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Archive for August, 2012

Obviously, if I’m reading Nora Roberts books at the rate of one a day, and taking care of all my kids in the summer vacation (G-d bless my husband, who takes part or all of them and arranges all kinds of projects. Otherwise I would already be nuts by now), I don’t have much time for cooking. But before all the kids were here, I had a hankering to do something special with leftover chicken. I wanted something with dough, as well. So I chose chicken pockets.

I admit, I debated with myself a bit on this one. On the one hand, I really felt like making something interesting and special with dough and chicken. On the other hand, time is limited, and the recipe stated that it took an hour. And the first time you make a recipe it always takes longer than you expect. In the end I went for it. 🙂

I based on this recipe (Hebrew). The dough turned out delectable, and so easy to make. I completely changed the filling to fit my leftover chicken, and did the simplest filling I could think of to save time and effort. Also, I made only half the amount.

Leftover Chicken Pockets

Dough:

75 gr spelt flour (or all purpose)
75 gr all purpose flour
100 ml boiling water
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 tbsp cornflour

Filling:

chicken from a quarter chicken, cooked and cubed
two handfuls olives, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 egg
Dried oregano to taste

Dipping sauce (optional):

2 tbsp rice vinegar
Dried chilli
Soy sauce to taste

 

To make the dough:

Sift the flour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with bread hooks, add the boiling water and mix on low. Add the oil and mix again. Add the cornflour and knead for 5 minutes. (See? Easy!) Put more cornflour on your workspace and make a fat sausage from the dough. Cut dough into 10 equal parts. Roll each part into a circle.

To make the filling:

Mix all the ingredients.

Putting it together:

Put one tbsp of filling in the center of each circle. With an egg brush, put water on the edge of half a circle. Fold the circle in half, using the water as “glue”.

Before frying

 

Fry each pocket for ~5 minutes on both sides or until brown. It is also possible to steam them for 7-8 minutes instead. Eat with dipping sauce of your choice (I ate without, it was good!).

5 pockets before eating

Bon Apetit!

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This is the first of the “Night Tales” series. So far, I’ve liked her series, so I thought I’d give it a shot. This is a very tried and true format, with the damsel in distress falling for the policeman sworn to protect her.

Night Shift

 

No, I didn’t forget to colour in the stars. This is a 0-star book.

This is the only Nora Roberts so far that disappointed me on all levels. First, I found the romance unlikely. While I’m used to the love-at-first-sight doctrine of Nora Roberts, this was too much. The hero sees her as a “bundle of nerves”. She is much ruder than she needs to be, without any excuse or softening touch. And he’s smitten. Right.

Second, while Nora Roberts likes her heroes to take control and sometimes completely ignore what the heroine wants in favour of what she supposedly needs, this went to far. He completely ignored everything she said. He stayed close to her beyond his shifts to way past the point of harassment. He insisted he loved her and they were going to marry regardless of what she said or wanted and practically kidnapped her. This is already emotional abuse, not romance.

Third, the characters had no development. They stayed pretty flat, with very few explanations.

Fourth, the mystery was lame, with such gaping plot holes that it was no surprise you don’t see it coming. It turns out (Warning! Spoilers ahead!) that the attacker is someone the heroine knows. Yet there was a scene in a party, where she received a note from her attacker, and she didn’t recognize him. Really?

Well, I guess that with 5 books a year, Nora Roberts is entitled to miss one 🙂

Romance/Suspense: very mild violence, mild suspense, mostly romance

Rating: 0 stars

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Continuing my log of books, here comes my all time favorite Nora Roberts book:

The Witness

This is relatively long for Nora Roberts, and has two parts, one describing the teenage rebellion of Elizabeth Fitch, 16-year-old genius; and another part describing the life of Abigail Lowery (who is obviously connected to the first part). The romance here is not the main point of the book, though of course it’s there. The characters are great and likeable, there is a lot of humour, and a great story.

Romance/Suspense: mild violence, a lot of suspense, some romance 🙂
Note: relatively a lot of swearing. Doesn’t bother me, but it might bother some.

This can be read online in onread.com. I’m thinking of buying a hardcopy anyway, it’s that good 🙂

Rating: 5 full stars!

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I’m reading a lot lately on maternity leave. To keep things straight in my head and for any interested people, I decided to keep a log of books read and my review of them. Being on maternity leave, the books I’m reading are light and easy, that don’t require large amounts of concentration, and aren’t too long.

I’m mostly reading Nora Roberts, Dick Francis and similar, and some fantasy.

Nora Roberts

She is nothing less than astounding. She has published a shocking amount of books, at least 5 a year for the past thirty years. Her books are in the spectrum between romance and romantic thrillers. She has explicit sex scenes, and sometimes detailed violence.

