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Viewing Blog: Jenny Rappaport - Lit Soup, Most Recent at Top
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I'm 25 years old and I work as a literary agent at the L. Perkins Agency. I primarily represent science fiction and fantasy, horror, young adult fiction, and romance.
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1. Kamut, Lentil, and Chickpea Soup

I know, I know, I say that I'll come back... and I step away... and then, I come back again.

But really, for good, I'm here!  And based on the advice of my writing friend, Shane Halbach, I'm going to blog the modifications I make to recipes.


Because I cook a lot. Not as much as someone who might put dinner on the table seven days a week, but I think I do pretty well for having a two year old sous chef. =)

And I suppose I could make an entirely new blog, but I'm lazy.  Aren't we all?

Subsequent posts will have photos, I promise, but this current meal is now residing in a Rubbermaid container in the fridge.

Without further ado...

Kamut, Lentil, and Chickpea Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light

3/4 cup kamut
2 cups boiling water
Good glug of olive oil (I refuse to measure olive oil in most recipes because it's simply easier to eyeball it.)
2 small onions
5 small carrots
1 bunch of parsley
4 ribs of celery, with leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2/3 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. fines herbes
4 (14.5 oz) cans of beef broth
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup green lentils
1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place kamut in a small bowl, and cover with the boiling water.  Let it soak for 30-60 minutes, then drain.  The original recipe calls for only 30 minutes of soaking time, which resulted in the kamut being "chewy". Ideally, kamut should be soaked overnight, according to my whole grains cookbook, but you can probably get away with 60 minutes yielding a better texture.
  2. Chop the onions, carrots, celery (including the leaves), and parsley into rough chunks. Place in the bowl of a food processor along with the two cloves of garlic. Pulse, until the vegetables are chopped finely, but still have some substance to them. You're not trying to make them into mush.  You may have to rearrange the contents with a spatula, in order to get everything evenly chopped.
  3. Put a good glug of oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven, add the vegetables, and saute over medium heat along with the fines herbes and the thyme. You basically want enough oil to lubricate the pan, but not to overwhelm the vegetables.  Since the mixture has garlic in it, I always, always start with cold oil, to avoid burning the garlic.  Saute the vegetables for approximately 10 minutes, until they've softened and are releasing good smells.  Salt, to taste.
  4. Add the kamut, the broth, and the bay leaves to the pot; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. If you've skimped on the soaking step here, you can probably increase the cooking time upwards of an hour, so that the kamut softens appropriately.  Taste, as you go along, for texture.  Add the lentils and a few grinds of black pepper; cook for another 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.  Add the chickpeas, and simmer for another 2 minutes.  Taste the soup for salt, and adjust accordingly.  Whether you attempt to find the bay leaves before you serve is entirely optional; just remember, they're not edible! 

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2. Country Rhubarb Cake

Lately, I want to blog about food. This is partially because I've been cooking a lot more--I like to cook, mind you--and partially because I've been experimenting a little more as I cook. I can usually get something on the table for dinner most nights, although Cora tends to delay stuff sometimes.

I'm a little behind on getting the photos for this and the next post or two off of my camera, but I figured, better late than never!

For St. Patrick's Day, I present the Country Rhubarb Cake.

I know, I know, it totally looks like a pie. But the recipe is from Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking: The Time-Honored Ways are the Best - Over 700 Recipes Show You Why, and she calls it a Country Rhubarb Cake. It basically looks like a pie, but the inside... the inside is filled with ruby-red, glistening rhubarb.

And the cross-sectioning just shows how utterly delicious it is. The crust isn't a typical pie crust; it's more like a biscuit crust with a wee bit of shortbread, if anything. But it soaks up all of the delicious juices that the rhubarb releases, besides being tasty, so I really can't quibble about whether it's a pie or a cake or some sort of hybrid.

I followed the recipe pretty much as it was written with just one major change: I chopped the rhubarb up ahead of time, mixed it with the heaping cup of white sugar, then added some dark brown sugar into the filling, too. Then, I left it all to macerate, while I worked on the crust.

It goes beautifully with whipped cream.

