Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Book Review: They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz

In They Say We Are Infidels Mindy Belz goes into an in-depth explanation of the politics and people of the Middle East, focusing on the persecution of Christians by ISIS. Belz meets and becomes personally involved with different individuals in order to best tell their stories from their view. One such individual is Insaf Safou who Belz helps smuggle money to her friends and relatives in Iraq sent by exiled Christian Iraqis living in Canada. Belz tells this story and many like it, of people trying to liberate kidnapped Christians, of people trying to build a "normal" life amidst the chaos and persecution.

Belz does a wonderful job of providing a background and context for the events being covered in today's media. They Say We are Infidels  is thoroughly researched and well written. I find it a very necessary book to help those who want to go deeper than your standard news article about the middle east. That being said, I wish there were more personal stories or perhaps a more personable writing style. Belz is a journalist at heart and the book is very journalistic. I feel like I would have retained more if the book read a little more like an novel than a term paper. Overall, I found Belz's book to be very educational but not easy for the average Joe to understand,

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Book Review: A Lesson in Hope by Philip Gulley

A Lesson in Hope is the the story of Sam, the new pastor of Hope Friends Meeting. Sam must quickly put his pastor-ing skills to work when the oldest member of the church passes away and leaves her one million dollar estate to the church. The church is quickly divided over the best way to deal with the property and how to spend the money. But that's only the beginning of their problems as a "long lost" relative shows up with a lawsuit challenging the will. All of this on top of Sam trying to deal with various family dramas including: his son dating the daughter of a "rival" minister and his eccentric, retired, parents deciding to move nearby and have him help with the "fix" part of their new"fixer upper".

I really enjoyed the story and the premise of A Lesson in Hope but I felt hard to really be immersed in the story. I felt like the characters were hard to relate to- like they were paper dolls being moved across a scene. Overall, I felt that the story was sweet  but I didn't connect to it in the way that I thought I would.

*I was given a complimentary  copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Korea Eats

I may have mentioned that the hubster and I spent a little  time in South Korea. One of the things we miss is the food...especially the Korean barbecue.

So, when I was offered the chance* to check out Koreatown by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard I jumped at the chance. The hubster was pretty excited too as he liked Korean food a lot more than me because a lot of it was spicy!

I tried quite a few recipes out of this book. One the first night I made bulgogi, bok choy kimchi, sigeumchi muchim (soy and seasame spinach) and Kongnamul muchim (crunchy seasame bean sprouts).

The bulgogi was the best part of the meal that night. Although it didn't taste quite like bulgogi it was still very flavorful and delicious.

 I asked my husband what he thought and he gave me his verdict with his thumb-o-meter:

The bulgogi:

The bok choy kimchi:

The kimchi looked so good and he was sooo excited for it but it tasted like a long dead fish. I used less fish sauce than the recipe called for because I knew we both aren't fans of it and it still came out too fishy. He said the spiciness was dead on but he couldn't get past the fish flavor. Neither could I, so the whole jar went straight into the trash!

The second night I made bibimbap:

I thought the bibimbap was a good way to use up the spinach and bean sprouts that weren't especially good on their own and the bibimbap sauce turned out really well too. Mike enjoyed his but didn't agree with my verdict that it was better than any bibimbap I ate in Korea. I said that mainly because there are a few "veggies" thrown in that I usually didn't like and a lot of times bibimbap is served lukewarm and I really hate eating lukewarm food. Give it to me hot. Give it to me cold. Or don't give it to me! :)

The bibimbap verdict:

The overall Koreatown experience?

I think that this cookbook makes Korean food accessible to the masses. It tells you were to find items that aren't traditionally found in a Western grocery store. There are a lot of pictures, which I liked. I also liked all of the stories and side notes. I feel like I will make more recipes out of this book as I found a good many that I want to try. 

There's also a "fusion" section with recipes like Korean sloppy joes or a shrimp and grits style pajeon.

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.