The Donovan Legacy

 
This a series of 4 books: Captivated, Entranced, Charmed, Enchanted. It looks at four cousins of the Donovan family, all of whom are hereditary witches. There are some Wiccan rituals, but nothing overboard. Likable characters, believable romance. I also like getting a glimpse in later books of the “happily ever after” of the previous ones 😉 .

Romance/Suspense: This is a pure romance series – no violence, very little suspense.
Note: The technology is a bit outdated, it was originally published in the ’90s.

Book 1: Captivated. Great characters, great build up, managed to make me cry in the end 🙂 My favorite of the series.
Book 2: Entranced. Good story. Reminded me of a muted and romanticized version of “Naked in death”, also of Nora Roberts (review forthcoming), without the violence. I sincerely doubt the police and FBI procedures mentioned there are exact, but it doesn’t ruin the story.
Book 3: Charmed. Charming and sweet. A bit too predictable for my taste, though.
Book 4: Enchanted. Didn’t connect to Liam Donovan, found him arrogant, selfish and childish. Felt tacked onto the series, as Liam isn’t mentioned in previous books at all. However, still a very nice romance novel and the character of Rowan is very beliavable and likable, and develops beautifully throughout the book.

Overall: 4.5 stars.

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I really, really wanted cake. Or muffins. Or whatever. In addition, I was going to visit a pregnant friend of mine with two kids, so I had the perfect excuse to make muffins. A lot of muffins. I also had a jar of unsweetened applesauce that I needed to finish, so the muffins would even be healthy! 😛

I searched for applesauce muffins that are quick and easy. Also, my friend is slowly going towards being vegan, so I thought that non dairy would be a plus. I stopped cooking with margarine, so I needed an oil-based muffin. Jeez, it’s getting more and more complicated, isn’t it?

I found a great recipe here. It’s egg free and dairy free, quick and easy… perfect! What would I do without the Internet? 🙂

My husband has been trying to convince me we need a tablet, so that I could use recipes from the Internet without printing recipes (waste of paper) or going back and forth from the kitchen to the computer, or using a laptop for this (my laptop is usually at work, my husband is usually working on his laptop). Also, I like reading books online in onread or epubbud, and this way I would be able to read in bed or in the kid’s room and not only in front of the computer. So he brought a tablet from a friend for a “test drive”. I opened the recipe in the tablet and brought it to the kitchen. It certainly saved time and trouble. On the other hand, I used to claim that I could eat the sweets I made because I lose calories going back and forth making them 😉 Yet another excuse gone…

Tablet with recipe

I made mini muffins in small paper muffin liners. Each muffin came out to be 2-3 bites. They turned a great, with a strong apple taste. So… Apple Bites!

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cup applesauce (I put an extra tablespoon, finishing the jar. It was still great)
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup white flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon (my kids like it in small amounts only)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180C. Mix sugar, oil and applesauce together until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients without mixing between each ingredient. Mix only when all ingredients have been added, until just combined.

The mixture – half gone…

Put 1/2 tbsp in each muffin liner. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (or with big crumbs, that also worked great!). Let cool and eat!

First batch

Mmmm…

My kids loved this, and so did my friend. And so did I! Maybe I won’t wait again until I’ve got applesauce to use up 😉

Bon Apetit!

Packed and ready to go

Notes:

1. The original recipe had raisins or similar. My kids accept chocolate chips, but nothing else, so I just did without.

2. Tablet update: It is impossible to read online on these sites with a tablet. It might still be good for pdf ebooks, but not online reading. Not worth the expense.

3. Recommended reading on onread.com: I just finished reading “The Witness” of Nora Roberts. Spectacular!

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Watching my baby, I can see that babies have that skill that grown-ups struggle to learn – Living in the Now. It’s supposed to relieve stress and increase happiness. My baby – any baby – does just that. If something hurts her, she cries, or moans or yells. She doesn’t care how it sounds, or if it makes her looks weak, or what people will think of her. When it stops hurting, she stops crying. She doesn’t obsess over the pain, she doesn’t anticipate more. When she relaxes, she relaxes all the way. When she cuddles she cuddles completely. When she wants to play, she plays. She doesn’t care that she can’t reach the toy – she tries anyway, and enjoys it. When she’s eating, she is concentrating only on that. No worries.

It’s a pity we loose this so completely when we learn to plan and anticipate. I guess it’s all about balance. How to remain a responsible adult who thinks of the future and tries to learn from the past, without loosing the simple joy in the moment? I learn from my 7 week old baby. “Mikol melamdai hiskalti“.

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