March ’11 was…

What can I say about March? The snow is (finally, finally) beginning to melt and kisa and I are starting to think spring even though it’s still cold, cold, cold and more snow is expected for tomorrow. We made some pretty sobering decisions. No huge projects for Hilltop and no expensive vacations. We’re taking a year off from spending. It’s a good choice, I think, given all the work drama we both have been through recently. Family life is starting to even out. For awhile I wasn’t feeling the proverbial pressures, but then again I had been shutting my phone off at night! March was also a Natalie night with the best company a girl could ever have.¬† Here’s the list for March books:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte ~ in honor of Book Month. I had forgotten about all the sighing and sobbing! *sigh*
  • Blind Descent by Nevada Barr ~ in honor of Barr’s birth month. I will never look at cave exploring the same way again!
  • Flint by Paul Eddy ~ in honor of Eddy’s birth month.
  • The Bold Vegetarian: 150 Innovative International Recipes by Bharti Kirchner ~ in honor of March being “noodle month.” I kid you not.
  • Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings ~ in honor of Florida becoming a state. This was made into a movie…interesting.
  • God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane~ in honor of African American Writers Month.
  • Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks ~ in honor of March being family month. This was a behemoth to read – over 700 pages!
  • Raising Holy Hell by Bruce Olds ~ in honor of family month (read with Cloudsplitter because they were on the same topic).
  • Cosi fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin ~ in honor of March being Dibdin’s birth month.

Confessional: I skipped Famished Road by Ben Okri and added God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane instead. Somehow I had forgotten that I had already tried that book a few years ago. It just wasn’t my thing. However, I did write a review for LibraryThing. I just wish I had remembered that before ordering it a second time. I hate making more work for librarians! Here’s what I said for LT:
The Famished Road by Ben Okri is all about spirits. Azaro is a child in Africa struggling between two worlds: that of the spiritual and that of the Earthly. His parents on Earth are well meaning, but poverty driven, people. the basic theme of Famished Road is the definitive difference and ultimate struggle between good and evil. Azaro’s personal struggle is with spirits that can only exist if Azaro is dead. Azaro’s father struggles with abuse and power. Starting as a boxer he soon delves into the world of politics to gain power. Madam Kato is a simple bartender who begins her part of the story by wanting more profit but as a result of greed, sinks lower and lower. Along with the ever-entwining magical realism is the drifting of morality.

Other books I read in March not on the BookLust list: Miss Timmins School  for Girls: a novel by Nayana Churrimbhoy ~ an Early Review book for LibraryThing. This was great! Definitely one of my favorite reads of the month. I also started reading Clean Food by Terry Walters and Now Eat This by Rocco Dispirito (reviews coming soon).

Bold Vegetarian

Kirchner, Bharti. The Bold Vegetarian: 150 Inspired International Recipes. New York: HarperPerennial, 1995.

A cookbook chock full of information beyond ho hum vegetarian recipes. Eggplant is listed in the index but you won’t find a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. Special recognition must be made to the word “international” in the subtitle because The Bold Vegetarian takes you on a culinary adventure around the world. Oh, the places you will go! In no particular order:

  • China
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • India (this is a given because Kirchner is a renowned author of Indian cookbooks).
  • Korea
  • France
  • Japan
  • Caribbean
  • Africa
  • Thailand
  • Greece
  • Middle East
  • Germany
  • Mexico
  • United States, and because food is subject to the literal and cultural melting pot,
  • International (in other words, who knows where it originated!)

In addition to great recipes that sound different and exciting, Kirchner adds serving suggestions to create entire menus. She offers variations to make a dish vegan instead of vegetarian. She includes anecdotes, illustrations, and trivia to spice up the pages (pun intended). There are even a few notes for the Grow It At Home gardener. All recipes are simple to follow. Cooking directions are aided by a glossary of terms (just in case someone doesn’t know how to blanch, grill or simmer) and a “pantry” list although the term pantry is misleading because I would never consider storing ghee or feta in a traditional pantry. To say these are ingredients to have on hand would be a better way to phrase it. One other small detractor – no nutritional information. In this health-aware age knowing what you eat is all the rage, especially when it comes to foreign foods made from scratch.

Meals I am most looking forward to making:

  • Curry Gyozas (p 38),
  • Chipotle Chickpeas (p 150),
  • Plum Kuchen (p 254)

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fiction for Foodies” (p 88). Even though this is a straight up cookbook Pearl mentioned it because the author, Bharti Kirchner, also wrote a fiction called Pastries: a Novel of Desserts and Discoveries (to be read later).