CSA Week 17

Today’s haul was a pumpkin, hot peppers, potatoes (a double batch), carrots, golden beets, and some delicata squash (a double batch).

My favorite dish from last week was Liberian Pumpkin out of Simply in Season. Not only was it a great use of last week’s pumpkin, but it also had some of the week before’s Hungarian hot peppers. I’ve been getting some great mileage out of those little things. I served the pumpkin with some braised beet greens that my mother brought me. She brought an entire shopping bag’s worth, so I still have more to play with.


Tithe – Holly Black

Read for the RIP V Reading Challenge.

Kaye has lived a nomadic life for most of her sixteen years – following her mother’s rock band from city to city. An attack on her mother sends them home to her grandmother’s house in New Jersey, and against this surprisingly gritty (for a YA novel) backdrop, Kaye’s life is changed forever.

When Kaye was younger, she’d had faery friends, three visitors that would come to her at night. It turns out that these friends weren’t imaginary, and Kaye finds herself drawn into the age-old struggle between the Seelie and Unseelie Courts.

I picked this book for this challenge because the back begins with the tag “Welcome to the realm of very scary faeries!” Apparently, I should have remembered that this is a YA novel, and taken that with a grain of salt. While I did think that this was a fresh take on the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and had a great dose of the less pleasant side of the real world, I didn’t find it particularly scary, and I don’t think that that’s just because I’m twice the age of this book’s demographic. So in that aspect, this book was a bit of a disappointment to me.

Still, the story was overall good, and I’d be happy to read more books by this author.

Common Ground Fair – Unity, ME

An assortment of random pictures from the Common Ground Fair. It was great to get back there, after a two year break. The weather was incredibly gorgeous (maybe even a bit too hot), and the food was as fabulous as always.

I was remarkably restrained, and managed to come out with only one skein of yarn, a lovely wooden rolling pin, and $38 worth of garlic. I do have my priorities, after all…

CSA 2010 Week 16

Today’s haul was a pumpkin, yellow string beans, broccoli, potatoes, colored carrots (I swear one is a parsnip, but it wasn’t labeled as such), tomatoes, and winter squash (they look like delicatas). I’m very excited that it’s back to winter squash season again.

The hit of last week was the leeks, which I used in Baked Leeks with Cream and Tarragon from Janet Fletcher’s Fresh from the Farmer’s Market. They were so creamy, and so non-oniony. Absolute perfection in a side dish. The Hungarian hot peppers have been finding their way into anything we’d normally use pepper flake for, with great effect.

The bad thing of the week was a fennel and sweet potato pasta concoction so bad I won’t even link to the recipe. Oh well, I guess one abject failure in the whole season isn’t such a bad thing.

Storm Front – Jim Butcher

Read for the RIP V Reading Challenge.

Harry Dresden is a wizard, a fully practicing mage, the only one he knows of that actually advertises what he is. He takes the occasional odd job finding missing things, and also occasionally helps out the Chicago police. Storm Front starts out as a number of seemingly unrelated jobs that suddenly come together when Harry finds that someone has been committing some rather inventive magical murders, and he just might be next on the hit list.

I’m feeling weirdly ambivalent about this book, and I can’t put my finger on why. I don’t think I came into the book with many expectations, other than the fact that it had been made into a tv show, and I know people that have enjoyed this series. I can see where it would make a great tv show (and continuing series of books) – Harry’s world has great episodic potential. I just didn’t find myself overly captivated by it. My loss, I suppose. I won’t say I’ll never read another book in the series, just that I won’t necessarily be in a hurry to do so.

CSA 2010 Week 15

Today’s haul was: leeks, collard greens, celery, Hungarian hot peppers, fennel, tomatoes (2 pounds!), cabbage and green beans.

It’s quite suddenly turned fall-like around here, and my cooking has suddenly turned to comfort food. I’ve been sitting on the last two batches of potatoes that we’d gotten, and those went very well with this Warm Potato Salad with Chicken Sausage and Arugula. It’s a great one pot meal.

I’ve also gotten a couple of rather large zucchini donated from people I know. I’ve both made zucchini bread (my recipe involves melting unsweetened chocolate in the batter), and a really great Zucchini Pie, which is a cross between a frittata and a quiche, and has been lovely for lunches this week.

