Tag Archives: Quotes

Weekend Cooking: Drood Food

Several bloggers – myself among them – are participating in a Readalong of Dan Simmons’ mammoth novel Drood which is being hosted by Trish at Love, Laughter, and Insanity. At 775 pages, this one more than meets the qualifications for a chunkster of a book.

I’ve been listening to the audio version and when I got to this passage, I absolutely cracked up. Fellow novelist Wilkie Collins is the narrator of Drood and a good friend of Charles Dickens’; in this scene, Collins is having “supper at a club to which [he] did not belong but at which [he] had guest privileges.”

“I settled down to my solitary meal. I enjoyed coming to this club because of how the chef here prepared lark pudding, which I considered one of the four great works produced by my present age. Tonight I decided to dine relatively lightly and ordered two types of pate, soup, some sweet lobsters, a bottle of dry champagne, a leg of mutton stuffed with oysters and minced onions, two orders of asparagus, some braised beef, a bit of dressed crab, and a side of eggs.” (pg. 56-57)

Wilkie considers this to be a “modest repast.”

He then goes on about the culinary skills of Catherine Dickens, Charles’ wife.

Book Blogger Convention 2011 - NYC (86)

Cheese display at Eataly, New York City, NY May 2011

“…one of the few things I had ever liked about Dickens’s wife was her cooking – or at least the cooking she oversaw at Tavistock House, since I had never seen the woman actually don an apron or lift a ladle. Years ago Catherine Dickens had (under the name Lady Maria Chatterbuck) brought out a volume of recipes, based on what she served regularly at their home at Devonshire Terrace, in a book called What Shall We Have For Dinner? Most of her choices were visible on my table here this evening, although not in such plentitude or with an equal glory of gravies (I consider most cooking as simply a prelude to gravies) – as her tastes had also run towards lobsters, large legs of mutton, heavy beefs, and elaborate desserts. There were so many variations of toasted cheese in Catherine’s volume of recipes that one reviewer commented –

“No man could possibly survive the consumption of such frequent toasted cheese.” (pg. 57)

Half a page later, and with Collins still at the table eating the same supper:

“This night, I could not decide between two desserts, so – Solomon-like – I chose both the lark pudding and the well-cooked apple pudding. And a bottle of port. And coffees.”  (pg. 57)

Book Blogger Convention 2011 - NYC (108)

Meat display at Eataly, New York City, NY May 2011

Even though I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be trying this at home in my vegetarian/gluten-free kitchen, I couldn’t resist finding out what consisted of lark pudding. According to this post from the blog Victorian Gems, this delicacy includes “one pound of rump steak, three sheeps kidneys, one dozen larks, nicely picked and drawn, and all well seasoned with two of salt and one of pepper, and one dozen oysters blanched.” 

Yum. Save room for dessert, indeed.

No wonder Wilkie Collins had troubles with gout. I mean, obviously we know a hell of a lot more than our Victorian friends about the connection between food and health but … still.

Wow.

WeekenWeekend Cooking - Newd Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

 

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Book Review: The Years, by Virginia Woolf

The Years
by Virginia Woolf
Harcourt, Inc. 
1939
435 pages

“Tell me about William Whatney,” she said. “When I last saw him he was a slim young man in a boat.” Peggy burst out laughing.

“That must have been ages ago!” she said.
“Not so very long,” said Eleanor. She felt rather nettled. “Well -” she reflected, “twenty years – twenty-five years perhaps.”
It seemed a very short time to her; but then, she thought, it was before Peggy was born. She could only be sixteen or seventeen.” (pg. 205)

We’ve all experienced this, haven’t we? This somewhat unsettling realization when something that we perceive in our minds to have occurred “not so very long” ago really happened more like two decades (and then some) in the past.

Nice to see that Virginia Woolf understood that even in 1937 when she wrote this novel.

I mean, I fall into this mind trap ALL THE TIME. I still, on more occasions than I care to admit, think 1990 was ten years ago rather than (gulp) 23 years long gone. I chalk this up to approaching my mid-40s, but after reading Virginia Woolf’s novel The Years, now I’d like to look at this differently.

