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Book Blog: American Cider: A Modern Guide to a Historic Beverage by Dan Pucci & Craig Cavallo

Posted by on Apr 9, 2021 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.

american cider

American Cider: A Modern Guide to a Historic Beverage by Dan Pucci & Craig Cavallo

out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

I received an advance copy of this book via NetGalley.

American Cider sets about–and succeeds–with two major goals. First of all, it essentially lays out American history, region by region, by following the progression of apple trees, and by extension, the brewing of cider. It doesn’t ignore the fact that this is also a story of colonialism. White settlers brought their seeds and scions, and the planting of apple trees was among the first things done when establishing households in what was once Native American land. Likewise, when tribes were forced from their homelands and onto reservations, the destruction of their buildings and apple trees was included in that effort. Props to the authors for being up-front about that aspect of apples–that honesty ads a lot to the book, and prevents it from feeling like a lengthy propaganda piece on the awesomeness of apples…

…Though let us not deny, apples are indeed awesome. The authors’ passion and knowledge of their subject matter also comes through, loud and clear. This isn’t a book for the person vaguely-interested in apples and cider, though it is an engaging read all the way through. This is a book for the foodies, for the people who really love cider and wants to understand it more, and those who are interested in starting their own cidery.

On that note, the book’s second major emphasis in in describing and exploring up-and-coming cideries across the country. Wow, did these sections make me want to go on a road trip and try everything that was out there. The information is pretty detailed. They lay out the geography and climate and how that impacts apples, what has been grown in the past, what grows now, and various other details about varying business operations. It definitely inspired me to buy cider at Trader Joe’s this week when I recognized a name from this book.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys American cider and wants to understand the history, present, and future trajectory of the beverage. (As for me, I hope that trajectory means it is pouring straight down my gullet.)

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Bready or Not Original: No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Posted by on Apr 7, 2021 in Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, chocolate, no-bake dessert, nutty | 0 comments

When you need a dessert in a hurry, these delicious No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars are the way to go.

Bready or Not Original: No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

I especially enjoy this recipe because it doesn’t involve the oven, which is a wonderful thing during Arizona summers.Bready or Not Original: No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

These bars come together in minutes thanks to a microwave, and they only need a few hours to set. You end up with an entire casserole dish of candy bars. Yum.

Bready or Not Original: No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Use crunchy or creamy peanut butter. I used a jar from Trader Joe’s that had flaxseeds mixed in, and my son didn’t like it. This recipe gave me a way to use it up by sending the result with my husband to work!

Bready or Not Original: No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

This would be an easy recipe to dress up, too. Add sprinkles, nuts, or cacao nibs atop the chocolate. Have fun with it!

Bready or Not Original: No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars

This quick and easy microwave-based recipe uses most of a pound jar of peanut butter to whip up a whole casserole dish of delicious candy bars.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chocolate, no bake, peanut butter
Author: Beth Cato

Equipment

  • 13x9 pan
  • large microwave-safe bowl
  • uneven spatula

Ingredients

Bars

  • 2 cups peanut butter crunchy or smooth
  • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

Ganache

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips semisweet, dark, milk, or a mix
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter crunchy or smooth

Instructions

  • Line a 13x9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray or butter.
  • In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt together the peanut butter and butter by zapping in short increments and stirring well between each pass. Once they mix together, stir in the graham cracker crumbs and confectioners' sugar. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Use a hands or maybe a piece of waxed paper and a heavy glass to compress the layer as much as possible.
  • Use the same microwave-safe bowl to bowl for the chocolate chips and peanut butter, again zapping in brief increments and stirring well between each burst. Once they can mix together smoothly, dump dollops atop the layer in the pan. Use an uneven spatula to even out the chocolate to the edges.
  • Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  • Use the foil to lift the contents onto a cutting board. Let sit for about 10 minutes, enough time to soften the chocolate so that it doesn't shatter when sliced. Use a long knife or sharp bench knife to cut bars. If desired, cut off edges first to produce neater pieces to share.
  • Store bars in a sealed container in the fridge with waxed paper between the layers. Keeps for days.

OM NOM NOM!

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    Book Blog: Machinehood by S.B. Divya

    Posted by on Apr 2, 2021 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.

    machinehood

    Machinehood by S.B. Divya

    out now in print and ebook; BookShop, B&N, and Amazon [affiliate link]

    From the Hugo Award nominee S.B. Divya, Zero Dark Thirty meets The Social Network in this science fiction thriller about artificial intelligence, sentience, and labor rights in a near future dominated by the gig economy.

    Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed in front of her. It’s 2095 and people don’t usually die from violence. Humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive, but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in an increasingly competitive gig economy. Daily doses protect against designer diseases, flow enhances focus, zips and buffs enhance physical strength and speed, and juvers speed the healing process.

    All that changes when Welga’s client is killed by The Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group that has simultaneously attacked several major pill funders. The Machinehood operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.

    Global panic ensues as pill production slows and many become ill. Thousands destroy their bots in fear of a strong AI takeover. But the US government believes the Machinehood is a cover for an old enemy. One that Welga is uniquely qualified to fight.

    Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood and what do they really want?

    A thrilling and thought-provoking novel that asks: if we won’t see machines as human, will we instead see humans as machines?

     

    I received an advanced copy of this book via Netgalley.

    The year 2021 has just started, but I already know this is one of the best new science fiction books I will read this year. It’s that good. Divya has created an utterly immersive future that is plausible and spooky all at once.

    Welcome to a future Earth where designer drugs help people work and think faster in order to keep them competitive with advanced machines. Everyone has personal drone clouds that broadcast their activities to the world, with strangers casting money into their tip jar for deeds done well. Welga is a tough woman working in higher echelons of security when a client is killed by a new terrorist group. The Machinehood is demanding rights for bots–or else they’ll shut down the pill trade and tech networks, essentially ending modern civilization. Welga tries to find out who and what the Machinehood really is, even as her own health begins to shatter. This is a read that ponders some very deep philosophical questions: what is a machine? what is sentient life?

    Some scifi books with advanced tech this deep are so full of jargon they lose me within the first chapter. This book didn’t. Divya builds details at the right pace. This isn’t a book just about hard scifi, though. It’s packed with genuine heart. Every character feels complex and realistic, as does the incredible diversity of ethnicities, religions, and genders. With the stakes so high and the plot so deep, I wondered if everything could pull together in the end–it did. The ending is satisfying and strong, and left me a little sad that it was all done.

    Truly a stellar work, and the first one to go on my novel award nominee list for 2021.

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    Bready or Not: Triple-Chocolate Brownies

    Posted by on Mar 31, 2021 in Blog, Bready or Not, brownies, chocolate | 0 comments

    These Triple-Chocolate Brownies are loaded with three kinds of chocolate, cocoa, and a unique blend of flours: all-purpose along with chickpea flour.

    Bready or Not: Triple-Chocolate Brownies

    What does the chickpea flour do for the recipe? Well, it handles moisture differently. That makes these dense, moist, in a texturally more complex way than the usual all-wheat-flour brownies.

    Bready or Not: Triple-Chocolate Brownies

    The flavor is also more complex. Soon after baking, these brownies taste almost like they have breakfast cereal mixed in. You can tell something is different.

    Bready or Not: Triple-Chocolate Brownies

    Like a lot of chocolate baked goods, though, these taste better after a day. In these brownies, that means the complicated flavors deepen. They taste more chocolaty, more delicious.

    Bready or Not: Triple-Chocolate Brownies

    If you don’t want to fuss with a big bag of chickpea flour, check out your local grocery or natural goods stores that have flours in bins. In the Phoenix area, that includes Sprouts and WinCo.

    Once you make these brownies, though, you may want to make them again soon, so maybe a larger amount of chickpea flour isn’t a bad thing.

    Modified from February 2020 Bake from Scratch/Bob’s Red Mill lesson.

    Bready or Not: Triple-Chocolate Brownies

    These luscious brownies are loaded with three kinds of chocolate, cocoa, and a unique blend of flours: all-purpose along with chickpea flour. These brownies will taste better after a day to chill in the fridge. Modified from February 2020 Bake from Scratch/Bob’s Red Mill lesson.
    Course: Dessert, Snack
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: brownies, chickpeas, chocolate
    Author: Beth Cato

