Just Devoured: The Goldfinch

Last month, my book club voted to read Donna Tartt's new novel, The Goldfinch.

This book is 800-something pages, so many of the book clubbers were discouraged by the sheer volume and decided to read something else. Me, on the other hand, I downloaded that bad boy to my Kindle and never thought twice about the heft. I sped my way through this book and enjoyed every minute. 

The novel opens with 13-year-old Theo Decker and his mom on their way to his school in Manhattan to meet the principal to talk about why trouble-maker Theo was expelled. They stop in at the MET to see Mrs. Decker's favorite painting. They never make it to the meeting with the principal because about 10 pages in, there is an explosion at the MET killing Mrs. Decker. After Theo recovers from the shock of the explosion, he escapes the museum taking The Goldfinch painting with him. 

The rest of the book follows Theo through the rest of his adolescence and on to adulthood navigating the loss of his mother, the struggle of what to do with the painting and the perpetual bad choices that he makes. 

Slate's Bookclub Podcast said they thought the book was long and a little slow when the characters went to Las Vegas, and while I would mostly agree, I didn't mind. The book was so beautifully written that I felt like I was lazily watching a movie, not reading an 800-page book. I loved being in the world that Tartt created and I was engrossed in the suspense of what trouble Theo would create for himself next. 

Have you read The Goldfinch? I'm curious to know what you thought? 

Today I learned I do not like Oregano

After an incredibly fun Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to whip up something to eat before our crazy short week started. Thanks to Real Simple, I found a delicious, healthy and easy pasta meal!

3/4 pound linguine (or your noodle of choice)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh corn - from 2 ears
2 cloves garlic, sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
2 pints cherry / grape tomatoes, halved
2 small zucchini, cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler (you can just cut them, no one will care)
2 tbsp fresh oregano leaves (or not)
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1. Follow the pasta box instructions. Keep 3/4 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta and return to the pot.
2. While the pasta is doing its thing, heat the oven to 350. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant - 8-10 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn, garlic, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook. Toss occasionally until the corn is tender. This should take 2-4 minutes.
4. Next, add the cooked corn, tomatoes, zucchini and 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pot with the pasta. Cook over medium until the liquid is slightly thickened and coats the pasta 2-3 minutes. You can add more cooking water as needed.
5. Serve sprinkled with oregano, walnuts and goat cheese.

As with all recipes, do what you like. I bought my oregano thinking "Maybe today I'll like it!"

Not so much. I picked it off my portion and ate with abandon. Don't feel like you have to fit anyone's mold. If you don't like oregano, add a little more pepper! And don't apologize.

I hope you all had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Pizza, Pizza

I don't think there's a better way to ring in the New Year than homemade pizza.

It's seriously not hard. Recipe from Pioneer Woman, so you KNOW it's good.

Pizza - selfie. 

1 teaspoon Instant or Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 cup of warm water (warm, not lukewarm)
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour

Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm water. Let stand for a few minutes.
In a stand mixer* with a paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low, drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour.
Pour in yeast/ water and mix until combined -- the dough will come together into a sticky mass.

Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and make the dough into a ball. Toss to coat in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for 1-2 hours.
PW Note: it’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.
When you are ready to make the pizza, grab HALF the pizza dough (recipe makes 2 crusts) and squeeze the dough toward the bottom to form a nice, tight, pulled ball. You can roll out the pizza with a rolling pin if you’d like, but sometimes it’s just as easy to throw it around and pull and stretch till it feels right. And when the crust is nice and thin, lay it on an oiled baking sheet or pizza pan. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and spread it with your fingers. Very lightly sprinkle some salt on the crust.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Top your crust with your toppings of choice. Then bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly.

I found mushrooms, mozzarella  Boar's Head Pepperonis and some pre-made pizza sauce. It was to die for. And so easy! 
*Before I got married and had kitchen presents galore, I tried to make this with a $8 hand-mixer. I do not recommend this strategy. The dough is still up in that motor, may it rest in peace. 
Bon app├ętit and Happy New Year! \o/ 

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