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text 2017-11-21 20:37
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 10 - World Peace Day

Tasks for World Peace Day: Cook something involving olives or olive oil. Share the results and/or recipe with us.

 

I wasn't in the mood for anything elaborate tonight, but spaghetti and tomato sauce involves a dollop of olive oil in the water in which the spaghetti are boiled, and another dollop of olive oil in the tomato sauce.

 



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text 2016-11-28 14:45
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- A Visit to the Christmas Market

... aka Tasks the First, the Sixth, and the Twelfth: The Winter Wonderland, the Hanukkah, and the Wassail Bowl.

 

- If you are lucky enough to live in a snowy place, or even if you aren't, take a walk outside and post a picture of something pretty you encountered on your way.

- Make a traditional Hanukkah food like doughnuts or potato latkes. Post a picture, or tell us how they turned out!

- Drink a festive, holiday beverage, alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Take a picture of your drink, and post it to share - make it as festive as possible!

 



No snow anywhere in sight where I live (and as every year, we're dreaming of a white Christmas without, however, much hope for there actually to be one), but yesterday being the first Sunday of Advent, I decided to at least pay a visit to one of our area's many Christmas markets.  For preference, I'd have made it either the one in Bonn or the medieval Christmas market they annually have in another town nearby, but as I also had things to do at the office, it ended up being Cologne's main Christmas market right next to the cathedral (our offices are a 5 minutes' walk from there).

 







 

And since both latkes (Kartoffelpuffer / Reibekuchen, or in the local dialect, "Riefkooche") and mulled wine (Glühwein) are a fixture on every German Christmas market, yesterday's visit provided for those as well -- alright, not homemade admittedly, but I decided I'm going to let the Christmas market tradition stand in for "homemade" here instead ... and, in the instance of the latkes, also celebrate the cross-cultural / cross-religious spirit.  Oh, and I did get to take home my pretty, colorful mulled wine mug, too!

 

 


 

 

 

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text 2016-11-13 19:45
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- Task the Second: The Silent Nights; and Task the Third: The Holiday Party


 

Task the Second: The Silent Nights:

- Get your hygge on! Put on your fuzziest socks, light a candle, and spend some time (reading) in front of the fireplace or your coziest nook. Post a picture if you want!

 

And:

 

Task the Third: The Holiday Party:

- Read a book where a celebration is a big part of the action.

 

Sofa, pillows, favorite blanket, favorite black velvet slippers, favorite childhood dinner and a mug of spicy chocolate tea, volume 3 of the audio collection of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey / Maturin cycle on my living room speakers, with Rex Stout's And Four to Go (4 short stories, 3 of these involving holiday celebrations) to be finished later ... I'd say that should count as two birds (tasks) with one, err, shot, shouldn't it?

 

 

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review 2015-07-01 03:33
Yes, Chef
Yes, Chef: A Memoir - Marcus Samuelsson

Yes Chef

 

Marcus Samuelsson, 2012

 

Award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson tells about how he went from being an Ethiopian orphan raised by adoptive parents in Sweden to a opening his own restaurant in New York. 

 

 

I enjoy reading books about the food world. As someone who is only a so-so cook herself, I find it fascinating to read about (or watch on Food Network) how the mind of a chef works. I also understand now - after reading this book - that a chef has to really love what they do in order to get to the point where they're running the kitchen at a high-end restaurant. Talent isn't enough. A chef has to be able to do their time in the trenches, put up with militant bosses who could fire them for the tiniest mistake, working long hours for little pay. Not very glamorous at all. 

 

Samuelsson is not a name that I was particularly familiar with - my knowledge of celebrity chefs is honestly limited to Iron Chef and a few Food Network cooking shows - but it was very interesting to me to learn about him and where he came from. I also found it fascinating that - even today - restaurant kitchens are very much a place for white males. Samuelsson makes this clear by telling his story and by telling the reader the little things that he is doing at his restaurant to try and change this dynamic, but in a way that doesn't seem like he's making his book about race. He happens to be a black chef, which is difficult in today's world, but his book is more about trying to incorporate his heritage into his cooking (both his Swedish and his Ethiopian heritage) than it is about condemning the cooking world for racism. 

 

What I really enjoyed about this memoir, though, is that Samuelsson really has lived an interesting life, even outside of being a chef. To go from a sick, hungry child in Ethiopia, to being adopted by loving parents in Sweden, to traveling all over the world, to cooking at the White House, his story really is quite remarkable. And I liked how he didn't gloss over his failures - both in the kitchen and in life. He wrote openly about everything, from his failed restaurant, from the daughter he abandoned in Austria after a one-night stand. (He eventually connected with her, when she was fourteen.) 

 

Overall a very interesting book about life in the restaurant business and a fascinating story about one man who overcame tremendous odds to become successful in that world. Recommended to anyone who likes memoirs or Food Network.

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review 2015-05-26 19:06
Proof
Proof: The Science of Booze - Adam Rogers

Proof: The Science of Booze

 

Adam Rogers, 2014

 

A history of the production and consumption of alcohol, from a scientific standpoint. Includes chapters on distillation, aging, hangovers, and others.

 

 

A book that combines two of my favorite things: science and alcohol.

 

You probably have to be at least a casual science nerd in order to appreciate this book. It’s not a book about alcohol in general, although the author does give a few good examples of interesting alcohols to try. It’s more a book about the history of alcohol – when and where the first evidence of distillation and fermentation show up in archaeological records, as well as how it has been adapted and perfected over the years. The author writes it very well, though. Full of interesting anecdotes personal experiences as well as facts and science, so that it doesn’t read like a textbook.

 

I learned a lot about alcohol from reading this book. Oddly enough, I attended a winery tour just after reading the chapter on fermentation, and I was pleased to discover how much more I understood about the process as the girl was taking us on the tour.

 

A very interesting read, but certainly not for everyone. But if you’re a science nerd at heart, and enjoy a drink now and again, it’s definitely recommended reading.

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