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Book Blog: Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made by Josh Frank, et al

Posted by on Aug 16, 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.

Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made
by Josh Frank, Tim Heidecker, & Manuela Pertega

out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

 

 

I don’t usually go for weird fiction or art, but I adore the Marx Brothers, and the almost preposterous nature of this graphic novel piqued my curiosity. I tried to win a galley from the publisher, and didn’t luck out. Then I was on a dream-come-true trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, of all places, and in the Transreal Bookstore. Lo and behold, there was the book. I had to buy it as a special souvenir.

Even having read the book, I can’t help but shake my head in awe of the incredible story behind its making: Salvador Dali struck up a friendship with Harpo Marx and decided to write a Marx Brothers screenplay. He wrote up a film treatment, and with Harpo, he pitched it to Louis B. Mayer in Hollywood. The idea was shot down. It was the kind of thing that earned mention in Dali and Marx interviews over later decades, but no one living person seemed to know much about the project.

Author Josh Frank set out to change that, doing some heavy-duty research–hiring a translator, meeting Harpo’s son Bill Marx–and pieced together bits and pieces of Dali’s surreal movie concept. He made it into a graphic novel, lavishly illustrated by Manuel Pertega.

Again, I don’t typically go for surreal stuff, but this book is incredible. I found it even more so when I reached the end to find pictures of Dali’s original treatment. Pertega did an admirable job of translating Dali’s vision–dripping roast chickens strapped to musicians’ heads and all. To my utter delight, they really researched their Marx Brothers, too. The banter between Groucho and Chico feels genuine and is laugh-out-loud funny, though a bit anachronistic at times. The story follows a wealthy, ambitious young man, Jimmy, who scorns his controlling fiance as he falls in love with Surrealist Woman–a woman whose fantastical imaginings become real. In true 1930s style, there are even songs written into the book!

The book is totally bonkers, but that’s totally true to concept. I found it to be a joy to read, and I’m so grateful that the author and team took a weird historical footnote and gave it life at long last.

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Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

Posted by on Aug 14, 2019 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, cookies | 0 comments

These Coconut Bars are easy to make and absolutely delicious!

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

I say that, and I don’t typically like coconut. As a kid, I hated all candy bars with coconut. To me, the texture was the problem. It was chewy and dry in a horrible way.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

In contrast, these bars are chewy in a fantastic way. The shortbread base pairs well with the coconut top.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

They even look pretty, don’t they? That’s because the recipe holds back a quarter of the coconut to go on top. That way it ends up crisping up in a lovely way.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

I modified this recipe from Taste of Home Magazine, December 2015, where the original notes describe it as an American take on the Filipino coconut cake called bibingka. I don’t think I’ve ever tried that–if I have, it was like 20 years ago–so I can’t vouch as to how close it is.

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

But what I can say is that this is a fantastic recipe by its own merits. This is the kind of recipe that would be bright and pleasant at the holidays, and also perfect for a summer cook-out.

 

Bready or Not: Coconut Bars

This easy recipe results in deliciously chewy Coconut Bars, perfect to indulge in year-round.
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Keyword: bars
Author: Beth Cato

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter melted

Filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk can
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flaked coconut divided

Instructions

  • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 13x9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray.
  • In a big bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, and salt, followed by the melted butter. Sprinkle into the prepared pan and compress it to form an uneven layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until light brown. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 325-degrees.
  • In a big bowl, whisk together the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, flour, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir in 3 cups of coconut. Pour atop the crust. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup coconut over the top.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the coconut is turning golden brown.
  • Cool completely at room temperature. Lift onto cutting board using foil; slice contents into bars.
  • OM NOM NOM!
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Book Blog: Cry Pilot by Joel Dane

Posted by on Aug 9, 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.

Cry Pilot by Joel Dane
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

By the description, I expected far-future sci-fi. Cry Pilot is that, and a whole lot more–like a cyberpunk and military scifi combination, all in an original take on post-climate-change apocalypse Earth.

Kaytu is a complicated young man trying to do right. He’s a gutter rat, a former refugee, and he has set his eye on military service with one of the major corporations that holds dominion over Earth. With his background–which only emerges in perfectly-paced detail across the book–he’s forced to take a more criminal route, which gets him assigned to be a cry pilot–essentially, a piece of meat dropped into an AI-driven mecha that does battle with other bio-machines that threaten to undo the resettlement and terraforming of the planet. Most cry pilots die. He does not–nor does the flighty drug addict with him. Together, they soon find themselves placed in different roles as they train to face a horrific threat unlike ever seen before.

With some scifi books with a far-future setting, it feels like the emphasis is on the world and tech and the characters are outright tropes. Not so here. Everyone feels vivid and alive. Kaytu’s peers are an eclectic bunch, and as he became attached to them, so did I (a dangerous thing when they are facing some pretty nasty threats). The world is incredibly immersive and detailed, and it builds in just the right way; I never felt overwhelmed. Not only is the tech advanced, but social constructs are radically different, too, but this is handled in a casual, natural way. Poly relationships are common (and make perfect sense, given the need for humanity to repopulate) and sexual preference is fluid.

I found the book to be absolutely enthralling. Not only is the story fantastic, but as a writer, I can only admire the elegant pacing of the world’s construction. This is a book to point to as an example of how to do scifi right.

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Bready or Not Original: Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge

Posted by on Aug 7, 2019 in Blog, Bready or Not, chocolate, cookies, fudge, no-bake dessert, oreo | 0 comments

Old-fashioned stovetop fudge is great. It’s also fussy, sometimes refusing to set or turning out gritty, and makes the cook babysit a hot pot to stir and stir. I’m all about quick fudges, especially during the Arizona summer. This Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge is especially nice because it has endless variations!

