Morning Train Reads: Gone Girl

8442457Something sort of strange happened a few Saturdays ago. Alex and I headed to our new favorite coffee shop in the neighborhood to use someone else’s air conditioning for a while. I had requested 10 books from the New York Public Library, and eight of them came in at once. I decided I had better start getting through the stack, and chose Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to start. I had heard a lot of buzz about about the book, but didn’t know any of the plot details. I started reading and COULD NOT STOP. We hung around the coffee shop for an hour or so, then went back home. I kept reading. I stopped for a quick trip to the grocery store, and then to make dinner, and started up again. Before I knew it, it was after midnight and I was on the last few pages of the book! Gone Girl, a murder mystery, was so gripping that I read all 450ish pages in one day. The whole story was mind boggling. Pick a day that you have lots of free time to start reading this book!

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Pear, Havarti & Rosemary Honey Grilled Cheese

On Sunday, we made grilled cheese sandwiches.

But these weren’t just any old grilled cheese sandwiches.

These were grilled cheese sandwiches with strawberry jam, havarti cheese, pear slices, and rosemary honey. And they were so, so good.

I’ll start at the beginning. Alex used some heavy cream we had leftover from a different recipe to make rosemary butter. He added in honey, brown sugar, rosemary and shook it all in a jar for about ten minutes. He stashed it in the freezer for a bit, and ta-da! Rosemary butter was born. photo_7 photo_8

The sandwich recipe called for butter + rosemary, so we just used the pre-made combo instead. First, you melt the rosemary, butter and honey together in a saucepan.

Then, you spread some strawberry jam on bread. The recipe suggests challah bread or brioche buns. We used something else, but I’m not sure what it was called!photo

Next, add a slice of havarti cheese. Alex decided to get pretty fancy with the cheese arrangement.photo_1

Pear slices go on top of the cheese. photo_2

Then, drizzle on the rosemary honey, and add another layer of cheese.photo_3

We dipped the sandwiches in a mixture of milk and one egg, and cooked on them in a skillet.

They were amazing!photo_5

This picture is kind of gross but also illustrates the final product.photo_6

I want ten more of these.

Morning Train Reads: Hens Dancing

Screen Shot 2013-07-06 at 1.29.47 PMHens Dancing by Raffaella Barker was a perfectly pleasant summer read. The book is written diary-style by a single mother of three small children, Venetia, living in the English countryside with a brood of hens, piglets, dogs, cats and plenty of other creatures wandering in and out of her home. Venetia’s life fluctuates between idyllic and chaotic as she manages her children and home with minimal help from family members and random visitors. She is honest and witty, and her family’s adventures out in the country had me longing for a large field to run through or a pond to swim in. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Summertime, after I get through the stack of library books I picked up Friday–it turns out when you put ten books on hold, you might receive them all at once!

Black Bean, Corn & Feta (almost) Tacos

Alex and I have really enjoyed cooking in our new apartment, despite the lack of counter space in the kitchen. He usually works on chopping veggies at the kitchen table, and I’ll do food prep on our tiny kitchen island. Tonight we set out to make these black bean, corn and feta tacos, but we hit a slight road block.

I’ll backtrack a bit and admit that I am sometimes a bit overzealous when it comes to planning out my/our meals. I usually have all breakfasts, lunches and dinners planned out at least a week in advance. That might sound a little bit silly, but my intentions are good–I do all of this planning in attempts to save money and eat healthier foods, so we can avoid last minute pizza runs or spending too much going out to eat. Sometimes, though, my planning backfires. Most of my letdowns have come from produce going bad before I can use it (produce in NYC is not so fresh, it turns out). As we got ready to make the tacos tonight, I noticed that the red pepper I bought Saturday (not THAT far in advance!) had gone bad, and surprising, so had the corn tortillas we bought at Trader Joe’s last Thursday. Since when do corn tortillas go bad in less than a week? I can’t even explain how gross they were…they tasted bitter and disintegrated in my mouth. Ewww.photo

Alex decided to attempt to salvage the tortillas by baking them and turning them into tortilla chips. He sprinkled some oil and sea salt on top and baked them for ten minutes or so. They turned out to be just fine!photo-6

Since we couldn’t have tacos, we decided to use brown rice as a base for the taco ingredients. Alex chopped up the onions, and sautéed them with garlic and cumin. We added the black beans and corn and cooked for a few more minutes. photo-2

In my opinion, “taco bowls” are just as good as tacos! photo-3

Alex donated one of the tortillas he uses for his lunches for us to make a small burrito with the leftover toppings mixture. photo-5

Despite the slight set backs, this was still a delicious meal!

