Category Archives: books

5 for Friday: What I’ve Been Reading

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I have found a way to bring even more reading into my life… I’m not much of an e-reader person. I don’t own one nor a tablet and I’ve tried to read a bit on my phone, with little success. (I’m easily distracted.) So, generally, I read traditional books at night before bed. I listen to audiobooks on CD in the car on my commute. And now, I listen to e-audiobooks downloaded from the library onto my phone while I’m working around the house.

For some reason, with this round of books, many have been made into movies! With a few exceptions, I usually find the book better than the movie. But consider how many hours you invest in a book versus a movie!

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Evidence Not Seen
by Darlene Deibler Rose (nonfiction) – worth a read

Even if you know me pretty well, you probably don’t know that I don’t subscribe to any one particular religion. I do believe in a greater power; but how can we believe that one religion is right and all others are wrong? I find that sometimes individual religions get caught up in the details. That being said, I will tell you that this book is one that I would have never picked up in my life if I would had known just how much specific religious beliefs were entwined in the story…

I chose it because it was on a list of books every woman should read… and my local library only offered it as an e-audiobook. I started listening to it while I was doing housework – washing dishes and putting away laundry all with earbuds in my ears! (I have found that if I just put it on in the background, I don’t listen to it as closely and it becomes just that – background.)

But this memoir is truly a wonderful account of a woman as a WWII POW in New Guinea. This was a part of World War II of which I had no knowledge and I felt enriched both mentally and spiritually afterward.

Shhh!!! Don’t tell my mother-in-law, I bought this book for her for Mother’s Day. I think she will love it.

~

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle 
(fiction) – worth a read

My fourth grade teacher read this book out loud to us, but even though I was a good student, I didn’t pay attention. To be honest, I don’t know why. Maybe it was a time in my life that I got easily distracted. Maybe the book didn’t capture me at the get-go. I don’t think of myself as one who easily gets into fantasy or sci-fi novels. But it took the movie coming out for me to be inspired to read it on my own.

Better 30 years later than never, right?

It still took me some time to get into. While a few of the characters and little blurbs did come back to me, I still kept thinking, this is a children’s/middle grade book?! I read an article where one of L’Engle’s granddaughters read it at seven years old! I can’t even imagine that. I still felt lost by much of the symbolism and parallels within it. I felt like deep within, I was missing so much of it. Although, I’ve read several accounts of readers getting something different out of it each time they read it.

But in the end, it tells so much… and in so many ways. I can see why this book stands the test of time. (Pun not intended.)

I have not yet seen the movie. Would anyone recommend it?

~

NOW EAT THIS!
150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods All Under 350 Calories

by Rocco DiSpirto (nonfiction, cookbook) – Skip

Rocco DiSpirito is a Celebrity Chef who has learned how to lose weight by adapting recipes using his culinary skills. I appreciate his ability to create adaptations to America’s comfort foods; but this book wasn’t really for me. So many of the dishes are ones that I don’t really crave or eat often. And sometimes, he substitutes reduced-this and sugar-free-that items that are loaded with chemicals and fake foods.

All of that being said, I did flag an Onion-Garlic Puree in the Sauces section which consists of just onion, garlic, water and S&P. He says that it “is designed to be a base ingredient and is a great way to build flavor and texture without adding fat.” I’m intrigued. It’s recommended in making mac and cheese without a lot of butter or cream or in stirring into sauces or soups. It also goes into the only other recipe I flagged in this book: Creamy Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce.

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EVERTHING, EVERYTHING
by Nicola Yoon (fiction) – worth a read

I sometimes think I’m not into YA novels, but then I realize I devoured ones like The Hunger Games. After picking this book up from the library after being on hold, I almost took it back with the intent to read something else. I’m glad I didn’t. I needed something like this. While the themes of the book are not light, the reading was quick and easy. I loved looking at life from a new {and perhaps more grateful} perspective.

Sometimes I need a quick, easy ready to even out all of the other books in my life.  Apparently, this book is a movie, now, too.

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Being There
by Jerzy Kosinski (fiction) – worth a read?

I pulled this book off my TBR shelf after seeing the movie. The book was written in 1970, but the movie filmed almost a decade later. I do like the concept of the novel – a man with no background getting ahead in society just by uttering very few words, despite his upbringing and education (or lack thereof). But I still didn’t get any closure or understanding of the ending. I kind of wanted to throw the book up against the wall!