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3. My silly girl

2 Comments on My silly girl, last added: 3/18/2012
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4. Meet Cora

So, I took a blog vacation.

A rather long vacation.

Something along the order of ten months and change or so....

I suspect that I don't have many readers anymore, but you never know. There may be a few of you lurking around in the darkness, peering over a corner, saying, "Jenny Rae Rappaport, what the hell ever happened to her?"

This did:

That's Cora Minami, who made her appearance on July 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm at 6 lbs, 14 oz via somewhat scheduled c-section. She has turned our lives upside down, literally and figuratively.

I'm sure that's something that all new parents say--in fact, it's probably been said in every language, in every civilization, since the dawn of time. But all of a sudden I got to be a mother--a MOTHER. A Mommy. I had my own baby. It was like all of the nine months of pregnancy pressed together and exploded, dovetailing with all of the longing of being a little girl who had played house and had baby dolls as long as she could remember.

Except Cora isn't a doll. She's a small living person with feelings and a tiny vocabulary ("hungry", "yeah", and "neh" for nursing). She laughs and giggles and drives me crazy sometimes with whining. She's creeping forward really well, and is THIS CLOSE to actually crawling. She's in love with Zoe, and desperately tries to express this love by happy, happy shrieks. Naturally, this scares Zoe, but there's not much we can do about it. Zoe loves her, too, of course.

But I'm babbling, which I suspect is something new parents do.

My point though, the thing I'm trying to say, is that I disappeared and I've returned, and I think I want to blog again. I even think I want to write again. So there will probably be more posts and more things to share; the character of the blog may change; I have a huge desire to post recipes and talk about my beloved little girl. To send things out into the ether, even if they never get read by more than a handful of people.

And in the meantime, bear with me about frequency, because this

is infinitely more important than anything else in the world. She'll be eight months old on Thursday. =)

3 Comments on Meet Cora, last added: 3/12/2012
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5. Happy Mother's Day!

This is not my baby--remember, my baby isn't set to arrive until July 25th! =)

But this is my cousin's son, Hunter, who arrived precisely on his due date of May 6th. Very punctual. =) Isn't he adorable???

Happy Mother's Day!

1 Comments on Happy Mother's Day!, last added: 5/8/2011
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6. Jennifer Lawrence, really?

What an auspicious topic for the 1000th post on LIT SOUP...

But really, Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in THE HUNGER GAMES movie? Are you kidding me? May I quote from the ever-convenient Wikipedia about Katniss' physical description?

Katniss is described as "having long, black hair, usually in a braid, gray eyes, and olive skin". While this doesn't necessarily make her a person of color, it makes a pretty strong case for it. Especially considering this is the RACIAL MAKEUP of the MAJORITY of the people who live in the Seam, where Katniss is from.

And then we have Jennifer Lawrence.

Sure, she can dye her hair and get contacts. But there's no way in hell that she will ever be mistaken for having olive skin.

Ms. Lawrence may be a fine actress, but she looks nothing like Katniss Everdeen.

I am so disappointed in this casting choice. Way to screw up a beloved book-to-movie adaption from the very beginning. Consider this an open protest against the blatantly wrong casting.

1 Comments on Jennifer Lawrence, really?, last added: 3/19/2011
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7. Things That I Am Grateful For

  1. That all of my friends in Japan that I've managed to get in contact with are safe. I should probably see if Shin is safe, but he lives in the central-central part of Tokyo, so I'm going to assume he is. (*Makes note to check*).
  2. That the baby has grown so much that my stomach is now getting kicked by a small human. It is a very bizarre feeling. =)
  3. That the baby furniture has arrived, been set up, and is almost intact; we're waiting on information about a replacement drawer support for a dresser--this is why I like to do major things early.
  5. That I have found a maternity bathing suit that is flattering, that fits, and doesn't seem to think that pregnant women should be wearing narrow little bikini bottoms.
  6. That my mom is coming over tomorrow to help me do laundry, since I can't lift things out of the machine and bend to get them in and out of the dryer.
And on that note, six things make a post. =) お休みなさい!

