Upcoming Reads

If anyone else is like me and curious about what books to look forward and make time for in your busy schedule, than today is your lucky day. Looking at many upcoming releases, there is a lot to look forward to in the coming months so prepare your bookshelves or your e-readers! A special thanks to the Barnes and Noble website for posing all of these and the information. Here are some select books that I figured would be the most popular and exciting;

Unlucky 13- James Patterson

Unlucky 13

The Women’s Murder Club is stalked by a killer with nothing to lose.

San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer is loving her life as a new mother. With an attentive husband, a job she loves, plus best friends who can talk about anything from sex to murder, things couldn’t be better.

Then the FBI sends Lindsay a photo of a killer from her past, and her happy world is shattered. The picture captures a beautiful woman at a stoplight. But all Lindsay sees is the psychopath behind those seductive eyes: Mackie Morales, the most deranged and dangerous mind the Women’s Murder Club has ever encountered.

In this pulse-racing, emotionally charged novel by James Patterson, the Women’s Murder Club must find a killer–before she finds them first.”

James Patterson has always written really good thrilling mysteries that never fail to excite you. I don’t expect any less from this next book which should be released the week of May 5th.

Any Other Name-Craig Johnson

Any Other Name (Walt Longmire Series #10)

“A sheriff’s mysterious death spurs the new novel in the New York Times bestselling Longmire Mystery Series

Sheriff Walt Longmire had already rounded up a sizable posse of devoted readers when the A&E television series Longmire sent the Wyoming lawman’s popularity skyrocketing. Now, with three consecutive New York Timesbestsellers to his name and the second season of Longmire reaching an average of 5.4 million viewers per episode, Craig Johnson is reaching a fan base that is both fiercely loyal and ever growing.

In Any Other Name, Walt is sinking into high-plains winter discontent when his former boss, Lucian Conally, asks him to take on a mercy case in an adjacent county. Detective Gerald Holman is dead and Lucian wants to know what drove his old friend to take his own life. With the clock ticking on the birth of his first grandchild, Walt learns that the by-the-book detective might have suppressed evidence concerning three missing women. Digging deeper, Walt uncovers an incriminating secret so dark that it threatens to claim other lives even before the sheriff can serve justice—Wyoming style.”

My parents and I are a big fan of the show, Longmire, and have just recently found out that the show is based loosely off a book series. My father has read the books, and really enjoyed them, so I trust his opinion in recommending these to you. Hopefully the books closely resemble the tv show unlike the pile of crap that was (is?) the Under The Dome t.v. series. This book is to come out the week of May 12th. .

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Veggie Meals

With summer (hopefully quickly) approaching us, many people are looking for new healthy eating styles to be able to get their weight down for their summer swimsuit ready bodies. There are endless amounts of fad diets that you can find out there and many different ways that you can healthily get your summer body back. One way that I would recommend to do that is to eat more fruits and veggies. Yes, I know, I really should alert the media at my profound new development-who knew eating fruits and veggies could help you get healthier? Well, to some people it may only sound so easy in theory and they may need a little push to the healthy eating side.

In America we tend to eat our meals backwards from everybody else in the world, much like we do everything else. In Europe it is more common to eat a big lunch and a very small dinner because it is more likely that you will retain more fat from your meal if you eat more later in the day. So, how do we begin to make the transition to the European style meals? Well one easy way to do that is to trick our minds. If we eat veggies, we can eat more of them which will make our minds feel fuller, but they have less calories so that we can stay on track to healthy eating habits and feel better, so you’re not so stuffed at night that you can’t breathe.

There are so many good veggie options out there that can be very delicious as well as nutritious for your dinner meal. I have a few suggestions from the meals that I tend to eat and really enjoy.

 

Zucchini and Squash

This is a really good and light meal that you can have. All I do to make mine is cut up some slices of both Zucchini and Squash and put it in one of those Steamfresh bags, that you can find at any local market or store. After you warm them up or cook them for a while and make them steamy you can add other ingredients. Often when I am feeling lazy, I simply add some 0 calorie French Dressing to them and that is fabulous. Although you could also add other seasonings and spices to your taste, it may be a trial and error sort of thing.