I haven’t read many books from the 70s. Was this the style?

~

Do you prefer to read the book before seeing a movie adaptation?
If you’ve seen a movie, would you go back and read the book?
Why?

Cheers~
Carrie

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5 for Friday: 5 Movies I Watched Last Week

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Usually, when my husband goes out of town I post about all the fun food I cooked that he can’t normally eat. (I did that here, here, here and here.)

Instead, this week I’m posting about 5 movies that I watched during the eight days my husband was on vacay. Normally, my husband is the one who is in search of the movies for us to watch, whether it be at home or in the theater. I just like not having to think. But in my library account a couple of weeks ago, I found a “list” I created some time ago. It was probably collected from movies recommended on a blog.

And it’s not that my husband wouldn’t watch any of these movies. In fact, I think he would have liked almost all of them. It’s just sometimes the timing has to be right. Some of these movies I checked out on DVD from my local library, one or two I found on Netflix, and I believe one I found on Amazon Prime for free.

These are most likely movies the mainstream has not seen! If you click on the title, you can get a description and sometimes a trailer of each movie at imdb.com.

In no particular order, here they are:

Hector and the Search for Happiness
2014

This movie almost has it all. A feel-good movie at it’s best, it has love, humor and even adventure. Highly recommended.

~

The Grocer’s Son (Le fils de l’épicier) 
2007

I love foreign films, but especially French ones so I can brush up a bit. This one is quintessentially French, not in the upbeat, romanticized way that Amélie feels to the outsider (although I adore that movie!); but in a more rugged, real sort of way. In any case, I enjoyed it. So should anyone who has a family member who is an outcast or feels like an outsider. Recommended.

~

Madame Bovary
2014

This is probably the 6th version of this story ever filmed. This adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s novel is entirely in English. It made me realize that I had never read the book or saw any of the prior films. How can this be? It was time. It’s a classic tragedy that, although set in the 1800s, stands the test of time. Recommended.

~

Being There
1979

I have no idea where I found this film and what inspired me to put it on a wish list! I was a child when this film with adult themes debuted, so there was probably no other way I would have ever watched it. Oh how movies have changed in the past 30-40 years! I felt it a bit slow-moving; but that can just be what I’m used to these days. Interestingly Peter Sellers, who played the main character, was nominated for an Oscar in this role and won a Golden Globe for it as well. He died about six months later.

I did like the movie, but I didn’t quite understand the ending. (I also didn’t like the title. Just a simple The Gardener would have sufficed.) The screenplay was adapted from the book, by the author, so it prompted me to look it up. It was on my list of “short” books (under 200 pages) and on my (literal) TBR shelf. It ended up being the next book I read. (More on that in a book post!)

And although the protagonist is not autistic, because of the movie Rain Man, I pictured Dustin Hoffman playing this role within the first ten minutes of viewing this movie. Interestingly, he narrates the audiobook version!

~

The Hedgehog (Le hérisson)
2009

When I first slipped this French movie into the DVD player, I forgot to adjust to English subtitles. Then I realized, I was understanding nearly every word the girl was reciting! (As long as they speak clearly enough, I usually can get the general gist in most movies, but often put on subtitles when Rob is around or for extra help.)

Then I realized that I had seen this movie before! I don’t know when or where, but I had a vague recollection of the characters.

I didn’t remember everything; however and actually gasped?! shrieked?! out loud during the main turning point in the movie. It was an excellent rewatch. And while the thought of an 11-year-old planning a suicide attempt sounds dark, it’s not as depressing as that. It turns into a feel-good movie of sorts, highlighting many aspects of the human condition, in the most French way possible. Highly recommended

~

I guess I was in the need for a few feel-good movies this week!

What kind of movies do you like to watch when you are alone?
What are your favorite feel-good movies?
I’d love to add them to my future watch list!

Cheers~
Carrie

5 for Friday: What I’ve Been Reading

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Well, it’s been a while since I’ve updated on what I’ve been reading. {Well, other than soup cookbooks or books about hygge!} Still, I have been reading a good mix of fiction, non-fiction, print and audio that it’s about time to let you in on what else I’ve read so far this year.

