12 Books, 12 Months: Month 8 Round Up

It’s that time of year – taxes, finals, grades, a change in the weather.  All good reasons to fall behind in your reading, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.  This month only two of our intrepid readers finished their books: J Harker, who read Lolita, and Lanea, who read The Song of the Lark.

While J Harker acknowledged that Lolita was “superbly written and a phenomenal example of the ‘untrustworthy narrator'”, his opinion of the book was irreparably colored by his visceral reaction to “the tone, the constant and growing sense of unease” and the sense of “be[ing] inside a pedophile’s head, listening to his logic, his justifications, his schemes and plots and dream.” [review]

It seems like Lanea enjoyed her book a bit more, though it didn’t hold up to the others she’s read by Willa Cather.  She appreciated Cather’s ability to write strong female characters and to portray the world as it is, warts and all, though she was “uncomfortable about some of the racial and ethnic language and questions in the book.”  Cather’s total avoidance of romance, sex, or sexuality also didn’t ring true in a story that otherwise seems to have been about a young woman’s coming of age.  A good book, but not a perfect one. [review]

Me? I’m still working my way through two previous months’ book, as well as Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age.  You know what’s weird?  Reading a book about social networks and networking that was researched, written, and published before Facebook.


Garden Chic

photographed by nina leen from the life magazine archives, date unknown.

Despite still being under the weather, I spent a very happy hour in the garden yesterday.  I raked the compost into beds and lined the walkways with hay in hopes of preventing at least some of the weeds from creeping into the good soil.  Shane got me a nice gridded notebook for our anniversary, so I’m looking forward to planning the beds this week and getting seeds in the ground by the weekend!  What are you growing this year?


25 Recipes #8: Sexy Mayonnaise

The last time I tried to make aioli, it was 2006. Shane and I had only been dating a few months, and I was living in an apartment with a kitchen that I’m 90% sure had previously been a closet. On the night in question, we made fish cakes from my Spanish cookbook and asparagus, both a great success, but the aioli (or allioli in Catalan) was just a soupy oily mess. I’m not sure what happened exactly, but for five years I tried not to think about it.

That is, until Friday night, when I was trying to come up with a horseradish condiment for the birthday hot dog spread – and decided to take another stab at aioli.

Sexy Mayonnaise

And oh. my. god. did I make some sexy mayonnaise. The key – and perhaps what went wrong the first time – is time. If you want sexy mayonnaise, you gotta take it slow. Add the yolks and the vinegar to the mixer and turn the beaters up all the way, then at an impossibly slow pace, drizzle in the olive oil. You might get bored standing there, measuring cup in hand, but it will be so worth it when you see the yolk, oil, and vinegar start to bind together and get creamy. Whip in a bit of water, then add horseradish to taste – but not too much, as the flavors will mellow in the fridge. And then slather it on anything you’d like – a fancy hot dog, perhaps? A breakfast sandwich? – or add it to cole slaw for a subtle kick. I had to use a bit of regular mayo in the cole slaw, and let me tell you, once you’ve had sexy mayo, there’s no going back.

Sexy Mayonnaise

Horseradish aioli
Recipe adapted from A Cat in the Kitchen

2 egg yolks
200 ml mild olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp warm water
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Using a stand mixer or electric beater, whip egg yolks and vinegar together. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixing bowl in a thin stream, beating constantly. This should take several minutes. When light and creamy, add a tablespoon of cold water, still beating constantly. Add horseradish a half tablespoon at a time, beating constantly, more or less to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste, then refrigerate. Makes between 1.5-2 cups of the sexiest mayonnaise you’ll ever taste.