Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Chicago Coloring Book

Since I grew up in Chicago, I thought it would be fun to review a coloring book with scenes of Chicago. So, when The Chicago Coloring Book arrived, and I got to work.

Hahaha ... work.

Just like when I get a new cookbook and I choose something to cook, this time I had to find something to color. There were buildings, artsy things, signs, pizza, hot dogs ...

And of course I decided to color the hot dogs. I also wanted to eat the hot dogs, but Chicago-style dogs aren't exactly ubiquitous in Colorado. Sigh.

So I colored the hot dogs and got hungry.

This is one of the simpler items in the book - the difficulty ranges from pretty darned simple to things like the interior of the Auditorium Theater (which is where my college graduation was held) where there are a lot of bits and pieces to be colored.

Overall, I like the book. I probably will be coloring the buildings in crazy colors, and I'll be sure to add some graffiti to the train ... and I might add some crazy topping to the pizza, too. Because, what the heck, coloring is just plain fun.

Meanwhile, have a hot dog. Or two.


I received this book from the publisher at no cost to me. 


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Weeknight Paleo

A while back, a publisher asked me if I wanted to review Weeknight Paleo by Julia and Charles Mayfield. I said, "No thanks, I don't do a lot of special-diet books," and didn't think any more about it ... until the book arrived.

*sigh*

I paged through it, thinking that I probably wouldn't like the recipes. If you know me at all, you know I'm not afraid of carbs. I like bread, rice, potatoes ... not that I eat them with every meal, but if I'm eating Chinese food, there's probably rice, and if I want a sandwich, it's going to be on bread.

The more I paged through the book, the more I was surprised. For the most part, these were recipes that I would have been happy to make or eat. I mean, I might have cooked a carb as a side dish for some of them (a shrimp and vegetable dish was looking for rice, for example, and the pork mole would have been nice with some tortillas), but the recipes themselves looked fine.

There were a couple recipes in the book where squash was substituted for pasta, like a "lasagna" that I'm a little more skeptical of. I mean, I might try it and like it, but I don't think I'd give up regular lasagna.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised, and happy that this accidentally got sent to me. While I'm not going to suddenly embrace the paleo lifestyle (at least not today, because there's rice in the rice cooker) I'll probably be making some of these recipes.

Honestly, this could have been named something else, and I probably wouldn't have noticed the lack of grains and starches, because the recipes are fine as they are. And the chicken and Brussels sprouts skewers wrapped with bacon look pretty darned good.

I received this book from the publisher at no cost to me.


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Devil in the White City

Okay, so this one might not be current (the copyright on it is 2003) but I just read it, so ....

Maybe there are some other folks who missed out on reading this book. Which was apparently made into a movie that I also didn't see.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson has two different plot lines. One is the story of how the Columbian Exposition was planned, built and run in Chicago in the late 1800s. It was supposed to be better than the World's Fair that had been hosted in Paris (which was when the Eiffel Tower was built, by the way).

The second plot involves a handsome, charming fellow using the alias H. H. Holmes. He also happens to be a serial killer.

This is all set in the backdrop of Chicago in a time when city stunk from the stockyards and the horse droppings in the street. The air was sooty from burning coal. Blech.

The Columbian Exposition brought us a lot of innovations, like the first paint sprayers that were used to paint all the buildings white. The fair also had water filters, so fair-goers would have clean water to drink. And they wired the whole thing with electric lights, which were still pretty new.

Meanwhile, Holmes came to town, bought a pharmacy and proceeded to build a building that was well suited to his particular needs. To keep costs down, he would hire tradesman and the fire them after a short time, refusing to pay them because their work wasn't up to par - even though there was nothing wrong with their work. This strategy also meant that no one really had a good overview of the building, so his peculiar additions went unnoticed.

Much of what's in this book came from historical documents, along with the interesting phrasings and spelling of the day.

All of this happened just a little over 100 years ago, yet it seems so foreign. A time when electric lights were rare, when pollution was the norm, and when people could go missing so easily. But there are parallels to today, along with people cutting corners to get work done, political cronyism, and also the good guys.

If you like history, thrillers, or murder mysteries, this one's for you. With the added bonus that it's a true story.