Author Archives: PauletteMitchellLein@comcast.net

WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ AS 2018 ROLLS AROUND?

Do tell what books are sitting in your stack waiting. What books are rolling around in your head? What titles call to you from the library or the media and you can’t wait to get your hands on them. This is your post.

Reply to this post or on Facebook and I will add what you say to the Word Press readeatlive post.

The books pictured are just to get your juices flowing if they aren’t already! Please tell us what you hope to read in the new year or is already in hand with pages turning.

THE WEIGHT OF INK: A PERSONAL LOOK AT THIS BOOK EXPERIENCE

THE WEIGHT OF INK: A PERSONAL LOOK AT THIS BOOK EXPERIENCE

The Weight of Ink : novel
Author: Rachel Kadish
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017
Genre: Historical fiction
Hardcover Edition: 560 pages
Source: Personal copy

This is a book with a beautiful dust jacket, so attractive that it played an important role in my decision to purchase the book. And then too, the subject matter seemed weighted with an intriguing tale.

This novel is the story of two women for whom intellectual pursuit is everything, or nearly so. In the year 2000 Helen Watt is a researcher nearing the end of her career and one who has seemingly had a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents dropped into her arms. The study of these documents, with the help of Aaron Levy an American graduate student, soon reveals that quite possibly they were scribed by a woman, though given the sex role constraints of the time, this would be thought impossible.

I began to read this book in late summer and soon put it aside to turn my reading attention elsewhere. The book was a dense and difficult read; it seemed perhaps a better time would come along to tackle it. But as the weeks passed, the character Helen Watt nagged at me and later in the fall I began again. I was captivated by the romance between a young Helen and Drot in a camp in Israel where volunteers and soldiers shared space though I never fully understood their tasks there. They were both people with deep feelings.

At the Thanksgiving holiday with a houseguest and then a trip to Oklahoma to visit family, I again put this book aside because of its heft, impossible to travel with. On Dec. 8 I began reading again. Now committed to Helen and her assistant Aaron and understanding something of their task with these historic documents, I was determined to better know Ester, the young woman from the seventeenth century who was willing to be an outcast, if only she could continue to work with the blind Rabbi on intellectual pursuits.

I relate this because the on-again-off-again reading was very likely part of the reason I found the book so difficult. In addition, I lacked prior knowledge of the restoration period in English history, and knew very little of Jewish history in that time and place. Yet both of the women were intriguing characters, attempting to break the bonds of their time period and still accomplish an important historical task and write about it.

The tale has a satisfying ending. Both woman and the character of Aaron are multi-dimensional people who are laser focused on their work. As expected this complicates their lives. Along with characters that make the reader feel deeply, this author has created suspense amid the rivalries of the academic world. Those of us who love to read historical fiction are often drawn to daily life in another time and place. As a reader I came to understand what it was like to live in the home of a seventeenth century rabbi in London and something about how things were in that household. Likewise I learned somewhat less about work in an important historical research library. This author has accomplished much with her convoluted tale and her excellent and sensitive prose.

Ink can be heavy on a page in a number of ways. In this novel that is certainly true. Complexity is not a bad thing. Both protagonists show great determination as they strive to unravel the mysteries before them. They are rewarded and so, I believe, will be any reader who shows like determination in completing this read.

This may be the challenging read you would like to take on in the new

REE DRUMMOND COOKS: COME AND GET IT

Yes, I gave myself an early Christmas present this year. I never can resist one of Ree’s cookbooks, and I actually use them.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! does not include a holiday section, but here are some recipes in this new cookbook you may like for you holiday cooking through the New Year . Many are also available on the internet.

Pimento Cheese p. 67
Love this stuff and especially Ree’s recipe which is both beautiful, luscious, and oh, so festive!

Tortilla Pinwheels p.76
Red, White and Green paints your Christmas table!

Roasted Red Pepper Soup p. 104
This color is a holiday favorite whether we are talking food, or color schemes. What a great way to start a holiday meal or buffet.

Steak with Chimichurri p. 146
Best quality steak probably doesn’t need this festive and flavorful sauce, but how can it hurt? Pile up sliced steak next to a bowl of this bright green sauce and let your buffet guests serve themselves.

Citrus Salad with Vinaigrette p. 236
The colors and flavors, especially if you can find blood oranges are just right for the holidays. Use Bulgarian feta if you can find it and you are more than ready to enjoy this addition to any holiday meal.

No-Bake White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake p. 352
Fresh and light and the color is right!

More about this cookbook in an upcoming blog. It contains some beautiful and detailed pictures of the Merc in Pawhuska. But on this blog you’ll have to make do with my pictures instead. They will inspire you, all the same. Hope you can visit soon! And try one of these recipes. The citrus salad is truly beautiful and makes my mouth water1

ELLEN’S BAKERY AND CAFÉ

This is a great season to take a loved one or anyone along with you to visit this splendid bakery and café. Ellen’s has expanded, more seating, longer hours, now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the same great baked goods. They have gift cards, too.

The place is pretty much packed on this day around noon.

I stopped there this week to see the new environment, open about three weeks. Same great service. I stopped long enough for a cup of their lobster bisque, so special. I brought a dessert for a special holiday dinner and some dinner rolls; along with a favorite muffin, apricot almond, and a raspberry croissant I couldn’t resist.

The special dessert, a small chocolate chip cheesecake, was best ever. The dinner rolls won unanimous praise from all the eaters at my holiday meal. All my treats were beyond delicious.