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The Art of War
by Sun Tzu (nonfiction) – skip

This one came up on a list somewhere. I thought maybe it was one that included classics or texts that everyone should read. But truthfully, I think I found it on a list of “books you can read in a day”. Well, I didn’t because it really didn’t capture my attention. Yes, it’s great that we have a piece of this history available to us, but reading about strategies of war is not exactly my idea of a good time.

~

Good Karma
by Christina Kelly 
(fiction) – worth a read

With a photo of dog on the cover, I thought this book was going to be more about a dog than it really was. My hardest part was getting past the beginning – mostly the reality of the transition into retirement not being what one expects. Probably because I could see myself thinking entirely those things. But with a Savannah backdrop, a happy ending and a book including a dog, the read was a nice little escape.

~

The Perfume Collector
by Kathleen Tessaro (fiction) – worth a read

This book was handed to me by my mother-in-law last fall, who enjoyed it and encouraged me to read it. My TBR pile is quite large, but I wanted to make sure I’d read it before we visit again. She knows I love stories that take place in Paris! I also loved the historical context, a little empowerment of women along the way as well as the beautiful descriptors of scent as an art!

~

Madonna in a Fur Coat
by Sabahattin Ali (fiction) – worth a read/listen

I came across this book on a list of underrated books. The only way I could get my hands on a copy was by downloading it on audio from the library. For some reason, I am unable to get the volume high enough when I try to play books in the car connected via bluetooth, so this one is one I’d listen to at home with my earbuds in while I was doing dishes or putting the laundry away.

I really enjoyed it and it kept me cleaning! I knew nothing about the book in advance, which may have been why I read it. But I will tell you that it takes place in Turkey and Germany in the 20s and features a woman whose quotes I would have highlighted often if I had been reading the book in print! I guess you could say it’s a love story… but I feel that sometimes that is what turns people off from reading. It’s much more than that.

~

The Power
by Rhonda Byrne (fiction) – must listen

I’m a huge fan of The Secret, The Power, The Magic books. After I first read The Secret, I started keeping a gratitude journal. It changed my focus on what was going wrong on a daily basis to what was going right. Back when I was doing in-home wine tastings, a woman on my team said that she not only read the book, but had the audio version that she’d listen to in her car. I found it genius to listen to positive practices on repeat!

When The Power came out, I never bought it in print, only on audio. Unfortunately, I lost the CDs in our car accident two years ago because they always stayed in my car. On a side note, perhaps it was because of gratitude that we walked away from that event because if you read my post, the words “thank you for our safety” went through my head during each turn of our rollover.

Still, I recently found a used library copy of the audio version of The Power on Thriftbooks {<–referral link} and I once again have my own to listen to whenever I desire. It felt really good to listen to it again. It’s like it came back into my life at the right time. Which means that the universe is always responding!

~

What is the most underrated book you’ve read?

Cheers~
Carrie

Books about Hygge

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Have you heard of hygge? {Pronounced hoo-ga.} I’ve seen the word so many times over the past year that I had to do some digging.

Scandanavians consistently rank as some of the happiest in the world, most notably the Danes. Some think it has to do with a little something they call hygge. It’s a way of life, a state of being, but it is not entirely easily to translate.

The word originates from the proto-language Old Norse – hyggja means thinking and feeling satisfied and is related to finding shelter, rest and safety, and regaining energy and courage. ~ from Hygge by Marie Tourell Soderberg

Still, you’d be surprised to how many activities to it can be referred! Here’s what I explored to learn more about hygge.

~

The Book of Hygge
by Louisa Thomsen Brits 
(nonfiction) – skip

This book sometimes read more like a thesis or a professional journal than it did a book. I almost came away more confused about hygge than when I started. But in the end, I learned that everything can be hygge (just like everything can be yoga). It’s a way of life, but most likely learned subconcsiously. That’s why describing it is so hard.

“Hygge happens when we commit to the pleasure of the present moment in its simplicity. It’s the things we do that give everyday life value and meaning, that comfort us, make us feel at home, rooted and generous.”

It encompasses the following:

  • Belonging (inclusivity)
  • Shelter (within our homes, our lives, ourselves, our family)
  • Comfort (feeling welcome, warm, safe)
  • Well-being (contentedness)
  • Simplicity (and authenticity)
  • Observerance (mindfulness)

~

The Little Book of Hygge
by Meik Wiking 
(nonfiction) – worth a read!

