yummy foods


That’s right, tax hell is OVER. And I have no more excuses, which is why I’m working through the next revision chapter of Harvester the book (funny how much someone wanting to be a beta reader pushes you off the couch – thank you, Wendy! I so owe you), proofing Lightspeed content, reading slush, sending my rejected stories back out into the world, and finally (promptly) returning crits. And I will make good food again! There really is a way to abuse the pizza delivery man.
Oh, so a blog entry. Here’s the deal:

Go read Tom Crosshill’s “Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son” in this week’s Lightspeed. It’s very…well, just read it yourself, so I don’t have to give anything away.

Game of Thrones
premiered on HBO on Sunday. I will admit I’ve never read the books, and I also preface this with the fact that I’m a hard sell for epic fantasy these days. (I’m plugging away through the second Rothfuss, but mostly because the alchemy stuff fascinates me, and John tells me it’s worth it.) However, once you get past the “I am this kind of person and I live my life like so because I enjoy a, b, and c” lines, (which to be fair, are necessary for a new world – but oh, how annoying they are), it rocks. I’m fascinated by the White Walker everything, and the end absolutely HORRIFIED me. Like, to the point of tears horrified, and I wanted to do serious harm to the villain who did the serious crime.

We’re in the second season of Deadwood, which is thrilling me. I am simply in awe of the writing, and not a damn complaint about the acting. A peer commented to me that he thought the second season was slow, but I’m not finding that the case at all; even the contrary, as the Wilcott/Chez Amis everything is…terrifying, for lack of a better description.

What’s next? Oh, the next season of Dr. Who this weekend! I can’t wait.

We saw Hanna two weeks ago. (Maybe Limitless this weekend, which fellow Fragment Ilan assures me is worth it.) Very entertaining, and the music was especially excellent. I wasn’t too fond of Cate Blanchett, though; she didn’t seem to fit the role (which I don’t believe I’ve ever said about her before).

Reading: the Rothfuss, like I mentioned, and I’ve just finished Gordon Van Gelder’s Welcome to the Greenhouse anthology, which I will blog about separately. I’ve started Daryl Gregory’s Pandemonium, which is so far very accessible and entertaining, and Shimmer’s new issue is waiting for me on the ipad.

What else? Oh, I started a Blood Elf Death Knight named Derne. And then I spent a week leveling up blacksmithing and mining because why the hell would I fly around the Outlands doing quests and NOT do my professions at the same time? A week, and like 3k gold, because that’s the way it works. Thanks to Beris, the shadow priest sugar mama (who happens to be nearly all Bloodthirsty-geared out, with even some Vicious gear). Oh, and John has started a raid team, and we need members. (If you want to raid Monday/Wednesday nights and you’re on Baelgun, hit me up. Apparently, we need one ranged DPS, two melee, and two healers.) Because, priorities.

No blog entry wouldn’t be complete without food, so here is the curry laksa (or Moskowitz’s version) from Appetite for Reduction. I’ve made a few other things from there in the last few weeks, but alas, this is the only picture. I’m really excited to make more from Veganomican, too.

Oh, and eggrolls! With Morrocan rice. They were phenomenal. I should have put tofu in them, or more strips of egg, but oh well. The downside was that they definitely did not keep. While flavorful, they were scary soggy the next day. Oh, and the oil wasn’t a plus, either. I’d like to try baking them next time. If that’s even possible.

There’s a bird singing outside my office here at work. I think I’ll go back to the Harvester chapter.

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Finally, some great progress on Deadwalker, which is back to “The Seedling Garden.” I got hung up on the ending over the weekend, and when I passed it to John for help, he pointed out that several elements were backwards in the worldbuilding, so I had to switch those around. It was very frustrating, and then I remembered that I’ve encountered this frustration on every story with different mechanics to the world – and that these mechanics don’t always present themselves immediately. Or, now that I think about it, they never do. “The Light Stones” took a dozen (or more) rewrites to hammer itself out. So did Harvester the short. And the ending of “The Seedling Garden” isn’t clear yet, but since I spent hours trying to clean it up yesterday, maybe the elements will work themselves into clarity. Here’s hoping it will be slow day so I can make that happen. And because I have Lightspeed stories to read, and Fragment crits to do.

Took a break in the writing last night to do my first set of WoW PVP’s two-on-two (two’s) with John on Rhenza his rogue, and me with Beris my shadow priest. We got our asses handed to us in a few games; all my fault, of course, because I was so nervous and just kind of panicked, and level 85 or not, I’m still new to the game. But I’m starting to learn when do to what – fear, silence, psychic horror, shadowfiend, etc. – and we managed to win enough to cap my points for the week. And now the week has started over, so maybe tonight, too, depending on how much of “The Seedling Garden” I finish.

