Monday, December 31, 2007

home made pasta is suprisingly easy.

What do I do when I'm on vacation, and bored out of my bleeding mind? I make pasta. From scratch, without a pasta machine (i'm not even sure what a pasta machine is, or does).

For approximately 1 pound of pasta, blend the following in a bowl:
3 large eggs
2 cups flour
pinch of salt

when your mixture is smooth and mixed well, and has become a dough, divide it into 4 dough balls, put them back into the bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. On a floured surface, roll out one ball at a time into a very, very flat rectangle. This stuff is not going to want to roll. Nope, it's elastic, and doesn't like stretching. And you want to stretch it and roll it, not crush it under the rolling pin. So, every few rolls, pick it up off the table, gently stretching it, and flip it over. Gravity will do most of the hard work for you. Get it as thin as possible (can you see the fake wood grain of your laminate kitchen table through the dough? It's thin enough), and cut into long strips with a pizza cutter.

The strips have got to dry. I dry them on my folding clothes drying rack, but you can use the backs of chairs, or lay a broomstick across two chairs and use that. Roll out at cut the rest of your dough. It's more tedious than difficult.

After your pasta has dried for about two hours (or whenever you want to eat it later), start a big pot of water boiling on the stove. Get out a big skillet, and chop up the following to go in the skillet with some olive oil or butter:

1 zucchini, cut in quarters and sliced
1 sweet pepper, diced
8 oz mushroom, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt & pepper

saute all that up as your water is boiling. Put the pasta in the water and boil for about 5 minutes, or until it's “al dente” (flexible, but still has a little bite to it). Because I used plain old regular flour, and not that traditional semolina stuff, this pasta won't be anywhere near as starchy or sticky as store bought pasta. It also cooks much faster, because it isn't industrially dried.

Pasta done? Good. Drain it and pop it back into the empty pot. Dump in sauteed veggies. Now, here's the cheating part. Dump in one jar of your favorite store bought alfredo sauce. Stir, enjoy.

What's with the store bought sauce? I suck at making white sauces, and I made the flippin' pasta from scratch, so i'm going to use a store bought white sauce. Deal with it.

Now, wasn't that tasty? Yes, it was!

I'm about half way through Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt's memoir of growing up poor and starving in Ireland. This book is hard to read, because it's damn depressing. Frankie's dad is a drunk, and his mother is simply powerless. I'm kind of surprised there isn't more suicide. Oh yeah, they're all Catholics. But if i'm going to finish this book, I better finish it soon, because it's on loan from a friend.

For something happier, i've gotten sucked into the warped singularity of insanity that is Tim Powers Last Call. Powers has that ability to write up rediculous magical happenings that are just wrong, and it works, and the only thing you want is more. The man writes literary heroin. This book is mostly poker and tarot card stuff, which I have just about zero knowledge off, but it's still really good, and no one does body swapping like Powers. Oh, it's good stuff.

Oh yeah, happy new year! We're making cookies and chili for the party tonight. I'll only give you the cookie recipe if they come out tasty, and I can't give you the chili recipe, because it's a secret.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

come on, everyone's doing it.

posting their "lists" for the year, that is. this blog (which turns one year old next week!) has done a fabulous job of helping me keep track of books i've read and reviewed.

so, in the spirit of lists, here is the rundown of the books of the last year, linked to reviews, where available. i sure hope all those links work!

