Movies in Bed: Veronica Mars

Post by Mark T. Locker.

You may or may not have heard of Veronica Mars. It was a teen detective drama that aired on CW for three seasons. It was way better than it sounds and when it was canceled there were a number of sad but vocal fans. You are more likely to have heard about its triumphant return, in a very 21st-century way. Creator Rob Thomas wanted to make a Veronica Mars movie. Warner Brothers agreed to release it but would not fund it. So Rob Thomas turned to his fans and launched the most successful Kickstarter campaign ever, raising nearly $6 million. We got our movie, and exclusive T-shirts, and WB released it. History is made.

Veronica Mars was a spunky high school student, daughter of Keith Mars, former sheriff and current private eye. She was pretty good as a detective herself, kind of the Encyclopedia Brown of modern southern California preppy culture. The movie opens with her being offered a job at a prestigious law firm. But when she sees that dreamy bad-boy and ex-boyfriend (ex to the chagrin of many) Logan Echolls is embroiled in a murder investigation, Veronica heads home to Neptune to try and help out. It’s basically a long version of the TV show, with a few winks to the rabid fans (known collectively as “Marshmallows”) and a few painfully obvious product placements. If you haven’t watched the show, you should watch the show. The movie, I’ve heard, is much better with context. It’s available to buy from lots of different online sources.

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Breakfast in Bed – Green Tea Macadamia Cookies

Post by Alison Hein.

While perusing the quaint antique shops in western New Jersey near the Delaware Water Gap, I came across a sweet little teapot, coffeepot, and dish set. The dishes were hand-painted with a cheerful floral design, and the stamp on the bottom indicated they were “made inJapan.” They weren’t a child’s set, but also not quite adult size – lovely and colorful. I suddenly envisioned the tiny pots filled with steaming brew, and the little plate laden with petite and alluring Green Tea Macadamia Cookies.

Matcha, the base of the cookies, is a finely-ground, powdered tea, historically used during traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. These days, however, matcha has come into its own. Updated and modernized (and sometimes sweetened), it makes an interesting and versatile ingredient for noodles, lattes, and sweet confections. Matcha’s increased popularity has made it easy to locate in local stores and through web searches. (Just google it, you’ll see what I mean). Exotic macadamia nuts add crunch and depth, as well as visual interest, to the finished cookies.

The trick to making these cookies is to shape the dough and refrigerate it until very firm. This makes slicing a snap, and produces lovely, round cookies. Also, keep a close eye during baking – you’ll want your cookies baked through, but not so browned that their lovely green color is compromised. The dough needs to chill at least 2 hours, but can be prepared up to a few days in advance, or even frozen. Then, when you’re ready for some exotic Green Tea Macadamia Cookies, just slice and bake for a petite, alluring breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon (green tea) sweet matcha powder
1¼ cups flour
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Preparation

Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add milk and vanilla and beat well. Stir in matcha powder and flour. Add nuts and mix thoroughly. Roll and shape into approximately 2 8-inch long rolls, about 1½ inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°. Cut cookie rolls into “generous” ¼-inch thick slices (more than ¼ inch but less than ½ inch). Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are golden. Remove to wire rack and cool.

Makes about 35 to 40 cookies.

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Bedtime Stories: The Bone Season

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

We all know that the thing to do is to write dystopian teen novels. Everybody’s doing it. Some of them get lots of coverage because they are excellent (Hunger Games for example) and others get lots of coverage despite not being very good. And then there are those which are quite good but seem to have more of a cult following. Maybe The Bone Season falls into this category because it’s so different from so many other novels in this genre. Sure it’s got a teenage hero. Sure there is mounting tension and potential for civil unrest. But so much about this book is unique.

