Whatcha Reading? And Cooking?

Open book with a field and a tree instead of pages against a blue cloudy skyIt's the most expensive comment thread of the site, when I ask what you're reading, and how you like it, and then I buy about 3/4ths of the things you suggest. 

(Please tell me I'm not alone in that problem, please.)

I'm reading a mix of holiday titles, and am trying not to allow myself to read the Tessa Dare historical that isn't out until February, but I have a feeling I'm going to cave and read it early. 

What about you? Have you started any holiday themed books? What are you reading this weekend? How do you like it? Anything you recommend?

DonnaMarie suggested in the comments of one of the deals post that I enquire as to what you're cooking, too. YES PLEASE FOOD! I've been posting cookbooks on sale recently because I love digital cookbooks. Have you tried any recipes? What are you cooking right now?

Me, it's my cooking season. I'm making things to freeze, like cassoulet, lentil soup, bolognese sauce, and white bean soup with tomatoes, and I'm baking a lot of bread. (I use our old breadmaker – going on 14 years old – to make the dough, then pat it out, roll it, and bake it in the oven. YUM.)

So, how about you? Reading? Cooking? Both? 

(Wait – let me go put my wallet in the freezer beneath something frosty and mysterious.) 

OK, go!


Random Musings

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  1. 1

    I’ve downloaded “The Book Thief” (Kindle version) but I keep putting off starting it because I’m afraid I’ll stay up all night reading, which would be a bad idea right now (throwing off my sleep schedule). But I really do want to read it.  Maybe over Thanksgiving weekend, if I can bear to wait that long…

    Cooking: I tried making Aussie-style Crash Hot Potatoes the other night.  They turned out delicious in the end, but things started out a little rocky.  Let’s just say that putting a round boiled potato on an oiled cookie sheet and trying to crush it with a potato masher—well, it was more like Ricochet Hot Potatoes.  I should’ve filmed it and stuck a Yakety Sax soundtrack on…I’d have a million hits on YouTube by now.

  2. 2
    Gry says:

    Reading Dana Marie Bell’s Throne of Oak. Great fun!

    Am planning to do some real cooking today. I have meat, spices and veggies, so I’m all set to start throwing stuff into a pot later on. No, I don’t have a recipe – when I do one of these, I always sort of improvise. :D

  3. 3
    TaraL says:

    I’ve been gearing up to read Connie Brockway’s No Place For A Dame. I realized I hadn’t read her previous books with Lord Strand in them, so I read Promise Me Heaven and just finished All Through The Night about 10 minutes ago, so I’ll probably start Dame tonight.

    Cooking has been fun lately. I got into the habit of making a soft, whole wheat maple bread for quite awhile, letting the bread machine do the kneading and then shaping it into a loaf pan and into the oven, but I just recently went back to doing large no-knead batches of dough and trying different things with it. In the last few weeks, in addition to regular loaves, I’ve made cinnamon rolls, pizza and, my new favorite, English muffins. I have chickens for the first time in a long time and have been trying to use up the appalling number of eggs I’m getting. Discovering I can have fresh, hot English muffins in about 50 minutes, with only about 10 minutes of actual hands-on time, has been wonderful and the egg muffin is the go-to breakfast lately.

    Also, hubby is probably going to be gone over Thanksgiving, so 2 nights ago I cooked a turkey and made some cranberry-chipotle relish to go with it. My big leftover success last year was turkey tacos with this relish on them; possibly my favorite turkey leftovers ever. Since we both love Mexican food, that’ll be several meals over the next week.

  4. 4
    Brianne says:

    Reading:  Just started Sarah Morgan’s Sleigh Bells in the Snow – I’ve liked what I’ve read so far.

    I’m moving into a mix of holiday and non-holiday reads.  My recent read of a Stone Creek Christmas by Linda Lael Miller has me heading to the library for the other books about the O’Ballivan Clan.

    Cooking – working on planning Thanksgiving.  Having more people than last year and trying a few new things

  5. 5

    I’m hoping to read Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan soon.

    I’m also gearing up for Thanksgiving cooking. I plan to make cranberry sauce with apricots and a couple of desserts. I’m also going to make some barbecue meatballs, sausage balls, and bacon appetizers. Maybe I should call it Meatsgiving instead? LOL.

