From The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
“This is a great way to use up leftovers such as shredded chicken, cooked shrimp, grilled vegetables, and so on. Just toss them in near the end of cooking. Use cream, not milk. Start cooking the pasta before you begin the sauce. As an easy shortcut, toss chopped vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, peas, artichokes, and the like into the pasta water to cook them briefly; frozen vegetables work well. Add cooked chicken, vegetables, diced ham, cooked shrimp, and whatever you have on hand with the pasta and heat through.”
Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Carefully reserve one cup of the pasta water to use in the sauce.
Over medium-high heat, add all but 2 tablespoons of the cream to a saute pan or skillet. When it bubbles, add the salt. Small bubbles will erupt into larger bubbles. Stir.
When the sauce thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon or leaves a clean line in the bottom of the pan when you pull a spatula across it, add the pasta water. Cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, until it bubbles again and the sauce thickens.
Add the reserved 2 tablespoons of cream, heat through, and then add the cheese, garlic (if using), and a few cranks of pepper. Taste, and add more salt if needed.
Add the cooked pasta and any additional ingredients and stir well to coat.
Recipe from The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
From The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
“This recipe is adapted from the master recipe in the excellent book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francis. It’s simple to prepare and the dough keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks. I often add a tablespoon of dried thyme, rosemary, or herbes de Provence to the water to infuse the bread with extra flavor. The recipe was designed to work on a baking stone, but I get similar results with a shallow cast iron skillet. A cookie sheet will work, but your loaf may not get quite as brown and crusty. You can find the original recipe plus helpful photos and variations at www.artisanbreadinfive.com.”
Combine the water, yeast, and salt in a 5-qt bowl or plastic food container with a lid. Stir to mix. Add all of the flour at once and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is wet and sticky with no dry patches. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, but do not seal airtight. Let it rise for about 2 hours at room temperature. If you are not using it immediately, refrigerate the dough, covered, for up to 2 weeks.
To make a loaf, lightly sprinkle some flour onto the dough's surface. Scoop up a handful the size of grapefruit, and cut or tear it away from the remainder. Rub the dough with a layer of flour while gently stretching the top around to tuck the sides into the bottom to form a round, smooth loaf. Put the loaf on a pizza peel or cutting board dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Let it rise, uncovered, for at least a half hour or as long as 90 minutes. The loaf will plump but not change radically in size.
About 20 minutes before baking preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a broiler tray or other metal pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Put the baking stone or cast iron skillet on the middle rack.
Dust the loaf liberally with flour. Slash the top with a cross or three lines with a sharp knife and slide it onto the preheated baking surface. Carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water into broiler tray or metal pan and close the door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the crust is browned and the loaf feels light and hollow. Cool to room temperature.
I found 1 Tblsp of salt to be too salty and cut it back to 2 tsps
I like to sprinkle mine with herbs and cheeses before baking
Recipe from The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn
Published April 23rd 2013 by Little, Brown and Company
Sedaris's latest essay collection possesses all of the wit, charm, and poignancy his readers have come to expect.
His usual cast of delightful characters returns; including a flashback of his father in his underpants berating a schoolboy or, more recently, hounding David into getting a colonoscopy. Many pieces involve travel, animals, or both: his sister Gretchen totes around an insect "kill jar"; in a Denver airport, David engages with a judgmental fellow passenger; and visiting the Australian bush, he has encounters with a kookaburra and a dead wallaby. Seeking a stuffed owl for a Valentine's Day gift leads him to a taxidermist shop where he is shown gruesome oddities and confronts difficult questions about his curiosity. Another essay explores the evolution of David's 35 years-and-counting of keeping a diary and provides some great insight into his writing process.
In addition to the personal essays, there are six satirical monologues in which he assumes the role of a character with a ridiculous message. One in particular involves a man's ludicrous response to the legalization of gay marriage in New York, believing his own marriage is now "meaningless".
This is a must-read for fans of smart, well-crafted writing with a sense of humor.
Agent: Steven Barclay Agency. (May) Publishers Weekly via Barnes & Noble
This collection of essays was my introduction to David Sedaris. These essays range from humorous observations of quirky behaviors to downright snarky attitudes to utterly dark, disturbing thoughts and actions.
What did I like? I liked that I could finish the short essays quickly and start with a fresh one the next time I picked up the book. I liked that some of the lighter essays had me busting out with laughter. And I liked his writing style; It's clear that he is a witty, talented writer.
What didn't I like? The majority of these essays were far too dark for my taste.
Our reading group was split on this one; some loved it while others felt as did. It's possible that I might like his other works more, but it's unlikely that I'll eagerly seek them out anytime soon.
"But shouldn't we wait and go see it tomorrow?", nervously queried 8-year old Zach as the late afternoon sun cast long shadows across the fallen October leaves on the cemetery grounds.
