Read in May 2015

That’s right. Once again, it is the end of another month and I’ve forgotten to post about the books I read in the previous month! Gah.

I hesitate, knowing that there’s so many books that I’ve not actually talked about, wondering why I don’t write about books more often.

Of course the answer is: life. Kids. Chores. Doing stuff with kids. And what is the best reason of all, reading books. And I have been reading and reading all the books, especially comics in May. Such good comics too!

Among my favourites in May were:

Love and Capes
Underwater Welder

I reread two books: The Hobbit and To Sir with Love

And read a classic children’s book that everyone else seems to have read: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler

As for non-fiction, I even read a few, mostly food-related, but hey, there was non-fiction read in May!

 

Comics


Love and Capes Vol 3: Wake Up Where You Are – Thomas F. Zahler
Love and Capes Vol 4: What to Expect – Thomas F. Zahler
Abelard – Renaud Dillies
Mystique: Ultimate collection – Brian K Vaughan, Jorge Lucas, Michael Ryan, Manuel Garcia
Adventure Time Vol 1 – Ryan North, Braden Lamb, Shelli Paroline (Illustrator)
Adventure Time Vol 2 – Ryan North, Shelli Paroline (Illustrations), Braden Lamb (Illustrations), Mike Holmes (Illustrator)
Adventure Time with Fionna and Cake (Vol 1) – Natasha Allegri, Lucy Knisley, Kate Leth
Blue is the warmest colour – Julie Maroh
Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens – Meredith Gran
Adventure Time Vol 4 – Ryan North, Braden Lamb (Illustrations), Shelli Paroline (Illustrations)
Adventure Time Vol 3 – Ryan North, Braden Lamb (Illustrations), Shelli Paroline (Illustrations)
The Woods Vol 1 – James Tynion IV, Michael Dialynas
Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire
Lucille – Ludovic Debeurme
The Borden Tragedy: a memoir of the infamous double murder at Fall River, Mass., 1892 – Rick Geary
Pride and Prejudice (Marvel adaptations) – Nancy Butler and Hugo Petrus
CSI: Serial (graphic novel #1) – Max Allan Collins
The Cape – Joe Hill, Zach Howard, Jason Ciaramella

Fiction

 


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1) – Catherynne M. Valente
Foreign Affairs – Alison Lucie
Soy Sauce for Beginners – Kirstin Chen
Dicey’s Song (Tillerman cycle #2) – Cynthia Voigt
The Hobbit – J R R Tolkien
To Sir with Love – E.R. Braithwaite
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E.L. Konigsburg
Chef – Jaspreet Singh

Non-fiction


Best Food Writing 2014 – Holly Hughes (ed)
Death be not proud – John Gunther
The Chronology of Water – Lidia Yuknavitch
Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen – Donia Bijan
Men explain things to me – Rebecca Solnit
Come in, we’re closed: an invitation to staff meals at the world’s best restaurants – Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy

It’s Monday and we’re back to regular programming

itsmondayIt’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

 

 

The Husband took last week off. And it was nice to have him at home, spending time with the kids, and with me!

We even managed to catch a movie in a cinema, on Discount Day (just $6.50!). And that was a real rare treat. The last time we went to a cinema was 1 1/2 years ago, in Singapore. It’s not easy between the two of us, taking time off to spend together. And we really ought to do it more often.

Anyway, we watched Jurassic World and it was a hoot! I had a great time, a far better time than I was expecting. It was fun and funny. And I loved how they kind of pay tribute to the original movie.

(It’s a stout float!)

Then on Thursday we set off north past San Francisco to Petaluma in wine country for lunch, before heading to the coastal town of Sea Ranch where a rental home named Pelican was ours until Sunday.


 

 

 

(harbor seals in the bottom photo)

 

Sea Ranch Chapel

It was a nice relaxing vacation. Our first ever stay at a rental home and at Sea Ranch. It’s an interesting community where the homes are all designed in a certain way, simple, very straight-edged, clad in wooden siding or shingles. Perimeter fences aren’t allowed and non-native plants are to be planted only in a screened-in area.

Apparently the herd of sheep we saw on the side of the road is what’s used to mow the grass! We’ve also seen plenty of deer, wild turkeys (at least that’s what they look like) and condors. Oh and harbor seals.

The kids had fun playing by the beach, swimming in the community pool, watching the fog roll in, playing on the patio overlooking the golf course.

