Weighty Words: The Top 5 Fitness Books That Don’t Make You Want an Oreo.

When I re-branded my blog, I told myself I wouldn’t completely cut fitness out of the blog entirely, because it’s still a huge part of my life, and I love talking about it. However, it felt disingenuous to continue in the vein of “healthy fitness blogging” when I realized that a lot of the time … Read more…

Read Watch Eat, F/M/K Edition.

Ok, so by now, you’ve all played “Eff/Marry/Kill, right?

If not, let me refresh your memories. I will give you three celebrity .gifs, (let’s do Brits/UK, ok?) and you have to choose  with whom you’d have most intimate, and very carnal relations, with whom you’d walk down the aisle toward wedded bliss, and whom you’d kill!

I think you know who this is. If not, READ MY BLOG MORE OFTEN. Yes, I know he’s Irish. It’s close enough.
Tom Hiddleston. A little Lo-ki action.
Tom Hardy. MmmmHmmm

HOW DO I CHOOSE?!?!?

Ok, I’d get fast with Fassbender, marry Hiddleston, and kill Hardy. Why? No one as smoldering as Fassbender could possibly be good marriage material. (I’m generalizing. Broadly.) Hiddleston is still sexy as HOLY MOLY, and he really likes to dance. He can probably argue Elizabethan lit with me for days without getting bored. I’d kill Tom Hardy, but I’d feel very poorly about it. (Poorly is a UK colloquialism for “ill,” American readers. I thought it fit the men.)

You get the gist of the game, right?! Ok.

Today’s blog is based on that.

Read/Watch/Eat the F/M/K edition.

Only, I’m totally telling you which is which, because I AM A GIVER.

Read, Watch, Eat

 

The book you’ll want to have a tumultuous affair with, the movie that will lead you down a rabbit hole of Netflix binging the likes of which your iPad hasn’t seen in years, and the cake you’ll want to kill in a sitting. (But don’t do that, you’ll get a tummy ache.)

Read:

This was a real joy to read. The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, The Vampire Accountant, by Drew Hayes is a different sort of book. It reads more like an epistolary of shorts. Meaning, each chapter is more of the next installment than the next chapter. It’s a fun, raucous, whirling dervish of a little book, with hilarious characters, (Bubba, the giant gay were-pony, anybody?) great twists and turns, and a narrator that just makes the reader smile.

When we’ve been bombarded with every type of vampire we think we could ever possibly imagine, we get Fred: the meek, quiet, horribly self-conscious vampire with a knack for numbers and collection of sweater vests. Vampire Fred may view himself as utterly uninteresting, but readers will read him as utterly uncommon and wonderful. Drew Hayes has made a splash with this tweak on bloodsucking subset which will charm diehard twihards and Draculovers the world over.

Four fangs.

Now, let me escort you into a Netflix rabbit hole, quick as you like.

I may or may not have been kinda sorta webstalking the world’s sexiest vegan–and my fifth grade crush, Jared Leto. I HAD NO IDEA HE WAS A VEGAN. *swoon* I was also coming down with a righteous book hangover from Fred, and wanted something–twisty–like the book. Scrolling through the Netflix streaming offerings, I came across a film I’d never heard of before.

Here’s the trailer–because, descriptions evade me at the moment.

 

I loved it. LOVED it. Which was great, but then, then I did a bad, bad thing. I “searched” Jared Leto in the Netflix search box.

There was so much Jared Leto in my box.

American Psycho, Prefontaine, Sunset Strip, Artifact. 

Just hours and hours of me and Jared Leto. All because I put him in my box.

You guys need to follow my lead on this with your Netflix.

Put Jared Leto in your box.

And put this cake in your mouth.

Yeah, I know it’s not yet autumn, but I AM TRYING TO THE SECRET THE HELL OUT OF AUTUMN TO GET HERE FASTER. I don’t want the days to pass more quickly, I just want the cool to come out and play.

This is perhaps the best cake I’ve made all year. It’s so delicious and moist. It has the flavors of fall, and HOLY EFF DOES IT SMELL GOOD.

