Page Turner | Quiche with a Side of Tomato Aspic

Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading. Lena Dunham

Ding. A new year. A new list of completed reads (click the above link for the books I read in 2019). Is there a better resolution for the yellow brick road than to take your privilege of reading and explore your affections and perhaps, even, challenge your dated understanding of stuff?

As I make notes of the books I want to read in 2020, I bow to my mother figure for the proper introduction to the life skill of reading. It has boosted my zest for life.

She must have known that the future would require new skills, new horizons. She must have intuited that it might be a challenge to keep the mind open and the heart supple. She must have grasped that inspiration would require a jet start from time to time.

Or she must have had a push from my grandparents.

This year I read much more non-fiction than usual and it helped me out. Keeping a Goodreads list (above link) is a handy way to make sure that one’s selections are broadened.

At this point in the long and winding road, I have also recognized that a regular choice of non-fiction has the super power to sustain decent decision-making. Your annual reading list can offer new ideas along side historic retellings to widen your understanding.

Years under my belt have revealed decision-making has the power of untold consequences. These days my forks in the road are rarely considered unconsciously. They benefit from a reading rainbow.

With that I’ve found myself thinking about the notion of critical thinking ( i.e. the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment). This was not something that was demonstrated regularly at any level of my education and though I did take the institutional path as far as was possible, I don’t remember one example of unbiased choices sanely presented and reviewed.

Gratefully I had plenty of characters in my family lineup who, if the majority looked like a herd of sheep, would take the alternate view point for the sake of balance. Those outliers were then whispered to be argumentative, but nevertheless they gave us all pause, a reset to deliberate with ourselves.

They prompted me to reconsider: do we have the facts and enough emotional composure to treat our decision-making with respect?

So I read all about it – critical thinking, that is. And more to the point, how reading can help us out. Someone mentioned the RED model. RED represents the steps taken while making a decision via critical thinking. I love it!

You must: 1. Recognize assumptions 2. Evaluate arguments and 3. Draw conclusions. How is this done? Lots of reading, of course, and perhaps afterwards, a hit of intuition. But what a time to be alive; we are availed to the majesty of unlimited research materials!

James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that “humans do need a reasonably accurate view of the world to survive.” He explains, “humans are herd animals” because we search for a tribe and seek to fulfill the “approval of our peers”. So sadly limiting to realize that where we stand with the tribe is more important than the truth of a particular fact.

Clear enlightens: “convincing some to change their mind is really the process of changing their tribe”. And he says – “books resolve this tension.” Ding.

“With a book, the conversation takes place inside someone’s head and without the risk of being judged by others. It’s easier to be open-minded when you aren’t feeling defensive,” he says. When debating an issue it’s like “a full frontal attach on a person’s identity” and reading, well, reading a book is like planting a seed for a new idea and allowing it to grow as it might.

Luckily we don’t have to go it alone when creating our personal and much needed reading list for the books we might require to expand. Goodreads is but a key stoke away. (Click link above to discover how) Also your local public library is a giving machine, an embarrassment of riches at any age.

As Dalton stated once to the fam after a trip to Lemuria, our favorite bookstore: “Is there anything better than a bag of books?” We all still feel the truthful thrill of his statement.

Five thousand books are said to be written each day. They offer a hand up on any and all subjects. Educate yourself for a happy new year. Ding. Ding.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche and Griff’s Tomato Aspic

This was an essential meal that my mother loved to have on hand. The memory holds that a slice of each of these dishes, which keep for a few days in the refrigerator, accompanied her for lunch when she settled into her big comfy chair with a book.

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

1/4 cup margarine
2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup minced onions
5 cups fresh packed baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 deep dish ready-made pie crust
2/3 cup garlic and herb feta cheese
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pie crust according to package instructions.
Melt margarine in a large skillet.
Add onion, mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for around 2 minutes on medium heat.
Add spinach and continue cooking until spinach begins to cook and shrink down, around 3 minutes.
Add feta cheese and thoroughly combine.
Remove from heat and add to bottom of prepared pie crust.
Prepare egg mixture: Beat eggs with fork, add milk and beat until combined. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper and beat until combined.
Pour egg mixture over spinach in prepared pie crust.
Line edges of pie crust with foil to prevent burning toward the end.
Bake for around 35 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees until center is firm.
Remove from oven and sprinkle top with cheddar cheese around 10 minutes prior to completion.
Let quiche cool for around 10 minutes before serving so it has time to thicken.

Griff’s Tomato Aspic

1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 3 ounce packages lemon gelatin
1/2 cups chili sauce
2 cups tomato juice
1 teaspoon soy substitute, if desired
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1/4 cup artichokes hearts, chopped

Dissolve both packages of gelatin into boiling water.
Add chili sauce and tomato juice and stir to blend
Pour into a 9 x 9 pan.
Congeal in refrigerator until thickened but not set.
Remove from refrigerator and swirl in the olives and artichokes until spread inside the mixture evenly.
Place back into refrigerator until set.
Remove and cut into squares for serving. A crisp piece of fresh lettuce is a beautiful anchor for the red squares.