Friday, May 30, 2014

I Read The Book Before It Was A Movie

If you haven't realized yet, my life beyond family and friends (and my career), is all about books, movies, music, baking, and art.

The other day, I got to thinking about all of the books that I have read, that are now movies.  Most I read before they were movies altogether, some were read as the movie was being released; and some were read, without knowing they were movies.

So, I went through my Goodreads 'read' list to see how many books I really have read that are now movies.  The list below will be broken into two parts:  1.  Book First, 2. Movie First (This means that I read the book after I saw the movie.  I had to even things up a bit.)  If there is an '*' next to the book, that means that I read the book without knowing it was indeed a movie, or that I read the book before I saw the movie, if I saw it at all.

Ok, here we go!

Book First

The Twilight Saga (3)
The Hunger Games Series (3)
The Harry Potter Series (7)
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
The Devil Wears Prada
The Hobbit
Where the Red Fern Grows*
The Lovely Bones
Oliver Twist*
Great Expectations*
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
James and the Giant Peach
Love Comes Softly
Loves Enduring Promise
Loves Abiding Joy
Tuck Everlasting*
The Girl with the Pearl Earring*
The Book Thief*
The Indian in the Cupboard
The Godfather*
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil*
The Time Traveler's Wife
My Sisters Keeper
The Sookie Stackhouse Series (books 1-9) (True Blood Show)
The Help
Where the Heart Is
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (became a show)
The Haunting of Toby Jugg*
A Series of Unfortunate Events (books 1-6)
Tuesdays with Morrie*
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
In Her Shoes
A Walk to Remember
Everything is Illuminated*
The Notebook
Water for Elephants (I love this book and the movie wasn't bad, either!)
Reservation Road
House of Sand and Fog
Running with Scissors
Where the Wild Things Are
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn*
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Dislike the book, LOVE the musical)
The Secret Life of Bees
Lord of the Flies*
The Kite Runner

That is a total of 62 books that I read before they were movies or before I saw the movie.  That is pretty good.  I suspect that since I don't have every book I have ever read listed on my Goodreads account, that I may have to add a little more to list at a later date and time.

Movie First

Anne of Green Gables (read books 1-2 later)
The Nanny Diaries (movie is way better)
To Kill a Mockingbird (I grew up watching this, my mom loves it)
Mansfield Park
Sense & Sensibility
Little Women (love book and movie with Susan Sarandon)
The Secret Garden (the Hallmark version is the best)
Holes (currently reading)
Cloud Atlas (to read, waiting on bookshelf)
Marry Poppins
Bridget Jones' Diary
Bridget Jones' Diary: The Edge of Reason
A Christmas Carol
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Phantom of the Opera (book, movie, musical= all good!)
Treasure Island
Fried Green Tomatoes and the Whistle Stop Cafe (book and movie are great)
Q & A (a.k.a. Slumdog Millionaire) (Movie is better)
I love You Beth Cooper (bad book, didn't see the movie)
About a Boy (book and movie are great!)
Princess Bride (book and movie are awesome!)
Into the Wild (I only saw part of the movie, loved the book)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Crucible 

That is a total of 26 movies that I saw before I read the book.

What books have you read before they became movies?  Or which movies did you like more than the book?  Please let me know, by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Do these lists really matter in the grand scheme of my life?  No, but it is fun to look at.  I hope that throughout the rest of the year you get to read some great books and seem some fun movies!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lemon Pound Cake

I found this recipe on Pinterest at the beginning of the year and I have since made it twice.  It is so easy and the cake comes out great each time.  It is moist and delicious!  I made it the first time, using the glaze recipe, but the second time I made it, I made a lemon buttercream frosting.  They say necessity breeds invention and that is very true in this case.  The only reason I made the buttercream frosting, is because I tried to remove the cake from the pan, before it was ready.  I took the entire top off of the cake and it broke in half.  So, I made the frosting to cover it up. Ha ha.

The horror!

Saved!  It's not the best looking cake I have ever made, but it still tasted great!

2 sticks butter

1/2 cup crisco

5 eggs (room temperature)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract (I juice of 1/2 a lemon, instead)

(glaze) 1 lemon (juice and zest)
(glaze) few drops canola oil
(glaze) confectioner's sugar

1.  Grease and flour a tube pan and preheat the oven to 325ยบ F.

2.  Cream the butter and crisco.

3.  Add the sugar and cream well.

4.  Add the eggs and mix well for about three minutes.

5.  Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together and add alternately with milk to the creamed mixture.

6.  Add vanilla and lemon extracts and mix well for another three minutes.

7.  Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan.

8.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Note: Do not open the oven during the first hour of baking.