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8. Baby Blitzball

This is totally what my insides feel like on a daily basis...

One baby.

One game.

No opponents.

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9. RIP Mr. Buckles

Sometimes, I find the passage of time stunning. I know that I've lived almost thirty years (21 days away from that milestone, I am), but it still baffles me sometimes.

Today, we commemorate the passing of Mr. Frank Buckles, the last American doughboy to serve in World War I. I read his obituary this morning while the baby is kicking away in my belly. And all I can think is that someday I'll have to explain to this little one that his or her great-grandpa served in World War II, and for them, THAT war will seem just as far as World War I does to me.

And this baby will certainly see the deaths of the last World War II veterans; given the longevity of the current American citizen, I'd lay good money that the baby will see the deaths of the last Vietnam War veterans, too.

But how do you make these deaths real to them? How do you make them understand, particularly with World War II, that these veterans made such an immense sacrifice for them? How do you explain that their great-grandpa was a naval radio operator on two different oceans--the Atlantic and the Pacific, as well as in the Mediterranean? How do you explain that their other great-grandpa flew bombing runs over Italy, and managed to miraculously survive a crash landing of his plane? How do you explain that their great-great-uncle was an army photographer who took all the photos of the men who left Maryland for the great beyond, some never to return? How do you explain that they had myriads of relatives who served in the American army, numerous more great-great uncles and cousins and other family members?

How do you tell them that it's because of these men and many more like them that Jews are still free today? That their grandparents and their mom grew up knowing that they had everything to be thankful for? That they were exceedingly lucky that their relatives had left Europe at the right time?

I can tell them the stories; I can tell them who these people were. They can talk to their grandparents and learn even more. But understanding the impact of their deaths... that's something I'm not sure how to do yet.

I suspect I'll figure all this out as I learn how to be a parent. But it's still some interesting food for thought.

Thank you, Mr. Buckles.

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10. The death of an institution

I am saddened to report the passing of our television sometime during the late afternoon or early evening of February 23, 2011. It was a faithful TV, passed on to us by my brother's future-in-laws, and it was well-loved for its ability to transmit the news, Glee, and American Idol, along with copious amounts of Good Eats. It now refuses to respond to the power button being pressed, and was pronounced dead at approximately 10pm on the same evening.

In lieu of flowers, recommendations for new HDTVs can be freely given.

1 Comments on The death of an institution, last added: 2/27/2011
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11. SPD

There are times when the loneliness of pregnancy is overwhelming, when I long to be in school this semester, when I long to be able to go to an office and chat with people... but then there are times like today.

My unstable pelvis, let me show you it.

I've been in a lot of pain recently; pain that I didn't think should be happening at 17-18 weeks of pregnancy; pain that involved certain unmentionable areas of me that didn't seem should be hurting quite yet. So I called my doctor, like any sensible pregnant lady confronted with the fact that their groin hurt like hell whenever they moved should do. The doctor, responded in kind, and said, sure, come on in for a checkup between your regular OB appointments.

So I went for the checkup yesterday, and as far as my doctor and I can tell, I have something called symphysis pubis dysfunction. It's not all as cheery as What to Expect makes it out to be, so here's the brief version:

When women are pregnant, there's lots of hormone action going on. One of the hormones is called relaxin, which does pretty much what it's name says--it relaxes all the parts of you that need to move to accommodate the baby in pregnancy and birth. But sometimes your body produces too much relaxin, at which point your symphysis, your pubic bone, decides that it would be a lot of fun to move away from the other bones in your pelvis. This leads to instability, a LOT of pain, and the fun sensation that something is totally, totally wrong. I should be clear that it's not the bone itself which is separating, but the cartilage on either side of the bone that is expanding and getting inflamed, thus causing lots of pain.

But it's not enough to get rid of the inflammation, since pregnant women can't actually take most drugs that stop inflammation in pregnancy; they're bad for the baby's circulatory system. And inflammation isn't the sole cause, because then the pregnant woman gets to deal with the fact that she now has an unstable pelvis, and will continue to have one until her body ceases to produce relaxin after giving birth.