Bready or Not Original: Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge

Choose a crisp, crunchy cookie from the store. Maybe on a good sale. In my case, I used Keebler’s Deluxe Grahams. A lot of Keebler’s cookies would work here–just don’t use the soft-baked ones.

Bready or Not Original: Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge

Prep the cookies by chopping up a cup and a half. Freeze those bits; it won’t take long. From there, it takes just a few minutes to mix up the fudge.

Bready or Not Original: Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge

The hardest part is waiting for the fudge to set for the next few hours.

Bready or Not Original: Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge

This recipe makes a lot of fudge, but it’s easy to portion out. Slice it small, and keep it sealed and stored in the fridge!

Bready or Not Original: Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge

Make this recipe time and again with different cookies. It could even be customized for the holidays or sporting events with the addition of differently colored sprinkles on top. Have fun with it!

 

Bready or Not Original: Cookies and Milk Quick Fudge

This quick fudge is fast to prepare and ready to eat after a few hours of chilling. Use any variety of crisp, firm store-bought cookies here, like many of those made by Keebler. Chop up the cookies and spread them on a wax paper-covered dish to freeze, which won't take long at all. This recipe makes a lot of fudge, and it can keep for weeks if sealed in the fridge.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: fudge, no bake, quick fudge
Author: Beth Cato

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped store-bought cookies frozen
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 14 ounce sweetened condensed milk can
  • 3 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Line an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a large microwave-safe bowl, heat the white chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in 30 second increments, stirring well after each bout, until it is melted and smoothed. Watch it closely!
  • Quickly stir in the frozen cookies and pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and tap them into place. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Use foil to lift fudge onto a cutting board to slice into small squares. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.
  • OM NOM NOM!
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Book Blog: The Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature by Pierre-Jacques Ober

Posted by on Aug 2, 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 Good Son: A Story from the First World War, Told in Miniature by Pierre-Jacques, Jules Ober, & Felicity Coonan

out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

The Good Son

I received this hardcover book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer’s program.

This is a picture book for children, but don’t assume it’s about rainbows and happy endings. It’s not. This book is intense. It is honest. It is bleak. Without a drop of red, it depicts the horrible nature of war. This is a book that might really bother some kids (and parents), but I see this as a book to inspire some hard but necessary discussions.

Without even considering the content, the The Good Son is an artistic masterpiece. It is fully illustrated through the use of toy soldiers, elaborate sets, and brilliant use of perspective. The effect is stunning. The use of toy props doesn’t cheapen the message in the slightest. On the contrary, the pages look eerily realistic at times. I think kids will really connect to the scenes because there ARE toys being used–which again, might be bothersome for some, but that is something to be worked through.

The text is minimal but effective. This book would be quick to read, but so much is happening in many scenes, I found myself lingering on each. The set up for the book is stark: a young French soldier named Pierre went AWOL for two days over Christmas to visit his mother, and upon his return, he is imprisoned and sentenced to death. He is to be made an example of to prevent further desertions. Pierre reflects on his time as a soldier and what he has learned about his German enemies as he awaits dawn and his execution. Again: this is not a book with a happy ending. That’s the nature of life, and of war–especially the Great War.

Some people might argue that the very premise makes this a horrible book for kids. I strongly disagree. There’s a great Madeleine L’Engle quote: “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” Children aren’t oblivious. They see and experience a lot. Teaching them that war is glorious and that heroes can’t be killed does not do them favors in the end. This book uses toy soldiers to get on the same level as kids, and respects their ability to understand what unfolds.

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Bready or Not Original: Homemade Ginger Liqueur

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in alcohol, Blog, boozy, Bready or Not | 2 comments

Make ginger liqueur at home in a matter of days, and save a lot of money over buying the store stuff!

Bready or Not: Homemade Ginger Liqueur

I’m frugal. I wanted to try an apple pie recipe that called for ginger liqueur, so I priced it. Um, no way was I paying for a $40 bottle when I needed just a smidge.

Therefore, I utilized the powers of the internet to find a way to make my own ginger liqueur. I ended up combining a couple recipes, and to great result. I used Kirkland brand vodka, from Costco, which made this even more of a bargain.

Bready or Not: Homemade Ginger Liqueur

The result of the infusion is sublime. Citrus hits the palate first, followed by the ginger, leaving the mouth tasting fruity, zesty, and refreshed.

Use this ginger liqueur in baking (that apple pie recipe will be up in a few weeks!), drink it straight, or mix it into cocktails. It’ll be delicious no matter how you drink it, and–thanks to the vodka–it will keep indefinitely.

Bready or Not: Homemade Ginger Liqueur

 

Bready or Not Original: Homemade Ginger Liqueur

Make your own ginger liqueur and save a lot of money! Using store brand vodka from a place like Costco makes this an even better bargain. Use clean jars and lids, but you needn't sanitize as rigorously as when making homemade jams or jellies. Vodka itself is a sanitizing agent.
Course: Drinks
Keyword: alcohol
Author: Beth Cato

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces ginger root peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean halved
  • 16 fluid ounces vodka
  • orange zested

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a large jar or bottle with a good lid. Shake to mix. Let steep for 2 days, shaking the jar a few times a day.
  • Strain out the solids using a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Rebottle it and let it sit a day or two more to mellow before using it.
  • Store sealed. Drink straight, use in mixed drinks, or in recipes. Should keep indefinitely.
  • OM NOM NOM!
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