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Archive for December 2010

A Christmas Treat for you!

December 22nd, 2010 — 1:12pm

At least, I hope it’s a treat :)

Here is my recording of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”:
A Child’s Christmas in Wales

This little story is a Christmas tradition in my family. I remember my big sister reading it aloud to me when I was very small, and I remember my parents reading it to us little ones, and then I remember reading it to them when I was bigger. A bit of info from wikipedia:

A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a prose work by the Welsh writer Dylan Thomas. Originally emerging from a piece written for radio, the poem was recorded by Thomas in 1952. The story is an anecdotal retelling of a Christmas from the view of a young child and is a romanticised version of Christmas’ past, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time.

If you like it, may I suggest that you buy a recording of Dylan Thomas reading it himself? It’s on iTunes (though iTunes won’t sell you the single track; you must buy a whole album of Thomas’s poetry for $6) and here is the single track on Amazon for only $.89! It’s a wonderful recording. It’s a permanent part of my “Best Christmas” playlist.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you get plenty of Useless Presents. Go ahead and lace your tea with rum; it’s only once a year.

P.S. I worry that the joke of “Snakes and Families” and “Happy Ladders” is lost on Today’s Youth… The real games were called “Snakes and Ladders” (you might know it as “Chutes and Ladders”) and “Happy Families“. Now you know.

2 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Art Museum!

December 19th, 2010 — 1:35pm

Dan and I went to the art museum yesterday to see the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit again. (Henry was recovering from a sore throat, so he stayed home).

Hm, I thought for sure I wrote a blog post about this exhibit (I’ve seen it three times now) but I can’t find one, so I guess I only imagined writing it.

Our museum owns a complete collection of Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters (as well as other works) but they are so fragile that they are stored safely off-exhibit most of the time. The last time they were displayed here was back in the 80s, I believe. So this is a really rare chance to see them all. The exhibit was supposed to end on December 12th, but it was extended to December 31, thank goodness!

I really like Toulouse-Lautrec’s work. It’s so hard to say why, though. I guess I find his art to be exhilarating! I like his colors, I like his shapes, I like his perspective, I like the energy and freedom in his lines, which seem to me to portray movement but not agitation. There are a couple of pen-and-ink sketches in the exhibit which just knock me out every time I look at them — a group of racehorses jumping a hurdle, and a view of some street performers. They’re just brilliant. So few lines, so much meaning. I’m also extremely fond of the six or eight different posters and portraits old Aristide Bruant. What a guy! Here he is:


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World’s Simplest Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

December 10th, 2010 — 12:15am

After much experimentation, I think I’ve created the world’s simplest, least-fussy recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. (Eggplant = Aubergine, my non-USA friends.) I have found that you don’t need to bother with the salting-waiting-pressing step, nor the breading and frying, nor any pre-cooking at all. You don’t even have to grate the cheese if you don’t want to.

To feed 3-4 very hungry people, buy:
Two medium eggplants
One brick of mozzarella cheese (Full-fat, please, let’s not skimp. I think they typically weigh one pound)
One jar of your favorite tomato sauce
A lump of parmesan cheese, or some of the pre-grated stuff if that’s how you fly. I won’t touch the pre-grated stuff, but that means I have to do a bit of grating. Up to you.

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Ok. Slice up those eggplants, peel and all, into rather thin slices, maybe 3/8 of an inch thick. Less than half an inch, anyway. Let’s call it a centimeter. That’s less than half an inch, right?

Slice up the mozzarella similarly. Grate up some parmesan cheese if you’re snobby like me.

Dump a little bit of sauce into a fine large casserole dish with a lid. Layer about a third of the eggplant slices on top of the sauce, overlapping as necessary. Layer about a third of the cheese slices (this will not even remotely cover the eggplant. That’s fine. It will spread out as it cooks), then about a third of the remaining tomato sauce. Repeat eggplant/cheese/sauce layers, then sprinkle a generous handful of grated parmesan cheese on the very top.

Cover and bake for a LONG LONG TIME. I think I ended up baking mine for about 2 hours. Test after about 1.5 hours and see if the eggplant in the center is tender yet. Pull some out and taste it. Raw eggplant is revolting. Bake a while longer if you’re not sure. Take the lid off for the last half-hour or so. Let it cool just a few minutes before serving.

This is so freaking tasty, and easy too! And it doesn’t make a big greasy mess in the kitchen. And it smells so good while it’s baking. Yum!

Oh, you can throw in some slices of fresh tomato between the layers, if it happens to be summer and you happen to have a lovely ripe flavorful tomato handy.

4 comments » | Blog, Recipes

Grammar-Land, the Preface

December 7th, 2010 — 7:01pm

The next book in the “Kara’s Free Audiobooks” podcast is a wonderful little thing called “Grammar-Land”:

In this charming 1877 book of grammar instruction for children, we are introduced to the nine parts of speech and learn about the rules that govern them in Grammar-Land.

Judge Grammar is far mightier than any Fairy Queen, for he rules over real kings and queens down here in Matter-of-fact-land. Our kings and queens have all to obey Judge Grammar’s laws, or else they would talk what is called bad grammar; and then, even their own subjects would laugh at them, and would say: “Poor things!

They are funny fellows, these nine Parts-of-Speech. You will find out by-and-by which you like best amongst them all. There is rich Mr. Noun, and his useful friend Pronoun; little ragged Article, and talkative Adjective; busy Dr. Verb, and Adverb; perky Preposition, convenient Conjunction, and that tiresome Interjection, the oddest of them all.

Here is the Preface and Introduction:
00 Preface and Introduction


6 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

This Country of Ours, Part 3 (the remaining chapters)

December 7th, 2010 — 6:31pm

And here is the rest of This Country of Ours, part 3:

31 The Hunt for the Regicides
32 King Philip’s War
33 How the Charter of Connecticut was Saved
34 The Witches of Salem

3 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Dreadful Kate

December 6th, 2010 — 10:24pm

One of my tweets was featured on the BBC’s “The Archers” website:

So I’m all proud and honored and stuff :)

This is completely unrelated except for being another thing I’m proud of, but 300 people have downloaded our little German book!

1 comment » | Blog

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