  6. 6
    Karin says:

    I haven’t been getting much reading done, but I finished the Shades of Milk and Honey trilogy by Mary Robinette Kowal a little while back. I loved it but don’t know how to describe it in a review, because I think she’s invented a new subgenre. And I’ve borrowed “To Say Nothing of the Dog” by Connie Willis from the library. The no-knead bread TaraL mentions is awesome, especially for people like me who are anti-bread machine. My go-to cookbooks are Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking, Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, and the Larousse Treasury of Country Cooking. I’m also a HUGE fan of Martha Rose Shulman, who has a number of cookbooks, but I mainly print her recipes from her column in the New York Times. I’m not a vegetarian btw, I just find non-meat centered ethnic, peasant type food to be more interesting and tasty.

  7. 7
    Tam says:

    I am currently on a Harry Bosch binge where I read my way through all the Harry books.  This is always very satisfying because they get progressively better (and the women characters get more nuanced) as he goes along. 

    I just cooked this spicy red fish stew for dinner last night.  I love this website if you have to cook for somebody (HUSBAND) who’s insisting on doing the low-carb thing, because most of the recipes actually taste really good:


  8. 8
    StarOpal says:

    I’m have another struggle reading run. *sigh* Mostly because of stress at work and a lack of time where I can relax. *double sigh*

    At the end of September a friend of mine let me borrow Steven King’s Under the Dome as a Halloween season read. Because of the above mentioned setbacks I’m still only about 130 pages into the 1,000+ page book. Finding The Stand kind of intimidating it’s the first really big King book I’ve read and I’m having a hard time getting into it. I mean it’s still in just the opening. Not that I don’t like it, but my brain isn’t clicking with it, but at the same time it’s a borrowed book so I want to finish it so I can give it back.

    So I’ve been trying to jumpstart myself by taking a quick break and instead reading a manga graphic novel. I went with the first volume of The Story of Saiunkoku, which gives me a little comedy, romance, court intrigue, and a strong female character at a much speedier pace than a novel. When I get done I’m hoping the sense of accomplishment will help energize me to go back to Dome.

    As for what I’m cooking I just made a chocolate pumpkin bundt cake (tre delish). Next I’ll be tackling new to me recipe no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies. Yum!

  9. 9
    Chris Z says:

    I’ve read one holiday book so far this season titled Heating Up the Holidays 3-Story Bundle (Play with Me, Snowfall, and After Midnight): A Loveswept Contemporary Romance.

    Loved it!  Especially Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers.  So so good!

    Birthday dinner for the hubs, his dad and brother tonight so I’ve been making desserts-  Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, mocha cupcakes with espresso frosting and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. 

    I’m also ready for winter and soup is calling my name!  Soup with bread is even better.  My favorite bread books are The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.

  10. 10
    Natalie Hart says:

    I am finally reading a Mary Roach book, GULP, about the digestive system in glorious and hilarious detail. This morning, in what I read while waiting for my son’s soccer training to be done, I read about the practice of hiding things in one’s rectum, and I was so glad I didn’t know any of the adults waiting with me well enough for them to ask me why I was laughing. Packed with information and some of the funniest writing around.

    As far as cooking, I made two new and utterly delicious things this week: marinated chilcken kebabs in mayo and feta cheese, which I then cooked under the broiler. And cauliflower browned garlic soup.

    What a fun thread!

  11. 11
    Connie says:

    I just finished a book my daughter recommended…..“The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells” by Andrew Sean Green . It is a time travel book taking place in 1985, 1941 and 1918.  Briefly, Greta in 1985 is getting electroshock for depression and each session takes her back to a different year. I highly recommend it.  I am now re reading Lorraine Heath’s Scoundrels of St. James books in anticipation of a William Graves novella in January and another Scoundrels in February. I was just gifted the new Meg Wolitzer book The Interestings. 

    In an interview in the New York Times Book Review this week Amy Tan said that she could use a three month sentence in prison to catch up on her reading :-).

