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Friday Open Thread: Recipes and Books

Thanks for all the recipes and books! I need to step away from moderation for the next few days due to some work deadlines and can’t pay attention to the spam queue, so am closing comments. We’ll do another one of these sometime soon. 

In the meantime, work on finding us a rich benefactor so we can throw a legendary potluck.

______________________________________________________________

Hello, Awkwardeers!

How are you? It is Friday. I am grading final projects. Let’s have an open thread!

Inspired by madgastronomer’s recent sharing of a key lime pie recipe, if you feel inclined, please share a recipe that you love to make.

Ground Rules: If you read the recipe and it contains something you hate, don’t eat, or can’t eat, it would be great if you just skipped over the comment completely without comment. You can ask about substitutions, but no “Ew” or “It sounds awesome except for x ingredient, which is the food of Satan” or “well, I’m allergic so I can’t” or “Not everyone can afford to shop at Whole Paycheck.” Chances are that you’re not going to make whatever it is anyway, and those comments are just a downer for the person who shared it in the first place. Also, there will be zero diet-talk, discussion of calories, weight loss, relative healthfulness, “sinfulness,” shame, moralizing, or guilt. We can do this, I think.

If you also feel so inclined, I’d also love to know what you are reading these days that you love.

Me?

I am about 3/4 way through Swamplandia! and loving it so far. I’ve been reading a ton of Connie Willis & Octavia Butler, also.

Foodwise, I am hoping the farmer’s market has asparagus tomorrow, so I can go back to this for breakfast.

This is a standby cheap & healthy dinner, though my solo-dinner making has resembled this more often than not of late. If you make the broccoli/chickpea/tomato thing, one secret thing I figured out thanks to SweetMachineSP is that if you roast the chickpeas & broccoli (toss with olive oil, salt, and your choice of spices, spread out on a cookie sheet, roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes) instead of steaming it takes it to eleven.

Happy reading & eating! Happy graduation to my former students, I am proud of you! And happy weekend!

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252 comments
  1. I am currently reading 1Q84, which is a terrifyingly thick book by Haruki Murakami. It is the kind of book one might skip at the store because it’s so alien and thick, but it’s got a delicious double narrative that is slowly winding together the two strands.
    But before that I read Cloud Atlas, and whether you saw the movie or not, DEFINITELY READ Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. It is lyrically awesome and it really shows you how much of a miracle the film’s screenplay is. I recommend it to everyone!

    I can’t cook so no recipes here.
    Seriously. Cloud Atlas. It’s got a lot to chew on and it’s got wonderful language and it’s just…yeah. Wow.

    • Seconding Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. I personally find the film problematic as hell, but the book’s use of language and subtlety in storytelling make it one of my all-time favorites. I’ve recommended it to everyone I know.

      • thegirlfrommarz said:

        David Mitchell is one of my all-time favourite authors. Cloud Atlas is probably his masterpiece, but I also loved The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (the opening section is a bit slow, but stick with it as it gets really good!) and all his other books.

        One of my other all-time favourite authors is AS Byatt. If you haven’t yet read Possession, it’s an incredible book: literary (she writes original poetry as the work of two different 19th century poets), thrilling (the denouement is as gripping as any thriller), moving and sumptuous. I also highly recommend Hilary Mantel’s two Thomas Cromwell books. You can simply sink into them. (All of these are very well known, of course, but they are books I go back to again and again.)

        • DFTBAwkward said:

          I love A.S. Byatt! Possession is divine but you have to be a really specific kind of nerd to like it, I think. Are you in to literary academia and poetry? HAVE AT IT, THIS BOOK IS PERFECT. You aren’t? Probably skip. Also caveat that Possession has been criticized, rightly I think, for being hella, hella white.

          • thursdaynextgal said:

            The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt, was one I’d retire to bed at 7 p.m. to have an excuse to read great chunks of and never wanted to end BUT content warning for incest/sexual assault. By the way, DFTBAwkward, love your handle!

    • gmg said:

      “Cloud Atlas,” man … what an amazing achievement. It’s like he wrote every different kind of book at the same time and yet they all fit together.

    • AmyS said:

      Cloud Atlas, my favorite book of all time. Not for everyone, but I loved it even more the second time I read it!

    • Kerandria said:

      Murakami is one of my favourite authors. My heart is happy to see him mentioned here!