 

Eggplant

This is by far one of the best meals that I have ever eaten and one of my favourites by far. Breaded eggplant is very very good and I would highly recommend it to anybody. Even if you’re a little skiddish before trying it, it would be well worth the effort to go for it. it is really good and really easy to make. A simple recipe that I found online is as follows:

Ingredients
2 medium eggplants
Salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk or half and half
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups dry panko crumbs
Lemon ricotta mixture:
2 pounds ricotta cheese
3 eggs, beaten
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
Cut off the top of the eggplant and slice crosswise. Sprinkle with salt and arrange the slices on a plate at an angle. Put a weight on top of it to sweat the eggplant, allowing the juices to drain for 1 to 2 hours. Dry the eggplant slices with a paper towel.

Mix the eggs, milk and pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir the crushed garlic into the olive oil in a cup. Lightly coat a baking sheet with the garlic-olive oil mixture.

Dip each slice of eggplant on both sides in the egg batter and then into the bread crumbs. Tap in the bread crumbs with your palm to get a good adherence to the surface. Shake off the excess crumbs and place breaded slices of eggplant on the baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes on each side at 375 degrees until the eggplant is tender

Lemon ricotta mixture:
Put the ricotta in a bowl and stir in the eggs; add the remaining ingredients and mix together.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/breaded-eggplant-recipe.html

 

Assassination Vacation

In the past few weeks we have been very busy children in our AP Lang class, and have started our next author study project. At first I was disappointed at my author that I received, Sarah Vowel, but my initial reaction was soon proven wrong. I learned the lesson to never judge an author by the two sentence summary you hear about her. While I was expecting another few weeks of forcing myself to read books by an author that I didn’t chose, I was delightfully proven wrong. When I found that her first book was called Assassination Vacation, I was excited to read it. Anything with the word assassination in it will immediately catch my interest.

This book is about her adventures around the United States to places where presidents have been assassinated or places related to the act of killing them, such as the place that John Wilkes Booth ran to escape the police after him after shooting Lincoln in Ford Theater. This book is actually really interesting and fun to read. She explores the world of presidential assassinations and how they happened and why. She also brings in a lot of trivia facts about the deaths, such as the correlation between Robert Lincoln between everyone of the presidential assassinations. For example Robert was supposed to be set up with Booth’s fiance not a week before his father was killed by the man. He also saved Booth’s brother from getting hit by an underground one day many years later. He has been associated with every one of the assassinations, not only the one of his father.

The history of death in the United States is always fascinating and interesting especially when you add in the element of historical background.  Vowel throughout the book explains how she is obsessed with death, but not pleased by the result or the act of it. I share this belief with her. The art of death and peoples means behind it are fascinating but the fact that people have to die to have the fascination is sad. There are many places and facts about these things that many people aren’t aware of and Sarah Vowel brings these to life through her adventures. There is also a fun element of humour throughout the book as she describes how her friends are aware of how odd her passion is and how she often has to drag them along to the places that she describes in the book.

If you’re fascinated by history or the minds of people I would totally recommend this book. Happy Booking!

Health Tips (Part 2)

Well continuing off of my last post, here are the rest of the health tips that you can easily add to your everyday life to greatly improve you’re health, lifestyle, and just to feel better all over. These are all super easy and not the only things that will help you, but just simple reminders of the things that we should be trying to do in our everyday lives.

6. Fruits and Veggies

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Pretty obvious right? Not really a shocker that you’re supposed to eat fruits and veggies everyday. It’s hard sometimes though to get enough of these good foods and to get them every single day. Sometimes if you start off by having a little bit more each day you can learn to easily work these into your busy eating schedule. You can make fruit smoothies and drink V8 juice to make it seem like you’re not really eating healthy when you really are. Try to eat wide varieties and make sure not to forget your leafy greens, as those are very valuable also. One fun fact is that if a certain fruit or veggie tastes especially good one day, that means you’re lacking the nutrition that food has to offer and should be eating it more.

7. Go Outside

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As hard as it may be to turn off the tv, get off the computer, pause Netflix and get off the couch and go outside somedays, it really is very important. Our bodies need Vitamin D to live, and that is made by the sun and we can get it by being outside. By being outside the bright light is proven to be somewhat of an antidepressant and helps boost moods. The outdoors can also help with our sleep cycle in regulating the melatonin levels and letting us sleep easier and more soundly.

8. Exercise

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Again, another shocker right? We’ll exercise of course is a very important part of our lives. We should be exercising a little bit everyday. Weather it be going for a run, using equipment at the gym, or taking a class like yoga or Zumba. Exercise helps keep us fit and healthy as well as helping regulate blood flow, increasing mood, and helping to regulate the sleep cycles. You can’t feel bad after a really good workout, maybe sore but happy nonetheless.

9. Sleep

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Sleeping is very vital to our well beings. When we sleep out body resents itself and sorts through all of the information we process during the day. It also allows time for our body to repair without having to focus on the ordeals of being awake and active. If we keep a regular sleep schedule of about 8 hours of more than the results will show in your life.

Spanish Cuisine: Mediterranean

Spain is a beautiful country filled with a strong and rich culture, an amazing landscape, a comfortable climate, and fun people. It’s a really amazing country that is the tourist spot for many people traveling to Europe. Spain had over fourty-six million citizens and consists of about 88% Spaniards with around 12% of immigrants or foreigners. The rich culture that has been thriving in Spain for hundreds of years is fascinating alone, having many influences from ancient Rome and Latin cultures. One big part of the Spanish culture, as with many places, is the cuisine.  While America has” americanized” adaptions of many ethnic foods, once you really taste the actual authentic food, than you’ll never be able to go back to the American versions. Spain has three main divisions of cuisine: Mediterranean, Inner, and Atlantic. All of these kinds have their own special flavour and flair that make them each slightly different.

Mediterranean style of Spanish cuisine is mostly found along the coastal regions of the country, and helps shows the cultural ties to the Mediterranean. This division of the food consists highly of seafood, as it is more common around the coast. The common ingredients for these types of dishes are often things such as olive oil. lentils, chickpeas. and a big emphasis on the vegetables in the meal. There are many good examples and recipes for these sorts of dishes that you can make at home to get the feel for it. One of the most common meals is a delicious soup called Gazpacho. It is a cold soup that is very popular in Spain. On authentic recipe that I found is as follows:

From Papi’s Garden: Authentic Spanish Gazpacho
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
20 mins
Total time
40 mins
Authentic gazpacho from Spain is silky and smooth not chunky. You can add some crunch with some fresh cut tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and fresh made croutons.
Recipe type: cold soup
Cuisine: Kosher / Spanish
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 3 medium red bell peppers, roughly chopped
  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 12 medium ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic (optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp plain bread crumbs
  • Home made croutons
  • 1 large french baguette
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt or to taste
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender (depending on the size of the jar, you may have to do it in several batches). Blend until smooth
  2. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to get rid of tomato and pepper skin and cucumber seeds.
  3. Chill for a couple of hours before serving.
  4. Serve with home made croutons
  5. Home made croutons
  6. Dice the baguette and place in a large bowl
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Spread the bread cubes on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil in one single layer
  8. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes or until golden brown
  9. Serve on top of the gazpacho.
  10. Enjoy! From May I have that recipe

 

Another very popular dish is called, Paella. This is a rice based dish that originates from Valencia. The recipe that I found is said to be very authentic and gives you the taste that you would expect coming straight from Spain itself and has been validated by many people who came from or had relatives from Spain. You can make it by following here:

Mixed Paella – Version II – Paella Mixta – Versión II

Mixed Paella - Version II

The world famous rice dish! Perfect for any gathering.
Makes 6-8 servings.

Prep Time: 1 hr.

Cook Time: 1 hr. 20 min.

4 Star Rating
Average Customer Rating: 4.5out of 5
based on 11 reviews

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Ingredients:

6 cups very strong chicken broth (bouillon)
1/2 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera)
small onion, peeled
small chickens, about 2-1/2 lbs each
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 lb of cooking chorizo, in 1/4 inch slices
1/4 lb piece jamón serrano ham, diced
medium onion, chopped
scallions, chopped
4 tbsp chopped garlic
roasted piquillo peppers
1 lb small or medium shrimp, shelled
(Optional) Live lobsters, boiled, split and divided into tail sections and claws (discard or keep the head and small claws); or
(Optional) Lobster tails, split lengthwise;
(Optional) King crab claws; or 
jumbo shrimp, in their shells, preferably heads on
3 cups short grain Spanish rice such as Bomba or Calasparra
5 tbsp chopped parsley
bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 lb fresh or frozen peas
18 clams and/or mussels, scrubbed
Lemon wedges for garnish
Parsley for garnish

Preparation:

Heat the broth with the saffron, pimentón and the whole onion. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove the onion and measure the broth — you need exactly 5-1/2 cups.