    As for cooking, I have my crock pot out for delicious stews and am also on a high roasting kick.  Chicken, veggies (fennel, bok choy, carrots, etc.) and roasting at 400.  And yes, this is an expensive and yummy thread.  Keep it going :-)

  12. 12
    Elyse says:

    I just finished His Until Midnight by Nikki Logan which I really liked (review to come) & I’m listening to Diablo Cody’s book Candy Girl on Audible. It’s a memoir of her year as a stripper in Minneapolis. It’s worth listening to for the narrator’s MN accent alone.

    As for cooking…excuse me while I laugh until I have tears in my eyes. I opened a Diet Coke and a pastry box this morning, thereby making breakfast. I believe the hubs is making beef stew tomorrow, though.

  13. 13
    laj says:

    I’ve got Archangel’s Legion and Glitterland on deck for the weekend. My husband is reading (and loving) a Richard Pryor biography so I’ll read that too.

    I read Sleigh Bells in the Snow. I’m sure I’m the only person who didn’t like it….the heroine was TSTL…..and I didn’t care for the “one week later, I love forever lets get married and have babies” trope. Just couldn’t buy it!

    A pot of spicy black beans to go with vegie/cheese enchiladas. I’m going to roast a chicken with root vegetables and garlic. I leave the garlic cloves in their sleeves…..it’s cooks so good that way….almost like roasting a whole bulb. Sunday I promised to make waffles from scratch for the crew after paddle boarding. The weather in SoCal has finally become coldish, so I plan to cook and snuggle with my spouse and read all weekend.

    I could use a three month holiday in a hammock on Maui to read my TBR list……I don’t think I’d like prison. :(

    Have a great weekend!

  14. 14
    Vicki says:

    I am reading two books. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is about a murder and the last execution in Iceland in 1828 and 1829. A friend lent it to me because my mother is Icelandic and I have visited there. The author is Austrailian but spent time in Iceland and I really feel the tone and depiction are good. The story is, of course, bleak but so is much of Icelandic literature as far as I can tell. Anyhow, enjoying.

    I am also reading Carniepunk, the compilations of stories. I am really liking some of them, the first one by Rob Thurman, for instance. Others not so much but the world building in each story is interesting and it’s fun to watch them do it.

    Not cooking right now. The last two months were an orgy of canning, freezing, and pickling as the gardens ripened. Now I am starting to broach the sauerkraut and the refrigerator pickles, mostly for sandwiches, nothing fancy. But will be doing vegan meatloaf as Thanksgiving approaches.

  15. 15
    janella says:

    I’ve just started reading The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart and listening to One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson – I’m not quite ready for holiday books yet. 

    I’ve been on a cooking roll with Robin Robertson’s new cookbook, One-dish Vegan that I borrowed from the library.  I may have to buy it because I’ve made four recipes from it so far and they’ve all been hits!

  16. 16
    DonnaMarie says:

    I’ve been binge reading Lauren Dane’s Bound by Magick series as I got the fourth book as a First Read freebie on Goodreads and need to get the review in. I am congenitally unable to jump on series midstream. I literally just finished “Wild Darkness” before logging on. I have to review it on Goodreads because, freebie. Let’s just say I much prefer her contemporary romances to her paranormals. But my reward for the binge is the brand spanking new copy of Nalini Singh’s “Archangel’s Legion” that has been patiently waiting for me to meet my prior obligation before totally committing to it. Just like a good Alpha book should. Then it’s Thea Harrison’s “Kinked”. And lest you fear I’m going to overdose on the PNR, I’m saving the crazy sauce of Shannon McKenna’s latest for after the day after Thanksgiving.

    I’m not cooking today. I took a container of leftover slow cooker beef out of the freezer, cause the weather here is tres crappy and perfect for beef stew.  While it’s thawing I’ll be going through my cookbooks to make a list of non perishables for the big feast, as I like to spread out the shopping. For the big feast I count on “The Best Recipe” from the fine people at Cook’s Illustrated and “American Favorites” by Betty Rosbottom whose Roast Turkey Breast with Sage Butter is my A-game maker on Thanksgiving.  Oh, look, Corn and Wild Rice Soup with Smoked Sausage. I’d forgotten this one. Guess that’s what I’ll be cooking tomorrow while the Bears play and the Kiwi Goddess of Paranormal Romance takes me away.

