Monday, December 17, 2012

Poetry Book Group Opens the Year with Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn’s Different Hours (Norton, 2000) is a Pulitzer Prize winner and collection you won’t forget, divorce to ekphrasis to plumbers.

We’re adding a new feature to our evening, and invite you to bring a poem written in the style of Dunn. If you’re in the neighborhood, join us for conversation about this moving book. Lemon Grove, 7:00, Tues. 8 Jan. 

I’m partial to the table by the window, which in December was next to a Christmas tree necklaced with tiny white lights. Angry Orchard on tap. Good friends and good conversation. What more is there?

Simpler Times

The violent boys merely armed
with fists, the president
avuncular, his office unspoiled,

it’s tempting to believe
we lived in simpler times.

Unfulfillment didn’t have
its high priests, not even a language.
I just thought of it as family life

or school, and on Sunday nights
ran in from the clean, safe streets
to laugh at Milton Berle.

--Stephen Dunn, from Different Hours

Monday, December 3, 2012

My favorite granola recipe

I like foods with texture and a good mix-up, and these days I’m on a granola jag. I stock Bob’s Red Mill rolled oats, and Ohio maple syrup from a place not too far from here. I also like different combinations of nuts and fruits. Hands down favorite: date-pecan, with Medjool dates I pick up at Jerusalem Market on Youngstown’s north side. But I use whatever’s on hand, and other tasty combinations are cherry-peanut, and cranberry-walnut. Switching up the liquids adds nuance – peanut oil is lovely – and honey makes a stickier, clumpier granola. For seeds, anything goes: sunflower, sesame, chia, flax, poppy, combination… I also toss in a handful of wheat germ now and then. I’ve even traded the oats for Bob’s Red Mill multigrain hot cereal. My friend likes it with the big flakes of Bob’s Red Mill coconut (you see the Bobs Red Mill theme), and crunched up bran flakes. I like adding cinnamon or ginger. Hmmm.... the crystallized ginger left over from a recent cookie project?

To assemble: mix the oats, nuts and seeds, stir in the blended liquid. Spread out in a greased jelly roll pan and bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Add the dried fruit (chopped, as in dates), and bake 15 min. more. I take it out when the oats are toasted, but I don’t let the fruit burn. If it’s very sticky, pour it out on waxed paper or foil to set. Store in an air tight container. So, so good on yogurt, oatmeal or cut fruit.


Oats: 4 cups
Chopped or broken nuts: 1 cup
Seeds: ¼ cup
Oil: ½ cup
Maple syrup/honey: ½ cup
Chopped dried fruit: 1 cup

Other ideas:
Coconut: 1 cup
Crunched up bran flakes: 1 cup

Saturday, December 1, 2012

At Home with Bill Bryson

I just finished Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life (Random House 2010), or rather Bryson just finished reading it to me on CD. I love listening to this author read his own works, and this book is so very Brysony. Maybe my geek card just fell out of my wallet, but I loved learning about the history of the rooms in our houses, as well as the stuff in them, and the details of domestic life: contemporary diseases of medieval origin, heavy-metal wallpaper, painful powdered wigs, and the obedience of Charles Darwin to his father (which might have prevented his journey). This author is the master of irony, and domestic life is nothing if not ironic.

Maybe what I appreciate the most is the way Bryson made me realize that the rituals and conflicts of our day are seamlessly connected to everything that came before. And that the most accidental events can lead to massive shifts in beliefs and practices. I guess this sounds obvious, but I don't always remember it. It helps me let go of the feeling that we're inescapably entrenched in our ways.

Terrific book. All thumbs up.