Tag Archives: food

Thanksgiving was … different

Not the food. Eating at Café Parizade’s big vegan banquet, we found it delicious, as always. Here’s one of my dessert plates. Why yes, we did eat a lot. And enjoyed every mouthful. And they have some neat little figures outside the restaurant too.

But it was the first time in god knows how long that I’d had a day where I didn’t feel the need to do anything. It was a holiday. We didn’t have any errands to run Thanksgiving morning, nowhere to be until lunch, so I just lay around, read, petted dogs, took a walk … it felt fantastic. Even when I’m not writing, I structure (and sometimes overstructure) my time; when I give myself a day off from work, I usually use it to clean or something.

I think I need more days like yesterday. I’ll have Christmas and New Year’s Day, but I definitely need to find space for more truly lazy days in the coming year.

As for the rest of the week, it went fairly well. I got started on the next draft of Sexist Myths, did several Leaf articles and got a couple of thousand worlds on Oh the Places You’ll Go. I also sent in a revised proposal for Space Invaders to McFarland to see if they like it better (it’s tweaked to their specifications, so maybe). I submitted two short stories. And I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to accomplish next year.

Oh, and once again I had to work my schedule around contractor visits due to a plumbing problem. Not as disastrous or expensive as I’d feared though. But Plushie was exceptionally discomfited at having to be caged in with me so he couldn’t interfere with the work.

And here we are at December. Fingers crossed, I will wrap up the year with a productive bang.

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Would you like some cheese with that wine?

I have to drink red wine to boost my good cholesterol. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but I do like some of the labels:

Names too. What’s not to love about calling your vintage Banshee wine (though I don’t see where that bird image represents a banshee at all) or, like Gnarly Head (totally!)?

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My goodness, this looks good. And it was, too.

So last weekend I got out 100 Great Breads and made an English recipe called farl bread, or bottom bread (because it’s made on the bottom shelf of the oven). It’s a simple white bread recipe with the top slashed so that as it rises, you get deep cuts in the loaf.

I think it came out looking good, yes?

I’m pleasantly surprised by the results. I bake a lot of breads that have some sort of slash on the top (irish soda bread traditionally gets a cross), but they rarely shape up this well in baking. I don’t know if it’s the recipe, or the solidity (it was a very firm dough) or just random chance, but I’m quite pleased with myself. Tastes good too; just a basic white bread, but the texture is distinctive.

I shall make another bread with slashes soon; if I’m actually getting better, I should be able to do it again, right? Wish me luck.

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A cute photo of a puppy, then my week in review.

Here’s the puppy, a corgi I met at Petco last weekend:

Now, the week. It’s part of a two week stretch with no Leaf to write, and it went well, despite the dental visit Tuesday and some extra dog-walking.

I submitted three stories to various markets.

I found an artist (my friend Samantha Collins) for the cover of my soon-to-be-self-published Questionable Minds.

I heavily reworked Chapter Three and Four in Sexist Myths (I’m also considering Lies That Sexists Tell as an alternative title), lumping “Feminists hate men” and “feminists won’t let men be chivalrous heroes” into one chapter (the latter was my original chapter four) and other “feminists destroy society/families/the government” in another. I think it works. However Chapter Four (feminists destroying stuff) needs a lot more information and examples than I’ve provided so far. Doable, but it’ll take work.

I didn’t get as much fiction done as I’d hoped, but I got quite a bit. I reworked The Schloss and the Switchblade yet again before submitting it to a movie-themed anthology. I did another draft of Death is Like a Box of Chocolates and it’s really showing some improvement now. And I finally took a second look at one of my older stories, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. When I read it for the writers’ group, the reactions were that I needed to explore the concept (people being able to time travel via antique maps) more and give it a stronger plot. They were good criticisms though I didn’t want to give up the core of the original short story, which was the family dynamic. After giving it some thought yesterday while the dogs were in day care (as I’ve mentioned before, having dogs on my lap is too distracting to just think or outline or brainstorm), I came up with a tentative outline, some ideas about the “traveling” community and various ideas to give it more plot. I don’t know how long this revised version will be (several people said I should make it a novel, but I don’t know if that’s the right length) but I’ll let the story play out and see.

Overall nothing earthshaking, and nothing actually finished (sigh), but a week to be pleased with nonetheless.

To wrap up, here’s a blackberry goat cheese tart that I made last week. Very tasty.

#SFWApro. Images are mine

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

No, that isn’t blood clots in my freezer

It’s tomato paste.

I never use up all the paste before it goes bad. Searching for a solution online I found a recommendation I freeze the paste in one-tablespoon blobs. That way I know exactly how much I have. After bringing it up on FB, several friends of mine said they’ve tried it and it works.

That may have been my big accomplishment for the week.

The sad collapse of my work schedule began around 12:30 Sunday morning when Trixie fidgeted to go out. She didn’t need to relieve herself, she just though it would be fun, but I had no way to know until after we got outside. I wasn’t able to get back to sleep so I was zonked most of the day.

On top of which, in the morning Trixie developed a major tummy upset. No puking, she just became very restless, refusing to sit still for more than a second, frequently hiding under chairs in hopes whatever was hurting her would go away. This was, of course, a major distraction, plus we had the inevitable vet visit (some painkillers, some stomach soothers and she was fine). So my Sunday work was shot to heck.

