Saturday, October 25, 2014

Seasonal Plate and Two Book Reviews

And now I am adding two more-could not resist! 
and so begins this story...
It’s something I call an invisible thread. It is, as the old Chinese proverb tells us, a thing that connects two people who are destined to meet, regardless of time and place and circumstance. Some legends call it the red string of fate, others the thread of destiny.

"Excuse me, lady, do you have any spare change?"

This was the first thing he said to me, on 56th Street in New York City, right around the corner from Broadway, on a sunny September day.

And when I heard him, I didn't really hear him. His words were part of the clatter, like a car horn or someone yelling from a cab. They were, you could say, just noise - the kind of nuisance New Yorkers learn to tune out. So I walked right by him, as if he wasn't there.

But then - and I'm not sure why I did this - I came back.

I came back and I looked at him, and I realized he was just a boy. Earlier, out of the corner of my eye, I had noticed he was young. But now, looking at him, I saw that he was a child - tiny body, sticks for arms, big round eyes. He wore a burgundy sweater that was smudged and frayed and ratty burgundy sweatpants to match. He had scuffed white sneakers with untied laces, and his fingernails were dirty. But his eyes were bright and there was a general sweetness about him. He was, I would soon learn, eleven years old.

He stretched his palm toward me, and he asked again, "Excuse me, lady, do you have any spare change? I am hungry."

What I said in response may have surprised him, but it really shocked me.

"If you're hungry," I said, "I'll take you to McDonald's and buy you lunch."

"Can I have a cheeseburger?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"How about a Big Mac?"

"That's okay, too."

"How about a Diet Coke?"

"Yes, that's okay."

"Well, how about a thick chocolate shake and French fries?"

I told him he could have anything he wanted. And then I asked if I could join him for lunch.

He thought about it for a second.

"Sure," he finally said.

We had lunch together that day, at McDonald's.

And after that, we got together every Monday. For the next 150 Mondays.

His name is Maurice, and he changed my life.

Thus begins a life changing adventure not only in Maurice's life, but also in Laura Schroff's as well. How one day when you make a small step towards doing something different in your routine, it will alter your life and take you on a different path that will make you a better person than you ever dreamed.


This is the story about how an advertising sales executive and an 11 year old panhandler change each other’s lives. It is an inspirational and compelling story. The author and Maurice have maintained that friendship for over 25 years. They are pictured below. 


"The Boys in the Boat" is the well-researched tale of the University of Washington rowing crew that captured a gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Author Brown cleverly ties together a wide net of coaching problems, family issues, myriad rowing technicalities, and timely political hot points to name a few. Readers will definitely learn how a serious crew is put together. The author also shines a sometimes critical light on the Nazi rise to power of the early 1930s. There was no escaping the intrusion of politics in this particular Olympiad, since the Nazi hierarchy carefully planned the Games as a major propaganda ploy. 


Parallel developments in Europe provided a good counterpoint and context for understanding the complexity of thought and behavior of the time. The story also parallels the life and politics of the US unfolding at this time.

Like the book "Seabiscuit" this book transcends the subject of "rowing". It transports you to another place and time. The story is told through the eyes of Joe Rantz, a remarkable man who overcame much adversity to be sitting in that shell on the Langer See in 1936. The descriptions of the characters allow you to get to know who they were, how they got to where they were, and what happened in their early lives that lead them there. This is a book about overcoming obstacles and winning against odds. The writing is superb.
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Seasonal Plate-Autumn Sides 
Cook's notes: These are the recipes submitted for the week of October 27th for Pilot newspaper. 
Some of the recipes were previously posted on Ever Ready so I gave the links to them.  
Cranberry-Orange Wild Rice Muffins
http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2014/10/cranberry-orange-wild-rice-muffins.html
Cauliflower Gratin
Ingredients:
  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets 
  • 1-1/2 TB. each Dijon-style mustard, olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil and melted butter 
  • ¾ cup heavy cream at room temperature mixed with 2 TB. flour 
  • 1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs 
  • ¾ - 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese 
  • 1 tsp. each parsley and thyme 
  • 1-1/2 tsp. orange zest 
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds 
Directions:
  • Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add cauliflower, reduce heat cook 5 minutes and drain. 
  • Grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a bowl combine olive oil, mustard and toss with drained cauliflower, add to baking dish. Mix cream and flour, pour over cauliflower. 
  • Mix panko crumbs, cheese, spices and orange zest, sprinkle over top of cauliflower, drizzle with butter. Cover and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes 
  • Sprinkle cauliflower dish with the almonds the last 10 minutes of baking time. 
Honey Sage Sweet Potatoes and Pears

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