Thursday, February 16, 2017

How NOT To Make Spaghetti Sauce...

So, today's post is a little bit different. A few weeks ago, a major catastrophe happened within my family. It was quite tragic. If I dwell upon it too much, it sends a cold shiver down my spine. To make sure you avoid such a tragedy, here's what NOT to do:

Never let my brother and sister cook together. There's bound to be trouble.
Never, under any circumstances, should my brother be allowed to cook spaghetti. It's his curse.

The pot of water is on the stove, waiting to boil. The meat is cooked. The sauce, however, is up to no good. So NEVER add these ingredients together:

1 can tomato sauce
tomato paste
minced garlic

Seems like a pretty basic recipe, right? WRONG!
Though I had nothing to do with the making of the sauce, I am partly to blame for not being present for the 20 minutes it took my siblings to ruin everything. I walked upstairs into the kitchen. It seemed like an ordinary night. Ordinary people making an ordinary meal. And then I learned the truth. My brother and sister were talking about the sauce and what they did wrong. To fully understand what was happening, I did something either very brave or very foolish - I tasted the sauce.
It was possibly one of the worst things I had ever tasted. It stung my mouth. It burnt my throat as I swallowed it. I closed my eyes and shook my head as if that would get rid of the taste. I asked them what they had done to ruin such a beautiful sauce. I listened as they told me the ingredients. Nothing sounded out of the ordinary. So I took it upon myself to pull everything out that they had used and smelled it. The can of tomato sauce smelled fine. I even ran my finger on the inside of the can to taste it. It tasted fine too. So did the tomato paste. I know the salt and pepper were fine. The oregano and basil also smelled fine. Last I opened the jar of minced garlic form the fridge. It was the most putrid stench my poor nose ever encountered.
My brother confessed that it was his idea to use the minced garlic, quickly blaming my sister for putting it in the sauce though. When I asked how much she added, she said, "a lot." That was it. I don't know why it smelled so bad or tasted so bad, but it did. I quickly searched online how to hide the garlic flavor. We added A LOT of parsley. It helped immensely. But it was still nasty. We called my mom twice. We added more parsley. We added parmesan cheese. We added some sugar. It was too sweet. We added some red wine vinegar.
Did it taste good now? Compared to what we started with - yes, yes it did. Was it good though, without the comparison? No. It was not. I suggested to dump it and start over. It didn't seem like a good idea to waste all of that precious meat. But no one listens to Nessa. My brother goes ahead and adds the sauce to the meat. He tastes it again and admits that "We should have probably just dumped it out." BOOM! Now he says that. Oh well. We all eat it anyway because that's what was for dinner.
My sister actually said, "It's pretty good," to which my brother responded with, "You only think that because you've already ruined your tastebuds at this point."

When my sister-in-law came home, she tasted it and asked what happened. Everyone was a little bit embarrassed to tell her, but tell her we did. She ate noodles with cheese and butter on them, finally asking a question that none of us had thought about: was the minced garlic expired. I truthfully told her that I was afraid to check because I had already eaten my share. As my sister and I get up to do the dishes, my brother starts complaining about the horrible taste left in his mouth. I asked him not to talk about it.

The three of us decided the best way to end the meal was with a few Oreo's to wash it all down. Oreo's make everything better. Thus ended another ordinary day.

Yours Truly,

Friday, February 10, 2017

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington


Where I received this book and what my interest in it is:
The title of the book is Maggie Elizabeth Harrington (I Live In Two Worlds, Vol. 1) written by D.J. Swykert. Recently I have started reviewing books. It began when I read a book I so enjoyed, that I decided to write about it on my blog. Since then, I have had several authors request that I review their books too. D.J. Swykert contacted me through the contact form on my blog, asking if I would be interested in writing an honest review for his book. I agreed to do this once I had learned more about the book. I don't get paid to write these. I write them because I want to, and I love to read. It's a great opportunity for me. Thank you D.J. Swykert for giving me the honor of reading your book!