The Cygnet and the Firebird – Patricia A. McKillip

This is the sequel to The Sorceress and the Cygnet, where we first met the ruling family of Ro Holding. The Holder has three daughters, the youngest of whom, Nyx, is a sorceress, and through the course of the first book, also becomes the heir to the holding.

In The Cygnet and the Firebird, Nyx is challenged to explore her power further when a mysterious mage shows up at the Holding to try and steal something from the rooms of the ancient mage Chrysom, one of the Holding’s ancestors, a powerful mage from his time. At the heels of this mage, a firebird also appears – and not much later, they discover that this firebird is an enchanted man, who only regains his form by moonlight.

Nyx and her cousin Meguet gradually tease out the identity of both the mage and the firebird, who are friends from a land far from Ro Holding in both land, and time. It’s up to Nyx to discover how to travel through the paths of time to restore the firebird to his true form.

This duology is probably the densest of McKillip’s books that I’ve yet read. I remember in the last book feeling like I’d stepped into a world with no guidebook, and this book continues in that theme. The lands visited – Ro and Saphier – are as beautifully drawn as any of McKillip’s lands, but this is a world that’s difficult to wade into – it’s fully drawn, and not always explained. It’s not to say that essential details are left out, but I confess to not always dealing well with background information with no back story when there’s too much thrown at me at once. I don’t want to imply that I didn’t enjoy the book, but these two are probably my least favorite McKillip books. Still, I’ll take a bad McKillip book any day over much of the rest of the crap that’s out there.

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Read for the 2010 YA and RIP V Reading Challenges.

I love Neil Gaiman. He’s probably the only person in the universe that can start a story off with a toddler managing to escape the murder of the rest of his family by wandering into a graveyard, and make it into a more or less heart-warming story of family, and growing up.

The toddler is christened Nobody Owens, Owens in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Owens, denizens of the graveyard who have been dead several centuries, who always wanted a child. Of course, they can’t leave the graveyard, so only agreement to take on parenting young Bod when Silas, who is to some degree (which degree is never named, but he’s probably a vampire) undead. Silas can leave the graveyard and fetch food and other necessaries for Bod, and so he’s given the liberty of the graveyard, and brought up there as one of the community.

The book is more or less a collection of short stories, with Bod aging in fits and spurts between chapters. You get to follow his entire life, as he learns more about the residents of the graveyard, and gradually starts to leave them behind more and more. The culmination of the story is when he finally learns who it was that kills his family, and is able to face that enemy.

This is a lovely book – I can totally see why it won a Newbery Award. It’s never particularly scary, and paints such a lovely picture of the afterlife. I’m lucky enough to live near some of the oldest cemeteries in the U.S., but even we can only claim people back to the 1600s. This cemetery, in England, has denizens back to before the Romans, and it’s such fun to read their stories as Bod meets them. I didn’t need confirmation that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, but it’s always nice when his books continually provide it.

Enchanted, Inc. – Shanna Swendson

Katie Chandler is from a small town in Texas, but has moved to New York City to live with friends from college. She’s getting used to seeing things that seem a bit odd – like the semi-regular occurrence of random people wearing wings – because it is New York City after all. Until the day that she finds out that what she’s seeing is real – magic exists, and there are fairies, elves, gargoyles and all manner of magical creatures living in the city.

It turns out that Katie is immune to magic, a rare talent that makes her an invaluable employee prospect at MSI, Inc. – Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc. She can see through the magical tricks that outsiders try to pull, and can help the company steer its way around its magical competition.

This book is very firmly in the fantasy chick lit genre – I sub genre of fantasy that I’m very often disappointed in. But I’m a sucker for an interesting story hook, and trading up from a job with a “monster” boss to a job with a real monster for a boss was irresistible. And I wasn’t disappointed. This is the first book in the series, so while there’s no overt romance, it’s pretty clear exactly who Katie will end up with at the end of the series (pretty much a prerequisite for any chick lit book I’ve ever read). But the romantic overtones at least work with the story, and life in the corporate world at MSI is just similar enough to my own day job to actually make it a bit enjoyable to read through. (It’s nice to have an alternative corporate vision to the daily grind of the cube farm.)

High art this book is not, but it was solidly enjoyable, and I will be seeking out the next three books in the series.