Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Cooking with Nonna (Part One): Nonna’s Four-Cheese Lasagna


I brought this book home from BookExpo. With our trip to Italy coming closer and closer (May will soon be here), it seems like the perfect time to bring it out and try a few recipes. 

What about lasagna? I felt like I have a pretty strong lasagna recipe, but let's see if Nonna can improve it.

Mama Rosa's Lasagna



     For the Sauce:

  1. Empty container of tomatoes & sauce into a food mill or blender and puree... set aside
  2. In a pot, add 3-4 tablespoons of EVOO heat and then add the chopped onions until translucent then add the puree sauce.
  3. Add 1 teapoon of sugar and season with salt & peper. Cook for about 15 mins.

    For the Meat:
  4. In a frying pan cook the chop meat. Break up the chop meat & cook until brown and drain.
  5. Add the cooked chop meat to the sauce and cook for another 10 mins.
  6. When done, set aside.

    For the Pasta:
  7. Put water in a 5 Qt pot and add 1 tbsp salt to it and bring water to a rapid boil.
  8. Add the pasta 2 pieces at a time and stir gently until all the pasta is in the pot.
  9. Return to a rapid boil.
  10. Cook uncovered and stirring gently occasionally for about 10 minutes. Drain well.
  11. Separated cooked lasagna and lay each one on wax paper to keep from sticking together.
  12. In the 13 X 9 inch baking pan spread some meat sauce on bottom of pan.
  13. Place about 4-5 pcs of the cooked pasta lenghtwise over the sauce, overlapping edges.
  14. Place a little bit of sauce on top of the pasta, then spoon some ricotta all over the pasta and then sprinkle the mozzarella over it.
  15. Cover with some meat sauce and then sprinke the grated cheese.
  16. Keep on repeating the pasta, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella, meat sauce and grated cheese until you reach the top of the baking pan. Cover pan with foil.
  17. Place tray of Lasagna into the oven that has been pre heated at 375.
  18. Cook for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  19. After pan is taken out of the oven, put foil back on the pan and let it stand for about 5-10 mins before serving.



My thoughts? Honestly, this recipe for lasagna is almost exactly like the recipe for lasagna I have always made. There really were no significant taste differences or differences in appearance. 

Nonna, I'll give you one more chance. Next week I'll try pizza.





For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and 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, February 27, 2018

Books I've Read..and Re-read...and Re-read

I don't reread a lot of books. There are so many wonderful books I haven't read yet.



But there are a few books I have read...and reread...

Gone With the Wind

The Good Earth

Gilead

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The Great Gatsby

To Kill a Mockingbird

My Name is Asher Lev

Lonesome Dove

Traveling Mercies






And there are a few books I have read...and reread...and reread...and reread, many many times....I am a school librarian, you know....Each of these books I have read approximately 448 times. 


Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Elephant and Piggie: There is a Bird on Your Head

No, David


Green Eggs and Ham





And the prize for the book I've read and reread in the most languages?

The Little Prince (English, Spanish, French, and now Italian)




What books have you read and reread?





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.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Chúng tôi thăm Việt Nam (We Visit Vietnam)



WE VISIT VIETNAM

Last week we traveled in my school library to Vietnam. One of our first grade teachers, Ms. Diep, shared some Vietnamese clothing, Vietnamese decorative wooden plates, and Vietnamese red envelopes (for celebrating the Chinese New Year in Vietnam) with us. She also brought in some mums which are given, she told us, to people for good luck in Vietnam. I read my new favorite story, A Different Pond written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, to my classes; from PreK to second grade, they were mesmerized by the beautiful words and illustrations.



Next week will be Dr. Seuss' birthday in our school. Lots of Oh, The Places You Will Go and Cat in the Hat and (my favorite) Green Eggs and Ham. It's always a delightful week.




WHAT I'VE BEEN READING THIS WEEK


I've been reading steadily along in both Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino and Italian Days by Barbara Grizzuti Harrison. I'll probably continue to read them next week. They are both over 500 pages.




What are you reading today?




What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Stress Balls at a Technology Conference? Why?


I've just returned from the technology conference in Austin and I'm astounded to find that I have brought nineteen stress balls home with me, all giveaways.

Nineteen.

