What’s On Your Nightstand? H.A.G. Reads for November

The Best Kind of People
Zoe Whittall
Ballantine Books (September 19, 2017)
448 pages

Links within the post are affiliate links (read full disclosure). Book received via NetGalley as an ARC.

Opening Line(s) of the Book: (after the Prologue)

Sadie turned seventeen years old on top of her boyfriend, Jimmy, in the Woodbury family boathouse.

Honestly. If you don’t love the first line, you might want to skip this one as the content, doesn’t get much easier. The premise of the book is do we ever really know another person? What makes a well loved, well respected adult, a suspect for a heinous act like inappropriately touching or talking to a young person? Did he actually do this? He is a father, a teacher, a husband, a hero who saved the school from a shooter years ago. But today, he is accused of these horrible acts on several young girls.

The book has come to print at such a perfect time to read about these characters, as we ourselves are immersed in the news of such well “known” and respected people who are not just good at their jobs but are also accused of such disgusting acts as forcible or coercive sexual acts with people with less power…It is a hard subject, but handled in a very realistic way in the book, leading the reader to understand that people have many sides to them. It is not enough to just say, “but he was such a great man.” He could be that, but also be NOT that.

What I like about the book is the many layered approach of innappropriateness: a helpful adult who isn’t all that helpful, but actually crosses the line himself in trying to comfort a young person; a gay teacher who befriends a young man and starts a “relationship” with him, that has never been seen as inappropriate until now; a field trip that has children with little to no supervision now accusing a teacher of touching them.

Lots of very real, very possible situations happen in the book, and I sort of wonder about the fact that it wasn’t tied up neatly. The ending is actually unsettling to me possibly because it could actually happen this way…the way I didn’t want it to. Or it was just poorly written and rushed. Only the author knows…

Favorite Line:

No one saw it coming.

Overall Take:

I liked it. I was kind of disappointed in the ending. I have to say, it left me wanting a bit. I was also confused with one thread that seemed to not get tied up in the end, which makes me wonder if it did get addressed, and I missed it? If I did, it wasn’t explicit- It sort of felt like she got sick of writing her own book and just needed an ending.

I literally wanted to get to reading this one- it was a page turner, the characters likable, and the story very compelling. With everything that is going on right now with the inappropriate touching, advances by older men to young women and men, I picked up this book at a most opportune time! I always try to put myself in the shoes of the characters of the book, and it was truly easy to do this. Her characters were very real and well rounded, but the way it didn’t quite come together completely in the end, takes it to a 3 out of 5 for me. Meh.

Recommend with reservations because of the ending. If she writes another book though, I am definitely picking it up.

My OTHER books being read:

Can’t finish: The Child, by Fionna Barton- just can’t get into it.

Still working  on: NW, by Zadie Smith- loving it, but it is right in the middle and dragging a bit.

Reviewing and not loving: The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin- I might be over self-help.

What’s on YOUR nightstand?


Links within the post are affiliate links (read full disclosure). Linked up with  Book BeginningsBookDateWhat’s on your nightstand?

Copycat Kettle Corn

Copycat Kettle Corn #FantasticalFoodFight

Welcome to another Food Fight! Fantastical Food Fight is a group of food bloggers who will get a theme or ingredient each month and make some sort of variation for it. It could be traditional or nontraditional and can be found in a cookbook, on a blog, or be a blogger’s own creation! For more details, check out this page.

This week’s theme is Copycat recipes! My kids eat popcorn on the daily almost, so I decided that since our local farmer’s market is closed for the season, I should try to make the delicious and addictive Kettle Corn that they sell- I got this recipe from AllRecipes, and this did not disappoint.

Here’s the simple recipe:

Copycat Fairground Kettle Corn

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

What you do:

And of course you need one medium sized pot with a cover, a lined sheet pan for cooling, and a stove.

Pour the oil into the pot and heat over medium-high heat (5 out of 10). Place 2 kernels in there, and when they pop, you can add the rest of the popcorn and the sugar. Cover tightly and shake. Shake constantly until the popping noises slow considerably. Turn off the heat and remove the popcorn to a lined sheet pan. Season with salt to your liking. Let cool a bit, and then serve!