The town of Gualala is a few minutes’ drive north and has some eateries and two little supermarkets. And there was even a little bookstore!

(I didn’t buy anything for myself but it’s always fun to browse and check out local recommendations!)

And I got to do some reading! I only brought one physical book but I had loaded several books on Scribd and Overdrive.

It was a pretty good end to the week.

 

Currently…

Reading:

lollywillowes

Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner

 

housefortune

The House on Fortune Street – Margot Livesey
Watching:

Iron Chef America

Eating:

Butter cookie.

Drinking:

Green tea

Cooking:

Ok I really don’t know what to cook this week. We had a quick pop-into Trader Joe’s not long after we got back, mostly to get milk for the kids and some fruits and vegetables. So far I have broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the fridge. I’m guessing pork chops with sprouts? There’s always some kind of noodle and rice dish each week so that will be among the things to cook. I’m really just winging it this week! I’ll have to go to the Asian supermarket tomorrow anyway, so we will see how it goes…maybe some fish.

Browsing:

A fun (non-scientific) test that tells you how defined your colour perception is. I got 26! How did you do?

David Leibovitz visits the Le Creuset factory and it is a fascinating process

River City Reading on finding the right imprint for you

The second round of the ‘women’s world cup of literature’ begins (Three Percent)

Books added to my TBR list:

Stir by Jessica Fechtor (via Kirkus Review)

(ok plenty more books were added to my list this week, I just can’t remember where they were from)!

Last week:

I read:


Good Eggs – Phoebe Potts
The Light between Oceans – M.L. Stedman
Museum Vaults: Excerpts from the journal of an expert – Marc-Antoine Mathieu
Up the down stairs – Bel Kaufman
Love like hate – Linh Dinh
Red Sonja, Vol. 1: Queen of Plagues – Gail Simone, Walter Geovanni (Artist), Jenny Frison (Cover Artists)

I posted:

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie

 

What are you reading this week?

 

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin

homecooking   Food writer and critic Ruth Reichl calls her “the anti-Martha Stewart”.

And perhaps it is because of that that Colwin’s Home Cooking is such an enjoyable read.

In the introduction, Colwin tells the reader that she is a homebody. She loves to stay at home, loves to eat in, and enjoys cooking, but adds that “while I like a nice meal, I do not want to be made a nervous wreck in the process of producing one. I like dishes that are easy, savory, and frequently cook themselves (or cook quickly)”.

“I am probably not much fun as a traveler, either. My idea of a good time abroad is to visit someone’s house and hang out, poking into their cupboards if they will let me. One summer I spent some time in a farmhouse on the island of Minorca. This was my idea of bliss: a vacation at home (even if it wasn’t my home). I could wake up in the morning, make the coffee and wander outside to pick apricots for break- fast. I could wander around the markets figuring out that night’s dinner. In foreign countries I am drawn into grocery shops, supermarkets and kitchen supply houses.”

She’s my kind of cook!

I adore reading food book, and I’ve read more than a few by chefs, restaurant critics and other foodie celebs, but Laurie Colwin’s writing is refreshing in its candour and her ability to connect with the reader, whose domain is more likely to be a home kitchen than a professional one.

Ruth Reichl, the writer, editor and former New York Times restaurant critic, told the New York Times: “You want to be in the kitchen with her — that is her secret. She is the best friend we all want. She never talks down to you.” Colwin is always encouraging:

“Of course there is a motto here: always try everything even if it turns out to be a dud. We learn by doing. If you never stuff a chicken with pâté, you will never know that it is an unwise thing to do, and if you never buy zucchini flowers you will never know that you are missing one of the glories of life.”

She willingly shares her kitchen mistakes:

“This was in my younger days when that sort of thing seemed like a good idea. Triple bypass surgery on the vice-presidents of a medium-sized corporation could have been performed in the time it took me to bone this chicken because the trick was to bone it without cutting into it. You sort of wiggled the knife inside the cavity and got the bones from underneath. When I had finished, I was exhausted and the poor little chicken looked like a dead basketball. But nevertheless, I was determined to stuff that creature with a fancy mixture of ham, chicken, pistachio nuts, cream, cognac and so forth. It makes me shudder to think of it.”