Apple Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake

apple pumpkin upside-down cake

apple pumpkin upside-down cake apple pumpkin upside-down cake

Apple Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert vegan vegetarian dairy-free nut-free fall

Ingredients (8 servings)

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp baking powder

for the apple topping/bottom

  • 1 extra large firm apple, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup buttery spread or butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Instructions

preheat oven to 350F

in a 10″ oven-proof skillet with at least 2″ high sides, melt 1/3 cup buttery spread and 1/3 cup brown sugar on medium heat until melted together

(may remain a bit separated)

remove from heat

arrange apple slices atop buttery sugar mix in a mostly single layer. (the apples may overlap a bit)

In a mixer or with a mixer on medium, whip together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and banana until mostly smooth

slowly stir in milk

sift in dry ingredients

spray the inside sides of the skillet with cooking spray

pour in batter over apples

bake approximately 20-25 minutes or until edges pull away from pan and skewer inserted 1″ comes out clean.

let cool ten minutes

invert onto plate.

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Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.
Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.

What I’m Reading Now.

I should mention that I’m writing a novel right now and I find myself having to research BDSM/fetishwear clothing materials. My google search history is scandalized. Moving on! MY LIST!! ON AUDIBLE!! The Utterly Uninteresting & Unadventurous Tales of Fred, The Vampire Account by Drew Hayes. narrated by Kirby Heyborne (I’m LOVING IT!!!) Voyager by Diana Gabaldon … Read more…

Adoring Assigned Reading: Books You May Have Missed.

I woke up this morning with a total ladyboner for life. I mean, It’s NOT going to be 90+degrees fahrenheit, my kids’s fevers broke, I had JUSTENOUGH soy milk for my coffee, and I haves new audiobook to listen to. (written like a Boov, because I don’t fucking have to watch Home today, because I’m getting out of the fucking house and off the sofa like my ass is on fire.)

Frank gets my enthusiasm. My “spark.”

I will lift heavy things. I will drink iced coffee served to me by a stranger. I will smile at random passersby in the least creepy (possibly most creepy) manner, ever.

I was also excited because it is THIS DAY!!!!

adoring assigned readingYAYYAYAYA!!

In honor of the removal of my atrabilious mood, I’m doing one of my FAVORITES!!

Persuasion

OH, Wentworth. Wenty. My love. You are right on time for this blogger. Right.On.Time.

I sort of just want to write: READ AUSTEN. READ ALL OF IT. IT’S MORDANT SATIRE!! MAKING FUN OF THE 1% SINCE THE REGENCY ERA. I will not. At least again. Instead, I will tell you why you need to read…

I don’t even need to link it. Buy it anywhere. Get it from the library. Barnes and Noble. ANY BOOKSTORE EVER.

But, why, why should you read this juicy little gem of feminist awesome?

A: because, feminism.

B: Because Jane Austen wrote books nigh on 200 years ago, and she thumbed her nose at all of the things of which she was born into. She understood that the trappings of wealth and common practices surrounding the commodification of a woman’s maidenhood was an absurdity that should be skewered. She also understood that finding a connection with another person on a level beyond that of “he’ll keep me in satin dresses” is the key to actual happiness. That it is our personalities and inclinations which make us a match for someone else, not our pursestrings.

The love between Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot in Persuasion is the most beautiful “second chance” romance of its kind. Here he is, a seaman in the Queen’s navy, and she, a well-bred blue blood, yet they love each other fiercely. However, Anne is young–nineteen–and impressionable, and breaks off their relationship believing she needs to make a more advantageous match when she is advised to do so.

You can see where this is going.

WENTY STILL LOVES HER. SHE STILL LOVES HIM. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS (OR WHICHEVER MONARCH APPEARED ON THE POUND IN 1817.)

Oh man.

square in the feels.

 It’s ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY A FIVE-STAR READ. Like, five-star first gear. no pages yet colored on or torn out. Brand new.

Whatever do I dare pair with this?!?!?!

It’s also regency(ish). But it’s MODERN! Just a few years old.

The Blurb:

First love is like the measles—a hot rash one is stronger for surviving. 
Good English families all have a house in the country with a deer park, a trout stream, and an army of gardeners. They should have a son and if it can be managed, he should be handsome. Cleverness isn’t important. Daughters in limited quantities are fine so long as they are pretty. Bastards are inconvenient and best ignored. It’s not a big problem, unless you are one.
Unfortunately, Sophy is.
Sick of her outcast role, she escapes her father’s house, only to fall from her horse during a spring storm. Injured, soaked, and shivering, she stumbles to a stranger’s door—Tom, a blunt edged merchant from a family of vulgar upstarts. Mistaking Sophy for the genuine article, he takes her in.
Sophy can’t resist twisting the truth. Soon she’s caught in her own snare—and it might just be a noose.

