The Awakening by Kate Chopin

I’ve been in a feminist literature kind of mood. I’ve been trudging through Anna Karenina for a number of weeks and just finished The Awakening. I was soo angry! Also felt like there was quite a bit of hype. As an English major, getting through classics is a must. When combining my collection with my boyfriend’s, I stumbled across The Awakening. He had to read it in college. And so I picked it up and began my journey. Being a history person and having read quite a number of works written around the same time, I understood the struggles within society. Mr. Pontellier to fit in and give the allusion and live the life of proper upper class society. Making social calls, receiving, taking care of the house and children. Mrs. Pontellier runs into the issue of following these rules of society on a trip to the shore one summer. There she meets a man. They spend every moment together, and in many ways fall in un forbidden love. She also makes the acquaintance of some new friends. All making a huge impact on her outlook on life. Though this is written in a way very common and normal for the time, there just seems to be so many holes. Soo many questions left unanswered or never even asked to begin with. The ending was just so frustrating. It all seemed so dramatic. Though the novel is about a woman finding her own self, finding independence and even having an affair- the way the book ends seems to disqualify that. Almost upholds that women, especially at that time, could not handle life or independence outside of the home and marriage. It’s so hard not to give the outcome away for those who haven’t read it. My lit teacher laughed at me as I expressed my dissatisfaction “didn’t you see that coming?” “NO! It was terrible! I’m so angry!” Now that it seems I have given The Awakening by Kate Chopin a horrible review I definitely suggest reading it. It was good. Just prepare to throw the book when you’re done.

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Strawberry Cake

Semi homemade, quick, and easy- this recipe doesn’t take a rocket scientist to create! Strawberry cake with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. It’s so much easier than it sounds!

Ingredients:

1 box Strawberry cake mix
1 pint heavy whipping cream
fresh strawberries
2 tbs powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cocoa powder/flavored coffee creamer (optional flavoring)

1. Mix and make strawberry cake mix according to box directions in 2 round cake pans. Let cool completely

2. While the cakes are baking and cooling dice half of your strawberries. Remove the tops and half the rest.

3. pour COLD heavy whipping cream into bowl/mixer. Begin beating until the cream starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.

4. At this point you can personalize the flavor of the whipped cream. Add some cocoa powder, flavored coffee creamer, really anything you’d like. I LOVE adding a splash of hazelnut creamer. Something about the nutty goes so well with the sweet of the cake and strawberries.

5. Continue to beat until the mixture becomes stiff and forms peaks.

6. Once the cakes are cool, spread a layer of whipped cream. Add diced strawberries on top.
It should look something like this straw

7. Add the second cake on top. Spread the rest of the whipped cream and lay the halved strawberries on top.
You now have a fabulous semi-homemade strawberry cake! Perfect for summer and people will think you spent all day in the kitchen!
straw 2

Valentines Day Deep Dish Apple Pie

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!! Everyone associates Valentines Day with chocolate (YUM!), chocolate covered strawberries, roses- the classic works. Once in a while, you come across a person who sadly, has no taste for chocolate! I know, tragic, WHO DOESN’T LIKE CHOCOLATE!? My boyfriend. So I am forced to get a bit more creative and think wayyyy outside the normal Valentines Day box. And I came up with this. Deep dish, heart shaped apple pie. Yes, you heard me. Deep dish apple pie. Just like with the Mini Cannoli Cups, you can use store bought pie crust or the home made recipe. That recipe can be found here!

6 Apples

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp ground netmeg and cloves

3 tbs butter (the real stuff)

2 tbs flour

1. Peel, core and cut your apples.

2. In a medium-large sauce pan stir in apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, sugar, butter and flour. Because the pie is deep dish you need to pre cook the apples most of the way so you don’t end up with hard ones in the center of your pie!

3. While the apples are cooking, roll out your dough.

4. Grease and flour a heart shaped spring pan. Usually used for cheese cakes, but trust me on this. Gentle work the crust into the pan.

