Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Sunday Salon: In Which I (Finally!) Finish Quo Vadis and We Celebrate 10 Years of Book Club


Bewilderment: A Novel by Richard Powers ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Doug Tallamy (Naturalist Book Club) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach ⭐⭐⭐

Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz (Chapter-a-Day Read) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I finally (!) finished Quo Vadis, a story by Nobel-prize winning author Henryk Sienkiewicz. It's set in Nero's Rome, and I slogged through more than half the book, wanting to quit every time I picked it up. And then it suddenly got interesting, and I couldn't stop reading. It was hard to rate a book like that.

If you have any interest in nature, you might want to take a look at Bringing Nature Home and Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law (though, let's hope, it's not right after you brought it home). Bringing Nature Home is a deep and convincing explanation of why we need more native plants in our yards. Fuzz is a Mary-Roach-look at nature that gets in our way and what we try to do about it and why that never works. 

Bewilderment is another fabulous Richard Powers book about a troubled little boy who undergoes treatment. It's full of the usual Powers brilliance, and it's heavy with his recent environmental focus. And it's, oddly, quite short.

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman (Nonfiction Challenge)...47%

And I'm back to the 1001 Children's Books...along with a little bit of The Guns of August.

We celebrated the 10th year anniversary of our face-to-face book club this week. I made the cake. Don't look too closely. It's my first cake decorating effort.

Thoughts? We saw episode 1. Should we watch on?

Good Thing #1: 
We found a couple of these caterpillars in our garden.
Black Swallowtails!

Good Thing #2: 
We were delighted to see our first monarch in the pollinator garden 
we help maintain in a nearby park.

Good Thing #3:
New binoculars. And a new camera
For the swallowtails and the monarchs.
And the birds.
It feels like Christmas.

I'm happy you found your way to the Sunday Salon. Sunday Salon is a place for us to link up and to share what we have been doing during the week. It's a great way to visit other blogs and join in the conversations going on there. 

Some of the things we often talk about at the Sunday Salon:

  • What was your week like?
  • Read any good books? Tell us about them.
  • What other bookish things did you do? 
  • What else is going on in your life?

Other places where you may like to link up over the weekend are below. Click on the picture to visit the site.


My linkup for Sunday Salon is below. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Chicken Pot Slab Pie from Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies by Cathy Barrow

A family specialty is chicken pot pie. My Grandma Frankeny used to make it when she and my grandpap ran their tavern in Pennsylvania. My mom used to make it in bulk sometimes and she'd bring my sister and my brother and me a pie for each of our families. I've always used Grandma's recipe.

Until this week.

This week I tried Chicken Pot Slab Pie from Pie Squared: Irresistibly Easy Sweet & Savory Slab Pies by Cathy Barrow.

Barrow demo-ed slab pies for us at the Texas Book Festival in 2019. I shared my experience making Ham and Gruyere Slab Pie with an All-Butter Crust in a blog post here.

Chicken Pot Slab Pie also uses an all-butter crust. 



2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

16 tablespoons butter, cubed and frozen for 20 minutes

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ice water


1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium leaks, sliced into 1/2" disks

2 medium carrots, sliced and cut into 1/2" half moons

3 stalks celery, sliced 1/2" thick

1 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

1/4 cup white wine or water

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

12 ounces cooked chicken, cubed (about 2 cups)

6 ounces frozen petite peas

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the crust: In the food processor, pulse the flour, butter, and salt until the fats are in small pieces coated with flour, about 15 times. Add the water all at once and process until the mixture almost forms a ball. Form the dough into a 6-by-4-inch rectangle using plastic wrap and a bench scraper to firmly press the dough into a cohesive form. Wrap tightly and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to warm slightly. Divide the dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll out the larger piece to 11-by-15-inches and place in the 9-by-13 baking sheet (no more than 1 inch deep), pressing it into the corners of the pan and allowing the excess to drape over the sides. Refrigerate. Roll out the second piece of dough to 10-by-14-inches, place it on a lightly floured sheet of parchment, and refrigerate.