    Equipment

    • 9×13 baking pan

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate divided
    • 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips divided
    • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks, cubed
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup brown sugar packed
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
    • 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder sifted
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
    • 4 large eggs room temperature, lightly beaten
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven at 325-degrees. Line a 13×9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray or butter.
    • Using a double boiler on the stove top or a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, melt together 1 cup of dark chocolate/semi-sweet chocolate chips, 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, and butter. Heat until it can be stirred smooth. Remove from heat and stir in all of the sugar. Set aside.
    • In a medium bowl, mix together both flours, cocoa powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside.
    • Return to the chocolate bowl. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Gradually fold in the dry ingredients, and follow up with the rest of the three kinds of chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
    • Bake until the center passes the toothpick test, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely at room temperature or speed the process in the fridge. Use the foil to lift the contents onto a cutting board. Slice into bars.
    • Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to a week. Like many chocolate baked goods, these brownies will actually taste better after the first day as the flavor intensifies.

    OM NOM NOM!

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      Poetry reading and interview on YouTube: “A Purring Cat is a Time Machine”

      Posted by on Mar 29, 2021 in anthology:poem, Blog, online publication, public speaking, writerly advice | 0 comments

      Todd Sullivan is accumulating a wonderful number of author showcases and interviews on YouTube, and included me in his series on How to Read Poetry. I read my poem “A Purring Cat is a Time Machine,” originally published in Daikaijuzine, and then answer some interview questions on poetry. Enjoy!

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      Bready or Not: Apple Slice Tray Bake

      Posted by on Mar 24, 2021 in apples, Blog, blondies, Bready or Not, breakfast, cake | 0 comments

      This Apple Slice Tray Bake would simply be an Apple Cake to most Americans. Whatever you call it, it’s packed with apples and delicious.

      Bready or Not: Apple Slice Tray Bake

      This is third consecutive recipe I’ve modified from the Bake from Scratch Magazine July/August 2020 Ireland-themed issue. I still have a few more things I want to try in the coming months, too!

      Bready or Not: Apple Slice Tray Bake

      I’ve found that French, Irish, and British apple cake recipes tend to be lighter on sugar and spices than typical American recipes. The focus is really on the apples.

      Bready or Not: Apple Slice Tray Bake

      I used Honeycrisps here, which are one of my favorite apples to eat outright or bake with! Two big apples will work.

      Bready or Not: Apple Slice Tray Bake

      This bakes up light, lofty, and cakey, with a sugar-crusted top and a lovely flavor of apples throughout. The pieces freeze and thaw very well, too, meaning you can enjoy this like it is fresh but spread over days or weeks!

      Bready or Not: Apple Slice Tray Bake

      This Irish-style apple cake is lighter on spices and sugar than American versions, letting the natural, pure sweetness of apples shine through. (Note that the all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder could be replaced by 3 1/3 cup self-rising flour.) Modified from Bake from Scratch Magazine July/August 2020 Ireland-themed issue.
      Course: Breakfast, Dessert
      Cuisine: irish
      Keyword: apple, bars, cake
      Author: Beth Cato

      Equipment

      • 9×9 baking pan
      • uneven spatula

      Ingredients

      Apple layer:

      • 2 large baking apples Honeycrisp work well
      • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
      • 1 Tablespoon white sugar

      Cake:

      • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 and a half sticks) room temperature
      • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
      • 4 large eggs room temperature
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or substitute vanilla extract
      • 3 cups all-purpose flour
      • 3/4 teaspoon salt
      • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
      • 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar

      Instructions

      • Preheat oven at 350-degrees. Line a 9×9 pan with foil and apply nonstick spray.
      • Peel and core the apples, then slice to about 1/4-inch thickness. Place slices in a large bowl and toss them with lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon white sugar, until apples are coated. Set aside.
      • In a big mixing bowl, beat butter and white sugar for several minutes, until blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in well and scraping bowl afterward. Add vanilla. The batter may look curdled, but that’s okay.
      • In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and allspice. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
      • Spread about half of the batter into the pan, using an uneven spatula to form an even layer. Arrange apple slices, flat side down, to cover the batter entirely. Top with the remaining batter, using the uneven spatula again to even out as much as possible. Sprinkle turbinado sugar all over the top.
      • Bake until the middle of the cake passes the toothpick test, which will be from 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cover pan with foil about halfway through to prevent it from browning too much.
      • Let cool in pan for an least 10 minutes, then use foil to lift cake onto a cutting board. Slice into squares. Tastes best warmed and at room temperature. Pieces can also be shrouded in plastic wrap and frozen for later enjoyment.

      OM NOM NOM!

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