Thursday, August 30, 2012

Think About It Thursdays

"Supermarkets only accept properly packaged, colored and labeled produce that conforms to certain standards of color, size, and shape.  Melons can have no stems attached, cucumbers must be no less than six inches long, no more than eight.  Crooked eggplants need not apply.  Every crop yields a significant proportion of perfectly edible but small or oddly shaped vegetables that are "trash" by markets standards.

"It takes as much work to grow a crooked vegetable as a straight one, and the nutritional properties are identical.  Workers at the packing house were as distressed as the farmers to see boxes of these rejects piling up into mountains of wasted food.  Poverty and hunger are not abstractions in our part of the world; throwing away good food makes no sense.  With help of several church and social justice groups, Appalachian Harvest arranged to deliver "factory second" vegetables all summer to low-income families.  Fresh organic produce entered some of their diets for the first time."

- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the HedgehogThe Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I admit, the only thing that kept me reading this book to the end is that once I start a book I must finish it. I won't expound on the book in too much detail as I feel there are a few other reviewers out there that said it better than I and with better vocabulary. Spefically this one HERE.

I felt this book was a way for the author to tout their knowledge of philosophy which would have been fine if there was some semblance of a plot in the book in which there was none. Half way through the book you are introduced to a new character that vaguely ties together the two heroines in the book but again fails to establish a proper story line. The story in no way drew me in and left me flat at the end.

After finishing the book I realize this was the novel friends and family had told me to steer clear of. I wish I had written that down and could have spent my time on something more worth while.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ireland...random places

Triceratop at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  (I am a sucker for a dinosaur.)

Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne 
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne

Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne

Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne

Our B&B in Portstewart, Cul-Erg House.  The proprietor  Jay Jay was the best!

Waterway in Sligo.  Monsignor Horan is NOT here.  (Thanks dad.)

On our way to New Grange

New Grange, tour guide there could have been better

Powerscourt Gardens

Wicklow National Park

Wicklow National Park

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ireland...the drinking post

Guinnes Factory

Cheese pairing at the Guinness factory

Guinness Factory

Chandelier at the Jameson Distillery made of old bottles

Certified whisky tasters at the Jameson Distillery

Impatiently waiting for our tour of the distillery at Jameson in Dublin

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Think About It Thursday

"People say you have to travel to see the world. Sometimes I think that if you just stay in one place and keep your eyes open, you're going to see just about all that you can handle." - Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


The B&B we stayed at in Kenmare, Rockcrest House

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Still Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

Ring of Kerry

View of the backyard from our B&B in Kinsale, Pier House B&B

Irish ears, Kinsale

Walking the town in Kinsale

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review: Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My NeighborFlunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor by Jana Riess
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up on a Sunday afternoon and finished it around dinner time. I am not saying this is a page-turner, but I found it easy to read and interesting. Jana Riess depicts a year in which she strives to have a new spiritual goal each month according to a different book written by a saint or about the life of a saint, hagiography. While she prefaces the book that she failed at each attempt I found myself routing for her to have that ascetic life she set her sights on. Each month she sets goal, whether it be fasting, fixed prayer times, or expressing gratitude, she comes up short in completely accomplishing the goal by her own standards. Each month she learns a little something about herself and about God although she might not be overt in stating that.

The book is riddled with inspiring and thought-provoking quotes one can only assume Riess came across in her monthly reading and research. There are a few biblical references scattered throughout the book, not enough for my liking but perhaps that is to draw in a bigger audience.

Something that irked me a bit was that I had to keep asking myself whether she would have follow up on the previous chapters and practices and whether they had made a lasting impression. Riess briefly relieved my curiosity at the end of the 11th month when she made reference to deciding to continue a few practices. As for the specific practices and disciples, I am still uncertain as to how she came up with her final list, but nonetheless I found there was a lesson to learn with each chapter even including the chapter which depicted her month of being a vegetarian inspired by St. Francis.

She mentions in the book her husband's family mantra, "If at first you don't succeed...lower, lower your stands," which she acquiesced that she did. I still found her inspiring in that she stuck with setting up goals new goals each month and despite early failure, continuing to strive towards her goal.

Overall I thought it was a good quick read and found it inspiring in my own life. I can definitely see some spiritual practices and disciplines being introduced into my life.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 10 Donna Hay: Vegtarian Fare

Raspberry tea was served with dinner
This past weekend my sisters and I had on the calendar that we were going to go to my mother's Saturday morning and garden.  As the days progressed the projected temperature at her house kept increasing until it teetered out at 108 degrees F.  Needless to say we opted to not garden and instead had my mother come out to the coast where we live for an impromptu lunch.  I decided it was time to try the Vegetarian Fare as it seemed light and refreshing for such a hot day.

The menu:

Garlic and Sage Marinated Antipasto

I was thinking about calories and nutrition and decided that I would scale down the appetizer recipe a bit.  In hind site I am really glad I did as it still made quite a large portion.  I hate to say this, okay no I do not, but this tasted like an appetizer at a gourmet restaurant with the garlic infused olive oil and the fresh feta.  I am making this at my next dinner party!  (Oh yeah, I forgot to rub the bread with garlic but I still loved the flavors.)

Simple Leeks and Ricotta Tarts
The leek tart was very simple to make and had a perfect flavor combination.  Some changes for the next time would include cutting the ricotta mixture in half as I only used half of the recipe.  Also, I would toss the leeks in the thyme and butter as it was extremely difficult to "brush" once the leeks were on the ricotta.  Lastly, I would use two baking trays as the tarts were a little squished on one pan. (Use a silpat, that way it won't burn nor stick when cooking.)

Fennel and Parsley Salad
 The side was fennel which tastes like black liquorice with a grainy mustard dressing.  Two of my least favorite flavors.  The fennel was store bought and had a very mild taste.  My mother really liked the side dish so that is all that counts.  It won't be one that I will make for myself though.

Raspberry-Spiked Chocolate Brownies
Dessert turned into a parfait as the brownie would just not cook through.  The chocolate and raspberry were very rich so I am glad we cut the richness down with intermittent vanilla ice cream topped with frozen raspberries.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ireland...Galway & Glendariff Forest Park

The start of Glenariff Forest Park, it was a little misty.

Misty.  Wear a hat.  Glendariff Forest Park.

Waterfall at Glendariff Forest Park

Glendariff Forest Park

Glendariff Forest Park

Glendariff Forest Park

A little cheese at Glendariff Forest Park

Tears of joy!  Ireland's version of our T.J. Maxx..yes, we did go in. (Galway, Ireland)

Irish tanning on a hot day along the river in Galway.

Ard Bia in Galway along the river.  One of the best meals in Ireland and possibly ever.  Picture is of upstairs.