Copycat Kettle Corn

My kids went sort of crazy for this. It IS highly addictive, but if you are like me, and you think it is like popping corn the regular way, it isn’t- you DO have to shake constantly to keep the sugar from burning. And the clean up is a bit sticky, so start early so you are ready to make a second batch…because there will be a second batch- so good!

Here’s the printable recipe:

Copycat Fairground Kettle Corn #FantasticalFoodFight

Copycat Fairground Kettle Corn #FantasticalFoodFight

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • One medium sized pot with a cover, a lined sheet pan for cooling, and a stove.

Instructions

  1. Pour the oil into the pot and heat over medium-high heat (5 out of 10). Place 2 kernels in there, and when they pop, you can add the rest of the popcorn and the sugar. Cover tightly and shake. Shake constantly until the popping noises slow considerably. Turn off the heat and remove the popcorn to a lined sheet pan. Season with salt to your liking. Let cool a bit, and then serve!
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Check out all these other CopyCatters- is that a thing?:


Copycat Kettle Corn

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

No boil noodles. This is my answer for you. I know you were wondering, how the heck you were supposed to make Vegetable Lasagna on a weeknight?! No-boil noodles are my new favorite convenience food. That, and the 3 minute pasta. Pasta is fast already, you say? Well, for time-crunched crazy, 3 minute pasta has saved my a@# at least a few times this fall! I scoffed too, when I first saw it at the grocery store. “3-minute pasta? Isn’t pasta fast enough? How lazy are people?” Well…I tried it and now I am sold. Over to the dark side.

Feeding my kids a healthy dinner, has gotten WAY easier! Anyhoo…

For this lasagna, it is imperative that you have veggies. If your kids don’t eat them, like mine- well, I am sorry. I feel your pain. But consider this a good thing, because now,  you will have lots of leftovers for you and your husband to eat selfishly all week long, and your kids can eat 3 minute pasta with butter whenever they want to! Here’s what I did:

I sauteed the veggies:

1 zucchini, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced

Saute them in a pan, and season generously with salt and pepper- cook until they are soft.

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

While this is cooking, I mixed up the cheese:

16 oz. ricotta
8 oz. mozzarella, divided
1/2 cup parm
1 egg
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup fresh parsely, chopped fine

Then I just layer with my favorite marinara sauce and the no-cook pasta sheets!

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

First Layer

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

Second Layer

Bake for 45 minutes at 375*, and you are eating! I have been in a hurry and done 400*, for 35 minutes- just sayin’.  Lasagna on a weeknight. You are so awesome! Even if your kids are eating buttered pasta.Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

Here’s the printable recipe~

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

For feeding a crowd or for a few with plenty of leftovers, this Vegetable Lasagna is a comforting and healthy meal that is easy enough for a weeknight!

Ingredients

    For the recipe
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 9-10 sheets of oven-ready lasagna pasta sheets (one package)
  • 1 jar of marinara sauce or your favorite homemade sauce
  • Veggies
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Cheese Mixture
  • 16 oz. ricotta
  • 8 oz. mozzarella, divided to reserve half of this for the top of the lasagna
  • 1/2 cup parmesan shredded cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. basil
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375* (Skip this step if you are cooking this later)
  2. Spray a 9X13" pan and set aside.
  3. In a medium skillet, add 1 tsp. of oil and saute your veggies, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. While the veggies cook, mix your cheese mixture ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. When the veggies are soft, you can assemble the lasagna:
  6. In in 9X13" pan, and add a thin layer of marinara sauce. Place 3 sheets of pasta to cover the bottom- they will have a little space between them, and that's okay since they expand while cooking.
  7. Layer half of the cheese mixture on top of the pasta, then half the veggies. A second layer of the pasta, a little sauce, rest of cheese, rest veggies. The third layer is just three more (and I broke one in two to totally cover my dish) pasta sheets. Add about a cup of sauce on top. Sprinke the other 4 ounces of cheese on top and cover with foil.
  8. You can either put in the oven right away an cook at 375* for 45 minutes
  9. OR
  10. You can refrigerate this for up to 24 hours (YEA!) and cook the at 375* for 60 minutes.

Notes

Can prepare ahead and freeze or keep refrigerated, unbaked for up to 24 hours before cooking.

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Make it ahead- Heck, make two! One for me and one for you! One for the freezer and one for now! Enjoy!

Weeknight Vegetable Lasagna

A GREAT Meatless Monday meal!