Strahbary's Fields

A California Girl's Place for all things Geek Chic

Top Ten Books I have Read so Far this Year June 24, 2013

Filed under: Top Ten Tuesdays — dianatierney3 @ 11:34 pm



Can you believe it? We are already 6 months into the year. It’s seems like only yesterday that I was enjoying New Years Eve.  So from the #10 down to #1 favorite of the year here are my favorites so far.

10. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle  I enjoyed the overall message of the book. It’s also helped push me in a more sustainable food direction. You can see my review here.

9. Over my Dead Body. These books are my guilty pleasure. They are fun and fast read. It had been a while since I had visited Broken Heart Kansas, I’m glad I did.

8.  Red Shirts. This one was a surprise. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It sucks you in and a must read for any science fiction fan out there.

7. Austenland. A quick and entertaining read. You can find my full review here.

6. The King Maker’s Daughter.  A plot twisting historical fiction with a fresh view on the cousin’s war.

5.  Dragon Fly in Amber. The third book in the Outlander series, need I say more?

4.  Eating Animals. The books pulls back the curtain on the animal farming practices in the United States and simply asks us why we eat the way we do.

3.  River of No Return. A fresh and novel take on the time travel troupe. I loved the story and am anxiously awaiting the sequel.

2. The Witch of Little Italy. Check out my full review here.

And drum roll please…. My favorite book for 2013: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Here is my full review, but the reason why this book gets the top honors is that it is truly a book written for book lovers and caused me to have a total disregard for my alarm clock the next morning.

There are two books though that I feel should get honorable mentions:

Breakfast at Tiffany’s because I finished it December 30, 2012. I have always been a huge fan of the movie, but it wasn’t until this past December that I was able to actually read it. I loved the way Truman Capote describes things and Holly…definitely more trouble in the book.

The Kitchen Daughter. This was just a charming little book. It’s the story of an Autistic women who loves to cook but soon finds that she is able to bring back people’s ghosts when she makes their recipes. I finished the book in December but discussed it for my Slow Food chapter’s book club in January. So it feels like it should be one of my 2013 books.

Interested in playing along? Post a link of The Broke and the Bookish in your post, then go ahead and post one on their page.


Why Canning?? June 23, 2013

Filed under: Adventures in Diana's Kitchen — dianatierney3 @ 11:55 pm

strawberry jam

When I was a little girl my great grandfather used to make the most awesome pickles. We’re talking turn your mouth inside out sour. These were true dill pickles that can never be found in a store. When he died my mother and I hung on to the pickles as long as we could. When my mother and I finally opened them, I remember savoring every single bite. I don’t know what was better, the pickles or the memories they brought about.

Canning for much of the American history was not only a way of life but was necessary for survival. The process of canning dates as far back as the 18th century when Napoleon held a contest to see if someone could develop a method of keeping food last longer for his soldiers.

I don’t need canned goods, thankfully, to survive the winter. However, eating sustainably means eating in season and not wasting food. So what’s a girl to do when she wants strawberries in the middle of winter?

As someone said at the food swap yesterday, canning is a lost art. What people think of when they think of canning is this labor intensive process or a tin can full of preservatives at the grocery store. And that’s really not the case. It’s actually quite easy and fun. More importantly canning is sending a bottle of home to your loved one in a war zone. It’s giggling with your sister over a bowl of tomatoes that you are peeling.

Home canning isn’t as hard as it may seem. A day’s worth of work can keep a season’s produce for a rainy day. Likewise, the jars are colorful little touches of love to the plate.

I would leave you with my favorite recipe, but honestly, I love them all. Even the Orange and Grapefruit Marmalades that have taken me a year to master and require the same amount of attention as an unruly child.

However, I will recommend some wonderful books that have become my canning bibles:

Put Em Up Fruit! by Sherri Brooks Vinton

Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry by Lisa Krissoff


My Very First Food Swap!

Filed under: Adventures in Diana's Kitchen — dianatierney3 @ 3:24 pm
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central oc food swap


Today I was introduced to a lovely concept called a food swap. Food Swaps are wonderful events of people networking and trading goods with each other. There is apparently a whole bunch around southern California. It was great to be able to swap out some of my canned goods for items that I don’t grow or can’t make.My table

This is my table of goodies, I brought with me an assortment of jams, jellies, chutneys and some tangelos I got from my parent’s tree. For the jams and jellies I brought rosemary, wine and earl grey tea jelly; peach chutney, Tomato basil jam and some marmalade. I was a bit surprised at how fast my savory jams went. The rosemary and tomato basil were the first to go.


my loot

And this is what I got in return! I made out like a bandit. In this picture you see 2 different types of hummus, zucchini relish (technically I got 3, only one is shown), rosemary, zucchini, salsa, flan, pickles, homemade yogurt with dates and caramel, a ton of apricots and some backyard eggs that I plan on coveting for the delicious jewels they are.

In addition to all of the wonderful goodies I met some wonderful people. I got to talk about the Doctor with a fellow whovian, discuss renfairs with a fellow renny and enjoy some lovely conversation with the head of Rainbow Farm. Such a lovely time with old and new friends.
The plan is to have these swaps every 6 to 8 weeks. The best thing to do would be to follow the Central OC Food Swap on Facebook for updates. Even if you don’t can or don’t have a garden, bake some cookies or other fresh goodies to trade. It is a wonderful time full of food and community.


Well now I have to go make some apricot jam with my new load of apricots.