Whenever I would encounter a little something about hygge, this is the book that was always recommended to learn more. And I see why! I learned so much about the Danish culture and think I have a pretty good grasp now on what hygge is.

When I’d read about it online, it was often referred to as coziness or that feeling of warmth and togetherness that we often feel during the holidays when we gather with friends and family. While both of those are the case, being alone, sipping on a cup of something warm and a good book can be hygge, too. It’s a sense of safety and security, but can also mean having a good time. It’s just the right lighting and warming up after coming in from out of the cold. But it can also be visiting a cabin in summer. It’s everyone pitching in and creating such a good time and feeling included to do so. It’s simplifying and getting everyday enjoyment out of life with your loved ones.

This book is written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute (yes, that exists!) I feel compelled to travel to Denmark now, but am perplexed which time would be best. I am not a winter person, but that seems like it might be the hyggest time! This book comes with recipes, too.

I felt the hygge just reading this book. 🙂

~

Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness
by Marie Tourell Soderberg (nonfiction) – worth a read

I was drawn to the cover of this book, as I am often to blue covers. The glow of the yellow light on the cover also cast a hygge-like spell that made me want to cozy up with this book. My library only had it available however as an e-book and the Cloud Library had a bit of issue with the pictures. I would have really liked to have looked at the photos that were often used to illustrate examples, but they were always cut off. There was no way to zoom in or zoom out. And while I could make the text on each page smaller or larger, it had no effect on the photos. My library did work with Cloud Library and the publisher to see if it could be fixed. They recreated the problem and thought they had fixed it, but nothing changed on my end, not logging out, not returning the book and checking it out again, not rebooting my phone or deleting and reinstalling the app.

So not hygge. 🙂

In any case, I got some really great nuggets of info from this book. Hygge can be described as a peaceful feeling, one of contentment, such as how one feels when they feel safe, secure or having a good time. I liked this quote:

“Hygge is a state of being you experience if you are at peace with yourself, your spouse, the tax authorities and your inner organs.” ~ Tove Ditlevesen

Also, the Danes are serious about their lighting. Most of them light candles every day. But one chapter of this book went as far to suggest the right kind of bulb and its color temperature in degrees Kelvin for the best kind of warm lighting!

Hygge is relaxed, informal and inclusionary. Danes don’t like so much to brag or be in the limelight. During times of hygge, no one talks of politics nor pushes the envelope.

~

How to Hygge:
The Nordic Secret to a Happy Life
by Signe Johansen (nonfiction) – worth a read

Here ^^ Sophie Jean is telling me to stop learning how to hygge and snuggle with her instead. Shouldn’t that be hygge enough? Truth be told, it is. But Sophie has an independent mind of her own and doesn’t always come to snuggle with me when I call her. {Unlike Miss Phoebe!} Instead, she gets to determine when we snuggle. I guess we know who runs our household.

This book was written not by a Dane, but a Norwegian food writer, which shows that the hygge pours over to the rest of Scandinavia. You’ll get a hefty dose of Scandinavian recipes {especially sweets!} in this book. A few things I learned:

  • Scandinavians are active every day – no matter what the weather! Throughout these books, I keep seeing the phrase, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”  It’s normal to just snap on some skis and go for a quick glide around the neighborhood in the winter, even in urban areas. Otherwise, Danes bike everywhere – taxes are 170% on cars.
  • Spending time in nature is common and important. Studies show that “spending time in nature means you are less prone to brooding”. Okay, Carrie, go for a walk, there’s no need for that runner’s high to be beneficial!
  • Bring the outside in. Scandinavians love to use natural materials to build furniture (often wood) and bring the outside in. My dentist office was newly decorated on my last visit and I felt like someone had read up on hygge…
  • “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth,” ~ Epicuris. Scandinavians teach their young not only to “survive”, but also how to flourish individually in society.

~

Happy as a Dane:
10 Secrets of the Happiest People in the World

by Marlene Rydahl (nonfiction) – worth a read

Okay, this wasn’t exactly a book on hygge, but I’m sure you can guess that hygge was not left out of this book as one of the reasons the Danes live a fulfilling lifestyle! In fact, I learned a lot about the Danish mindset from this book. I won’t go through all ten points, I’d rather you pick up the book yourself. It’s a quick read.

