Saturday, August 23, 2014

Book Review: My Irish Table

My Irish Table seems like it is part cookbook and part the life story of Cathal Armstrong, who grew up in Ireland but now owns renowned restaurants in the Washington DC area. If you're at all interested in Irish food and culture, this cookbook is definitely worth checking out. The photography is amazing! And the book is filled with a good mixture of recipes both from his childhood in Ireland and more modern, complex dishes. There is an entire chapter devoted to his mother, and a chapter devoted to recipes from his restaurant.

I have tried several recipes from the book, some of which have turned out very well (like the scones!) However, I would say that this might not be the best cookbook for the casual home chef - there are definitely doable recipes, but some of them make very large batches (like 11 cups of flour for a bread recipe) or call for very specific ingredients that I wouldn't be likely to have around. The recipes are very detailed, which is helpful but also means they're fairly complicated. I do appreciate that he gives notes on which recipes to serve together, and he includes many tips and anecdotes with the recipes.

There are many recipes I would like to try, and of the ones I have already tried there are a couple I would definitely make again. However, there are even more that I can't see myself ever attempting. Overall I would recommend this book, but perhaps more for its anecdotal nature than just because of the recipes.

Click here for more information about this book.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher via Blogging for Books.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What I've Learned: Part 2 (And something to look forward to!)

A couple months ago I wrote the first part of this blog, focusing on things I learned in my classes over the past year. When I was writing that post, however, I was thinking about how learning is so much more than academic. This time I wanted to share a few things I've been learning recently about myself.

Now, changing the subject for just a minute. I recently signed up for a website called Blogging for Books. The basic idea is, I request free copies of books from publishers in return for posting a review of the book both to their website and to my blog. Well, I love books, so I thought it sounded like a good idea! I think it'll be a fun way for all of us to discover some new books. If you have any questions you can check out their website (linked above). So, you will see the first post about that soon. But don't worry, after that I'm sure it will only be every few weeks or so!

Now, onto the self-reflection.

Need to be Productive
One way I've noticed myself changing in the last few years is that I always feel the need to be doing something productive. When I'm at college, there is something productive I could be doing literally every minute of every day. When I'm not doing that I often feel guilty about it. That attitude has followed me home. Honestly, part of my summer I have spent trying to change that attitude and truly relax. It hard for me to watch tv, read, or spend time with my family and not feel guilty about being unproductive. Productivity is great, but so is relaxation! That's one thing I'm trying to get better at.

Living for the Future
I tend to look toward the future more than I live in the present. Sometimes this is a positive thing: I always enjoy things more when I've been anticipating them for a while. However, living for the future can definitely be a detriment to the present. When I'm too worried or excited about something that's coming up, I forget to enjoy what's happening right now.

I've always wished I was a morning person, but the truth is I'm more productive at night and I have a tough time getting out of bed in the morning. I've been learning more and more, however, that I'm happier when I do get up early and can leisurely get ready and get going for the day. That is one more thing I am trying to improve!

Changing Roles
Earlier this summer I spent about a month volunteer tutoring at Hope Academy, the school where I went to high school. I haven't been back there in such an involved way since I was a student. This might sound strange, but I was rather apprehensive beforehand: I didn't know what it would be like to be back at my high school in such a different role. It ended up being a great experience, and it helped me realize something about myself - I'm growing up, and my roles and relationships are changing, but that's okay. The change doesn't always have to be a negative one. I tend not to reach out to people I haven't seen in a long time, but I know I will regret not reaching out for fear it might be awkward.

I love journaling, because I find getting my thoughts out on paper is helpful in processing them. I think a little introspection is good for everybody. I think we all have so many things we can learn about ourselves!