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Category: Martha Stewart

  1. Friday, August 19, 2011

    Italian Chicken Panini Pizza

    Today is the third and last of my Newman’s Own “Own It” posts with Martha’s Circle. This time around I was challenged to use a salad dressing to make a recipe my own.

    As I thought about what I might put together, I remembered back to when we were very first married. One of the meals we would make were grilled chicken sandwiches. I would marinate the chicken breasts in Italian dressing and then broil the chicken in the oven. Nothing fancy but it was definitely a go-to meal for me then that we liked a lot.

    At that same time in my life, a friend of mine had me over for dinner one night and made pizza. She didn’t use sauce, just olive oil and it was delicious. (This is the same friend who gave me the Uncle Tony’s Pizza Crust recipe…that night was the first time I ate that crust! And, yes, she really did have an Uncle Tony and he really was Italian.) I digress, back to the pizza…it was the first time I had a tomato sauceless pizza and it opened up a whole new pizza world to me.

    Thinking fondly on those early days of marriage and learning to cook, I decided to combine these two memories into one recipe. I made pizza that uses Italian dressing as the “sauce,” instead of just straight up olive oil. And then I used all the ingredients that I normally would have put on the chicken sandwich. And with that, the Italian Chicken Panini Pizza was born!

    The pizza was yummy. It had a nice light flavor and hit the spot. I used the Newman’s Own Lighten Up Italian dressing and it worked great! I named the pizza Italian Chicken Panini Pizza because Panini sounds more Italian than Sandwich. 😉

    Italian Chicken Panini Pizza
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Pizza
    Cuisine: Italian
    Ingredients
    • Uncle Tony’s Pizza Crust or other pizza crust that you like
    • Newman’s Own Light Italian Dressing
    • 1-2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced, seasoned with salt & pepper prior to grilling (you could even marinate the chicken in the Italian dressing before grilling as well)
    • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced
    • Couple handfuls of fresh spinach
    • Mozzarella cheese
    Instructions
    1. Prepare your crust. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of Italian dressing on the crust instead of tomato sauce. Top with spinach, chicken and tomatoes then the cheese.
    2. Bake in the oven on a pizza stone with your oven at the highest temperature it will go (mine goes to 500 degrees), about 8-10 minutes”¦until crust browns and cheese is bubbly.
    3. When I used the above pizza crust recipe, I made 4 medium sized pizzas – two of them plain cheese, two of them Italian Chicken Panini”¦for two Italian Chicken Panini pizzas I used 1 large tomato and 1 chicken breast.


  2. Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Watermelon Salad with Tomato and Cucumber

    Last Friday night I did something I haven’t done in a while…I actually picked up a magazine (in this case Martha Stewart Living) and read it cover to cover. And I’ve decided I should do that more often because I was inspired to make a fabulous dinner on Sunday night. Of course, by the end of preparing all the food my sciatic nerve was literally screaming at me and I hobbled around the rest of the night (yes, I’m officially a hobbling pregnant woman…no more heels for me, boo-hoo!), but our dinner was worth the pain.

    One of Sunday night’s creations was a Watermelon Salad with Tomato and Cucumber. There was a recipe for this salad featured in the magazine that involved making a fancy basil oil. I’m sure it’s wonderful, but I simplified things a bit in my preparation. I loved the salad – super easy to prepare and the oh-so-summery flavors all blended so nicely together. I wasn’t entirely sure what the girls would think. They love watermelon, and this savory twist on a favorite fruit seemed a bit risky. But I’ll tell you what…every person in the family happily gobbled down the salad! It was a great success! Will definitely be adding this salad to the rotation, at least during the summer when all of these lovely ingredients are fresh and in season!

    Watermelon Salad with Tomato and Cucumber
     
    Adapted from a recipe in the August 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living
    Author:
    Cuisine: Side Dish
    Ingredients
    • Half a watermelon, cubed (I know, so exact”¦my watermelon was medium in size)
    • 2-3 handfuls of small tomatoes, or 2-3 larger tomatoes sliced into wedges (I used a bunch of baby tomatoes we have growing on the back porch)
    • One cucumber, chopped into bite sized pieces
    • Olive oil (about 1-2 tablespoons)
    • Salt and Pepper
    • Fresh Basil, about 5-10 leaves chopped
    • Original recipe calls for 4 oz crumbled goat cheese – I left this out because we were having another cheese-based side dish, but also I just wanted straight up produce in the salad. Commenter Jennifer below mentioned using Ricotta Salata instead of goat cheese and that is what I'm going to use from now on!
    Instructions
    1. Combine the watermelon, tomatoes and cucumber in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, just enough to cover the fruit and veggies. Sprinkle with the chopped basil, about ½ tsp salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat evenly and serve!


