sweet things


I’m sitting in a hotel room of the Crowne Plaza in Times Square, drinking some kind of not-too-bad hotel coffee made in a Keurig maker and waiting for my sister Shannon to get ready so we can go get our first martinis before dinner and then meet up with my dear Chicago friend Amy who moved here to NYC about six weeks ago. A spur of the moment trip, including the Broadway production of “Chicago” tonight, and I jumped at the chance, even if the whole weekend will only last about 36 hours. I also promised myself I’d blog, so this won’t be the long Clarion post I needed to write, but … soon!

Let’s see. I’m still in Clarion withdrawal. It’s hard to get up and go to my (mostly terrific) dayjob knowing that I won’t get the eight hours of writing like I did for six weeks in San Diego, nor that communion every night with people who want the same things I do. My friend Christie, another Assistant Editor at Lightspeed, did Taos Toolbox this summer and she said it took her almost a month to get back into real life. So with six weeks of Clarion, I’m looking at…another 6 weeks of accepting the fact that I’ve got to get up at 5 am if I want a good 1.5 hours of writing time a day, at least until my job settles down.

I’ve also been baking like a crazy person. Fall! Which means amazing foods like Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread! Absolutely amazing, although I sent the second loaf home with John’s sister Becky so I didn’t eat it all. I even messed up on the directions because I was trying to do too much at once, including running to the store at 8 am for baking soda since I threw the old one out in the move.

And then there were chocolate biscuits and gravy. Yes.

Chocolate Biscuits & Gravy

Lasagnas, too, and pizzas, and amazing foods from Appetite for Reduction which we devoured before I could take pictures of.

I submitted my first Clarion story. I’m really happy with it, no matter what happens, which is good to know. I’ve gotten some really good crits on it from both Clarionauts and Fragments, my writing group here, so that’s encouraging. But I really need to work on something new, and maybe that’s where Harvester the novel comes in; hopefully it can write itself in these early morning sessions.

More soon! Off to amazing food and martinis and an exciting night!

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>Because these were so good, I decided I really needed to show pictures.

I mean, look at all that chocolate. I left them all at home, and hopefully John will take them all to work. They’re EVIL.

Oh yeah, and the key is to keep them on the cookie sheet after the short baking time. Or they’ll flatten. . . like the ones in the pictures. I had eaten all the good ones by the time I found the camera.

***

I wonder sometimes that perhaps if I didn’t do my morning pages, I might have more to talk about on the blog. But then all the ditherings that go on my mind would be out here in cyberspace, and I can’t imagine that’s a good thing, either. Roping them down on paper where they can sit and stay, far away from my daily life, seems safer.

In the meantime, “Undertow” is now “Lisse,” I’m waiting to hear back on several submissions, which seem to have made it past the slush reader, and am seriously considering Clarion West. No, not considering anymore, I’ll apply, for sure. Whether I’ll get in, or even be able to go, is another story. But I must apply first, and see what happens.

>I was in a baking mood all weekend – not sure why, but it was fun, aside from the wheat bread yesterday that didn’t really turn out. It rose decently, and then didn’t rise in the oven, and turned out flat and ugly and rather bland. Oh well – after the success of T-day dinner, I don’t think I care.

Plus, this turned out splendidly:

A huge batch of homemade eggnog. I’ve never made it before, and after having this, I cannot imagine for the WORLD how anyone can’t like eggnog (like my neighbors, who turned this down…). I perused recipes for awhile – I had a killer one from Malia, with ice cream and 3 different kinds of boozes, but I decided I didn’t want ice cream in it, and wanted to stick with rum. The recipe I ended up with had rum and whiskey, and wow, was it amazing.

Here’s the link. After drinking a ton of this, I think I may prefer less froth more cream, so I may play around with the recipe next time I make it. And I used slightly less whiskey than it called for, since I couldn’t bear to empty the bottle just yet…but it was fantastic.

One more batch of cookies – the dreaded meringues, which I mucked up twice last year, and gave up on, and then I’ve made all Mom’s staples: meringues, noodle cookies, the French Buttercreams (red & green), and Russian teacakes (snowballs). She made a few more, usually, including almond bark pretzels, but since those are easy to buy in stores, I usually avoid them. And those damned wreath cookies – John cast the vote to nix those this year, since they’re like crack: cornflakes, marshmallow & butter. Tons of butter. It’s not worth it, if I still want my pants to fit. Because after all the pieces of pumpkin cake I had…which just gets better the longer it sits…oofta.

Oh! And we got a tree! Which I decorated while John set up our new television, and we drank eggnog and listened to Christmas music. And then we played Halo on the new television and it was stunning. And got caught up on The Walking Dead, which is kind of boring by now. I’m not even remotely invested in it, which makes me sad – especially since I love the opening credits and music so much.

Back to real life today. I’ve got tax programs to figure out, slush to read, crits to do, and a new short which refuses to tell me what it’s all about. It’s chilly today – hopefully I can bring myself to run after work, instead of going home to tackle the meringues.

>It’s a gorgeous sunny day, and almost looks like fall here. My fingers are freezing from the window being open, which I love even more. It’s the perfect kind of being cold, although I have to type slowly or I get thdfj a;skdfjpieya.

I passed on the “The Harvester” to both John and one of my favorite beta readers yesterday. To my massive delight and relief, they both say it works. I do need to de-knightoftheholygrail it, though – any comparisons to Monty Python would be dreadful, and perhaps clean up some of the awkward spots, and then off to the rest of the writing group and OWW it goes. It’s not the story I expected to finish, but I’m so thrilled I’ve got a workable draft.