Type of book:
Literary/Historical Fiction.

Ideas expressed, message, and/or plot:
The book is about 13-year old Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, set in a mining town in Michigan in the late 1800's. Maggie's mother is not in the story, but died in childbirth. She lives with her father and her grandmother. Every summer, Maggie's father drowns her kittens. It causes Maggie to feel useless and helpless as she watches him, unable to stop him. She wonders about and questions nearly everything thrown into her path, from death to the teachings of Reverend White. When a hunter kills a she-wolf, Maggie is determined to find her pups and rescue them. With the help of her friends, Annie and her older brother Tommie, they set out to find the pups.
Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is told in the first person, revealing each of her thoughts as they find the pups and take care of them in secret. Maggie and Tommie always shared a special connection, but soon Maggie falls in love with him, part of the time sure that he loves her too, part of the time wondering how much he loves her. When someone finds the wolves and threatens to kill them, Maggie and Tommie leave town and will stop at nothing to keep the wolves safe. They undertake an adventure of sorts and find themselves caught up in a twist of events, for better or for worse, that will test Maggie's love for Tommie, force her to grow up, move on with life, and to take it upon herself to make the changes that she so desperately wanted.

Favorite scenes/quotes/lines:
My favorite characters include the title character, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, Tommie Stetter, and George Bailey (no, not the George Bailey from It's A Wonderful Life). Maggie seems to be a quiet timid sort of person. She often has an almost bleak outlook on events and the life around her, yet as the story goes on, we see her blossom and mature quite a bit, becoming more hopeful and stepping up to make a change. Her thoughts are deep and beyond her years, but she always manages to think something which reminds you that she is still a teenager and still thinks childish thoughts sometimes. Tommie seems like a good kid, sweet, caring, smart. He's also aggressive and knows how to get a job done as a young man should. It's easy to see what Maggie likes in him, yet he's also a little bit hard to read because all we know about Tommie is what Maggie sees in him. George Bailey did not have a huge part in the story, but I found his endless "rambling" as Maggie called it to be quite amusing. Unlike most of the people Maggie grows up with, Mr. Bailey actually likes to talk - more so than he likes to listen perhaps.
I rather liked several lines throughout the story, but my favorite lines are: "...a lot of things that are important to people, don't seem right to me." (Chapter 6). That's one of the things I like about Maggie. She doesn't accept everything just because someone else said it was right. Also, in chapter 7, I like this: "She is more concerned about how she will feel when she grows up than what she feels right now." I believe that quote speaks for itself. Lastly, I really liked this simple quote that rings with so much truth: " is God's gift to us." (Chapter 18.) No major spoilers here, but I do want to add that I think my favorite scene took place in Chapter 14.

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington
Other books to read by D.J. Swykert:
The sequel to Maggie Elizabeth Harrington is titled Alpha Wolves. Other books he has written are Children of the Enemy, The Pool Boy's Beatitude, and The Death of Anyone. You can check out his website for more titles and his Facebook profile.
Additional notes:
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were interesting. Maggie Elizabeth Harrington was a real person. That in itself was one of the things that made the book so enjoyable, as we look into what her life could have actually been like. The setting and themes worked extremely well together. The style in which the book was written is what gets to me the most I think. It is written in a simplified manner meant for a younger audience. With that said, a teen audience or an older audience I feel would also enjoy the story equally as much. Also, the story is written in the first person. However, it reads extremely different than I think any other book I have encountered. While most first person stories are written in a slightly past tense, Maggie Elizabeth Harrington felt more present than anything I have ever read and thus more intimate as we get to know Maggie on such as personal level. I would like to say that the book felt like reading her diary perhaps, but it didn't. It's just that present in her mind.
The book began a little bit slow to me, but got more interesting as it progressed. By Chapter 14, things really started to get exciting and kept me hooked until the end. I'm excited to read the second book!
(Click here to purchase Maggie Elizabeth Harrington).

Yours truly,