Monday, February 28, 2011


Yesterday, rather spontaneously, I drove down to Cannon Falls to go snowshoeing.  A friend from church lives there, and has shoes she said I could borrow.  I happen to love that area, and am starting to get tired of suburbia.  Maybe I'll move there someday.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How's library school going?

Lots of people have asked me this recently, and I've been so busy and sick that I haven't been able to give a good answer.  But tonight's class made me realize some really neat things that I wanted to share.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Review: Jayber Crow

Jayber Crow: The Life Story of Jayber Crow, Barber, of the Port William Membership, as Written by Himself
by Wendell Berry

This was recommended to me by a good friend, upon hearing that I'd started reading fiction about farming and small-town life.  He cautioned me that it moves very slowly, and not to get impatient with it.

Maybe it's because I've got the flu, but I wasn't impatient with it for a minute.  It certainly does ramble along, not always logically or chronologically, but it keeps moving and is never boring.

It's the story of a man's life, from childhood outside the small town of Port William, orphaned twice, oppressively schooled at an orphanage and later a college, how he started his trade of barbering and was gradually pulled back by the gravity of his hometown.

There is a good portion of philosophy about God, life, and love, but it's never heavy-handed or proselytizing.  (Holy cow, I spelled that right on the first try!)  Mostly, it is conversational, like an old man telling of his life and what he learned.

I loved it.  It fit perfectly the kind of story I wanted to read just now.  Berry (or supposedly Crow) often describes the life of the river near his home, and the story is like that.  Sometimes slow, sometimes reflective, and sometimes flooded or wild.  Just like life, in his view.  Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the minutiae of daily life that I forget the whole, beautiful flow of it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Spinach, Artichoke, and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Today is the Superbowl; I have little interest in football, and probably won't watch any of it.  However, something about this time of year makes me crave delicious and unhealthy hot dips.  Today's is my own concoction of spinach, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and, of course, cheese.

Frozen spinach
1 can artichoke hearts
1 roasted red pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Start by thawing the spinach.  I did this in the bowl I would later be mixing in, in the microwave for about two minutes.  Don't cover it, because you want all the water to evaporate off so it doesn't end up swimming in liquid.
While that's going, drain your can of artichokes and chop 'em up.  You can go very small or chunkier, however you like it.  Pull about one pepper out of the jar of roasted red peppers (or I suppose you could roast it yourself) and chop that up too.
Once the spinach is thawed, mix artichokes and red pepper in with it.  You could add some chopped onion or garlic right now too, if you felt like it.  I was tired of chopping, so I didn't.
Next, add as much mayonnaise as you need to get it to a dip-like consistency.  Remember, though, that the cheese (which we're about to add) will melt and get runny too, so don't overdo it on the mayonnaise.  You could also use cream cheese or sour cream here instead of mayo, and adjust your amounts accordingly.
Chop or grate up your cheese.  I used Havarti because it was in my fridge about to go bad, along with a little homemade cheese I had.  Parmesan is a popular choice, as is mozzarella or monterey jack.
Mix in some of the cheese with the mayo mixture-- I didn't measure, just do what feels right, or alternatively, use up all your cheese.  Save a large handful to sprinkle over the top.
Add in a couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce and some garlic salt, or other spices.  You could do cayenne pepper, that'd give it a nice kick.  Mix well, then spread into a baking dish.  Sprinkle leftover cheese on top.

At this point, it looks something like this:

Before baking.
Pop it in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese on top is fully melted.  Then turn on the broiler for about 5 minutes, watching to make sure it gets brown but not too brown.  Now it looks like this:

After baking.  YUM!
Let it cool (if you're patient; burn your mouth, if you're not), then dig in with tortilla chips, bread/toast slices, or a spoon.