Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So worth it

I recently found a recipe on a friend's blog for homemade caramel popcorn with cranberries. It looked so beautiful that I decided to make some for Thanksgiving and let me just tell you that it's worth the hour and a half it takes to make (really just half an hour of prep and 1 hour to bake). Oh my goodness. It's baking in my oven as I type and every 15 minutes when I have to pull it out and stir it, I absolutely can't resist eating a few bites. It's delicious! So, if you have some extra time over the holidays (ha!), I highly recommend this delectable little treat!

Here's the recipe:

Caramel Corn with Cranberries

14 cups plain popped popcorn (scant 2/3 cup unpopped kernels)
1 cup honey roasted peanuts (optional)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup cranberries (I use dried)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the popped popcorn and peanuts in two large bowls.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and butter over medium heat. As the butter starts to melt, stir to mix completely. When the mixture begins to boil, stir constantly for five minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the baking soda and vanilla extract. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir a couple of times (not all of the popcorn will be coated).

Transfer popcorn mixture to 2 large roasting pans (or pans with edges).

Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. After 30 minutes, stir in the cranberries. After an hour, turn the popcorn out onto parchment paper, break apart, and allow to cool. Try not to eat it all at once!

Book Plug: Lauren Slater's Lying

Well, I'm back from the land of paper writing and absolutely must share a book recommendation: Lauren Slater's Lying. Have you ever read a book, listened to a certain song, or watched a sunrise and it's inspired you to go create? This nonfiction book was like that for me. After reading it, I had this insatiable desire to write, and I wrote one of the best stories I've produced in a while. But beyond moving me and moving me to write, here are a few things I love about this book:

- The honest, compelling, deep nature of the writing
- The way the author blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction
- Her insightfulness about God, herself, and the way the world works
- The structure of the book (four sections, each section based on a different phase of epilepsy)
- How she universalizes addiction of any kind
- Her awareness of her neediness
- The coherence between style and content from beginning to end
- The poetic quality of her writing
- The questions she raises concerning what is real and true, and what truth means

Even if you don't love nonfiction, this book is worth the read. The story is powerful, tragic, hopeful, deep, funny, and convicting all at once, and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:

"How odd that we are tethered to the truth of our bodies and yet, at the same time, utterly free to sculpt ourselves."

"There are two kinds of darkness, the first so full of breath yo know you are close to God. The second is the darkness of distance, of plugged-up tunnels and exhaust."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Break time

This is how I write a paper. Spread out, on the floor for space, a cup of tea, a snack, my computer, planets of research revolving around me, windows open, quiet. There wouldn't be a desk large enough for me to work on. Four pages out of fifteen done in two hours. And every couple of hours (or minutes?), a break to check email, eat lunch, turn up the heat, or, well, blog. Pathetic? maybe. But it works.