- 16 oz. carrots, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed with skins on
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 large onion, diced
- 2 in. section ginger
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp butter (optional)
In the Berglund family depicted in Freedom, Walter is the do-gooder father, a hopelessly devoted husband and environmental advocate working for the Nature Conservancy. We're almost misled to believe that he is most like us - the sane one, the most relatable and reliable character. In time, however, we learn that no character is so easily categorized or trusted. Sure, Walter presumes the picture of normality, but ultimately reveals moments of radical extremism that wreck havoc on himself and his family.
Then there's Walter's wife Patty. A college athlete, she never knew much outside of basketball and an ambition to win. Her relationships have all been defined by what she gets out of them - her closest friend from college loved Patty to a confidence boosting degree, Patty's favorite thing about Walter is his unconditional love for her, the security he provides. Though she may seem the picture of the perfect stay-at-home mom, blessed with an adoring husband and perfect children, Franzen once again proves that things are never as simple as they seem when Patty is challenged by the friend who drew her to Walter in the first place.
And then there is the Berglund's daughter Jessica, a type-A personality who is distanced from her mother on account of Patty's overwhelming love and devotion to Joey, her youngest offspring. We follow the course of the children's lives, jumping back and forth in time to see where Jessica and Joey go in relation to where their parents have been. The children experiment with an array of moral and political leanings and their own changing attitudes toward the Berglunds, all while confronting the disparity between their expectations and reality of adult life.
Freedom is not just about the family in modern America - it truly is about freedom and the ways in which it manifests itself in 21st century America. This is a novel about our responsibility to the world and what we have been told the world owes to us. Franzen confronts the issues of how to deal with the freedom, or lack thereof, that modern culture affords each and every American citizen. The Berglunds live in a world where freedom comes at the price of figuring out what exactly to do with it. A world where people are free to be like everyone else, to join the masses and never think about a thing for themselves, to blindly follow the herd and do as they're told. But also a world where true freedom is never quite free, where every decision carries the weight of moral and political implications, where nothing is so isolated and unfettered as to be completely free.
In Franzen's latest, he challenges the notion of freedom upon which so many people believe their family's life is based. The husband who is enslaved to his wife, the wife burdened by unhealthy relationships, the daughter who seeks space from the dysfunction of her family, and the son who yearns for freedom from his father's ideals. In this enveloping novel, Franzen plays with the very idea of freedom through the example of the Berglund family and, hopefully, suggests to his many readers a more well-intentioned way of living a life more free.
Candle wax is actually readily available in most craft stores and, in the very same aisle, you should be able to find your wicks and even some scented oils. I used oils as well as scented votive candles as aromatics for my candles.
And once you have all your supplies together, the process is really quite simple. Just fill the pot up with water so it is less than 1/4 full. Too much water will take too long to boil, but too little water won't provide sufficient heat for melting. Once the water is boiling, you can put the tin can in with your wax and aromatics. Try to break the wax up as best you can because the smaller the wax pieces, the easier they will melt. Then it's just a matter of waiting for your wax and scented candle pieces or aromatic oils to all melt and come together in a smooth and liquid wax.
These candles make great gifts, whether to your friends and family or to yourself. You can personalize the scents and candleholders based on your preferences and you can get super creative here too. Make coffee-scented candles out of coffee mugs, make candles in champagne flutes for newly-weds, or find antique cups at the thrift store for your most artsy friend. The options are endless and the process, extremely fun!
If you follow my blog at all, you probably saw my recent post about Orangette blogger Molly Wizenberg's book, A Homemade Life. It's chock full of tried and true recipes, all outfitted with heartfelt anecdotes straight from the author's life. Although a great book for any food lover or nostalgic eater, I recommend it for anyone with a heart or even a mild interest in food. If nothing else, at least visit her blog if you're ever looking to try out a new dish.
The whole time I sped through this book, I was dog-earring the recipes that I just had to try (just short of 30 recipes). I wasn't sure where to start until I reached her last recipe, The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake aka Her Wedding Cake. Apparently this is Molly's go-to cake when trying to win anyone over (and apparently news spread so well that her friends would ask for the recipe whenever they had new love interests to reel in). This cake full of chocolate irresistibility was positively begging me to give it a try - and how could I not? All you need it chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, and a bit of flour. Simple and decadent, somewhere between a brownie and a cake, I just needed to taste it for myself.
- 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)
- 1 3/4 sticks (7 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream for serving, optional
- 1 medium sized sweet potato
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
When I first started blogging, I toyed with the idea of a Christmas-centric blog. I am never happier than during the holiday time of year and nothing brings me more joy than to pour through holiday decorating ideas and Christmas recipes. But I thought to myself, Who in the world would read a blog about Christmas all year round? (Who in the world reads this blog anyway?) To be perfectly honest, I do have plenty of holiday-themed posts just waiting to be published when the time is more appropriate (and most of them have been sitting in there since early August). So even though I don't publish posts about Christmas all year long, that doesn't stop me from indulging myself by writing a few.
