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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Love Cheesecake

I must admit, one of my weaknesses is cheesecake. As a dessert, nothing could be finer. This creamy treat seems to always be on my mind. But now ordering this desert from the comfort of my own home is a reality.
When I want   and no time to cook, I can easily get one while surfing online.
And you can combine your love for cheesecake with your love for irresistible  flavors like orange and cherry and caramel and more.

And if you can share one of life's pleasures, don't forget to order one as a gift and you will not easily be forgotten.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Umbria, Truffles and the Dogs That Find Them

Guest Post by Chris Manganaro
When someone mentions Italy, we usually think of Rome or Tuscany or Venice. There are not many who would automatically think of Umbria. Most likely there are people that have never even heard of this spectacular region or even a cookbook with traditional dishes from Umbria.
One such cookbook that speaks of Umbrian cuisine also speaks volumes about Umbria itself. The Dog Who Ate the Truffle by Suzanne Carreiro is, as the cover says, “A memoir of stories and recipes from Umbria.” The author wrote the book about her experiences living in Umbria because of the uniqueness of the situation. Admittedly, even she had not originally planned to go to Umbria. It is lucky that she did; however, as she was able to write an intriguing and scrumptious little inside view of what we have all been missing. Umbria seems to be a real treasure.
Carreiro’s book ends up being a hybrid between memoir and cookbook as it can be used as one or the other yet functions best as both. It is hard to describe the book simply because it depends on how you look at it. If one sees it as a cookbook then it lacks organization yet offers stories and anecdotes which tie it together. Viewing it as a novel with recipes is also quite different as the reader is given stories and anecdotes that are linked to recipes in order to recreate the food that is mentioned. Interestingly enough, neither the stories nor recipes are organized in an obvious way, as the stories are not told chronologically, but fit the category of the chapter. These categories are based off people, places and events in order to highlight Umbria.
While this may make it sound as if the book is rather messy, in truth it is not at all. It is quite comprehensive. For instance, the table of contents lists the recipes rather than the stories themselves which makes it quite easy to use as a cookbook. Of course, there is also a trusty index in the back of the book that functions well for the novel side and the cookbook side. The construction is actually rather intuitive.
As far as Carreiro is concerned, she believes her book to be quite accessible. It really is. She does her best to simplify recipes when necessary and explains as much as she can in the recipes as well as in her stories. Whenever necessary, she even includes sections, boxed off in gray, to give more information about both cooking and what the recipes are based on.
While the recipes work well enough for this to be a staple in any kitchen, the stories do their best to become a staple in your library. Carreiro is able to describe the lush landscape of Umbria as well as the people and culture in colorful and endearing ways. The people she met, both acquaintances and close friends, become familiar to the reader to the point of feeling as if you know them. Each person mentioned is important to the author and book as a whole whether it is because of their recipes or companionship or both. You can feel the passage of time in each encounter which makes it feel as if you’ve spent a year there yourself. The inclusion of pictures throughout the book also helps with the reader’s immersion. The reader embraces everything about Umbria because of the warm passion of the author.
The fact that the book has no legitimate ending really fits. We get to experience Carriero’s life in Umbria, but her life goes on after and so does our own. The book makes us want to visit Umbria. It feels as if the story isn’t truly over until we are able to do that for ourselves. Of course, as a cookbook, the story is never over because food is forever.


Guest Post by Darius Boone

Thank goodness that our Dish Network didn’t go out during the most recent storm. My kid’s school and our jobs were closed for three whole days! The roads were really too bad to go anywhere. The first two days of the storm it would have been way to dangerous to venture out. Luckily we still had power and television. The kids went outside and played in the snow some. It was so cold that they would get worn out pretty easily. There wasn’t much to do around the house except watch television together. I think that it kept the kids from having a total meltdown and complaining of “boredom”. We curled up in the living room, where we have three big couches most of the time. My husband and I shared a couch and the kids would take turns sharing their couch with the dog ( who wouldn’t go outside because of the snow). There is a fireplace in the living room. We were very content for three days. If the power had gone out and television hadn’t worked, I don’t know what we would have done!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inside The Untold Story of Uncle Al Capone

