Saturday, January 30, 2010

Savory Saturday: Herb Braised Chicken Thighs

Recently, I signed up to receive daily emails from Every once in a while, Leanne Ely includes a recipe. The following recipe for braised chicken thighs looked like a perfect Sunday dinner, so I tried it last week. The meal was such a hit that a leftover repeat on Monday night was welcomed. (And we don't normally do leftovers!) Even my picky 4 year-old loved the chicken and potatoes. If you try the recipe, let me know what you think!

Herb Braised Chicken Thighs
Serves 6
Source: Saving Dinner

3 tablespoons flour
3 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 skinless chicken thighs
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups (2-inch-thick) sliced carrots
2 large onions, cut into wedges
2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 1/4 pounds small red potatoes, quartered

1. Combine first 6 ingredients (flour through pepper) in a large zip-top plastic bag.
2. Add chicken; seal bag, shaking to coat.
3. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat.
4. Add chicken and remaining flour mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
5. Add carrot and onion; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
6. Add broth, wine and potatoes; bring to a boil.
7. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes or until chicken is done and vegetables are tender.

Per Serving: 390 calories, 7g Fat, 35g Protein, 43g Carbohydrate, 5g Dietary Fiber, 107mg Cholesterol, 866mg Sodium.
Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch, 4 Lean Meat, 1 1/2 Vegetable, 1/2 Fat.
Points: 8


Friday, January 29, 2010

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

Product Description:
304 pages
Simon & Schuster (Jan. 2006)
Personal Copy

Borders Synopsis: The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

My thoughts: Never have I enjoyed a book so much, but wanted it to be over so quickly. I was awed by the Walls children, I experienced hate and a lack of understanding for their parents and I cringed so frequently because the book was not a very creative story, but it was real. The strength that Jeannette and her siblings showed was heroic and I was so very happy to reach the end, to know that the children turned out for the better, despite all of the many ways that the cards had been stacked against them. The Glass Castle was everything that the reviews suggested that it would be.

Your turn: Have you read The Glass Castle yet? Did it spark any emotions for you?

The Blue Handbag

The Blue Handbag by Fiona Robyn
Product Information:
320 pages
Snowbooks, UK Open Market Ed (Aug. 2009)
Personal Copy synopsis: After forty years of happy marriage, Leonard thought he knew his wife Rose as well as he knew himself. It's only after her sudden death that he finds her old handbag, which contains a mystery he can't ignore. Accompanied by Lily, his wife's childhood friend, Leonard becomes a reluctant detective as his whole life starts to unravel! "The Blue Handbag" is steeped in a quiet poetry which reminds us to take pleasure from the ordinary details of life - reading stories to our children, sharing silence with our friend over a beer, enjoying the plants Leonard tends for a living - and never to take anything for granted.

My thoughts: I truly enjoyed The Blue Handbag. Robyn's depiction of Leonard's life after his wife's death was so lifelike, his memories so raw. There was one page that had me completely engrossed, on the verge of tears, and I was brought back to reality by two words: Spaghetti Bolognese. I laughed in surprise - there was such an immediate and wonderful transition from such a beautifully convincing past, to a ordinary present. Thankfully, I did not anticipate how the story would unfold, and I was very pleased by the ending. The story made me wish for a local pub, dream about a beautiful garden, and hug my husband a little tighter.
I'm looking forward to enjoying Robyn's first book The Letters very soon, and I'm looking forward to participating in the Blogsplash for her new book Thaw on March 1st. If you haven't yet signed up to participate, find out more about it here.
Your turn: Ever been snapped quickly back to reality, or experienced an unexpected (but enjoyable) jump by an author that left you reeling?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Bell

I am a week or so overdue in reviewing The Bell by Iris Murdoch.

Product Information:
320 pages
Pengion Classics, 2nd Edition (Nov. 2001)
Personal Copy Synopsis: A lay community of thoroughly mixed-up people is encamped outside Imber Abbey, home of an order of sequestered nuns. A new bell is being installed when suddenly the old bell, a legendary symbol of religion and magic, is rediscovered. And then things begin to change. Meanwhile the wise old Abbess watches and prays and exercises discreet authority. And everyone, or almost everyone, hopes to be saved, whatever that may mean. Originally published in 1958, this funny, sad, and moving novel is about religion, sex, and the fight between good and evil.

My thoughts: I think that I may have found a new author to love. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I purchased the Book Lust Journal, whose author Nancy Pearl recommended Murdoch. I was not disappointed. The writing was superb and I became engrossed by the characters Michael and Dora. Michael, whose character you may dislike on moral grounds, still sparked compassion from me. And Dora, poor Dora, I longed for her to be strong and make the right decisions.

Two quotes which stood out to me:

The talk of lovers who have just declared their love is one of life's most
sweet delights. Each vies with the other in humility, in amazement at being so

This quote brought me back to the early days of dating my husband. Nothing feels better than knowing that you are loved. Although that love still continues on, sometimes I long for a few hours of that 'young love' once again.

One must perform the lower act which one can manage and sustain; not the higher act which one bungles.

I struggle with this concept - how are we to learn and do new things, if we don't try that higher act, which we might just bungle? But I have to admit, it is often easier to maintain the status quo.

I was pleased with how Murdoch summed up the story for all of the characters and I am now searching for my next choice of Murdoch's 25 remaining novels.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Catching Up

Rbelle over an An Empty Page reminded me today that a lot happens when you take an extended leave from blogging. Thought that I would take a quick minute to post a few pictures from an amazing work opportunity I had in April...Hong Kong!

Tian Tan Budda in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. This site had to be one of the most peaceful and breathtaking places I have ever been in my life. Regardless of your faith, or your name for God, you can't help but feel connected here.

Me - ready to make the trek up the 268 steps to get to the base of the Buddha statue.

View from Victoria Peak - overloking Kowloon and Hong Kong Islands and Victoria Harbour.

At the Avenue of the Stars in Hong Kong. Overlooking Victoria Harbour.