Cut the chickens into small serving pieces — the whole breast in 4 parts, each thigh into 2 parts, the bony tip of the leg chopped off, the wing tip discarded, and the rest of the wing separated into 2 parts. Dry the pieces well and sprinkle with salt.

In a metal Paella pan, with about a 15 inch base, heat the oil. Add the chicken pieces and fry over high heat until golden. Remove to a warm platter. Add the chorizo, and jamón to the pan and stir fry about 10 minutes. Add the chopped onion, scallions, garlic, and pimentos and saute until the onion is wilted. Add the shrimp and the lobster and saute about 3 minutes more, or until the shrimp and lobster barely turn pink (the lobster will cook more in the oven.) Remove the shrimp and lobster to the platter with the chicken. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it well with the oil. Sprinkle in the 5 tablespoons of chopped parsley and the crumbled bay leaves. (You can make in advance up to this point.)

Stir in the chicken broth, boiling hot, the wine, rice, and peas. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat about 10 minutes. Bury the shrimp and the chicken in the rice. Add the clams and the mussels, pushing them into the rice, with the edge that will open facing up. Decorate the paella with the lobster pieces, then bake at 325 F, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit on top of the stove, lightly covered with foil, for about 10 minutes. To serve, decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.

Lobster can be a little expensive, so replace it with a comparable amount of shrimp if you wish!

Another very famous rice based meal is called  arròs negre and originates from Catalonia. This is a very popular and famous dish and I have heard that it is very delicious as well. This recipe may be harder to follow as this dish contains squid. This may be for the more adventurous eaters who are both able and willing to track down the ingredients. So good luck with this one, although you may be able to find more American substitutes it just won’t be as accurate for you. 

  • 125 ml (½ cup)
  • olive oil
  • 200 gm
  • canned whole tomatoes
  • To taste:
  • white sugar
  • 450 gm
  • squid tubes, cleaned and sliced into 1cm rings
  • 1
  • large onion, finely chopped
  • 2
  • red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves
  • garlic, finely chopped
  • 300 gm
  • Calasparra rice (see note)
  • 1 tbsp
  • squid ink (see note)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup)
  • white wine
  • 1.5 litres (6 cups)
  • hot fish stock
  • ½ cup (loosely packed)
  • flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • To serve:
  • lemon wedges
  • Alioli
  • 2 cloves
  • garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp
  • sherry vinegar
  • 2
  • egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp
  • Dijon mustard
  • 100 ml
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 100 ml
  • vegetable oil

Method

  • 01
  • For alioli, combine garlic and vinegar in a bowl, add egg yolks and mustard and whisk to combine. Combine oils and gradually add oil mixture a drop at a time to egg yolk mixture, whisking until a thick emulsion forms. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 02
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, add tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until thickened. Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and white sugar.
  • 03
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 40cm-paella pan or large frying pan over high heat, add squid and sauté for 30 seconds or until just starting to colour. Remove and set aside. Add remaining olive oil and cook onion and capsicum for 5 minutes or until starting to colour, reduce heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes or until garlic is soft. Add rice and stir to coat, add tomato and stir to combine.
  • 04
  • Combine squid ink, wine and stock in a jug and stir to dissolve ink, then add to rice mixture, reduce heat and simmer, without stirring, shaking pan occasionally to loosen rice from base, for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and stock is almost absorbed. Scatter squid over rice and cook for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover with foil and stand for 5 minutes. Scatter with parsley and serve with lemon wedges and alioli to the side.
Note Calasparra rice is grown in the village of the same name in the Murcia region of Spain. The plump, round grain absorbs three times its quantity in liquid but it is not creamy, so grains remain firm. If squid sacs are still intact and there is enough ink (squid tend to release their ink when caught), strain ink through a fine sieve before using. Alternatively, squid ink is available in a jar or sachet from select fishmongers and speciality food stores.

