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broodings from the burrow

June 8, 2013

strawberry fool
posted by soe 1:03 am

Nan asked for the strawberry fool recipe and I figured others might be interested, too, since it’s so easy to make. (Honestly, it’s so simple, I thought “fool” referred to who was qualified to make it, but the etymology doesn’t seem to support that.)

Also, I know I copied this from somewhere 15 years ago or so, but my notecard doesn’t offer any insight to the source. So know the recipe is not mine.

Strawberry fool ... on TwitpicStrawberry Fool
(serves 4 reasonable portions or 2 generous ones)

1 1/2 c strawberries
2-3 Tbs sugar
2/3 c heavy cream
2/3 c plain yogurt

Wash, de-stem, and slice the strawberries. Put in bowl and season with sugar. (If you can do this a little before the rest of the steps, you’ll get a smoother dish, but it’s delicious either way.)

Whisk the cream until whipped.

Add yogurt to the berries. Mash the berries. (I use a fork.) Your goal isn’t to end up with a smooth consistency, just to make them less solid.

Fold in the cream.

Add more sugar if necessary. (If you have quality, in-season strawberries, you probably won’t need more.)


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June 7, 2013

arrangement, new release, and fool
posted by soe 2:41 am

This week has been surprisingly quick. How is tomorrow Friday? Anyway, before we get there, we have to finish up Thursday, which means three beautiful things from the past week:

1. I return to a work conference to help pack up only to find the task already done. “The only thing left to do is to take a centerpiece.” A vase of golden flowers now sits on my desk.

2. The display set up next to the library’s front door includes Sarah Dessen’s new novel, which just came out on Tuesday.

3. I feel inordinately lazy, but want to take advantage of some of the strawberries in the fridge for dessert. Strawberry fool requires only four ingredients, takes ten minutes to prepare, and is delicious.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world this week?

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June 5, 2013

top ten books: travel
posted by soe 3:23 am

The theme of today’s Top Ten Books, hosted as always by The Broke and the Bookish, is travel:

Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way (road trips, airplanes, travelogues, anything where there is traveling in the book!)

I had a hard time deciding where to draw the line of what constituted travel in a book. Are short, but memorable, trips in a book ok? I decided yes, so my top ten list includes a few of those:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone and its sequels by J.K. Rowling: The scarlet Hogwarts Express so inspired my imagination that on my first trip to London, I sought out Platform 9 3/4 at Kings’ Cross Station.
  2. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: I first encountered this story when read aloud by my high school French teacher. The train, which takes needy (in one way or another) children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve, is wonderful in any language.
  3. Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis: A London painting of a ship at sea suddenly becomes a ship at sea — in Narnia.
  4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein: So. much. walking. (Whenever I find people who don’t like this trilogy, it’s almost always because 2/3 of the narrative is filled with endless, hopeless walking.)
  5. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green: If Hassan had never convinced Colin to embark on a post-high school graduation road trip, they never would have met Lindsey and he certainly never would have figured out his girl math problem.
  6. Swallows & the Amazons by Arthur Ransome: The Walkers and the Blacketts captain their respective vessels around a lake during summer holiday. Their adventures are epic and remarkably free of adult supervision. (Today’s parents could take a lesson.)
  7. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: Crossing the open territory in a covered wagon (which they then had to dismantle when they got where they decided they were going to Pa and a very pregnant Ma could use its bones to build their house.
  8. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: A non-fiction account of hiking the Appalachian Trail, filled in with Bryson’s trademark humor about appropriate gear, fellow travelers, and the countryside he’s traversing.
  9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: I wouldn’t want to float down the Connecticut, the Potomac, or the Anacostia, let alone the mighty Misissippi — and on a raft!
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling: Rowling hooked me with a magical train, then pulled me in with a car enchanted to have expandable seats and trunk, invisibility, and flight.
  11. Honorable mentions go to John Steinbeck’s fictionalized cross-country memoir Travels with Charley; Madeleine L’Engle’s Austin Family camping excursion, The Moon by Night; and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees, because without a road trip Taylor would never have encountered Turtle.

    Did I forget any crucial ones?

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June 3, 2013

weekending in early june
posted by soe 2:07 am

Box Elder Nymph

This is a not-fantastic photo of a box elder nymph hanging out in my strawberry patch. It refused to stop and pose for a photo, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was bright pink, like a fresh strawberry. I hope it didn’t mistake my garden for a family reunion. That would be so disappointing for it.

Other than bug-viewing, my weekend also included:

  • Armchair BEA posts, comments, contest entries, and Tweetup participation. It was a fun experience and I’d do it again, but if someone presented me with the opportunity to attend the real conference instead, I’d totally take them up on that offer.
  • Friday night at The Yards. There was a breeze off the water and I remembered our travel speaker so we could still have music after the band wrapped up for the night. Sarah brought a tasty fruit salad (nary a banana or melon in sight!), and friends of the group came and brought their 2-month-old baby, who was delightfully serene. The speakers were turned up way too loud this week, so the salsa band drowned out conversation with anyone not immediately adjacent to you, but it was still a good time.
  • I rearranged a cabinet and pulled out books to read this summer or to get rid of at the end of it (most of them, anyway). The pile includes Cybils nominees other judges read, advance reader copies I’ve picked up through the years at library conferences, and prizes I’ve won in online contests. A few books I’ve bought and a few that were gifts also resurfaced from where they were hidden before I got a chance to read them. I also put together a bag of books that (get this!) I’m going to donate to the charity bookshop. (I know, right?!)
  • Picked up fava beans, among other things, at the farmers market.
  • Ate lots of strawberries, including some from our garden.
  • Accepted an invitation to a small dinner party from a couple we’ve known since early in the Dean days. It was quite enjoyable.

How about you? How was your weekend?

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June 1, 2013

armchair bea: from picture books to young adult
posted by soe 11:40 pm
Armchair BEA logo design by Emily of Emily's Reading Room
Designed by Emily of
Emily’s Reading Room

The final genre topic of Armchair BEA is one near and dear to my heart: kidlit and yalit.

Until last fall, I would have told you that I was a young adult aficionado. I like Sarah Dessen, John Green, and plenty of others who are shelved in the teen room at the library. But then I was chosen as a Cybils young adult realistic fiction judge and I was simultaneously inundated with recently published novels aimed at teenagers and by fellow panelists who read books at speeds that put me to shame. And I discovered I don’t love all young adult fiction equally.

I do not love books with depressing endings. In fact, it might be fair to say that an unhappy ending can entirely reverse my opinion of a book. I also don’t love books that feature virulent illnesses or with serial killers in them.

What I do love is books with strong characters who create a sense of family with people who aren’t related to them. I also love books with characters who make interesting choices or who can be described as quirky or offbeat.

And it may be that I like middle-grade fiction, where the stakes are a little lower and where the stress isn’t as ratched up, just as much as young adult fiction. I had previously suspected that middle-grade fiction was all Wimpy Kid books, but it turns out that some of my favorite books — the early Harry Potter, the Little House on the Prairie books, Anne of Green Gables — all fall into the middle grade category.

If you’re looking for a place to start in either category, these are some of my favorites (with linked reviews where I wrote them) from the past three years:

And thus far this year my favorites have included Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Dodger by Terry Pratchett, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, and Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.

How about you? What’s been your favorite YA/MG book of recent years?

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