“They talked as if they were speaking of people who were real, but not real in the way in which she felt herself to be real. It puzzled her; it made her feel that she was two different people at the same time; that she was living at two different times in the same moment.” (pg. 167)

Yep. That’s it exactly. We are two different people at the same time, living at two different times in the same moment. We’re a combination of our present and our past. (“What is the use, she thought, of trying to tell people about one’s past? What is one’s past?” (pg. 167)

Virginia Woolf’s second-to-last novel The Years is a commentary about the passage of time, which she brings forth for the reader by showing her characters – members of the large, well-to-do Pargiter family and their extended family – through 1880-1918. (The last chapter is titled “Present Day,” which I suppose is 1939, when the novel was published.) The Pargiters live in London, and at the beginning of the book, are in that sort of odd stage when you’re just watching and waiting for a loved one to pass away. (In this case, their mother.)

Not too much happens in The Years. People visit each other, talk about their life and their travels. They sometimes die. It’s a reflective, thoughtful sort of novel, and truthfully, this takes a little while to get used to – especially if you, like me, are not generally a classics reader or one who doesn’t normally read novels set in this time period. (Woolf’s passion for the semicolon is also more than a bit distracting.) It isn’t until almost halfway through the story that you begin to see the connections among the characters, the passing of time as evidenced by the changing seasons and the weather.

Honestly, up to that point, I kind of considered abandoning this, but then I started gaining an appreciation for what Woolf was trying to say. With the exception of Mrs. Dalloway, which I absolutely loved right off the bat (kudos to Dr. Young, one of the most awesome college English professors ever), I’m finding that this is my typical reaction to Virginia Woolf. I start off a little perplexed, a little lost and confused, and then I get immersed in the story.

Just like life, no?

“My life, she said to herself. That was odd, it was the second time that evening that somebody had talked abut her life. And I haven’t got one, she thought. Oughtn’t a life to be something you could handle and produce? – a life of seventy odd years. But I’ve only the present moment, she thought. Here she was alive, now, listening to the fox-trot. Then she looked round. There was Morris; Rose; Edward with his head thrown back talking to a man she did not know. I’m the only person here, she thought, who remembers how he sat on the edge of my bed that night, crying – the night Kitty’s engagement was announced. Yes, things came back to her. A long strip of life lay behind her. Edward crying. Mrs. Levy talking; snow falling; a sunflower with a crack in it; the yellow omnibus trotting along the Bayswater Road. And I thought to myself, I’m the youngest person in this omnibus; now I’m the oldest … Millions of things came back to her. Atoms danced apart and massed themselves. But how did they compose what people called a life?” (pg. 366-367) 

copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Near Altoona, PA.  Taken by me, September 2011. 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” — Steve Jobs

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Moving Day



Onward full tilt to Pittsburgh, PA
”Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life. 
A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, a loss of a job …
And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, 
driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. 

To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another 
– that is surely the basic instinct …
Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. 
Time to take this life for what it is.”
Barbara Kingsolver, “From High Tide in Tucson”

See you on the other side, kids. 

photo copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Weekend Cooking: Fortune Cookie

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

So when your kitchen looks like this:



and it’s only The Husband and you at home, and your kids don’t like Chinese, then spring rolls and crabmeat wontons and vegetable fried rice becomes what’s for dinner.

And when your house hasn’t sold, and you’ve just buried a second statue of St. Joseph, and the country’s debt crisis threatens to wipe out the savings that you plan to use for a new potential house, and when you’re among the 10% of the country collecting unemployment, then this becomes a rather apropos and very wise fortune cookie indeed:


copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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When It Feels Sad and Beautiful, Like the Last Day



Me and my dad on my first Christmas, 1969

 
“When she thinks of her father now, she sees him at the end of the day.  That’s his time of day, twilight, or just before. The late afternoon, when the sun is setting, when it feels sad and beautiful, like the last day. When the sadness is too unbearable to think about, and this makes you strangely cheerful.”

from I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn,  pg. 95

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Morning in America

She gave me the news this morning, along with my large French Vanilla coffee.

My Dunkin’ Donuts lady is leaving.  In two weeks. 

She got a better job, one with more humane hours (and bosses), one that is better for her and her family.  It’s at the local hospital.  I’m not sure what exactly she’ll be doing or if my generic reference letter played a part in this, but there was no mistake from her smile that this is a step up for her, a better move. 

She saw what she needed to do, and she did it.  And I couldn’t be any happier.

She gives me an espresso shot of hope, that somehow, maybe, things in this crazy negative world might get a little bit better.

That for at least one person I care about, it really is morning in America

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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