Friday, April 24, 2015

A Book in Review: A Reliable Wife




A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick

I might be one of the rare ones who actually liked this book. When I first started reading it, I read one chapter and did not like it at all. I put it down for a week. But then... what a story!! Being lost in the present, because you are living in the past. Haven't we all been there? I think this book has a few messages, but I keep thinking of redemption. We are a mess and we've made mistakes, but we can learn from them and change for the better. We can hold on to hope. We can be brought into the light. 

Ralph Truitt is the man! He stayed firm in his love as Catherine worked her way into the light. I love Ralph Truitt for the man that he became. Even though he knew that Catherine was trying to kill him, he still chose to love her. Even though he knew about her past, he still loved her. He has so much love!

What an ending!

4 out of 5 stars. I really liked it.

P.S.- No major spoilers here, really, because the back of the book mentions that Catherine is going to kill him.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Book in Review: A Crimson Frost


Image from Goodreads.com


After reading all of these reviews, I think that you might have a good idea as to what I did over my spring break. I have to get reading in when I can, because as I am teaching throughout the school year, my time is not so much my own.

I had never heard of Marcia McClure before, but one day I was fiddling around on Goodreads and I happened upon this book and instantly, I knew that I wanted to read it.

These kisses! They are hot! I loved this book for its purity. No raunchy sex scenes here (Although sometimes a book like that is OK. See Bodyguards of LA County series by Cate Beauman and I don't even know if I would call them raunchy). Yet, I still got worked up!

Boderick is a good man and Monet is a good woman. Finally two people who deserve each other. I would have liked to have seen more of their story after the fight with King James. I feel like it kind of ended abruptly and then was fast forwarded to several years later.

4 stars out 5. I really liked it.

I have had great experiences with books that have extremely cheesy covers! Marcia has one million other books and I am slowly going to read them and I know that I am going to enjoy the process!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Book in Review: Looking For Alaska


Looking For Alaska, by John Green

I purchased this book a while ago, off of the recommendation of my good friend Micah. He told me that it was his favorite book by John Green. This book marked my first experience with the author. Though, I know him from his YouTube videos and of course because all of the hype behind 'The Fault In Our Stars'. Is it his best work? I do not know and I do not know if I should find out. 

I really enjoyed this story. I just wish that my friend told me that it would be sad and leave me with a lot of questions, because I am sad and I have a lot of questions, but I also have hope for the future of the characters. I looked for an extra chapter that would explain... that would give me closure, but there wasn't one. I wanted to punch Alaska in the hip, for being a stupid stupid girl.

My mom read 'The Fault In Our Stars' and liked it, so she wants me to read it. I will do so, but I believe that that will mark the end of my time with John Green.

4 out of 5 stars. I really liked it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Book in Review: With a Name Like Love


With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

Though it may be few in pages, it is packed with understanding and love... everlasting love! What a great story Tess Hilmo has given us. I am reminded once again, how great it is to seek the truth and as it is said in the book, doing what is right isn't always the easiest. This book is good for the young and the old because all ages can benefit from reading this lovely story.

I look forward to reading Tess Hilmo's other book, 'Skies Like These'.

5 out of 5 stars I loved it!

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Book In Review: Saving Sophie



Saving Sophie is number 7 in the Bodyguards of LA County series, by Cate Beauman. I have read each book and I always eagerly await the next installment.

I read this in one day, so I suppose that I liked it. I think that this in one of my favorites, in the series. It seemed more real when it came to their relationship. They didn't always get along and it seemed touch and go for a moment.

The romance in this book doesn't happen until they are married and the story behind their marriage is something else!  I laughed every time the author mentioned that Stone's hair was pulled back in a 'kerchief'... because why? Does he have one kerchief per day??!!

4 out of 5 stars I really liked it

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Book in Review: All The Light We Cannot See


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A very good book. You become attached to Marie-Laure and Werner. I love that this blind girl is surrounded by people who love her just the way she is.

It is sad.
It is melancholy.
It is happy.
It is life. It goes on even when bad things happen.

I cannot say more without spoiling it all.

I highly recommend this book! 4 out of 5 stars. I really liked it.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake





Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake
12 servings

CAKE
                  Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2                large egg whites (1/4 cup)

1/3             cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1-1/2          cups coarsely chopped walnuts

1-1/4          cups mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided

2                cups cake flour

1/2             teaspoon salt

1/4             teaspoon baking powder

1/4             teaspoon baking soda

1                cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2             cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3                large eggs

3/4             cup sour cream


TOPPING
3/4             cup powdered sugar

2                tablespoons sour cream


CAKE: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350ºF. Butter and flour 10-inch-diameter angel food cake pan with removable bottom, then spray with nonstick spray. Mix egg whites, brown sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Mix in walnuts and 1/4 cup chocolate chips.

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Stir in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with sour cream in 3 additions. Stir in remaining chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Spoon walnut mixture evenly over. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 8 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. Using sharp knife, cut around sides of pan and center tube to loosen cake. Using oven mitt, grasp center tube and lift from sides of pan. Cool cake completely on rack. Cut cake free from pan bottom. Placing hand gently atop cake for support, tilt cake just far enough over to release from center tube; remove tube. Place cake, streusel side up, on platter (walnuts should be on top).

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic.

TOPPING: Mix sugar and sour cream in bowl; drizzle over cake.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Movie in Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Over the weekend, I was able to meet up with one of my best friends. We went to see Kingsman: The Secret Service. I had never heard of this movie! I hardly ever make it to the movies, because let's be honest $11+ dollars for A single movie is a bit ridiculous. I grew up paying $2.50 and that was expensive. Ha ha.

