This doesn't happen often, being so productive during a short vacation, but I'm on a mission to save money to buy something ridiculously expensive, so reading, cooking, and compulsively calculating how much I've not spent and how much I've actually saved (two distinct ideas but very blurry in reality) help me reach this goal.
I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson who has written and published many young adult novels. This book has been on my "probably interesting to my students due to mature content" radar for some time, and I really enjoyed her historical fiction Fever 1793 (much to my own surprise because I'm a history dunce), so I finally borrowed a copy from my public library on Monday. Yes, I actually went to the library instead of straight to the mall on my first "real" vacation day of this winter break. See very long sentence in paragraph above for explanation.
The story in Speak is very engaging though sad to follow. I think I would introduce this book to 8th grade students as an independent reading choice, and just let them decide if they want to read it. Have you seen the movie based on the novel? I don't want to see it, but Kristen Stewart of Twilight movie fame played the main character Melinda, so I'm curious if the movie was good.
Anderson's writing was truly engaging, and perhaps that partly explains why I enjoyed reading her historical fiction. I want to read another book of hers, maybe Catalyst. She is really talented in capturing the voices of teenagers!
In the cooking department, I tried a new recipe today - potato leek soup. Leeks are foreign to me. I never heard of them until my mid-20s when a friend Liz raved about the spinach and leek wrap sandwiches at a local eatery called Natalie's in Amherst, NY. I liked them, too, but Liz maintained her devotion to these sandwiches for the next 15 years and requested that I bring one to her when I visited her and her newborn son in the hospital 16 months ago. Of course I complied and the nice folks who work there were happy to hear about my mission.
ANYWAY. Leeks are fascinating because they are so foreign to me and yet seem so ordinary to other people. When I saw Giada make potato leek soup on the Food Network a few weeks ago, I felt ready to try my own modified version of her recipe (that is actually creamy artichoke soup, creamy referring to some cheese that starts with the letters "m" and spoken in Giada's Italian accent, like how she says mozzarella, except that's not the m-cheese in her recipe). The endeavor involved my trying one new ingredient PLUS one new cooking technique - using a hand-held blender. In the cooking department, I like adding new elements one (or 2) at a time, once in a while, for fun. I borrowed the blender from my sister-in-law a few weeks ago, bought the ingredients yesterday, and today used Emeril's recipe on the Food Network web site for potato leek soup that I could mostly duplicate using the ingredients I had. The photos above indicate my efforts, and the soup was really yummy!