6.17.2011

READING: IN WHICH OUR HEROINE DIVES INTO PARADE'S END, ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, and MOMS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES. PLUS BONUS RECIPE

Some of you have asked about reading lists, and while I'm waiting for clearance from the Editorial Department of Innovation, I'll just sneak some in. I was going to start off a new section by culling recommendations from the comment section--some of you have given my credit card a good run--but I haven't had the time, and my assistant has not yet returned from lunch. Odd, he left three years ago...Rather than wait, I'll start off with what I'm reading now.

And those of you who want to share recommendations: Note them in comments, please. I'll tab all these posts as "reading" so they can be easily found.

And, last but not least, one never reads without eating, do one? This one doesn't, anyway. I have an admittedly disgusting (at times) habit of plowing through packs of food while I'm engrossed in a book. I used to think of this as a nervous habit until I read some fascinating pseudo-scientific studies about brain behavior and books, in which it was proven that reading comprehension soars under the influence of carbs and sugars. At least you stay awake.

That's my excuse, even if I made it up. Yes, it is compulsive. In the spirit of Rev. Terry's recollections, if not with their tastefulness, or tastiness, I will offer up a vivid memory of diving into A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle, when I was about ten or twelve years old. We weren't allowed to eat snacks, in my house, so of course my sisters and I were constantly raiding the pantry to steal stashes of forbidden cookies, potato chips, Pop Tarts, and, once we finally got to the seventies, thank goodness, granola.

Until that fateful day, when the pantry happened to be heavily guarded by my mother. So I rifled the medicine cabinet, settled into a comfortable armchair, propped open A Wrinkle in Time, and started eating the contents of....brace yourselves....a tube of toothpaste.

The sight of a fat new tube of Colgate sickens me to this day.

A wrinkle of mine, shall we say? All grown up now, I'm preferring those killer Tate's Chocolate Chips, which remind me vaguely of Caroline's Mom's Chocolate Chips, which have the advantage of no plastic packaging, and the appearance of Caroline on one's doorstep when the recipe doesn't quite come out the same way.....

I can't help it. I always think of Caroline when I think of chocolate chip cookies: here's a piece I wrote for Eating Well about how that happened. Speaking of memories and food, I came upon this lovely piece by Sue Halpern in Eating Well.

If I can keep it up, I'll post snack suggestions along with the book suggestions. Send those along, too, please. I'm looking for healthy variety in my diet.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh no! I almost forgot the books:

My beloved friend Byron Dobell, a master of sweeping generalisations, recently told me that Ford Madox Ford wrote the world's best novel: PARADE'S END.
He may be correct. It is a thrilling discovery. Set in England, and on the Western Front during World War I.  Eccentric. Fantastically experimental stream-of-consciousness language. Heartbreaking, tender, botched love, mayhem, adultery, and even some great decorating.

I have no intention of giving you a dissertation.

I'm just finishing Volume One, Some Do Not... (all four volumes are collected in the Every Person's Library edition. Okay, Everyman's. But that does remind me of the time in third grade when I tried to check out of the school library The Boys' King Arthur and I was roundly, publicly, chastised by the librarian who told me that under no circumstances could I take it home, it was clearly for boys. Of such stirrings of rage and humiliation are feminists born. And borne.)

Such a rambunctious post. It must be the rain. And the influence of rereading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

And a rambling early morning phone call with a friend who somehow ended up reading "In Search of Small" from Winnie the Pooh--with voices--until we were both falling on the floor laughing, the best way to start the day.

While we're on the subject of rain, take a moment please to sign a petition to President Obama asking him to fulfill his promise to put the solar panels that have been sitting in the driveway for a few months back on the roof, where they can catch some rays. I got wind of this from the folks at 350.org, brainchild of Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, who is married to the above-mentioned Sue Halpern, and who is the reason you may one day find me marching in the streets, rain or shine.


I promise the next book post will stick to the point.


Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Caroline Cunningham
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 generous tablespoon vanilla extract
Mix well.*
Add 2 large eggs.
Mix well.
1 cup, plus 1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour **
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Mix all dry ingredients together, then add to batter and mix well. Add one large (12-ounce) package of chocolate chips. Mix again.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet (you only have to do this for the first batch) with unsalted butter. Put 12 tablespoon-size dollops*** onto tray and bake at 350°F until golden brown. Allow to cool on tray for a minute before removing to a rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter. Enjoy!
Notes from the EatingWell Test Kitchen:
We baked 2 batches of these delicious and buttery cookies in our Test Kitchen and offer the following tips:
*Use an electric mixer when the recipe instructs you to “Mix”—use medium to high speed when mixing butter, sugar and vanilla, medium speed when adding eggs and low speed when adding the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
**When measuring the flour, dip the measuring cup (or spoon) into the flour canister or bag, fill the cup and then level off the top. This method of measuring fills the cup with a little more flour than using the EatingWell method of spooning the flour into the measuring cup.
***We had more success when we baked only 6 cookies per tray. When we scooped 12 level tablespoons of dough onto one tray, all the cookies ran together into one large, thin sheet of “cookie.” Our cookies took 9 to 10 minutes to achieve a golden-brown result.
Final note: These cookies do not have a typical chocolate chip cookie appearance or texture. Because they use about 1 cup flour less than other chocolate chip cookie recipes, they are very thin and almost lacy looking.

22 comments:

Charlotte K said...

I am reading Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (it's a mountain of a book). In the first few chapters after the young hero has arrived at the sanatarium there are intense descriptions of the meals served to patients--luxurious decadent meals! I don't eat & read as a general rule but I have been marking all the food passages in the book and plan to re-read them all when I'm done!

Janeen said...

I'm engrossed in "The Secret Garden" right now -- a timeless book, which I've never read.

Your photo made me think of milk and cookies and how good milk always tasted when it came from a glass bottle -- better for the environs too. No sanctimony here, as I can only get my milk in plastic too. But, wouldn't that make for a nice environmental movement? No drinks from plastic bottles and only milk from glass bottles.

Anonymous said...

If you are looking for low cal recipes and healthy lo cal grocery available snacks go to hungrygirl.com. Its the neatest website, loads of simple recipes emailed to your desk daily. Including many hints on what to buy at the grocery store, trust me this is not "diet fare" these foods are quick easy and tasty.
You can also buy Hungry girl books that list anywhere from 100 cal per snack to 300 cal per snacks. This is a lifesaver for anyone that is hungry all the time and trying to lose or maintain their weight. I signed up a month ago and really
I can't get over the amount of information that comes from this website everyday. The best thing is that it is free.

Warren said...

Aghhh! Choc Chip Cookies before dinner! (Seattle time upon reading).

Can we discuss the religiousity of 'crisp' in cookies. I favor the softer texture given by brown sugar in Oatmeal Cookies. However, in chocchips it is debatable. Does the mix still keep these crispy?

I'm reading this as PBS shows women-protesters in Saudi Arabia -- DRIVING! To all the women readers -- you've come a long way, baby!

Judith Ross said...

I am heading right over to our wonderful library first thing tomorrow to check out Parade's End. Through the wonders of the internet I know that it is currently available!

Also, it sounds like the kind of book my oldest son would like. He writes experimental music and he loves experimental writing.

He just finished schlepping David Foster Wallace's 1000-page Infinite Jest around on the NY subway (he rewarded himself for completing that Herculean effort with a Kindle). He says it is the only book that prompted complete strangers to make the comment, "Good luck with that" on a regular basis.

Although I don't plan to dive into DFW anytime soon, my son and I have enjoyed talking books in the past. Perhaps Parade's End will provide another opportunity.

Oh, and I have also put in a request to the library for In Tearing Haste, which seems to be in demand right now.

And I think the food and book idea is an excellent one. Sometimes I find a milkshake (milk, ice cream, a banana perhaps) just the thing to sip on when reading in bed -- especially on nights when I've been swimming, which usually leaves me famished. And then I sleep like a baby. No nightmares.

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning....

Having bathed and put everyone-but-me to bed in this household (it's midnight here), I just read your latest posting.

I expect you already know of this good article concerning your friend, Byron Dobell. It's delightful:

go to:
The Editor Who Loved To Paint | The New York Observer
or cut and paste:
http://www.observer.com/2007/byron-dobell

He sounds wonderful, and I'm glad to find that I'm not the only person who finally realized that drawing the outsides of books is a lot more fun than writing about the insides of them.