  3. Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    A Healthy Twist on Classic Potato Salad

    When I discovered my next Newman’s Own “Own It” recipe challenge with Martha’s Circle involved utilizing one of their salad dressings, I immediately knew what I was going to make. Back when I was first married and still learning how to cook, Nate’s Gram Maynard was the one to teach me how to make potato salad. I loved her potato salad. Simple and classic, it always hit the spot. Not too sweet and not filled with too many surprises. (I’m not a big fan of surprises in potato salad.)

    Gram had a trick, one that I have never forgotten and have always used since. Once the potatoes are cooked and cut, instead of using vinegar, she would toss the potatoes in Italian dressing. You get your vinegar in there, along with a bunch of built-in seasonings. It’s a genius idea that I absolutely love.

    Since I needed to also add a “twist” to my potato salad recipe, I decided to go for a healthy twist. In fact, I went for three healthy twists on this classic!

    1. Replace the bulk of the mayonnaise with fat-free yogurt…less fat and the health benefits of yogurt to boot!
    2. Leave the skins on the potatoes…that’s where are all the vitamins are!
    3. Throw in some cauliflower…easily hidden, most people won’t even know it’s there (Nate didn’t notice after eating a whole serving) and this nutrient-packed veggie adds an additional healthy kick to the salad.

    And guess what? This healthier version of the classic potato salad tastes just like…potato salad! Go figure. Seriously, it tasted just like the much less-healthy version I used to make. These twists are here to stay!

    Classic Potato Salad with a Healthy Twist
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 3 pounds potatoes of your choice (I used russet this time around)
    • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped small
    • 1½ cups cauliflower, chopped then steamed
    • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
    • ¼ – ½ cup Newman’s Own Lighten Up Italian Dressing
    • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
    • ⅔ cup fat-free strained Greek yogurt or other thick yogurt
    • ½ Tbsp. yellow mustard
    • ⅛ tsp. dry mustard
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • ¼ tsp. pepper
    • ¼ tsp. paprika
    Instructions
    1. Chop unpeeled potatoes into 1”³ cubes. Add to a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and lightly boil 5-10 more minutes, until potatoes are easily pierced by a fork but not falling apart. Drain potatoes and put in refrigerator until cool. Feel free to fish out potato peels that have fallen off any potato pieces”¦some of them may do that after cooking.
    2. Mix together the potatoes, eggs, cauliflower and onion. Pour Italian dressing over the mixture and toss to cover.
    3. Mix together mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, dry mustard, salt, pepper and paprika. Add to potato mixture and stir to combine.
    4. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Eat!

    P.S. Part of my participation in this project with Martha’s Circle was my recipe featured in a Newman’s Own advertorial in Everyday Food (kind of like the last recipe I did with them, which appeared in Martha Stewart Living).

    CHECK. IT. OUT. My name, blog, recipe and photo are on the inside front cover of the July issue of Everyday Food! Somebody pinch me! Get out there and get a copy for your scrapbook! 😉


  4. Friday, June 10, 2011

    Jennifer Garner, My Almost Friend

    As a member of Martha’s Circle, I was invited to participate in an event hosted by actress Jennifer Garner for Frigidaire’s Kids’ Cooking Academy, which also supports Save the Children. Alas, the event was in upstate New York, and I’m in, you know, CALIFORNIA. I’m beginning to feel like my life is a constant 2-degrees of separation from Jennifer Garner. First my dear friend Allison got to hang out with her TWICE (you can read about her fun experiences here and here), and now this event that I was invited was, well, in New York. I have such a hard life, eh? Definitely whine-worthy. ANYWAY…since I couldn’t be there myself, I sent one of my far-flung correspondents to pretend he was me. Here’s his report (which, by the way, just made me even more sad to have missed it!):

    To tell the truth, life as a far flung correspondent really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So when I had the opportunity to leave Manhattan on the hottest day of the year (so far) to visit a world-class restaurant and meet a celebrity, I was outtathere in a New York minute.