For the filling: Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until transparent, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, thyme, and herbes de Provence. Stir well to coat in oil and cook until the vegetables are slightly tender, 4 or 5 minutes. Splash in the wine and cook until the pan is nearly dry, about 3 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium-high, add the butter, and cook until it is foaming. Sprinkle the flour over the buttery vegetables and cook, stirring, until the flour smell goes away and the roux (the paste created with butter and flour) has turned slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the stew bubble away until thickened, 5 or 6 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, salt, and pepper. Cool the filling for at least 30 minutes before filling the pie.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a baking stone on the center rack while the oven heats. Bring the bottom crust out of the refrigerator, scrape in the filling, and spread it from edge to edge and into the corners. Place the top crust over the filling. Crimp and slash the top.

Bake the pie on top of stone for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake until the top is toasty brown and the filling is bubbling up out of the slashes, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Do you have a good recipe for chicken pot pie? Is this something you make?

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Weekend Cooking was created by Beth Fish Reads and is now hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker). It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Books On My Summer 2021 TBR

I've managed to find a number of books at my library from the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read list. I have 285 273 left to read. I'm planning to read as many of these as I can before the end of the summer. None of these are known to me. Do you recognize any of these books? What do you recommend?

Rowan of Rin by Emily Ronda 

Swords of Quentaris by Paul Collins

Postcards from No Man’s Land by Aidan Chambers

Knight’s Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff 

Clockwork by Philip Pullman 

Monster Blood Tattoo by C. M. Cornish

The Sterkarm Handshake by Susan Price

Nausicaä by Hayao Miyazaki 

Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin

River Boy by Tim Bower 

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge 

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen 

The Wind Singer by William Nicholson

La vache orange by Nathan Hale (French)

Marlaguette by Marie Colmont (French) 

The Wool-Pack by Cynthia Harnett 

Time of Trial by Hester Burton

Grover by Vera Cleaver 

No Way of Telling by Emma Smith

The Friends by Rosa Guy 

Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark 

The Sentinels by Peter Carter

Handles by Jan Mark

Brother in the Land by Robert Swindells

Alex by Tessa Duder 

Redwork by Michael Bedard

Witch Child by Celia Rees

The Far-Distant Onus by Katharine Hull

How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

Jennings and Darbishire by Anthony Buckeridge

The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater

Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw

I’m King of the Castle by Susan Hill

Friedrich by Hans Peter Richter)

The Edge of the Cloud by K. M. Peyton

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each Tuesday That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then post her top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join her and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Sunday Salon: The Rain Stops and the Heat Begins; Birding for Fun; and Jacqueline Woodson is Coming


The rain stopped this week, and the temperatures climbed. We got up to 90 degrees C every day last week, and it only cooled down to 80 degrees C at night. One of my friends told me she got sixteen inches of rain in May, so, I don't know...what's harder, lots of rain or lots of heat?

1001 Children's Books You Must Read:

Grover by Vera Cleaver ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Wool-Pack by Cynthia Harnett
In Lane Three, Alex Archer by Tessa Duder ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Friends by Rosa Guy ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Clockwork by Philip Pullman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Knight's Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Honestly, these were all great, but I especially liked Rowan of Rin and The Little White Horse and The Devil's Arithmetic. Clockwork was a beautiful jigsaw puzzle of a story. 

Have you read any of these?

Bewilderment: A Novel by Richard Powers...9% 

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman (Nonfiction Challenge)...47%

Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz (Chapter-a-Day Read)...36%

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants (Naturalist Book Club)...72%

I've been busy with 1001 Children's Books, and I've neglected my ongoing reads. Next week I will get some of these read.

Houston Inprint will be hosting a Cool Brains Event for Young People with the fabulous Jacqueline Woodson on June 27 at 4 pm. The event is online and free. Register here. Buy your copy of Jacqueline Woodson's new book from Houston independent bookstore, Blue Willow Books, here.