    • Elikit said:

      I have had IQ84 both in physical form and in e-book form since it came out, and I cannot bring myself to read it, because my attention span is crap at the moment and I don’t want to squander that feeling of reading something awesome for the first time on my scattered brain. So I am waiting but I hope that I don’t build it up so much that actually reading it is anti-climactic…

  2. CaryT said:

    This is so funny because my friend just went vegan and i wrote her some recipes!

    here’s what i sent her!

    “Hi Janis!!!

    These are the four recipes that I probably couldn’t live without, enjoy!

    Chickpea Wings

    1 cup cooked chickpeas
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
    1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
    1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
    2 cloves garlic, pressed
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
    Vegetable or Canola oil

    Drain and microwave the chickpeas in for 1 minute.

    Add olive oil and mash. Add all other ingredients and knead until they’re evenly dispersed.

    Mold into wing size and put to the side.

    Fill a pan with a half inch of cheap oil and heat below boiling point, fry wings until they’re slightly hardened at surface.

    I like this with a hot sauce/ BBQ sauce mix!

    I basically stole this from the Veganomicon, but i just excluded some non essential stuff and deep fry instead of pan frying.

    Vegan Chili

    3 carrots
    3 stalks of celery
    1 red onion
    4 cloves garlic
    2 serrano peppers
    1 can whole peeled tomatoes
    1 can black beans
    1 can pinto beans
    1 can kidney beans
    1 tbps chili powder
    1 tbs paprika
    2 bay leaves
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Put all the veges and garlic into a food processor until they are tiny. Then cook with some olive oil for about 15 minutes or so.

    Then put the whole peeled tomatoes in the food processor until they liquefy; add to veges and cook for another 15 or so.

    Add the beans and spices and cook for another hour or longer, until all ingredients are mushed together!

    (P.s. this is awesome on some garlic bread or toast!

    Squash & Kale Soup

    1 medium butternut squash
    1 white onion
    A bush of kale
    1 can white beans
    8 cups water or vegetable broth
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    Cinnamon
    Cayenne pepper
    S&P + other spices as you like!

    Peel squash and dice into 2 inch pieces.

    Dice onion and heat in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they caramelize. Add water/ broth and squash. Cook at a soft boil for about an hour, until the squash is dissolved.

    Add white beans/ spices and cook for another 15 minutes or so, then add kale until it boils down then eat the sh#t out of it!

    Pizza Dough:

    3 cups flour
    1 pack active yeast
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup warm water

    Add together and knead until there is no loose flour and it’s all evenly dispersed. Let it sit for about a half hour. (If you’re having trouble flattening it out, it may need some more time for the yeast to do whatever stuff yeast does!)

    Btw, pizza is the best thing in the world. You can basically make any you could think of, I’ve made falafel, taco, buffalo, kimchi, philly cheese steak, any sort of weird thing! It’s great! lemme know if you want any of those specific ones and i’ll write it out.

    But anyway, im drawing a blank now and im at work so I cant just look at my recipe drawer! hope you think these are gooooooooood!!

    Have a good one!”

    • Bunny said:

      Ooh, the chickpea wings sound amazing! Do they hold together well for dipping? Because I have been looking for some new things to try with my favourite chilli dip.

    • That In A Hat said:

      Ooh! I’ve never thought of adding kale to butternut squash soup but it sounds like a great way to turn something that’s already healthy into something that’s like a freaking Mario power-up.

      I love making butternut squash soup because the hardest thing is cutting the squash and after that it’s just “make this hot, make that hot, scoop that into this, add liquid and wait.” Have you tried it with a dollop of sour cream and some toast (I cut french bread, drizzle it with olive oil, and bake it for the toast)? Because that is some ultimate comfort food.

      Always excited to find another way to eat kale.

  3. Ve said:

    I’d like to ask for a recipe recommendation: Does anyone have an especially good carrot cake recipe? I’m contemplating baking one for a friend’s birthday in July, it’s his favorite.

    • zigeunerweisen said:

      Oh, oh – Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot Cake recipe is amazing: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/12/carrot-cake-with-maple-cream-cheese-frosting/

      My husband makes carrot cupcakes from that recipe for me for my birthday every year. He actually “grates” the carrots on our microplane grater, so it’s almost like carrot pulp (and I think he uses slightly fewer carrots because so much of the liquid is retained), and replaces half of the oil with applesauce. Anyway, they are seriously the best carrot cupcakes EVER (in my opinion, of course!).

