Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's for dinner?

I am the mom of teenagers. This means we eat a lot of pizza.  It is the food of choice for slumber parties and study groups. Delivery pizza. Frozen pizza. Mini bagel pizza. The kids aren't picky.

I on the other hand am picky. I like a thin, but not crispy crust. And something besides just cheese and pepperoni. In search of better pizza I started making my own. I've made a variety of crusts and this is my current favorite. It doesn't require the bread machine. It has some whole wheat for better flavor, but is lightened with all purpose flour. It's quick and easy and requires a minimal rise time. Easy and yummy.

NYTimes Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
1 1/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional if necessary for kneading
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1. Combine the yeast and water in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add the sugar, and stir together. Let sit two or three minutes, until the water is cloudy. Stir in the olive oil.
2. Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Then, with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blades. Remove from the processor (the dough will be a little tacky; flour or moisten your hands so it won’t stick), and knead on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as necessary for a smooth dough.

And that's it! Hop on over to the Times for ideas on toppings. Or click through to the other Recipes for Health. Always an inspiration to me in the kitchen.

What are  you cooking? What's inspiring for you when you are planning your menu?

ETA: Great timing! Here's a new recipe for  a new topping for your pizza dough.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TBR Challenge 2011: Bayou Moon

The Book: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

The Particulars: urban fantasy, Ace 2010, book #2 of the Edge series of connected books. This isn't actually a sequel, rather the story of a secondary character from the first book in the series, On the Edge. Although the book has some spoilers for the first book in the series, it isn't necessary to read them in order.

Why was it in my TBR pile: I bought this the month it was released. I bought it because I'm a huge fangirl of the Kate Daniels series by the same author. I have no idea why I didn't pick this up to read right away. I did read the first Edge book and I liked it as well, although not as well as Kate and friends.

The review: Bayou Moon is the story of William, a shifter hunting down an old enemy and Cerise. Cerise Mar and her family live in a swamp in the Edge, the world between the magical Weird and our ordinary world the Broken.Cerise is poor and her large extended family struggles for everything they get. A rival family is threatening Cerise and her parents are missing, leaving her to save them all.

William and Cerise meet as they both are sneaking their way back into the Edge in disguise. William's enemy is hot on their trail, but it is Cerise who is being hunted. To complete his mission, William convinces Cerise to take him back to her family's compound. From there he can hunt the men hunting her.

The thing that Ilona Andrews really excels at I think is the world building. All the details of the magics and changelings (shifters) are fascinating. The world is fully realized, yet leaves room for still more to surprise in any future novels in the Edge series.

I think perhaps one of the things that worried me about reading this was Williams character. I had such a strong image of him from the first book, and I wasn't sure how he would work for me as a romantic hero. He actually is probably my favorite part of the book. William is a broken and betrayed man. Everything that he had  is gone and he is a bit lost until he is handed the opportunity to hunt down an old adversary. I totally loved watching him fall in love with Cerise without losing the side of him that is more beast than man. Cerise and William both are characters who refuse to be beaten down by their circumstances and I longed for their happy ending.

One thing I didn't love about Bayou Moon is the many points of view. It's all well done - no random head hopping. It's just me.

I did really like the book. I'll have to say I don't like the Edge books quite as much as the Kate series, although I'm not sure I could say why. Kate is actually written in first person, which I don't as a rule enjoy. The Edge books might also edge more into Paranormal Romance which I prefer to Urban Fantasy. That said, I'm really glad I read both of them. Bayou Moon is fun and clever, with a whole cast of amusing characters.

For more from the TBR Challenge 2011, check out the award winning  Wendy the Super Librarian.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Summer Workshop

I've been having a lot of fun this week setting up summer projects for my teenagers.

Last summer my 15yo daughter Patience took an online summer class on short story writing. It was a great class and she learned a lot. All of the students ended up producing a story which the class "published" for the families. Her story was among the shortest, but was really moving. Most importantly she learned a lot while having a great time working that hard. This summer she wants to work on writing a novel. We haven't found a class that would be suitable so we're making up our own. Since she didn't break 5K on her NaNoWriMo, she's accepted that she's not going to write the whole thing in the couple of months we spend working on this.

My elder daughter Prudence did win NaNo this year. Sadly, she picked up a virus and lost all the data. (Let her be a warning to you all. Back up your work now!) She wants in on this. It's her chance to rewrite the story she lost when she didn't heed my numerous reminders to backup her work.

We're going to follow somewhat the outline of the short fiction workshop. I want to have a  novel we read, instead of several short stories. We'll also read on about craft. I have about a dozen writing books on my shelf. I'm thinking maybe Bird by Bird or Writing Down the Bones. Or maybe I'll get a copy of Stephen King's book? It's been a long time since I read it, but I remember it being smart, but a straightforward read.

Next we need to have some writing exercises or prompts. I have a couple of books with prompts and I have Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft. It has what seem the perfect type of exercises for our purposes. They are short and focused. But I've never used them before.

The thing I am most undecided on is the novel we'll read. I may end up with two different novels. I read fast enough that I won't mind. Prudence is certain that she wants a more adult novel since she's outgrowing a lot of her old YA favorites. She wants a Paranormal/UF book though and that is my problem. Much of that genre is  a bit more adult in theme and sexual content than she'd enjoy, even if she and I weren't planning to discuss the book. I haven't read much of that sort of book for several years now and I feel a bit out of touch.

I have been eying Kelley Armstrong's Waking the Witch. Prudence loves the Darkest Powers series so I know she'd enjoy Armstrong's writing, but I don't know anything about the new series. I'd be comfortable with a bit of sex, but anything to hardcore is probably going to lose her. She also really loves Melissa Marr and Ilona Andrews.

Any thoughts on Waking the Witch? Any other suggestions for books?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thanks to the ever wonderful Jenni Merritt I have my very first blog award. Isn't it shiny?

The rules:

1. Thank and link back to the blogger who bestowed the award.
2. State seven things about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to 15 newly discovered bloggers.

First of all, thanks Jenni!! I always look forward to reading your blog and it was fun taking a tour of all of your other award winners.

Seven things about myself?

  1. I am a native New Yorker.
  2. I've lived in Florida so long, I'm not sure I could survive a northern winter any longer.
  3. I am an excellent baker. Breads, cakes, cookies. Pie crusts are a little iffy, though. I have ruined my kids for grocery store cakes and packaged cookies. A lot of their friends, too. 
  4. I love coffee. All coffee: espresso, lattes, iced coffee, ordinary diner coffee. I need coffee. My kids know not to talk to me about anything meaningful before the first cup.
  5. I can't tan. I'm too fair. Any color from the sun will be pink.
  6. I drive a minivan. I know you envy me.
  7. I have made a tutu. More than a couple even. Classical and Romantic. 

And finally, I'm to pick some bloggers to award this to. I'm not following anyone who is particularly new to me. I think I should fix that. Blog reading is my favorite way to procrastinate. Tell me who you're following that I should be checking out. Help me add some bloggers to my list of interesting people to pass the time when I should be doing laundry instead.