The first “secret” of the Danes is not really even a secret at all. It’s something that has been ingrained subconsciously in their culture, their society. I don’t think it’s something any of us, especially in the U.S. can change individually and expect our lives to change or be happier:

TRUST

There are two specific examples of trust that stood out to me that I could never see working where I live, nor most places around the globe!

  • Farmers Markets – You won’t see farmers selling produce there. But what you will see is a jar in which to place your cash when you take what you need, as well as a few coins, in case you need to make change. The farmer comes back to collect the earnings and anything leftover at the end of the day.
  • Babies – It’s not uncommon for parents to leave strollers with their sleeping babies out by the curb while they run in to a store or sit and have lunch or coffee with someone, just as if they are sleeping in the other room. Around here, I know some people tie their dogs up outside when they run in, but I wouldn’t even do that!

With a tax rate near 60%, Danes have to trust that their money is being put to good use. And they do – most Danes are happy with what they’ve got, don’t strive for the big bucks and feel like they are investing in the greater good.

EDUCATION

  • Education is free at all levels
  • In fact, those going off to college will generally receive about $900/mo to pursue such.
  • The focus in education is not to be high-performing, but to find your personally fulfilling place in society.

~

I think many Americans already practice a sort of hygge in their lifestyles without realizing it because we don’t really have a word for it. I think it is the feeling you get around the holidays when you are bundled up and drinking hot chocolate or visiting loved ones even when the weather is frightful, because that fire really is so delightful. But it’s also that feeling you go up to a cabin in the summertime, where you are enjoying the outdoors and not necessarily any of the amenities you have in own home. It is the feeling you have when you curl up with a good book and a cup of tea or glass of wine. It is having candles lit and making friends and family feel welcome and comfortable in your own home. It is snuggling with the dog and walking in nature and hanging out with friends who make you feel comfortable and included.

These are all things many of us do already, any time of year. But maybe the key to happiness is to actually make the time to do them more often.

Have you read any books on 07?
If so, what do you think hygge means to you?

Cheers~
Carrie

Soup (Book) Week: The One That Changed My Thinking…

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And here we arrive… the last Soup Cookbook review of the week. Are you fed up with soup by now? I’M NOT! 🙂

And just to recap in case you missed:

~

Soup Cleanse Cookbook
by Nicole Centeno (cookbook) – worth a READ

WOW. This book.

Knowing it would deserve it’s own review, I came up with Soup Week rather than doing a 5 for Friday with 5 cookbooks in one post.

At first glance, I flipped through these recipes and thought, “Where is the protein?” and “I’m not going to make very many of these.” I do not eat a vegan, nor a vegetarian diet. Maybe it’s psychological, but I always feel like I need some sort of protein in order for a meal to feel “complete” to me, whether that be meat, eggs or beans. I really did skip over a lot of recipes in this book.

But then… 

I did what I do what I do with every cookbook I read (unless I’m in search of one specific, quick recipe!)…

I read it like a novel… from cover to cover.

And boy did I learn so much. This soup cookbook is the one that changed my thinking… and when I wasn’t looking to change it at all. It is also the book that got me out of my comfort zone to try a bunch of those unusual ingredients that I was not really inspired to in some of those other cookbooks I mentioned this week.

And I have since made 10 recipes from it.

This is the book that actioned me out of my comfort zone!

Word of Caution:  If you are looking for a book with a few good soup recipes to peruse, this book may not be for you. It most certainly wasn’t what I was looking for when I went in search of soup cookbooks. This book embodies more of a plan – a plan to eat real food… plant-based food.

~

Now if you are still intrigued… here is what I learned:

  • Only 13 % of the American population gets enough vegetables. Do you really believe you are part of that 13%? Do you get 30-60% of your calories from vegetables?
  • We seem to have worry about not getting enough protein in our diets; when for most Americans, that is not an issue. (Especially, compared to the issue of getting enough vegetables!) And get this, if you increase your vegetable intake, you’ll be adding protein to your diet, too. While the protein amounts in plants seem lower than traditional protein sources; when you star adding those extra vegetable servings to the diet, those little bits add up.
  • In the past five years, I’ve heard more and more nutritionist and dietitian advice to the lines of “eat real food, mostly plants.”