9.  When done, let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan.  
     (I suggest letting it cool thoroughly.)

10.  When the cake is completely cooled, juice one lemon and add zest from one lemon, a couple drops   
       of canola oil and stir in enough confectioner's sugar to make glaze a nice pouring consistency.

11.  Drizzle all over the cake, letting the glaze run over the edges and into the hole in the center of the 

12.  Leave the cake uncovered for an hour or longer so the glaze will dry a bit before serving.  This will 
       keep the glaze from becoming sticky.

13.  Now admire your creation, fix a cup of tea or coffee, cut that cake and enjoy!

If you need to save your cake, like I needed to save mine, you might want to use this buttercream:

1/3 cup butter

4-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

1/4 cup milk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla


1.  Beat butter until fluffy.

2.  Gradually add 2 cups sugar beating well.

3.  Slowly beat in 1/4 cup milk and vanilla.  (I only put a splash of milk and left out the vanilla.)

4.  Slowly beat in remaining sugar.

5.  Beat in additional milk if needed.  (I used juice of a medium lemon.  Frosting became a bit too thin for my liking, so I added a bit more sugar and et voila!)

6.  You may tint frosting with food coloring if you desire.

7.  This will frost tops and sides of 8" or 9" layer cakes.

(Skeleton of this recipe is from the Stater Brother's brand Confectioner's Sugar)

This really is so yummy!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Homemade Tortillas

I am on summer break, so I am probably going to be trying out a bunch of recipes... starting now!

I like this recipe because it is easy to make and the ingredients are simple.

photo by: Me, Tiffiny H.

Homemade Tortillas

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons olive oil

1.  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Stir in water and oil.  Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour or water if needed to achieve a smooth dough. Let rest for 10 minutes.

2.  Divide dough into eight portions.  On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a 7-in. circle. (Mine did not like to take the shape of circles... more like amoebas. Ha ha.)

3.  In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned.  Keep warm.  Yield: 8 tortillas.

If you would like to print this recipe out, you may find it here: Homemade Tortillas

These are meant to be used straight away, but I have frozen mine.  I hope that they keep.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Czech Fruit Dumplings

When I would teach at English camp over the summer in the Czech Republic, my favorite meal was the blueberry dumplings!  They are so delicious and such a precious little treat.

The last time that I was in the Czech Republic, I picked up a cookbook for the sole purpose of making fruit dumplings.  There are many great recipes inside, but I am sure that these are the best, hands down.

I finally got around to making them!  Here is the recipe (I have tried to make it understandable, because it is a bit confusing and I actually had to start over, when the first time failed, within the first few steps):

Fruit Dumplings, Using Yeasty Dough

400 g medium fine flour (3 cups Flour)

25 g yeast (3 packets yeast)

1 teaspoon castor sugar

Approx. 200 ml milk ( 1 cup, I had to add more, you might have to as well)

Flour for rolling out dough

Fruit (blueberries, apricots, bilberries, plums, etc.) I used frozen blueberries.

Butter, melted (this is for drizzling on finished dumplings before dusting with sugar)

Confectioner's sugar for heavy dusting

I got these conversions by rounding up to the nearest whole, that was given to me from this amazing website: Convert-Me (It has saved me on a few occasions.)

1. In a medium bowl, sift the flour.

2.  In a separate bowl, combine the yeast and sugar, then add 2 Tablespoons warm water.  Mix into a paste.  Cover the bowl and when the yeast has fermented (grown in size), add salt and then add to flour, working it into a dough.  Add milk, dust with flour, cover and leave to rise. (**This was the tricky step because the directions are not written anything like this.  I think some things are lost in translation, I hope that this step is clear for you.  I adapted this after my mistake and a waste of yeast and an unwanted trip to the store to get more.**)  Note: My dough was still pretty dry after one cup of milk and I had to add more.  I added as much as I saw fit, in order to get a dough that was pliable.

3.  Turn out the dough on a board and cut it into equal size pieces. (I ended up with 14 and I probably could have made them smaller.)  Take each ball of a dough, one at a time and flatten into a disc.  Add fruit to the middle and fold dough around fruit, making a ball.  Make sure that this is completely sealed or it will bust when boiling.  Leave dough to rise another 5 minutes. Drop dumplings into boiling water in small batches and boil for 8- 10 minutes depending on size.

4.  Lift the dumplings out of the water with a slotted spoon and immediately puncture them  with a fork, a few times.  This will prevent them from congealing.

5.  Arrange dumplings on a plate and drizzle with a generous amount of melted butter and dust liberally with confectioner's sugar.

Note:  The next time that I make these, I am going to lightly sweeten the fruit, before wrapping it in the dough.