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox


Anyway, I recommend this movie for the following reasons:

1. It has Colin Firth! I love Coin Firth. I find him quite attractive for a 54 year old man.

2. It has Mark Strong! I like Mark Strong. I also find him attractive. I guess I like older men.

3. There were funny bits.

4. There was action!

5. Colin Firth did action!

6. The men were dressed as gentlemen throughout the film. So nice to see a man in a good suit.

7. There were some surprises.

8. Taron Egerton is a nice new and fresh face to see.

9. I really liked this quote: "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." -Ernest Hemingway

I could have done without a few parts, like one extreme killing scene and the last scene with the princess, but overall a good flick!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Cherry-Vanilla Tea Cake with Vanilla Sugar

This is a delightfully easy cake to make. Please, make sure you can find the correct cherries! Unless this cook book asks for items that I already know where to locate whilst in the store, I have a very hard time finding the item... and I am not a very good 'ask for help' type of person. I suffer because of this. Sometimes needlessly.

I purchased cherry pie filling, because I could not locate the correct cherries, and then rinsed the filling bit off and kept the cherries. BTW, a 20 oz. can of cherry pie filling, only contains 1/2 a cup of actual cherries! Rip off. I say make your own pie filling. It will taste better anyway and will be packed with cherries!

** Note to self: Put Vanilla sugar on everything!** So good!

On to the recipe!



Cherry-Vanilla Tea Cake with Vanilla Sugar
10 Servings

1-1/2          cups unbleached all purpose flour

1                teaspoon baking powder

1/2             teaspoon baking soda

1/4             teaspoon salt

1/8             teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2             cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1                cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar

2                large eggs, room temperature

2                teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3             cup sour cream

1                teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

1                cup canned pitted sweet cherries, halved, drained

1/2             vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2                Tablespoons powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly butter and flour 10-inch-diameter springform pan with 2-3/4-inch-high sides. Sift flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in vanilla extract. Transfer 2 tablespoons dry ingredients to small bowl. At low speed, beat half of remaining dry ingredients into butter mixture, then mix in sour cream and lemon peel. Beat in remaining half of dry ingredients. Mix cherries into reserved 2 tablespoons dry ingredients; fold cherrie into batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan smooth top. Bake  until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (Mine took 40, so just keep an eye out.) Transfer cake to rack and cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into small bowl. Mix in remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, rubbing with fingertips to distribute seeds. Add powdered sugar and rub again.

Sift vanilla sugar over hot cake and cool. Cut around pan sides to loosen cake; remove pan sides.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Czech Pernicky

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I lived in the Czech Republic for a short time and have since gone back twice. I love that country. It is beautiful, filled with History and amazing people.

My school will be hosting 'Cultural Days', for two days this week. While the sophomores are doing state testing, all other grades will be getting to experience different cultures. The students will visit a total of six countries, in two days. I will be sharing my love for the Czech Republic with them. I am going to give a 'background' presentation, so they can see what the country is all about. We will have a egg decorating craft. However, they will not be decorating real eggs. These ones are paper. There will be a language lesson, a game, and hopefully a dance... if I can remember the steps in time.

I created passports for all of the students. Inside, students will find an explanation of 'Cultural Days', a world map, 6 pages to document their experience, a top 10 places to travel list for them to create, and a spot for them to get their passports stamped. I am pretty excited about it. I hope that the students will be as well.

To top my lesson off, I will be offering each student Pernicky (per-nit-ski). It is kind of like gingerbread, minus the ginger (you can totally throw ginger in too! I did, when I ran out of star anise). You will find star anise, aniseed, fennel seed, nutmeg, and allspice in mine.

The next time I make this recipe, I want to try it with rye flour. I have some on hand, but I'll need to experiment with quantity, as it is different than all purpose flour. I believe that true and authentic Pernicky uses rye flour. I hope that you will give these a try. They are not exactly like the ones that I ate in Prague at Christmas time, but they are a close second!

Get creative with your designs! I could not think of anything fun... I have to work on my decorating game!






I converted and changed up the recipe. The original can be found here: 


Pernicky

2-3/4          cups all purpose flour

1                cup confectioners sugar

3                Tablespoons honey ( plus more if dough is a bit dry)

2                Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1                teaspoon baking soda

2                eggs

1/2             teaspoon ground star anise

1/2             teaspoon nutmeg

1/2             teaspoon allspice

1/2             teaspoon ground fennel seed

1/2             teaspoon ground cloves

1/2             teaspoon ground anise seed


Icing

2                egg whites

2                cups confectioners sugar


1. In your electric mixer bowl, combine four, baking soda, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ground fennel seed. In another bowl, cream together butter eggs, sugar, honey, and ground anise seed.

2. While mixing, slowly add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients until a firm dough forms. (This is where I added a bit more honey, if my dough was still a bit crumbly and not sticking to itself.) Form it into a disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (I let mine chill for a few hours.)

3. Once chilled, divide the dough into two and roll each half out on a floured surface (into about a sugar dough thickness (1/4-inch), the cookies will puff up while baking), and cut your shapes out. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

4. Place your cut out shapes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake about 7 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool completely before icing.

5. To make your icing, whisk 2 egg whites until stiff white peaks form, then slowly begin to add sugar. Spoon that mixture into your piping bags and decorate your cookies. This icing is great as it dries hard, just make sure you give it enough time to dry.