What I Loved About This Book:

The author’s goal is not to get you to give up meat or really even overhaul your diet. We put too much pressure on what we should restrict from our diets. What about the things that are missing? What if we added real, plant-based food and the rest followed?

Along with each recipe, Centeno points out specific ingredients and what they will do for your body. And why some items should prepared a certain way. Maybe this is what sold me?!

While I don’t specifically like the term cleanse (or diet) because it sounds so restricting; Centeno’s suggestion on how to eat her soups goes like this:

  • Pick one day to make 5 soups – one from each category of  purees, beans and lentils, sweeter spoonfuls, stews, restorative broths.
  • Each soup makes 4 servings, so your soups will last you two weeks. (Two servings of each soup will be eaten this week, the other two servings of each soup can go in the freezer for the following week.)
  • On the first day, you will eat only soup – one of each of the soups in order. Yes, this part is a restrictive; but it’s more about mindfulness. Soup forces us to slow down.
  • On the following five days, you replace one meal – any meal – with a soup. She recommends lunch, because it makes lunch easy, especially during the work week. But you can really do any meal, based on your schedule.

These recipes are all made of real ingredients, are plant-based and filling. What’s more is that most of the soups do not have broth or stock on the ingredient list, so almost all of the flavor you are getting is from the fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains themselves!

It kind of wowed me that each soup had as much flavor as they did. Only one have I found I needed to season with salt. The recipes are also pretty forgiving. I’ve messed up a step and ingredient or two.

What I Didn’t Like About Souping:

You’ll need to set aside a lot of time on the day you make these soups – like 3 hours or so. I’ve done it twice and have been pretty exhausted afterward. But I think it’s been worth it to have healthy, cleansing meals at the ready all week long – for two weeks! Sometimes I’ve just made four of the soups on a Sunday for my Monday Souping Day and would make the 5th soup for dinner, just like I would make dinner on Monday night.

Sometimes the soup’s textures aren’t as smooth or creamy as I’d like them to be; but I don’t have a blender, just a food processor. I did invest in an immersion blender and am slowly learning how to use that. But you don’t have to always blend the soups. And if the texture or a style of soup is something you don’t like, Centeno suggests choosing something from another category. Also, when I’m making soups for the week, I try to choose soups that might have some overlapping ingredients so I don’t have a lot of leftover ingredients or waste.

A day of souping can be a (mental) challenge, but it’s just one day. And I love ending the day with a restorative broth and a warm tummy full of it.

~

Recipes I’ve tried from each category:

  • Purees
    • Carrot and Turmeric – This one wouldn’t puree in a food processor. My newly purchased immersion blender did the trick, when I figured out how to use it! Still, not as silky smooth looking as the photo. I’m still learning.
    • Cumin Sweet Potato – I don’t even really like sweet potatoes IRL. I gave it a go anyway. This one is flavorful. I think it’s the “sweet” I don’t like in sweet potatoes, but now I know if you add some Mexican or spicy flair, you’ve got me!
  • Beans & Lentils
    • Lentil and Kale – I don’t remember much about this soup, but I think that’s a good thing. It means it had good flavor and wasn’t too weird in texture. The ones that were lacking flavor or had weird texture were the ones that stood out.
    • Beans and Greens – Out of all the soups, this is the only one I needed to season, liberally, with salt. It was also the first time I’ve ever used dried beans. While canned beans are totally acceptable, I thought I decided to go all out and start with dried beans, sorting, rinsing and soaking them the night before. I thought all of this and the long simmer on the stove would make them taste the same as canned. (Or better?) But they were a little too al dente to my taste when I actually ate the soup. (And a bit more difficult to… ahem, digest.) Why didn’t I think to taste them after the allotted stove time?! Also, the resulting soup water just tasted “dirty” to me for some reason.
  • Sweeter Spoonfuls
    • Spiced Fig & Cashew – My fig and date ratios were off, but this still came out beautifully. I found that I liked to replace breakfast with the Sweeter Spoonful soups.
    • Vanilla Pistachio with Oats – I think my oats were undercooked and this wasn’t really sweet, just a little dull.
  • Stews
    • Courgette Stew – You might wonder how it is a stew without any big chunks of meat or even beans, but this was so flavorful! The stews really surprised me.
    • Curly Kale Stew – In my opinion, some of these recipes are misnamed. Yes, kale is an ingredient, but my overall feel for this stew is for the warming coconut curry! So comforting in winter.
  • Restorative Broths
    • Lime Pepper Broth – I loved the little kick of jalapeno! Centeno does not strain any of her broths, so veggies used are fresh and you’ll get to benefit from their nutrients. My only complaint about the broths is the suggestion to used sliced onion. I feel like I’m slurping up noodles! If you like that kind of thing, fine. I’ll be dicing all of my onions next time.
    • Spirulina and Kale Broth – Here is an example of an uncommon ingredient I bought – Spirulina Powder! It’s made of sea algae and is loaded with Omega-3s as well as protien, iron and potassium. Still, Centeno did what I love – she recommended using other types of ingredients like nori or wakame or even doubling up on the Kale if needed. The deep blue-green color of the spirulina powder was a bit of a trip, though!

