Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Spy Jeans, Secret Ingredients

1. I finished reading Colin MacKinnon's Morning Spy, Evening Spy. I bought it along with John LeCarre's Mission Song because the hardcover editions of each were on sale right before Christmas and I wanted good books for Hubster. Morning Spy was compared to LeCarre ("at his best," no less), so I thought we both might enjoy the books. Well, Hubster didn't love it, and I liked it more than him, but still, meh. It's not LeCarre, I'll tell you that. On Amazon, someone described the prose as "clipped," and I agree. Sometimes that means concise and appropriately jarring, sometimes that just means missing something. Some of the characters seemed crudely drawn while others were good. The suspense was weak, too, because we can piece together how it'll end fairly early on. Bottomline: It's a decent spy drama, but it's not a must read. If you want to read it, try not to read reviews or even the dust jacket to preserve the (little) suspense the book has. I think I liked it more not knowing much about it.

2. I found zafu through Amalah's Wednesday Advice Smackdown, and it's awesome! It's a website designed to rank all kinds of jeans and to recommend them to you based on fit and style questions you answer. They show you everything from Target specials to Saks selections so you can choose to splurge or spend and do it with search tools in the comfort of your own home. They provide you with exact style names, so they also spare you the Dressing Room Showdown between 20 ill-fitting pairs and transform it into a matter of gauging the size and slapping down the Benjamins (or Hamiltons). Awesome work, zafu!

3. You know that saying "Same song, second verse, could be better but it's gonna be worse?" (I grew up in an industrial town, but man were we folksy talkers!) Seems like this applies to Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. This Newsweek article does a fair job of breaking it down to its derivitive, wishwashy pieces, but I keep asking myself "doesn't a book like that come out every year?" Anyway, the article is good, and worth reading if only to sooth your soul when someone asks for it by name at the Daedalus Books counter. Grumble.

4. I mentioned that we made a recipe from Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals cookbook recently, but I didn't write much else about the book. Ray gets a lot of flack for being incessantly upbeat, creating less-than-gourmet meals, being overexposed, and all kinds of other stuff, but she's on to something in the 30-Minute Meals format. After working all day, I do not want to mess with complicated recipes involving 25 ingredients, 3 pots, and five cooking techniques. I want to make a meal and then eat it because darn it, I'M HUNGRY. Most of the book is dedicated to recipes, but she also talks about her kitchen workflow basically - how she has a list of staples she keeps always in her kitchen and the quick trip she makes for specific ingredients. I haven't followed it to the letter, but I've incorportated a few ingredients as I've gone along, and I must say it was helpful to have the nudge to buy them and then specific recipes in which to use them. A couple of days ago, I bought chipotle chilis in adobo because she recommended them, and I ended up using them for a recipe in another cookbook. I'm looking forward to trying out more recipes and incorporating more interesting ingredients into my repertoire, and I like almost all of the 4-5 recipes I've already tried. As cookbooks go, you could do a lot worse.

Well, that's about all I've got for you. You stay sexy, Interweb!


JO said...

I too was Rachel Ray wary, but I have enjoyed trying her out. I have 365 No Repeats. Some are hits, and quite a few are misses, but I'll do anything for new easy quick delicious staples. I am SO sick of chicken breasts! And chipotle chilis in adob: yum. Try adding them chopped into sour cream with a little lime and garlic. Its delish on tacos and fajitas.

Bee said...

I may have mentioned this before, I heart Rachael Ray! 365 No Repeats is probably our favorite Rachael book (but we love chicken breasts and eat them about 4-5 days/week). I also subscribe to her magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray. It's little more than say Lucky or Domino ($18/year) but I feel like I get a better variety of recipes than the books give me. She doesn't limit herself to 30 minute meals in the mag, so you can get some pretty interesting stuff. And of course, you can always get the recipes on her website.

Mair said...

zafu = awesome. I just tried it and it returned results that included several of my very favorite jeans! Impressive.