Why? Why so many stress ball giveaways at a technology conference?


And if, as one might be lead to believe, there are so many stress ball giveaways at a technology conference because technology causes stress, then why this stress ball? How can this be helpful?




For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Books I'll Never Read (Plus a Couple of Those I Didn't Think I'd Read, But Did, and Loved)



My time here is short. I want to read the good books. I really do. But I want to read the books that are good for me. Not necessarily those others are telling me I need to read.

I tried. I really did.


But I'm never going to read War and Peace. Too many characters, too much plot.



I'm scratching William Faulkner from my list, too. No Sound and Fury. No Absalom, Absalom. No Go Down, Moses. I can't connect with the characters in these books.



Ulysses by James Joyce? It reads like garbly-goop.



 Henry James feels too stilted, too dressed-up, complete with a bow tie. So no Golden Bowl, no Ambassadors, no Wings of a Dove.



Am I wrong to wish to avoid Junkie by William Burroughs? I've ventured, against my better judgment, many times, into the dark world of spiraling addictions (most notably, Under the Volcano) and I'm not sure I need to go there again.



Do I want to spend hours of my life following a whale? No, I think Moby Dick is out.



And Lolita fills me with revulsion. Just. Can't. Read. It.


On the other hand...

At the urging of others, I reluctantly read and loved Frankenstein, Brideshead Revisited, Independent People, Middlemarch, The Three Musketeers, and Midnight's Children, so I'm open to hearing your thoughts on any of these you urgently encourage me to read. And I am taking on sixty-eight classics or semi-classics in the next five years.







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.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Cybils Winners, A Single-Book Reading Week, and the Book Bus


THE CYBILS WINNERS!
After five months of reading 357 books, and two rounds of judging, the Cybils winners for fiction picture books and board books have been announced.





The 2017 Cybils Fiction Picture Book winner is Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper. 






The 2017 Cybils Board Book winner is Meet Happy Bear written by Nathan Thoms and illustrated by Carles Ballesteros.


For other Cybils winners, take a look at the Cybils website.




WHAT I HAVE BEEN READING


I only read one book this week. That sounds weak (for me) but this novel is 866 pages. Surely that gives me a few bonus points.




WHAT ARRIVED IN THE MAIL


Ella: Queen of Jazz by Helen Hancocks
Petra by Marianna Coppo


The Spirit Photographer by Jon Michael Varese
The Overstory by Richard Powers



CATALOGING BOOKS FOR THE BOOK BUS



We have a wonderful resource in my school district, Alvin ISD. It is the Book Bus. It rolls out in the summer, loaded with books for children, venturing into spots where children don't have good access to books. 


We librarians in the district spent Friday cataloging books for the Book Bus.

I donated all the books I received as Cybils Fiction Book and Board Book entries to the Book Bus. That was over a hundred books. 

Do you have children's books you no longer need? We could use them for our Book Bus. Contact me through the comments here or by e-mail at debnance at gmail dot com. 


What are you reading today?



What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Good & Garlicky Thick & Hearty Soul-Satisfying More-Than-Minestrone Italian Soup Cookbook


"Italians have a saying, 'La cuppa fa settee rose,' which means, 'Soup does seven things.' It quenches your thirst, it satisfies your hunger, it fills your stomach, it aids your digestion, it makes your teeth sparkle, it colors your cheeks, and it helps you sleep....Certainly, soup is the ultimate comfort food."

What better cookbook to begin my planned series on Italian cookbooks than this one on soup?

There are all sorts of common Italian soups, including soups with seafood (zuppe di pesce) and soups with pasta (zuppe di pasta), but the two most popular Italian soups are minestrone ("big soup") and pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans).

Italian cooks love to improvise and to cook creatively, I learn. This cookbook contains nine minestrone variations. There are, according to cookbook author Joe Famularo, "as many types of minestrones as there are people cooking them." 

Why not use what I have on hand to make my own minestrone soup? So I did. I threw corn and celery and carrots and sausage into my pot. Here is the delicious result:




3/4 Lb. Italian Sausage 
1 T. Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Carrot
1/2 Cup Celery
1/2  Green Pepper 
1 Can Beef Broth
1 Can Zesty Tomato Sauce
1 1/2 Cup Water
1 Cup Bow-Shaped Pasta, Uncooked


Form sausage into 3/4" meatballs. In a large saucepan, heat oil and cook meatballs until browned, stirring often. Spoon off all but 1 T drippings. Add vegetables. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Add broth, tomato sauce, and water. Heat to boiling. Add pasta. Reduce to low heat. Simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is done, stirring now and then.