And muses on parties and other people’s cooking:

A party by its nature is free-floating. People are free to float about your rooms grinding cake crumbs into your rugs, scattering cigarette ash on your wood floors, scaring your cat and leaving their glasses to make rings on your furni- ture. This sort of thing is enthralling to some potential hosts and hostesses, horrific to others. Most people feel a combination of these things: the idea of a party fills them half with horror, half with excitement.

The old-fashioned fish bake was a terrifying production. Someone in the family had gone fishing and had pulled up a number of smallish fish – no one was sure what kind. These were partially cleaned and not thoroughly scaled and then flung into a roasting pan. Perhaps to muffle their last screams, they were smothered in a thick blanket of sour cream and then pelted with raw chopped onion. As the coup de grace, they were stuck in a hot oven for a brief period of time until their few juices ran out and the sour cream had a chance to become grainy. With this we were served boiled frozen peas and a salad with iceberg lettuce.

And writes her recipes without too much of a fuss. Sure it’s nice to have a fancy meal on occasion, but with a busy lifestyle, sometimes you just need an idea for a simple meal, like this one for ‘Last-Minute Soup’ in which you steal your kids’ pasta shapes:

“one cup jellied stock, two asparagus chopped up, some little pasta, one egg, juice of half a lime, and black pepper Let the stock come to a simmer and add the asparagus and pasta: you can steal your child’s pastina, or pasta stars. When the pasta has cooked, stir in a beaten egg and the lime juice. Add fresh black pepper and eat at once.”

Here’s when you should read Laurie Colwin

– when you’ve had your own kitchen disaster

– when you’re planning a dinner party

– when you’ve stuck your head in the fridge wondering what to cook for dinner and your kids are demanding “where’s my dinner??”

– when you’ve had a horrendous meal out and everything else is closed and you’re still starving

– when you’re despairing at the size of your home and kitchen (“I did the dishes in a plastic pan in the bathtub and set the dish drainer over the toilet”, says Colwin)

– when you need to feed the fussy and want to disguise vegetables

Or you could just read Colwin anytime and every time. And then reread.

(I read this on Scribd)\

lauriecolwin

Laurie Colwin is the author of five novels: Happy All the TimeFamily HappinessGoodbye Without LeavingShine On, Bright and Dangerous Object; and A Big Storm Knocked It Over; three collections of short stories: Passion and AffectAnother Marvelous Thing, and The Lone Pilgrim; and two collections of essays: Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. She died in 1992, aged just 48.

(Maureen Corrigan of NPR recommends starting with Colwin’s 1982 novel Family Happiness, if you haven’t read Colwin’s work before.)

Foodies Read 2015 Button

This is my fourth read for Foodies Read 2015

weekendcooking

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie

mousetrap

The Mousetrap is the world’s longest running play. This year will be its 63rd year. 2012, its 60th year, also marked its 25,000th performance. Its author, Agatha Christie, didn’t expect the play to last more than eight months.

In a Guardian article, Ian Watt-Smith, director of the touring show, said about the play: “You have to concentrate on the reality of the situation. Everyone is trapped in this guesthouse – they have no means of contacting the outside world, and the murderer is among them. No one is quite what they seem. They all have secrets. You have to encourage the characters to play the real backstory and then cover it up, which is a challenge.”

I’ve never seen the play, nor did I really have much of an inkling of the story except that since it was written by Agatha Christie, it had to have a murder mystery within.

And ah there it was, in a snowed-in rooming house, where a young couple has just opened their house to their first guests, someone is found dead. And they’re all a little odd and suspicious in some way.

(While tapping my fingers on my keyboard, thinking what to write next about this play, I did think of something else, Kate Milford’s Greenglass House a book I thoroughly enjoyed last year. A book also set in a snowed-in inn, a mystery and more. So one good thing coming out of my having read The Mousetrap is now being able to nod and say sagely, ah yes, Milford was likely to have been inspired by The Mousetrap and other similar type mysteries).

There’s Mrs Boyle, an uppity older woman critical of everything at the rooming house. Major Metcalf, retired from the army. The rather odd Miss Casewell. Mr Paravicini, an unexpected guest who claims his car is stuck in the snow. Christopher Wren says he’s an architect but he’s acting suspiciously (not to say that architects can’t act suspiciously). Mollie and Giles Ralston, husband and wife, run Monkswell Manor. Then there’s Sergeant Trotter, who’s trying to find out what’s going on.

Everyone is a suspect. And it’s fun to try to come up with your own guesses at whodunnit.