    First the setting: Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barn is a localvore’s fever dream. Once a Rockefeller estate, the complex is now a self-sustaining organic farm where nearly everything that arrives at the table is grown practically right outside the door.

    For the event, Blue Hill’s kitchen director, chef Adam Kaye, demonstrated three farm-to-table recipes to a dozen or so kids ranging in age from 2 ½ to six or seven. As the kids worked on crispy zucchini with parmesan, a spring vegetable salad with baby peas, asparagus and edible flowers, and strawberries with mint, yogurt, and honey, Jennifer would pitch in with the demo, or stroll  along the table helping the kids out. This lady definitely knows her way around a whisk.


    THIS WEEK FOR DINNER: How did you learn to cook?

    JENNIFER GARNER: I grew up in a house where my mom cooked dinner every night, and I learned from her. I would help out sometimes, though I don’t think I was much help to her. Growing up that way makes it odd to pull something out of the freezer and put it on the table rather than a home-cooked meal.

    TWFD: Do you cook with your kids?

    JG: I do a lot of cooking with my daughter. Mornings are for baking, and she has her banana bread recipe memorized, so sometimes she’ll suggest variations, like “Let’s make it with some whole-wheat flour,” or “Let’s add some chocolate chips.”

    TWFD: What are some of your favorite recipes to make with her?

    JG: One thing is, we make pizza every Sunday. I got a great recipe for honey-wheat crust from Sarabeth’s Kitchen. And I got an ice cream maker as a gift many years ago. It’s so easy to make homemade! Sometimes I substitute the cream for whole milk. I like that you can control the fat, and just add any fruit you’ve got in the fridge for flavor. Also for dessert, I love Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Busy Day Chocolate Cake. I make a little 8” pan of it — so quick and easy.

    TWFD: As a mom, do you make sure your kids only eat homemade from scratch?

    JG: I don’t really try to restrict what they eat. I want them to know that all food is great in moderation. Some days are just junk food days!

    TWFD: How did you get started advocating for children’s causes?

    JG: I think it’s shocking that one in four kids America are at risk for hunger. It’s really a silent problem, because these kids don’t have a voice. They can’t rally in Washington. ‘Save the Children’ is doing such a wonderful job fighting hunger in the U.S., going into impoverished rural communities, providing physical activity, healthy foods, and 0-5 early-education programs. The difference these programs make in the vocabulary of these children is so impressive; it’s something you can’t ignore. And I have to hand it to Frigidaire, which has made a $500,000 commitment to ‘Save the Children.’ If other corporations made that kind of commitment, think of what we could accomplish.

    There you have it, Jennifer Garner, my almost friend. Hope you enjoyed this little interview with her…and maybe one day I’ll actually get to meet this lady! 😉

    Visit maketimeforchange.com to learn more about Frigidaire’s Kids’ Cooking Academy. Every time you do, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. programs, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a new Frigidaire Gallery French door refrigerator.


  5. Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Blackened Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo

    Before we get to today’s recipe (which is mighty tasty, by the way), I have to share something with you. If you just so happen to get this magazine in the mail or see it on the newsstand…

    …be sure to check out page 90.

    All I have to say is, “Woooooo Hoooooo!” I know. Very eloquent and oh so very Martha. But seriously, I still can’t believe my name, blog, photos and recipe are printed on the pages of a Martha Stewart Living magazine. I’m downright giddy.

    Okay, enough squealing from Jane. Thanks for indulging me. On to the real reason we’re here!

    In the not-so-distant past, I was pretty much scared of spicy food. I could barely handle medium salsa, folks. Yes, I was a wimp. Then Nate and I discovered a fabulous Caribbean take-out restaurant in Menlo Park with jerk chicken that is to die for. The chicken is coated in the most delicious but super spicy jerk sauce. The only way I could eat that chicken was if I got tough and faced the heat head on. And I did just that. Not only is that now one of my favorite dishes, but I am in love with spicy food. Bring it on!

    This year I have the opportunity to participate in a Newman’s Own “Own It” campaign with Martha’s Circle. The challenge is to take recipes and make them your own through simple flavor changes. For my first recipe, I was asked to incorporate one of the Newman’s Own sauces into my dish. I started browsing through their sauces and the Alfredo caught my eye. Alfredo is most often simply paired with fettuccine and, if things get really crazy, chicken. It’s a traditional favorite that seemed to be screaming for a new twist. With my newfound love of heat, I decided to kick up the spice factor a notch…or twenty.

