Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Salon: Books, movies, and food

So I've had a busy week this week, as is usual in the run-up to school starting again. Every time I cross something off my to do list, three more things seem to get added to the end. So what do I do when I am feeling overwhelmed? Why ignore the list and sit down and read, of course. And I have been a reading fanatic this week (more on that later) but I have also been obsessed with cooking as well. "How is this related to books?" I can hear you asking. Here's a hint I have become obsessed with finding and cooking Scottish desserts.

Yes, I am watching Outlander on Starz. A good friend and neighbor has been hosting a viewing party so I get to pop down to her place and watch the dramatization of the first book in a series that caused me to completely ignore my infant son and husband for an entire weekend seventeen years ago. (Yes, I read all four of the books that were then published in one very bleary-eyed marathon weekend.) I even listened to the audio version of the first book this summer on our long drive to the cottage despite the fact that my children were in the car. If you've read the books, you know why this might have been a dodgy decision. Listening to steamy sex scenes with your teenagers and preteen can be a bit embarrassing. But I decided to go with it anyway. Because that's what I do. You know, scar my children permanently and give them more to discuss when they need therapy as adults. And I did mortify the no longer infant son, now 17, who said it was uncomfortable listening to 50 Shades of Scotland with his mom. But I've seen his chats with his friends and I'm pretty sure it was only my presence that made him squirm, not the actual content of the scenes. The other teenager and the preteen both really enjoyed the book and are eager for the second one so I'll need to find a different way to scar them like I have their brother. Wouldn't want to treat them unequally after all.

So back to the food thing. Since J. is hosting several of us every week (fingers crossed she doesn't get tired of us before the season is over--or until after the newly announced second season), I feel like I should contribute something sinful to snack on while watching. And I'm nothing if not weird about trying to match my food offerings to the situation. J. knows me well and told me that there was to be no haggis, although sourcing a sheep's stomach in Charlotte could be exceptionally difficult, hence the dessert/sweets option. Last week I made iced cherry loaf, which the internet assures me is a staple of Scottish tea houses all over. And we all know that the internet is infallible, right? It turned out okay but not spectacular, perhaps because I had to make my own glace cherries, what with them only being locally available at Christmas time for use in fruit cakes. It always makes me cranky when I have decided to try a recipe and I cannot find a key ingredient. I mean, seriously! So this week (we watch on Sundays rather than Saturdays because it suits our schedules better), I am trying to make something that calls for more common ingredients. It'll be either cranachan or Scottish tablet. I'd also toyed with the idea of making bannock because that's mentioned in the books but it doesn't sound so very appealing. Dry and crumbly, more like. There are 16 episodes in this first series though so I need additional ideas (and yes, I make a mean shortbread thanks to a friend's mom's recipe so that may make an appearance at some point) or to find something we all can't get enough of that I can make on a weekly basis.

As for the adaptation itself, so far it is really good. I have some quibbles but I am a raging purist and should probably be ignored on the subject! Let's just say that it's good enough that I will happily search out and make Scottish desserts to cart along with me as I give up a couple of reading hours to socialize and watch the movie each week. And I'm likely to get the rest of the books on audio as well to refresh my memory of them as I drive around the city on my interminable rounds taking kids places just in case Starz decides they want to dramatize all of the books. :-) Are you watching Outlander? If so, what do you think of it so far? And do you have any recipes for me to spring on my fellow watchers?

This week has been a busy book week for me. I went to a small town where a older woman in an iron lung and a young widow, one struggling to breathe literally and one metaphorically, gave each other the gift of friendship and support. I went off to a girls' school in the North Carolina mountains with a teenager being sent away from home for her unforgivable transgressions during the heart of the depression. I watched as a woman learned to love and work with raptors while she and her husband grappled with what their family should look like. I embarked on a ship with a father and his very ill daughter in the late 1700s and then moved backwards in time to see another father daughter relationship and then forward to see a mother son relationship. And now I am listening in as a desperately lonely Indian woman shares her story with her doctor after trying to kill herself. Where have your book travels taken you this past week?

1 comment:

  1. Kristen, I can help you out here. My grandma's people were Scottish, and my grandma made the most delicious---this is what she called them---tea cakes. I think I have the recipe around here somewhere, but I bet recipes for them are all over Pinterest. And the big plus is that they are really, really easy.


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