Posts by Beth

Book Blog: Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker

Posted by on Mar 29, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

 

 

I received this galley through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Sarah Pinsker is among my favorite writers, and I was thrilled to read her new collection from Small Beer Press a few months in advance of release. When I say she’s among my favorites, that also means I’d read most of the stories in this book before; four were new to me, but one sees its first publication in this book.

All of these stories are worth re-reading. Actually, they are worth studying on a technical level to understand why stories work. Pinsker doesn’t write about big drama. She writes about people being people in sometimes extraordinary circumstances. There’s a sense of subtlety to her works. In “A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” a man loses his arm, and along with his prosthetic he gains an awareness of being a road in remote Colorado. “Remembery Day” addresses PTSD and the effects of war on the next generation, without ever becoming preachy. In “And Then There were (n-one),” one of my very favorite novellas, period, she brings a brilliant spin to Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” by envisioning a cross-dimensional conference of hundreds of Sarah Pinskers on an isolated island in a storm–and one of them is murdered.

Because of this collection, I started my document to track my favorite 2019 releases to nominate for awards in 2020. Yes, this collection is that good.

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Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Posted by on Mar 27, 2019 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, cake, chocolate, cookies | 0 comments

These are not mere blondies. No, these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars are practically cake.

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Seriously, this could work as a birthday cake for a chocolate-peanut butter lover. These bars are THICK and loaded with goodness.

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

This recipe makes a full 13 by 9 pan, so there’s plenty to share. As dense as each bar is, you probably don’t want to cut them large.

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Bars like this freeze very well, too, so you can stash some away to enjoy later.

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

I can’t help but wonder how this recipe would be with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups chopped into it, too. I should try that sometime.

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Recipes are stories. There will always be other ways to twist them into something new and enjoyable.

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

 

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

Bready or Not: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

These luscious bars are thick, cakey, and delicious! If there’s no Greek yogurt handy, sour cream makes for a good substitute.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups peanut butter chips (1 bag)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Preheat the oven at 350-degrees. Line a 13X9 baking with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray or butter.

In a big bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl as necessary.

Add the vanilla extract and vanilla yogurt next, followed by the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder. Fold in the peanut butter chips and 1 cup of the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips and the peanuts over the top and gently press them in.

Bake pan for 30 minutes or until the center passes the toothpick test. Let cool completely. Use foil to lift contents onto a cutting board to slice into bars.

Store in a sealed container at room temperature or in the fridge. Freeze bars between waxed paper in a sealed container to make them last even longer.

OM NOM NOM!

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Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

Posted by on Mar 20, 2019 in bacon, Blog, Bready or Not, chocolate, cookies, pork | 0 comments

Bacon, chocolate, and toffee complement each other in these incredible Bacon-Toffee Cookies.

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

Fact: My Bacon Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies (originally shared at the Holy Taco Church lo those many years ago) is among my most popular recipes.

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

This recipe is different. The previous take makes a crisper cookie, while these are chewier with some extra sweetness and crunch from the Heath toffee pieces.

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

This recipe makes a lot, too: about 70 cookies if you use a teaspoon scoop!

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

That sounds like a lot, but my husband’s co-workers inhaled them, so I don’t know how well they keep beyond a day. One of those good/bad problems to have.

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

Modified from Fall Baking 2016 by Better Homes & Gardens.

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

 

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

Bready or Not: Bacon-Toffee Cookies

These cookies mix salty and sweet in a chewy cookie. Using a teaspoon scoop, the recipe produces about 70 cookies.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Heath bits
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped up

Preheat oven at 375-degrees. Ina large bowl, beat butter and shortening together until turning fluffy. Add brown sugar, baking soda, and salt, followed by the eggs and vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour.

Stir in the Heath bits, chocolate chips, and bacon. Use a teaspoon scoop or spoon to dollop dough onto baking sheet, spaced out to allow for minor spreading. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until edges are just turning golden. Cool for five minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.

Store cookies in a sealed container.

OM NOM NOM!

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Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, cookies, healthier | 0 comments

No one will be able to tell that chickpeas form the base of these healthified blondies, but the truth is right there in the name.

Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

A food processor is necessary for this recipe as the chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) must be utterly pulverized. Weirdly enough, a lot of health cookbooks and blogs have discovered chickpeas end up eerily like bland cookie dough once they are mashed up.

Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

I know, it sounds crazy, but I’ve tried out a few recipes like this and it’s the truth. And these blondies WORK. They taste good. The sweetness is just right, not hardcore, but it doesn’t taste at all like ‘health food.’

Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

I found the base recipe in an issue of Cooking Light and significantly modified it into something new. The original had tahini (which I do not like, so I subbed almond butter) and dark brown sugar (which I usually don’t have).

Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

The pecans add a wonderful texture to these blondies. If you don’t like pecans, I would suggest still using some kind of nut or seed for a mild crunch.

Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

 

Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

Bready or Not Original: Chickpea Almond Butter Blondies

These lightened-up blondies use chickpeas as a base, but trust me, you can’t tell they are there. These are just sweet enough with an additional crunch from pecans.

  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 15-oz can unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 3 Tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 Tablespoons half & half or milk
  • 1/3 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with aluminum foil and apply nonstick spray or butter.

Using a small saucepan, brown the butter, stirring often. Transfer to a bowl to cool for 15 minutes. Whisk in brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Place chickpeas, almond butter, and milk in a food processor, and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides often. Stir the chickpea mixture into the butter mixture.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl and whisk together. Stir dry mix into the chickpeas. Fold in the pecans.

Pour batter into ready pan. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test in the middle.

Cool in pan for hour or two. Use foil to lift blondies onto cutting board to slice into pieces. Store in a sealed container, with waxed paper between layers, at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bars also can be frozen for later enjoyment.

OM NOM NOM!

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Book Blog: The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon

Posted by on Mar 8, 2019 in Blog, book blog | 0 comments

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon

available in text and audio, in episodes or in full, from the publisher, Serial Box

The Vela

Summary from the publisher:
In the fading light of a dying star, a soldier for hire searches for a missing refugee ship and uncovers a universe-shattering secret.Asala Sikou is used to looking after number one while crisis reigns in her dying planetary system. But when she’s hired to find a missing refugee ship, she discovers that this is no ordinary rescue mission, and she must play a role in deciding the fate of the whole universe.

What I thought:
I was sent an early copy of this book from the publisher.

I’ve heard good things about Serial Box–and had friends work with them–but I had yet to read any of their serialized novels. I admit to some skepticism. In the case of The Vela I’ve read and loved three of the four authors in the project, and they have unique styles. How would a book flow together? Would it feel disjointed?

To my delight, yes, the book flowed together, and to my surprise, no, it didn’t feel disjointed or like related short stories. It worked–and very well at that, as these are among the best science fiction writers out there right now. Their individual approaches were noticeable if the reader is familiar with their works (S.L. Huang writes breathless action; Becky Chambers has a knack for subtle, emotional touches) but they flowed together seamlessly.

The Vela is action-packed and visceral, full of emotions, insight, and punch-to-the-gut revelations. The sun is dying, the planetary system with it. The worlds closest to the sun struggle onward as the outer planets succumb to frigid temperatures. Asala is a child refugee from a dying world, grown to become a skilled assassin and bodyguard. When the president of a privileged planet tasks her finding a lost refugee ship, she balks. She has no desire to revisit the dark memories and places of her past. The fact that the president is including his meddlesome hacker child in the mission makes it even more unappealing. However, an uneasy partnership is struck, and Asala soon finds that the search for the Vela will uncover secrets that could save–or destroy–the entire system.

Every character in this is complex and real. Asala has a grittiness to her that is still relatable. Niko, the nonbinary hacker, is idealistic to a fault; I want to add that it’s fantastic to see a nonbinary lead character, and it fully showed how gender wasn’t necessary to define who Niko was or how they behaved. The pacing of the book is extraordinary, especially in light of the alternating chapters by different authors. This is a space opera that really has it all–intense action, near-death scrapes, and tear-inducing scenes. I came to love these characters, and the dramatic conclusion left me in awe.

I’m adding this book to my shortlist for best novel nominees for this year. It’s that good.

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