1. The Paradise War, by Stephen Lawhead
2.Hell's Belles, by Jackie Kessler
3.Serenity: Those Left Behind, by Joss Whedon
4. Blood Music, by Greg Bear
5.The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
6.Glasshouse, by Charlie Stross
7.Eifelheim, by Michael Flynn
8.Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain
9.Fullmetal Alchemist, volumes 3-11, by Hiromu Arakawa
10.Tokyo Babylon, volumes 1-4, by CLAMP
11. Shriek, and Afterword, by Jeff Vandermeer
12.Timeline, by Michael Crichton
13.Dr. Futurity, by Philip K Dick
14.The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, by Mohja Kahf
15. Dream of the Dragon Pool, by Albert Dalia
16.The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
17.The Silver Hand, by Stephen Lawhead
18.King Rat, by China Mieville
19. Un Lun Dun, by China Mieville
20. Perverted Realities, by Jennifer Caress
21. Scales, by Anthony Williams
22.The Endless Knot, by Stephen Lawhead
23.Moped Army, by Paul Sizer
24.Little White Mouse, by Paul Sizer
25.Excel Saga, volume 1-3, by Rikdo Koshi
26.The Teahouse Fire, by Ellis Avery
27.The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan
28. Splinter, by Adam Roberts
29.Overclocked, by Cory Doctorow
30.The White Plague, by Frank Herbert
31.Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle, Vol 1-4 by CLAMP
32.XXXHolic, volume 1-5, by CLAMP
33.The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Bettor
34.The Secret City, by Carol Ermshwiller
35.Mozart's Sister, by Nancy Moser
36. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
37.Girl Genius, Vol 1-3, by Phil and Kaja Folio
38.The Clean Tech Revolution, by Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder
39. Pandora's Closet, edited by Martin Greenberg and Jean Rabe
40. The Tourmaline, by Paul Park
41. Brasyl, by Ian McDonald
42.Garlic and Sapphires, by Ruth Reichl
43.The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
44. The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch
45.The Book of Names, by Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori
46. The Revenge of the Elves, by Gary Wassner
47. Blindsight, by Peter Watts
48.Dragonhead, vol 1, by Minetaro Mochizuki
49.Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
50.A Clash of Kings, by George R R Martin
51.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon
52. Nova Swing, by M. John Harrison
53. Dreamsongs, volume 1, by George R. R. Martin
54. Dreamsongs, volume 2, by George R R Martin
55.Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
56.Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
57.A Storm of Swords, by George R R Martin
58.The Alchemist's Kitchen, by Guy Ogilvy
59.Shadowmarch, by Tad Williams
60.The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
61. Cimmerian City, by Rae Lindley
62.The Future Happens Twice, by Matt Browne
63.Whitechapel Gods, by S.M Peters
64.Crashing Through, by Robert Kurson
65.A Feast for Crows, by George R.R. Martin
66.We the Living, by Ayn Rand

not bad, i averaged more than one book a week.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


my hubby is making Panettone today, from the recipe in The Bread Winner's Cookbook. we're about 20 minutes into the first rise, and it smells delicious. a sweet bread packed with orange and lemon zest, raisins, and honey.

I'm on vacation this week (yay!!), so there is plenty of cooking on the schedule: mushroom barley soup, coq au vin, couple more loaves of bread. . . possibly some home made pasta. . we shall see!

Cimmerian City may go down in my books as one of the worst books i have ever read. this, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you watch too many Milla Jovavich movies.

Review of Cimmerian City. Hope that link works, it's not my usually review hosting site.

and the book i'm desperaly trying to finish? it's what happens when you watch too much discovery channel.

all the books i think are crap seem to be getting phenominal reviews on Amazon. creative review editing by the author or publisher? reviews written by friends of the author? i'm not sure. everyone else gives the books 3 to5 stars, and i think it's crap. what's going on here?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

glorious proportions

my "to be read" pile has loomed to glorious proportions. should keep me busy for the 11 days (yes, that's ELEVEN) days that i'm on vacation, starting this saturday!

The Future Happens Twice, by Matt Browne (currenly half way through. it's a crazy long book!)
Paraworld Zero, by Matthew Peterson
Voices from the Street, by Philip K Dick (currently about 100 pages in)
Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt (i quickly read the first 5 pages when my friend lent me this book, and i'm already hooked)
Blame! Vol 1, by Tsutomu Nihei
St. Lunatic High School, Vol 1, by Majiko
Psychic Power Nanaki Vol 1, by Ryo Saenagi

i loves me manga!

this pile of books is so beautifully tall it blocks the view of the tv if i'm lying on the couch.

i was going to create and post a lovely collage of the book covers, but i just realized, this new hard drive doesn't have photoshop on it. poop. i'll try to get something up, eventually.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

short and sweet

Shrek the III - thumbs down. it's like the scriptwriter and the joke writer were working in two different rooms, on two different continents. and how many kids want to watch a movie about learning to be comfortable with having a baby? just take them to Juno.