I don't, however, know about recommending "Parade's End" as an introduction to Ford Madox Ford.. That's a bit like advising someone to start-off with "Finnegan's Wake" rather than handing them a copy of "Dubliners". I got myself my first formal education under that Andrew Lytle/Allen Tate/Robert Penn Warren circle of cronies....and they all swore by Ford's "The Good Soldier" (as in "THE BESTNOVELEVERWRITTEN"...Ford does seem to bring out the breathlessly-enthusiastic in a certain generation of male critics). Trust me, I was forced to practically memorize the danged thing by the time I was 19. It's awfully good...and utterly superior to "Parade's End"...particularly if your temperament is such that you prefer adultery's being treated as an over-arching theme, rather than as a mere "subplot".

As happens regularly these days (in regard to books that I've re-read after twenty-something years), I re-read "The Good Solider" a few weeks ago (it's not that long, by the way), and I wondered what in the hell I was thinking, at age 20 or so, when I wrote a longass paper on that novel. I recall getting an "A", but my gut-instinct is to consider that I hadn't the slightest "real" experience in anything the novel discusses.

As for my current reading? I was made very happy at lunch today (yes, I also eat while I read; in fact, I never eat without reading, although I do read when I'm not eating....a gradksool habit that lingers) to come across something written by Proust's brother in regard to THAT BIG BOOK we all feel guilty for never having finished.....

Proust's brother, Robert, wrote: "...The sad thing is that people have to be very ill or have broken a leg to have the opportunity to read 'In Search of Lost Time'."

I came across that in Alain de Botton's "How Proust Can Change Your Life." For several reason, I'm currently re-reading several of de Botton's books. He's just awfully smart AND funny, I think.

It's also come to my attention that there's a website where one can read ALL of Sarah Palin's newly-released, 30,000 emails.....

I read about that and thought "good Lord...even I don't have that much time on my hands...."

Apparently, though, a lot of folks are eagerly reading them as I type this.

Level Best as ever,

David Terry

Anonymous said...

What will we do if book stores and libraries all go KINDLE? EEKS!
If so I would have missed reading Pat Conroy's MY READING LIFE, which stood proudly on a display shelf in my local library. Should you not be a Conroy fan but appreciate a teacher's impact, read
Chapter 3, THE TEACHER. Conroy's impeccable story line moved me to tears.

English/Creative Writing Teacher
Denver, Colorado

Deborah A said...

OK David, I just ordered "The Good Soldiers" on your advice, also Pat Conroy's MY READING LIFE" from English/creative teacher. I can see I have been reading "Chick Flick" novels for a little too long! I must become a more serious reader, expand my thinking and horizons!
Also, your very talented art work on your website is so inspiring, to be born with such a gift...you are so incredibly lucky.
I sometimes wonder if people who are born with the gift of art or music or even the ability to write so eloquently realize how fortunate they are. To have an outlet to be able to express yourself and turn that into a successful career is such a gift.
My Mother used to say everyone is born with gifts, they come in all packages, I never quite knew what she meant.
Recently I asked her what my "gifts" were, without missing a beat, she said "Well Dear, Your ability to mother so well"... "Oh and decorate so beautifully" great, for some reason it just doesn't cut it!

david terry said...

Dear "Deborah"....

You may hate "the Good Soldier". That said?....at least it's relatively short (which is more than one can say for other, quite-hateable novels or, for that matter, political administrations).

The most you could reasonably regret having wasted is about 6 bucks and (if you read fairly quickly) three or so hours of your allotted time on this earth.

John Rodkert (another of my early mentor's mentors) wrote of the novel "It is the finest French novel in the English language".

For various reasons, I agree with that assessment (which isn't necessarily a complete compliment), but, then, so did Ford himself.

In any case, feel free to toss the thing if you find it getting ony our nerves or boring you.

In my middle-age, I wouldn't be the first to note that life is too short to be drinking bad wine, sleeping with folks just because it seems like a good idea at some particular time, or reading boring novels.

