I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Thursday, February 18, 2010

R2D2, my one war toy

We were strange evangelicals, taking heat from friends and pastors for being pro-choice. I did not realize till after I drifted from the church the degree to which we were viewed with suspicion for being the only evangelical family who was cool with abortion.

My mother's aversion to what she called "war toys" was another way in which we deviated from the evangelical norm. Many followers of Jesus are, oddly, quite comfortable with being citizens of a bellicose nation. Not us.

As a result, I had no GI Joe or even Star Wars toys as a child. It was important that I understand that war is not play. The one exception that snuck through the pacifist force field around my family was the diligent, dogged R2D2 you see above. R2D2 was my favorite Star Wars character; this one was made by a distant relative that I'm not sure I've actually ever met.

As the only material culture from the Star Wars universe to enter my world, you can imagine how fond I am of my ceramic R2D2.

steampunk pride

We met Ash at a party and were impressed by this show of steampunk pride.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

soundtracks for snow

If snow must come, at least we can have snow-appropriate music to make it seem festive and exotic. Bjork's Homogenic is one of those albums that seems all one piece, like a song cycle. Being Icelandic, Bjork knows something of snow, I guess. I love Sting's album of John Dowland songs (though I hate Sting's muttered readings from Dowland's letters; their inclusion seems pedantic and destroys the album's flow). The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir has the quiet staccato of snow hitting a window--and the Carter Family, is, of course, the real old-timey music for nights sealed away in the cabin.

We live two doors down from a spirited liberal my camerado calls The Oldest Living Rebel. I have written about him here. This year he gave me a new year's blessing that was as grand and comprehensive as anything a biblical patriarch could have come up with. We shovel him out when it snows; this time I listened to the Podcastle story Goblin Lullaby by Jim C. Hines.

Podcastle is becoming my constant companion.

shepherd's pie, borscht, chocolate pecan pie, recipes for snowed-in vegetarians

The snow inspired me to make some food. That's shepherd's pie above, which is not supposed to be in a pie crust, but I vaguely remember my grandmother making it that way. I love how things change in memory. Invariably, they become more interesting.

I used this recipe for the shepherd's pie, and put it in a pastry shell. Recipe books and the internet give me the sense that making a pie crust is a terrifying undertaking, with potential disaster lurking at every turn. I use the recipe on the back of the Arrowhead Mills whole wheat pastry flour bag, but with slightly less canola oil. Then I daub oil on the exposed part of the crust so it doesn't become hard when I bake it. Perfect every time.

The only changes I made to the recipe linked above are that I substituted SmartGround veggie protein crumbles for actual animal parts, and chased the fake beef around a pan with one shallot and some apple cider vinegar. I partly mashed the potatoes with some gooey roasted garlic, and cut up the potato skins and left them in for vitamins and texture. Impatience, thrift, or moral objections led me to omit the onions, flour, milk, beefstock, and all spices except salt and pepper. As a result, the shepherd's pie was bland the first night, but after mellowing in the refrigerator overnight it tasted perfect today.

(I put butter in the potatoes, but if you are a vegan you could omit that).

Then, since my camerado is a Southern boy I made him a chocolate pecan pie. All the recipes online used corn syrup, which seemed revolting. I looked at some vegan blogs to see what they would use instead of corn syrup--not that corn is animal-derived, but I tend to think of vegans as too health-conscious to pour corn syrup into themselves and the people they love.

The two vegan blogs I checked admitted that they had adapted their recipe for chocolate pecan pie from Martha Stewart, so I deduced that Martha is the blogosphere's go-to gal for chocolate pecan pie.

The Martha Stewart recipe also called for a cup and a half of corn syrup, so, disgusted and irate, I improvised a replacement of a half cup each of brown rice syrup, canola oil, and maple syrup. This seemed marginally less health-destroying. (Brown rice syrup is a slow sugar). Martha said not to beat the eggs but I did anyway, because I read that part after the beatings took place. This was a happy accident, as it fluffed up the oil/syrup/chocolate/egg mix, with the result that the pecans floated on top of a light chocolate meringue, and toasted nicely, instead of sinking through sticky chocolate gunk to rest on the bottom. (Martha Stewart was accused of sticking pecans on top of her pie for the photo by one of the vegan bloggers I consulted).

I omitted the sugar and we did not miss it. A half cup of maple syrup and a half cup of brown rice syrup is enough sweetener. Next time I will use unsweetened chocolate chips--and will not melt all of them, but leave some intact for texture.

That's borscht. My borscht is so far from authentic that it's almost ludicrous to call it borscht, but the word is so satisfying I can't relinquish it. True borscht is watery and tainted with meat stock, onions, tomatoes, and who knows what other horrors. Mine is four beets, three green apples, and the juice of three or four lemons, plus honey and 1 teaspoon of allspice. The point of it is not to get in the way of the hearty, warming, energizing goodness of beets.

I cook the beets, then cut them up, then cook them some more, and mash them--but I do not cook or mash them excessively. I want them to have their essential beetness. The recipe I use is from an Australian health guru named Dr. Sandra Cabot. It calls for five tablespoons of honey, which may be more than it needs, plus chicken stock and egg yolks, which I omit. Beets are hearty enough without them.

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