Yeah, it sounds like a bundle of fun, doesn't it?

I was seriously bummed about it yesterday, but it doesn't seem quite as bad today. It poses some complications for giving birth, but it's mostly in what positions you can safely give birth in. And the pain during the pregnancy can be partially alleviated by lots of core/pelvic muscle physical therapy, which I will be embarking on as soon as I can get an ortho prescription for it.

But yeah, it's times like this when not having to get out of the house on a regular basis is actually beneficial, since I can't walk without pain and I'm supposed to stay off my feet as much as possible. I'm also supposed to find a comfy position to sit in, but so far, I'm only comfortable when hugging a body pillow between my legs while lying down. Being lonely sucks, but being able to stay home and rest when you need it is far better than the alternative.

See, I'm looking on the bright side, right? =)

2 Comments on SPD, last added: 2/25/2011
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12. A Snarky, Passionate Defense of Unions

What's happening in Wisconsin right now makes me want to applaud the Democrats and kick the Republican governor. But despite that, I don't actually want to talk about unions from the basis of either party.

Look, I know unions are characterized in America as fat cats who are taking the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars and hurting all the "average" Americans. I call bullshit on that.

I also call bullshit on the fact that most Americans don't care about unions and have never benefited from unions in their lives.

I'm sorry, perhaps you'd like a little, fairly simplistic history lesson? A short one?

Welcome to America, average Americans, the land that is reputably built upon immigrants. None of us, with the exception of the Native Americans, were supposed to be here originally. All of us--no matter what part of the world we came from--got here by ship and plane and train. Our ancestors--those same immigrants--were mostly not wealthy people. If they were wealthy, chances are good that they would have stayed in their original country, as long as that country wasn't involved in a brutal war at home.

So these non-wealthy immigrants come to America, and they need a job. And who is willing to hire immigrants who don't speak English? Who is willing to give our poor ancestors a job? Why did I hear you give the answer just now? Could you possibly be thinking of what I'm thinking? Does it start with the letter "F"?

Yes, yes it is factories! Factories, those wonderful bastions of industrialization that didn't really care if you could communicate well in English, as long as you could get your job done. And those people who worked in the factories, who mostly didn't speak English, they had shitty wages. They couldn't complain about the terrible working conditions or working hours or the fact that they weren't earning enough to support their families.

But some of those workers had been there longer than others. Maybe they were here for five, ten, fifteen more years than the recent immigrants. So they formed unions. They could speak decent English. They had the immigrants join those unions. And together, with the power of numbers and determination and pure will, these unions got better working conditions, better wages, and better lives for our ancestors.

They made sure our ancestors could have our parents. Or our grandparents. That they could raise our families to aspire to better things. That they could put food on the table and make sure there were clothes on their backs. They could scrimp and save and pay for doctors when they needed them. They could even be buried with the help of the union, when they eventually passed away.

Without the unions that formed in this country, most of our ancestors would have been far, far worse off. They worked their asses off to ensure a better life for their families, and that, may dear average Americans, is why you have a middle-class lifestyle nowadays. Without the advantages that our ancestors had, our grandparents and our parents would have had radically different lives, and thus, we would have had radically different lives.

My great-grandfather spied upon the managers for the garment workers union in NYC almost 100 years ago. My grandfather helped found a chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Brooklyn; he was an electrician and the union damn well made his life better. My father is a member of a union today, and even though it's a vastly different sort of union than my other relatives belonged to, the AFL-CIO gave me a scholarship to college that helped me pay my way.

Unions have been good to my family. And they've been good to yours. Try to remember this from time to time.

(This brief blog essay brought to you by snark and passion combined with a good helping of common sense thrown in.)

13. The strange case of choking

I have no idea why I seem to randomly choke nowadays while eating or drinking, but I'm going to chalk it up to pregnancy. Either pregnancy or I'm sick.

But seriously, I tried to swallow water yesterday and ended up spitting it all over myself due to choking. Obviously, I've missed my former calling as a professional dolphin. =)

1 Comments on The strange case of choking, last added: 1/28/2011
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14. Flutter, flutter, kick, kick

So, lately, I've been feeling flutters and kicks that are the baby.

