A bunch of great things to share: books, recipes, TV shows, movies, blogs, etc. I hope you enjoy. And if you do, I hope you’ll share!
1.) Parenthood (the 1989 movie) and Parenthood (the current TV show)
I was in elementary school when the movie Parenthood first came out, but I watched it a few years after and thought it was pretty funny … though I spent the entire movie trying to decide whether then-Lake Phoenix (now Joaquin)was a boy or a girl. What can I say? I was in middle school. Anyway, Parenthood was on a free movie channel the other night, and though I came into it late I decided to watch for a while, figuring I’d roam around the house, wash clothes and clean a bit while I watched. Oh, no. I sat in Paw Paw’s Chair (that’s what we call our ancient, hand-me-down Lazy Boy knock-off), unable to walk away, and laughed until I cried. Becoming a parent made me appreciate this absolutely hysterical film so much more.
Steve Martin is … well, Steve Martin. Jason Robards is pitch perfect as the blustering patriarch. And the scenes between Dianne Wiest, Martha Plimpton and Keanu Reeves are that combination of poignant, funny and bittersweet that so many movies never reach.
Seriously: Ignore the late ’80s haircuts and clothes, and focus on the characters. Or don’t, because those high-waisted, fold-over acid washed jean shorts are pretty awesome.
Trust me, you’ll love it.
Ron Howard, of course, directed the movie. But he’s also the brains behind the current TV show based off the movie, starring Craig T. Nelson (you know: Coach), Lauren Graham, Peter Kraus and others. The writing on this show is superb. That, combined with the performances by these (mostly) veteran actors and the true-down-deep-in-the-soul storylines make the show a must-watch. Or, if you’re like I am, must-DVR.
2.) We Are Water by Wally Lamb and The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
I’m really looking forward to reading both of these books. We Are Water, because it’s by Wally Lamb, a wonderful author who actually graduated from the MFA in Writing program I’m currently attending at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. I figure that I loved She’s Come Undone, so I’ll love this one, too. Jennifer Smeth over at the blog Book-alicious Mama did a wonderful job reviewing the novel. Check it out here.
The Book of Life is the third and final novel in Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, slated to be released July 15, 2014. I fell in love with her Diana and Matthew (a hereditary witch and historian, and vampire-scientist, respectively) when reading A Discovery of Witches—the first book in the series—for the second time. Now I’m utterly and completely captivated. I can’t wait to see—as both a hopeful series-writer and fan--how she brings the series full circle.
3.) “The Boasting”
Interestingly enough, these sound so much to me like the Native American “death songs,” where the speaker—or someone honoring/memorializing him or her, sings of all the great deeds that person has accomplished (including children, travels, and more) in his or her life. The Highland Scots used to do this, too.
This is really cool, and a great tool for teachers struggling to teach Beowulf, who really doesn’t make it easy for us. For more info and to read some of these wonderful takes on the “heroic boast,” go to Novel Matters.
4.) Two fabulous fall recipes
Spinach and ricotta-stuffed shells (from Real Simple magazine)
I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the Real Simple recipes, for various reasons. But this one was easy and delicious!
20 jumbo pasta shells (half of a 12 oz box)
1 24 oz jar marinara sauce
2 15 oz containers ricotta
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan (2 oz)
Kosher salt and black pepper (we used sea salt)
1 cup grated mozzarella (4 oz)
Green salad (optional)
Set an oven rack to the highest position and heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook pasta according to package; drain and run under cold water until cool.
Spread marinara sauce in bottom of large baking dish. (RS says to use a boilerproof baking dish, but I used my ceramic lasagna dish and it worked just fine.)
In a bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into shells and place them atop the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake until shells are heated through, 10 to 20 minutes. (It took us the full 20 minutes to get everything looking like we wanted.)
Increase heat to broil. Broil shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2 to 5 minutes (took us 5). Serve with salad, if desired. (We did not desire. We had dealt with a needy baby all day and felt the spinach was enough.)
Pan-fried porkchops and homemade applesauce (from MyRecipes.com)
Oh, my word. This meal is to-die-for, and spot on perfect for a cold November night. Now, my husband made the entire thing, so I can’t take credit for how ours turned out. He wants me to tell you that if you use thick pork chops, you may want to turn the heat down on the pan so they don’t burn. He says that if you want to go a bit healthier, do what he did: fry the chops just enough so that they’re golden brown, then wrap them in tin foil and put them in the oven at 350 degrees F for the rest of the time. They’ll stay juicy and perfect.
1 Tbsp butter
3 apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups chopped) (we used Gala apples)
½ cup water
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 (5 oz) bone-in center cut pork chops (we got ours boneless from Sam’s Club, and they were delicious)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper (we used the kind in the red and white canister)
2 tbsp canola oil
Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add apples to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add ½ cup water, sugar, juice, and 1/8 tsp salt to pan; cook 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cover and cook 25 minutes or until apples are tender.
Mash gently with back of spoon.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Place flour in shallow dish.
Sprinkle pork evenly with ½ tsp salt and pepper; dredge pork in flour.
Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.
Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes or until golden.
Turn pork over; cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.
Serve with applesauce
* My handy husband also made us mashed potatoes. He boiled one large potato until soft, added 1 tbsp butter, 2 to 3 tbsp Duke's mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste, a splash or two of milk, and 1/8 cup parmesan cheese, then mashed it all up. Yum, yum.
Hope y’all have a great weekend!