December Monthly Meal Wrap Up

Yep, I've been MIA around these parts for a bit. For me, this is the best time of year to unwind, enjoy time with my family and time on the couch with a book! I only perused one new cookbook this month, but I've copied down a bunch of recipes from Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor of Cookie and Kate.

Lots of yummy salads I can't wait to try, as well as a number of sweet treats. So far I've made the Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies (because I have a thing for breakfast cookies) and they were tasty, but mine came out a little crumbly.
I may adjust the wet ingredients or add an egg in my next attempt... Most of the month's notable eats revolved around favorite holiday foods like my family's famous Salami Stacks for appetizer night on Christmas Eve, my favorite Linzer Muffins recipe from Cooking Light (which I tried with Trader Joe's Sugar Plum Jam this year - DELICIOUS)
plus Reindeer Chow and sugar cookies for decorating, of course.
We also enjoyed a few meals out and I tried the Breakfast Burrito Bowl at The Commons before we went to see Start Wars and it was as tasty as it was HUGE.
I also took my seven year old out for sushi, which usually means chicken katsu, sesame balls and fruit for her. But, this time she ate up her crab salad and tried a bite of salmon and tuna sashimi - which is heads and tails above my experimentation level at her age, so I'll take it!
And I tried a couple of new whisky cocktails this month: the Food Network show The Kitchen continues to kill it with easy and delicious bourbon recipes. This Gobble Gobble Punch is soooo good and worth purchasing the St. Elizabeth allspice dram. I also finally tried a Paper Plane when we went out for my husband's birthday, and now I must add Amaro and Aperol to our liquor cabinet...
We did try a rather decadent Chicken Tortilla Casserole I found on Pinterest, I guess my first clue should have been that the recipe was from a site called The Chunky Chef.
It will definitely be a 'once in awhile' meal, as it was rather rich, but tasty! I'm feeling like I need to reset after all the (totally worth it) holiday indulgences, perhaps with some of those yummy looking salads from Love Real Food...


Books I Read in November

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
OK, so I'm a year late to this party, but my library hold was nearly that long! It was absolutely worth the wait. I haven't cried at the end of a book in a REALLY long time (maybe Me Before You nearly five years ago). I had the ugly tears as well as shed many tears of laughter (the story about his blind grandmother sniffing out his poop is riotously funny). It is the story of his life, yes, but much of it centers around his incredible mother and their relationship. I have such a fresh perspective on his hosting the Daily Show: if there is anyone who has first hand experience with bigotry, oppressive government, domestic violence, gun violence, police brutality it's Trevor Noah. And, yes, I listened to the audio and feel that it is a must. I'm sure it's equally compelling in print, but listening to his impression of his mother (and his grandmother, oh man) is PRICELESS.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
My son chose this book for this year's Global Reading Challenge, and it happened to be a pick for the Diverse Books Club. I decided to count it as my Newbery book for the month - and I'm so glad I did! It's the autobiographical story of author Cece Bell's hearing loss after contracting meningitis when she was a child, and navigating school/her peers with a hearing aid in the 1970s. It reminded me a great deal of Smile, Raina Telgemeier's autobiographical story of resilience - her's after having a childhood filled with jaw surgeries. Both are funny, heartwarming and have great themes for kids. My youngest even read it and we spent a lot of time looking up Cece Bell on Youtube and learning all about the differing abilities of the deaf community.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
This was the novel that sucked me in to Penny's hit series, for sure. Maybe it was the fact that I read this during the right season (I read the first Inspector Gamache novel, Still Life, in the summer), or maybe it's because I was familiar with the characters from the start? Either way, I am ALL IN with reading every single book in the series. A Fatal Grace was really lovely, lyrical and just the right amount of 'love to hate' kind of villain, plot twists and suspense. 

Artemis by Andy Weir
Major disappointment. You can read my full review here.

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
After I burned through El Deafo, I knew that the Diverse Books Club has excellent taste, so I read the adult fiction pick - which also happened to show up on the Amazon Editor's best books of 2017 list. And it will for sure be on mine! It is not for the faint of heart. Ginny's life as an autistic fourteen year old foster child is heartbreaking. Her obsession with her 'baby doll' that she left behind at her, obviously unsafe, birth mother's home is crazy making and became my obsession, too. What's the deal with the baby doll?! I turned the pages faster than any thriller I've read to get to the end of Ginny's all consuming story. Ludwig tells this with so much insight and heart, perhaps because he himself has adopted an autistic child.

The Good People by Hannah Kent
I have 'the good people' at Little Brown to thank for my review copy of the latest by Hannah Kent, and it was an engrossing and immersive story involving the shocking religious superstitions of the rural Irish in the 1800s. When Nora takes in her grandson who seems struck with an inexplicable illness, she turns to the local healer to help rid the 'changeling' to get her 'real' grandson back from the fairy world. It's a slow burn and super creepy, filled with ominous detail - very reminiscent of The Wonder with a little Witch of Blackbird Pond thrown in.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
I own a copy of this book, but I decided to give it a go on audio, and I'm wondering if that was the right decision... I found the account of the Osage Indians and the Reign of Terror highly compelling subject matter, but I honestly felt the delivery was a little dry. I was sucked in during the first section of the book centering around Molly Burkhardt and the deaths in her family. The second section getting into the minutiae of the FBI men kind of lost my attention and finally got it back near the end when the reporter speaks to present day Osage Indians and uncovers even more of the horrific events during the time. Maybe try the print version...

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Oh how I loved this book! It's an all time favorite that is reminiscent of a John Irving novel, like A Prayer for Owen Meany. The story of Cyril as he navigates life from birth to death is a moving triumph. The way that Boyne tackles religion, politics, homosexuality, love, loss and life is by turns horrifying and hilarious while being beautifully plotted. The way the equally memorable supporting characters deftly move in and out of his life is a marvel. It's so hard to describe a novel this grand, despite the fact that I could talk about it for hours with someone else who's read it - so, READ IT!

I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's monthly quick lit - be sure to check out all the great book recs!