Set in London in 2059, the story follows a young woman named Paige Mahoney. She is a clairvoyant, which is not all that remarkable in her time. There are a lot of clairvoyants around. However, the politicians have created an environment unfriendly to these types and they must go underground to survive. What makes Paige unique is her particular ability. She is a dreamwalker; she can leave her body and travel through the aether, where the spirits roam. She can even enter another person’s psyche, though she doesn’t if she can help it. One day, despite all her caution, she slips up and becomes the number one target of the Scion, whose job it is to hunt down rogue clairvoyants. Shortly thereafter, she learns the weird truth about her home. When she is caught, she is shipped to the ruins of the off-limits Oxford town, which is now a camp for clairvoyants who are ruled by a group of beings called Rephaim.

What will happen to her? Will her unique abilities save her? Who and what are these Rephaim? This is a book for older teens or adults. It’s in intriguing story though Paige, the narrator, needs to lighten up a bit. I’m looking forward to the sequel but dubious about how the author intends to write six more books about this story.

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Breakfast in Bed – Iced Coffee

Post by Alison Hein.

Curious how we’re all willing to spend five dollars or more for an icy cup of gourmet coffee in a specialty shop, but rarely make it for ourselves at home. It’s about the easiest thing in the world, especially if you (like me) often waste extra coffee you’ve made in the morning. Don’t do that! Any extra coffee should be cooled and put in the fridge – it can be made into a milkshake-like delight with little effort. Iced coffee makes a great alternative to hot, especially during the warm summer months.

My husband and I enjoy hazelnut-flavored coffee, which adds a sweet, nutty flavor to our iced coffee. Other flavored coffees, such as vanilla or coconut, also turn your morning drink into a smooth, sweet liquid confection. My niece Rebecca tells me there is now a Cookie Dough coffee available for purchase!

The biggest tip I can offer is to make simple syrup in advance. It takes only a few minutes, requires readily available ingredients (sugar and water), and dissolves instantly into hot or cold beverages. I keep it on hand for Iced Coffee, Iced Tea, and Lemonade, all of which can easily be brewed and served at home. Store your simple syrup in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.

So, next time you don’t feel like getting dressed in the morning and running to the local coffee shop, stay in your pajamas, make some toast or warm a croissant, pour your brewed coffee over ice into a frosty glass, and savor your smooth, sweet breakfast in bed.

Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Preparation
To make syrup, pour sugar into a small heavy saucepan. Stir in water and mix well. Place over medium-high to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn down heat, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until sauce is thickened. Set aside and allow to cool.

Makes about 1 cup of syrup.

Iced Coffee

1 cup brewed coffee, cooled
3 tablespoons half & half, or to taste
Simple syrup, to taste

Preparation
Put a few ice cubes in a tall, 8-ounce glass. Pour brewed coffee over ice. Stir in half & half and simple syrup to taste. Add a straw. Sip and enjoy.

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Bedtime Stories: Because of Winn-Dixie

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

My kid is entering first grade in the fall. I’m suddenly thinking about all the books I read to my class of first graders I supervised years ago. How can he possibly be the same age as them??? They were so big! Well, either way, like it or not, my kiddo is growing up. I don’t think I’m going to run out of books to read to him though!

I read Because of Winn-Dixie to that class of precocious first-graders and they all loved it. So when I saw it on the shelf, I knew exactly what we’d be reading together. If you haven’t read it, Winn-Dixie is just a beautiful story, told in the charming first-person of a young girl named India Opal Buloni, preacher’s daughter and newest resident of Naomi, Florida. On an errand to pick up some groceries from the Winn-Dixie store, Opal encounters a stray dog who is terrorizing the produce department. She quickly claims him as her own and brings her new dog, Winn-Dixie, home to meet the preacher.

Everything that happens that summer happens because of Winn-Dixie. If it wasn’t for him, she would never have met the kindly, nearly blind, old Gloria Dump. She would not have met Otis from the pet store whose music would hold all the animals in rapt attention. And if it weren’t for that old stray, her father might never have pulled his head out of his shell.

Kate DiCamillo manages to write a book that is disarmingly sweet in its story and tone without ever coming across as saccharine or forced. It’s a wonderful book with blessedly short chapters. I recommend it to all.

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