Of course there is a twist at the end. This one, I don’t know, it just felt a bit odd and unsatisfying. Just in case you haven’t read it before or seen the play, I’ll just leave it at that. Maybe it really ought to be seen as a play, to be part of the experience of watching this murder-mystery unfold ‘live’ before your very eyes. It was still a fun read though.

 

backclassics

 

I read this for the Back to the Classics Challenge – A Classic Play

It’s Monday

itsmondayIt’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

 

 

 

So what have we been doing? Outlet shopping!

Not exactly fun for the kids I know, but it’s a must-do for visiting grandparents (and really, any visiting Singaporean). Anyway the kids needed new shoes (the 4-year-old adores anything new to wear, the 2-year-old screamed and kicked and refused to try on any shoes. He is such a terrible two), the Husband needed new shoes for work. I can’t shop with kids around so I was the only one who didn’t buy anything!

Other things we did last week:

 

Had a swinging good time at the park and the little Irvington library. They don’t have much of an adult collection but the kids section is pretty good.

Ate Pakistani food. My favourite is the tandoori fish and the saag dal. And of course the naan. That was an excellent meal. These curries are pretty spicy so the kids ate naan and the tandoori chicken and fish with some carrot sticks.

 

 

 

 

There’s a Red Robin at the outlet mall. And they had a milkshake with Guinness and whiskey. I’m pretty much a sucker for anything with Guinness.

 

 

 

 

 

I woke up early on Sunday and made a Father’s Day breakfast of waffles! I tried a new-to-me waffle recipe that had cornstarch in it. I was a bit skeptical but those were some crispy waffles! I made a double batch despite only having one egg. It still worked out pretty well. It’s a keeper!

Since it was Father’s Day, I put the Husband to work at the barbeque. We grilled some lovely ribeye steaks, sausages and a whole lot of vegetables from the farmers market. I also made a cherry tomato cucumber basil salad. And also some grilled-in-foil radishes.

 

Currently…

It’s Sunday night and I’m writing this post a little later than usual.

Reading:

ruth

Ruth – Elizabeth Gaskell
lollywillowes
Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner
 

Watching:

kingsman

 

 

 

Eating:

Oreos. As a kid growing up in Singapore, I always wanted Oreos. They were helluva expensive snack then, as they were imported from the US. These days, if I’m not wrong, the ones sold in Singapore are made somewhere else in Southeast Asia and so are a lot cheaper – but also tastes a little different. It’s been ages since I’ve had one, as I think the last package of Oreos I picked up might have been when I was pregnant. They’re just so good dipped in cold milk!

Drinking:

Cold barley tea or mugicha. The perfect drink for summer. I love how it can be cold-brewed – pop the tea bag into a jug of water and leave it in the fridge for a few hours for a refreshing cold drink. The four-year-old loves it too! (Don’t worry it’s caffeine-free).

 

Cooking:

I bought radishes for the first time at the farmers market on Sunday. I sliced some up, sprinkled salt and pepper, added a pat of butter, wrapped it in foil and put it on the grill. Before eating, a splash of lemon juice.

But what shall I do with the rest of the radishes?

How do you eat your radishes?

I also picked up sweet potato leaves and bok choy at the farmers market. The bok choy will probably go in a stir-fried noodle dish. The sweet potatoes would go well with lots of garlic and chili and shallots ground up together like a sambal.

Browsing:

This lemon chiffon cake. I adore chiffon cakes but have yet to make something other than a pandan chiffon. 

What did Rory Gilmore read after Gilmore Girls ended? (book riot)

“I’m a frotteur, someone who likes to rub words in his hand, to turn them around and feel them, to wonder if that really is the best word possible. Does that word in this sentence have any electric potential? Does it do anything? Too much electricity will make your reader’s hair frizzy. There’s a question of pacing. You want short sentences and long sentences—well, every writer knows that. You have to develop a certain ease of delivery and make your writing agreeable to read.”

