Sunday, January 27, 2008

January plaugue

i've been sick the last few days, with the January plaugue. you know the one everyone gets from all the hugging and kissing on New YEars Eve, then spends the next two weeks passing around to their family & friends? yuck. lots of chicken soup (yes, out a can, i suck, i know), and lemon and honey tea.

but my hubby has promised me some Caper Chicken this evening. even better, i think i'm feeling good enough to eat it.

Caper Chicken

3 or 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour heavily spiced with pepper and salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3-4 tbsp capers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp basil, freshly chopped in possible
prepared linguine

dredge chicken breasts in flour. heat butter and oil in a non-stick pan, and sautee breasts 4-6 minutes on each side. remove to a plate, and keep warm by covering with tin foil. you should still have some oil or fat in the pan. add the green onions, and cook one minute, scraping all the good bits off the bottom of the pan. add the wine, and bring mixture to a boil, until the wine is mostly boiled away. now add the tomatoes, capers, and garlic, and stir together. simmer until thickened.

put some linguine on a plate, put the chicken on top, and pour the sauce on top of the chicken. garnish with basil.

maybe it's because i haven't been feeling good, but i've been less than impressed with both Charlie Stross's Merchant Princes series, and Maggie Anton's Rashi's Daughter.

Merchant Princes. . . enjoyable, but i must just be cranky, because i'm not rushing out to get the next book in the series. Stross's writing is tight, as usual, characters are decently developed, i'm just having trouble caring. i wish he would spend more time explaining how things work in the other worlds. Yes, i understand Miriam doesn't understand how things work there, but give her (and me) a tourguide so we don't feel so damn lost. maybe i just need to read them again. i do have this problem with detail retention.

Rashi's Daughter - you know what? life in the middle ages was really fricken' boring. more so if you were female. so i can't completely blame the author for how uninspiring i find this book. Sure, Rashi himself has plenty of interesting things to say, but his daughters? they get up, they help the servants, they work on the farm, they grow up, they get married. the end. that's the problem with biopics of historic women - they really didn't do much. sorry.

meanwhile, i'm spending my sick time reading Fullmetal Alchemist and any other manga I can get my hands on.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

random thoughts

plently of randomness going on today. it's like one of those link sections on Whitney Matheson's Blog that i love so much.

A. posted a review of Matthew Peterson's Paraworld Zero here. i hope if they ever do another press run, or Peterson gets hooked up with a larger publisher, they put some better cover art on that thing. and if my only complaint is the cover art, than it's got to be pretty decent. and it was. except for all the god stuff. there wasn't much god stuff, just enough to annoy me, in my evil atheistic ways. if your kid likes Star Wars or Harry Potter, they are going to have a ball with this.

B. The culling of the list. i culled my MySpace friend list from about 200, down to 42. if i can't figure out how i know you, you got culled. i'm feeling old. and junk mail bulletins from strangers wasn't making me feel any younger.

C. i bought whole wheat flour! now what can i do with this stuff? i made the basic whole wheat bread recipe on the back of the container, and it came out pretty bleh. nice texture, but had all the attitude of cardboard.

D. found a new resale shop in town. god i love these places. and i bought a cute "Charlie & the Chocolate Factory" t-shirt for a few bucks. probably made in China. at the expense of the air quality in California. go read this article in Mother Jones.

E. to feel better, i bought some manga, and a bread cookbook. hopefully now i can figure out what do with the remaining four pounds of whole wheat flour. Although i did have to push my way through the throng of canoodling teenagers and tweens in front of the manga/graphic novel section at B&N. get out of my way! old married woman needs her fix! and the losers didn't even have the volume i was looking for. I ended up at the locally run, locally owned comic shop down the street. i should really just go there first. they've got friendlier cashiers, too.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It's good to know the meat guy.

I've discovered Pork. It really is the other white meat, and damn is it tasty. And we got a deal on a good cut at the grocery store. It pays to know the folks working at the meat counter, they'll slice a gigantic chunk of meat up into managable pieces that can be frozen a few at a time. Genius.

And then I discovered Sweet Pork, adapted slightly from my Mexican cookbook. This stew is unbelievably good. Cook up some rice to serve with it, if you want.