I finally took away the suitcase Kitty had been sleeping on upstairs, which now has a thick layer of cat hair over it. He simply found a new place.

Last night we had Chinese food and champagne – John got a new job, and finished the first prototype (there will be many, many  more in the future) of Carl the spider, his iPhone game! Very exciting. Sunday night, I went a little gungho with the Appetite for Reduction recipes. We had the Shaved Brussels Sprouts, the Broiled Blackened Tofu, and the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples. The tofu was fantastic – tasted like chicken, honestly. I went a little light on the smoked paprika, since I don’t care for it very much, and I managed to burn the sweet potatoes/apples exactly as Moskowitz says not to do in the book, because I got distracted. The Brussels sprouts were great – mine weren’t crispy, but that’s probably because I had used frozen, not fresh.

Either way, a fantastic meal. I just wish I had the time to make three things from that cookbook every night. I did order another of her cookbooks, Veganomicon, which I should be getting shortly.

Reading: I’m about halfway through Strahan’s Best of SFF Volume 5, and I must admit, it’s not what I had expected. It’s entirely possible I’m getting more particular in my preferences, since that’s the way I’ve been heading with all the SFF magazines, and creating strong opinions as to what I prefer to read regarding novels. But I’ve loved Strahan’s “Best of” series more than any other out there, and of course every Eclipse anthology of his has just been stunning. This one, however, isn’t doing much for me. The stories are very well written, and there’s no shortage of excessive creativity, startling, in fact, and inspirational. But none have entranced me so far, which makes me a little sad. Nothing is better than a story that grips you from beginning to end. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, though. The stories are excellent, and I’m sure will speak to others if not me.

We’ve also started FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, which is now on Netflix. We had watched it online in subtitles as it was streaming back in 2009, and while it’s dubbed now, the voices are excellent (albeit different), and the show is still excellent, and highly recommended; it has the typical anime silly moments, but the layering! And there is no attempt to sugarcoat anything. (The seven deadly sins are PEOPLE in this show. Well, homunculi. So go watch.) I had new ideas for the people around Heloise in Harvester the book, and how they’re affected by her alchemy. What happens to them when she screws up, and is attempting to make the alloy work. It was very inspiring.

Now I just need more time.

Three more weeks of tax season!

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Update on the reading status: go buy the Strahan antho I mentioned earlier. Maureen McHugh’s story is fantastic. I just stared out in space about halfway through, a little shellshocked. I want to write more about it, but don’t want to give out spoilers. And Diana Peterfreund’s unicorn story is gorgeous – this is why I love YA writing so much. Well chosen.

>More on “Deadwalker,” which is already over 8k. Eek! Another 2k and it’s done, and then I brainstorm if and how to hack it down. But it’s good to get some writing done that feels somewhat readable. Maybe I can finish the story this week.

And there is food, of course. This is the veggie potpie stew from Appetite for Reduction. Of course I didn’t have yellow split peas, because they don’t exist in Oklahoma. However, green split peas worked just fine, and didn’t even mess up the color. (And I lacked frozen peas, too, but that’s okay). Forgive the Tupperware – I forgot to take pictures of the real thing, and of the amazing loaves of golden French bread to go with. So this is what’s left, full of vegan amazement. 

Then last night, we again had the Hottie Black-Eyed Greens (third time!) and the OMG Onion Rings (second!), which John made. And he did a way better job than me the first time – they were the best onion rings I have ever had. Vegan, too. (Almond milk!) With soy hot dogs – which taste exactly like the real thing – it was a phenomenal meal.

While I’ve brought it up, I cannot speak highly enough of the Hottie Black-Eyed Greens. I’ve pinned down my favorite way/proportions: lots of collard greens (I used two short-ish bunches), one eight-ounce can of tomato sauce, only one can of black-eyed peas, all the rest of the ingredients and a ton of hot sauce. Even John ate his before he touched his onion rings or hot dogs – and that says it all.

And, John’s first batch of cookies ever. They were winners. I was so proud of him I took a picture.

I finished reading Holly Black’s White Cat last night. I do love her writing, especially her short stories. I adored Tithe and Valiant so much so that they inspired lots of angst in my own YA books that haven’t gone anywhere (yet), but to my surprise, White Cat wasn’t what I expected. I never felt like I knew Cassel the way I wanted to – or that I was being narrated to by a 17-year-old boy. Her girl heroines were more edgy, more real, and Cassel read a little too…virginal. The whole book just seemed tame, although the content was interesting. And from a structural point of view, the book was pretty much flawless. She does everything right. Which could be why my attention wandered (or it could be the taxing-heh-work week that’s sucked away my ability to concentrate). There was no push against boundaries that I appreciate (and look for), both in content and style, which nearly all her shorts do in some way. Case in point, see this week’s Fantasy Magazine reprint of her short from The Poison Eaters. There’s a brilliant edge to that story.