I reassured him that I would keep him safe and that this was something he would really enjoy seeing. Suddenly, we were upon it. The Werewolf Grave. And then it came in all it's glory, the moment I was waiting for - the anxious expression on Zach's face gave way to confusion, then comprehension. The light went on. He got it. With a big sigh he rolled his eyes at me and said, "Mom, you are so weird!" Haha! My mission was accomplished! That was nearly 20 years ago and it remains to be one of my favorite Halloween memories.
The Werewolf Grave has long been a landmark in our town and never fails to bring amused smiles to the faces of the curious. But what I love most is that it resides within the grounds of one of the oldest, most beautiful of cemeteries in our region and incorporates centuries of history.
Last weekend Vi, my trusty bicycle, and I took a leisurely ride through the cemetery. We rode along every path, occasionally stopping to ponder about the lives whose names are engraved on the headstones. In the older sections of the cemetery there are groups of headstones engraved in Chinese and there are many headstones for babies that died in the 1800's. In addition to the Werewolf Grave, there are numerous others that we always stop at, namely those of my grandparents and other relatives, the Tautphaus family graves that overlook the adjacent park (originally built by the family as an "oasis in the desert" during the late 1800's and shared with the public), and a large heart-shaped headstone of a ten year old girl with her name, "Sadie", engraved in her own hand writing.
It may seem odd to you that I visit this place and ponder the minute clues given about those that lie here. But the beauty and history of this place always brings peace to my soul. Life is temporary. Yet lives endure time and influence the shape of all that comes after them.
Pages: 321 / Audio book: 6 hrs 56 min
Published May 13th 2008 by Harper Collins (first published June 1st 2006)
Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.
Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn't simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life's ordeals.
On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny's wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.
A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life...as only a dog could tell it.
Novel Gobblers Perspective
Carol's Rating: ★★★★★
This is an unputdownable story that will touch your heart and your funny bone. It somewhat reminded me of Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom in that it is full of love, compassion, wit, wisdom, and inspiration. Read it, you'll be glad you did.
Garth Stein was born in Los Angeles on December 6, 1964, but spent most of his childhood growing up in Seattle. His father, a Brooklyn native, was the child of Austrian Jewish immigrants, while Stein's Alaskan mother comes from Tlingit and Irish descent. Stein later revisited his Tlingit heritage in his first novel, Raven Stole the Moon.
Stein earned a B.A. from Columbia College of Columbia University (1987) and a Master of Fine Arts degree in film from the University's School of the Arts (1990).
Stein has worked as a director, producer and/or writer of documentary films, several of which won awards. In 1991, he co-produced an Academy Award winning short film,The Lunch Date. He then co-produced The Last Party, a film commentating on the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Stein also produced and directed a documentary about his sister's brain surgery, entitled When Your Head's Not a Head, It's a Nut.
After films, Stein took up creative writing. At one time, he taught creative writing at Tacoma School of the Arts. His published works include three books and two plays.Brother Jones, his first play, was produced in Los Angeles, California in 2005. Garth wrote another play (No One Calls Me Mutt Anymore, 2010) for the theatrical department at his alma mater, Shorewood High School in Shoreline, WA.
Stein was born in Los Angeles, grew up in Seattle, and after spending 18 years in New York City, returned to Seattle where he lives with his wife, Andrea Perlbinder Stein, sons Caleb, Eamon and Dashiell — and the family dog, Comet, a lab/poodle mix. When living in New York, played in a rock band, called Zero Band, that rehearsed but rarely performed.
Interviews, Quotes & More
Garth Stein discusses his novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, a heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.
Seattle author Garth Stein has a new distinction to add to his resume: his best selling book “The Art of Racing in the Rain” has been banned by a Texas high school.
Stein’s acclaimed novel tells the story of an aspiring Seattle race car driver and mechanic struggling with the death of his wife through the eyes of his dog Enzo, who’s convinced he’ll be reincarnated as a human.
“It’s about perseverance, it’s about self reliance and it’s really about how to lead a good life,” Stein tells KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz.
But some parents at Dallas’ Highland Park High School objected to some sexual themes and subject matter. In one section, the driver is falsely accused of sexual molestation by an underage girl who tries to force herself on him.
After a heated school board meeting, the school board ordered the 10th grade English class to stop reading the book, along with six other books considered objectionable, The Dallas Morning News reports.
Stein defends the book, and teaching it to 10th graders, saying even the controversial subject matter was “taken quite seriously and with gravitas.”
“Things do happen in this world that are inappropriate and people get themselves into situations where mistakes are made and things are compromised,” he says.
“I think in 10th grade, it’s time to be able to have these discussions about adult subject matter and I think it’s important to do so in a responsible and thoughtful way.”