Olive oil
1 lb pork fillet, cubed
¾ cup flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can mild green chiles, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small can pineapple chunks, each chunk cut it half
1 large (or two small) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

you'll need a skillet, and a large baking dish or large casserole.

Preheat oven to 350.

toss cubed pork in flour. Heat a few tablespoons oil in the skillet, then add the pork, turning frequently to brown it on all sides (we just want to brown it a bit, it doesn't need to cook all the way through). Transfer meat to large baking dish. Add onion to skillet and cook until soft, adding more oil if needed. Stir in chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Add coriander, garlic, green chiles, tomatoes & bell pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into the baking dish, over the pork.

Bake for one hour, then stir in the diced sweet potatoes and pineapple. Cook another 30 minutes, or until pork is tender. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Can be served with rice.

and you all know what goes best with good food. . . . good books!

my Charles Stross addiction has finally brought me to his Merchant Princes series. I blew through The Family Trade in two days, and am nearing the end of The Hidden Family. Sure, the concept of traveling between parallel worlds has been done to death, but when's the last time someone used it to smuggle drugs and make a boatload of money? Stross is one of my favorites, and his treatment of capitalism is just delicious. book three, The Clan Corporate, is also on loan from my trusty library.

Just finished Paraworld Zero, by new author Matthew Peterson. It's your standard orphan boy finds out he can do magic, gets spirited away from Earth by a new friend, and finds himself in a strange new world. except, it's like good. and cute, and funny. at first, it felt like Harry Potter meets Star Wars, then it kinda turned more into Star Wars meets Harry Potter. Full review to show up soon. .. . because i've got a lot I want to say about this book.

also on loan from the library is Maggie Anton's Rashi's Daughter, Book I: Joheved. i just can't resist a book with hebrew words on the cover. who knows, maybe this will be my jumping off point to Talmud? i'm about 50 pages in, and it's good. Can't find any faults with it. It's vindicating to know that life for Jews in the middle ages wasn't nightmare after nightmare, 24/7. you gotta love those midaevil scholars.

ARCs received:
St. Lunatic High School, volume 2 by Majiko (I'm really starting to dig this
loli-goth artwork. that outfit on the back cover? i want that!)
Ugly Stores for Beautiful People, by James Burr. You know, i vaguely remember promising myself something about self published stuff. . . .but most of these stories have already been published in literary magazines, so we shall see.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

recipe round up.

i did a books of 2007 round up last week, now it's time for the recipe round up. last year, i mentioned 66 books in this blog. i'm betting i only did about 40 recipes. let's see. . .

2.Baked Macaroni & Cheese
3.Garlicky Roasted Potatoes
4.Apple Pie
5.Chicken in Orange Sauce
7.Chicken with Olives
8.pasta. (yes, the home made stuff. no machine needed)
9.Corn Chowder (not really a chowder)
10.Pie Crusts
12.Cinnamon Raisin Bread (holy crap is this stuff good!)
13.Herb Citrus Roasted Turkey
14.Gratin Savoyard
15.Coq au Vin
16.Poulet Chasseur
17.Rice Crispie Treats
17.Sugar Butter Cookies
18.Burgundy Chicken
19.Potatoes & Mushrooms
20.The best Fajitas you will ever have
21.Chickpea Salad
22.My Favorite Burgers
24.Cheater's Chili
25.Tart Tatin
26.Mushroom Barley Soup
27.Lemon Chicken with Olives
28.Beef Burgundy
29.Sweet Potatoes & Apples
30.Snow Peas with Tomatoes and Mint
31.Candied Carrots & Onions
32.Chicken Yakitori
33.Angel Hair Extensions
34.Zucchini Pasta

huh, only 34. oh well. looks like i read twice as often as i cook, and that's about right. although just this evening, i made Challah, oatmeal raisin cookies, and ginger snaps.

ginger snaps are totally my favorite. but i always make the cookies too big.

you need 2 large bowls, 2 cookie sheets, and all the other normal cookie making apparratuses (apparatusi?)

preheat oven to 350.

in the smaller bowl, whisk together:
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

is it mixed well? ok, next step:

in the larger bowl, blend:
12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar

when that is blended and light and fluffy, blend in:
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon or orange zest (optional)

stir the flour mixture in the molasses mixture, and blend well, till it all looks the same. pull peices of dough out the bowl, and roll between your fingers into 1" balls (seriously, don't go bigger than an inch. these suckers get big in the oven!), and put on greased cookie sheets. you should get 12-16 per sheet. bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes. cook the longer time for really crunchy cookies, cook the shorter time for softer cookies. they will develop the signature ginger snap cracks while baking. remove to racks to cool.

makes 5-6 dozen cookies.