Paris Review interview with the late James Salter

 

Last week:

I read:

 

Home Cooking: A Writer in the kitchen – Laurie Colwin
The Mousetrap – Agatha Christie
X-Factor Vol 1: The Longest Night – Peter David, Ryan Sook, Dennis Calero
X-Factor Vol 2: Life and Death Matters – Peter David, Ariel Olivetti, Dennis Calero
X-Factor Vol 3: Many Lives of Madrox – Peter David, Pablo Raimondi (Illustrations), Khoi Pham (Illustrations)
X-Factor Vol 4: Heart of Ice – Peter David (Text), Khoi Pham (Illustrations)
Love like Hate – Linh Dinh

I posted:
Weekend Cooking: Hamachi Kama or yellowtail collar

To Sir with Love by E.R. Braithwaite

Weekend Cooking: Hamachi Kama or yellowtail collar

 

I love to eat fish. The Husband, on the other hand, doesn’t. He thinks fish should be eaten either raw (as sushi or sashimi) or as fish and chips. I am happy to eat them in a variety of ways, my favourite being Teochew-style whole pomfret which is steamed with pieces of ginger, salted plum, tofu, fresh tomato, soy sauce, scallions (here’s a recipe with photos if you’re interested). But steaming a whole fish for just one person to eat is a bit much, so unfortunately, I don’t get to eat this often.

But one cooked fish dish that the Husband does enjoy is Hamachi Kama or yellowtail collar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I picked up this lovely piece of yellowtail collar at Marina Food. Collar is the part behind the head and the gills. It is cooked on the bone. And has such an intense rich flavour, I’m not quite sure why, perhaps because it has these rather fatty bits around it. But it is succulent and tender and just such a fantastic part of the fish to eat. There are nooks and crannies where you have to stick your chopsticks in and wriggle around to nudge out the fatty bits. It’s a rather involved dish but so very good to eat. And since it’s fish, it’s good for you too!  
Pat your fish dry and sprinkle with salt about 15 minutes or so before cooking. Make sure you sprinkle both sides of the fish, skin side and flesh side.

I lined my baking tray with aluminum foil and lightly greased it with some olive oil.

Then placed the hamachi kama skin-side down and baked it in a 400F for about 20-25 minutes until the top is browned.

(According to this recipe from Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern, you can broil it as well.)

Serve with a wedge of lemon!

 

 

 

 

We also had some panfried pinko-crusted pork chop, oven-roasted cauliflower and zucchini, as well as Japanese short-grain rice with a chirashi seasoning mix – the packaged seasoning mix comes with sliced lotus roots and carrots. You simply stir it into warm cooked rice.

Simple but hearty.

If you ever come across hamachi kama, whether in a Japanese restaurant or an Asian supermarket, don’t hesitate to try it!

 

weekendcooking

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

To Sir with Love by E.R. Braithwaite

 

sirwithlove

It’s odd how this book found its way onto my bookshelves growing up. I’m not sure who bought it, as it doesn’t really seem like a book that kids read, but we had quite a few of this series of books, published by Heinemann. And yes! That cover above is the very same one on the book I used to own.

village

The other books that we had in this series were Anita Desai’s A Village by the Sea, and Ursula K Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. At least these were the three that I remember.

I’m not sure what I thought of To Sir with Love, reading it as a preteen. I liked it enough to read it finish, and be able to recall today some of the details about the lives of the teens, the dances at the school and their school outings. You know, those kinds of things that a preteen would be interested in. So at least those parts were familiar to me.

But to read it today, in my mid-30s, I am struck by how much I am affected by it, at times even angry at it. For it’s not just about being a teacher in England and teaching kids from a poor section of society, but also about being black in post-WWII England. In Braithwaite’s case, to have grown up in British Guiana, being taught British literature and history, and having a romanticised view of good old England.

“I suppose I had entertained some naively romantic ideas about London’s East End, with its cosmopolitan population and fascinating history. I had read references to it in both classical and contemporary writings and was eager to know the London of Chaucer and Erasmus and the Sorores Minores.”

But then being in England, he finds that things weren’t the way he was hoping it to be. After serving in the Royal Airforce during WWII, Braithwaite finds it hard to get a job because of the colour of his skin, and he turns to teaching. He learns that racism in England is a far different picture from that in the US.

“In Britain I found things to be very different. I have yet to meet a single English person who has actually admitted to anti-Negro prejudice; it is even generally believed that no such thing exists here. A Negro is free to board any bus or train and sit anywhere, provided he has paid the appropriate fare; the fact that many people might pointedly avoid sitting near him is casually overlooked. He is free to seek accommodation in any licensed hotel or boarding house—the courteous refusal which frequently follows is never ascribed to prejudice. The betrayal I now felt was greater because it had been perpetrated with the greatest of charm and courtesy.”

