A Walk in the Woods #bookclubcookbookCC #bookreview

Welcome Back to The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Club project!

(As a refresher, please see Camilla’s Master invitation for details on the what and when – and most importantly how to join us in this year long experience.)

A Legendary Maine Meal

This month, we are hosted by Andrea at Adventures in All Things Food. Please take a moment to click on that hyperlink for her invitation to this month’s project and description of the book and recipe.

The book is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Bill and his buddy Katz decide to hike the Appalachian Trail beginning at its southernmost tip and ultimately finishing at Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine. It’s often funny and occasionally poignant —- but aside from Snickers Bars and Little Debbie cakes and noodles, there isn’t a lot of food.

The recipe in the cookbook related to this book is for a Lemon Meringue Pie, and it does sound delicious —- unlike the pie in the book. Bryson describes it as a piece of pie which doesn’t really sound very good, but since he’s been on the trail for weeks at this point, the over abundance of sugar and gooey sliminess is exactly what he craved, making it the best pie ever. Hmm. Well, as a human I can totally relate to how damn good really bad food can be, but as I cook…. Eh. I’ll pass. Also, as someone who lives in Maine, how am I supposed to make a pie that isn’t blueberry?

Maine Blueberry Pie
Bryson finds himself in Maine in August, the height of the short, heavenly blueberry season.  I’ve rhapsodized about Maine Blueberry Pie before, so I won’t repeat myself. Overall, Bryson’s stories about Maine were fairly true to life. People are friendly and very, very funny. The wilderness up here is indeed wild. Maine is The Way Life Should Be, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy. As Bryson learned, one does not walk glibly into the Maine woods.

I had one exception to his description of Maine, and it bothers me enough (weeks after finishing the book) that I feel compelled to mention it. He complains about the, in his mind, apparent senselessness of hunting, especially moose. He refuses to understand why this is permitted at all.

Maine, especially in the north, is not a wealthy state. In the summer, people come for vacations and they bring with them the wealth and commerce that largely drives the states economy. Otherwise, we have fishing and some industry (less and less as the mills continue to close) and LL Bean. In other words, there aren’t a lot of jobs. If people don’t hunt and fish, often there isn’t enough food.

A moose goes a long way to feeding the family in winter.

Maine is a state of deep and honorable traditions. Self-reliance and resourcefulness are prized and praised. Hunting and fishing are common, but not only as sporting activities. Indeed, killing for sport is abhorred. Abuse of natural resources is anathema to a Mainer’s way of life.

In fact, Bryson experiences a taste of this in the very hostility of the landscape of the AT while trying to hike The Hundred Miles Wilderness. It’s wild and we will leave it that way. You can have your more guest-friendly AT in the South, a region known for its hospitality and warmth. New Englanders….. eh, we don’t even use road signs. If you don’t know where you are, you probably shouldn’t be here. And why would the AT be any different?

Maines Red Hot Dogs

So…. Here’s a guy who eats mostly junk food on the trail. He studies the history of the trail, but with the exception of Pennsylvania, makes little effort to understand the communities surrounding the trail. He goes home when it gets hard and judges the locals by his own standards. He dabbles in expansive experiences but when it gets too tough, too lonely, too wet or cold, he goes home. He wants Experiences, as long as they don’t make him too uncomfortable. And he is not transformed.

Why embark on a journey of this nature if not to find yourself pushed farther than you think you can stand, if not to learn that indeed you can?

So, Maine –

My Moxie Bella

I won’t make moose burgers. In fact, I’ve never seen a moose. I’ve lived here almost ten years, and I joke about how they must be mythical creatures.

Two foods however are known and loved by Mainers — two foods other than lobster, boiled dinner, or blueberries.

Red hot dogs and Moxie soda.

To welcome you to Maine, I serve you red hot dogs from the grill and Moxie.  (I want to note that prior to this post, I had never considered eating either. Additionally, as proof that I’m not making this up, here’s an article from Yankee Magazine about Maine’s Red Hot Dogs and there’s a whole novella about about Moxie’s history here.)

Red hot dogs are exactly what they sound like: hot dogs made of some parts of beef and pork and dyed bright red. They look like Satan’s hot dogs on the grill. I was afraid.


Hot Dogs from Hell?They taste pretty good, though! Well, they don’t taste like much of anything, really, so they’re pretty standard for you basic summertime ballpark frank.

Moxie, on the other hand, rocks. It’s like a combination of root beer and sarsaparilla and I don’t know what making it the one of the best colas I’ve ever had. And with a name like Moxie, well, you’ve gotta love it.
2015-08-20 20.49.59

I wanted to continue the Moxie exploration, though, so I thought I’d try to blend some cocktails…. I’m not much of a bartender, but I can tell you this: 3-4 parts Moxie, 1 part gin and 1 part Canton liqueur is a fine drink.