Here’s Ellen herself serving her customers.

Check the place out at the website www.EllensBakeryandCafe.com, peruse the menu and just generally salivate. I’m going back very soon!

SHOUTING OUT A THANK-YOU TO AL AMEER RESTAURANT

Thanksgiving week my daughter and I took my visiting brother to try the food at Al Ameer at its Dearborn Heights location on Ford Road. We had a fantastic lunch experience and the food…absolutely outstanding!

This Lebanese restaurant is the recipient of the James Beard America’s Classics Award. You think you know good hummus, try it here. What did we eat: two of us had our favorite chicken shwarma sandwich and fatoush salad. My brother tried moujadara, lentils and rice cooked in olive oil topped with caramelized onions. He is now back in Minnesota trying to recreate this dish. I must check on his progress.

As with any food tradition, excellence is in the taste. At Al Ameer the food is lovingly prepared to perfection and the service is kind, helpful and timely. There are dishes prepared especially for sharing, the atmosphere is friendly and if you are familiar with Lebanese food, all your favorites are here: fried kibbeh, tawook, kabob, kafta, falafel and monstrous salads. The puffed pita is hot and irresistible. Baba Ghannoush is another favorite. Servings are very generous. I could go on and on.

If you are not familiar with this food, I urge you to find a restaurant in your area and give it a try. Check out the internet to learn more about it. Maybe I will be able to provide a more informative piece on this food in the future. The Detroit area is filled with top-notch Middle Eastern food, but you can find it across the country. It’s worth the search to find a restaurant that prepares it well.

Check out the website for more info and enticing pictures.
www.alammeerrestaurant.com

And again, a big thank you to the Dearborn Heights location for an outstanding dining experience. My brother was suitably impressed!

FIVE THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT THE NEW MAGNOLIA JOURNAL MAGAZINE

1. Clean, easy-to-read graphics. These days many magazines are so full of pictures and crazy style print on different colors, the reader has difficulty figuring out what to read, and then, to actually read it. This magazine is a pleasant and inviting change.
2. Inviting content. Here are stories you want to read. And the content is varied. In this issue, e. g. decorating you home for the holidays, Christmas candy and brunch treats, a visit to Chip and Jo’s vacation rental, and a story about a husband and wife musical duo.


3. Tasteful ads, often from companies you want to know more about.
4. Articles are in-depth enough to give the reader information of general interest. I love the simple layout and feature on Festive Greens including how to work with them and how to care for them.
5. Photographs are first-rate and enticing. Whoopie Pies look wonderfully beautiful and delicious along with an easy-to-read recipe. I couldn’t stop staring at the Chocolate Bundt Cake. Photos truly transported me to the Hillcrest Estate in Waco Texas.

These are only selected highlights. There is so much more!

So far I love this publication! What about you?

BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR?

What kind of boring world would we live and love in if we all agreed on the best books. Best Book Lists for 2017 are starting to appear.

One reader’s take-away from a current well-known list….

YES, CERTAINLY WORTH A READ:

The Dry by Jane Harper.
This is a dazzling page-turner of a novel, little noticed. The fiction is great. It’s a thriller set in a parched part of rural Australia. Enter the title in the search box and read more about this one if you like.

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan.
Book Comments on this one appeared earlier this year on this blog. Just type the title in the search box if you’d like to know more. Here’s what the professional reviewer said,” You don’t read this book; you breathe it.” I totally agree.

Camino Island by John Grisham.
Set in Florida this is a must read, especially if you enjoy a good mystery, and quite possibly this is one of Grisham’s best.

YOU DECIDE…..

Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Biance Bosker.
Reviewed on this blog, just type the title in the search box if you want to hear more about this one.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
This rather uneven novel by a celebrated writer was commented on in this blog.

Grant by Ron Chernow
You need to be a history buff. It is very hefty.

I DON’T THINK SO…
No book read by this blogger appearing on this particular list is a complete waste of time.

CAN’T WAIT TO TRY…MAYBE…..

Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah Gerard.
Based on the summary, this collection from different writers may not be all fun and games.

The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life by Lauren Markham.
Inside the complicated lives of unaccompanied alien children.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
She is a beautiful writer, but this is another study of sadness and broken lives.

THE TALLGRASS PRAIRE PRESERVE


Some photos by Jonathan Lein

I’m a prairie girl, I love the prairie; I feel the emotion of the prairies from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. And I am a writer who has written stories set on the prairies. I’ve been waiting to see this Prairie Preserve since my son and his wife moved to Oklahama. Oh I’d love to walk the trails. Not this time…next time.

This preserve in northeastern Oklahoma is the largest unplowed protected tract that remains of the tall grass prairie (39,650 acres), once 142 million acres stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. To me this area is a national treasure. These are the vistas that greeted the first settlers in many states, including my great grandparents. I love to study the grasses and wildflowers of the area. On a cool November day, the place is not colorful but still calming and quiet. And the wide open vistas soothe my heart and soul.

At the visitor’s center I saw the big bluestem, switchgrass, little bluestem and Indian grass that are so prevalent on the prairies of the past and this preserve today. Burning helps to control invasive species.

On this day we saw the buffalo up close. They are impressive beasts.

What did my granddaughter like best about her trip to Pawhuska, Oklahoma? Not the kitchen toys at the Merc, though they were a hit. The buffalo were her favorite of the day.