Stein says he respects the rights of parents to raise concerns about potentially objectionable content. But he’s concerned the parents in Texas didn’t actually read the whole book.
“I think that somebody pulled out a passage and said look at this and then they passed it around and a bunch of people signed their names to it,” he says.
Stein says he believes in the value of a teacher guiding discussions of challenging or controversial subject matter, but says parents should be involved as well.
“I think the objective is to raise the awareness by having a discussion about these things rather than by suppressing the discussion.”
Stein’s book will be reviewed by a committee of parents, teachers and students. The superintendent of schools there says the process could take several months.
Stein questions the way the situation was handled, although he believes both the parents and teachers involved have the best interests of students in mind.
“They should be teaching their students to raise those objections themselves,” he says of potential concerns. “Maybe what’s going on now will lead to schools evaluating how they choose their curriculum, how the community participates in the choosing of that curriculum.”
He’s hopeful that doesn’t include banning books.
Everyone in our reading group enjoyed this book and the lively discussion. Donna hosted our meeting and prepared a wonderful meal that included Squash Soup and Apple Dumplings. To top it off, she cleverly printed our discussion questions on dogbone-shaped slips of paper. Woof!
Many online sources — Reading Group Guides,Harper Collins, the books publisher, and others — have shamelessly plagiarized one another’s reading guide questions. Here they are, in all their commonality :Some early readers of the novel have observed that viewing the world through a dog’s eyes makes for a greater appreciation of being human. Why do you think this is?
Enzo’s observations throughout the novel provide insight into his world view. For example:
“The visible becomes inevitable.”
“Understanding the truth is simple. Allowing oneself to experience it, is often terrifically difficult.”
“No race has ever been won in the first corner; many races have been lost there.”
How does his philosophy apply to real life?
In the book’s darkest moments, one of Zoe’s stuffed animals — the zebra — comes to life and threatens him. What does the zebra symbolize?
Can you imagine the novel being told from Denny’s point of view? How would it make the story different?
In the first chapter, Enzo says: “It’s what’s inside that’s important. The soul. And my soul is very human.” How does Enzo’s situation — a human soul trapped in a dog’s body — influence his opinions about what he sees around him? How do you feel about the ideas of reincarnation and karma as Enzo defines them?
Do you find yourself looking at your own dog differently after reading this novel?
In the book, we get glimpses into the mindset and mentality of a race car driver. What parallels can you think of between the art of racing and the art of living?
The character of Ayrton Senna, as he is presented in the book, is heroic, almost a mythic figure. Why do you think this character resonates so strongly for Denny?
OTHER DISCUSSION GUIDE QUESTIONS
A deeper plunge of the Internet provides more unique discussion guide questions. The blog Read to Enrich offers these for discussion:
What was your favorite scene in the novel?
Did you like the technique of making Enzo be the narrator? Would the story have worked if the narrator was one of the humans?
Do you think dogs or other animals can really understand humans and have the desire to communicate with them?
Discuss Enzo’s more human characteristics:
His feelings after Eve died (and his animal reaction of chasing and eating the squirrel ) [page 165]
Advising people to learn to listen (page 102)
Can dogs and other animals sense things that humans cannot? Enzo smelled Eve’s cancer well before anyone made a diagnosis.
What did you think of Enzo’s description of communication, “…there are so many moving parts. There’s presentation and there’s interpretation and they’re so dependent on each other it makes things very difficult.” (page 5) Was this a good analysis?
What did you think about Enzo’s analysis of his death? He said about Denny, “He needs me to free him to be brilliant.” (page 5)
The author wrote, “A true hero is flawed. The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles – preferably of his own making – in order to triumph.” (page 135) Do you agree? What do you think about the obstacles “being of his own making?” Can you name anyone who you think is a hero? Does he or she fit this description?
About a champion, he wrote “It makes one realize that the physicality of our world is a boundary to us only if our will is weak; a true champion can accomplish things that a normal person would think impossible.” (page 65) Do you agree?
One of Denny’s favorite statements was “…that which we manifest is before us.” (page 43) What did he mean? Do you agree?
The author stated that women and dogs feel pain the same (“tap directly into the pain” page 62) whereas men “are all filters and deflectors and timed release.” (page 63) Is this an accurate description? Do you think there is a difference in how men, women and dogs experience pain?
Regarding the evil zebra, at the end Enzo realizes that the zebra is,“not something outside of us. The zebra is something inside of us. Our fears. Our own self-destructive nature. The zebra is the worst part of us when we are face-to-face with our worst times. The demon is us!” (page 264) Do you agree? Can you think of any examples from other books you have read where the characters were their own worst enemies?
There were many comments in the book about life in general. What comparisons were made between driving a race car and life? Can you add others?