I have never felt deprived eating any of her soups, even if (with my mindset) there is a lack of traditional protein in many soups. I’ve actually eaten slower and been more mindful of each bite. This coming weekend is my next weekend to prep soups. But I am just getting settled in my new digs at work. I need to establish my routine, so I’m going to hold off for a bit.

In the meantime, I’m going to lunch from my freezer to continue to empty it so that we can make room for more upcoming soups – whether they be for this new souping ritual or for any of my favorite soups. (I’m looking at you, Immunity Soup, Provencal Lentil Soup and Crockpot Italian Chicken and Quinoa Soup)!

And if you are looking for posts on traditional soups:

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What books have you read that have altered your thinking?

P.S. Ever since I published the post on Clean Soups, I’ve heard kombu used in recipes (on tv and in print) several times! Maybe I just never noticed this ingredient before. Either it’s not too unusual after all… or I’m just now noticing it. 🙂

Cheers~
Carrie

Soup (Book) Week: Magic Soup

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Welcome back to Soup Week, where I review the 5 latest Soup Cookbooks I’ve read. Depending where you are, you may be still putting up with bitter cold… If things are looking up and getting warmer, chances are, it’s still a bit chilly, at least when the sun goes down. A nice bowl of soup is still a comforting way to get that chill out.

In case you missed it:

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Magic Soup
by Nicole Pisani & Kate Adams 
(cookbook) – worth a flip

Isn’t the cover of this book just beautiful?! I was drawn to it. I am not sure where I found it; but it was not at my local library. I had it in hand and was determined to find some new-to-me-recipes.

I love the introduction and learned many things in this book! Like did you know that the “first restaurants in Paris served restauratifs (restoratives), in other words, bone broths”?

The title of this book came from the name of a soup made in Mauritius that women traditionally eat after the birth of a child to help her with the nutrition she needs to heal her body and be strong. But we all know that soup can be magical in its own right, the way it warms us, makes us feel comforted, basically nurturing and healing us from the inside out.

However, there were very few recipes in this cookbook that I can realistically see myself attempting to make. 😦

There are a few reasons for this. One is that this book was ultimately written for Brits, even though this version is adapted for an American audience. I know that shouldn’t be an excuse because I’ve overcome all of the odd-to-me (Australian) measurements in the best cookbook you’ve never read, fairly easily. The measurements have been adapted in this book, but are sometimes just odd… like 1 lb, 2 oz of tomatoes or 2 tbsp of quinoa.

Some of the ingredients are confusing or strange, too. I thought maybe 1 tbsp of tomato puree might actually be tomato paste because a lot of recipes only called for that amount. But then I ran into a recipe with an odd 10.5 oz amount of this ingredient.

Maybe I’m not open-minded enough to try some of the unusual ingredients, or maybe I’m just too lazy to search for them. Maybe if there was something that was totally intriguing or if I’d could make a variation or swap, I’d give it a go; but that didn’t happen so much as I flipped though the book. I mostly admired the photos! Although Nicole and Kate say that many of these ingredients can be found at specialty markets and online now, if I read one odd-ball ingredient, I pretty much admired the photo and moved on. Though, now that I’m sitting at a computer I can look a few of these items up!

