Jane Eyre (Novel & Movie)

I had never once thought of picking up Bronte’s Jane Eyre until I saw the preview for the latest film adaptation. Curiosity drove me to pick up the novel. (Not to mention my preference for having read the book before seeing the movie.)

Bronte’s tale of love and loyalty is epic to say the least. Jane has such a strong will that she imposes on all of her thoughts. But this will keeps her from her dreams and happiness. Her fire for freedom, love, and life  burns hot. And this is where I want to just give Jane a swift kick in the rear! Bronte’s use of Jane as the narrator with her inner thoughts let the reader see just how much Jane refuses to let herself live. Don’t get me wrong – there are many times when this rigid self-respect is warranted, but Jane is so quick to shut the door to her freedom and love. She lets her guard down in loving Rochester. But her lack of understanding his love, instead pitying him, is where I just want to impart some sense to her. There is where Bronte grabs the reader. We can not help but feel for Jane and Rochester. We equally want both to be strong and live together. Where Bronte falls flat is with the ending. The extended look at Jane and Rochester’s life together may satisfy the immediate gratification of the reader to know what happens; however, this ending falls flat for Jane’s character. She seems to lay down so easily to this life with no introspection into her thoughts, as the rest of the book gives. And the last line leaves the reader thinking of St. John. Who cares?

Now, the movie was equally as satisfying. This newest adaptation does leave a lot out and the developing love story is rushed. But this is where I will disagree with some critics who hold these small flaws against the director. Yes, a lot is

left out. But how much can you pack into a 2 hr film? All of the necessary scenes are there. There is less of Bertha – but I’m okay with that. I get her role – there is not need to dwell on her. The love story is developed really quickly. This is insignificant when you see Jane and Rochester on the screen. The scene in Rochester’s bedroom after Jane has saved his life speaks loud and clear about their developing love. No words are necessary – no extra conversations are necessary between the two. The acting is impeccable! It took my breath away.

If there was one scene I wished was included into this film – it would be the gypsy fortune lady scene. To see Rochester fool his guest but not get past Jane would add humor but perhaps that extra element to the love story some viewers crave.

I am so glad that I tackled this novel and was able to see the film. A moving love story and a chill-bump inducing film. I highly recommend both.


Porkapalooza!

Okay. This blog is not about what I cooked, baked, made. But it is about one hell of a food experience!

A local restaurant held a pork dinner with New Holland Brews. AMAZING! Simply Amazing.

The dinner starts with a  “welcoming” beer -a belgium style beer. Not a type of beer I usually enjoy, but due to its light flavor, it was quite enjoyable. Then after introductions, the chef gets down to business. He uncovers a fresh pig and proceeds to show us how to butcher and use the meat in dishes. Gotta say – for a girl who usually doesn’t eat meat off the bone – it was quite fascinating. The demonstrations did not seem at all out of place.

The first course was probably the best meal of the night. A very simple arugula salad with pork belly. I am typically not a fan of pork belly. Thankfully, this dish has shown me the light. Too good, too good. Words do not do justice for this dish 😦 Can’t even remember the beer that it was paired with.

The second course was a pork cheek ragu with sea bass. Very yummy and creamy. Paired with a wonderful honey beer.

The third course was a pork loin with southern chow-chow and duck fat potatoes. Also yummy, though this dish showed me how much more flavor is in those lesser desired pieces of meat.

The fourth and finally course – I’m pretty full by now- is dessert. A caramel apple donut sprinkled with bacon and chocolate mouse. Probably the least favorite dish of the night. The donut was a bit bready rather than light and fluffy. And the mouse was just simply too much for the whole meal. An apple fritter with bacon or an apply tart with bacon would have been a better finish.

Overall, a wonderfully sinful meal. Great beer. Great conversation. Great food. Everything to be thankful for and nothing to complain about.

This has inspired my husband and I to have our own Porkapalooza – mmm…


St. Patrick’s Day Dessert

Who doesn’t love chocolate and liquor?

My husband always makes a home-brew for St. Patty’s day. So I decided to contribute this year and make an Irish inspired dessert.

Here’s the nitty-gritty:

Step 1: I went with a dark chocolate brownie that usually comes out pretty dense. I wanted to soak the brownie with Bailey’s Irish Cream. So to lighten the batter a bit, I added a teaspoon of baking power. I also added an extra egg, whipping the whites-folding them in. I have to say – I was pretty proud of whisking those egg whites. Not an everyday occurrence for me! Brownies

Step 2: After baking and cooling the brownies, I liberally poured Bailey’s Irish Cream over a fork stabbed brownie. Then I covered it and let sit until the party.

Adding Baileys

Step 3: At the party, I mixed together confectionary sugar, Irish butter (oh, yes, a must!), and some more Bailey’s Irish Cream. Actually, quite a bit of Bailey’s. It came out more like a glaze than a frosting. Not a problem.

Everyone loved the dish – seconds were called for 🙂 Which made me happy. This is one dessert that goes perfectly with a morning cup of coffee.


Love

One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash

In Love.

Those two words sum up my entire review of Rash’s novel.

I had read Rash’s The World Made Straight a few years ago and found it enjoyable. One Foot in Eden surpasses that novel. Rash’s writing style – simplistic, yet poetic. I was immediatly sucked into the story and the lives of the characters. Each character’s narration manages to seem so real, so believable. But those narrations still embody each character’s personality and perspective. The reader ends up whole heartedly understanding the motivation and emotions of each narrator – and ends up sympathizing with each. They become people you would swear you grew up with – knowing how and why they tick.

The story itself is one all centered around love. Love for family, love for history, love for peace, love for forgiveness. Love drives the characters to their decisions and actions- however miniscule or drastic. A beautiful story told with just enough hidden, just enough revealed. Add a bit of the gothic setting and this is one hell of a novel.

A short read – but powerful. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, then you are missing out.


A Sobering Story

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

This novel claims to linger in your mind and promises that the way the story is told is where the magic lies. And it does present a sobering and heart wrenching story. Cleave weaves the two narratives seamlessly together. This construction of the story is where the magic lies. The ending however is just a fizzle of the fire that was. With such in-depth views of the two main characters, the ending with its lack of insight and perspective is dissapointing and uncharacteristic.

I do not regret picking up this novel. Cleave opens the door to an issue that has not made main stream news and deserves to be acknowledges and thought about. I kept turning the pages and enjoyed the book – but did not love it.