Swimming...counting away tomatoes...baking lemon-blueberry bread and banana pecan bread...walking...planting some pecan trees...taking a Beginning Birding class online at the library...

When I start a challenge, I like to start big. I read books from my 1001 Children's Books list like crazy last week. That puts me at 10/20 books read for my 20 Books of Summer challenge.

It also brings me down to 275/1001 books left to read in my 1001 Children's Books challenge.

Good Thing #1: Have a Little Pun---and Groan a Little with Bonnie's Books. I adore puns. Even though sometimes I don't get them. I'm the clueless person who insisted on buying a Life's a Beach t-shirt, even though my sister said over and over, But you don't cuss. Huh? Because, well, life is a beach, right? 

Good Thing #2: I shared The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird & Wondrous Words last week. If you don't know CATACRESIS or HESTERNOPOTHIA, and you want to continue to call yourself a Superior Person, you better take a look at my post.

Good Thing #3: And speaking of Wondrous Words, why haven't you posted about your favorites? Mareli offers a Wondrous Words Wednesday every other week on her blog that's primarily run by her beautiful white cat, Elza Reads. Her next post will be on June 23. Hope you will join us!

I thank each and every one of you 
who has stopped by Sunday Salon
and left a comment
and linked up 
over the last year.
You have kept me going.

I'm happy you found your way to the Sunday Salon. Sunday Salon is a place for us to link up and to share what we have been doing during the week. It's a great way to visit other blogs and join in the conversations going on there. 

Some of the things we often talk about at the Sunday Salon:

  • What was your week like?
  • Read any good books? Tell us about them.
  • What other bookish things did you do? 
  • What else is going on in your life?

Other places where you may like to link up over the weekend are below. Click on the picture to visit the site.


My linkup for Sunday Salon is below. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Wondrous Words: The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird & Wondrous Words by Peter Bowler


My friend, Rae, gave The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird & Wondrous Words to me, and I spent a day reading through it, and I loved it so much that I looked up book one on Amazon and ordered it the same day.

It's a book of words, presented with a short definition and used in a sentence. It's snarky, to be sure. Here's a couple of example:

HESTERNOPOTHIA n. A pathological yearning for the good old days. You know---when World War II was in full swing, your children got diphtheria, and dentists used slow drills and no anesthetic.

JUMENTOUS a. Pertaining to the smell of horse urine. So says the dictionary. But what could possibly be pertaining to the smell of horse urine? And how could it so pertain? Is this word really necessary?

Fun, right?

Besides just enjoying reading all the weird & wondrous words and reading the odd ways the author used them in a sentence, I ran across words I would actually like to add to my vocabulary:

KALOKAGATHIA n. A condition or state in which the good and the beautiful are combined. Wouldn't that be helpful? If you saw something beautiful and knew it was also good? Like The Good Witch of the North in Wizard of Oz?

EUMOIROUS a. Lucky or happy as a result of being good. Which, had I been in charge of creating the universe, would always happen.

EPISTEMOPHILIA n. An abnormal preoccupation with knowledge. I might have just a touch of this.

CATACHRESIS n. Misapplication of a word. Never. That I will admit.

QUADDLE v. To grumble. Quaddling sounds so much better than grumbling.

WITZELSUCHT n. An emotional state characterized by futile attempts at humor. I've seen this so many times. It's so futile. And it's hard to watch. Will I remember the proper name for this behavior the next time I see it? Unlikely.

Finally, I leave you with: 

SAXICOLOUS. a. Living or growing among rocks. Guys, my husband has been a rock collector since he was a little boy. He has an entire shop filled with rocks. Since I learned this word I have delighted in telling him how happy I am that I am married to a saxicolous man. Saxicolous. Such a great word.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative! It was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion and is now hosted at Elza Reads.