Just to name a few of the bizarre ingredients:

  • lovage leaves – I’m finding fennel leaves as substitute, but that’s not something I’d normally buy either
  • white miso paste
  • one green chile – this could mean anything!
  • black onion seeds
  • calçot onions
  • sumac
  • nettle tops
  • sundried tomato puree – they make this? or is this sundried tomato pesto?
  • Hojicha green tea
  • umeboshi plum
  • lily bulb flakes
  • samphire
  • asafetida (To be fair, this was listed as an optional ingredient, so it shouldn’t deter me from making the recipe. It was the mung beans that did.)
  • chicory heads
  • curry leaves – I thought curry wasn’t actually a spice, but a spice blend or dish?! I didn’t know these existed.
  • air-dried mountain ham – I’ll just go out back to my mountain and get this. (Joking, I am pretty sure I could have substituted prosciutto here.)
  • runner beans
  • umami paste

Most of the recipes call for hot stock. I’m not sure why the stock has to be hot before adding it to the other ingredients. It was never explained.

Recipes I do want to try from this cookbook, though, include:

  • Greens & Grains – I can see this one as being highly adaptable
  • Herb Soup – This is one of the few that looks so easy! Stock, rice, mixed herbs, soy sauce or lemon juice. Done. No wasted herbs ever again.
  • Magic Soup – I have to try this namesake of this book!
  • Garlic Soup – I tried one version of this {see above from 300 Sensation Soups!} and it was horrible. Here’s to giving it another shot!
  • Portuguese Chicken, Lemon & Mint – As far as herbs go, mint is not one I usually buy or grow. But I am intrigued here.

If you are really adventurous in the kitchen and want to amp up your soup game, this book might be for you! I’m sure that I’d go crazy over many of these soups if I’d had them in a restaurant or someone else had served them to me; but creating them with some of these unfamiliar and intimidating ingredients is what’s holding me back.

UPDATE: I did make a couple of soups from Magic Soup before I published this post!

Portuguese Chicken, Lemon & Mint Soup

This soup was so good and refreshing! I was just wanting some extra veg like carrots or celery. It’s quite low cal and the servings seem small until you start shoveling in that quinoa that falls to the bottom. 😉

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Greens & Grains Soup (no photo)

This soup didn’t come out at all like I had expected. By the time the farro was finished, there really wasn’t any broth left, making it not much of a soup. I did end up adding a little later, but still ate this “soup” with a fork! However, I still loved the extremely nutty flavor I got from the farro, tahini and almonds. I’ve never had anything like it! If I made this again this is what I would change:

  • I would add more hot broth and/or water after the farro is cooking to make it more of a soup.
  • Instead of topping the soup with kale or spinach, I would put the greens at the bottom of the bowl and top with soup so that the greens have time to wilt.
  • I’d add some any other leftover veg I had on hand, perhaps carrots, zucchini or bell peppers.

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I now have all the ingredients to make this soup’s namesake. I’ll report back as soon as I do so.

What new-to-you ingredients have you shied away from or are happy you tried?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Soup Week! Books on Soup

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I must tell you, at this time of year, soup just sings to my soul. My original post on Books on Soup ended up being entirely too long because I wrote at least some of my thoughts and sometimes a full review after I read each book. There is no way you’d want to sit down and read 4000 words on soup books in one sitting. I know I wouldn’t.

But I’m kind of obsessed with soup right now! So I thought a Soup Week, with one post per book would be better. I’m going to start you off with a short one.

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300 Sensational Soups
by Carla Snyder & Meredith Deeds
 (cookbook) – on the fence

Remember back when I checked this book out from the library and I was so overwhelmed that I decided to just get my own copy? Well, I did snag a copy from either PaperbackSwap.com or Thriftbooks.com (<– referral links!). We have several recipes flagged, but I’ve only made all of one!  It was a Garlic Soup with Aioli and it was not a success. It was such a weird texture and didn’t really have that much garlic. That being said, this book of soups was highly recommended by a blogger who makes one of my favorite lasagna soups. And it is chock full with all different kinds of soups from creamy, to broth-based to all sorts of different ethnic soups that I have never even dreamed exist. The Cheddar, Beer and Kielbasa Soup remains on our wishlist. But we’re waiting until we pick up some kielbasa up from the Polish Wisconsin town where I grew up.

In the meantime, here are few other posts I’ve done on soups:

What is your favorite soup cookbook?

Cheers~
Carrie