Morning Train Reads: The World to Come

the_celebration_of_isaac_bashevis__-_the_world_to_comeI’m a little bit behind on blogging, and for good reason! But I’ll get to that later. In the midst of a few busy weeks, I read what turned out to be one of my favorite books–The World to Come by Dara Horn. The book is about a young man living in New York and his connection to an art heist from a Jewish museum in the city. The book is full of Yiddish folklore, which I absolutely love. The World to Come confirmed for me that Jewish literature is my favorite sub-genre. See: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, City of Thieves by David Beniof…I could go on! What I like most about these books is the connection their characters have to their family members–living and deceased, and those they knew and didn’t ever get to meet. The World to Come told the stories of four generations of a family who had gone through plenty of hardships and adventures over decades past, and used those experiences and stories as they carried their family traditions forward. I highly recommend this book! In fact, you can borrow it from me–I actually purchased it!

In addition to reading, in the past two weeks, I:

1. Flew to North Carolina to get married,
2. Flew back to Brooklyn and packed up my apartment, as well as Alex’s apartment and
3. Moved from Brooklyn to our new apartment in Greenwich Village.

Here’s proof!

photo-4

Apartment before...

Apartment before…

Apartment after!

Apartment after!

Morning Train Reads: Death is Not an Option

death-is-not-an-optionOops! I am super behind on updating my blog. With my wedding just four days away, I guess I’ve been pretty busy! I finished Death is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca a week or so ago. The thing is, as many times as I’ve tried to read short story collections, I just don’t like them–I’d much rather immerse myself in a long novel with plenty of character development throughout. This particular collection is a set of stories about girls and young women, with Catholicism and guilt being a common thread between nearly all of them. The stories were quite dark, and while well-written, I just didn’t enjoy them. I guess I will officially give up on short stories!

Now I’m reading The World to Come by Dara Horn, and I’m loving it so far. I’m looking forward to some reading time on the plane as I fly home to North Carolina tomorrow for the wedding Saturday!

Engagement photo by my sister, Kate!

Brooklyn Bridge engagement photo by my sister, Kate!

Morning Train Reads: Rules of Civility

9780143121169_custom-ce14a176e0c5993b56de62201454577fdfbc1332-s6-c10There are just 23 days to go until our wedding, and it can’t get here soon enough! With all of the details planned and ready for the wedding, and our new apartment secured (in Greenwich Village!), all that’s left to do is read books and pass the time until June 8.

The longer I live in New York, the more I love books based in the five boroughs. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles not only takes place in Manhattan, but was also an excellent follow-up to The Paris Wife by Paula McClainSet in the decade following The Paris Wifethe characters in Rules of Civility read and discuss the recent works of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and I feel as though they’re chatting about old friends of mine.

It was so fun to read about a young woman, about my age, living in a studio apartment in the East Village. I could picture the blocks she walks down, the jazz clubs, bars and hotels she frequents, and the subways she rides to and from work. The heroine, Katie, is infinitely witty and there is never a dull moment throughout the story as Towles details her roller coaster love life and budding career in journalism. I highly recommend this book to all New Yorkers, and to those who just love the City.

Morning Train Reads: This is Where I Leave You

tropper-novelI finished This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper during my flights to and from North Carolina this weekend. I flew home to do some wedding preparations, and it was a very productive weekend! Everything is pretty much all set, and to be honest, I wish the wedding were this weekend instead of one month from now. I’m sure the time will fly by quickly, because I am now in the throes of apartment hunting. Blech.

Anyway, about the book! It was sort of funny to be reading a story about a man’s failed marriage while flying home to plan my wedding. This story is also about a family sitting shiva for their father, and all of the shenanigans that go on during seven days of several people under one roof around the clock. It was enjoyable, and the I liked several of the zany characters. It wasn’t my favorite book ever, but it was a nice read for a plane ride.

P.S. I just noticed there is a movie in the works based on this book! Rose Byrne, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman and Connie Britton are listed in the cast. I will definitely want to see it when it comes out!

Morning Train Reads: The Round House

13602426I finished this book last Saturday, but I haven’t been able to figure out what to say about it. The Round House by Louise Eldrich is a New York Times Bestseller, and received tons and tons of praise on Goodreads, so I had very high expectations as I started reading. I did like this book, but it seemed to drag on and on toward the end.

The Round House was my first experience reading Native American fiction. The story takes place on a reservation, and it’s part crime novel/part a coming of age tale of a 13-year-old boy whose mother is the victim of a gruesome attack (not a spolier–this is mentioned on the first page!) Sections of this book were very gripping, and the ending was a total surprise to me. I only wish that the path to that ending were a bit more direct.

Morning Train Reads: The Paris Wife

8683812Well, this was a nice read! My immediate response was to dub this a book version/spinoff of the movie “Midnight in Paris,” which I saw last year. The story (fiction) in The Paris Wife by Paula McLain was told from the perspective of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. It was so interesting to read  about that glorious time of great writers and artists living in Paris. I wish I could have hung out in cafes in 1920s Paris with the Hemingways and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, or Gertude Stein! Reading this book was second best to being there, and it was very enjoyable.

I have so many books waiting for me at the library, but I know I’ll never be able to read them, what with a whole wedding to plan in 1.5 months and all. I’ll pick reading back up soon!