12/21/11

Recipe: Cashew Brittle

I'd never made brittle before, so this was an experiment for me. It turned out, especially with the helpful high altitude directions. I'm not a huge cashew fan, but had received some as a gift. They're pretty good in this! If cashews aren't your thing either, you can substitute unsalted, raw Spanish peanuts.

This is from Betty Crocker Cookies and Bars November 2005.




Ingredients:
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups (12 oz) cashew halves

Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Grease two 15x 12 inch cookie sheets with butter; keep warm in oven. (Keeping sheets warm allows the candy to be spread 1/4 inch thick without it setting up.) Grease long metal spatula with butter; set aside (I didn't bother with this and had no problems with sticking.)

TBR Challenge Review: Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione

Format: Mass market paperback
Pub Date: July 2008
Publisher: Grand Central (Hachette)
Length: 389 pages
FTC: Traded for it through Paperback Swap over a year ago

So December's optional theme was holiday stories. Any holiday. And, being the holiday junkie I am, I didn't have any in the TBR. I read those as soon as they get into my hot little hands. So, I picked a demon book instead. Yeah, that just screams Ho Ho Ho doesn't it?

The main reason I picked this particular book is because Larissa Ione is on my List of Shame. The list of authors I haven't read yet, and anytime I mention that fact, I get exclamations of incredulity directed at me. Enough already! I've read her. And...

12/13/11

Review: His Mistress By Christmas by Victoria Alexander

Format: Hardcover (also available as an ebook)
Pub Date: Oct 1, 2011
Publisher: Kensington
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

If you're looking for an angsty, deep book about the holidays, this isn't it. If you're looking for a clever book about two people who stumble into love around Christmas, this is the book for you.

Set in the late 1800s in England, His Mistress by Christmas is a dialogue-heavy book where most of the plot is carried by the characters' interactions. And not just between the heroine and hero. As is typical with Ms. Alexander's style, there are friends and family littered throughout the novel. Each unique, interfering, and with their own opinion about the main romance. 

12/7/11

Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  With all of the attention given to September 11 every year, it's easy to forget that it wasn't the first time we had been attacked. And we aren't the only ones to have to deal with the horror of the war that followed.

Over 1,000 men lost their lives on the USS Arizona, alone. Many of them are still entombed there. I hope we continue to mark the anniversary of the attack as a way to honor those who were killed as well as the entire generation (my grandparent's generation) who served or grew up during WWII.

FDR's Pearl Harbor Address:




Life has put together a collection of rare photos of the aftermath of the attack, which you can see here:

12/5/11

Recipe: Caramel Pecan Shortbread Cookies

This is the most-requested cookie on my holiday cookie tray. The recipe is from Land o Lakes.


Cookie
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt



Topping
30 unwrapped caramels
1 tablespoon half and half
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 325°F. Combine butter, powdered sugar and brown sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat until well mixed.

Press dough evenly into 8-inch square baking pan lined with aluminum foil; prick with tines of fork every 1/2 inch. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Lift cookies from pan using aluminum foil. Immediately cut into 20 (approximately 4x1/2 inch) sticks. Cool completely.

Place caramels and half & half in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH, stirring twice, until caramels are melted (1 to 2 minutes). Dip ends of shortbread sticks into melted caramel mixture; roll in pecans. Place onto waxed paper; let stand until set.

12/3/11

Review: Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: mass market paperback
Pub Date: November 2011
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Length: 370 pages
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher

I haven't read an Elizabeth Hoyt book in a long, long time. I'd forgotten how awesome she is. Her heroes, especially, are always a bit edgy, which I love.

This book is for all of those who are suffering under Regency England overload. Not only is this not set in a shiny ballroom, stuffed full of eligible aristocrats, the hero is a river pirate. That's right, a RIVER PIRATE. How awesome is that? And although there is a baron as a secondary character, most of the characters are of common stock.

12/2/11

Happy Holiday Season!

November was a really bad month for my blogging and reading. Here's hoping December is much, much better!

I'm super excited today because it is our tree lighting here in town. We call it Sparkle, and for us it means that the merchants stay open late (instead of closing up shop at 6pm), there are free nibbles everywhere (including the best pumpkin fudge at the Drug Store), and everyone who has moved away that can manage comes back for a holiday visit. It's like a giant, town-sized reunion.

And let's not forget the Truckers' Light Parade. Yes. It is exactly what it sounds like. Big rigs, tow trucks, fire trucks, log trucks, snow plows etc are decorated in Christmas lights and driven around Main St. It's as silly as it sounds, but the kids are always wowed by it.

So, anyway, today is the official kick-off-the-holiday-season day in my neck of the woods. What do you do in your area?

12/1/11

December 1 is World AIDS Day

It seems as though AIDS has faded into the background of our consciousness these days. Or it's mentioned in passing as an epidemic in Africa. But AIDS is a global epidemic. Having grown up during the height of the epidemic, when diagnosis meant a quick and painful death and there was no drug cocktail to prevent HIV from becoming AIDS, I haven't forgotten. People are still being infected. People are still dying from this disease. And there is still NO cure.

Please take a moment today to think about this disease and those who suffer with it.
http://aids.gov/world-aids-day/
http://www.worldaidsday.org/

Gifts for the Baker