Commonplace Book, 55

I’m finally learning how to French braid! Like a real girl!!

What is a commonplace book? For me, this is a space where I post interesting links, reflections on what I’m reading, and the newest recipes I’ve been trying out — a collection of miscellaneous micro-posts.

What I’m fixing:

  • Do you, dear reader, find yourself possessed of the calm conviction, “This is how I die” every time you endeavor to hack up a butternut squash? This trick doesn’t work for every recipe — because cubed roasted squash is really freaking good — but sometimes you can just roast the behemoth whole and cube it later. See instructions here.

  • I’m a big fan of any depraved cookie recipe that involves other cookies ground up — like when you sub some crushed graham crackers for some of the flour, for instance. (I also like a little cornmeal in my bread. That crunch is addictive.) If you’re in the same boat, you might try these White Chocolate Lucky Charms Cookies, which I never would have made if I didn’t have an elderly box of off-brand Lucky Charms haunting my pantry, but which I might be convinced to make again.
  • Miso whatever bowl: I used broccoli and butternut squash and J made salmon to go over. A great dressing to liven up meatless Fridays.
  • I’ve been making yogurt in the Instant Pot. Who am I?! I hate making yogurt but it saves so much money.
  • I’ve been hiding puréed beef liver in meatballs and freezing it in ice cube trays. Because I’ve got it from our quarter cow, and because I could use more iron. But seriously, WHO AM I?!

What I’m reading:

  • Anne of the Islandcompulsive autumn re-read. Theory: this book is really only good because of Philippa Gordon, and also, Priscilla and Stella are basically interchangeable and should be combined into one character. FIGHT ME.
  • Anne’s House of Dreams, which has some beautiful things going on with the interweaving of death and birth and joy and sorrow, but also really reflects, I think, how bummed Montgomery was to be writing another Anne book. She’s just itching to dive deep into Leslie’s story, or Captain Jim’s, but she goes where the money is. I have mixed feelings about this.
  • The Penderwicks at Last. This kind of sucked? Maybe it was just the narrator of the audiobook, who used baby voices for 11-year-olds, but the whole thing felt sort of meandering and forced. I don’t know.
  • An American Childhood: so vivid I could still remember many scenes from reading it on an Annie Dillard kick in early college. My new motto is:

“As a life’s work, I would remember everything-—everything, against loss. I would go through life like a plankton net.”

Quick, someone draw me a plankton net logo!

  • Convince me to finish Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American CultureI made it through the first chapter after being very firm with myself to continue, and I really don’t want to go on. Esolen is just so…ugly, to use an old-fashioned term. I’d heard good things about him and the book, but reading it felt like listening to a hateful, reactionary crank. This experience led to a good discussion with J and a friend about whether a book or a writer can be jarring and bitter and still have a valuable voice — whether there is a place for “good for you, not for me” in this arena or if authors like Esolen really are just uncharitable. Have you read it, or other things by him? What are your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “Commonplace Book, 55

  1. I’ve read Out of the Ashes and Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. Out of the Ashes continues to be hateful and rant-like the whole way through (but is clever at times). I am not sensitive in the least and still found it very unkind. Ten Ways is written in a Screwtapey style and comes off much less angry and I liked it.


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