Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club. Her father's "Bunny Rabbit." A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.
Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: 
A knockout figure. A sharp tongue. A chip on her shoulder. And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston. 
Frankie Landau Banks:
No longer the kind of girl to take no for an answer. Especially when "no" means she's excluded from her boyfriends all-male secret society. Not when her ex-boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places. Not when she knows she's smarter than any of them. When she knows Matthew is lying to her. And when there are so many, many pranks to be done 
Frankie Landau Banks at age 16: 
Possibly a criminal mastermind.  
Let me start off by saying that I love this novel I especially loved it the first time that I read it. E. Lockhart truly has a gift for making me feel so connected to the characters and stories. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is told from the perspective of Frankie, a new student at an elite boarding school. This novel may seem like just another average boarding school novel, but don't be fooled by this first impression, Frankie is a spunky and lovable character. She's the type of girl that I always looked up to because she's cool, but she's also wickedly smart and has a little bit of an edge. When she finds herself attending the same boarding school that her father had attended years earlier she makes it a goal of hers to sniff out the all male secret society that she had heard rumors of as a kid. 
This novel is filled with some of the cliches of boarding school, but they're offset by Frankie. Frankie is such a brilliant character. We see her at the start heading into high school and we se the transformation that she makes. E. Lockhart says it best by describing her as "no longer the kind of girl to take no for an answer" because Frankie is determined and she lets us follow along on her path to manipulating and outwitting this super secret society. All in all, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is fast- paced and a must read, I read it for the first time in middle school and now a few years later I still love it. It puts me in a good mood and it has such a great mystery element to it that you'll want to read it in one sitting.
4 Cupcakes! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Flour by JoAnne Chang

JoAnne Chang’s new cookbook Flour titled after her renowned bakery in Boston is by far one of the best, most reliable books I’ve ever used. I received it as a Christmas present last year from my mom, who knows how much I love to bake. The recipes are all challenging and time consuming, but so worth it. Chang uses techniques that I had never tried before and I have learned so much through working with her recipes.
I started out with her recipes and as I began to read them I realized how she does two major things differently from most other cookbooks I’ve used one being, she weighs everything instead of using volume and two, almost every recipe has a waiting period before it’s baked. These two things add a noticeable improvement to the flavors and textures of the cookies, cakes, and pastries. Weighing makes a very big difference to the texture because especially with flour, which is often a main ingredient, it is important to weigh because it allows you to more accurately measure. Volume, on the other hand, is more temperamental and can easily be thrown off resulting in a less than perfect measurement.
When I first paged through the book last Christmas after receiving it as a gift my first thought was that all of the recipes seemed really time consuming and complicated. I must say I was wrong, well mostly wrong. The recipes are so decadent and probably the best things that I have ever made. Granted they aren't without their work, but they are so easy to prepare ahead of time and then bake fresh the day they're needed. Chang talks about having a freezer filled with dough for breads and pastries and I don't blame her because it is so easy and it allows you to wake up in the morning and say 'hmm I could really go for some homemade poptarts right now', which by the way are absolutely divine! The recipes all need some time to sit to let the flavors come together, I must say you really can taste the difference when you wait for the dough or batter to sit and allow the flavors to meet and become more vibrant. Some planning is involved for sure with this baking and I would recommend reading through the whole recipe as always before starting so that you aren't thrown off if your dough has to rise for 2 hours or your scones need to be refrigerated before baking.
Overall I cannot speak highly enough of JoAnne Chang's Flour it is my new favorite baking book and it is tried, true and absolutely trustworthy!
5 Cupcakes!
Buy Flour by JoAnne Chang on Amazon