“No dream can live up to its expectations. Ownership is brief; in fact, it’s a fiction. And beauty? Beauty is a discovery that diminishes the truth of reality. So keep looking.”
When I picked up Then Again, Diane Keaton’s first memoir and homage to her late mother, I remember spilling myself over each page as if I could heal my neuroses by learning from her’s. I have, as you all will or have already come to know, a love for personal tales, memoirs, and biographies. Understanding the strokes that make the painting of a person’s life, does not instill you with their one-of-a-kind nature or change the path you’re on, but there’s always a chance your endurance could be strengthened, and your will refreshed. This was a safe book choice for me and I must admit, though expectations typically lead to disappointment, it’s only human to feel such a way when you’ve harbored a connection to a person’s life. On that note, let’s talk about Keaton’s second book, shall we?
Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton
A book that gives you an insight into the idiosyncratic mind of Keaton starting with the Introduction. She combs the reader into the many ways in which she organizes her thoughts and her approach to life; an approach for which she makes clear, even she is still trying to figure out. She cannot be faulted for this, in fact I take some comfort in knowing not everyone has it figured out, even in your sixties, but I did wonder at multiple times throughout this reading, what her true intention was for writing this book. Learning a few life lessons from a woman I’ve garnered as one of my favorites for years, by the end, I thought that somehow I would have a better understanding of her intention, but I came away from this text more confused than sated.
“All of my feelings and all my emotion come out on my face–my sixty-seven-year-old face. You see, my face identifies who I am inside. It shows feelings I can’t put into words. And that is a miracle, an extraordinary ordinary miracle, one I’ll think twice about before I change.”
“I was ready to go home to Black and White and Gray all over. I wanted to be light on my feet, like Cary Grant. I wanted to put on a smoky gray dress suit with suspenders. I wanted to be an international stilt walker, with an ironic smile and a dimpled chin.”
But I can’t help but picture the goofy and well-timed performance of Keaton in Sleeper, where she imitates Marlon Brando’s performance in the cinematic version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Her ability to break down the wall of celebrity superiority and the ego of a man like Brando, is part of the reason why I respect her, despite her lack of focus in this memoir. She has always been, and remains to be, a star that is relatable, and one whose verbalized consciousness of her aesthetic appeal grounds her as just another human, instead of being of the alien race of Celeb. What Keaton does beautifully in this memoir, is explore how acting is a tool for her to find the colors of the palette that make her life’s painting. Her emphasis on accepting imperfections, mistakes and the challenges of aging, helped me understand the efficacy of mindfulness and positive thinking about one’s life. I came to understand that our philosophy on life is different, but there’s beauty in this contrast, and for this I felt grateful to read her musings.
“Like the sparrows, I’ve flown into some serious plate-glass windows, but I survived. On the way, I’ve learned a few things. Namely this: beauty’s a bouquet gathered in loss. The sad part about my bouquet is that it keeps growing. Now that Mother is gone, darkness is spreading across my fading petals. Light is beautiful, but darkness is eternal.”
“I regret what I haven’t seen, but I’m thankful for what I have, and I promise myself this: I will try harder to look for what I don’t see when it’s staring me right in the eye.”
“…but my love of the impossible far overshadowed the rewards of longevity. I fell for the beauty of a broken bird. The ecstasy of failure. It was the only marriage I could make with a man. Black with a little white. Pain mixed with pleasure.”
As for edibles, I decided to make a variation of French Toast. Diane Keaton adopted two children for whom she devotes mornings to making breakfasts and school drop-offs. At one point, she mentions her son requesting French Toast and I thought it the best match to the book. Semi-complicated with many variations and comfortable in it’s imperfections. I now present to you my take on this sweet morning treat.
“That’s Neat” French Toast
- 8 to 10 slices gluten-free bread (I used this one)
- 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened, plain)
- 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 3 tbsp all purpose gluten-free flour (or almond meal)
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- two grinds sea salt
- coconut oil for skillet
- Extra toppings: toasted coconut, coconut whipped cream, berries, maple syrup, banana, nuts, powdered sugar, sliced strawberries, sliced figs
- In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except bread and toppings and let sit in refrigerator for twenty minutes to activate chia seeds.
- After mixture has set, heat skillet or griddle over a medium flame and begin to melt or disperse a small amount of coconut oil (just enough for a thin coating).
- Pour mixture into shallow container, I used a pie pan.
- Dip each slice of bread into mixture to soak the bread, but don’t let it become soggy. About twenty seconds on each side in mixture.
- Place the soaked slice on the skillet/griddle and press with spatula until each side is golden brown, taking care to let each side sit before flipping to allow browning to occur. About five minutes.