    Blackened chicken seemed like a fun and unique twist to the classic Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo. Can I say how glad I am I gave this a try? This recipe is a keeper! Nate and I both really enjoyed it. The spicy kick of the chicken was such a great counterpoint to the super mellow and rich Alfredo sauce. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go back to regular old chicken fettuccine alfredo again!

    Blackened Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
     
    Spicy, creamy, and delicious!
    Author:
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Poultry, Pasta
    Cuisine: Italian
    Serves: 4
    Ingredients
    • 9-oz package fresh fettuccine
    • 1 jar Newman’s Own Alfredo Pasta Sauce
    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
    Instructions
    1. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking pan or dish with cooking oil. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Pound the chicken breast until quite thin (around ¼”³ thick). Mix all of the spice ingredients together thoroughly. Coat both sides of the chicken breasts with the spices.
    3. Heat a non-stick grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken breasts in pan and brown both sides, 45-60 seconds per side. Place chicken in prepared baking pan and bake in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and slice chicken into strips.
    4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return pasta to warm pot over medium-low heat. Pour in alfredo sauce and mix thoroughly.
    5. Serve pasta with sliced chicken served on top. Serves 4.


  6. Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    ‘Books I’m Reading’ with Martha Stewart: Cutting for Stone

    Book report time! The next book for the Martha Stewart Books I’m Reading book club is called Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I was beyond delighted when I found out this month’s title because it is the same book that my in-real-life book club is reading right now. Woo-hoo! I could finally kill two birds with one book, so to speak, and I had been wanting to read this book after several recommendations from friends.

    The book is long and I’m actually not quite done with it…but I will be in the next few days and am really enjoying the novel. In fact, I just came to an exciting part of the story and all I want to do right now is sit down and read! The author Abraham Verghese is a doctor and professor at Stanford. One thing I really appreciate when reading Cutting for Stone is knowing that an actual physician wrote the book and that I can trust the medical descriptions in the novel. Of course, that also lends itself to some pretty graphic scenes, which in all honestly don’t phase me but might bother others.

    I really like the story and care about the characters, who are all unique and well-developed. There are many beautiful sentiments and lines in the story that cause me to pause and think, and throw a bookmark in for later discussion. I really enjoy that there is a strong sense of place in the novel. I feel transported to the places that Verghese describes – whether it is an airplane that nearly crashes or an African country experiencing a political coup. And there’s just a bit of mystery about the characters (one in particular) that drives you through the novel. I always love a little intrigue.

    All in all, I really like Cutting for Stone. I think it is a bit long, but even having said that, I never feel bored and always enjoy reading the book. I am really looking forward to my book club meeting on Tuesday night to chat about the book with my friends.

    Abraham Verghese will be on The Martha Stewart Show tomorrow 2/3/11 on the Hallmark channel. I’ve got my DVR all set!

    On a side note, as you know I’m participating in this book club through the Martha’s Circle of bloggers, sponsored by Sony. At the start of the book club, Sony sent me a Pocket Reader to read the books on. I haven’t really talked much about the reader because I wanted to use it and get a feel for it. I actually really like it. It’s super small, which is both a positive and a negative. Positive because it fits in a little pocket in my purse so it’s easy to carry around. Negative because the screen is pretty small so you have to flip the pages often. My favorite thing about the reader is that it’s so much easier to read in bed than a normal book. It’s great! Anyway, I’m really loving the whole ‘reader’ concept, which surprises me because I thought I could never leave a paper book behind. “I love technology…” 😉


  7. Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    ‘Books I’m Reading’ with Martha Stewart: Cleopatra, A Life

    It’s time for my “book report” on Cleopatra: A Life by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff, the second book for Martha Stewart’s Books I’m Reading club that I’m participating in with Sony and the Martha’s Circle of bloggers. I enjoyed the book, despite the fact it’s non-fiction 😉 and I had a lot of fun writing this post. It took me back to my beloved days in college. Yes, I’m exposing myself as a nerd who likes to read things and analyze them.

    Before I read Cleopatra: A Life, if you had asked me the first two words that come to mind when I hear “Cleopatra,” they probably would have been “Egyptian” and “seductress.” I hazard to guess that I’m not the only person who would think along those lines, and neither word is very accurate in describing who this woman really was. So much of what we know about Cleopatra comes from literature, movies and paintings that base their information more on fiction and myth than reality. Now that I have finished Stacy Schiff’s book, the words “powerful” and “strategic” are what come to mind when I think of the Greek queen of Egypt, Cleopatra.

