Sunday, December 30, 2012

In the Garden of Beasts

Erik Larson on In the Garden of Beasts

During the Christmas break I was able to finish reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. Larson also wrote a very popular book I read a couple years back called The Devil in the White City about the World's Fair in Chicago in the 1890's (and the story of a serial killer who lived in that time) which I highly recommend.

In the Garden of Beasts is a true story about the ambassador to Germany during Hitler's rise to power in the 30's. To be honest, I would typically avoid reading books that touch this particular topic, but my wife had recommended this one so strongly that I gave it a shot. No regrets here.

The story of Ambassador Dodd and his family in Germany is fascinating, told from a perspective that does not go out of its way to present Dodd as a hero, does so, and then does the exact opposite. One of the best parts of this story was the unique point of view that Larson provides on the thoughts and perspective of various individuals and family members who lived through this pivotal time period. This book made its way under the tree of at least three people on our list this year. Great read.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Maple Smoked Grilled Sea Bass with Mango Salsa

Awesome dinner to tonight. Bought a pound of fresh sea bass, threw it on a plank of maple wood and smoked it for about 30 minutes. Then threw some mango salsa (mango, red bell pepper, jalapeño, green onion cilantro and line juice) on top if it. That plus some fresh broccoli from our community garden with toasted almonds and some great wine. Either the fish was just super fresh or we just had a moment of genius or possibly was awesome. Will try to recreate for sure.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Molecular Gastronomy

My wife bought me a molecular gastronomy kit for my birthday this past November. What is that? Well, it's a cooking set that helps you to change the properties of liquids, solids, etc. So for example, you can create pearls of balsamic vinegar if you were so inclined...

A photo of my first foray into this realm is above, taken last night. Fun stuff. Next up may be some lemon foam, whipped asparagus or yogurt ravioli. Who knows where this takes us?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

You Shall Not Pass

Trees block the passageway at the end of the road here. Jozy longs for freedom while my wife finds a path. Obligatory victory pose in the last shot.

Winter Wonderland

Jozy began her budding career as a sled dog today by being incredibly brave and successfully figuring out that snow will not hurt her and is actually fun. It took her a little while to warm up to the idea, but after we got her running for a bit she had a blast. It's beautiful here this morning, power is still up (knock on wood) and we are enjoying a winter wonderland. Merry Christmas to everyone - hope you all are having a safe and wonderful holiday season.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wake Owl - Gold

This song hit my iPod on shuffle tonight. Not sure where it has been hiding but when it came on I hit repeat at least twice. I think it is the voice. My ears sink their teeth into the chorus. Go to Wake Owl's website here.

I don't feel like I'm falling, I'm up against the sky,
I said I'd taken it all in to make the good life,
I don't feel like I'm falling, I'm up against the sky,
Let's grab the heart of the world and turn into the light

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I've been remiss in posting recent books the last few months...and I've read through a few good ones. Recently, I've been digging into the work of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a writer from Barcelona/Los Angeles who created three books in a series known as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books - each of which can be read independently and in any order. I stumbled on Zafón's work simply because of the fact that I had noticed Stephen King had reviewed and recommended his work. I might follow this approach a bit more often in the future because I've found the first two books I have read by Zafón to be very well written - great escapism novels that plunge you into the 40's and 50's in Barcelona. I don't know if I can really pinpoint the quality in his writing that I enjoy but it is a combination of a gothic tone, mystery, strong character development and a style that just seems very fluid to me. Overall, just an enjoyable voice to get lost in.

I started with The Shadow of the Wind and just finished The Prisoner of Heaven. Just bought the third entitled The Angel's Game today. If you are tempted to explore further, check out his website here and I would start with The Shadow of the Wind.

For those of you who are readers of The Economist, here is a quote from their review of The Shadow of the Wind. Read the full review here.
'The book is written by someone witty and knowing enough to spoof himself while still being able to raise the hairs on the back of your neck... Carlos Ruiz Zafón's zest is infectious... He swathes his story with atmospherics... Barcelona becomes a place of doors opening into dark interiors of the mind... Behind all this is a fierce satirical energy against the tyrants and philistines of history... A game it may be, but somewhere in the shadows are the Caprichos of Goya.' 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Spirit of the Season

The tree is decorated and Jozy is ready for Christmas! She is running around the house trying to eat every Santa or snowman figure that she can find. She is not the only one feeling the spirit of the season though.