Ramblings, essays, lists, pictures, and proud parent moments all in one place. Expect knitting, reading, gardening, children, politics, and general info. If you're offended by passion, activism, leftist politics, organics, attachment parenting, homeschooling, paganism, religious dialog, the idea of karma, or tolerance move along and read something else. Flaming, unnecessary negativity, bigotry, and non-constructive arguing will not be tolerated.
My top books change all the time. Sometimes that's because I've found new ones or rediscovered old ones. Other times it's just based on whatever my current obsession happens to be. The list includes fiction and non-fiction, including the current knitting book(s) of the moment. They are in no particular order.
This weeks obsession: Memoirs
1. Cottage Witchery by Ellen Dugan
2. An Unfinished Woman by Lillian Hellman
3. True North by Jill Kerr Conway
4. The Shadow Man by Mary Gordon
5. The Merry Heart by Robertson Davies
6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
7. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
8. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods
9. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
10. Garden Witchery by Ellen Dugan
I've been reading memoirs lately and I've started to wonder what makes someone know that it's a good idea to write their memoirs. How do we realistically know that our life was interesting enough or important enough for use to leave it as a legacy for others? Some of the most fascinating memoirs that I have ever read have been written by people who's lives were seemingly normal. The simplicity, beauty, honesty, or spirit of their writing can somehow render the most mundane life activities as extraordinary experiences. Suddenly the mere act of arriving in an unfamiliar airport, attending a tiny elementary school, or marrying the wrong person become intimate memories shared between author and reader.
I think it's somewhat normal for all of us to wonder what our lives would seem like to others. Our lives and the experiences we share are of the utmost importance because they are our own. Yet we live in a time where the live of others, those with money, celebrity, and other notoriety, are open to all. The media is constantly bombarding us with images, facts and falsehoods, and imaginings about these others and it is almost impossible to keep from comparing our lives to those we see flashing before us. Our middle class is disappearing as people charge card themselves into poverty in their attempts to obtain the lifestyles they see before them. Keeping up with the Johnson's is an illusion now because everyone on the block is paying with imaginary money that can eventually ruin their lives.
And so how do we know that our life is worth leaving for others to read? Is it the shocking facts of our childhoods, our amazing achievements in higher education, or the activist in us that makes us interesting? Or perhaps it is merely the ability to turn the shocking into something quiet and beautiful and the mundane into something truly remarkable that makes something worth writing.
For a book that is not a memoir but that creates descriptions of aching beauty in some of the sparest and most difficult of situations I highly recommend James Agee'sLet Us Now Praise Famous Men. The photography is by Walker Evans. It is a social and emotional commentary on the lives of sharecroppers during the Great Depression. It is many other things though too. It is not always an easy book to read but an important one.
True North by Jill Kerr Conway, a memoir about coming from Australia to the U.S. to study at Harvard. Reads like a celebration of learning, friendship, and academic experience. Excellent so far.
Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, the fourth in the Outlander Series. I never though I would like ANYTHING that was technically romance but after making it rather stumblingly through Outlander I found I appreciated the depth of her character development and the history of both Scotland and Colonial America.
I first saw this recipe in Cooking Light. I think it's also posted on Graham Kerr's website. It is delicious, easy, and very filling. My husband and I make them regularly for dinner and make enough for lunch leftovers. As long as you don't put the sauce and relish on until right before eating these travel very well.
Serves 4 (with a half pita and two falafel with lots of sauce and garnish)
1 cup uncooked garbanzo beans, soaked over night or 2 cups canned reduced- sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 4 green onions, trimmed and sliced 2 cloves garlic, bashed and chopped ½ cup chopped fresh parsley ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon baking powder ¼ teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1 teaspoon ground cumin ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper 5 pieces whole wheat pita bread, 1 torn into pieces, the rest left whole
Relish (optional) 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into ½” pieces 1 cup chopped unpeeled English cucumber ¼ cup chopped green onion 1 serrano chile, minced with seeds 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sauce (optional) 2 ounces soft goat cheese 1 cup plain low fat yogurt 1/8 teaspoon chopped garlic 1/8 teaspoon salt
Directions 1. Pulse the beans, onions, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, baking powder, soda, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and torn pita, in a food processor or blender until they hold together. The paste should have texture. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes. 2. While the mix is resting, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, chile, parsley, and, lemon juice and set aside. Mash the goat cheese into the yogurt with the back of a spoon until smooth. Stir in the garlic and salt and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it. 3. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Make the bean mixture into 16 equal patties. Bake on a greased cookie sheet 10 minutes. 4. Cut the pitas in half; place two patties in each and spoon in the relish and sauce. If you’re in a hurry, you can use sliced tomatoes and cucumbers instead of the relish and plain low-fat yogurt instead of the sauce.
Nutritional Information Per serving: 504 calories, 10 g. fat, 3 g. saturated fat, 5% calories from saturated fat, 86 g. carbohydrates, 17g. fiber, 942 mg. Sodium. The relish and sauce are included in these numbers.
Classic per serving: 612 calories, 27 g. fat, 2 g. saturated fat, 3% calories from saturated fat, 80 g. carbohydrates, 16 g. fiber, 1069 mg. sodium