June 29, 2016

Honey-Lacquered Pork Spare Ribs

On my most recent trip to Paris, I discovered a gorgeous new restaurant, Julien, and tasted their amazing, melt-in-your-mouth honey-lacquered pork spare ribs. It was sweet and tender and the meat just fell off the bone.  Of course, it was one of the first things I tried to recreate when I came home. Stunning art nouveau surroundings notwithstanding, I think I came pretty close.


2 (2- to 2 1/2-lb.) slabs pork ribs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Rinse slabs, and pat dry. Remove thin membrane from back of slabs by slicing into it and pulling it off. (This will make the ribs more tender.) Sprinkle salt and pepper over slabs; wrap each slab tightly in aluminum foil. Place slabs on a jelly-roll pan, and bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until tender and meat pulls away from bone.
2. Bring honey, soy sauce, and butter to a boil in a saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Remove slabs from oven. Increase oven temperature to broil on high. Carefully remove slabs from foil; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush each slab with 3 Tbsp. honey mixture.
4. Broil 5 to 7 minutes or until browned and sticky. Brush with remaining honey mixture.
5. Serve with coleslaw.

June 27, 2016

Book Review: Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

The distinctive storytelling genius of Neil Gaiman has been acclaimed by writers as diverse as Norman Mailer and Stephen King. Now in this new collection of stories — several of which have never before appeared in print, and more than half that have never been collected — that will dazzle the senses and haunt the imagination. Miraculous inventions and unforgettable characters inhabit these pages: an elderly widow who finds the Holy Grail in a second-hand store...a frightened little boy who bargains for his life with a troll living under a bridge by the railroad tracks...a stray cat who battles nightly against a recurring evil that threatens his unsusupecting adoptive family. In these stories, Gaiman displays the power, wit, insight and outrageous originality that has made him one of the most unique literary artists of our day.

Neil Gaiman's storytelling style is wise and witty and familiar yet strange and unique.  His stories and novels are so wonderfully inventive and at the same time have a disquieting, deep layer of truth to them. As if they're not fiction at all, but what lies behind the curtain of what we perceive as reality. 

"Stories are, in one way or another, mirrors.  We use them to explain to ourselves how the world works or how it doesn't work. Like mirrors, stories prepare us for the day to come. They distract us from the things in the darkness."

The stories range from light-hearted fantasy to horror to science-fiction, each one compelling and thought-provoking. There's a retelling of Snow White from the wicked stepmother's point of view, a cure for cancer that has some unusual side effects, a werewolf story, and my favorite of them all, a strange wedding gift. As with his other short story collection, Gaiman includes an introductory chapter that explains the genesis of each story, which sometimes is as entertaining as the story itself.

June 24, 2016

Summer 2016 Purses from Coach

I was a little late in my summer purse hunting, still enamored with spring. However, one trip to my local Coach outlet store delivered some very satisfying purchases. While the selection was varied and the prices were right (50% the entire store/ 75% off clearance items), one thing to note is that most of the items do not come with dustbags. However, the clerk was nice enough to provide me with boxes in which to keep my purses when they are not in use.

I fell in love with this Sierra pebble leather satchel in azure with silver hardware. Something about it invoked summer - blue skies & white beaches -to me. Plus the aforementioned 75% immediately made up my mind.

This is the perfect size for me - not too big, not too small. It comes with a strap for cross-body wear, with one zippered interior pocket on one side and two open pockets in the other.  It's also structured, which I favor nowadays. I just hate bags that droop. 

I was about to leave the store when I spied this lone signature satchel in beige coated canvas with chalk leather trim and gold hardware.  It was the last one they had and 75% off to boot.  Of course I swooped in and snagged it.  

June 22, 2016

Banana & Blueberry Greek Yogurt Pancakes

The Greek yogurt gives these pancakes a denser texture with a hint of tartness that goes well with the bananas and blueberries. They are just sweet enough to devour without syrup ... but feel free to drizzle away.



