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Soup’s On!

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By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

Today is a beautiful day in East Texas!  The sky is blue, the temperature is cool, the leaves are turning – who could ask for anything more?  We are nearly a week out from a Presidential election that apparently has turned a lot of people’s world up-side down, but thankfully, every morning the sun still comes up and life really does go on.  That being said, there have been times when I wasn’t sure I would be able to survive an event and one that comes to mind was the first time I cooked a meal for my in-laws.  Obviously this was early marriage, and our apartment in Houston wasn’t overly filled with kitchen gadgets.  I remember that I cooked some sort of beef roast and had made some sort of potatoes to go with it.  Naturally, one would make a nice gravy to go with said roast and potatoes, right?  So, I made a gravy that wasn’t quite so nice – it tasted good, but with all the lumps, it wasn’t exactly something to be proud of.  These days, if my gravy turned out like that, I would either use a whisk, my blender, or run it through a sieve, but back then the only thing I could come up with was, are you ready for this? Panty hose.  Yup, ran that stuff through the toe and came up with a really nice and smooth gravy that my MIL complimented me on!  Of course, she didn’t see my mad dash to the bedroom to retrieve said panty hose.

So, where is all of this heading? Well, I have this absolutely lovely cookbook of Nigella Lawson’s in front of me today.  “Nigella Bites” was published in 2002 by Hyperion and is 244 pages of wonderful recipes and amazing photographs by Francesca Yorke.  And where’s the connection between the personal life story and this cookbook, you might ask?  Well, Nigella included a recipe for Pasta E Fagioli that calls for “1 knee-high hosiery” and she says that “it’s the first time I’ve included a knee-high hosiery sock among any list of ingredients!  By all means bundle the rosemary and onion into cheesecloth if it makes you feel more satisfactorily homespun, but I am just not one of those efficiently traditional domestic types that keeps cheesecloths and muslins on hand.”  So, when I saw this statement I finally no longer felt alone in my creative applications for the kitchen!

This book steps out of the usual boundaries as far as sections are concerned.  With titles like “All-Day Breakfast,” “TV Dinners,” “Party Girl,” “Trashy,” and “Templefood,” you can be sure that Nigella is just as creative with her writing about food as she is cooking food.  And while other cookbooks pretty much stick to one course or type of food per section, Nigella nigellahits a little bit of everything in each section.  As she says, “I’m not interested in pleasing food snobs or purists, or in eating just one type of food….but there is surely a place for a bit of kitsch in the kitchen.”

I must admit that I am strangely drawn to the “Trashy” section which contains recipes for “Ham in Coca-Cola,” “Watermelon Daiquiris,” “Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches,” and “Deep-Fried Candy Bars with Pineapple,” to name a few.  But, back to the Pasta E Fagioli and the way that Nigella writes her recipes, they read like a well-written novel.  For example “Using the flat side of a large knife, press down on the whole garlic cloves so that their papery skins tear and begin to come away.”  You could get totally engrossed reading a cookbook like this, while your family sits around with tummies growling.  So, I’m going to share her recipe with you and try to make it brief.  First, soak 3 cups of dried cranberry beans (pinto beans work well, also) in a large bowl of water for at least 6 hours – or overnight.  Then drain, put into a large saucepan and add 5 cloves of smashed garlic.  Take your knee-high hosiery sock (or square of muslin or cheesecloth) and put in 2 leafy sprigs of rosemary and one onion, peeled and quartered, tie off and add to beans.  Cover with cold water, cover and bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for an hour.  When the beans are tender add salt to taste and remove the sock or muslin.  Remove about a cup of beans and process in a blender along with a tablespoon of tomato paste and 1 ¼ cups of the bean-cooking liquid.  Now add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a small saucepan and add a minced or micro-planed clove of garlic and sauté until soft, but not colored and then add a sprig of finely chopped rosemary, cook for a scant minute and then add the liquidized soup/beans and cook for another minute or so and add back to the large pan of beans.  Bring back to a boil and add 7 ounces of ditalini, tubetti, or any other small pasta tubes and cook according to package instructions.  Serve with crusty French bread and fresh butter, and wow! What a great meal for a Sunday evening.

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Books

UT Tyler Seeking Participants for 3rd Year of ‘Born to Read’ Program

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Program promotes early language and literacy in young children

The University of Texas at Tyler announced today that it is seeking participants for the third year of the “Born to Read” literacy program, which promotes early childhood literacy in East Texas.

“The purpose of this program is to encourage children’s early language and literacy skills, while also helping parents understand their critical role as their child’s first and most valuable teacher,” said Dr. Kouider Mokhtari, UT Tyler Anderson-Vukelja-Wright Endowed Professor of Literacy Education.

“We provide parents with training and an initial tool kit of books and resources that   help and encourage them to raise children as readers,” said Dr. M. Sathyamoorthy, UT Tyler professor of mechanical engineering, who has coordinated support for the program from the Tyler Sunrise Rotary Club.

The Born to Read program is designed for expectant mothers, parents and legal guardians of children up to 3 years old. The program is free to the first 25 participants who register by Monday, Sept. 30. Participants will be involved in the program through June 30, 2020.

To register or for more information, contact Azalia Perez, aperez18@patriots.uttyler.edu or 903.566.7016.

Other program sponsors include Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and UT Tyler K-16 Literacy Center.

A member of the prestigious UT System, The University of Texas at Tyler focuses on student success and innovative research in the more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered. With more than 10,000 students, UT Tyler has facilities in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT BEVERLEY GOLDEN

bgolden@uttyler.edu | 903.330.0495

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Books

Book Lovers Events: Hot Summer Signings & More

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From book signings to Meet & Greet’s, Tyler  offers every Book Lover a lot of fun things to do. Check out these events:

For more events, check out EGuideMagazine.com ‘s entire

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Books

Reading the Kids Back to School

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By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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