For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and 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, February 13, 2018

Want to Share a Little Love This Valentine's Day? Give a Child a Book


Want to share a little love this Valentine's Day? Give a book.

Here are some of my new favorites.


How to Say I Love You in Five Languages by Kenard Pak


We can make the world a happier place if we can speak to others. Could anything be better to know how to say in another language than these words:
I love you.
This little board book teaches children how to say I love you in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese. Not only are pronunciation guides included, but there is a lovely side panel where the child can press and hear how to say the words in each language. 







Hug Machine by Scott Campbell (Board Book Edition)


I'm a huge fan of Hug Machine and my fandom of Hug Machine has grown to incorporate  all the children at my school. Now, I'm happy to say, Hug Machine is a board book, and a whole new group of our youngest readers can hear this lovely story of a child who hugs everything he sees. 







When An Elephant Falls in Love by Davide Cali and Alice Lotti


Aw. We humans get a little silly when we fall in love. It's reassuring to know that elephants get downright ridiculous. Children will love the story and illustrations in When An Elephant Falls in Love. It's crazy funny.





I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni and Ashley Bryan


Nikki Giovanni sings a song of love to the old, the young, the weary, and Ashley Bryan lights up the songs with his brilliantly colored text. I love I Am Loved. I especially love Giovanni's "No Heaven." And you can't miss (you MUST NOT MISS) "Do the Rosa Parks." Wonderful.






How Do You Say I Love You by Hannah Eliot and Shirley Ng-Benitez


I think we all know that we seem to be needing a few more words of love in this world these days. Happily, there is this new board book, How Do You Say I Love You by Hannah Eliot and Shirley Ng-Benitez. In gentle rhyme, the author and illustrator share ways to say I love you in Italy, Japan, Spain, Russia, Egypt, Brazil, Germany, France, India, and China. Let's all learn how to say these words wherever we are and to whoever we meet. Let's start with our young with this board book.






Colors of Love by Tina Gallo and Tony Neal


We love our Crayola crayons, with all of their amazing colors. What better way to illustrate our love than in all the colors of the crayon box? With people illustrated with all the colors of the box? A subtle lesson on the colors of love.






Click, Clack, Moo I Love You! by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin


You are going to have to get your own copy of the latest Click, Clack, Moo to see the sparkle on every page. It's a glittery story of animals-on-the-farm and their huge barnyard dance for Valentine's Day. Even an unexpected guest ("Yip yip yip") won't tarnish this shiny event. Another wonderful Click, Clack, Moo story.






Take Heart, My Child by Ainsley Earhardt and Jaime Kim


Ainsley Earhardt and Jaime Kim combine their writing and illustrating talents to make a brilliant song of love for you to share with your child on Valentine's Day or any day. The words will delight you and the illustrations will dance for you. It's a beautiful book.




Have you read any of these? Any new wonderful children's books about love? Share with me in the comments.








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.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

2,613 Pages: Reading Enormous Books


Suddenly I am reading some very big books.

Paul Auster is coming to Houston on Monday night so I'm desperately flipping pages in his latest work, 4321 (Is that how you write it? Or should it be 4 3 2 1? Or something else?) Good grief, it's 866 pages. That's a lot of book.

One of my favorite authors is Richard Powers (The Gold Bug Variations), and I was thrilled to receive an ARC of his most recent book, The Overstory. It's 505 pages.



I'm also reading Barbara Grizzuti Harrison's Italian Days and Italo Calvino's Italian Folktales. Days is 479 pages and Folktales is 763 pages.

Whew. That's a combined total of 2,613 pages. Whew.

You know what I'm doing today. And tomorrow. And the next day.

How about you? Are you attempting some big books? Do you have any recommendations for me? Preferably some small tomes?




What is the Sunday SalonImagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them,and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake....That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book. Click here to join the Salon.

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is now being hosted at The Book Date.