a time, unless the others are for class. Sometimes, if I'm working my way through a particularly long or serious novel, I will pick up a romance or something for when I can't concentrate but need to escape. But I'm not a multi-book reader - two at most. Perhaps because I read so fast? I don't really have time to get bored with a story before I finish it.

If my purse is big enough, you can bet there's a book inside.
I have lots of bookmarks, many of which I've kept for years.
I never dog-ear pages, and I try not to crack the spine. If the book I've just read was new-to-me, you can barely tell it's been read. I have to admit, I am cautious about lending books to people I know will "mistreat" it, unless I don't mind if I get it back at all. Why?

It makes me cringe when I see someone *bend* the spine of a new book.
It's even worse if they've curved the paperback so they can hold it in one hand.
There is, in my mind, no reason to fold pages down. That's why they invented bookmarks. Bookmarks always fall out, you say? That's why there are magnetic bookmarks! I have two.

I don't like writing in books. I had to get over that in university, because it would have meant failing poetry classes - but I used pencil, and made all kinds of funny marks that corresponded to, "theme," "internal rhyme," "simile," "repetition," et cetera. I bought used copies of textbooks when possible, because not only were they cheaper, they'd already been written in and I didn't mind adding my own notes as much.

I rarely see the movie before reading the book. If I do, I often read the book soon afterwards, to get a different picture in my head. Forrest Gump is an exception. Some classics, too, and plays are often easier to understand if you know the story already. I don't mind knowing the ending to a movie, but I hate if someone gives away the ending of a book.

I like to read a series in order, and if it's been awhile since I read the earlier ones, I might reread them before diving into the latest. Unlike Courtney, I don't always have to read an author's oeuvre in order of publication, but it is preferable.
When I had a bathtub, I would often spend an hour having a soak and a read. Note: this would always be with a cheap book that I wouldn't mind steaming.
If I go to the beach, I bring a book.
If I'm traveling somewhere or going to an appointment where there's a waiting room, I'll bring a book.
I've been known to miss a stop when I read on the bus.
My dad used to admonish me for reading at the breakfast table, so he'd take my book away and I'd read the cereal boxes.
I nearly walked into a post once because I was reading something in a shop window.

I try to curb my habit of finishing a book before bed by reading a magazine instead, but this usually fails. Even if I purposely start 3/4 the way through the mag, I'll just start at the beginning again and read it like a book.
One year, I bought Cosmo every single month - then realized I'd spent over $60 on magazines, when I could have bought six nice books instead.

One of my university friends was just as much of a reader as I am, and her brother once commented that, even though she spent a fair bit on books, it was cheaper than going out - because she'd read them more than once.

I often reread books, even romance books if they're by a favoured author. And I love children's classics, like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables.

I'm not too fussed about whether the book is Canadian, American, British, whatever. But I've read my fair share of those, thanks to my university classes. And I'm thankful for that, because I discovered several books I never would have picked up of my own choosing - and now I love them.

Before I moved to Australia, my shelves were stuffed. full. to. overflowing. But I organized them, often by genre and size; rarely alphabetically. I could always put my finger on the book I wanted. Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind were always together, as were Amanda Quick and Nora Roberts. Rearranging bookshelves was one of my favourite ways to procrastinate.

Then it happened. I was moving. And not just across town, which had already prompted The Great Book Purge of 2007, and its one-bedroom cousin, The Purge of 2008. This was the real deal. Even though I have very generous family members willing to store some of my collection, the loss of just (just!) 250 was not enough.
If I had emotional attachment to a book, I kept it. Childhood books I kept for long-term storage. Terry Brooks and Terry Goodkind are gone, as are all but my favourite romances and mysteries. Twilight and Philippa Gregory found good homes. Literature was tough; some were really nice editions from school and I kept those - but if it was a Penguin or a secondhand copy, to the bookstore it went. I think I cut my already-pared collection in half again.

I brought seven books with me to Oz. Including my Bible and devotional. Two school books made the cut - Ami McKay's The Birth House, and The Canadian Press Style Guide. Then, Peter Behrens' The Law of Dreams (grad gift from my sister) and my absolute fave, Catherine Marshall's Julie. I brought Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald for the plane trip, and left it with one of the airline crew.

The little built-in shelf in our apartment is getting very might be time to visit the lending library to drop off the 5 books I bought for $25, or perhaps it's time for a trip to IKEA.

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