Monthly Archives: August 2015

ENJOYABLE SUMMER READS: As Named by Win-A-Novel Contestants

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It’s always interesting to see what our reading friends have been enjoying lately. So… in alphabetical order, I list the books mentioned as bringing pleasure over the past summer to those who entered the contest to win a novel. Perhaps you and I will want to read some of these.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg, family history, memoir

Beautiful Day: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand

Delicious: A Novel By Ruth Reichl

Gap Creek: A Novel by Robert Morgan

The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille

The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West by Lesley Poling Kempe, history

In the Country: Stories by Mia Avalar

The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah

The Reluctant Matador: a Hugo Marston Novel by Mark Pryor

Tender At the Bone by Ruth Reichl, memoir

Two Towers: Being the Second Part of the Lord Of the Rings by J.R. R. Tolkien

Aren’t you amazed at the variety of reads: recent, and not-so-recent, memoir, fantasy, mystery, short stories, best-sellers and history. Thanks to all of you who entered and shared the books you have been reading.

I think I’ll go for a mystery next. What about you?

CONGRATULATIONS TO WIN-A-NOVEL WINNERS!

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A big thank-you to all who entered the latest book giveaway. I believe it was the highest number of entries so far, and many were entering one of the readeatlive/blog giveaways for the first time. We welcome you and all returning contestants. This will not be the last free book you will be offered. Regular readers are every bit as important as new readers.

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The drawing method is sophisticated (☺) and conducted by the well-known and completely secure firm: Paulette. I promise I do not look in the beautiful hand-thrown pot that holds the names and I mix them up between every draw (without looking).

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Here are the amazing winners, a group of dedicated readers who represent a variety of interests. Watch for a post about the books they and all readers who entered the contest enjoyed this past summer.

Hear the drum roll. The lucky winners are:

Jan Kuchar, Wisconsin
Susan Carter, California
Alice Reed, Pennsylvania
Pat Gilmer, North Carolina
Betsy Hemming, Michigan

There is no blog without readers. So a million thank-you shout-outs to you all!!!
A new giveaway will be coming before you know it.

WIN A NOVEL

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This month I am giving away five fiction books. Please enter for a chance to win. To enter, respond to this prompt by replying to this post: My greatest reading pleasure this summer……….

Names of winners will be drawn from those who comment on this blog. Entries will close Thursday, August 27 at midnight. It is expected that winners will be announced here on Friday, August 28. Books will be mailed to the winners.

If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail me or ask your question via the comment section. All books are in good condition, lightly used by me. Occasionally there are notations.

Don’t you love to be the winning reader you are?! Please comment and enter!

And, as always, one person’s so-so-read becomes another’s favorite.

Thanks for enjoying readeatlive.com/blog
If it seems boring lately, let me know what you want to see/read more often. Favorite topics? All opinions welcome. Names of all who comment in response to this post will be placed in the drawing hat.

WHAT CLASSICS ARE ON YOUR 2015-2016 READING LIST?

Why put a classic novel or non-fiction book on your reading list? Which ones to choose? Will the experience be worth the time and effort?

Classics are often a robust read. They can replenish and restore a reader’s pleasure in reading. Sometimes, they enable the reader to rediscover real passion for reading. Often, one or another of the classics presents a challenge the reader can’t resist.

Here are the ones I expect to tackle this year. Please chime in with the classics on your upcoming list. And let’s check in about March, 2016 and see how we are doing. Hope you will remind me.

In no particular order:

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Because it is a selection of two of my book clubs, so even though I read it a couple of years ago, I expect to give it another read.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Because I’ve been trying to get to a Dickens I haven’t read for the last few years, and people tell me this is the best. What do you think?

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Because it is about books and reading. Because I’ve been meaning to read it for year. And I picked up a copy somewhere. I probably paid money, so it follows I’d better give it a go.

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Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
My all time favorite! I owe my love of this Nobel Prize winning trilogy to my niece Rachel. Two years ago I bought a new paperback edition. I first read it quite some time ago and have always meant to reread. I love just looking at it, but I do want to read it.

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Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher
Because, though I just heard about this book, I feel I must read it. The fame of the author and my love of oysters call me to this one. And, I want at least one food book and one non-fiction on the list.

I’m leaning toward opening Shadow of the Wind first. Do you have a suggestion?

BLUE APRON MEAL OF THE WEEK

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Bavette Steak with Roasted Potatoes, Sauteed Long Beans and Tomato

Those of you who read the Food page of this blog have some experience with my Blue Apron adventures. This steak meal was so absolutely successful I thought it deserved a post on the Home page.

What is Blue Apron? This food company, based in NewYork, delivers fresh refrigerated food to doorsteps nationwide along with recipes and instructions. 500-700 calorie meals feature ingredients meticulously measured and ready to prepare. The home chef chooses the number of meals, servings, and the schedule. Preparations are easy and quick.