5. With a fork, poke holes in the bottom of the crust and put in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.

6. Once the crust is most of the way cooked, take the apples off of the stove and pour them into the spring pan.

7. With your second piece of pie crust cover the top. I had enough extra that I did a second heart piece to put on top.

8. Put back in the oven (with a cookie sheet underneath to catch potential drips) for another 15 minutes, or until the pie crust on top is golden brown.

9. Let cool a bit so that the moisture and heat don’t bust the sides of the pie out, and release from the spring pan.

You now have a deep dish, heart shaped Valentines Day pie for your non chocolate loving sweetheart!

Cheesy Chicken Bacon Potato Hash

It happens to everyone. You get home from work and have to make dinner. As you dig through the freezer you come up with a pack of chicken breasts. With a little more digging you find bacon. Looking through the pantry you pull out some potatoes. Opening the fridge you find a block of cheese and not much else. Well, this happened to me. My boyfriend hadn’t been grocery shopping in some time and there seemed to be nothing in the house but those few things. So I came up with this.

3 chicken breasts
Bacon bits or bacon BAKED and crumbled
4-6 potatoes (I like red)
2 cups of cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter COLD

1. Cook the chicken. Grill it, boil it, bake it, microwave it. Just cook it.

2. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. I threw mine in my magic bullet so it was nice and shredded.

3. Peel and cut the potatoes in relatively small pieces. The smaller the quicker they will bake. (Sometimes I boil them to speed the baking process up a bit)

4. If you are baking your bacon, place cookie cooling rack on a cooking sheet. Place bacon on cooling rack and bake at 350 until crispy. The fat drains through the cooling rack leaving crispy and “healthier” bacon. Or you can just use store bought bacon bits, the REAL ones.

5. Grate at least 2 cups of cheddar or cheese of your choice.

Now you have everything prepped! Time to put it together.

6. Combined chicken, potatoes, bacon bits/crumble and half of the cheese either in baking dish or bowl. *grease bottom of baking dish!*

7. Cover mixture with remaining cheese!

8. With a knife, cube or slice butter and drop on top of casserole.

9. Cover with foil.

If potatoes are already cooked, bake at 350 for about a half hour to melt the cheese and get all the flavors together. If potatoes are not cooked, bake at 375 for 30-45 min or until the potatoes are soft.

So next time you find empty cupboards, don’t sweat! This super easy and relatively cheap dinner is yummy and takes about an hour and 15 minutes start to eating! It can easily be made ahead of time, and just thrown in the oven when you’re ready to eat.

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“Helen Of Troy”- Margaret George

The soft winds of the sea blow in bringing the salty sweet fragrance of a warm summer day. The servants bustle around the palace as the sounds from the town flow up to the windows. Shouts of trade, friendship and feuds. As you read “Helen of Troy,” you don’t just see words, but hear, feel, taste and see the vivid blooming world of ancient times. Everyone knows the story of Troy. Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom in all of their tanned glory have helped play a role. Hollywood does a great job of selling the action, passion and sex; but Margaret George gives you the ability to build a relationship with the woman who brought the destruction of the ancient world- Helen. What I really like about the book is the progression through her life. Starting as a young child til the end. By no stretch of the imagination is any of it boring. Another very key part of the book is the mythology. The Greek gods like Zeus, Hera, and Aphrodite entwine into this mortal story. Margaret finally takes what we learn in english and history and makes it applicable to how people really lived and what they believed.

The thing that absolutely makes this book is the profound detail. The way she describes the simplest things. A wall is not just a wall. Its stones came from a nearby city, painted by delicate artists, and as the sun hits it just so, one would think that it was glowing. It’s not the turns and twists, (let’s face it everyone knows the story, there’s not much surprise) but how ‘ presented. It’s like as you’re reading, little gifts that are finely wrapped. History buffs REJOICE! For although with most historical fiction, not everything is right; George did a splendid job with being historically accurate.

“Helen of Troy” is the kind of book you can’t wait to finish, but once you do, you’re left wanting more. An easy read, with a bit of girth to it. Being the girl that I am, I enjoy the love story, having no fear that the need for action is fulfilled. Not my favorite book of all time, it’s somewhat uniform (there’s only so much to be done with a story retold thousands of times). This would be the perfect book to take to the beach, dig your toes in the sand and be transported to the Greek islands…