Why I loved it.

I really thought this book would just be an “ok” way to spend an afternoon. I was content to sit and read it much like one is content to watch a Full House marathon on TBS, or a t-ball tourney. That is to say–I was very “meh” about it.

Until I began reading.

All at once I was knocked sideways by the particular care taken to the dialogue, and the challenging nature of the prose. Who is this Jaima Fixen broad, and why have I never heard of her?!!? The book’s editing is flawless, the story composed delicately and precisely, and the romance is a steady, slow, growing burn. I liken it very much to Austen or Bronte, insomuch as it’s not “guy and girl or possibly two or more guys and a girl start banging it out halfway through the book, someone is an asshole, but don’t worry–they’ll get over it in time for a HEA.” It’s more “Let us slowly but confidently mark time and reason, building suspense and hope for a seemingly impossible couple to defy the odds and become a pair.”

In fact…GASP(!!!) No one bangs anyone in this book. It’s like a professional kitchen it is so clean. But it doesn’t suffer for a lack of sexual interludes. If anything, it makes the small gestures of affection between the two MCs even more fraught with tension and fragility, like Piastro Oliv strings for a violin, the sound or feel is bright and rich, full of precious things, but it’s so tenuous at first, difficult to play, until one masters their instrument.

The conclusion is all the more satisfying for the difficulty in reaching it.

Four Stars. (one star removed because I couldn’t easily place the time until it was spelled out.)

So, what would I make to go with these books?

NOTHING. IT’S REGENCY ERA BRITTANIA. EW.

So I made toasted pasta. Austen and the like are ALWAYS EATING TOAST. But seriously, you don’t need a recipe for that. But toasted pasta? It’s one of those easy, delicious, and unexpected things–much like Fairchild. 

I implore you to make this with whole wheat pasta. The flavors are nuttier and bolder than with white flour or semolina pasta, not to mention the protein and fiber content. The recipe calls for Earth Balance buttery spread, but you know by now from reading my blog, you could use traditional butter. A good improvement on this dish, albeit an expensive one is to use truffle butter. If you do so, eliminate the red pepper flakes. You can also add grated parm, bottarga, or even feta or goat cheese atop this delight.

Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio


Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Toasted Pasta Aglio E Oglio

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Keywords: appetizer entree side snack vegan vegetarian nut-free soy-free

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 8 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 1 tbsp butter or earth balance buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked red pepper
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • vegetable or chicken stock, depending on dryness of pasta between 2 and four cups.

Instructions

in a DRY skillet on medium-high, break the DRY pasta in half and toast it until most are a rich, golden brown

reduce heat to medium

add the oil and garlic on medium heat until garlic is translucent.

toss pasta

add a cup of the stock and stir until stock is absorbed

add salt and another 1/2 cup of stock until that is absorbed

continue until pasta is al dente

finish with butter, pepper, and red pepper flake.

serve IMMEDIATELY.

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Cultivating a Love of Reading in Kids. Top 5 Ways to Raise a Reader.

and The Unintentional Nerdification of Mine.

I want to put this out there: before I ever had children, I declared they would have interests separate from mine. They could choose or not choose their own fascinations and whimsy, hobbies and daily activities. I would boldly embrace whatever they chose to love, be it sports or crochet or animal husbandry–I was ready.

Yes, that pug will make a fine husband!

However, apparently environment and eagerness and the total geeking out of the parents has more influence than one might have expected when one was 23-24.

Apparently, osmosis is totally a thing. Unlike fetch, which is still not a thing.

My son, aka “The Captain,” is a 7 year old nerd. Completely and totally, and he came by it honestly. His favorite movie–right now, because it is ever in flux–is Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. He will enthusiastically reenact entire chunks of it for you.

You may be cool, but you’ll never be “Elf riding a gigantic buck through gold helmets” cool.

His favorite book is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He loves all things comic books. He hates most sports but loves running around pretending to be a warrior dwarf from Dragon Age. *and I mean RUN. Boy is like greased lightning and pure kinetic energy. Sitting still for long is not happening.

Still pissed I was willing to sacrifice you for Dragon treasure? Guess I deserved that.