Bavette Steak, Roasted Potatoes and Sauteed Long Beans and Tomato
From Blue Apron

Ingredients:
2 Bavette Steaks (Sometimes called flap or bistro steak, similar to flank, this cut is from the bottom part of the sirloin)
3 ounces long beans (similar to a green bean, widely grown in southeast Asia)
2 cloves garlic
1 pound potatoes
1 tomato
1 bunch thyme

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Preparation:
1. Wash and dry fresh produce. Trim beans and cut into 6 inch pieces. Peel garlic and smash. Pick thyme leaves from stems. Dice tomato. Peel and dice the potato. (I used several small new potatoes I had on hand, because the potatoes sent by Blue Apron would keep longer.)
2. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast in a 450 degree oven about 20-25 minutes or until brown and tender.
3. Pat the steak dry with a paper towel and season on both sides. Heat two teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot and cook the steaks in the hot pan, loosely covering with aluminum foil, three to five minutes per side for medium. This cut does well with pan roasting, but cook to the least degree of doneness that is your preference. Transfer steaks to plate to rest. I cooked mine medium rare (after resting).
4. Cook the smashed garlic in the pan used for the steaks on medium. Occasionally tilt pan to coat the garlic with oil and juices, one or two minutes until golden and fragrant.
5. To the pan of roasted garlic add the beans, tomato, half the thyme and any juices from the plate of resting steak. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 9-11 minutes or until the vegetables have softened and the liquid has thickened.
6. Plate steak and vegetables. Slice steak across the grain, if desired. Garnish with the remaining thyme.

If I haven’t said so already, this steak was absolutely delicious, juicy, the best beefy taste, succulent texture, not tough. A hot garlicky pan and a quick sear are part of the success. This small steak adapts beautifully to this kind of quick cooking on the stovetop. I choose this cut over a dull flavorless filet any day. And quite honestly in the past few months, I’ve had rib eye cooked at home, sirloin in a restaurant, and skirt steak at home as well as a restaurant filet. This steak beat all of them. Not since a Tuscan steak cooked by Florida friends last March, have I had any beefsteak as good!

I absolutely loved the vegetables! (I ate one steak and all the veggies.) That fresh tomato with the beans was delightful. These beans are advertised as especially flavorful and tender. Mine were exactly that. I do not know if they are grown in the states, but I’ll be looking into it.

Blue Apron can take a very deep bow on this meal! Their website is www.blueapron.com

ONE BOOK CLUB’S CHOICES FOR THE 2015-2016 READING SEASON

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Many readers like to know what other readers are reading. So here’s the list from one book club for you to peruse.

What makes a particular book club read a success? What might these readers watch for when reading one or more of these book choices? Is there an attitude, background knowledge, author knowledge, other experience or nuance that will help an individual enjoy a particular book. If readers out there in blogland have read some of the books on the list, don’t hesitate to pass on tips to these readers for making the most of a particular read.

Here’s the list:

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer this historical novel is set in World War II France and tells of a French girl and a German boy whose paths cross. On Sept. 22, 2014 find a post on this blog about this book.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
This novel set in the not-to-distant future celebrates the arts and portions of the story occur in Michigan. It is a finalist for the National Book Award. Read more about this book as posted on readeatlive/blog on July 25, 2015.

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Some Luck by Jane Smiley.
Jane Smiley’s epic twentieth century trilogy begins with this book and an Iowa farm family in the 1920’s. Each chapter’s scenes take place over a year’s time. The story relates the events of that century and the scattering of family members. On Jan. 20, 2015 find a post on this book.

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A double read: Go Set A Watchman and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Next spring, if not before members will read the beloved classic and the newly published book written prior to its famed companion.

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The Boys In the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.
This non-fiction book tells the compelling story of the 1936 Olympic Rowing Team from Washington State.

Are some of these books on your list?

AT THE ROYAL OAK FARMER’S MARKET

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A favorite Farmer’s Market in the Detroit area is the one in Royal Oak, serving the area since 1925. There are many vendors, and a large covered pavilion. Things were changed a bit since my last visit, maybe nearly a year ago. One should expect change, but still it surprises. And the best surprise: expanded parking areas.

The quality of the beautiful vegetables and fruits grown here in Michigan had not changed. Fresh vegetables are beautiful.

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What do you think I might do with the fresh corn I bought?

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I admired the flowers and the locally crafted artisan foods.

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I noticed more meat and cheese producers. I bought chicken from one of my favorites, Otto’s chicken.

Another, John Henry’s Meats has an even larger area and more products

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and there were newer-to-me vendors such as Monty’s Beef.

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The vegetables were so inviting. There is a great plenty to choose from. (Yes, that is a redundant phrase often used by my Dad). There were more vendors with organic products than I remembered.

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Michigan peaches are in season now and offered by several producers. Love the smell of ripening peaches,

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And, I bought summer apples.

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There are multiple places to have breakfast, several bakeries, and one coffee stand with newspapers that I hadn’t see before.

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I missed taking a picture of my favorite purchase: fresh basil, parsley, arugula and cherry heirloom tomatoes colored purple, orange and red.

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Across the street from the Market is Superior Fish. Today the cooking demonstration was grilled swordfish, so good, I bought some. It is from the Florida coast and I was happy to see gulf shrimp. I bought that too.

I hope I get back to the market again this month so I can sample some of the new-to-me vendors with tempting products. I hated to leave without that beautiful butter lettuce. There’s always something left behind!

The highpoint of the visit: that best value egg sandwich breakfast with my favorite breakfast companion, daughter Cindy! Now that’s the way to start a Saturday.

Tell us about your favorite market visit this summer. What do you like to buy? What do you like to cook? Shop Local. Eat Local. We are lucky when we can touch and smell the fresh goodness and share it with those we love.