Feast for Crows finally finished it. now i know why everyone is so up in arms they have to wait so long for the next book. cuz we wanna know what freakin' happens with the rest of the characters, that's why. and Martin, please don't become another Robert Jordan. it's unbecoming.

We the Living - yup, i still cry at the end. this book is dangerous. i should never read it again. it makes me. . . ambitious. and rebelious. bad!!

ARC's i need to read:
The Future Happens Twice, by Matthew Browne
Paraworld Zero by Matthew Peterson.

interesting, two matthews.

If you missed them the first time, here are reviews of some M. John Harrison books: Viriconium, and his latest baby, Nova Swing.

need something quick and easy for dinner? this is quick and easy, and makes leftovers.

Angel Hair Extensions

1 lb angel hair
6 slices turkey bacon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet pepper, chopped
1/2 chopped sun dried tomatoes (buy the ones in the jar w/olive oil, and drain the oil)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 package frozen spinach, defrosted
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
shredded parmesan cheese

get a big pot of water boiling. while it's heating up, put 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet, and cook turkey bacon till crisp. remove the turkey bacon and drain on paper towels, then chop it. put a little more olive oil in the skillet, and add sweet pepper, and garlic. cook till soft. add sun dried tomatoes, green onions, chopped bacon, and spinach, adding more oil if needed. stir, and cover. Your angel hair should be just about done by now. stir the balsamic vinegar into the skillet. if you've timed this right, your angel hair will be ready to strain right about the time the spinach has heated through and absorbed a little vinegar.

strain the pasta, toss with spinach and bacon mixture, and garnish with some parmesan cheese.

you can probably make this dish faster than you can read the recipe. enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

kentucky yakitori

contrary to popular belief, "yakitori" doesn't mean fried chicken. it means grilled.One of the most popular street foods in Japan, Yakitori is suprisingly easy to make at home, and worth every moment spent tracking down some unusual ingredients.

go to your local asian grocery store, and buy a bottle of Mirin (sweet rice wine), a small bottle of Shichimi Togarashi) Japanese 7-spice mix, and sake. the super cheap sakes are exactly that: super cheap. avoid them. you shouldn't have to spend more than $15 for a decent bottle of sake, and the stuff will keep in the your fridge for just about forever.

here is what you need, and how much you need of it:
1 to 2 lbs Chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup sake
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Shichimi Togarashi
1 green onion, sliced very thinly.

in a bowl, mix the soy, mirin, sake and sugar. lay out the chicken in a shallow flat pan in a single layer. pour the marinade over, and then sprinkle on some Shichimi. cover and refridgerate for at least 2 hours (i did it for 24 hours once, and it was incredible). if you're going to grill these, skewer them on soaked skewers, and grill over hot coals. if you don't have a grill (or don't want to use one), put a little oil in a heavy, non-stick flat bottomed skillet, and saute over medium heat, 4-5 minutes each side. garnish with a few more shakes of Shichimi, and sprinkles of green onions.

this is one of my favorite dishes. i can set up the chicken in the marinade in the morning before i leave for work, and it's ready to cook when i come home! heat up some veggies, and you're all set.

