Journey Books

Wild by Cheryl StrayedThe Novelistas read Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” this month.  Couldn’t help but compare this to the other journey books I’ve read. There was “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” (fiction and incredible), and Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” (his friend Katz is priceless.) There was also “Into the Wild” which made me crazy – who walks into the Alaska tundra with only 10 pounds of rice????

But the walkabout book that remains my favorite is still “Mutant Message Down Under.” That story of an American woman on a walkabout in the Australian outback has stayed with me for years. It was was an amazing adventure and the tribesmen were wise teachers. All in all a touching, beautiful book.


The Goldfinch, of course

GoldfinchThe Novelistas read “The Goldfinch” last month…keeping in sync with all the other book clubs in America. And it lives up to the buzz:  a wonderful tale with memorable characters.  Although we all admitted to skimming in parts –  and this is a group that reads long books (Anna Karenina – even longer).  No matter, it’s utterly absorbing and great fun to read.

Easy Pork Tenderloin

I’m always encouraging people to cook at home and they always agree with me – it’s cheaper, healthier, better – and then they order takeout.  So I was surprised  when my  son called and asked for a recipe for pork tenderloin.  This is a great choice if you’re  tempted to finally make your move: it’s a lean cut of meat that cooks very quickly.  Take a look at the video before you order from Little Dom’s.



Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The Novelistas are reading “Lady Chatterley's LoverLady Chatterley’s Lover” this month.  What I expected would be a juicy read has instead been a clumsy and sort of boring tale.

There is one message that does resonate: men and women are supremely unsatisfied with each other both in and out of bed.

Oh dear. Thought that would be a thing of the past in 2014.

On a happier note: our collective inability to find and sustain love is great for literature.

“Gone Girl” anyone???

Barley & Beet Salad

Barley is one of those grains that I never think about but love to eat if it’s on a menu. Pair it with beets and arugula and you have a healthy dish that tastes delicious.

Two bunches beets – one gold, one red
1 ½ cups pearl barley
2 cups chopped arugula (plus more for platter)
1 cup goat or feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted

¾ cup olive oil – or combo walnut and olive oils
¼ cup balsamic
2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Roast the beets:  Scrub beets and trim stems to ½ inch. Place in baking dish with a little water on the bottom. Cover with foil. Roast in 375 oven for 40-55 minutes, depending on size of beets.  To test doneness: insert tip of paring knife into flesh. It should pierce easily, but not be too mushy.
  • Cook barley:  Bring 4 cups water to boil in large saucepan and add barley. When it returns to a boil, reduce heat and cover,  stirring occasionally, until barley is both chewy and tender and water is absorbed, about 35-40 minutes.  Take off heat, remove cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with fork.
  • Make vinaigrette: Whisk all ingredients together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Toast nuts in 325 oven for 8-10 minutes until golden.

To Assemble:

Toss beets with 2-3 tablespoons vinaigrette. In separate bowl, toss barleywith arugula, adding most of the remaining vinaigrette to taste. (Reserve some vinaigrette for drizzling.)

Line platter with reserved arugula leaves, mound barley on top, with a well in the center. Nestle beets into well, then sprinkle cheese and nuts over.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette.

Serve to friends and family.

Serving Fava Beans


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