P.S. I just read and absolutely loved/admired Geraldine Brooks's (she of Pulitzer-winning "March" renown) new novel...."Caleb's Crossing". I could truthfully add that I actually cried at least twice while reading it a week ago, but I should emphasize that I also cried at least ten times while watching Jennifer Anniston's "Marley and Me" during that same, long transcontinental flight.

Avuncularly yours as ever,

david Terry
www.davidterryart.com

Warren said...

Dominique, just re-read Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker "Million Dollar Murray" which offers a very different solution for homelessness and air pollution in Denver. Do you know if the Environmental Defense Fund has considered the approach (which attempts to change the behavior of the 5% that create 90 percent of the problems...)?

Link: http://www.gladwell.com/2006/2006_02_13_a_murray.html

Also recommend Charles Blow's Remembrances of my Father in Sat. NYTimes Op-ed. How ACTS matter so much more than WORDS. Spend some time with your dads tomorrow!

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/opinion/18blow.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

Dominique, how bout a NYTimes piece on the demise of printed books? I go back and forth on eBooks. Holding a good book is as comforting as petting my pup. It's so sad that we constantly fall for 'convenience' in our daily lives ... iTunes compresses Glenn Gould ... Instant coffee .... etc.

Leslie Brunetta said...

I just finished Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses--absolutely gorgeous. He writes about the forest and rivers and cabins and horses and a boy's inner life in a way all his own. My husband says that To Siberia is even better, so I'm looking forward to that.
Leslie

Judith Ross said...

I took David Terry's advice and borrowed "The Good Soldier" from the library. Its small size is a plus as I'll be traveling soon. And I do prefer adultery to be front and center in my fiction rather than a sub-plot.

I, too, loved Out Stealing Horses and am delighted to hear that Per Petersen has written another book.

I also took a peek at In the Garden of Beasts while at the bookstore. It looks like it is a riveting read.

Happy reading to all!

Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, Interiors said...

What a wonderful article...Thank you, for sharing a *bit* of your reading book. I have find my copy of "Alice's Adveuntures In Wonderland. "The Good Soldier" is an amazing read. I just sign the petition to President Obama. Later on tackle the making of the chocolate chip cookies!! Oh I do hope your assistent returns soon. (wink/smile).

Violet Cadburry said...

I am reading this post eating popcorn. Rev - I cried too watching Marley and Me, regretting every cent I spent on the ticket each time Aniston tried to wrinkle her forehead. I am reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It is of sufficient vintage to have survived Bieberesque mania and slobbering reviews by mainstream illiterates. I have to confess, I read voraciously usually fueled by vintage Two Buck Chuck. That way I enjoy a book three times over, as I have to re-read somewhat to recall the plot after filling my glass, and again upon taking up the tome the next day to fill in the part where I dozed off. The Hedgehog is interesting. It is a translation from French and unfortunately I think a large part of the quirkiness and silliness just can't be reduced to English. I am also reading The Life of Napolean by Sir Walter Scott, an almost 200 year old book I purchased on Ebay for $36. I have not read very far as yet, but will not retreat from this fateful task. I keep it next to Proust.

mary said...

I'd had already signed the petition to President Obama...thanks so much for the reading list and please keep it coming as I need to be pushed a bit in the right direction. I do read a lot, but would rather pull out a great mystery than great read.... Have a super Sunday. Mary

david terry said...

Regarding "The Elegance of the Hedgehog"...?

I was midway through the novel, alternately fascinated and frustrated by the thing, two years ago when I accidentaly left it in the ultra-glamorous smoking-lounge of the Atlanta airport (note: the Atlanta airport smoking "lounge" is a small, stuffy hellhole, eternally packed with 20 or so self-damned addicts in various states of distress. Five minutes there will make you, or even me, wish you had NEVER started smoking. Herve refers to the room as "Architectural Aversion Therapy".).

In any case, I ended up buying another copy in Paris that next day. So, I read the first half of the novel in English, and the second half in French. I've got to say that, in either language, the novel's not exactly a Rib-Tickler and Heartwarmer. It's very beautiful, though.

