Sunday, October 16, 2011

What I've been reading

Right now I am 50 pages away from finishing The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and I can't put it down or think about much else.

I read this book about 6 years ago and loved it then. I decided to read it again to see if it withstood the test of time. It did. It might now go on my list of favorite books.

The story is about an architect, Howard Roark, and how he is a crazy genius/artist and makes masterpiece buildings, the public's crusades against him, and his intense love affair. He has all these set backs because the collective public is blind and will crusade against purity and passion. However, because he never cares about man and the masses and only cares about the integrity of his passions, he is ultimately happy and successful.

He's basically Rand's ideal of humankind embodied and you can't help but rally around him.

It's a great read that I couldn't put down 6 years ago and still can't put down. I highly recommend it. It's about 900 pages and every page is interesting and reads quickly.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

I've been stressed.

So stressed.

Work. Big, important, global event happening at the end of October where I play tour-guide to a bunch of Chinese journalists. 20,000 things to do to prepare for said big, fat event.


So, I did the only thing natural one can do when stressed. I made the most delicious sugary, ooey, and comforting thing I could: Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. Remember those browned-butter cinnamon rolls I made a long time ago? Throw away that recipe. Those are 10 times harder to make and taste half as good as these babies.

And they really do taste EXACTLY like Cinnabon cinnamon rolls. I think the vanilla pudding is what does it. And the frosting is dead on too.

I ate approximately 10 and felt so great. Don't think of it as an unhealthy amount of sugar, think of it as anti-anxiety medication. It worked for me.


Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 Tbl. sugar
  • 3 1/2 oz. pkg. vanilla pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup margarine −− melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teas. salt
  • 6 cups flour

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 teas. vanilla
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 Tbl. milk

  1. To make frosting, mix all ingredients until smooth.
  2. In a bowl combine water, yeast and sugar. Stir until dissolved. Set aside.

  1. In large bowl, take pudding mix and prepare according to package directions.
  2. Add margarine, eggs and salt. Mix well. 
  3. Then add yeast mixture. Blend.
  4. Gradually add flour; knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled.
  5. Punch down dough and let rise again.
  6. Then roll out on floured board to 34 x 21" size. Take 1 cup soft butter and spread over surface. 
  7. In bowl, mix 2 cups brown sugar and 4 teas. cinnamon. Sprinkle over top. 
  8. Roll up very tightly. With knife, put a notch every 2". Cut with thread or knife.
  9. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet 2" apart. Take hand and lightly press down on each roll.
  10. Cover and let rise until double (I put mine in the fridge overnight).

Bake at 350 15−20 minutes. Remove when they start to turn golden. DON'T OVER BAKE!!

Frost warm rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

Saturday, October 1, 2011


I made ratatouille awhile ago to balance out my frequent habit of making a bowl of cookie dough and eating the entire thing. When you have a pile of vegetables for dinner all desert binges seem justified.

The recipe, from A Smitten Kitchen, was suggested to me by my vegetarian sister-in-law. For that and may other reasons, I really like her

It was easy, cheap, delicious, and guess what?! A big. fat. healthy. pile of vegetables!

If and when I make it again, I would double the tomato puree to add a bit more liquid to the dish. I like my rice to have something sticking to it, you know?

Also, I used feta cheese instead of goat cheese because it's what I had on-hand and I'm crazy like that. I would do it again, it was delicious.

The recipes looks like it is complicated but I swear the prep time is 30 minutes max.


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 cup tomato puree
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant (my store sells these “Italian Eggplant” that are less than half the size of regular ones; it worked perfectly)
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme (I omitted and didn't miss a thing)
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat or feta cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.

Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.

Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.

Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tricky, I know, but the hardest thing about this.)
Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.