  17. 17
    Lostshadows says:

    I’m almost finished with The Dark Tower by Stephen King, which has been sitting on my tbr pile since 2004.

    I’m also reading Parasite by Mira Grant, which is awesome, so I’m kinda bummed that I probably didn’t win the giveaway. (Last time I checked the contest thingy just said the contest is over, but doesn’t show the winner name like the other giveaways from that week.)

  18. 18
    Amanda says:

    I’m hoping to get to Chloe Neill’s Biting Bad this weekend. I just finished Delphine Dryden’s steampunk romance Gossamer Wing and loved it. But then, she’s on my autobuy list (LOVE her nerdy erotic romance books) so I figured that was a given. Before that, I read Emma Jane Holloway’s A Study in Darkness (book 2 in the Baskerville series). Much better than the first book.

    My sister gave me More from Magnolia Bakery a few years ago, and it’s the most used cookbook in my house. The vanilla cupcake recipe is easy to augment – every time I find a recipe that’s got a vanilla cake base, I use that one, and just swap out the milk it calls for with pumpkin or banana or whatever.

  19. 19
    RevMelinda says:

    This week for me has been all Julia Spencer-Fleming, all the time. I read her latest, “Through the Evil Days,” (which I really liked) and then of course had to go back and re-read all 7 of the previous books to experience the whole Russ and Clare angst/forbidden love thing again. I even got a couple on Audible for my car. Now that I’ve finished that I’m having that forlorn “What else is there to read?” feeling. Any suggestions would be most welcome!

    As far as cooking goes. . . not much lately I’m afraid! Although I am looking forward to making Giada de Laurentiis’ turkey recipe again for Thanksgiving, and hoping it turns out as beautifully (and deliciously) as it did last year.

  20. 20
    Jessi Gage says:

    Last night, I stayed up late to finish Cara McKenna’s UNBOUND. Holy moly. I loved it. I had been looking forward to the book ever since Cara blogged about falling in love with her alcoholic hermit hero with a scratchy rope fetish and inquiring as to whether some heroes are too messed up to get a love story. I voted “nay” and after reading UNBOUND, I stand by that. What a deep, lavish, emotional read it was! And set in the Scottish Highlands! Need I say more?

    Cooking…I had a bad day yesterday and needed comfort food. I sizzled up my old standby, an egg sandwich with runny yolks. Insta-cheer with a film of yellow gel on my lip. Soooo good!

    @Chris Z, I need to read Heating Up the Holidays. That one is on my TBR.
    @Natalie Hart, those kebabs and that soup sound amazing. Where can I find those recipes?
    @Connie, LOL on the prison sentence. Do they allow ereaders? If not, I’m not interested. Unless the prison library has a hefty romance section.

  21. 21
    Jess says:

    Started Beckman, the fourth(?) in the Lonely Lords series by Grace Burrowes. Not bad so far; hopefully everyone can get over their “Oh, my deep dark secrets!” drama. I’ve got Consider the Fork. by Bee Wilson, waiting the wings, so cooking related.

  22. 22
    Layla says:

    I’m reading Luisita Lopez Torregrosa’s Before the Rain: A Memoir of Love and Revolution for queer book club, and when that’s over, I’m going to read the second book in Jacqueline Carey’s Agent of Hel series. I am also dying to read Nicola Griffith’s newest book, Hild. So many things to read! And never enough time.

  23. 23
    merry says:

    I finished Sleigh Bells In The Snow (thank you, SBTB!) and loved it.  I’m reading another recommendation now, Moon Dance by J.R. Rain and loving it as well.  It’s the oddest vampire story about a mom who was turned and was then slowly forced out of her and her children’s life.  It’s wry and funny and and there’s a little romance.  I’m hooked.  So now I have to read the rest of the series as fast as I can, and money is a bit tight this month.  Thanks a lot, J.R. Rain!
    In the spirit of having more pennies to spend on books, last night we made Corned Beef Hash.  (Chopped sautéed onions, a bag of frozen hash browns and a can of corned beef with lots of pepper. No extra salt needed.)  Cook it long and slow till it’s both crispy and tender and the beef has turned a dark rich color.  It was so good!  Who knew?