1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries
1 banana sliced into 1/4-inch slices
vegetable oil

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt & sugar in a small bowl.
2. In a stand mixer, mix the Greek yogurt, eggs, milk and vanilla extract well.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until the batter is smooth and slightly runny. If too thick add additional milk a little at a time.
4. Coat the bottom of a nonstick skillet or griddle with vegetable oil either with a brush or a paper towel.
5. Heat to medium.
6. Ladle a 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet/griddle. Arrange banana slices and blueberries onto the batter, pressing until they are coated with batter.
7. Flip pancake with a spatula when the bottom is golden brown.
8. Coat the skillet/griddle with more oil in between each pancake.
9. Top with extra banana slices and blueberries and eat as is or drizzled with maple syrup.

June 20, 2016

Book Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over—and see everything anew. 

I knew I was going to like this book when on the second page, one of the characters rejects her date when he offers Principles of Accounting II as the book that had the greatest influence on him.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is the best kind of book – for and about booklovers. Each chapter is preceded by the main character’s wry analysis of different short stories – from Roald Dahl to F. Scott Fitzgerald, with some accompanying advice. Not until towards the latter half does the reader understand to whom these notes are directed and the bittersweet reason why. Books and stories are woven in the narrative – they are used as symbolic devices and plot twists. A bookstore owner’s life becomes unexpectedly complicated when his most valuable rare book goes missing. In its place he finds love, some intrigue and suspense, but most of all – there are books, books, books!

“People tell boring lies about politics, God and love.  You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, ‘What is your favorite book?’”

June 17, 2016

My Harry Potter Book Purse

In preparing for my upcoming trip to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this summer, I wanted to bring an extra special accessory to commemorate the occasion.  I turned to Bookarelli's Etsy store and fell in love with this beautiful book purse made from the UK edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I got to choose the color of the fabric lining inside and the color of the handles.  Each one is made to order.  About four weeks after my initial order, my gorgeous purse arrived from the UK.

It came nestled in mounds of bubble wrap, with a sweet note from Bookarelli and its own little protective bag.  The attention to detail is superb.


Instructions on how to care for my book purse.

Although it doesn't hold very much (my phone, a small wallet, and play tickets :)), I am very happy with my new purse and will wear it with pride in a few weeks.

June 15, 2016

Shaved Fennel and Salami Salad

This salad is light and hearty at the same time and makes a meal by itself. I eat this for a good lunch and actually can last until the next day if you have leftovers, just make sure to drain any liquid at the bottom before storing away.

Shaved Fennel and Salami Salad

1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups), plus ½ cup chopped fronds (use a mandoline, if you have one, to shave the fennel)
3 large celery stalks, trimmed, peeled, and thinly sliced on the bias
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces salami, thickly sliced and julienned
4 ounces caciocavallo or smoked mozzarella cheese, julienned
Juice of 1 large lemon, freshly squeezed
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine the fennel (but not the fronds), celery, red onion, salami, and cheese.
2. Drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil, and season with the salt and some pepper. Toss well to coat all of the ingredients with the dressing. Sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds and toss lightly. Let sit about 10 minutes before serving, to combine the flavor.

June 13, 2016

Book Review: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff

I read 84, Charing Cross Road years ago and was utterly charmed by Helene Hanff’s voice – frank, funny, down-to-earth except when she’s talking about books and then there’s a reverence and adoration there that echoed what I felt in my own bookwormy heart. She never did visit London until after Frank Doel died and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is the chronicle of that once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Another thing I like about Hanff’s writing is she’s not coming from a privileged place. Hanff’s very relatable perspective is one of a poor (less so because of 84’s success) booklover trying to stretch her pounds as far they can possibly go so that she can stay in London longer. Because of 84, Charing Cross Road s popularity, all her English fans bestow their warmth and generosity by squiring her all around London, thus the “duchess” in the title. Her awe and delight, so specific to a booklover suddenly seeing the London of her beloved books come to life, makes this a heartwarming read. 

A lovely bonus is that this book also gave me some welcome ideas on some lesser-known places to visit while in London.

“All my life I’ve wanted to see London. I used to go to English movies just to look at houses like those. Staring at the screen in a dark theatre, I wanted to walk down those streets so badly it gnawed on me like hunger. Sometimes, at home in the evening, reading a casual description of London by Hazlitt or Leigh Hunt, I’d put the book down suddenly, engulfed by a wave of longing that was like homesickness. I wanted to see London the way old people want to see home before they die.  I used to tell myself this was natural in a writer and booklover born to the language of Shakespeare.”