* using a non-stick pan is important. the sauce starts to carmelize, and while that gives the most divine outside to your chicken bits, you don't want to be scraping it off your frying pan all night long.

we've got some major coolness on the book block today. click your fingers over to Omnivoracious, one of's neato blogs. does that banner look familiar? that same picture was posted here a few weeks ago. and you too, dear reader, could have your bookshelf posted on Omnivoraious. just follow their easy submission directions. seriously, it's easier than blowing your nose.

bookwise, i am still slogging through Martin's A Feast for Crows. I'll finish it this weekend, i'm sure. i hate that it's starting feel like a chore. it's my own fault for having insanely high expectations for a writer i love, and then no matter what, i'm going to be dissapointed. kinda like the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I had crazy high expectations for that movie, so even if it had been totally awesome (which it wasn't), i still would have been dissapointed. Also reading Ayn Rand's We The Living. last time i read this book, i was 18 years old, the same age as Kira, our protaganist. so far, i love the book as much now as i did then. And yeah, Kira is an idealistic spoiled brat, but i was too, at 18. The end won't be a suprise this time, which will be sad.

I've got The Future Happens Twice by Matt Browne sitting on my coffee table, waiting to be read. seems he's been mailing out arc's like it's going out of style. I wonder what that means?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'm resigned to the fact that if certain characters haven't made an appearance in Feast for Crows yet, they probably aren't going to. i'll have to wait for Dance with Dragons. Sigh.

however, my review of Dreamsongs II is up over at SFRevu.

My darling other half got to open his Chanukah present to find a copy of Finding Serenity. Props to my friends at Kazoo Books for getting me that book in record time!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

To George R R Martin

Dear George R. R. Martin,

you seduced me with A Game of Thrones, and i became a true believer with the RRetrospecives (and Dreamsongs). but ser, i'm a little annoyed at you right now.

I'm half way through A Feast for Crows, and some of my favorite characters (I'm quite sure they are alive and kicking, or at least kicking) have yet to make an appearance. what gives? OK, so i understand lots of people lost heads and lives in the last few books. Must you introduce a new character for each one that dies? I was given 1,000 pages to fall in love with the Stark Family, to be with them on the first step of their individual hero quests and decide if i was interested in their destinies. I've had nearly four books to decide and redecide how i feel about the insane Lannister siblings. I've watched Daenerys grow into quite the woman, although my husband is convinced her character changed too fast (i disagree with him. she finally woke up) there are Stark children I want to track down, dragons i want to watch. I want to see who Daenerys ends up marrying (because i know she will) or at least hooking up with, and what's going ot happen to little Bran? but 300 pages+, and nary a mention of them.

can you really expect me to quickly fall in love with Asha, and Victarion, the Tyrell's, and Brienne (although Breinne is totally awesome), and others that i feel like i hardly know? I'm not sure I know these people very well yet. They came into the story fully formed, as adults. they already know the rules of the game of thrones. They were never innocents to start with. by default, their paths will be less painful, their safety less valued, their destiny less earned.

i realize there is more going on in Westeros and the Free Cities than the trials of the Stark family. Who but Jon Snow will save Westeros from winter? Who but Bran will see the path? and who but Daenarys will bind it all together? (and who the heck is Jon's mother???)

ok, I'm done whining now. just thought you should know how i feel, and what i'm thinking. thanks. i'm sure by the time i get to the end of Feast for Crows I'll love it as much as I loved the previous novels. . . but i'm a little annoyed right now. I feel like my favorite characters have abandoned me.


gotta switch gears, or i'm going to bitch and whine all afternoon, and never get anymore reading done. if you didn't come here for scifi/fantasy talk, you came here for food.

i've decided i need to learn to make more side dishes, because a hunk of meat with some sauce does not make a meal. and this dish combines onions and honey, two foods i love with a passion.

Onions and Carrots with Honey.

1/2 cup honey
1 cup water
1 package pearl onions (20-30 onions)
16 oz baby carrots, sliced length wise
pinch salt
1/2 tsp coriander

how to skin pearl onions:
boil in a few cups water for a few minutes. drain, and rinse with cold water. as soon as the onions are cool enough to handle, chop the ends off, and push the interior parts out through the end. sounds weird, works like a charm.

in a saucepan bring one cup water and honey to a boil. when it has reduced by half, add the onions and carrots and salt. bring back to a boil, then simmer until most of the remaining water has evaporated, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. stir in the coriander, and serve hot.