Monday, January 7, 2008

"Self Published".

Attention authors: I do accept books for review, and I will do my best to give your book an honest review. if it is a good book, I'll say so. I'll tell all my friends to read it, I'll ask my local library to buy it, i'll post a five star review on every website i know. If it isn't a good book, i'll say that too. I am not a garunteed 5 star amazon reviewer. if you have the talent to write a book, then you certainly have the smarts to have it properly critiqued and edited, right?

that said, from here on out, I will no longer be accepting self published books for review. no more "authors online", "lulu", "athena press" or any other vanity publishers. if you paid a cent to have your book printed, i am not the reviewer for you.

why the tirade? life is too short. i don't have time for that shit.

see here . and here. and here. Ok, that last one wasn't technically "self published", but the small press publishing house is co-owned by the author, and that's close enough for me.

my apologies to all you authors who didn't like what I wrote about your books. maybe I was being too critical. it's not my fault, I've become jaded, thanks to authors like Kim Stanley Robinson, David Brin, Tim Powers, Charles Stross, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Adams, Barbara Kingsolver, even Amy Tan (i love her, but her stuff gets really repetitive!).

bitch session over, I have book news!

Last Call, by Tim Powers - not his best book, but very entertaining. dragged a bit at the end. I wish I knew more about Poker and Tarot cards.

just picked up Charlie Stross's The Family Trade. only about 100 pages in . . . and it's really fun so far!

official book reviews of those an others, hopefully coming soon. by "official" review, i mean something more than 2 sentences.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I made gloopy cookies.

well, they looked gloopy, and kind of gross, but tasted so good I've eaten like five of them so far, and I want more!

My hubby asked me to make him some oatmeal raisin cookies. I don't much care for oatmeal raising cookes (I'm more of a butter/sugar cookie girl myself), so I found a recipe, and started mixing.

Quick classic oatmeal cookies (adapted from the recipe in The Joy of Cooking)

preheat oven to 350. grease a few cookie sheets, or use nonstick cookie sheets.
in a medium bowl, combine the following:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

in a larger bowl, blend the following:
2 sticks softened butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

once that's well blended, add the flour mixture and blend well. again. now add:

1 1/2 cups chopped raisins
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

mix it all up till it looks all gloopy and gloppy. spoon heaping tablespoons onto the cookie sheets, and press down a little with the back of the spoon. you should get 10-12 cookies per cookie sheet, and 40-50 cookies total. bake at 350 for 6-9 minutes, until just browned on top, and slightly firm. remove to racks to cool.

yeah, they look a little gross, but they are really yummy. i think next time i'm going to try this recipe with currants, or dates, or something other than raisins. just to see what happens.

got a handful of reviews up, my first official Manga reviews!
Blame!, Volume one. I couldn't figure out why this series has this name, since our main character, Killy,  is just a guy trying to survive, and only kills cyborgs. turns out the word blame is a mistransliteration of the word blam, the sound Killy's gun makes when he blows away all those H.R. Giger-esque cyborgs.
Psychic Power Nanaki, volume I. this one was just so-so. has the potential to be a viable series, or just fall into iffyness. characters are pretty reminiscent of people already seen from this author. Is he pulling the same crossover stunt that CLAMP is known to do? can he pull it off?
St. Lunatic High School, Volume I. cute, and zany. I've read better, and I've read worse. i hope the author takes this beyond the "monster of the week" theme.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy birthday!

happy birthday read-eat-rinse-repeat! you're a whole year old! does that mean you can start eating solid food now? how 'bout some curry?

and happy new year christian calendar! you're 2008 years old! don't worry about feeling old, christain calendar, there's plenty of calendar folks older than you.

maybe it's just the time of year, but i've been seeing a lot of ads on tv for religious themed CD's (read: christian worship music and christian rock), and i gotta ask: where's the pastafarian cd's? how can i get one of those for $12.99 + shipping and handling, and if i act in the next 10 minutes, i'll also get the pastoral pastafarian CD?