Saturday, April 25, 2009

My cat

This is my cat Sasha. She is named after Sasha Obama, who is a cute kid, too. Sasha Obama also is dark colored like my cat but doesn't have stripes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Reading for Fun

Why is it a sin to read for fun?

This unbelievable title goes with an article in the April 20 Newsweek. It is unbelievable because as a librarian I know that millions of people read for fun, and it’s ok.

The article is about reading for pleasure as seen through various quoted people, most notably Jodi Picoult and her followers. Picoult has had sixteen books published, and she has a substantial fan base. The article says that fiction reading is increasing among young adults, the 18 to 24 crowd, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. The article goes on to say, “…the news was reported by literary blogs and arts journals with throat-clearing about what kinds of books these young adults are reading.”

The article says the judgment is, “All books are good for you…some are just better than others.” It calls this the ‘gateway drug’ theory of literature, that people will naturally want to read harder, deeper texts after starting with enjoyable fiction. It further points out that Picoult knows she won’t win a Pulitzer Prize because her writing is popular.

Are we a nation of puritanical readers? When did pleasure reading become something to be ashamed about? Novels have become mainstream. Many are actually about something. This literary form has been around for a long time. Jane Austen fans will remember her book from a couple of hundred years ago, Northanger Abbey, which is in part a commentary on the gothic novels that were popular among young women of her day.

Gateway drug? Really, it’s time to put aside the negative judgments about today’s novels. It’s ok to read Jodi Picoult, Danielle Steel and vampire novels. I’m not so sure about hard core porn fiction. One decade’s bad taste can become respected literature later. I have trouble believing that Harry Potter will lead to the reading of pornography.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vanilla Ice Cream

Here is another goodie from a cookbook written in a different era. The ice cream tastes good, although you need to beat it a lot. It doesn’t require the ice cream freezer that most ice cream recipes of today require.

My comments about it: Hardly anyone knows about top milk any more because it is what you get at the top of the bottle of unhomogenized whole milk. If you buy unhomogenized milk, do what I did: shake it up in the bottle and then measure it. When it says use a refrigerator dessert tray, no one knows what these are, either, because they pre-date the freezers that everyone now has; I used a small 7x9 inch baking pan. Where it says freeze with control dial set at coldest, just put it into your freezer. I think 20-25 minutes is not long enough to freeze the ice cream at the end. I let it freeze overnight.

Unfortunately, the white corn syrup that we buy now contains some high fructose corn syrup in addition to the original corn syrup. I used it anyway. The recipe has a variant spelling for syrup, which is why I typed it sirup.

Economy Ice Cream

2 eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons white corn sirup
1 cup top milk -- I used whole milk
1 cup light cream -- I used heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg yolks, sugar and corn sirup until thick and lemon colored. Add milk, cream, flavoring. Pour into refrigerator dessert tray. Freeze until firm with control dial set at coldest. Remove to chilled bowl, add unbeaten egg whites, and beat until fluffy. Return to freeze chest for 20 to 25 minutes or until frozen.

This recipe has variations for chocolate, maplenut, peanut brittle, peach and strawberry.

From The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cook Book, prepared under the direction of Julia Kiene (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954). Betty Furness was an actress and consumer advocate a long time ago. I remember seeing Betty Furness regularly on the Today Show many years ago. According to the preface in this very good book, she wasn’t much of a cook, so she teamed up with Julia Kiene of Westinghouse, who could cook.