I grew up passionate about, obsessed with, two things: food and books, eating and reading. One always went with the other, done together, hand in hand. I started young, saving up my lunchroom money, the few dollars allotted to us by dad each Sunday night to pay for the school cafeteria Monday through Friday. Deal was if we brought a sandwich in a brown paper bag we could save the lunch money. And mine went towards books.
First it was The Moffats by Eleanor Estes and Beverly Cleary’s the Henry and Beezus series (with sister Ramona) as well as Ellen Tebbits (who was so socially clumsy, just like I was) sitting in the tree in the front yard, book in one hand, sandwich in the other. Or curled up on the couch with Encyclopedia Brown and a handful of cookies. I escaped into From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as I forked pieces of dad’s chocolate cake into my mouth at the kitchen table. Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth and a shrimp salad or a bowl of Jiffy Pop Corn could take me to another world where I could join girls like I was, odd girl out, and be happy. I was as fascinated as Janey watching her mother peel apples, mesmerized as the long, elegant “peelings fell off in lovely long curls,” or stunned and in awe as Elizabeth actually ate a raw onion sandwich at Elizabeth’s bidding, all in her desire to become accepted by her new, mysterious friend. I never could quite decide if I wanted more to be authoritative, in-charge Beezus or dare-anything Ramona. Either way, book after book was consumed as I ate, and food nourished my body as those books nourished my soul. And if Sunday morning found me sitting at the table in front of a steaming bowl of mom’s oatmeal or a toasted Poptart without something special to read, I simply pulled over the newspaper and started reading.
Book after book and I grew up, from Cleary and Konigsburg to Vonnegut and Austen and Dickens with layovers into David Sedaris or Primo Levi or Ian Rankin or Ruth Reichl. Jessica Mitford, Nancy Mitford, Tim Parks, Alexander Stille, Michael Chabon and Waverly Root. My food horizons opened up at the same time, from boxed to “from scratch”, from Florida seafood to exotic foreign cuisines. On and on I ate and on and on I read.
Now it’s Pavlovian. Reading makes me hungry and, in turn, as soon as I pull a plate of something in front of me I crave something to read. So I think that it is highly appropriate that in just a week or two I received the JOY OF READING award from both Heavenly Housewife of Donuts to Delirium and Jenn of Bread + Butter. Thank you both, my lovely foodie friends, and I do advise all of my readers to jump over to each of their blogs for a supreme read (along with the great recipes!).
The rules that go along with the Joy of Reading Award are:
1. Collect the book that you have most handy
2. Turn to page 161
3. Find the 5th complete sentence
4. Site the sentence on your blog
5. Pass it on to 5 other bloggers
Here’s the thing. I have quite a few books nearby, some I pulled off of the livingroom shelf to reference above: The Moffats by Eleanor Estes is one and here is the line following the rules:
Page 161, 5th sentence: “The more the children laughed and screamed, the more he smelled his rose.”
And my all-time favorite book that is always next to my computer is Roget’s International Thesaurus:
Page 161, left hand-column, line 5: “VERBS 7 stand, stand erect, stand up, stand upright, stand up straight, be erect, be on one’s feet; hold oneself straight or stiff, stand ram-rod straight, have an upright carriage; stand at attention and brace and stand at parade rest
And now I’d love to pass it on to 5 other bloggers. This is difficult as there are so many that I love to read, almost all of them food blogs, but this time I’m going to pass on this award to 5 non-food blogs that I simply love to read:
1. Minna’s The World According to MEH
2. Erin’s Mammadance
3. Connie’s W. Va. Fur and Root
4. Amy’s Writing from Alaska
5. Vera’s Vera’s Weblog
I highly recommend each of these blogs for their thoughtful, insightful, thought-provoking and wonderful writing. And sometimes you should turn to them just for a smile or a laugh.
4 ripe peaches (or pears)
8 Tbs, about ½ cup (120 g) unsalted butter, divided, and softened to room temperature
¾ cup (100 g) packed dark brown sugar
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 ¼ cups (180 g) flour
1 cup + 2 Tbs (150 g) granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup (125 ml) milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Prepare the brown sugar caramel:
In a small bowl, using your fingertips, work 4 Tbs (60 g) of the softened butter, the brown sugar and the nutmeg together until it is well combined and smooth. Scrape into the cake pan and press and spread the brown sugar/butter mixture to cover the bottom of the cake pan entirely and evenly. Set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium to large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the remaining 4 Tbs (60 g) of the softened butter. Add the dry ingredients, beating alternately with the milk, until all of the dry ingredients and milk are blended in and smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs and beat until smooth.
Take the cake out of the oven and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for just about 2 or 3 minutes. Invert your serving platter onto the top of the cake pan and, very carefully, using either a kitchen towel or oven mitts, making sure you have a very good grip on both the hot cake pan and the serving platter, flip the two over together to invert. You should now have the cake platter on the bottom holding the cake and the pan covering the cake bottom side up. Leave to cool for 2 or 3 minutes.
Carefully lift off the cake pan (careful, it is still hot!) straight up so as not to move the cake on the platter. I had excellent non-stick results using a non-stick cake pan. Allow the cake to cool.