One of the most emotional scenes was when he was on a date with his colleague, who is white. They were celebrating her birthday at a nice restaurant. The service starts out slow, compared to that shown to other diners. The waiter isn’t outright rude nor does he refuse to serve them but “his manner casual with an implied discourtesy”. The last straw is when he spills Rick’s soup onto the tablecloth then sneers at him.

“The whole thing was suddenly too big for me, too involved, too mixed-up with other people, millions of other people whom I did not know, would never know, but who were capable of hating me on sight because of her; not because she was beautiful and good and cultured and lovable, but merely because she was white.”

I realize that I’ve been talking more about race issues rather than the teaching. This is a book that is about teaching teenagers after all. It is inspiring, the way he turns the kids around, encouraging them to learn, to be respectful to each other and to their teachers. He opens their eyes and makes them see possibilities, like, I suppose, any good teacher should. And it makes me wonder what happened to these kids after they left school. Braithwaite hints at jobs and apprenticeships that some were to take up, but we don’t know for sure. Braithwaite leaves us on a rather heartwarming note, so there is hope that everything turns out well.

I’m now rather curious about the 1967 movie version! Have you seen it? What did you think of it?

 

ERBraithwaite

Bibliography

To Sir, With Love (1959)
Paid Servant (1962)
A Kind of Homecoming (1962)
Solid Lubricants And Surfaces (1964)
Choice of Straws (1965)
Lubrication And Lubricants (1967)
Reluctant Neighbors (1972)
Honorary White (1975)
Molybdenum, Vol. 19 (1994)
Hurricane Hits England (Preface – 2000)
Billingsly: The Bear With The Crinkled Ear (2008)

 

backclassics

I read this for the Back to the Classics Challenge – A Nonfiction Classic

It’s Monday and I’m reading some classics

itsmondayIt’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

 

 

 

I spent a good part of last week on the couch resting my knee. It’s not hurting much now, as long as I don’t walk for too long.

But I did manage to get some stuff done on the weekend.


An early morning breakfast at our favourite diner. Because crispy bacon helps heal a hurt knee, right?

And for me, an exciting late morning visit to the DMV to renew my licence. Saturdays are for appointments only so hooray there was plenty of parking and about a fifteen minute wait before my number was called. It was relatively painless and that’s saying a lot.

Later during C’s nap time, Wee Reader and I made some chocolate chip muffins together.

The family went out to the nearby farmers’ market. There are a few in our city but I love this one as it’s set up in the parking lot of a mall so there is plenty of parking and lots of space to wander. There is a great variety of fruits and vegetables, especially Asian vegetables. There are also some cooked food stalls, one that sells pastries and bread, and I just discovered a new lovely cold brewed coffee stall that also sold loose leaf teas. I picked up a rooibos chai and an earl grey, as well as a cold brewed mocha. Yum.


Then we went to the Mitsuwa supermarket in San Jose to have ramen. Everyone had soupy ramen from Santouka but I wanted hiyashi chuka or cold ramen as it was a hot day.

Even before 11, the place was crowded as there was a Japanese “gourmet fair” event with food stalls selling sweets and sushi and a variety of things. We picked up some yummy fish cakes like the ones above as well as some kani inari or beancurd skin sushi with crab.

 

Right now: 

It’s about 315 pm Sunday, the 2yo is napping (after the usual struggle to get him to fall asleep!), the 4yo is playing with Lego and I’m trying to write this post on my phone. I’ll have to check it on my computer later and put up book covers. But so far the WordPress app is behaving.

I always struggle with the title for this post and I’ll have to fill something in later. But for now I’ve got some watermelon barley tea from Lupicia cold-brewing in the fridge, the boy is playing quietly by himself, the Husband is working in his home office, the in-•laws are napping, so things are going pretty ok for a Sunday afternoon.

Currently…

 

Reading:

lollywillowes

Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner

updownstaircase

Up the down staircase – Bel Kaufman

 

homecooking

Home Cooking: A Writer in the kitchen – Laurie Colwin
I could easily read this book in one sitting but I’m trying to read it slowly. It’s a collection of pieces about cooking and lots of fun to read.

diariesdawnpowell

The Diaries of Dawn Powell: 1931-1965 – Dawn Powell
Dipping into this now and then

xfactor2

X-Factor Vol 2: Life and Death Matters – Peter David, Ariel Olivetti, Dennis Calero

Watching:

Girls Season 1 and True Blood Season 3.

