Saturday, June 16, 2007

it's too hot to think.

it's too hot to think. it must be too hot to buy books, as well. Or maybe I just don't want to sit in the stuff car for the 15 minutes it takes to get to Barnes & Schnoble?

I managed to go 2 weeks without buying books! aren't you proud of me?? but i did hit the library. got my grubby little hands on Ian McDonald's Brasyl, and Paul Park's The Tourmaline (book 2 in his Roumania series), some Manga, and a Japanese cookbook filled with ingredients I've never heard of. I'm nearly done with Brasyl. It's good. it's really freakin good. but it's really hard to read. Props to McDonald for setting an quantum computational epic in Sau Paulo. Good for him for sprinkling the novel with all flavorings of Brazilian slang and culture. too bad only about a quarter of the Portuguese words are in the glossary in the back. Too bad even more that I don't speak a lick of Portuguese, or know jack about South American indigenous peoples and their religious pantheons. So the books is rather hard to follow. But I must be enjoying it, since I'm 50 pages from the end and can't put the stupid thing down. Stay tuned for a full length review. Same with Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I owe both of these books at least 600 words a peice. maybe more.

I'm still working through Pandora's Closet, and it's quite enjoyable. Not every story is a gem, but it's very nice that each story is short, so I can read one each night before I go to bed, even if I go to bed really late.

Should have some thoughts next time on the Paul Park book, as I haven't even cracked it yet. But i remember the first book in the series A Princess of Roumania being light, fun, and surface. and easy read. I could really use something like that right now.

it is too frackin' hot to cook. but i do it anyways. this side dish is easy, quick, cheap, and yummy hot or cold.

Potatoes & Mushroom

12oz fresh mushrooms (any kind you liked)
1.5 lbs potatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
leaves from a bunch of parsley or basil
salt & pepper
more parsley or basil, to garnish
shredded cheese (optional)

pre heat oven to 350. slice potatoes & mushrooms. in a large bowl, toss mushrooms and potatoes with herbs, garlic, salt and pepper (to taste). grease a large baking dish that will hold everything in a shallow layer. pour everything in the baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until potatoes are just nearly cooked. stir it up once or twice while it's baking (this is not a caserole type dish). sprinkle a thin layer of cheese on top, and bake another five minutes. let cool a few minutes, garnish with herbs, and enjoy!

and it's even easier to make than it looks.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

the comicbook addiction

Not sure how long this post will be, as I have limited internet time today, and bread rising in the oven. See below for easy French cooking.

ARCs recently received:
Pandora’s Closet, a book of short stories involving the Pandora’s box mythology. I’m looking forward to the Timothy Zahn entry. The Kevin J Anderson entry, not so much.
The Clean Tech Revolution, by Ron Pernick & Clint Wilder – Pernick runs a California sustainable energy investment firm, and this is his research into the sustainable energy industries: who is doing what, and where, and where is the money coming from. Being a tree hugger has nothing to do with being altruistic. I’ve read the solar and wind power chapters. Interesting in a dry, econ kind of way. But damn, I wish I’d gotten that engineering degree. Look at all the cool jobs I could have applied for!

Book purchased recently:
Note to self: when visiting fanfare, bring $22. (two $10 books, plus tax). Leave all other cash and credit cards at home. Otherwise this is what happens:
Fullmetal Alchemist volumes 6, 7 and 8. They started creation of the anime around volume 7. Which means the manga plotline and the anime plotline don't really match anymore. Ed and Al are still finding trouble, everywhere, and have gone to spend some time with their teacher, Izumi. I love Izumi, she's one of my favorite characters. Al hooks up with some Chimera, who are cool people, but they work for Greed, who is well, greedy. Marta could have been a good friend for Al. They have a longer relationship in the anime. Greed gets to bite the big one about 20 times (hey, whose that guy in the chair??), and Al gets his creepy memory back. Who needs a stupid circle now! Some brand spankin’ new characters from Xing show up. I don’t know how I feel about these new characters. Did Arakawa feel she had to completely depart from the Anime story line? I trust her. . . wait a minute, back to Izumi. . . i think she's my favorite character, but i'm not sre. Damn you Arakawa, why do you have to make it so hard for me to have a handful of favorite characters? I love them all! I think i am now caught up with all the books that aren't quite still in print. and have you seen the cover to volume 13?? it's kinda hot.
Girl Genius, by Phil and Kaja Foglio – steampunk/gaslight action adventure mad scientist romance with armed guards who talk like they’re in a bad Dracula flick. Did you get all that? Phil Foglio ROCKS. You know, I was just expecting dirty humor and inside jokes. Nope. This baby’s got fun art, an adorable plot, and hilarious dialogue. And supposedly the narrator at the beginning is a self portrait of Phil himself?

One more goodie on the plate:
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke – I’d heard this was “Harry Potter” for grownups. More like Victor Hugo does Harry Potter. Stodgy Britons in the early 1800s argue over servants and carriages. Occasional magic is done to beat that dastardly Napoleon. I’m about ¾ through, and still waiting for some interesting conflict. Stay tuned for a full length review. It’s the least I can do for a 800 page+ novel.

Now, on to the real plate. I love my Provincial French cookbook. Everything is way easier than it looks, I’ve heard of most of the ingredients, and it’s all so damn good.

Burgundy Chicken – serves four

2 tbsp butter
4 chicken legs
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 cup white Burgundy or Chardonnay wine
1 tsp thyme
salt & pepper
8oz seedless green grapes, cut in half
¼ cup half n half
some parsley (garnish)

before starting, make sure all the chicken will fit in the pan. If you use chicken that has some skin on it, which I recommend, you’ll have some shrinkage.

melt butter in heavy skillet. Add chicken, and cook till browned all over (they don’t need to cook through). Remove chicken to a plate. Add shallots and cook till soft. Return chicken to pan, add wine, thyme, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. The chicken should be tender and nearly falling off the bone. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the grapes to the sauce, and boil the sauce till it thickens slightly. add the half and half, and simmer for a few minutes, stirring. Pour sauce over the Chicken, garnish with fresh parsley, and enjoy!

Excellent with garlic roasted potatoes, Gratin Savoyard, and crusty french bread to soak up all that divine sauce!