And now I wonder – maybe I can even finish the novel around it – which I already have 40-ish thousand words of. Some of the key elements would change a little, but it could really work…perhaps it was the end that has kept me fumbling at it, and now with this new end, found in the short, the novel is accessible again.

I’m going to over to John’s mom’s tonight to hang out with her & my sisters-in law. Girls night, with a movie and dinner and pumpkin cheesecake.

This is from the Martha Stewart recipe, which doesn’t let you open the oven. It was extraordinarily hard for me, but I tried not to think about it, and it turned out pretty good, aside from the fact that I used the six inch springform pan instead of the nine. The extra cheesecake batter naturally turned into pumpkin chocolate chip cheesecake brownies. I think I’ve made brownies once in my life before, and have certainty never even thought about pumpkin chocolate chip cream cheese brownies before, but damn, were they good.


I just picked a random cheesecake brownie recipe, poured the cheesecake over that, threw in some chocolate chips, and swirled it with a toothpick. For the last few months, anything I’ve slightly experimented on has sucked, big time. And sure, I should have taken them out of the oven when the buzzer went off, but the cheesecake looked so runny I couldn’t bring myself to – I will next time, since the outside of the brownie was a little chewy. But these weren’t anything like the time I tried these cookies that literally melted into a sheet of sugary chocolate – I nearly cried. It was awful. And some of my soups have gone astray, the breads, etc. I don’t know why I think I can throw shit together and it will work, because it suddenly stopped there, for awhile. Yet these brownies mean its possible. That’s probably not a good thing.

The cat is whining at me. Now I must do my morning pages, because I’ve been procrastinating by answering emails and posting pictures and brainstorming about alchemy. And then I’m going to think about a loaf of bread for John.

***

Oh, the cat’s not whining at me, he’s whining at the dog. But the dog doesn’t want to play. I swear, sometimes, that dog is so slow.

The picture is a little distorted from where I sit at my desk. Kitty is only about 1/3 the size of Buddy.

>I finally made those cupcakes I’ve been talking about for weeks, last night – red velvet cake cupcakes, gluten-free.

Here’s how they turned out:

They looked great, the texture was perfect – so cake like, which I hadn’t been expecting, and the taste was good. Just a little strange, and if I hadn’t had black bean brownies so many times in the past, I may not have been able to figure out what was different about them. They’re not something you’re going to sit and devour, so its almost not worth it to make them – I think I’d rather have the real thing, where you have to force yourself not to eat the batter.

Plus, the above still has some sugar, and needs it, too. So they’re not entirely guilt-free. Another vote for the real thing.

The recipe above makes about 11 or so.

***

I’ve got French bread rising, and tonight I’m going to make my favorite meatballs, next to Mom’s Swedish meatballs. Yes, they have bacon! I might even go all out and make the noodles, too – I haven’t done that in awhile, and I’m in a cooking mood, for some reason. Nothing is better than lounging around the house and leisurely making elaborate foods while playing Borderlands (gooo, multi-tasking!) and drinking endless cups of coffee, which leads to endless glasses of wine. Lovely.

Also, I’m mulling of the thought of changing the world of CoFCoL a little to fit a particular anthology. It wouldn’t take too much work, and since its a great antho that accepts novelettes, it might be worth the effort. We’ll see if I get to that today.

>I had to do another post because a. the starter went all alien growth on me, and b., we made the most AMAZING ice cream I’ve ever had in my entire life. The recipe calls it Bittersweet Chocolate, and it tastes just like the French truffles we had at the Bridlewood winery in Los Olivos, CA, on our anniversary trip – dusted on the outside with unsweetened chocolate, then heaven when that melts away to the purest of rich (and sweetened) chocolates. The ice cream recipe was simple: unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cream, milk, and vanilla. I used 2 cups skim milk to 2 cups whipping cream, instead of 3 cups whole cream and 1 cup whole milk. The proper recipe would be death-by-amazingness.

Even small pieces are a visual treat.

And the ice cream itself? Bliss. Almost with a dusty, dusky sweetness to the cream.

John’s, with toppings, and mine, plain.

Then, when I went to feed the starter, which is supposed to be every 12 hours, with not necessarily any certain growth. Yet in only 9 hours I found this:

Another two inches. This has to mean good things for the eventual bread.

>

It’s hot here this morning, as hot as in OKC, and both Sinclair and Oskar are sprawled out on the wooden floor nearly panting in the heat – I’m so glad I’m not covered in fur like they are. They’re such little delights, in their begging-for-food, brotherly fighting, affectionate head-licking ways. Osky needed a friend – I’m so glad Malia realized that, and Sinclair with his kitten energy is the perfect addition.

I love Malia’s apartment, too, which is so much like 1350 N. Kedzie with the wooden floors and high ceilings and built-in bar…of course the same furniture and paintings and all my houseplants (which I forced Malia to take when I moved) have much to do with that. And her, too – she’s family, really. A sister. I’ve relaxed more in the last twenty-four hours than I have in the last nine months. I knew I’ve missed my friends, and my Chicago life, but I suppose I didn’t realize how much.

Becky’s bringing little Karsten over this afternoon – after Malia and I go to the gym so we can work off the 5 desserts we had last night. Yes. Or was it 6? Butterfly gave Amy and Malia and I Thai custard, cheesecake and green tea ice cream, (all small portions! really!) but then we passed the May Street Cafe a few doors down, which offered a flight of cupcakes – peanut butter, ginger & carrot. Peanut butter cupcakes! And I wanted coffee, desperately. So we went inside and got the cupcakes, and this smores thing, and this other ice cream made of some sort of stout with toffee pieces (toffee!) and dragon ale (dragon!!!) and the adorable Brazilian bartender and the owner made me a little Happy Birthday sign.
Lovely, lovely, lovely.

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