  24. 24
    Darlynne says:

    Was on a trip for my birthday and didn’t read nearly as much as I expected. I loved MAGIC RISES by Ilona Andrews and Marian Keyes’ RACHEL’S HOLIDAY. But apparently I’m the only person on this planet who hates (present tense because I’m only 70% through) THE CHOCOLATE THIEF. Hates it, as in I’m embarrassed that an American in Paris would behave the way Cade does; embarrassed that anyone in business would think stealing another company’s/professional’s trade secrets is the fault of that company/professional because they wouldn’t sell the secret to the rich American in the first place. Seriously? As I told a friend, this isn’t TSTL, this is just stupid and juvenile and arrogant and … ugh.

    Baking, otoh, is very soothing and I will spend the next two weeks putting together cookies for family and friends. Chocolate chip cookies, caramel and chocolate covered shortbread. Butter, sugar, salt and chocolate: life is good.

  25. 25
    Fiona McGier says:

    I’ve never read FSOG, but I judge in book contests so I’ve read quite a few other examples. I just finished “A Sharp Dressed Man” by Lawrence Montgomery who shares a publisher with me and offered it as a free read for a day. I wanted to read an erotic romance written by a man, for a change. BDSM is really not my cup of tea, and as I read I realized that’s what it was…but I finished it because I always finish books I start. (I’m one of those!) If you like BDSM, you’ll like this book.

    As for cooking/baking, on my website, http://www.fionamcgier.com I hav,e a page devoted to pie recipes, and even if you’ve never made a pie crust from scratch, don’t let that stop you from trying my never-fail recipe, which I’ve taught to kids as young as 9! I do all of the holiday baking, and soon I’ll be putting up Christmas cookie recipes.  But for Thanksgiving, it’s all about the pies…am I right?

  26. 26

    Reading: I just finished an arc of Forget Me Not by new author Heather Ashby. Loved it. It’s a contemporary Military/suspense romance (she’s ex-Navy so her research is spot on). Then I jumped right into a nonfiction, The Zookeepers Wife by Diane Ackerman. It’s about the keepers of the Warsaw zoo during WWII who, after their animals were killed, hid Jews in the animal cages and underground tunnels. I live in Budapest, Hungary, where the memory of the war and the following communist occupation has left a lot of unhealed wounds.

    Cooking: Today I went Thai and made a pot of Tom Yum soup, and some gyoza (pan fried dumplings). Yesterday I made my favorite potatoes, the Swedish Hasselback. I love that they are crispy on the outside like French fries, but soft in the middle like the baked. I load them with cheese and sour cream which means I’d best cut back on calories tomorrow.

  27. 27
    merry Z. says:

    I finished Sleigh Bells In The Snow and loved it (thank you, SBTB!).  Next I read Moon Dance by J. R. Rain.  I did not expect to love it as much as I do.  It’s the oddest vampire story about a wife and mother who was turned and then slowly forced out of the life she knew.  It’s wry and funny and there’s a bit of romance.  So, even though money is a bit tight this month, I have to immediately buy the next in the series, and then the next next after that.  Thanks a lot, J. R. Rain!
    In the spirit of saving pennies for books, last night we made Corned Beef Hash.  (Finely chopped sautéed onions, a bag of frozen hash browns and 2 cans of corned beef – add some ground pepper and cook on top of the stove long and slow until it’s both crispy and tender and the beef is a rich, dark color.  It was so good!  Who knew?

  28. 28
    Kate K.F. says:

    I’m reading The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge and loving it. She’s one of the best authors I know for worldbuilding and characters that completely pull me in. I just bought In the Clear by Tamara Morgan after a great review of it on Dear Author but haven’t started it yet.

    In terms of cooking, I haven’t done anything new recently but there’s a great recipe for roasted cauliflower with cumin seeds on Smitten Kitchen that is going to be a new favorite.

  29. 29
    Kimberly says:

    Finished the awesome Texas Tango by Cynthia D’Alba.. Cooking? nope, my kitchen is closed today :)

  30. 30
    Tracey Reid says:

    I just finished reading Texas Tango by Cynthia D’Alba and I loved it!  I’m going old school in the kitchen tonight and making my mom’s meatloaf and mashed potatoes!  :-)

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