You may think I'm insane because I'm only 13 weeks and 5 days, but I'll just politely smile at you and continue onwards. These flutters and kicks respond when poked. They do not like sitting next to my nebulizer when I use it. If you think my intestines are going to have a fun time kicking me after listening to my nebulizer vibrate, then I think you don't know a thing or two about intestines. =)

I could go on and explain why I think this is the baby, but let's leave it at the fact that my fibromyalgia makes me extra-sensitive to pain of any kind, both inside and outside my body.

And the baby, dear creature that it is, has definite preferences. This amazes me more than anything, honest to god. So, in the interest of posterity, and because I'm tired and have eaten too pasta, I shall list them for you. =)

What the baby Likes:

  • Lentil soup
  • Ice cream
  • Sweet things, but not all sweet things--ice cream appears to be a favorite lately, which I suspect is due to my blood sugar spiking (No, this doesn't explain the lentil soup--your guess is as good as mine.)
What the baby doesn't respond to:
  • Strangely, all other types of soup! =)
  • And pretty much, everything else I eat
What the baby does not like:
  • Nebulizers
  • Not so fond of poking
  • Kneading on my abdomen by Zoe, while she is nursing, which is how we first discovered that I could feel the baby; it kicked Zoe back! For the record, I was sleeping while I was being nursed on, so I got woken up by strange flutters and Zoe combined.

3 Comments on Flutter, flutter, kick, kick, last added: 1/24/2011
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15. Don't Ever Do This!

I try very hard not to be snarky, but there are times that I can't help it. This is one of them. =)

Seriously though, I just got this in my e-mail via LinkedIn. We won't even address how STUPID it is to even try to query through LinkedIn, but to query when I very obviously have not worked as an agent for over a year is bordering on ridicule. I know I should probably update my LinkedIn profile, but I can't be bothered; I don't really like the website, and anyway, who the heck doesn't google the agent that they're querying? This guy, obviously.

"I have a hot literary property straight out of today’s NY Times headlines. In 2003, I designed a Stuxnet-style attack on the U.S. and used it in the just-finished novel, Web Games. There is a window of opportunity here for an alert agent who can line up an agile publisher. More details at LiorSamson.com. Get in touch.

--Larry Constantine (Lior Samson)"

Mr. Constantine, you are truly not cut out for the publishing game.

3 Comments on Don't Ever Do This!, last added: 1/17/2011
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16. My new project

I am completely and totally thrilled to announce that I'm pregnant with my first child! =)

My husband and I will be expecting the baby on July 25, 2011--to understand the brilliance of this timing, you must understand that my brother is getting married on July 17, 2011, I am one of three bridesmaids, and we must all hope and pray that I do not go into labor at the wedding. That said, we are so over the moon about the baby that I wouldn't change a thing. =) =) =)

And without further ado, an ultrasound picture! In order to get this today, at 12 weeks and 1 day, it took a full forty minutes because my baby is apparently stubborn and totally wouldn't get in the right position that the technician needed. The tech had to keep poking on my stomach, and the baby was like, "I'd like to sleep now, please stop." But out of the whole roll of pictures she printed out for the doctor, this was the very best. =)

14 Comments on My new project, last added: 1/13/2011
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17. Gabrielle Giffords

I agree wholeheartedly with absolutely everything in this speech, and regardless of your political affiliation or likes or dislikes... I think it's something that you must watch in the wake of the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords.

2 Comments on Gabrielle Giffords, last added: 1/11/2011
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18. Finishing up 2010 books

I've been greatly remiss in keeping you all updated with what books I've read in 2010, so you'll have to forgive me for merely listing things--we are in 2011 already! I'm sure I've got one or two books lurking around that I simply haven't found yet; I'm currently excavating them off my night stand and bedroom floor. =) Once I have them all figured out, I'll put up a final list and summary.

