Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A Few Leftovers from 2012

So I made a last-minute rally on New Year's eve and tried to cram in some more reading. I also had one book left un-reviewed from the previous weeks, so you get minis! 


Ella Minnow Pea takes place on the fictional island of Nollopton, off the South Carolina coast. The island is named Nevin Nollop, the guy who came up with the linguistic marvel, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog," one of the shortest sentences in English to use all 26 letters with minimal repetition. The residents of the island are linguistically advanced and put language on a pedestal. Until the letters of the sentence, stuck to a cenotaph, begin to fall off!!! Then the government decides to expunge those letters from their language as the falling of the letters must be a sign from the great Nollop himself from beyond the grave. 

It sounds all light-hearted and fun, but this is a timely satire. With gun control  and healthcare debates waging this book really offers an interesting take on civil rights, freedom of speech, and lots of other big issues. The once-peaceful island essentially becomes a police state over a philosophical and linguistic cause. Really poignant stuff. 

The book is arranged in epistolary format, which grated on my nerves a bit by the end of the book. I did think it was clever of Dunn to exclude the fallen letters of the alphabet as the book progressed. By the end of the book it was quite hard to read as residents had to write to one another phonetically using the leftover letters or use similar-sounding words to their intended word choices. 

For a really lovely, sophisticated review of this one, check out Aarti's Musings over at BookLust


Deceptively Delicious is a cookbook authored by Jessica Seinfeld (though I could care less about the near-celeb authorship). Basically, it's about sneaking veggies past our kids to introduce more nutrition into their lives. The basic idea is that one prepares any number of veggie purees, mostly in 1/2 cup servings, and they can be easily incorporated into the recipes. 

I realize some parents detest the idea of "sneaking" veggies past their kids. But, for some of us, this is a very real problem. The truth of the matter is that I "sneak" veggies past Greyson as often as humanly possible. I also present vegetables to him in a straightforward, "there they are on the plate" kind of way, too. But if he's not eating the straightforward veggies, a mama's gotta improvise. 

I'm really interested to try several recipes in this book -- for Greyson and for myself! There's everything from hamburgers to pasta dishes to desserts (brownies with beets and spinach!). I do wonder with only about 1/2 to 1 whole cup of veg in a given recipe how much good it's doing? But, I also know that I pack in the nutrition wherever I can -- Greyson gets green smoothies that he loves, and I haven no problem getting him to eat fruit. It's a fun cookbook, and I hope our family will really dig the recipes. 


The final book is barely a book, but it was a quick, practical read. The Little Book of Living Frugal by Dr. Charlotte Gorman is full of tips for ongoing frugality. Truthfully, I already do most of these. I shop for long-wearing clothes that I can use in multiple ways. I save gas when I can by making fewer, shorter trips. Not much new information here, but it was a nice reminder for the new year as student loans are kicking back in

So that's my reading to cap of 2012. As I mentioned in my Faves of the Year post, it wasn't a big year by the numbers, but overall I was consistently happy with the quality of my reading, and that's the biggest battle!

Did you squeeze any books into the final hours of the year? 

18 comments:

  1. I have been wanting to read Ella Minnow Pea for the longest time, and I do have it here. My daughter has read it twice, so I think I need to get to it soon. It does sound excellent, and I remember reading Aarti's review and seeing how much was really packed in that book.

    Also, one way to sneak veggies is to add some pureed sweet potatoes into pancake batter. a friend usually does this with her kids, and they love the sweet taste of the pancakes. I don't know if Jessica advises this or not, but it's a great idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Zibilee,

      I think you'll really like Ella Minnow Pea when you get around to it. I think I would've liked it more if I'd read it in a shorter period of time. It kind of got dragged out because of work issues. Clever book, though.

      And that's a great idea. I've done that with pumpkin around the holidays, but I will definitely do it with sweet potato or even butternut squash. I also found a recipe for pancakes with grated zucchini and carrot in them! I guess pancakes are one of those dishes you can sort of hide anything in. Greyson loves them all the time. :)

      Delete
  2. I loved Ella Minnow Pea. It was a quirky little satire and while the ending got a little hard to read I applaud Dunn for sticking to her format.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely quirky. And it did get hard to read, but still clever and I muddled through that last part. The resolution was really clever and I liked the way it all wound up.

      Delete
  3. I liked Ella Minnow Pea more than you did.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, it was good, but like I was telling Zibilee up top, I think it took a toll that I read it over a longer period of time than was intended. The start and stop of reading it made it less enjoyable. End of the day I definitely admired and appreciated what Dunn was able to do.

      Delete
  4. I'd eat beet brownies. I loooooooove beets, but then I'm weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jill, I love beets, too. In fact, when I was three or four years old, I ate so many pickled beets that my urine turned red and my mom thought I was dying. True story!

      Delete
  5. I've wanted to check out Deceptively Delicious for some time now, mostly out of curiosity. Please let us know how the recipes turn out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emily, it looks great! Gotta get myself organized and start cooking meals from it.

      Delete
  6. I turned my mom on to Ella Minnow Pea a few years ago, and she actually used it in one of her English classes for the next several years. I really enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great idea! It would be a lot of fun to teach it.

      Delete
  7. I should review books from 2012, too, but I tend to just get to a new year...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hear ya. I'm such a slow reader I figured I better review the old stuff to take up some space on the blog. lol

      Delete
  8. Love the concept of Ella Minnow Pea, I'll check it out... could be a good resource for my English classes like Elizabeth said her mother did!

    I love the idea of "sneaking" veggies.. I've done it for ages, even when I wasn't cooking for kids! It is a great way to just simply boost nutrition in your diet... now that Madeline is 6, I often tell her "oh, by the way, this has xyz veggie in it" just to see her shocked "no way!" face. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen, Jenna. Sneaking veggies is just a good idea. I get bored with them, so the more ways I can cook them into favorites is a good thing.

      And I love the "no way" face. lol

      Delete
  9. I realized recently that Mark Dunn has a bunch of other books, but Ella Minnow Pea is my favorite. Under the Harrow is a lot of fun, though a smidge predictable if you've read [I had to censor this because I wrote a bunch of spoilers about Under the Harrow and this one other book I read as a kid; and then I was like, Oh who cares? Andi probably would figure it out anyway, she's smart that way!; and then I felt like I had a shameful spoiler problem and I shouldn't do you that way].

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm all for getting the veggies in any way possible. I actually mince tons of veggies up and put it in my pasta sauce. My son loves veggies now but it is still a nice way to get them in a dish without having them all over your plate.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I respond to comments individually by e-mail and/or here on the site. I value community above all else in blogging, and talking with you all is the highlight of my blogging day!