Wishlist Wednesday #15 June 18, 2013

Olive Oil Doxie

From Goodreads:

Life is so unfair, and it sends many things to try Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs and pillar of the Institute of Romance Philology in the proud Bavarian city of Regensburg. There is the undeserved rise of his rival (and owner of a one-legged dachshund), Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer; the interminable ramblings of the librarian, Herr Huber; and the condescension of his colleagues with regard to his unmarried state. But when his friend Ophelia Prinzel takes it upon herself to match-make, and duly produces a cheerful heiress with her own Schloss, it appears that the professor’s true worth is about to be recognized .Maddening, idiotic and hugely entertaining, von Igelfeld is an inspired comic creation.

Why I want to read this:
The cover really just says it all: a one legged wiener dog and olive oil. What more could an Italian wiener dog owning book lover want? This book just sounds whimsical and fun. Just what’s needed for a fun summer escape.

Want to play along? Post your Wishlist Wednesday, add a link to the Pen to Paper Blog. Then go on their website and add a link to your blog. It’s just that simple!


Top Ten Books on my Summer to-read list June 17, 2013

Filed under: Top Ten Tuesdays — dianatierney3 @ 10:34 pm



Summer is a great time for reading. Sitting out in the garden with an iced tea, it’s the perfect way to pass away the time on a lazy summer day. These are the books I plan on reading this summer.

  1. The Shinning Girls. It was featured as a Wishlist Wednesday topic; I finally picked it up at the bookstore the other day. A time traveling murder mystery is the perfect way to start off a summer if I do say so myself.
  2. Slow Food a Case for Taste. I figure it’s time for me to read at least one book written by the man that founded the organization that I am so involved in.
  3. Tomorrow there will be Apricots. This story about love, acceptance and the food that helps to bring that about.
  4. Body and Bread. Family histories unearthed on an old farm in east Texas. A fantastic read for the summer.
  5. Unusual Uses for Olive Oil this quirky book of misadventures and one legged wiener dogs is perfect for the summer.
  6. Garden Spells. A story of family relationships set around a garden is perfect for when I am reading in my little corner in my garden.
  7. Gorgeous. A reverse beauty and the beast with a girl from the south seeking out her possible fairytale life is perfect for a hot summer day.
  8. The Forgotten Garden Fairytales, a secret garden and a mystery. What more could I want?
  9. The House Girl. The story of Josephine Bell, a runaway slave in 1893 and Lina Sparrow a lawyer in 2004 worlds collide when Lina finds out that Josephine may be the actual artist behind a series of famous paintings that her slave master took credit for.
  10. The Weird Sisters. The three Weird Sisters grew up with a dad obsessed with Shakespeare (Something I can most certainly relate to), when grown up they must come back to their childhood home to take care of him and learn how to get along.

So kids, this is how I plan to spend my summer vacation. By the looks of it I will be in good company.

Interested in playing along? Post a link of The Broke and the Bookish in your post, then go ahead and post one on their page.


Book Review: The Witch of Little Italy June 16, 2013

Filed under: Book Reviews — dianatierney3 @ 11:57 pm
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Witch of Little Italy

TITLE/AUTHOR: The Witch of Little Italy/ Suzanne Palmieri

GENRE: Fiction

Last Thursday I was killing some time before an appointment and was of course spending it wandering around my local Barnes and Noble just browsing for a hidden treasure. I was taking the escalator back down to the first floor and I saw this beautiful book just sitting on the table. I couldn’t help but immediately picking it up to read more about it.

When Eleanor finds herself pregnant and alone she turns to the only family she has left, her grandmother and great aunts. The only problem is that she has no memory of them. In fact she has no memory of her childhood from before the age of ten. This includes her grandmother, aunts and Anthony her childhood love.

When Eleanor gets to her grandmother’s home, she starts to remember and in these memories she starts to unravel her family secrets. Secrets that will change her life forever. She also finds that she has the Amore women’s gift of the sight and is able to tell the future.

I loved this book. From the very beginning it felt like I was reading a modern fairytale. The characters were all just real. I could easily picture Mimi, Itsy or Fee sitting around my family’s kitchen table telling stories. They are loveable and flawed and simply perfect.

Thought the magical powers play a role in the story, it’s more of a plot device to keep the story progressing forward. The intrigue as to why Eleanor can’t remember, how the Amore family lost the bulk of its family members in one day and how Eleanor will grow into her own woman carries far more weight in the overall arc of the story.

It’s a quick and easy read perfect for summer. It’s filled with mystery, love, suspense and just really everything I love for a summer read.


Book Review: Austenland

Filed under: Book Reviews — dianatierney3 @ 11:55 pm
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TITLE/AUTHOR: Austenland by Shannon Hale

GENRE: Fiction


To say that Jane Hayes is obsessed with Jane Austen is an understatement.  Pride and Prejudice is her dirty little secret that is hidden behind the plant in her hall because she is too afraid that someone will find out that she is truly in love with Mr. Darcy and there isn’t a real man that can measure up.

When her aunt dies Jane is left a three week trip to England to live like she is in the midst of a Jane Austen novel. The ultimate cosplay if I do say so myself. In this world she has to learn about herself and if a Jane Austen like life is what she truly want.

This book is a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. So often with books or movies it’s easy to let ourselves be carried away in the romance of it. Or the fact that every “Mr. Darcy” is painted as the perfect man. When the reality is (as my husband says), there is no such thing as prince charming, there are only idiots in tin foil. My husband claiming to be one of those tin foiled idiots. This book does an excellent job letting women in general see the dangers of idealizing the perfect fictional man, we end up settling for someone far subpar.

This book is just a sweet breath of fresh air and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the romance genre.