- Enjoy your “That’s Neat” French Toast with any of the above mentioned toppings or toppings of your choice. I enjoyed mine with raspberries, maple syrup, and a few sprinkles of powdered sugar. Don’t forget a delightful cup of tea or coffee, if you please, on the side. 😀
- I made enough to have some leftovers because I wanted a treat for another day, but if you’re just making a quick breakfast for two, I would recommend splitting this recipe in half.
- The more dense the bread, the less crispy and absorbent your french toast will be. Keep this in mind.
- I don’t recommend using a cast iron, as the retention of heat can have an adverse affect on the consistency of each slice’s browning.
- Re-heat in toaster or toaster oven.
Making this dish allowed me time in the kitchen to mull over my relationship with this text, something I think is key for anyone to do when reading. There’s a delicacy to talking about the intricacies of one’s life, and though Keaton is not the most graceful, her no-nonsense, quirky and creative language exposed her truest self. Chipping all the dried, peeling paint away, this book imbued a sense of urgency in me to live life more fully and never hasten to forget the power and beauty of making mistakes because those mistakes make the masterpiece.
What are your thoughts on this book? Did you prepare something else while reading it? I want to hear all the details at #noshedinabook and see all of your pictures! Check out previous Noshed in a Book posts and join me in my next reading selection Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick. And remember…bite responsibly!
Good day everyone,
Over the weekend, I was able to put to use some extra produce in the refrigerator and create an extra yummy breakfast stir-fry that soothed my savory need.
Morning Fennel Stir-fry With Summer Squash
- 2 spring onions (bulbs and greens, thinly sliced)
- 1 small savoy cabbage (thinly shredded)
- 3 fennel bulbs (6 inches or more of firm stem, sliced into chunks)
- 2 or three summer squash of your choice (thinly sliced into rounds; I chose two small yellow squash and 1 medium zucchini squash because I had them on hand.)
- 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 or 4 glugs grapeseed oil
- salt to taste
- After prepping the veggies bring skillet to medium heat and add oil, heat until oil runs like water
- Now begin by sauteing onions until they are fragrant
- Next add in the fennel and cabbage at the same time and cook for 5+ minutes until both the cabbage and the fennel begins to brown slightly
- Simultaneously, heat another skillet and add around 2 glugs of oil; once oil runs like water, add squash and salt (to taste), and cook until squash has browned slightly and is soft
- During this time, add in the garlic and lemon juice and salt to the fennel mixture; now the veggies will begin to sizzle a little (oh, I rhymed!)
- Cook fennel mixture for a minute or two longer
- Plate and enjoy!
Notes: I enjoyed this with a toasted gluten-free English muffin on the side.
In the past I have read that fennel is supposed to be a support veggie in a dish you’re preparing, but I disagree. I think the flavor is just bold enough to carry a meal and it is because of this confidence in fennel that I decided to make it the star of this morning munchy. The liquorice flavor that many rhapsodize about is not necessarily my favorite part of the bulb, but the underlying sweetness matched with the cabbage in this dish to makes your taste buds dance. Raw fennel bulb in salads will be much sweeter and the anise flavor will stand out more.
I think this dish would pair nicely with some sliced pear as well, try it out and let me know.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did and it serves as an easy go-to Summer breakfast dish, and remember…bite responsibly!
About two years ago (although I think in the pc we said one, but it has been almost two) my husband and I began a fun ritual on Fridays called ‘Foreign Film Fridays’, wherein we would choose a country, a film to represent that country–whichever one of us was in charge of picking the country and film, would prepare a meal representative of that country. It was such a blast, but as our schedules grew busier, Foreign Film Friday sadly fell by the wayside. You all will be happy to know, it has been reincarnated, but on Sundays! So, we lost some lovely alliteration, but we gained a more relaxing day, with more time to prepare. Also, I do the cooking/preparing and we are going to alternate picking the country/film. One of Matthew and I’s biggest passions in life is film, and we both have a deep connection and fondness for food. This podcast has allowed me another way to connect food to all of you out there.
I’m very happy to introduce my very first podcast and even more pleased that I’m launching it in conjunction with connectabite. Please, be forgiving when you listen to it as this is our first ever time to attempt this, and though we’re both avid podcast listeners ourselves, there is certainly a separation in action of something you love. Needless to say, here it is! I hope you enjoy and I’d really like to start a dialogue about what you hear. Tell me what you don’t like, what you do like, was it funny, was it awkward, could you understand what we’re saying, did you appreciate our commentary, etc…
CLICK HERE: –> (right click here) Cinema Cuisine Ep.1 – England
Below you’ll find the recipes to the meals I created, plus sources to some of them. I hope you will join us in foreign film connecting and food and share with me your experiences, recipes, ideas and so forth. I’d love to chat about it all! Maybe some of you have recommendations? Enjoy both listening to the podcast and preparing these recipes, and remember…bite responsibly!