47. MATCHED by Ally Condie

48. FIRE: TALES OF ELEMENTAL SPIRITS by Peter Dickinson and Robin McKinley

49. WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL JAPAN by Haruko Wakita

50. BRING DOWN THE SUN by Judith Tarr

51. HALF WORLD by Hiromi Goto

52. MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins

53. MAYBE THIS TIME by Jennifer Crusie

54. ALL CLEAR by Connie Willis

55. PEGASUS by Robin McKinley

56. HOT GIMMICK, VOLUME 4 by Miki Aihara

57. THE TALE OF GENJI by Murasaki Shikibu


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19. A holiday month of illness

Well, look at that, I've regained the ability to type with both hands!

To catch you up... I have been sick. Dreadfully, terribly, not-getting-better sick for a month at this point. I do not often blog about being sick, but you'll just have to deal. =)

First, I had a cold for two weeks. Then, the cold turned into a sinus infection. On week 3, I went to the doctor and was given antibiotics for the sinus infection. On week 4, I went to the doctor again, complained that my antibiotics were not doing anything, and that I also suspected I had an asymptomatic urinary tract infection (I get them often; really, they suck because you don't know you have one until your kidneys hurt or you've lost all energy). The doctor gave me a different antibiotic for the sinus infection.

The sinus infection has gotten mostly better with the second antibiotic. Cue the doctor calling me on Thursday with the news that my UTI was a wonderfully rare type of bacteria... that required a THIRD antibiotic. So now I'm taking two different antibiotics, with the antibiotic for the UTI making me dreadfully nauseous every time I take it.

And then my husband got my sinus infection.

And then he got even sicker than I was with it, including a fever.

And then my sinus infection mutated from an infection to something that drips down my throat and causes me to cough so violently that it sets off an asthma attack that has me groping for a nebulizer and relief.

And then I threw out my back from coughing and temporarily couldn't do anything with my right hand without being in dreadful pain.

Which brings us to today and Christmas, and our utter inability to drive up to my husband's family to celebrate the holiday. But we both managed to get some sleep, and my dad has been coming over daily to bring us food and batteries (the Wii remotes eat them). And I have a warm, fluffy, wonderful Zoe cat who loves us dearly, and has been dreadfully worried whenever my husband blows his nose loudly.

So Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and here's a scanned in picture of one of our holiday cards with Zoe on it. =)

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20. awesome cat wrapping

i have thrown my back out; typing with one hand. but seriously,merry Christmas. this is an awesome video.

2 Comments on awesome cat wrapping, last added: 12/24/2010
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21. Lunar eclipses as explained to the cat

"Eclipses are very beautiful, and we like them because they remind us that there are things much bigger in the universe than cats or humans. Very neat things. And they don't eat you, even though they're bigger than you."

--Me, to a very worried Zoe

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22. World War II Homefront Novel recommendations

Ok, so I finished reading Connie Willis' BLACKOUT/ALL CLEAR novel, which I adored. So much, in fact, that if I can't have another Connie Willis novel now, I want novels about World War II. Most particularly, about the homefront during World War II, whether it's in the UK, Canada, or the US. They can be kid's books, although I prefer more young adult than middle grade. They can be something other than speculative fiction, as well. They can also just be about World War II in general, although I ask you to shy away from Holocaust-specific novels--I've read so many of those already.

So please, pass the word along, and help me find a new book to read! =) And if I get a really decent amount of suggestions, I'll compile it into an easily accessible list for people to find via Google. Thank you!

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23. The Perils of Being a Commuter

I'd like to sincerely declare that I'm sort of fed up with commuting so far to school everyday, for the following reasons:

