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Posts Tagged ‘Book’

I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

It was a great read.  I cried.  I giggled to myself.  I felt the fear of the characters and my heart pounded.  I took away a sense of accomplishment, not just your regular obstacles, this was mountainous for the ladies involved.  I can see why a movie sprouted off these pages.

This is coming from someone who just started reading for pleasure at the tender age of 28.  I used to read in school, where I had a library to peruse novels and pluck a gem from the shelves.  There is no library in my house, but it’s growing.  There are more cookbooks than fiction at the moment, however this might be the status for the foreseeable future.

The Help has three distinct voices.  Stockett did a beautiful job of weaving the stories together, overlapping ever so slightly to provide the reader fluidity of the story.  Don’t worry, all those loose ends are tied up at some point, that was part of the reason I wanted to chew through the chapters.  Even though the story takes place in what seems the distant past,  segregation, racism, and lack of air conditioning; I connected with events here and there, enough to stay engaged in the Mississippi tale.

I don’t want to give away the plot, but I wanted to make one of Minny’s famous desserts.  To celebrate finishing this novel and watching the DVD, I baked a cake of Southern inspiration.

After I watched the movie and have to say I liked the book better!  I suppose if the full story in the book made it on to the screen, it would be a four hour ordeal.  The movie keeps the attention on the threesome secretly gathering to write the book.  Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) remained the clear opponent and I loved Octavia Spencer as Minny.

Caramel Cake

Caramel Cake

I have to confess, I needed Minny’s terse eye on me while I made this cake.  I missed the part where you only need 1/4 cup of the caramel syrup and poured all of it in the batter.  I was wondering why the batter was soupy.  Something didn’t feel right but it never occurred to me to check the recipe for the eighth time.  Turned out okay, sort of like a sponge cake that ate the entire five-pound bag of sugar in the pantry.  For the first time in my life I’ve made a cake that is too sweet for my taste.  I’m sure the actual (and flawless) cake Martha made with Dr. Angelou would not cause one to fall into a sugar-high coma.  The frosting with brown butter overpowers the caramel in the cake itself.  It would be fine without nearly burning the butter, plus it added another 30 minutes to this cake assembly because the hot brown butter had to cool down first.

caramel cake

Oh boy! Sweet Caramel Cake!

The kids might like it though!

Find the recipe here

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There are two books I want to tell you about.  The first is a cook book I won from Chef DeHome (thanks again for the beautiful book!).  It is Martha Stewart’s COOKIES and I love this book.  There is a picture of each and every cookie featured in the book.  If you are a fan of her Martha Stewart Living television program, you will remember watching some of these delectable confections come to life.  If only there was smell-a-vision.  At the end there is a section for wrapping your goodies to share with friends and family, all in Martha’s usual whimsical style of color co-ordinated boxes, tissue, and fabric.  I received the book just prior to leaving for the holidays and it was packed and ready to be used at Grandma’s house.  Turned out Grandma made snicker doodles and asked me to bake a cake for Christmas Eve, I read over the recipes during tea and cookie time.  The bonus is not having to download each cookie recipe from the web, now they are all in full color in one place.

The second book is Julie Klam‘s You Had Me At Woof! about her coming into adulthood being led by her trusty companions, Boston Terriers.  I saw this book at the store and Hubby caught me reading it.  I mentioned that it seemed like a good read and it was about Bostons.  Hubby took the very heavy hint and picked up a copy for Christmas.  I finished the book in a matter of days, even with two kids and my own fur baby to take care of.  If you love dogs, own a dog, or want a dog then read this book.  I was laughing, crying, then laughing again by the end.  I will avoid spoiling this quick read and just give it two paws up!

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I caught a nugget of a story on NPR this week that Alton Brown was coming to the Texas Book Festival this weekend, as soon as I got home I headed online.  I was going to meet him, and had to start setting the plan in motion to make it happen.

With two kids, going to an event, such as a book signing, seems completely out of the realm of possible.  I called my friend to babysit, no answer, I left a message hoping she would be free Saturday.  My mother-in-law is a school teacher, and avid reader, so naturally I thought she would want to attend the festival.  The day before the festival she sent me a reply…  definitely interested

The book signing was hosted at Central Market (all Austinite foodies have shopped there, I would gander often even) by Barnes & Noble, the sponsor for the event.  We arrived 45 minutes prior to Alton’s presentation to find a very long and rapidly growing line of other adoring fans.

We finally saw the start of the line!

There was a volunteer relaying the questions and answers down the line, my hubby called it an “1847 loud-speaker”.  They should have set up speakers outside so that those of us fortunate enough to stand and wait over an hour could reap some benefit.  Apparently, there were free tickets sold two weeks prior.  I had no clue!  There was nothing at Barnes & Noble (I was there about that time buying hubby his birthday present).  Where was I supposed to be looking for these “tickets”?  Many of the other fans stuck outside with us shared the same questions and frustrations.  The event volunteers did bring free bottles of water, which helped a bit.  If this event were held at the festival, there would be a tent with speakers so that those of us in the back could perhaps listen to what the almighty Alton had to say. 

The volunteers managed to propagate a few hints of the Q&A: Alton’s favorite episode is Oatmeal: Part 2 aired recently, the next book will be a children’s book because his daughter likes Harry Potter, the next possible show on Food Network will be about hunting, and something about brains.  When asked what show we should watch, Alton responded re-runs, then his DVDs, then read the books and turn off the TV.  I would have asked, who is your favorite Iron Chef and why, who or what inspires you, if you cook for your daughter what does she prefer you make for her?  If only I had a magical ticket.

My little trooper

The kids were surprisingly well-behaved, I was thankful to have everyone tagging along to help out.  Baby Sister was passed around to keep her occupied.  Big Brother was treated to a pop from a restaurant along the side lines.  After waiting for over an hour, all of the guests with small children were escorted inside the building to the front of the line.  Thank you!  Whose ever idea that was, thank you very much!  Consequently, once moments away from meeting Alton in person, Baby Sister goes squirrely and Big Brother is turning up his annoyance level.  How do they know this is the coolest day in a long time for mommy?  Happiness radar comes with every well equipped child, that’s how.  We managed to keep everyone preoccupied long enough.

Walk the Baby

Push Big Brother

We reached the front of the line.  I start freaking out.  OMG, that’s Alton… What do I say?  Do I smell bad? 

Made it to the front of the line!

All I could get out was, it’s so nice to meet you!  Alton replied, it’s nice to meet you too.  Of all the books I’ve signed, Heather is the only name that you can only spell one way. 

Alton Brown

Alton was very nice, I’m sure by the time we met him he was getting a little tired.  I blacked out mentally and can’t tell you what else we exchanged.  My hubby told him that we love watching the shows.  I think Grandma got a word in too, just don’t ask which one. 

I left on cloud oatmeal, signed book in hand.

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