    Stacy Schiff begins the Notes section of the book with the following: “The dead ends and missing pieces in Cleopatra’s story have worked a paradoxical effect: they have kept us relentlessly coming back for more.” I love this and think it defines beautifully why people have been intrigued by Cleopatra, from her time until now. There is so much we don’t know, and the information we do have is often jaw-dropping and scandalous. She was only married twice, both times to her teenage brothers. Incestuous marriages were common among the Ptolemies, Cleopatra’s family that ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years. In fact, Cleopatra had only four great-grandparents and six great-great-grandparents (normally people have 16!). She had all three of her siblings murdered. As far as we know, she only ever slept with two men, but those two men were Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, who both happened to be the most powerful men in Rome and married men at that. Alexandria, the city that was her home, was the Paris of the ancient world…perhaps even more decadent and lavish in riches than Paris ever was. Her world is one that is intriguing to imagine, filled with fascinating history as well as a good dose of gossip (look out for Cicero!). No wonder Cleopatra’s name was not soon forgotten.

    What struck me about Cleopatra is how witty, smart, powerful, and politically shrewd she was, despite her young age (she became queen at 18 and did not live to see 40). From the book we learn, “She was magistrate, high priest, queen and goddess. She was also – on a day-to-day basis and far more frequently – chief executive officer. She headed both the secular and the religious bureacracies. She was Egypt’s merchant in chief. The crust of state business consumed most of her day.” The image of her lying around eating grapes and being fanned by palm fronds while seducing great Roman rulers is pretty much blown out of the water. Not to say that being the richest person in the Mediterranean didn’t come with its fair share of luxury (it certainly did…the descriptions of the feasts she threw are stunning), but there was more to Cleopatra than that. For example, her relationships with Caesar and Antony were not a result of a young girl’s romantic whims. These relationships were strategic and crucial in securing her role as leader of Egypt, especially since both yielded children (including all-important sons).

    I found fascinating Schiff’s supposition that Cleopatra was most likely not classically beautiful. The only imagery we have of Cleopatra is from coins she had minted herself, images that do not depict her as necessarily beautiful, but certainly strong. Instead, it was her wit and charisma that were truly mesmerizing and, as Plutarch tells us, her irresistible charm and language of flattery gave her the ability to turn people to her will, which proved to be quite a powerful tool.

    True to the drama that was her life, Cleopatra’s death ended in suicide, of which we of course do not know the exact details. If you want to read more about it, you’ll have to pick up Schiff’s book yourself. (It’s good stuff. In fact, when Jon Stewart was talking with Stacy Schiff about Antony and Cleopatra’s deaths, I do believe he pointed at the book with a big grin and said something to the effect of, “It’s #*@%&$@ awesome.”)

    I was impressed with Schiff’s research and writing. I can’t imagine researching this book. It must have been fascinating but also frustrating. First hand accounts are not in abundance, and the historical records that do exist are often written by Romans, who had their own political agendas, often opposed to Cleopatra’s. The story is engaging, the research well-done, and I loved that Schiff is very clear in stating what is known fact and what can only be guessed at based on what we know of the era. I felt like I was in good hands.

    Be sure to catch Stacy Schiff on The Martha Stewart Show next week (date to come soon). I can’t wait to see her interview! There is also a great interview on NPR in addition to her Jon Stewart appearance. I’m glad Martha forced me to learn something new this month. It was good for me and fun at the same time!


  8. Monday, December 13, 2010

    ‘Books I’m Reading’ with Martha Stewart: The Next Book!

    Martha is keeping me on my toes. We’re already on to the next book for her Books I’m Reading book club! This month’s book is Cleoptra: A Life, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff.

    Confession: I’m a fiction person all the way. Two non-fiction books in a row is, well, not what I would choose. BUT…all this learning and stuff is good for me, right? 😉 And, after doing a little research on the book and starting it this past weekend, I’m actually pretty excited about Cleoptra: A Life. I know very little about Cleopatra and what little I do know is ill-informed, I’m sure. Can’t wait to read an accurate history of her life and, I’ll be honest, get all the dirty details on the murders, affairs and intrigue! ;)Check back in a month or so for my “book report”. Should be a good one!