Monday morning TYG asked me to walk the dogs, which took another chunk of time, and I wasn’t able to get back on-focus afterwards. Wednesday I had a dental cleaning and checkup (teeth doing great, thanks). And Thursday I took one of my work days off. Just too many little tasks piling up and distracting me (paperwork, trip planning, contractors) that needed to be dealt with. Plus some extra cleaning. And quite simply needing a break. My mind was really balking at work Monday – Wednesday (and even before that) which is a sure sign I need a change of pace and a day to relax. And while I do not find cleaning fun, doing it without having to squeeze it into my schedule was strangely calming. Plus I watched a DVD and did some schedule planning for the rest of the year.

So not much actual writing done. Some Leaf, a little on Undead Sexist Cliches. But I don’t feel bad about it, and I think I’ll be back in top form next week.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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So recently I made a sandwich, but I didn’t photograph it

Because while it was tasty, a sandwich on a baguette just looks like every other sandwich on a baguette (the photograph below is from Wikimedia). But it got me thinking about the way I change recipes when I cook.

I found this one in an issue of Vegetarian Times. It looked tasty but it included three ingredients I hate: olive tapenade, eggplant and green beans (okay, I don’t hate them, but I’m kind of “meh” on them). So I substituted, respectively, mango chutney, portobello and peas (the vinegar-based marinade, garlic powder, hard-boiled eggs and red peppers in the recipe stayed the same). Obviously the taste was very different than the original concept, but it was still tasty. And I liked it a lot, as did TYG.

Mushroom for eggplant is a standard change in my cooking. So is swapping either peas or some sort of bean for corn, because I loathe corn. As TYG hates yogurt, I find substitutes for that, too, which is trickier; if it’s just a topping rather than a sauce, I’ll use goat cheese, which we both like.

The thing is I don’t need to do any of that. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a lot of cookbooks. There’s more than enough recipes with no “problem” ingredients that I could save myself any efforts to swap stuff out this way (the exception being when I run out of ingredient A and have to dig up something that will work as an alternative). Yet some recipes just click with me when I read them in the cookbook or recipe magazine or wherever, even though they have an ingredient that makes me go “yuck!” Not all recipes; some just don’t substitute naturally. I can’t stand sauerkraut but I can’t think of a good substitute, so vegetarian Reuben recipes are a no go.

I honestly don’t know why I can look at a recipe and see it as something different that I’ll like better (not that it is better — it’s a matter of personal taste, nothing more). But it expands my range of options and gives me some delicious meals, like the baguette. So why not?

#SFWApro. Image by Nicola taken from Wikimedia under Creative Commons license

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So last weekend I made a pie

It was my friend and fellow writer Ada Milenkovic Brown’s 65th birthday party. As it happened, I’d bought ricotta for something else, then not used it; looking through Vegetarian Epicure I found a recipe for torta di ricotta. Way high on butter and (obviously) cheese, but I figured it was a good way to use up the ricotta. And it actually came out looking good.

Tasted good too. I had a great time at the party and learned Ada’s actually mentioned by name in Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice (second edition and all subsequent ones). It’s in the “Looking Glass Insects” chapter, in one of the footnotes, as Ada Brown. Dang I have cool friends!

I also walked our friend Celena’s dogs Lily and Tito as her family were out for the day. They were very excited to see me, especially Tito the toy poodle. Lily likes me too but she’s way more laid back and Tito’s a bundle of energy.

Saturday, after completing a ton of shopping errands (dog meds, dog and cat food, other useful items) I got a call that the replacement battery for my laptop was in. Out to the mall! And happily the Apple Store got it fixed that evening, so I picked it up Sunday. It’s sooooo nice having a full twelve hours of power again, and not worrying about whether it’s going to run down before my writing wraps up.

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I love books about bread

When I picked up 100 Great Breads from the library sale table, it became the ninth bread book I own.

The first time I baked bread, I used a recipe from Recipes For a Small Planet, an early vegetarian cookbook. I was very, very serious about it. Checked the kneading time down to the minute. The water on which I sprinkled the yeast was exactly the right temperature. It seemed so unbelievably complex, I didn’t want to take a chance.

That was close to forty years ago. I’m a lot more relaxed now. I know hot water from the tap will do for the yeast. And I stop kneading when the bread feels right. That’s part of the fun of baking bread; it’s much easier with practice but it’s never something I can do without thinking (and when I do, something bad happens, like forgetting to mix in salt.).

I acquired more bread recipes when I added a couple more vegetarian cookbooks. The first actual bread book I owned (a gift from my sister) was Beard on Bread by the chef James Beard. It covers a wide range of recipes, including a couple of basic white breads, potato breads, fruit breads, salt-rising bread (made that once. Not quite worth the effort), whole wheat and rye breads.

I could certainly have stopped there. I’ve been baking for myself most of my life, and I don’t bake bread every single week; it’s not like I’d grow bored if I just used Beard’s book. Really I’m still baking for myself, because TYG isn’t a bread person. And several of my general cookbooks include bread recipes. But I kept finding books that had enough different recipes (there’s invariably a lot of overlap) to be worth buying. Hollywood’s book above hooked me with a recipe for Stilton-Bacon Bread. I love Stilton cheese and I like veggie bacon, so that was a snap. I also made the book’s recipe for Irish soda bread; odd, more like a biscuit than other recipes I’ve tried, but a very nice, light biscuit. So what’s not to like?

That said, most of my books are actually inherited from my grandparents, my mum or TYG (one of her old roommates left an excellent bread book behind). I usually work through them all over the course of a year, looking for recipes for each in turn. Finding time is sometimes tricky, but the results are always good, unless I screw up. Trust me, lack of salt is a baaaad thing.

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