Here's a very "Slow Love Life" passage from it (one of Ms. Browning's remarks concerning writing-her-blog reminded me of this a few weeks ago):

"This is eminently true of many happy moments in life. Freed from the demands of decision and intention, adrift on some inner sea, we observe our various movements as if they belonged to someone else, and yet we admire their involuntary excellence. What other reason might I have for writing this--the ridiculous journal of an aging concierge--if the writing did not have something of the art of scything about it? The lines gradually become their own demiurges and, like some witless yet miraculous participant, I witness the birth on paper of sentences that have eluded my will and appear in spite of me on the sheet,teaching me something that I neither knew nor thought I wanted to know. This painless birth, like an unsolicited proof, gives me untold pleasure, and with neither toil nor certainty but the joy of frank astonishment I follow the pen that is guiding and supporting me. In this way, in the full proof and texture of myself, I accede to a self-forgetfulness that borders on ecstasy, to savor the blissful calm of my watching consciousness."

Also:

"...All those hours drinking tea in the refined company of a great lady who has neither wealth nor palaces, only the bare skin in which she was born---without those hours I would have remained a mere concierge, but instead it was contagious, because the aristocracy of the heart is a contagious emotion, so you made of me a woman who could be a friend...."

The bookflap copy quite accurately states "This is a moving, witty, and redemptive novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us."

I expect that many of the folks who enjoy this blog would relish this book. I wouldn't recommend it for the impatient, though; there's a good reason the author chose that title.

Sincerely,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

Karena said...

Dominique so sorry I haven't commented for a bit. That said I do read a lot and always have a couple of books going at one. Right now "The Girl who Fell from Heaven" and " The Artists Way"

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Come and join my Giveaway from the Novica Artisans!

Warren said...

On a totally different level, and in honor of Father's Day, some may enjoy a very short, very funny collection of test replies in "F in Exams, the very best totally wrong test answers'.

Here's one:
Discuss the style of Romeo and Juliet.

It is written entrely in islamic pentameter. The play is full of heroic couplet, one example being Romeo and Juliet themselves.

david terry said...

Oh, Warren?...in case no one's told you lately (or today, and I know you're a father, on this Father's Day).....

you and your sense of humor & proportion (more importantly, actually) are a continuing delight.

I spent 13 years formally studying "Literature" at various, high-toned insitutions. Still?...I expect that, even when I've had six-strokes-in-a-row and am on my deathbed?....the last thing i'll recall is that "Romeo and Juliet" was "written in Islamic pentameter".

you really DO know how to write a phrase that sticks in the mind....and please take that as a quite sincere compliment.

too bad you live on the opposite side of the continent and are coveredd with Seattle rain and mud. Otherwise, I'd invite you over for tea/drinks this afternoon.

admiringly, and thanks....

----david terry
www. Live&KeepOnLearning.org.

Anonymous said...

I had trouble getting into Ford's Parade's End. I kept my copy hoping to revisit it when I was in that zone. I will highly recommend Ford's The Good Soldier. It's exquisitley written, a heartbreaker of a story & an easy size to polish off on a rainy weekend. With all the books coming out every year, we forget all those wonderful & wise 18th, 19th & early 20th century novels that seem alot easier to understand & enjoy now than when we were in high school. Get thee to the library or your favorite used bookstore!
Anna Z.

cathy howard moore said...

This may be the most wonderful post ever! Between your entry and all of the wonderful suggestions in the comments I'm going to be way too busy to do any work for a very long time!
I have been reading Volume XX of The Chautauquan, a Monthly Magazine, October, 1894, to March, 1895. The Chautauqua Society was organized to disseminate education to "the American People". Their articles and papers cover an enormous range of subjects. The one that has really grabbed my attention is "The Education of a Prince" an oration delivered by Edward Everett Hale at Chautauqua on August 22, 1894. The prince he speaks of educating is the sovereign of America, i.e. "The American People"! I look at all of the funding cuts being made to education in our country and think perhaps I should be having the article reprinted and sent to our current crop of political knot-heads.

Anonymous said...

Your description of eating toothpaste while reading A Wrinkle in Time reminded me of a favorite childhood memory: sitting next to our one window air conditioner on hot summer afternoons in Kansas, reading Nancy Drew and eating bread smeared with Miracle Whip. Those were the days.