The Golden Compass

Golden CompassI decided to read The Golden Compass after seeing a sign at a local car repair shop that warned parents about letting their kids read this book….How ridiculous!

The Golden Compass is a great read, full of imagination, interesting characters and with a compelling plot. I especially appreciate that the heroine of the story is a little girl (versus a little boy – boys always seem to have all the fun in these kinds of stories). I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, the other books in this collection.

Green Beans Amadine

2 tablespoons butter
1 ounce sliced almonds
2 garlic cloves minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash Ground pepper (fresh)
3 cups green beans trimmed and halved, cooked until tender

Instructions

Heat butter over medium heat in Wok until bubbly and hot; add almonds, garlic, parsley, salt and ground pepper.
Sauté until almonds are golden (2-3 minutes).
Add green beans and cook, stirring occasionally until heated through (2-3 minutes). 

Turkey Giblet Gravy

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, minced
1 carrot, diced
giblets removed from turkey cavity
4 cups water
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
Salt & pepper to taste  

Instructions

While turkey roasts, melt butter in saucepan over medium heat; add onion and carrot and sauté for 10 minutes. Add giblets and water. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour or until meat is easily removed from neck. Strain and reserve broth.

Remove meat from neck, mince it and the giblets. Return meat & giblets to broth and set aside.

When turkey is done, remove from roasting pan leaving juice in pan. Place roasting pan directly on low to medium heat, holding it firmly, use wooden spoon to scrape and mix all pan juices as they begin to boil. Sprinkle flour into juices and continue to stir until flour and juices are combined and no particles stick to the bottom.

Slowly add broth with giblets and stir until mixed. Let boil for 2 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste. Warm as needed.

Orange-Glazed Carrots

Fresh ginger
1 pound fresh baby carrots
1/3 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard

Instructions

  1. Peel small pieces of fresh ginger with vegetable peeler or sharp knife. Grate enough ginger with ginger grater or finest side of box-shaped grater to measure 1/2 tsp. Set aside.
  2. Cook carrots (heat 1 inch lightly salted water in 2-quart saucepan over high heat to a boil. Immediately add carrots. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 – 12 minutes for fresh carrots or until crisp tender.
  3. Drain well, return carrots to pan.
  4. Stir in marmalade, butter, mustard and ginger. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat 3 minutes until carrots are glazed, stirring occasionally.
  5. At this point, carrots may be transferred to a microwavable casserole dish with lid. Cover & refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving. To reheat, microwave at HIGH 4 – 5 minutes or until hot.

Cornbread Dressing

4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions chopped
1 rib celery chopped to make 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups corn bread crumbs *
3 cups biscuit crumbs *
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups chicken stock 2-1/2 to 3 cups of stock is appropriate
1 tablespoon sage (fresh) or 1 tsp dried
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
Salt & ground pepper to taste  

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a heavy saucepan. Add onions and celery and cook until tender. Melt remaining 2 tbsp butter in 9×13 ovenproof baking dish in oven.

Remove onions and celery to a large bowl and mix in remaining ingredients. Turn into baking dish and bake until browned, about 30 minutes.

* Instead of baking from scratch, use cornbread mixes & refrigerated biscuits.

Apple Cranberry Bake

6 Granny Smith, Wine sap, or Golden Delicious apples
1 pound fresh cranberries
2 ounces butter (melted)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces apricot preserves
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans (chopped)   

Instructions

Peel apples and cut into eighths; place in 8×12 Pyrex baking dish (sprayed with Pam); cover with cranberries.

Topping: Mix sugar & cornstarch; mix together melted butter, vanilla, and preserves. Pour mixture over fruit & sprinkle with nuts.

Bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes. Time will vary depending on tartness of apples.

World Without End

World Without End

“World Without End” by Ken Follett has been on my reading list ever since it was published (October 2007).  I read Ken Follett’s earlier book, “The Pillars of the Earth,” more than a decade ago and I enjoyed that book too.

I got the electronic version of the book several months ago, and I decided it was time to give it a read.  I started the book last week and am about half way through it.  I expected it to be a good read, but I did not expect it to be such a fabulous read – probably the best book I’ve read in years!  I just wish I knew someone who was reading it too so I could talk about it with someone who is as captivated with the story as I am. 

Continue reading World Without End

Secrets of Learning a Foreign Language

Secrets of Learning a Foreign LanguageI listened to this book when I was gearing up to study the Dutch language in preparation for a trip to The Netherlands. I checked out the audio version of this book from the library.

The book has several great hints and techniques about how to approach learning a new language. I thought it was pretty good and I’ll probably check it out again and listen to it again.

The Secret of Lost Things

Secret of Lost ThingsI always enjoy a book whose characters stay with me after I’ve finished reading the story. The Secret of Lost Things is peopled with lots of unusual characters / misfits, if you will. A coming of age story with many unique twists and turns told in just enough poignant detail, it left me wanting more and I was sad to see the book end.

The book ended when it should have ended, but I can’t help but wonder what became of many of the characters in the story. A really great read and one that I recommend whole heartedly