  9. Monday, December 6, 2010

    ‘Books I’m Reading’ with Martha Stewart: Cold

    This month, Martha Stewart chose the book Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places for her Books I’m Reading book club. The author Bill Streever will be on The Martha Stewart Show today at 10:00 am PT, which I can’t wait to watch! As one of the three bloggers from Martha’s Circle reading along with Martha, today I’m writing a post about the book. Considering it’s been what feels like the coldest winter we’ve had in California since we moved here nearly 10 years ago, this book did not help in making me feel warm and cozy! Of course, it did make me appreciate just how not cold my weather really is!

    Bill Streever is a biologist who lives in Alaska. His book talks about, well, cold! He touches on scientific history surrounding temperature and discoveries related to cold, cold places, animals that live in cold, and on and on. It’s an interesting read filled with all kinds of fun facts. I think Nate got sick of me interrupting his own reading with “Hey! Listen to this!” followed by yet another random, cold-related fact. I’m pretty sure there was one about squirrels. And I’m pretty sure he was dying to know it.

    When I first started reading the book, Madara (a food blogger in Fairbanks, Alaska, a place Bill visits in the book) emailed me a link to her blog for FoodPress, the food site I edit. She mentioned that food blogging was a necessity to keep her busy, given that it was currently -10 degrees F and she’d only had 4 hours of daylight that day. What the what?!?! I immediately hit Google maps to see where Fairbanks was and then dug around the Internet for information about her town. It was fascinating. I somehow stumbled on a YouTube video from Fairbanks…seriously, go search “Fairbanks Alaska” on YouTube. It’s kind of awesome. Especially videos showing the Northern Lights, the ice fog, and people throwing hot liquids into cold air (no, really, make sure you watch people throwing hot liquids into cold air). Reading Madara’s email was so fun. I was transported to her life for one brief moment, imagining what it must be like to live in such a COLD place. And marveling at how different her world is from mine, simply due to temperature. It really is amazing to me that people live in places like Fairbanks!

    Reading Cold was kind of like reading Madara’s email for two-hundred-some-odd pages. I felt transported to a different world. I finished the book with two main takeaways. First, complete wonder at early explorers of cold, imagining what it must have felt like to experience such life-threatening temperatures in the name of science and discovery. Second, amazement at how animals adapt to cold climates. I loved reading about different ways that animals hibernate and/or live through cold times. Most amazing to me was a caterpillar that freezes for the winter then thaws out in the spring and goes on its merry way. Its heart is literally stopped for the winter. Unreal.

    One of the discussion questions is whether the book has changed my outlook on cold. I don’t know that it’s changed my outlook, but it has increased my understanding and helped me explore a world I don’t think often about. And it solidified the fact that I’m a wimp. At the end of the book there’s a Q&A with Bill Streever. One of the questions alludes to the fact that readers may be inspired to visit a cold place after reading the book, and then Bill lists his 5 favorite cold destinations (2 of which are in Fairbanks, by the way). And, uh, yeah, I’m kind of thinking I might not be one of those readers. Yep, definitely a wimp. And proud of it.

    I stole all of the photos in this post from my mother-in-law Pat. She took them after an ice storm hit their hometown in New Hampshire a few winters ago. I love these shots and I’m so happy to finally have a reason to share them with you. I hope they make you feel all cold and chilly inside.


  10. Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    ‘Books I’m Reading’ with Martha Stewart

    Just wanted to let you know about something fun that I’m participating in that launched today. Martha Stewart has started a Books I’m Reading section on her blog. Three of the bloggers in her Martha’s Circle network will be reading along and writing about the books with her…and I get to be one of the bloggers, along with Black Eiffel and Oh Happy Day. I LOVE reading, so this is right up my alley. (Click here for the press release if you would like to read more details, and click here for Sony’s special Martha “Books I’m Reading” page.) Sony sent each of us a lovely Sony Reader Pocket Edition. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a reader, any reader, for ages. I’m actually really liking it. The reader is so much easier to hold and read in bed than a book! {Insert choirs of angels singing from on high.}

    The first book is Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places by Bill Streever. As I awaited to hear which book Martha picked first, I must admit a book like this was the furthest thing from my mind. But after reading her first blog post today, it all makes sense now! I’m about 50 pages into the book and will wait to share my thoughts until I’ve completed it. I will say this…what were all those Arctic and Antarctic explorers in the 1800s thinking?!?!

    Off to the kitchen. I’m going to start cooking up some Thanksgiving food and will {hopefully} have a post and recipe for you later today!