 Guest Blogger/Editor: Chris Manganaro
The name Al Capone brings a variety of words to mind, but it seems unlikely that many people would think of the word uncle. It is most likely that no one has ever thought of Al Capone in that way because it is not a part of his image. Not the image that history and the media have painted anyway.
As with most things in life, we are influenced more by what we see and what we are told than what we actually think. Most people have learned about Al Capone from either history classes or television and movies or perhaps even all three. These views of Al Capone are only one side of the story.
In Deirdre Marie Capone’s book Uncle Al Capone: The Untold Story from Inside his Family we are shown a different side to Al Capone, the side of those most familiar with him: his family and friends.
Within her book, Deirdre explores the family history using facts that she gathered from her family as well as from her own experiences. This makes it feel as if it is part autobiography and part family history. By constructing the book in such a way, she is able to naturally incorporate the idea of family into every facet of the book. With a larger than life character such as Al Capone gracing the cover, it is no easy feat to cover so much ground.
Al Capone, of course, cannot be ignored and so we are shown how his presence and existence affected the family during and after his death. It is more than likely that someone reading this book has some interest in learning more about Al Capone. Deirdre does not disappoint those types of readers, as she tries to add details about Al Capone and the family that have never been written about before. Did you know that Al Capone was a fan of jazz and helped give many famous jazz players their starts?
Of course, the book is still engaging to those readers who do not have a particular interest in Al Capone as it is filled with many interesting stories and insights into living in a family with a notorious name.
The book tries to show how much of what Al Capone did was for his family. He was making money to support his family just like anyone else. The only difference is that he was forced to use an alternative method. To him, The Outfit, as they called it, was a business.
We also see; however, the negative aspects of being related to Al Capone through not only Deirdre’s own experiences, but her families’. There were instances of suicide and lost jobs, yet, despite everything, their family was still warm and loving.
The incorporation of photos and recipes in the book help to make her point about the Capone family being just like any other family. When looking at the photographs, one would be hard pressed not to see their own family photos in them. According to the book, Al Capone was very family oriented and so the photos are like evidence to back up the fact.
The recipes have the same sort of effect. All families have their own special recipes. The Capone’s were just like everyone else. Al Capone even enjoyed cooking.
In the end, all parts of the book add up to form a picture of Al Capone that has never been seen before. Deirdre claims on more than one occasion that her “Uncle Al was not perfect” but the point that she was trying to make is that he was human. He wanted to help his family and keep them safe. He suffered from nightmares. He was not the monster that people may have seen him as, but a living, breathing person who had his own thoughts and feelings. His own family.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Benefiting From Declutter While Relocating

Guest Blogger: Eveleene  Salt

One plus point of moving you can use to your advantage is getting your house clutter organized.  Normally there is no attempt or time to sort unused trash or refuge. But relocation makes it a necessity for you to declutter.  There are three benefits for doing it:-

1. One, it helps you to filter usable items from ones which can’t be used.   
2. You could earn some bucks by selling junk or organizing a sale.  
3. Second, it will be economical and money savior when you hire packer and movers services. It reduces the weight and loading, and packing efforts for you. 

How To Start With Decluttering

Garage First – It makes some sense to start with the most messed up corner of your house. Hire packer and movers to take care of packing, loading and unloading.  You can utilize this time sorting the junk in your garage. Some of it can have resalable value. Run a word in your neighborhood about the sale you would be hosting and you could earn a good sum.

Cleaning the Wardrobe – Next most heavily stuffed part in your house is the wardrobe section containing clothes and related accessories. More often the stuff here is old and not in use. The most recent and favorite ones can be packed for relocation, while the old ones can be either donated or sold.

Selling Online – Online selling has scope for anything right from appliances, toys, to kitchen ware. Once you have listed and separated salable things from junk, you can auction it online. But please use the online option safely over trusted sites. As some tips for online selling, try to include brand name (if available) for your items, be as specific in your title as possible. Also be honest about the condition, state, make and description of your item. 

Donate If Possible – There are a lot of books, magazines, CD’s and electronics that can be donated. While relocating, extra books become a burden and keeping them is of no use. So you can extend your reads to someone less privileged and help them. Other things which can be donated include clothing, toys, bedding, kitchen supplies, furniture, computers, specialty items and electronics. Remember donating you stuff is a far better use of it than throwing it off. 
Incentive For Environment – You have to deal with a lot inconvenience while traveling, but that is no excuse to ignore environment. Relocation adds a lot of waste and refuge to environment, so consider making your relocation as green as possible. Take care that all the moving material, i.e. boxes, plastic bags etc are recyclable. Ask your hired packer and movers to use recyclable material. Dispose of the garbage after packing properly, don’t litter.