  1. The fastest we can ever get there is in 40 minutes, and that's if we take the NJ Turnpike, speed along it, and do it in the precise middle of the day when there is no traffic.
  2. Usually, it takes an hour to get there.
  3. In rush hour, coming home from my classes two days a week, it can take up to 80 minutes to get home.
  4. I can't drive at night. I'm night-blind; I'd be a hazard on the road to myself and many other drivers. There's a good chance I'd end up dead. It's a no-go for me.
  5. All of the good classes I want to take next semester are in the late afternoon/early evening.
  6. My mom, who has been very patient driving me this semester, has declared that she has had enough. She refuses to drive me more than two days a week next semester.
  7. The classes I want are four days a week.
  8. I am deeply troubled.
  9. I do not know how to solve this.
  10. We cannot afford to move closer to school, and since I'm non-matriculated, that'd be rather foolish.
  11. Before you ask, the closest bus to where I want to go is 25 minutes from my house.
  12. Also, the closest train to where I want to go is 32 minutes.
  13. Multiply those by 2 for whoever is ferrying me to said bus or train, as parking defeats the purpose of being driven at night--what the heck would I do to get home from said places, if I drove there in the day and came home when it's dark?
  14. I have no idea what a car service costs, but I know I can't afford it.
  15. I also can't afford to live in NYC with Chris and Zoe, even though that would be a straight shot commute, at least. It's an hour on the train, but it's a TRAIN and I wouldn't need to be driven anywhere.
  16. I repeat, I'm deeply troubled by all of this, and rather pissed.
  17. Chris points out that since Rutgers has a substantial proportion of its students commuting, it is structured to have more night and late afternoon classes. This is all well and good, but it doesn't help me with getting there.
  18. I actually like classes at that time of day because I'm a natural night owl.
  19. I can't help the fact that I was born congenitally myopic and night-blind.
  20. I'll stop now because 20 points makes a post.

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24. RIP Eva Ibbotson

I'm very sad that Eva Ibbotson has passed away. She was a wonderful author of children's books, and I greatly enjoyed discovering her romance novels when they were reprinted. The first one I read was A COMPANY OF SWANS, but I do like them all.

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25. The Grunt Recipe

This is loosely based off of Alton Brown's Blackberry Grunt Recipe. We made some modifications, since we didn't have buttermilk in the house, and I truly dislike any and all berries. So it's my apple grunt recipe, instead. =)

Apple Grunt

9.5 oz. all-purpose flour
2 oz. unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into small cubes
1 cup milk
2 and 1/4 tsp. baking power
1 tsp. kosher salt

4-6 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped in a rough dice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1-2 tsp. ground cinnamon (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground nutmeg
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

  1. Blitz together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor, until they're sifted together and slightly aerated. You can also do this step in a regular sifter, but I prefer my processor.
  2. Dump the flour mixture into a bowl and add the cubes of butter. Using only your fingertips (your hands are scrupulously clean here, right?), rub the butter into the flour mixture. You're not trying to smash the butter in, nor are you trying to completely get it to disappear. Your goal is to use gentle regular motions to incorporate the butter in, until there are no obvious chunks of butter in the mixture.
  3. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour the milk into the well.
  4. With a spatula, mix the milk gently into the flour mixture. Stop once all the flour is gone. DO NOT mix until there are no lumps. DO NOT mix until it looks smooth. This is a biscuit dough and it should look not-perfect!
  5. Take the dough and stash the bowl in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes. You could try to work it into a pretty ball wrapped in paper, but I just threw the bowl in.
  6. Take the spices, sugar, and water, and mix together into a slurry in a separate bowl. Add the apples and stir to coat.
  7. Put the apple mixture (including any liquid!) into a cast-iron skillet, a large casserole, or some other oven proof vessel. Place on the stove and cook on medium heat until the liquid in the pan starts to simmer. Lower the heat a bit and simmer for ten minutes. You don't want the liquid to totally evaporate, but you want the apples to cook down and the mixture to get slightly syrupy.
  8. In the meantime, make sure your oven is preheating to 400 degrees F.
  9. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and arm yourself with a scooping device. The dough will be quite sticky; I used a 1.5 tbsp cookie disher, but you could use two spoons as well.
  10. Once the apple mixture has simmered for ten minutes, start placing scoops of the dough directly on top of it. There's no need to take it off the heat; just be careful. Start at the outside of the pan and move inwards in a circle or spiral. The dough scoops don't need to be very close together as they will expand during cooking. Make sure to use every last bit of dough you can get out of your bowl.
  11. Place the grunt in your preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden-brown and puffy. My oven runs about 25 degrees cool, so it took it the full 20 minutes to achieve that state.
  12. Eat, ravenously.

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