Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Wrap-Up and Plans for November

I've been having a thematically fall month: baking, reading horror novels, waking up in the dead of night by a spider crawling across my face...I wish that last one was a joke. It's not.


I've finished eight books if you count the two I finished at the very beginning of the month, Catherine the Great and The Arrangement. After I finished those, I really wanted to read some horror because it's October and that feels like I thing I should do. I went with Slade House by David Mitchell, which was already on my To Read list, and was excellent. So creepy! Then I impulsively grabbed The Girl With All the Gifts which has been on my radar for a while, though I didn't realize it was going to be about zombies. Still, it was pretty good.

Shoutout to the new novel by John Green's brother Hank which I enjoyed a lot. I also finished the Wayfarers trilogy finally. I wanted to finish that before starting on the Broken Earth series, and I needed to do that soon since The Fifth Season is on my TBR Pile Challenge for this year. The Fifth Season has taken me a bit to get into - it was hard to even orient myself - but the world-building is pretty stellar and I'm really liking it now. I grabbed the second one from the library because I was warned that I'll want to have it on hand when I finish the first.


I only listened to one audiobook this month, Can't Nothing Bring Me Down, though I did just start The Kiss Quotient at the very end of the month and like it so far.

I'm still chugging along with all of my usual podcasts, which is partly why I didn't listen to many audiobooks. I was sad to hear that Panoply is no longer producing podcasts which means that By the Book is looking for a new home. I'm confident they'll find it though because they've gotten a lot of attention and seem pretty popular.


Pretty sky over my neighborhood.
I watched Pride and Prejudice when I was home for Columbus Day (which is actually called Indigenous Peoples' Day in my city and I'm a fan of the change, but old habits die hard.)

One Saturday I was sick and watched To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix, which was good but I don't love it as much as many people apparently do. Honestly, I couldn't get over the wealth of everyone in the movie. The lacrosse, the ski trips, the gigantic house the main family lives in. That same day I also began the newest season of Call the Midwife.

I think I've mentioned listening to the Slow Russian podcast, but this month I started watching some of their YouTube videos, which I like a lot, especially since they're very short. It's fun to actually see things in Russia, like a typical apartment and also the host Daria's grandmother's dacha (country house.)


I can't believe how much I baked this month. I made two more bundt cakes: the lemon version of the America's Test Kitchen Classic Bundt Cake (I made the regular version last month) for a work party, and the Marble Bundt Cake from Smitten Kitchen Every Day for Cookbook Club at work. I divided the batter SO unevenly on the marble cake that it was mostly chocolate, but you know, not one person who ate it complained about that. Also, it came out of the pan beautifully, as you can see, but then you melt chocolate and creme and pour it over the top and it looks rather messy (yet delicious.) But I think it would also be delicious without the extra chocolate.

I also made the Moosewood Fudge Brownies from Moosewood Cooks at Home (twice, I think), Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies from a recipe on the package of baking chocolate, and Blondies from Smitten Kitchen. I used only chocolate chips as add-ins in the blondies and I swear there were more chips than batter. They came out very well, I think - gooey and butterscotchy and I may have to make them again sometime soon. In less sweet baking, I made the Whole Wheat Quinoa Bread from America's Test Kitchen Bread Illustrated. I love this bread, though it's kind of a pain to make since you have to cook the quinoa first.

Smitten Kitchen Blondies
I cooked some actual food too! After the Beef Stroganoff Disaster of last March I wanted to try this dish again. The recipe has you add sour cream to a hot bubbling pot and didn't mention tempering it first so it didn't separate, so it ended up looking rather ugly (though it tasted fine.) This time I was more careful but, alas, the results were similar. This led to an obsessive search for different Beef Stroganoff recipes and I'm very surprised to see how wildly they differ. It was overwhelming. I may just let it go for now.

Years ago when I had a book group that met for brunch, I often made Strata from a recipe I found online somewhere. I think I got tired of it, but recently decided to try it again one weekend when I had a lot going on. It was delicious! I need to get that back in my meal rotation. (But not too often or I'll get tired of it again.)


I don't think I had many social plans this month. The aforementioned Beef Stroganoff was a dinner I cooked with a friend at my house. I also went to another friend's house to watch a Red Sox game and have drinks and snacks. It was that game that lasted about 17 hours, but I had left by 10 anyhow since I had to work the next morning.

I think all I've been doing at work is training new people, and at home the dog has been misbehaving a lot, which I think is due to the sudden drop in temperature. Plus I was sick one weekend, which is always a bummer (why can't it be a work day?) So it's been rather a mixed bag, I guess.

Oh! My sweater - the one I began knitting back when Obama was president? I finished it. I finished it! I just need to wash and block it and get some good photos. I'll share more soon but here's a little preview on the right, taken right after I sewed in the first sleeve.

Plans for November

My plans primarily involve drinking tea and reading books while snuggled up under an afghan and I hope to continue this until approximately April. And the mid-term elections are something to look forward to, at least I certainly hope they go the way I want them to. I'm getting together with friends and it will hopefully be more fun than the last time we got together on an election night, which actually was fun until the results started coming in. Also Thanksgiving, I guess. I'm heading to Maine for what I call Fake Thanksgiving since we often do it on a different weekend, like this year, depending on when everyone has to work.

How was your October?

No comments: