Monday, March 23, 2009

Latest Books, Saturday's Dinner

On Friday I finished my Peter F. Hamilton Book, The Dreaming Void and was disappointed to discover the next book is not yet available at my library. They are 'big' books and take a lot of reading. Quite a bit of science in them too which I don't understand very well I'm afraid, concepts but not principles. My next venture was two Catherine Asaro books about the Skolian Empire. I am very fond of her books and have been devouring these two. The Schism and The Last Key. I have read one and am over half way into the second. I think I have read all the Skolia books and have enjoyed every one of them. Again, there is a lot of science in the stories; Catherine Asaro is a scientist after all, so its not surprising. If you have never read either of these two authors and you like science fiction, I highly recommend them. I first came across Peter Hamilton in his Reality Dysfunction series which had a fascinating concept - due to an accident in space, the souls of the departed were able to come back and take over the bodies of living people. Al Capone returned, so did Fletcher Christian and many others of course. Bowling again today of course and this week is also our Travel League when we go to New Hamburg to bowl, I hope I can. Tomorrow I go for my injection at the crack of dawn *g* and I am NOT looking forward to it. Matt is laughing at me, he has no sympathy. He doesn't even remember when he had a similar injection a few years ago, but then he swore having staples removed after a hip replacement didn't hurt, I was in agony and my friend (same day same place) was in tears. They still don't seem to have caught on to the concept of glueing instead of stapling a wound. They do that in the UK and apparently you can shower straight away, you don't have to wait for days doing a PTA bath. No, if you don't know what that means, I am not going to translate. Saturday afternoon, Matt suddenly left the apartment mumbling about Cremini mushrooms. The upshot of this was a delicious dinner, the recipe for which he had found in Food and Drink. As he served two recipes together from the same source, you are benefiting by getting both of them at once. We drank a bottle of Dancing Bull Zinfandel with this meal. Pork Chops in Exotic Mushroom Sauce Serves 4 This classic is usually made with a cream sauce or cream soup base. By using a variety of mushrooms and sodium reduced chicken stock, the flavour remains high but the sodium and fat are reduced. A winning main course served with tender crisp green beans or snap peas. 1 tsp dried thyme 1/4 tsp pepper 4 lean boneless pork chops 2 tsp canola oil 1 lb exotic mushrooms, (a variety such as shiitake, oyster and cremini) 1 small red pepper, chopped 2 Tbs dry sherry 1 Tbs all purpose flour 1 1/2 cups sodium reduced chicken stock 2 Tbs fresh Italian parsley Sprinkle thyme and pepper over pork chops. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Brown pork chops on both sides and remove to plate. Return skilled to medium high heat and cook mushrooms and red pepper, stirring for about 8 minutes or until no liquid remains. Add sherry and cook, stirring for 1 minute until evaporated. Sprinkle with flour and stir until combined. Pour in stock and bring to boil. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes or until beginning to thicken. Add browned pork chops and cook, turning once, for about 8 minutes or until slight hint of pink remains in pork. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. With it Matt served the following Green Beans with Browned Butter and Pine Nuts Serves 6 to 8 Plump and brightly coloured green beans only need a trim at the stem end. 1 to 1 1/2 lbs green beans 2 Tbs butter 1 clove garlic 1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4 cup water 1/4 tsp salt several grindings of black pepper 1 small lemon Cut off stem end of bean leaving thin point intact. Diagonally slice into pieces about an inch long. Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until hot. Meanwhile crush garlic clove with the side of a chef's knife; do not mince. Add to butter. Cook until garlic is browned and butter is bubbly and browning. Add pine nuts; stir frequently for 30 seconds. Add water and beans. Cover and stir occasionally for 5 to 7 minutes or until hot, tender and most of thew water is evaporated. Toss with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the garlic clove. Turn into a warmed serving dish. Using a zesting tool or rasp, scatter lemon zest over top of beans. Serve right away. Have a great day.