Sunday, December 8, 2013

Book Suggestions For Everyone on Your Christmas List

"Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures..." 
- Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 
-Robert Louis Stevenson

And Then There Were None
-Agatha Christie


-Jane Austen

Anna Karenina
-Leo Tolstoy


A History of the World in 6 Glasses
-Tom Standage

The Inklings
- Humphrey Carpenter


Life of Pi
-Yann Martel


Surprised by Joy
- C.S. Lewis

Homilies on the First Epistle of John


In Defense of Food
- Michael Pollan

Science Fiction:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
-Jules Verne

Pre-School Children:

- Andrew Zuckerman
(Incredible photographs of animals in this book!)

The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse
-Thornton Burgess

Learning to Read
(1st-3rd read themselves):

Amelia Bedelia
- Peggy Parish

The Boxcar Children
- Gertrude Chandler Warner


Peter Pan (not Disney, but the ACTUAL book)
- J.M. Barrie

The Secret Garden
- Frances Hodgson Burnett

Charlotte's Web
E.B. White

Pre-Teen (9-12):

A Wrinkle in Time
- Madeleine L'Engle

Little Women
-Louisa May Alcott

The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien
(The second movie will be in theaters this Christmas!)


- George Orwell

-Bram Stoker

The Picture of Dorian Gray
- Oscar Wilde

What about the person on my list who hates reading??

Buy them the book of one of their favorites movies. They may really enjoy reading it!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why You Should Read this Book at Age 8 and 50

I recently read The Wind in the Willows, a story I have not encountered since it was read aloud to me as a child, and I will join the many admirers who say that this is a book that should be read at age 8 and 50... and perhaps a few times in between. Through the homely and lovable characters of Mole, Water Rat, Badger, and Mr. Toad, Kenneth Graham (who was Scottish by the way) illuminates simple pleasures and simple challenges that adults far too often complicate. Never underestimate the enjoyment of a warm fire over a shared beer or the true kindness of a friend, and beware the destructive power of your own vanity and misguided boasts. These are merely some of the essential lessons that we much teach children and that we must re-learn ourselves from time to time. 

But in case you don't take my word for it, this tale has inspired everyone from the author of Winnie the Pooh to Pink Floyd. Theodore Roosevelt wrote to the author heartily acknowledging his pleasure in his reading and re-reading the tale. A.A. Milne (author of Winnie the Pooh) wrote an introduction in which he describes the book as "...a test of character. We can't criticize it, because it is criticizing us." He goes on to comment, "It is a Household Book; a book which everybody in the household loves, and quotes continually; a book which is read aloud to every new guest and is regarded as the touchstone of his worth."

Our society has done us great harm in telling us that books about animals are for children only. After all, C.S. Lewis reminds us that "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest!" I like to think that this is one of the books that he had in mind when he so famously stated, "No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally - and often far more - worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

We Celebrate with Food

Jordan and I were talking about love languages yesterday, and I laughed at myself, because I think mine is food. My favorite memories with Jordan usually include either eating at great restaurants or cooking together in our own kitchen. Most anniversaries and birthdays are always centered around deciding which way to celebrate... Well turning 29 was no exception, and the food did not disappoint.

After Jordan fed me French Toast in bed (which we recently learned the key to French Toast is soaking the bread in the egg mixture overnight - genius!), we went to explore the farmers market that comes once a month to St Andrews. Here we grabbed local smoked trout and a bottle of local Elderflower wine (from Cairn O' Mohr winery). Add some cheese and bread and you have yourself a delicious lunch. The smoked trout was surprisingly good. The fish absorbed that smoky flavor completely. And with no fancy equipment, the fish was smoked in barrels and served hot to our hands.

After lunch, we walked along the sea in hopes of capturing our beautiful scenery while we still have daylight and warmth (winter is fast approaching). You can't deny that St Andrews is beautiful!

And then the grand finale of the day - Rocca Grill. When I left my job in Aberdeen, my co-workers gave me a gift card to this highly acclaimed restaurant which we've been anticipating for weeks. So we got all dressed up for what will most likely be our best meal while living in St Andrews (since as poor postgrad students, we can't ever go to a restaurant this nice without a gift card). THANK YOU to DFS!

Jordan's gonna kill me for this picture!