But alas, year-round holiday blog readers do exist and I found them just a few moments ago. Some mornings I spend my time simply perusing the blogoscape, trying to find new foodies with innovative recipes or DIYers with new craft ideas or just a space full of artistic and creative inspiration. And so I can't exactly retrace for you the steps that led to me discovery today, but I am very excited to share it with you nonetheless.
First there is Holiday with Matthew Mead, from which I found the other more traditional Christmas blogs. This October Mead is releasing a Christmas-inspiration book-azine entitled Holiday and his site is largely focused on promoting that, however he has plenty of beautiful ideas to share.
Then, there's Christmas Tree Lane. Complete with a Christmas countdown, photos of anything Christmas, musings on holiday traditions, and a few recipes throughout, this blog is sure to give you a healthy dose of the Christmas spirit anytime of year.
Deck the Halls of Home with Joy isn't devoted solely to all the celebrations surrounding December 25th, but blogger Brenda does go all out for every holiday throughout the year - and I can only wait to see what she has to share once we get closer and closer to December!
Though JingleNog Blog doesn't focus purely on Christmas or the holidays in general, the woman behind the blog, Melissa, actually designs handmade blown glass Christmas ornaments which can be viewed at her JingleNog website. And even more exciting, this is a holiday blogger with a huge heart - Melissa is as environmentally friendly as possible in her process, from production to delivery, while also giving a portion of her annual profits to various charities including Make-A-Wish, The Children's Hope Chest, and MD Anderson Children's Art Project.
This is probably my favorite of my findings today, simply because when you visit Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive, 365 you are greeted by the joyful sounds of Christmas music. You get the sounds, the sights, and the tastes of the season with this website - and I can't argue with that! I love the emphasis on DIY holiday projects, recipes, and her love of Martha Stewart Christmas because, let's face it, no one does Christmas quite like Martha.
I hope that you'll indulge me and bring a bit of the holiday spirit into your life early this year by visiting one, or all, of these fabulous websites. And let me know if there are other Christmas blogs out there that I have yet to discover!
As promised, I bring you my first book review from my recent finds at the library. It didn't take me very long at all to delve into A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, nor did it take long to finish. Though the book is structured more like a very personal series of blog posts, it reads like a memoir told in meals. Wizenberg is the writer over at food blog Orangette and this book, subtitled "Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table" very accurately explains what is inside. She regales us with stories of her father, the main cook in her family who threw himself into life, as well as her mother, the primary baker, who loved to wear heels to add a few inches to her barely 5 foot tall frame. The recipes that take us through all of the major events in Wizenerg's life, including holidays, travels, deaths, and weddings. We learn about her family, her love life, her travels, and her career path, all from the vantage of her kitchen table.
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 4-5 ripe bananas
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 Tsp vanilla
- 1 Tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp chopped nuts
- 1 Tbsp demerara sugar
- 1/2 Tsp cinnamon
I just came back from an extremely successful trip to the library! I can't wait to dive in and blog about them all! Stay tuned for reviews on them all! I'm particularly excited about Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life - she's the genius behind Orangette and I know there is much to be learned from her story!
Another great craft idea from Patricia Zapata's Home, Paper, Scissors!
- A bowl to use as a mold (any shape will work - it doesn't need to be circular!)
- Paper (2-3 sheets for a small to medium sized bowl)
- Paper shredder, paper cutter, or scissors
- Plastic wrap
- Glue (1:1 ratio with water)
- Water (1:1 ratio with water)
- Plastic wrap
One year with supermarkets. One year of planting, watering, weeding, harvesting. One year without sugary cereals, Chinese food, delivery pizza. No processed foods. Everything local, hand-picked. It sounds like quite a daunting challenge: to give up mass-produced edibles and adopt a new food culture eating only what is in season and harvested by your own two hands, or by those of your neighbor. This is exactly what challenge Barbara Kingsolver and her family of four put themselves up to for an entire year, with all the struggles, joys, and recipes recounted in the entertaining and engaging Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
Reading Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle really encourages you to look at the food you eat, where it comes from, how it is made, and how you can change these factors to enjoy a diet more healthy for you but especially for the environment. The benefits, both personal and environmental, of growing your own food and eating locally are endless - savoring foods when they’re at their peak, reveling in the flavor of produce grown at your own hands, reducing the incidence of cruelty to animals in food production, lowering the number of miles each item of food must travel to reach your plate, supporting local business- and farm-owners, enjoying a more healthy, whole-food lifestyle. And the detriments of the alternative are shocking - to get to your dinner table, the items in a typical American meal have traveled an average of 1,500 miles, through transportation, packaging, warehousing, refrigeration, and other forms of processing. Isn't is so much more satisfying, healthy, environmentally-concious, inexpensive, and delicious to eat a tomato plucked from your own backyard than one from a pile in the grocery store?
So you don't have room for a vegetable garden at your place? How about trying the local farmer's market? Not only a farmer's markets becoming more easy to find every year, they carry the best of the best in-season produce so you don't have to worry if you're fruits and vegetables are going to be good. Another great option is to join a CSA, community supported agriculture, where local farmers will deliver food direct to you on a weekly basis. You'll never know exactly what you're going to get, but it is guaranteed to be fresh and in-season. To learn more, visit Local Harvest.
And to learn more about Kingsolver's book, to get recipes, and more, visit the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website.