The Book Thief (and Liesel’s Pea Soup)

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is one of those books that should be required reading.  It contains everything that I want from a book.  I laughed.  I cried.  I laughed while crying.  I was invested in the characters, the gruesome narrator, and the little town it is set in.  In short, I LOVED THIS BOOK.  I wanted to read it at the stoplight when I was driving.  I snuck peaks at it while sitting in a movie theater during the previews.  I woke up at 3AM just so I could read more. 

Find this book as soon as possible.

You may be wondering why, on the back cover, death is capitalized so that it is “Death.”  That, my friends, is because Death is the narrator of this book.  Yes, you read correctly, Death.  Not just some person named Death.  This narrator is in fact the entity that comes when you die to take your soul away.  Instead of being terrified by him (I think it’s a him?), I found myself amused at his sarcasm and dry wit.

Who would have thought that Death would be funny?  I guess people never hang around long enough to get to know him, poor thing. 

Anyway, I’m going to cut this short so you can go about your business trying to get yourself a copy of this gem.  Happy hunting!

Liesel’s Mama’s Pea Soup

One of the only foods that is mentioned in this book, and it is mentioned repeatedly, is the pea soup that keeps these hungry people going.  Since they are very poor, it is described as a meager soup that is not incredibly tasty, but it is nourishing. 

 I prefer my pea soup tasty, so I added in a few ingredients to kick it up a notch.

Ingredients:

  •  Peas (I shelled mine since they are in season but you could just as easily use frozen)
  • Enough chicken broth to just cover the peas in the pot
  • Lemon juice to taste
  •  Olive Oil to taste
  • Smoked Paprika to taste

Procedure:

  •  Put the peas in a pot with just enough chicken broth (or water if you want to make this vegetarian) to cover the peas over medium heat.
  •  Cook for about 20 minutes, until the peas are cooked through, but slightly al dente.
  • In a blender, or with an immersion blender, liquify 3/4 of your mixture.  Thwen add in the rest so that your soup has some texture.
  •  Squeeze in some lemon juice.
  • Place back on the burner until the mixture is the consistency you like.  You’ll notice that mine is rather thin, but if you left this on the burner for longer, it could easily be much thicker.
  •  Pour into a bowl and top with some smoked paprika and olive oil.
  • Serve with some sort of crust bread.  The one pictured is a bagel thin broiled with parmesan cheese. 

How To Travel the World For Only $30

Rating: Chocolate Cake

Okay, so my title may be misleading.  Perhaps you thought that I was going to tell you about some airline/hotel combination that would allow you to see the sights for hardly anything.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.  If it were, would I be sitting here writing to you?  Maybe not.  I would be out, wondering some bohemian-style, ancient street, taking pictures and savoring the smells (at least the good smells).  Perhaps later, I would settle down to write about these experiences and post my pictures of the Parthenon or the Eiffel Tower.

Not today.

Instead, I want to tell you about the adventure that I went on yesterday.  It involved a book and it involved food.

Of course it did.  After all, I am not The Very Hungry Bookworm for nothing.  Two of the most transporting experiences I know are stories and food.

When I eat chicken and stars soup, I am no longer sitting at school or in my apartment.  I am sitting at the cozy little table in my Mema’s house.  When I smell a grilled cheese sandwich, I am at home, chatting with my mom.  Pistachio gelato will always bring me to Paris.

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Crazy, Complicated, and Confused are the New “Normal”

Rating: Chocolate Cake

I don’t know about where you live, but my goodness, it is cold here.  Frigid-icy-freezing-slushy-snowing-if-I-worked-for-the-post-office-I-would-not-deliver-mail.  Such is the life in Upstate New York. 

To make it even drearier, we are getting crazy amounts of snow that is rapidly transforming from pristine, white fluffiness to grungy, dirt-colored slush.  Ugggh. 

Every year around this time, I struggle with two competing sides of myself- the romantic part that believes that snow makes the world more magical and the pragmatic part that doesn’t really like to get cold or wet.  I will get all bundled up, ready to go outside and have a snowball fight, build a fort, or make snow angels, and then 20 minutes later, I’ll be like, “Okay, that was…fun.  Now I am too cold to stay out any longer and I have all of these clothes I have to dry.  Sweet.”

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