Thursday, November 1, 2007

shadowmarching the wrong way?

been travelling more. was down in Atlanta for 2 days, then back down for southern southern GA in two weeks. nothing much exciting in Atlanta. that airport is really bizarre! a super nice lady at the MARTA station helped me get a ticket to get to the airport. everyone down there talks funny and calls me "hon".

finished Tad William's Shadowmarch. it was okay. felt stilted, predictable, patterned. most paragraphs consisted of 2 run on sentences, followed by a confusing and drawn out simile, followed by a line of dialogue. Williams made a habit of listing out what the characters were doing - "He got out of bed and walked across the room. He put on his chainmail whatever and called the guard, who was standing outside. he left the room and walked down the stairs." Okay, so it isn't quite that bad, but parts of the book are close.

I need to see which was written first, Shadowmarch or A Game of Thrones. In Shadowmarch, the family is in a northern province, on the borderlands of where the "fairyfolk" live. And were not talking cutesy fairies with wings here, we're talking the creepy ones who steal your kids and burn your farm. A human enemy is rising in the south, threatening the northern provinces, there is talk of an alliance through marriage. I was waiting for someone to say that famous Game of Thrones line: "They're marching the wrong way". Twin regents Briony and Barrick (and what's with there being twins in every single epic fantasy series? ok, dichotomy and balance, i get it already! who was the first person to decide every epic fantasy series needed a set of twins?) are trying to keep their northern keep of Southmarch safe and under control. these kids have been running amock through the keep for 15 years, yet none of the nobles seem to know if they can be trusted? and the kids don't seem to have a clue who to trust? they weren't stuck in a convent for the last 15 years, so maybe they are just dumb. or unaware that their dad is the king. and being held hostage down south.

maybe i'm being harsh. Maybe i'm getting jaded. maybe i've just been really spoiled reading some really good shit lately. Because if you're looking for something fantasy-ish (we do have plenty of active magic, and a pretty cool bizarre religion and culture in the way down south) with action and battles and swords and some wizardly, and crypts and secret passages, and intrigue, and the like, you'll have a good time with Shadowmarch. you just might not be all that impressed with it.

Many, many hours stuck on airplanes and in airports let me catch up with one of my perennial favorites, The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. this is one of the few books i can say lived up to all it's hype. gents beware, this is totally a girly book. told from the points of view of four daughters who travel with their parents on a mission to the Congo in the 1960s. One girl is a princess, one is a tomboy, one a learning disabled mute, the last one but a babe. This book is beautiful, and a tearjerker. I've read it before, so i know what's going to happen: who gets to come home to America, who stays in Africa, who dies. and i start tearing up about 10 pages ahead of time. ladies, if you've never read this book, get it. you will like it. you will see yourself and everyone you know in it.

let's see. . . glazed apples. like caramel apples? or like candied apples on the stove? i got a recipe for Tart Tatin, which is like an upside down apple pie made with candied apples:

Tart Tatin:

first, you gotta make the pastry part:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into small peices
2 or 3 tbsp milk (and not that skim stuff!)

blend sugar & flour. cut the butter in with a pastry knife, and blend till mixture look like coarse crumbs (this is like making regular pie dough!). add the milk one tbsp at a time, and blend it in till the dough holds together. depending on how humid the room is, you might not need all the milk. wrap dough tight in plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge.

now you gotta make the "inside" part:
1/2 cup butter, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
3 lbs apples, peeled and wedged
2 tbsp lemon juice

with the stove turned off, spread butter on the bottom of a heavy skillet (the kind of skillet than is oven safe). pour sugar over the butter, then layer apples on top of that. sprinkle with lemon juice, and put it on the stove, over medium to high heat. you want the sugar and butter to melt together and carmelize the apples. shake pan (but don't stir up too much!!) occasionally. after 20 minutes, take it off the heat, or your apples will burn. as this mixture is cooling, roll out your dough on a floured surface. and preheat your oven to 425. you need the dough to be a little bigger than the top of the pan, it's OK if it's pretty thick, but make there aren't any holes!! lay the pastry round on top of the pan, and tuck the edges in. prick lightly with a fork (this is so the steam can escape, but you don't want gigantic fork holes). bake 20 min at 425. the top of the pastry part should be golden. have a friend help you turn (flip!) the pastry out onto a platter. the inside is really hot! be careful!

and if you just want the carmelized apples, i suppose you could skip the pastry part, and have the carmelized apples with vanilla icecream and mint sprigs.

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