Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn't know how to get along without it." ~ Walt Disney

Another gorgeous day, and another art festival here in Stuart. We spent a lot of time wandering around and we picked up a few more prints for our walls. With the exception of our bedroom and the larger bathroom, the walls are pretty much full!

After we wandered, we grabbed a front row seat for some folk music. Blue sky, bright sun, lovely breeze - it was wonderful. When the music ended, we stayed seated because Stuart was going to have its first ever "Chopped" competition. I was sorry that I didn't have my camera with me, but still snapped away with my phone. 

Like the Food Network show of the same name, four local chefs were going to compete for the top prize, while the other remaining three are "chopped". Each chef was provided with a bag of secret ingredients (all four had the same things). Those ingredients were:

  1. flounder
  2. capers
  3. honey
  4. strawberries and blueberries (they had to use one or both)
  5. balsamic vinegar
  6. cashews
  7. brown fennel 
  8. sorrel
In addition to these ingredients, there were numerous other general ingredients that each contestant could choose from. Each also had a large, individual table, complete with sauté' and saucepans, bowls, knives and gas burners. The clock was set for 60 minutes and the competition began!

A local radio station had an announcer who was closely following each chef's progress, and reporting to the audience. It was all quite festive. At the end of the 60 minutes, the three judges tallied their individual scores (based on things like presentation, and of course, taste). In the end, they announced the winner of the golden chef statue - Eric Grutka of Ian's Tropical Grill (pictured above).

I confess that we were rooting for Eric all along because he hails from our neck of the woods - Syracuse, and then Lansing, NY. Eric actually prepared a few different dishes, which none of the other contestants did. One was a ceviche of flounder marinated in lime, grapefruit, fennel and cashews. Another was a sashimi of flounder topped with a pesto blending all of the required ingredients. Lastly, his main course consisted of pan-seared flounder in oil and butter with a miso cream sauce of honey, cashews, strawberries, fennel and capers. Phew! Sadly, there were no audience samples. Regardless, it was fun to watch!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

“Life is not a paragraph, and death is no parenthesis.” ~ Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

At knitting the other day one of the ladies pulled a book out of her bag and asked if anyone would be interested in taking it as she was passing it on. Well, I forgot all of my manners and practically snatched it out of her hands. I did apologize a few days later to those other women who had but a brief moment to express interest before I whisked it away.

I have been wanting to read The Girl On The Train for some time now. Short of purchasing it however, that was not going to happen any time soon. I looked at the reserve lists at the libraries that I use, and being number 100 and something was something I didn't want to do, at least not until we get back north. So, I had made peace with the fact that I wasn't going to read in it the foreseeable future. I was practically simmering with excitement that I had it in my hot little hands!

Just a few days later, it is done and ready to pass on to the next knitter! What a ride! I had read somewhere that if a reader liked Gone Girl, they would like The Girl On The Train. I would have to say that this is an accurate recommendation. I am not going to say too much, just copy the Amazon summary below. To do more than that would run the danger of revealing more than I (or you) would want. I can say that I did have the culprit pegged fairly earlier on, but to say how I arrived at that conclusion would also be saying too much.

"Intersecting, overlapping, not-quite-what-they-seem lives. Jealousies and betrayals and wounded hearts. A haunting unease that clutches and won’t let go. All this and more helps propel Paula Hawkins’s addictive debut into a new stratum of the psychological thriller genre. At times, I couldn’t help but think: Hitchcockian. From the opening line, the reader knows what they’re in for: “She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks…” But Hawkins teases out the mystery with a veteran’s finesse. The “girl on the train” is Rachel, who commutes into London and back each day, rolling past the backyard of a happy-looking couple she names Jess and Jason. Then one day Rachel sees “Jess” kissing another man. The day after that, Jess goes missing. The story is told from three character’s not-to-be-trusted perspectives: Rachel, who mourns the loss of her former life with the help of canned gin and tonics; Megan (aka Jess); and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s wife, who happens to be Jess/Megan’s neighbor. Rachel’s voyeuristic yearning for the seemingly idyllic life of Jess and Jason lures her closer and closer to the investigation into Jess/Megan’s disappearance, and closer to a deeper understanding of who she really is. And who she isn’t. This is a book to be devoured." -Neal Thompson

And "devour" it I did! If you liked Gone Girl (I know that some folks, including Bruce, didn't), then I would highly recommend this read. Unless you choose to purchase it however, you may be in for a wait!

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