Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Alison Hein.
For several months now, I’ve enjoyed making the crisp, salty Prosciutto Egg Cups my friend Michele told me about. So much so, in fact, that I wanted to experiment with the recipe to change them up a little. What if I whisked eggs with some seasonings instead of cracking them whole into the center of the prosciutto?
I was fumbling with exactly how I should season these imaginary eggs – savory herbs? Spicy pepper? Perhaps some thin-sliced mushrooms? when I had an ‘aha’ moment. A friendly stranger told me about the most divine lemon ricotta pancakes she had enjoyed at the Stoneacre Pantry in Newport, Rhode Island. That was it! I would put an Italian slant on my whisked eggs, adding lemony ricotta cheese, a dash of parmesan, and a sprig of fresh, green basil.
The ricotta-laced eggs emerged from the oven all puffed up and popover like – their warm insides a delightful cheesy fluff; a savory cheesecake. The salty exterior provided a crispy counterpoint to the delicate melt-in-your-mouth middle. If you decide to make your egg cups without their prosciutto wrapper, be sure to add a generous amount of salt to the egg mixture before baking or they may taste a bit bland.
And, if you’re wondering about those divine pancakes, well, frankly, so am I. On to the next experiment, and hopefully, the next divine breakfast in bed.
2 pieces prosciutto
¼ cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (for as many eggs as you plan to make). Arrange a piece of prosciutto in each muffin cup, wrapping around the sides and covering the bottom to form a closed bowl.
Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk until thick and frothy. Stir is ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth and pour egg mixture into prosciutto-lined muffin cups. Grind some fresh black peppercorns onto the top of the egg mixture. Place in oven and bake for around 20 minutes until egg is cooked firm. Carefully scoop out eggs with a large spoon. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.
Makes 2 servings.
Choose your Own Adventure: Prisoner of the Ant People by R.A. Montgomery.
Anyone who grew up in the late seventies or beyond had probably read a book by R.A. Montgomery, though they might not even know his name. The author and publisher of over 200 Choose Your Own Adventure books passed away last week at the age of 78. I have many memories of reading these unique books over and over again as a kid. Just looking at the covers of such volumes as The Cave of Time and Your Code Name is Jonah brings back floods of memories, not necessarily of the plots, as those vary with each reading and each choice bu the reader, but of the feeling of adventure and control over your own destiny as you read.
What made these books so special was the way Montgomery put the reader in the driver’s seat. Not only is it one of the few books you will find written in the second person (as in, “You walk into a room”) but at pivotal moments in the story you, the reader, must decide what to do next. Do you take it slow and explore the spaceship for the missing crew, or do you follow your gut and shrink yourself to a tiny size and look for them at the subatomic level? Choose, but choose wisely. For one decision may lead to a successful adventure but the other may lead to your demise.
My son picked out his first Choose Your Own Adventure a couple weeks ago. He picked Prisoner of the Ant People which is a weird sci-fi novel filled with Martians, disintegration rays, and talking ant “people”. I’m excited to be introducing him to this wonderful and exciting world of interactive reading. If anyone else has tried to do the same kind of bo0k, they have not succeeded. R.A. Montgomery will always hold the torch for those who want to decide whether or not to follow the Sherpa into the Yeti’s cave.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Disney has been on quite the roll lately. It doesn’t hurt that they have gobbled up a number of hugely popular dynasties recently, from Star Wars to Pixar to Marvel. This time, however, Disney is not riding on the coattails of any of these, but rather on a retelling of one of their classic retellings of a classic fairy tale. I am talking, of course, about Maleficent, the dark and dramatic Sleeping Beauty spinoff, told from the perspective of Maleficent, who was so cruelly portrayed in the 1959 cartoon version. In the new telling of the story, we learn that Maleficent was a lovely and kind queen of the moors, cruelly betrayed by the greed of men. The king, her former childhood friend, is the real villain here.
Angelina plays the title role, and does a great job, although there are an awful lot of close-ups of her eyes watching through shadows. Perhaps this is some sort of tribute to the original; I don’t know because I haven’t seen it. Beyond that, though, it is a lovely movie. It has a lot of darkness; you would too if you’d been treated as Maleficent had. But Sleeping Beauty brings a brightness and joy to everything and everyone she encounters.
Don’t look for any hackneyed old plot points in this movie! Disney seems to be all about turning all the tired old clichés on their heads; especially the ones they’ve been guilty of perpetuating in the past. Now available on DVD, it’s a great movie to watch with the kids on a chilly autumn evening.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
Before I went out of town this past weekend, I readied my guest room for our apartment/pet sitter. Mind you, this is a tiny room, and by most standards, the space wouldn’t qualify as a bedroom. (At about 7 by 12, it’s more like a walk-in closet.)
In a New York City apartment, however, where carving bedrooms out of living rooms is the norm, the room is plenty large enough to act as a sleep space. And for us, a modest nook is perfect for the occasional guest quarters.
Bedrooms like this are often ignored or passed over as unimportant or insignificant. But I find that these tiny gems remind us of the importance of a well-edited space –– one that is uncluttered, functional, and cozy. Try adding one or all of these items to make your extra room more enticing for overnight guests.
Scents containing lavender, bergamot, marjoram or citrus notes are a lovely way to enhance the room’s mood as well as the person staying in it.
Greenery or fresh flowers add life to any room. Tailor your selection to the guest. Arrange simple ferns for younger guests, and roses with babies’ breath for grandma. Even a small green plant can breathe life into a simply decorated bedroom.
An extra blanket
Chilly nights will warrant an extra bed covering, so drape a blanket over a chair arm or stretch one along the foot of the bed.
A table fan
An oscillating table fan nearby can keep a light breeze and circulate stale air, keeping the space temperate for relaxing and sleeping.
When I don’t feel tired enough to sleep, reading a few pages or an article or two is often enough to make me drowsy and nod off into a deep slumber. Have a selection of good books and a few magazines for late-night reads or a mid-afternoon escape.