Listening:

Juliet Simms 

Eating:


Drinking:

Rooibos and honeybush tea from Trader Joe’s. I drink it with a big wedge of lemon. The weather has been pretty hot but somehow this hot drink is still quite refreshing in the afternoons. However, I’m going to have to stock up on some Japanese/Korean barley tea (mugicha) soon, as that makes a perfect cold drink. I love the tea bags that can be thrown into a bottle of cold water. An added benefit is that it is caffeine-free and my four-year-old quite likes it! In case you don’t have an Asian supermarket nearby, you can get them from Amazon.

Cooking:

It’s going to be hot this week so there will be far less use of the oven (unless we are baking some treats which is highly likely) and more stir-fries and the like. No solid plans yet but my mother-in-law picked up a box of biriyani spices the other day and we might give that a try, although it might be too spicy for the kids! Also plenty of vegetables from the farmers market so that makes me happy.

Grateful for:

This week I have been thankful that when we were looking for a house in this estate some five years ago, that we didn’t buy the one we had originally intended to buy – a smaller, narrower, three-storey home. We ended up going with the slightly bigger two-storey house. One less staircase to climb!

Browsing:

Over at Design of the Picture Book, plenty of lists for summer reading for kids.

Top 10 books about being alone (The Guardian)

A BookRiot-er talks about the best moments when Judy Blume met Molly Ringwald!

A list of various summer reading projects/challenges over at A Work in Progress

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The Japanese Literature Challenge 9 has begun! I totally forgot about it. But you know, it’s another excuse (as if I need an excuse) to think up a list. So look out for mine soon!

Last week:

I read:

Legacy (Sharing Knife #2) – Lois McMaster Bujold
This book opened a lot slower than the first book, Beguilement, and for a while I was wondering where Bujold was going with this. It seemed very placid and domestic, settling down in the community, that kind of thing. But ah how I love Dag and Fawn, and exploring their life together, this time with Dag’s family and friends.

February flowers – Fan Wu
I was mistaken at first, thinking this was a book in translation. Instead, Wu did write this in English, although it is set in China, Guangzhou to be exact. It’s set in a university, where 16-year-old Chen Ming is a naive freshman (she’s the clever sort who skipped a couple of grades) and meets worldly-wise but far-from-hardworking 24-year-old Miao Yan, also a student, but the kind of student who skips classes. The writing isn’t much to shout about and is instead very simple, but this book was worthwhile in reading about life in university in China. One that wasn’t about politics and protests, but about growing up, about sexuality, about relationships.

X-23: Innocence Lost – Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Billy Tan
X-23 Vol 1: The Killing Dream – Marjorie Liu and Alina Urusov
Daken/X-23: Collision – Marjorie Liu and Giuseppe Camuncoli
A matter of life – Jeffrey Brown
Mystery Society – Steve Niles and Fiona Staples
Dear Beloved Stranger – Dino Pai
The Adventures of Polly and Handgraves: a sinister aura – Bret M Herholz
Thumbprint – Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella, Vic Malhotra
X-Factor: The Longest Night – Peter David, Ryan Sook, Dennis Calero

I posted:

 

 

Comics Round-up: Daken/X-23; Polly and Handgraves; Mystery Society and more

I’ve been doing pretty much all of my comics reading via Scribd these days. They have a decent variety of superhero (mostly Marvel) and non-superhero types, plenty of new-to-me comics and others I’ve heard of but have not had the opportunity to read.

So while last week’s roundup (which was really a collection of a month’s worth of comics reading) featured plenty of good reads, this week’s comics have been far less stellar.
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Dear Beloved Stranger – Dino Pai

Gorgeous illustrations. A story about discovering a young artist struggling to find his way in the world. The storyline didn’t quite work as I kept wanting more from it, to push the boundaries, to show more emotions.

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Mystery Society
Fiona Staples! Well, that was the sole reason I read this. A rich couple wants to right wrongs and what not. And it’s a bit weird and fun, but once again, not really pushing the envelope enough. With the wide variety of comics available these days, it’s not easy to stand out. Unfortunately this one, fun as it was to read, barely squeaks by.

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Daken/X-23: Collision – Marjorie Liu and Giuseppe Camuncoli

One thing that I like about X-23 comics is that Gambit occasionally makes an appearance. I first knew of the X-Men through the cartoon series that aired in the 1990s. And I’ve always had a soft spot for Gambit since then.

 

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But the main reason for reading the X-23 comics available on Scribd (not many – X-23: Innocence Lost; X-23 Vol 1: The Killing Dream; X-23: Target X) is that some of them are written by Marjorie Liu. I guess I can now call myself a fan of hers!

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However, while I quite adore (ok adore may be the wrong word, perhaps ‘admire’ is better) X-23 and her horrific background, I didn’t really care for Daken much, so I won’t be pursuing any more books that feature him.

 

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The Adventures of Polly and Handgraves: a sinister aura – Bret M Herholz
This dark and moody story tells of a suspicious suicide in a small town, which Polly Plum and her valet Montgolfier Handgraves are passing through. A little forgettable.

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A matter of life – Jeffrey Brown
At first I wondered why Brown’s illustrative style looked familiar, then I realized, Darth Vadar and Son, which was heaps of fun to read (I bought it for the husband a couple of years ago). This book though is about Brown’s own experiences, in particular with religion. His father was a minister, and now he has a son of his own, and I guess he’s reflecting about life and death and family and all that. But once again, it was yet another solid 3 out of 5 stars for me. I was just underwhelmed I guess.

 

 

It’s Monday and I’m trying to sit still

itsmondayIt’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.

 

 

 

 

Currently

It’s Sunday morning, around 930 am. The house is quiet. The husband, in-laws and kids are all at the nearby farmers market. I’m resting at home after a fall yesterday when we were out. Not sure what happened, guess my attention was more on the kids than where I was walking and my foot slipped a little at the edge between the concrete and the artificial grass patch. Next thing I knew a small patch of skin on my left knee was scraped off. Ick. Somehow the fall has done something to my knee though and I can’t put much pressure on it. Walking around the house for a bit is ok, but not much more than that for now. Crap. I am not very good at sitting still.

Anyway, here’s some of what we’ve been doing this past week.

 

 

Warmer weather means t-shirts and apple juice ice lollies

F and I made frozen yoghurt raspberry treats.

It’s just a mixture of yoghurt and honey, with some fruits dropped in.   

 

I also made madeleines for the first time, using Chocolate & Zucchini’s recipe, thanks to a madeleine pan I spotted at TJ Maxx for $7. They were easier to make than I thought, although the batter needs to be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for at least a few hours – I made mine the day before and left to sit in the fridge overnight. As my pan only held about half the mixture, I put the rest in muffin tins and those actually worked out great as well!  Oh and some French bread. And I have to say that my meatball-cauliflower mac and cheese with bacon béchamel was really yummy.

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

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February Flowers – Fan Wu

Just started this book so can’t really say anything about it yet

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The Best American Essays 2011 – edited by Edwidge Danticat

I’m slowly working my way through this one.

 

Watching:

True Blood and Girls on Amazon Prime. I’m not sure what to think about Girls. I’m probably in the wrong age group.

Eating:

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We only managed to work out way through a third of this at the restaurant and there’s a big chunk of it still in the fridge, just tempting me.

Drinking:

Rooibos and honeybush tea with lemon.

Cooking:

I think I might have to give up cooking this week and leave it to my mother-in-law.

Browsing:

Do you make bread? I always have such issues with scoring the dough. This post from Food52 has a lot of different ways to score! 

Neil Gaiman ad Kazuo Ishiguro in conversation? Awesome!

Everyone talks about 10,000 steps a day. How did we ever get to that number? And how many steps should you really walk?

Added to my TBR:

– The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (via A Bookish Type)

– Reader for Hire by Raymond Jean (via Dolce Bellezza)

Last week:

I read:


X-23: Innocence Lost – Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost and Billy Tan
X-23 Vol 1: The Killing Dream – Marjorie Liu and Alina Urusov
Beguilement (Sharing Knife Quartet #1) – Lois McMaster Bujold
Hexed #1 – #7 – Michael Alan Nelson (Writer), Dan Mora (Artist)
Jem and the Holograms #1 – #3 – Kelly Thompson (Goodreads Author), Ross Campbell (Illustrator)
I posted:

Comics round-up: Underwater Welder; Adventure Time; Jem and the Holograms; Hexed….

Come in, we’re closed: An invitation to staff meals at the world’s best restaurants

Reading notes (June 4 2015)

What have you been up to and what are you reading this week? Plenty of good books I hope!