Speaking of edge, there’s been some really great stories submitted to Lightspeed lately, with edge aplenty. A good plot, usually with some serious story crafting, but the envelope is pushed just enough in some way (of which there are countless), enough to grab the reader and not let them up (or make them teary, like a story in the slush did for me today). It’s really exciting, and motivating.

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I’ve been putting this off because I thought I’d have more time later in the week, but it’s already Thursday, and I’ve got way too much to say and write and do, so here’s we go:
 
Portabello mushrooms, potato pancakes (with sweet & sour sauce) and 49-clove broccoli (with added cauliflower), the latter two from Appetite for Reduction. Amazing. The potato pancakes were better the next day. I do think thinner and crispier is the way to go, compared to the ones below, but now I know. (And I may try them with olive oil in the future, rather than sesame. We’ll see.)
Cutest cat in the world. Even with the two inch bloody scratch across my chest he gave me when I picked him up last night. And he knows he’s not allowed on this blanket, because it makes him way too happy, and then not-good-things happen. But I couldn’t bear to kick him off when he acts this cute.
And yesterday, I finally finished Kameron Hurley’s God’s War. I have a few serious nitpicks, including the fact that the religious war never really worked for me. I didn’t once really feel the faith there, not the way I did in Dan Simmons’ first two Hyperion books, with the Shrike and the obsession around it. That is the way to write religion. Also, some really frustrating lag in pace about one-fourth the way in; I can’t say I’ve ever read a book like that before (versus the typical 3rd act lag). However, the pluses WAY outnumber the cons. The world is so jam-packed full of color and life and ugliness that this is really a must read for anyone who likes exotic worldbuilding or sucks at it and needs to get better. It’s just breathtaking. On top of that is main character, Nyx, who is wonderfully hardcore, and Hurley lets everything possible hit Nyx like a sledgehammer, throwing curveball after curveball and it was a wild, exciting ride at some points. Real, brutal, and 100% believable. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Hurley throws in unrequited love (or something like it) that left me hanging. Overall, a refreshing read, and very inspiring from a writing perspective.
Next up is Strahan’s just-released Best of SFF Volume 5, which I’m really excited about, as I’ve only read a handful of what’s in there already. At lunch today I managed “Elegy for a Young Elk” by Hannu Rajaniemi, which I really loved (so much color!) and “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman. More soon!
What makes me happiest of all is that Human Seedlings has a tentative new title: “Deadwalkers.” The not so great part is that the short is looking to be 10k or so, instead of 5k like I’d hoped. But at least it’s moving, and that feels great. And now to return all the crits I owe.

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Lots of baking/cooking this weekend, which I used as procrastination to keep me from hashing over some of the short stories I need to finish. Just like how I’m doing by blogging right now, although I did get in a really good hour on the Human Seedlings story. I was going to make a post tomorrow about the amazing food I was going to make tonight, but instead, we suddenly ordered pizza. Not picture worthy.

For breakfast on Saturday, I made banana-oat-flax-wheat muffin things, which use the same base as the carrot-apple-chocolate chip muffins I made a few weeks back. This time, I used 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup buckwheet flour, 1/2 cup oats, generous pouring in of flax seeds, 2 tsp baking soda (an accident – I intended to do 2 of powder, which I then followed up with; one tsp soda was in the original recipe), lots of cinnamon, chocolate chips, 1/4 cup (I’m just guessing here) agave nectar, and maybe 3/4 cup (another guess) soy milk, a little olive oil, and two mushed bananas. Mix it all up, pop it in the oven at 350. I used my little Valentine’s Day pans, which needed 20 minutes. Muffin tins are 12-15 minutes, and bread loaves, maybe 30 minutes? Or whenever the toothpick comes out clean.

Either way, delicious and healthy.

And now back to Human Seedlings, and then some WoW, I think, because Beris is level 83 already, which is very exciting. Also, some new anime shows we downloaded – if they’re any good, I’ll definitely be writing about them. 

>My head is full of mush this morning – a combination of too much tax dithering and a computer screen, which wasn’t aided by my joining Twitter yesterday (@erinstocks). If I knew it was that much fun, I would have joined long ago.

But on to more important things, like reaching 80 on my shadow priest. Now Cataclysm quests! And better gear. And soon I will be as good as everyone else.