Don’t mix it with tequila though. <<shudder>>

One last thought. There’s a Robert Redford movie based on the book coming out soon. Apparently, though, he doesn’t make it to Maine, either.

DownEast Magazine

Participants in The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Project:

Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Tortillas and Honey

Adventures in All Things Food

A Day in the Life on the Farm

The Spiffy Cookie

The Pajama Chef

Life of Food

Cheese Curd in Paradise

Mostly Food and Crafts

Things I Make (for Dinner)

Giveaway
This month Andrea at Adventures in all Things Food, this month’s host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers – US and Canada only! – can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from August 1st till August 31st at 6 o’clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: Andrea received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

The Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew Giveaway for August #bookclubcookbookCC

This month, Andrea at Adventures in All Things Food hosts our Book Club Cook Book Cooking Crew project.

The book is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Reading the book is optional, as the cookbook provides a recipe, but if you’d like to deviate from the cookbook and create something that is inspired by the book instead, I’d recommend reading it.

Personally, I’m torn. I do want to make the Lemon Meringue Pie, but….. the book ends in Maine, in August and that’s blueberry season. I did bake a Maine Blueberry Pie last year, so it may be time for something different. Red hot dogs with Moxie soda, perhaps? Both traditional Maine foods – Moxie is the state soda, did you know? – in addition to the beloved lobster.

 

Giveaway
This month Andrea at Adventures in all Things Food, this month’s host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers – US and Canada only! – can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from August 1st till August 31st at 6 o’clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: Andrea received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

Miso Ramen, aka Cooking Redemption

note:

All the recipes I used are found on Just One Cookbook. Nami has one of the best cooking websites I’ve ever read; she makes fantastic videos to go with the recipes, too.

Last summer, my husband and I spent a long (unplanned) time in New York City. For two months, like a record with a skip, we tried to leave and were compelled to stay. It was —- something.

There were, however, a few really cool side benefits, one of which was an Honest to God ramen shop a half block from us. Geoff and I became *hooked* on ramen. (For something like an explanation of how ramen can soothe the soul, I recommend “The Ramen Girl,” a sweet movie with Brittany Murphy.) Since we’ve returned home, we have missed the ramen.

So…. This weekend, I made Miso Ramen. I was nervous returning to the kitchen after the egg curry episode. I wasn’t proud of that dish, and I was concerned that I had lost my cooking mojo.

I feel much better now.

miso ramen

miso ramen with chashu, ajitsuke tamago, and pickled ginger

I was careful to follow Nami’s excellent instructions for making ajitsuke tamago, or ramen egg. These are the soft-boiled eggs which are then marinaded and used as a topping on the ramen. I made these the day before and they came out beautifully.

ajitsuke tamago

ajitsuke tamago, or ramen egg

Our local stores don’t carry pork belly, so I used pork loin to make the Chashu. Aside from nearly setting the house on fire when I added the pork to the heated oil in the pan, it too came out succulent and tender. (I supposed I accomplished the “searing” step after all LOL)

Chashu

Chashu

It can be tricky finding ramen noodles to use. You can use the noodles from the instant packets (just toss the flavoring packs). I found some noodles by Kame yesterday and used those. They were very good.

Overall, these recipes were fun and enjoyable – during the cooking and the eating. Now, we can have wonderful ramen at home!

last note:

I received no promotional stuff; all opinions are my own 🙂

Egg Curry with The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Crew #thebookclubcookbookCC

One of my friends from high school is an adventurous cook (see this post where I mention her). Camilla is a delightful source of encouragement and ideas in the kitchen and when she asked who would enjoy participating in a year long cooking project, I immediately jumped at the chance. Here’s the link: How To Participate — Everyone is Welcome.

This month is the first round of recipes. Using The Book Club Cook Book, each host selects a book and recipe for that month. Each of us then creates something in our kitchen either using the recipe listed in the cook book or another inspired by it or the novel on which it is based. The book this month is Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. The recipes are egg curry and mango lassi.

In the final story of the collection, our narrator makes this dish for his bride after she travels from India to Cambridge, MA. Realizing the enormous leap of faith she makes coming so far from home to a man she has only met briefly, he makes for her the only dish he knows to try to give her comfort. Personally, this story (“The Final Continent”) is my favorite in the book.