Eat up!  They are very good! And actually quite easy to make!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

S'mores Cookies

Can't get to the beach any time soon?

Don't think you'll be able to have a bonfire this year?

I've got you covered!  I found this recipe for S'mores Cookies about 4 years ago on Tasty Kitchen, and they are always a big hit.  I recently made them for a friend's 30th birthday celebration and I went home with none.

They are very easy to make and very delicious!

** Note, baking is a two step process, you must bake the cookie partially and then add the toppings, and continue to bake.  So, make sure you have time to do that. **

Photo by:  Me, Tiffiny

3 sticks butter, cold and sliced

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 whole eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2-1/2 cups flour

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 bars (6.8 oz bar) chocolate, giant sized (I used fair trade chocolate chips from Equal Exhange)

1 bag mini marshmallows

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixer, combine the butter and both sugars. Mix in the egg and vanilla until well combined. In another bowl, combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, salt, and baking powder. Add to the mixer and mix well. Place dough balls on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and press broken chocolate pieces (I used Symphony bars) and marshmallows into the cookies. Place them back into the oven for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool. 

This will take you to the Tasty Kitchen page, for this recipe.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Black Bean Soup

I am not a huge fan of soup... never have been.  However, I really love the black bean soup served at Panera Bread.  It is just so good!  So, I have been wanting to make my own black bean soup for quite some time now. I recently found a recipe from my beloved Pioneer Woman.

I made this recipe on Sunday and I must say that it is quite good.  I will most likely add more spiciness to it the next time that I make it.

I think that you should try it out!  
(Recipe is taken straight from the Pioneer Woman's website)

Photo by: The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pound Dried Black Beans
  • 4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2 cups Water
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Diced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Cumin

  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado, diced
  • Cilantro Leaves
  • Lime Wedges
  • Corn Tortillas Cut Into Strips

Preparation Instructions

Place the beans in a bowl or pot, cover with cold water, and allow to soak overnight *OR* add beans to a medium pot and cover with hot water. Bring to a boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the beans to sit for 1 hour. Drain the beans and rinse them with cold water.
In a medium pot, add beans, chicken stock, water, onions, and bell peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. At that time, add salt, chili powder, and cumin and stir. Cover and continue simmering for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the liquid level is to your liking (anywhere from very thick to a thinner soup is fine!)
Taste for seasoning and add more of what it needs. Serve soup in a bowl with sour cream, extra diced bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips, and a lime wedge.

If you would like to print this out from the Pioneer Woman, herself,  go here.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

An Excerpt

As I was cleaning my apartment today, I came across an excerpt from 'Black Boy'.  I had forgotten completely that I had taken the time to write this down.

I think this excerpt is important, because it still applies to our nation today.  Whether you are Black, Asian, Hispanic, Latino, Gay, Straight, or even White... this applies to you, because we are all getting so used to finding faults in others and then using that against them.  By doing so we create a space, a great distance between us and others.  We lose out on connections.  We miss out on many great opportunities that would be there, if we could just look beyond a skin color or sexual orientation.

So, here is to making new friends, and forging the path of love... no matter who you are, what you look like, or what your sexual preferences are.

An excerpt from 'Black Boy' by Richard Wright

"... As I, in memory, think back now upon those girls and their lives I feel that for White America to understand the significance of the problem of the Negro will take a bigger and tougher America than any we have yet known.  I feel that America's past is too shallow, her national character too superficially optimistic, her morality too suffused with color hate for her to accomplish so vast and complex a task.  Culturally the Negro represents a paradox:  Though he is an organic part of the nation, he is excluded by the entire tide and direction of American culture.  Frankly, it is felt right to exclude him, and it is felt to be wrong to admit him freely.  Therefore if, within the confines of its present culture, the nation ever seeks to purge itself of its color hate, it will find itself at war with itself, convulsed by a spasm of emotional and moral confusion.  If the nation ever finds itself examining its real relation to the Negro, it will find itself doing infinitely more than that; for the anti-Negro attitude of whites represents but a tiny part- though a symbolically significant one- of the moral attitude of the nation.  Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity.  It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it saves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.  Am I damning my native land? No; for I, too, share these faults of character! And I really do not think that America, adolescent and cocksure, a stranger to suffering and travail, an enemy of passion and sacrifice, is ready to probe into its most fundamental beliefs."

Can't we all just get along?  I feel like we should have figured this out by now, I mean it is 2014 after all!  But, it isn't just fashion trends that come back throughout the years.  Unfortunately, our lack of understanding is also something that comes back, over and over.  Hopefully, we will find a way to embrace others for who they are sooner, rather than later.