Happy Cooking! Cocinera!

Tea Gets Even Better

Tea is one of the best tasting, healthiest, and popular drinks around the world, aside from water. It’s most commonly drunk in England and China, although worldwide it is still a very common occurrence. In the United States it is more common to drink iced tea, while that is almost unheard of and considered very strange in the UK. Tea has uncountable amounts of health benefits depending on the type you get and even the mixture of tea types if you choose to use multiple kinds. All tea kinds are wonderful in their own way, and can help you greatly with some health aspects.

Green Tea

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This is one of my personal favourite tea kinds. Green tea is very good and often comes in many different flavours for every preference. I have ones that are orange spice, pomegranate, blueberry, and more like those. Besides taste there are health benefits also to drinking green tea. The most common and well known use for green tea is for weight loss. It is said to boost the metabolism and help to prevent storage of fat and plaque growth in veins. There is some debate about this, but one claim in the medical field is that there is a compound in the leaves that promotes brain cell growth and can increase quality thinking, theoretically making you smarter. Tea has many different antioxidants that have been shown in test studies to prevent the growth and start of some types of cancer. It also contains compounds along with promoting intelligence it can also prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. It can also help with diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

One website states that green tea;

There are three main varieties of tea — green, black, and oolong. The difference is in how the teas are processed. Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants are substances that fight free radicals — damaging compounds in the body that change cells, damage DNA, and even cause cell death. Many scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.
In traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, practitioners used green tea as a stimulant, a diuretic (to help rid the body of excess fluid), an astringent (to control bleeding and help heal wounds), and to improve heart health. Other traditional uses of green tea include treating gas, regulating body temperature and blood sugar, promoting digestion, and improving mental processes.

Source: Green tea | University of Maryland Medical Center

Health Tips (Part 1)

There are endless tips out in the world on the best things that you can do to become healthier and live longer. There are things that only work for some people and also things that companies say to get you to buy their products. There are some basic biological things that are scientifically proven to improve health and will make you feel 100 times better than you did before. If you make even these ten simple changes in you life you can become so much healthier, more fit, and happier even.

1. Eat a good breakfast.

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Everybody, including me, struggles in eating breakfast in the first place, let alone a really healthy one. In our busy schedules we would much rather sleep in an extra twenty minutes than take time to eat a balanced breakfast. It’s proven that if you eat a big and healthy breakfast you will eat less through out the whole day, feel better, and it can even increase your metabolism for the rest of the day. A good breakfast is some grains such as granola, yogurt, and fruit. Paired with a glass of orange juice, coffee, or tea. If you do this you’re set for the whole day.

2. Water, water, and more water

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Everyone I’m sure has heard the typical, you need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, or 2 liters total. This rule though, is more important than many people may think. Being a student, it’s hard to make sure to drink all of that water when you aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom for 8 hours a day(which I highly dislike in my opinion. I mean how would the teachers like it if we refused them the right to pee?). But back to the point water is so important. It helps with your skin, organs, basically every bodily function. So go ahead, grab a glass of ice cold water.

3. Vitamins

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In today’s culture, it has become increasingly hard to get all of the recommended vitamins that we require in a day to be totally healthy. So the best way to fix that is my taking multi-vitamins. There are many very good ones out there and some that are even specified for certain people and age groups. I personally take one for teen girls and my parents that the adult ones. They can be very helpful and nice just for that extra boost.

4. Socialize

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I as much as the next person will agree that people are self involved idiots. Although I also know that, as much as I would like to deny it, sadly I too am a person. And people by nature need to socialize to survive. It may seem odd and very hard some days. But socialization is actually a health benefit. Laughing and being with people can boost metabolism, help the immune system and more important our psychology. As much as I hate being around people, my mental state would be even worse if I didn’t socialize. So get out there and make some friends!

5. Be Happy! (Even if you’re not)

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It is psychologically proven that if you excerpt the feelings and actions of being happy, even if you feel that you’re not happy, it will have positive effects on your life and health. If you smile and laugh and sit up straighter your body will actually think that you in turn are happy. You will usually feel happier and your immune system, metabolism, and circulatory system will boost and see improvements. So even if you’re sad, pretend to be happy and your body will be!