Now, as much as I wish that I had pictures of the gorgeous food we ate, we were too embarrassed to whip out our camera at dinner. The food was absolutely amazing and stunning (and every positive word that I could think to say about it), and as we made our way through the risottos and braised meats and lobster and salmon ravioli, we decided that Jordan's Goosnargh Farm Duck with Foi Gras, Peach, and Mead was the best plate of food we have ever eaten anywhere.  It's ruined all other duck forever I'm sure. 

Fat and happy, we went back home and watched several episodes of The Big Bang Theory. The perfect ending to a Krisi day. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Life in St Andrews (And Leek and Potato Soup)

Three weeks ago we packed our few belongings and moved an hour and a half south to St Andrews.  

Above is Jordan's office.

Soon after arriving we were able to watch the local air show.

We feel at home in our little flat which is situated right in the heart of town.

There were fireworks on the beach to celebrate St Andrews 600th anniversary!

I found a local organic farm that delivers my produce for free. That made me so happy! I like to get food from a local farm, not only because it is better for the local economy and healthier (all organic), but  also because it helps me cook in stride with the season. 

Recipe for Alton Brown's Leek and Potato Soup

I would not have normally picked up potatoes and leeks from the grocery store. But they came in my produce bag, so I made a leek and potato soup using Alton Brown's recipe.  I chose this particular recipe, because I was curious that he added buttermilk in addition to cream (something a lot of other recipes did not add). The buttermilk gave it a little tanginess that I thought made the soup much more interesting than a typical cream based soup. I highly recommend it. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Conviction to Love - Augustine and Mother Teresa

Words preached by Augustine 1600 years ago have recently become a rich source of conviction and challenge to me. In this collection of homilies on 1 John, Augustine simplifies the believers' task to one aim - the call to love your brother. It sounds simple, but it carries much weight. This IS the fruit of knowing God. If we do not love our brother, we are no different from the demons who proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God. Faith without love is dead, and love without action is mere words.

Simultaneously, and quite randomly,  I have been reading a biography on Mother Teresa - a little Catholic nun who made it her mission to love "the poorest of the poor" in the world. She held the conviction that "if there were poor in the world it was not because God had made them poor but because you and I do not share enough."The depth of her self-denial and sacrifice unsettled me. But she understood the fruit of her sacrifice, "God has shown His greatness by using nothingness- so let us always remain in our nothingness- so as to give God free hand to use us without consulting us." Her life reads as a beautiful example of Augustine's call to love.

But how can I possibly live out the type of love that 1 John demands?  How does God grow this fruit in my life? Both Mother Teresa and Augustine offer a suggestion:

"If you want to write letters," said Mother Teresa, "you have to practice on a typewriter first; same thing - you want to give love to others, first, give love to your own children, your husband, your wife."

And from Augustine, "How does charity begin, brother? You have heard how charity is perfected, 'Greater charity no one has than to lay down his life for his friends' (John 15:13). When can we have this charity? Don't be quick to lose hope for yourself... nurse it so that it won't be smothered. 'But he who had the goods of the world and saw his brother hungry and closed his heart to him - how will God's love be able to abide in him? (1 John 3:17)' This is where charity begins. If you aren't yet ready to die for your brother, be ready to give of your goods to your brother... For, if you can't give what is superfluous to your brother, how can you lay down your life for your brother?"

Both offer a simple place to start. Sadly, even these acts of love are so often neglected by us believers. We all (from the weakest to the Saints) must pray for God's help. We must pray that His love will find a pathway through our lives to touch the world.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's Better than Bacon? Duck Fat.

Our tiny gallery kitchen may be impressively small, but recently it punched out huge flavor with Jamie Oliver's Warm Crispy Duck Salad. Cooking duck is a double bonus. In the first meal, you enjoy a tender juicy meat that has roasted in its own luscious fat for hours. But a second meal will undoubtably benefit from the extra drippings you must save as if they were liquid gold (in this case I used the left-over duck fat to roast sweet potatoes another day - that is a winner!)

This particular recipe I am adding to the must repeat pile, and here is why...

It's a salad, so it is crisp and light. But the warm duck on top brings it to another level, satisfying you as a hearty meal. The asian five-spice on the duck pairs wonderfully with the orange dressing and dried cherries. And to top it all off, sourdough bread is soaked in the duck's fat before toasting in the oven. The rich crispy bread served alongside a pile of tender meat drizzled with a light citrus dressing is just a perfect combination.

Recipe from "Jamie's Great Britain" cookbook.