Originally, we thought my daughter was going to be much more traditional. To a point, she is. She loves Barbie and princesses and probably wants a pony for her birthday. She’s also obsessed with Wonder Woman and Supergirl and Ironman and her favorite…

She’s also REALLY into steampunk, lately. She is into SP because I am an idiot and recently read to her Her Majesty’s Explorer: a Steampunk bedtime story NOW she wants to be a steampunk iron butterfly princess for Halloween. DO I LOOK CRAFTY TO YOU?! No. No I do not. I can’t even operate a bedazzler and I was a dresser for a drag queen for years. I fail. Also, WTF is an iron butterfly princess? DOES IT TRAVEL BY AIRSHIP OR GEAR WINGS?!?! There are too many possibilities. 

In spite of the fact that I have unintentionally nerd herded the fuck out of my offspring. I am so proud of how much they both love the written word. My son has severe ADHD, so while he can read hours of comic books, he likes to “read” tons of audiobooks while, you know, acting them out–as you do. My daughter, however, can sit on my lap whilst I read to her, or listen to audiobooks for…well, until I’m really tired of doing every voice ever.

No one ever told me that having children would keep my vocal acting skills so fresh. BONUS!

I’ll admit, the voices do vivify the activity of reading, but the real joy is in the moment of togetherness.

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents

Harvard, Yale, Brown, Colgate, and Columbia Teacher’s College have all done studies about the importance of cultivating a love of reading early on in life. Children who read and are read to perform better in the classroom, on tests, and as far into the future as their professional careers. It’s essential to grow a love of reading in children, so that the joy continues when it’s not always fun. (Like when your English teacher assigns Ulysses because he hates you…and life…puppies…rainbows…happiness.)

How did I do it?

Top 5 Ways to Raise a Reader. (1)

  1. Access, Access, Access. 

    I get it. Hardcover books are $$$. Board books are $$$. I get that. But access to books is crucial. There are some GREAT resources for inexpensive or free books on the net and locally. Thriftbooks.com is probably my favorite. You can buy books in groups for pennies. Local used bookshops are also a great, and fun resource. Strangely enough, stoop sales and yard sales have rewarded me with some of the best finds I’ve read, and by authors I’d never heard of. Never discount library sales!! The books are often equipped with library binding, and that is nothing to sneeze at. *Not to mention just taking stacks out on loan.* Scribd, a monthly service, and Kindle free time also have hundreds of thousands of children’s ebooks available.

  2. Model the behavior yourself. 

    It’s hard to raise a reader if you’re not a reader. I always tell people that if you think you aren’t a reader, that just means you haven’t found the right book. I will always be grateful to my family for not only getting me to the library and bookstore, but for being readers themselves. My MawMaw had a basket of books beside her sitting chair–always. The beach is a place I remember watching my family hang out under the umbrella reading until dusk. The Plain Dealer was delivered at 5am every day. Children of readers read.

  3. Talk to your children about their books. 

    This not only reinforces the lessons learned in the books, and their comprehension of them, it also serves to stir up excitement over their next read.

  4. Take them to the library. 

    This may seem obvious, but I’m not just talking about going to check books out. Most libraries have reading groups, activities surrounding literature, movies, etc. They’re a great resource.

  5. Create a routine. 

    Which, contrary to popular belief, does not have to be at bedtime. My kids will PESTER THE EVER LOVING EFF OUT OF ME if I agree to read before bed. One book becomes eleventy. We read right before lunch or just after school. It’s a nice way to kick back, relax, get some serious snuggling, and learn. I cannot overstate the snuggling. My seven year old is growing out of it, so I have to squeeze in all the snuggles I can.

Most importantly, don’t make it stressful or punitive. It’s not “if you don’t behave, you’ll turn off YouTube and READ!!” That’s never going to work. Reading needs to be a choice and a gift.

Now, what recipe could possibly go with this?

One my kids chose, of course.

Their favorite.

Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream Vegan No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream

 

Vegan No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: freeze overnight

Keywords: vegan ice-cream

Ingredients

  • the cream from two cans of coconut cream with no additives
  • 3 cups unsweetened cashew milk
  • 4 tbsp instant espresso
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Instructions

heat the milk and cream on medium a stove until just starting to simmer

whisk in espresso and sugar until dissolved

add salt and vanilla

pour into a 2 quart container and freeze overnight.

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