Gluten-Free Orange Pecan Scones
Recipe inspired by Alex Jamieson
- 1 1/2 cups of almond flour
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flour
- 1/4 tsp of sea salt
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 1 egg replacer (could also substitute ground flax or chia seeds)
- 2 tbsp of maple syrup
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
- Zest from one organic orange
- 1/2 cup & 2 tbsp unsweetened almond, coconut, rice or other plant-based milk ( I used almond)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (I broke them into pieces with my hands rather than processing them in any way)
- ½ cup raisins (you could also substitute another dried fruit)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients: almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, and baking soda. Take special care with the coconut flour as it will want to clump together. Use a fork and sift through large bulges.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, maple syrup, orange juice, zest, and milk.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until blended thoroughly. If the dough seems too dry and isn’t sticking together, use another tablespoon or two of milk. Dough should feel almost spongy.
- Dump in the pecans and raisins. Then wet your hands to evenly distribute the nuts and dried fruit through the dough.
- Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out evenly sized scones and place scones on a parchment lined baking sheet and gently press down to flatten to 1/2 in thick with palm.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.
- These are slightly crumbly scones but have a nice density. They aren’t as heavy and thick as I was used to, but they are gluten-free, thus for what they are, fantastic! I was so fretful the entire time I was making them/they were baking, that they would turn out flat and fall apart because there is no fat, and for must scones that a key ingredient, but these were only slightly crumbly as I mentioned and had the most divine flavor.
- We enjoyed these with a hot cup of English Breakfast tea and the combination was superb!
- I have a few ideas on how to improve/perk up the recipe and someday I’ll post my newest re-creation.
British Beetroot Salad
- romaine lettuce (cleaned and chopped)
- two medium beets (washed, peeled, and cut into small triangular wedges then cooked until tender, yet firm to form)
- green peas (portion size is up to you, I’m a sprinkler/dumper)
- two green onion (diced at an angle into 1/4 inch pieces)
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (previously soaked-about 6-8 hours, and rinsed)
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 to 3 tbsp dulse
- 3 to 4 tbsp (or more depending on your taste buds) Organic horseradish mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt (or more depending on your taste buds)
- freshly crushed black pepper to taste
- onion granules to taste
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
- For Salad: layer as follows – lettuce on the bottom, followed by green onion, peas, and top with whatever amount of beets sound yummy to you
- For Dressing: in a high powered blender, add to blender all ingredients starting with water, seeds, lemon juice, then horseradish mustard, and so forth. Blend on low and increase to high until a thick, white creamy sauce is before your eyes. Do a few taste tests to make sure it’s just right for you. The dressing should resemble the ubiquitous ‘Ranch’ dressing that so many love. Drizzle dressing over salad. Enjoy before main entrée.
- You’ll have plenty of leftovers if you’re making this for just two, enjoy this delicious salad for a few days. Store the dressing in a clean glass jar.
Lentil & Mushroom Shepherds Pie
Recipe inspired by Susan Voisin (via Nava Atlas)
- 8 medium golden yukon potatoes
- olive oil to taste (for potatoes)
- 1/2 cup rice milk (rice/quinoa blend-unsweetened)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons grape seed oil or coconut oil*
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (I used white)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ounces baby bella mushrooms
- 1 cup cooked brown lentils (creates about 3 to 31/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid)
- 1 to 2 tablespoon reduced-sodium, gluten-free tamari (fermented soy sauce)*
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 to a 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons arrowroot
- 8 to 10 ounces baby kale leaves
- cooked millet, maybe a day or two old
- Dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
- Mix together olive oil, potatoes and some salt (to taste) then add the milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the tamari (optional) herbs and spices. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring gently, then letting the mixture rest to disperse flavors. Combine the arrowroot with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
- Add the kale in small handfuls, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
- Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole dish. Distribute the millet on the bottom of the dish. Pour in the lentil mixture evenly, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. The potatoes should spread almost as if they were thick frosting. Spread with a spatula/bowl scraper.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes–to set–then serve.
- This would be especially tasty with a British inspired onion gravy–vegan and gluten-free of course, but I didn’t make one this time.
Also, I was so anxious to try this dish, I didn’t let it set for the 5 minutes initially, but the next day when we had leftovers, oh, so yummy!
Also, I thought you’d want to know we did indeed record this on a Sunday, but editing and the like took a bit longer. :p
“Isn’t it stimulating, getting back to a basic sort of life for awhile? Surrounded by trees and nature, one feels a glorious stirring of the senses, a rejection of poisonous inhibition, and a fecund motion of the soul” – Monty, Withnail and I