I began to research “egg curry” online and learned that there is no one recipe for it. In fact, it varies from household to household. It is however considered to be both a resourceful empty-pantry dish and a true comfort food. The recipe I chose to use includes a significant amount of grated ginger and potatoes. As ginger is one of my favorite flavors and the Irish in me can’t imagine a comfort food without potatoes (unless it’s beer. or pad thai. or a burger. or—), I decided to use the website recipe in stead of the cook book recipe.

I hard-boiled eggs ahead of time, and sliced up several potatoes. I liked the idea of adding potatoes to the dish to give it a little more substance. Eggs are delicious, but they can leave me wanting when they aren’t coupled with something else. Maybe the Irish in me just can’t imagine a comfort food without potatoes… Either way, the added potatoes and ginger are why I used the recipe from the website.

Both the eggs and the potatoes are initially prepped and flavored separately. After preparing them separately with a combination of boiling and / or frying, and after separately grating ginger and a tomato (!!!), eventually everything gets added together and cooked all they way through.

egg curry final step

Conclusion:

There were a lot of steps involved for a dish which is supposed to be quick and simple. I don’t mind recipes that demand attention and detail, but I did hope for more flavor and variety of texture after having done all that work. The recipe in the cookbook did not have nearly as many steps — I should have stuck with that one.

egg curry

Please visit the other bloggers participating in the project! These are wonderful sites – great ideas, beautiful pictures, and funny to boot.

Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Tortillas and Honey

Adventures in All Things Food

A Day in the Life on the Farm

The Spiffy Cookie

The Pajama Chef

Life on Food

Cheese Curd in Paradise

Mostly Food and Crafts

Things I Make (for Dinner)

Giveaway
And to kick-off the event, Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla, this month’s host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

One of our lucky readers – US and Canada only! – can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authorsby Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy ofTarcher-Penguin.Giveaway runs from July 1st till July 31st at 6 o’clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: Camilla received a complimentary copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

Routine

We don’t really have schedules in our family. We have routines, sure, lots – but schedules don’t usually stick. I’ve learned to roll with it, sometimes a little better than others. My husband and our daughter both have a difficult time with sleep. Well, okay, so do I, but not in the same ways. It comes when it comes, and often not during the usual sleeping hours. In both Geoff’s and Bella’s cases, this is not stubbornness, but part of the physical conditions they both live with.

 For Bella, ADHD can make it hard to sleep. During the school year, we can keep a fairly even keel,  it during the summer, I give her a little more space. She doesn’t have to be anywhere at anytime, so I let it slide.

For Geoff, the Lyme/ ME/ MS combo is so unpredictable and traumatizing that we never know what to expect or when. It’s frustrating for all of us, but nothing effects it – not schedules, not routines, not medications. Usually, he’s nocturnal. 

Of course, the dog and I aren’t. At least, not anymore. While I’m not a morning person, I am up and ready for coffee securely in the AM, hours before the rest of my family.

We’ve worked out how to let each other sleep or wake without disturbing others. But sometimes, there are wrinkles. Last night / this morning is one of them. I slept in the downstairs back room last night because the air conditioner upstairs froze. I came out this morning, and Geoff is sound asleep in the recliner and Bella is passed out on the floor of the dining room. Our house is small, so it’s pretty much impossible to do anything without waking them up. So, Cerby and I are outside on the front steps getting some sun before it gets too hot to be outdoors. All those chores can wait, after all.

I know for many people, our fly by night “routines” are maddening, but for us – we roll with it and enjoy what we have.

You have to pick your issues. And when and where everyone sleeps and wakes is not actually all that important, compared to other things. And they are pretty adorable right now, sound asleep where they are.

Outdoors

The past few days have not involved any hikes in our local national park. Instead, we’ve been focusing on running on the street where we live.

I’ve always hated running. It hurts. It’s hard. It’s sweaty and uncomfortable. But, Geoff and I agree that we want our daughter to participate on the cross-country team this Fall. She needs the exercise and the experience. I don’t want to ask her to do something I wouldn’t do, so….

I’ve started running. And what do you know, I’m beginning to enjoy it. Each time I run our street, I see something new and beautiful, and I find that being outside combined with the challenge of running does wonders for my state of mind.

The street we live on runs along a lake and river. There used to be a mill across the river from us, back when this was a prosperous mill town. That was a long time ago, though, and now it’s just a bigger-small town in Maine. What this means for us is that we live in an area full of gorgeous scenery — most of which is still affordable for the average Joe. A few miles away, things get pretty fancy pretty fast, but where we are, life is still real.

The Movies for Geoff I’m attaching today are ones captured just outside our door or just down the street. They’re pretty low-tech, but still neat.