Friday, September 24, 2010

Foodie Fridays: My Favorite Food Blogs and Sites

After almost three months, Foodie Fridays is back (at least for today)! My list of "go-to" food blogs and sites is a little out of control, but the web is a virtual treasure trove of recipes and cooking advice. While the web will never take the place of actual cookbooks (cooking a complicated recipe using an iPhone or running back and forth between my kitchen and computer doesn't work out so well), these sites provide some great reading and culinary inspiration.

Smitten Kitchen - This is one of my favorite sites. I've had a lot of luck with recipes I've tried (even if a few of them seem a little labor intensive), and the pictures that accompany the recipes are food porn in the best sense. Besides the beautiful food photography and the great recipes, it features The. Cutest. Baby. EVER! I'm not the kind of person who falls over at the sight of a baby, but this kid is adorable.

Kitchen Window: NPR - I'm an NPR junkie, and the Kitchen Window feature is always a fascinating read. While the recipes are good, my favorite thing about this site is the food writing that accompanies the recipes. I'm a sucker for a good essay on food, and Kitchen Window always deliver. - This site makes me miss having a car. Jane and Michael Stern, as well as others, write about food finds that are sometimes off the beaten path but are always worth the trip and effort.

The Crepes of Wrath - The motto of this site is that "great food doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming, and the recipes definitely live up to the motto. The recipes are usually fairly simple, and there's a wonderful selection of recipes to choose from (just check out the index if you don't believe me). This Mandarin chicken recipe is one of my favorites.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Review: "The Glamour of Grammar"

I have long had a love-hate relationship with grammar. Although it is necessary for effective writing, I also have nightmares of the grammar exercises from school, and I always dreaded having to teach grammar to my high school students.

However, Roy Peter Clark’s The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English illustrates that grammar does not have to be the dry, lifeless subject found in schools. By inviting readers to “embrace grammar… not as a set of rules but as a box of tools” (p.2), Clark manages to make a somewhat imposing subject into something that seems both approachable and relevant.

The Glamour of Grammar consists of 50 super-short chapters divided into five sections: Words, Points, Standards, Meaning, and Purpose. Within these sections, Clark covers every topic grammatical and writing topic imaginable, such as the difference between literal and figurative, and how to properly use an exclamation point. I particularly appreciated the “Keepsakes” he includes at the end of each chapter. These sections provide pithy sound bites of the chapter’s main points.

One of the main draws of The Glamour of Grammar is the writing. He takes what, in other people’s hands, could be an uninspiring topic and makes it fascinating. Furthermore, Clark does not just give lip service to language; he obviously loves words and grammar, as illustrated by the many writing samples he includes. His selection and analysis of these samples offer a glimpse of how Clark must approach reading. Rather than merely reading for information, I can imagine him savoring the language and feeling a great deal of excitement when he finds a great piece of writing.

All in all, this is one of the best books on grammar and writing I have encountered, and it would work equally well as a reference book or as a cover-to-cover read. Although I was skeptical before I started reading it (the title seems to be promising a bit much), Clark does an excellent job emphasizing the beauty (and, yes, the “magic and mystery”) found in grammar.

I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity (or Why I LOVE Jon Stewart)

I really want to go to this...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Banned Book a Day

The Business & Heritage Clarksville is providing commentary on one banned book everyday from September 1 until October 2 (the end of Banned Books Week). This is actually pretty cool (and makes me feel somewhat better about being from Tennessee. Seriously, the Murfreesboro mosque debacle was very disheartening).

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Literary Halloween Costumes: Children's Literature Edition

Even though we aren't even halfway through September, let's face it - Halloween will be here before we know it. To help get in the Halloween spirit, here is an early follow-up to my post from last year on costumes inspired by literature:
  • Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird: I love this book, and I think that Scout would be a pretty easy. Besides a short-sleeved shirt and a pair of overalls, all you really need to complete the look is short hair (or hair in pigtails) and sneakers. If you want to be more ambitious, you could also dress up in Scout's ham costume.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder from the Little House series: This is another (fairly) easy costume to put together. Throw on a prairie dress and a sunbonnet (you buy one or make your own), and make sure you have brown hair, which is the source of angst for Laura. This costume would probably work for one of the American Girls.
  • One of the Little Women: Depending on your physical attributes, you could go as Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy. Beth is probably the easiest - all she needs is a long dress, an apron, and a basket (cats are optional). However, if you are blond, you could easily pull off Amy with her sausage curls and precocious personality.
  • The Cat in the Hat: Besides the hat (which you can easily find at a costume store), all of you need to do is dress in black and put on some white gloves. Cat ears and whiskers complete the look. If you can get two people to dress up like Thing One and Thing Two, so much the better.
  • Peter Rabbit: You could go all out and rent a bunny costume, but the easier (and cheaper) option is to throw on some rabbit ears and a blue jacket or shirt.
  • Waldo from Where's Waldo?: You will need the iconic striped shirt and hat and glasses, as well as a pair of jeans. Go up to people all night and ask them, "Where am I?"
  • The little boy from The Snowy Day: If it is unusually chilly where you are on Halloween night, put on a red snow suit and call it day.
Stay tuned - I also plan on doing a post on literary-inspired costume party themes and literary costumes for couples.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two Poems for this Time of Year

Just in case you managed to be blissfully unaware of yesterday's anniversary (and the controversy surrounding it), the media was doing everything in its power to bring it to your attention. While I managed to avoid network news and even my favorite news websites, I was pleasantly surprised by the two poems selected (purposefully or not) by the Poem-a-Day subscription I get via email and iPhone everyday. While the poem yesterday is about acknowledging and dealing with grief, today's poem had a decidedly more hopeful tone and reminds us about the great ideals America can and should stand for. It is a lesson that, sadly, many people still need to learn.

Yesterday's Poem: "I measure every Grief I meet"
by Emily Dickinson

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes –
I wonder if It weighs like Mine –
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long –
Or did it just begin –
I could not tell the Date of Mine –
It feels so old a pain –

I wonder if it hurts to live –
And if They have to try –
And whether – could They choose between –
It would not be – to die –

I note that Some – gone patient long –
At length, renew their smile –
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil –

I wonder if when Years have piled –
Some Thousands – on the Harm –
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve –
Enlightened to a larger Pain –
In Contrast with the Love –

The Grieved – are many – I am told –
There is the various Cause –
Death – is but one – and comes but once –
And only nails the eyes –

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –
A sort they call "Despair" –
There's Banishment from native Eyes –
In sight of Native Air –

And though I may not guess the kind –
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –

To note the fashions – of the Cross –
And how they're mostly worn –
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like my own –

Today's Poem: "The New Collusus"
by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"