Monday, August 3, 2015

The Affect of Cats on Horse Racing

The Cat-NappersThe Cat-Nappers by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A case of pink spots on Bertie's chest (maybe it's a touch of malaria, who's to say?) sends him to the country on doctor's orders to rest and relax. Rest and relax? If you've ever read a Wodehouse, you know that's not bloody likely.

Troublesome aunts, daffy explorers, strong-willed dames along with their ardent suitors, crusty landlords, and charming cats all conspire against poor old Bertie Wooster. His butler Jeeves seems to be his only ally in this perpetually-yet-vaguely 1920s, god-help-us world.

Wodehouse did it again! Well into his Jeeves & Wooster series, the insanely prolific writer of the early-to-mid 20th century churned out another quality book replete with a finely paced plot, delightfully nutty characters and enough laughs to fill The Laugh Factory with wall-to-wall guffaws.

At this point, I'm predisposed to enjoy anything by Wodehouse, so perhaps The Cat-Nappers has received a gratuitous star in the ratings from me. If you're already a fan, this will crank your chucklebox. If you're new to Wodehouse, I might suggest -NAY!- I would suggest starting with something else. Go ahead, ask me. I'm full of suggestions!

READER'S NOTE: The Cat-Nappers is alternately titled Aunts Aren't Gentlemen.

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Here's an Unnecessarily Long Title for a Book with a Ridiculously Long Title

Things Mother Used to Make A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published BeforeThings Mother Used to Make A Collection of Old Time Recipes, Some Nearly One Hundred Years Old and Never Published Before by Lydia Maria Gurney
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tis the season for old timey home-cookin'!

I'm an amateur cook with a degree in terrible taste, but that doesn't stop me from trying! I love to fry up this, sauté that, and get down on some good old fashioned baking, especially this time of the year. So, what better time than now to read Things Mother Used to Make: A Collection of Old Time Recipes.

Originally published over a hundred years ago, the accumulated knowledge within probably dates back to tried-and-true practices of the "old country". The recipes are for simple fare, require few ingredients and are easy to follow.

The author was a New Englander and it's reflected in these traditional recipes for chowdah, coffee cake, gingersnaps, sponge cake, Boston baked beans, rhubarb pie, and hasty pudding.

I suppose some of those may be familiar to certain people and others not. It all comes down to what mom used to make. For instance, even though I was born and raised in Massachusetts, I'd never heard of huckleberry dumplings, bannocks, rolley polys or hermits.

Beyond recipes, Things... also includes a section of how-to suggestions with tips on boiling a lobster, canning peaches, ways to make pies brown and shiny, and how to corn beef. I picked up a tip for a lighter cake by beating yolks and whites separately. The bit on how to prevent children from losing their mittens is classic mom ingenuity.

There's also a section on "Household Hints Old and New for Housekeepers Young and Old," where I learned a thing or two I may try out, like keeping the iron clean with newspaper and salt...wait a minute, I can just use a scouring pad. Okay, so maybe some of this stuff is a little dated.

Additions like a weights and measures page shows that practicality was the name of the game back in the day when a book like this was the kitchen bible.

I read a kindle version and it didn't come with any bells and whistles. No pics, minimal design. Quite spartan. However, something tells me the original wasn't overly decorative either.

All in all, it's a solid book filled with tried and true wisdom....though I'm not sure about that racist and insensitive recipe "Cracker Tea for Invalids".

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