Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Day at the Beach

Can it already be three months since my gentleman friend and I took a few days away to La Jolla Cove, just north of San Diego? This little guy must have felt the same urge to get away from it all because he was working his way away from the ocean and up the people steps to the park. I guess a day at the beach isn't always a day at the beach if every day is a day at the beach. You followed that, right?

Variety. That's what we're looking for. Something new and different. That's what we're looking for in life and it's what readers and editors are looking for from writers.

A gentleman in a recent life story class wrote about a family car trip back in the days before automobile air conditioning. He and his siblings were packed into the back seat for what would be a hot, summer trip across several states. Okay, I knew where this was going. The young brothers in the back seat were going to fight their way across the country. But no. That's not what happened at all. It was the two adult brothers in the front who got into the fight and provided a spectacle for the kids. Ah-ha. A fresh approach. Not your usual day at the beach.

If you want to read some fresh writing, read Three Cups of Tea, a nonfiction book by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin or Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a novel by Jamie Ford. Three Cups of Tea is about Greg Mortenson, the fellow who became lost after failing to summit K2 in Pakistan and in gratitude to the village that saved him, began building schools in Pakistan and now Afghanistan. Writer David Oliver Relin did a wonderful job of describing all the rugged mountain terrain and the mountain villages and people so they all didn't blend into sameness.

Here is an excerpt: He leaned over the side of the truck . . . and saw . . .straight down fifteen hundred feet to the bottom of a rocky gorge, where a coffee-colored river foamed over boulders. He looked up and saw they were hemmed in hard by granite walls that rose ten thousand feet on both sides of the river. . .Mortenson, . . .could see the truck's rear tires rolling a foot from the edge of the gorge, spitting stones out into the abyss . . .

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a first novel by Jamie Ford, is about the internment of Seattle's Japanese families during World War II. Here the families are being taken away: Trunks, bags, and suitcases stacked almost as high as the roofs of the silvery buses that rolled by. Families were arguing about how much or how little they were allowed to bring. The excess found its way to the top of the ever-growing heap. Next to the mound was a truckload of confiscated radios. Giant Philco consoles and small Zenith portables with bent wave-magnet antennas were piled up in the back like discarded shoes.

Not your same old day at the beach -- or walk in the park -- or any other cliche.

And the little guy on the steps at the beach -- lifeguards blocked off the steps to protect him from the human animals. Animal rescue came and took him away to rejoin his kin -- back to the same old routine he had been trying to escape.

Here is a recipe that is not routine. It is from an ad for this year's Southern Living Christmas Cookbook. Yes, there is chocolate in it. Even though this is from a Christmas cookbook, I think it would be great for summer. Sounds cool and yummy. Why not skip all that mixing and just substitute ice cream?

Turtle Trifle makes 10 servings

8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened -- or 1 (8-oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 (2-lb.) frozen pecan pie, thawed and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/3 cup chocolate fudge topping

1/3 cup caramel topping

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Beat mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, and vanilla extract in a large bowl at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and firm. (Oh blah, blah. I think an electric hand mixer would work just fine.)

2. Place half of pie cubes in bottom of a 4-qt. trifle dish or any pretty clear glass bowl. Spread half of whipped cream mixture over pie cubes. Drizzle with half each of chocolate fudge topping and caramel topping. Sprinkle with half of chopped pecans. Repeat layers.

3. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Eat this while close to a chair, sofa or bed as I think it is likely to render one unconscious.

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copyright2009Carol Newman