Gingery noodles with tofu last night – a lovely vegan dish:

One of the best meals I may have ever had. And yes, from Appetite for Reduction. I did cheat with the tofu, since I bought it pre-marinated in a light peanut sesame sauce. The noodles were supposed to be soba, but I only had udon and lo mein, so I opted for the former, mixed with sauteed bok choy, red onion, garlic, fresh ginger, some sesame oil for fun (sesame seeds would be fun, too, although neither the oil nor the seeds are in the actual recipe) and…that’s all I remember, but there could have been one to two more ingredients. And a ton of sriracha. Broiled the tofu 4 minutes or so on each side, so it has a lovely coating while soft in the middle. Astoundingly good, environmentally friendly, and no painful deaths involved. Wins all around.

I seriously need to do some writing today. And then think about meals for this weekend, because Molly sent me cookbooks!

>I went, like usual, to the coffee shop over lunch to read, where to my great relief I finally finished Eating Animals (and started something which proves to be dramatically different – Amanda Downum’s The Bone Palace), as there’s not much more I can handle of reading about the sheer for-profitness of factory farms. It’s pretty obvious there’s a problem when the animals available to us for consumption are so genetically altered that they can’t reproduce – and this is the case with a lot of organic and “no drugs-added” meat, too, whatever “happier” means. Still altered, still neutered (and not just in a castrated way, but in a pumped full of shit way; if not that animal, then its parents) in a very wrong way. The book is a must read, at least for education purposes. The author makes an argument that we’re not ignorant, we’re choosing this – the facts are right in front of us. But I don’t think that’s completely true; I’ve never read a lot of this before, even though factory farms aren’t anything new; they go back a lot further than ten years, and they just keep getting worse.

Anyway. Although it wasn’t my intention, I’m well on my way to being vegan, too. I’m just not interested in participating in the madness. Shocking stuff.

Plus, I had almond milk for the first time this morning, with some gluten-free cocoa plus goodies granola, and it was ASTOUNDINGLY good. So now I just need to figure out a way around ice-cream (since I’m not quite up for indulging in soy non-stop.) Maybe sorbet.

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There was an elderly woman with her daughter (who was maybe 45-50 years old) at the coffee shop over lunch today. The elderly woman was maybe 75 or so, with lots of white hair permed high on her head, and very pale skin, and unfashionable glasses. Not really one of the adorable grandmother types, but then she brought herself over a large mocha with frothy whip cream (that looked and smelled so good over my drip coffee), and I got up so she and her daughter could sit together, to which they were really, really grateful. I made some sort of pleasant-sounding excuse, and then quickly left because of the sudden wrenching grief that I would never go to a stupid coffee shop with Mom again. And how I should have 25 more years of her in my life. But instead, I got thirty-one, which isn’t even close to enough, not when twenty-four or so of those were spent with me trying to figure out both myself and life, and not really understanding anything about it, or about her, or about the precious precocity of a mother-daughter relationship, especially a mother-middle-daughter relationship.

Earlier today I got an email from Dad about how the grief occasionally lessens, but never really goes away. I understand that completely – I can’t compare my experience to his of losing the woman you’ve been married to for 40 years and 2.5 months, although mine feels similar, in a different way. Mom should have seen John and I get married, for so many reasons, and maybe because I was the last unmarried kid I feel really strongly about that. And she should have gotten to hold her grandbabies (if any of the four of us ever end up having kids…doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon, so even Dad dotes everything on his dog because of that), and see where we live, and read my writing. She never got to read my published writing. She doesn’t know about Lightspeed, which happened after she died. She doesn’t know Becky and Neal have beautiful baby Karsten (Becky and Neal were the only married friends of mine whose names she could remember, because of Alaska), or about our little Nellie, or that I got a promotion at work a few months ago. And occasionally, the flash of grief is so strong that I’m breathless, like I was just kicked in the gut really, really hard.

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Some terrific food in the last two days. Unfortunately, the pictures aren’t very appealing, but I’m posting them anyway.

What you can’t see clearly in the above is the amazing Bhutanese rice, from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook (naturally), with cilantro on top. I used Moroccan red rice as the base, and added all the ingredients to that, which included coconut milk and fresh pineapple (I had a Harry & David pineapple perfectly ripened!), as well as red curry paste and onion and garlic and I can’t remember what else. Then I marinated some portabello mushrooms, which were even more tender and juicy than steak, and some cabbage.

And the above was the OMG onion rings – which were !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UNREAL. Yes, they were. I will never have any other onion rings again. I made the hottie black-eyed greens with kale, but they weren’t quite as good as the first round, which I had made with collards. I adore kale, but the flavors didn’t sit as well this time, which I thought at lunch again when I had the leftovers. So collards in the future, with this recipe. (And veggie hot dogs in the background – which taste JUST like real hot dogs! Especially when grilled. And you actually know what they’re made of.)

Off to bill more tax returns! Less than two months of this left. I’m so relieved it’s Friday.

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