    • M. said:

      So, hopefully this isn’t too self-promotional, but this is my recipe: http://stuffedgrapes.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/carrot-cake-for-someone-special/

      The mister’s favorite is carrot cake and that is one of my favorites, with my added tweaks. The glaze that you put on the warm cake helps keep it really moist — a few usual carrot cake haters even liked it!

      I’m also attempting a carrot cake ice cream cake for him this year (homemade cream cheese ice cream with spiced candied carrots, toasted walnuts, toasted coconut, and bourbon-plumped golden raisins). His birthday is in June so if it turns out well I’ll probably be posting my recipe for that before your friend’s birthday.

      • JenniferP said:

        Not too promotional!

        And yeah, commenters, if you have a food blog, you are welcome to pimp it here as long as you give a description of what’s up and maybe link to a specific recipe.

      • M Dubz said:

        Re: carrot cake ice cream.
        OMFGWANT.

  4. JenniferP said:

    If anyone needs a recipe for sexy nude Lawyer muscles, there is a guy in the spam filter who wants to tell us all about it.

    • Amy Hawkins said:

      If only I had known I could just whip those up in my kitchen at any time!

      • JenniferP said:

        I think he wants to deliver them, uh, personally.

        • bearcatbanana said:

          Can we sample before we commit?

    • Pterinochilus murinus said:

      Sexy nude lawyer muscles with spam? Interesting combination. Tell me more – are we talking a casserole, a stir-fry, some sort of roast, or what? What sort of spices? And are there vegetables to accompany the meats?

    • UnsuckableButtercup said:

      I’d rather eat Spam than nude lawyer muscles, myself. Cannibalism is *so* eighties.

  5. annecara said:

    This pasta with garlicky peas and roasted mushrooms recipe is one of my favorite things to make in the spring/summer. The only downside is that it’s a three-pan recipe, but the end result is worth the cleanup.

    I’m currently reading People Who Eat Darkness – it took a little while to get going, but now it’s absolutely engrossing.

    • GemmaM said:

      I saw this comment, clicked through, and decided that this recipe was exactly what I wanted to eat today. So I made it! It was amazing! Thank you!

      (Particularly the mushrooms. Oh, those mushrooms. So much depth of flavour!)

  6. YAY RECIPES!!!!!!!!

    Meat warning: a lot of my recipes use different meats, but I think they are all open to vegan options.

    Here’s one I put together a long time ago:

    You will need:

    -1 bag of boneless chicken breast tenders, frozen
    -Bangkok Padang Peanut Sauce
    -Naturally Fresh Ginger Dressing
    -Wasabi Teriyaki Sauce (I bought it at Costco)

    At least 3 or 4 hours before dinner (I actually do it the night before), take out the chicken. Hold each piece under lukewarm running water for 30 seconds to a minute to remove the protective ice glaze on each piece of chicken (this makes it easier for the chicken to marinate), and line each one in a pan with large sides (for marinating). Do NOT throw away the bag the tenders came in, as you’ll need the directions on it later. Once that’s finished, take 1 TBSP of peanut sauce. Using your finger (please have clean hands :mrgreen: ), rub just a small bit of peanut sauce onto each tender. Repeat this process with the ginger dressing, but use a little more ginger dressing on each tender.

    Now, take the Wasabi Teriyaki sauce and pour that into the pan until the chicken is just completely covered. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the fridge.

    When it comes time to cook your dinner (about 3 to 4 hours later), remove the pan from the fridge, and cook the marinated chicken, still in the sauce, per the oven directions on the bag the chicken came with (now you see why I said not to throw that bag away).

    When finished, serve any way you want (as sandwiches, on a bed of Asian salad [you can use the ginger dressing as dressing for the salad], or any other way you please).

    For those who don’t like spicy, this is not a spicy meal. In fact, it’s somewhat sweet. The ginger dressing counteracts the spiciness of the peanut sauce, and the Wasabi Teriyaki sauce, despite its name, is sweet, as Teriyaki is the dominant flavor in the sauce, and the Wasabi flavor is more of a compliment or after-thought.

    If you want spicy, add extra Wasabi or peanut sauce on the salad or sandwich or however you choose to present/serve the chicken after it’s cooked.

    I served this as a salad, and I mixed ginger dressing and the sauce in the pan as the dressing for the salad. I added on wasabi and peanut sauce as an after-thought to make it spicier for me specifically. It’s all to your tastes, of course.

  7. bearcatbanana said:

    1 pound cucumbers, shredded (use food processor, if you have one)
    1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight, then drained
    2 cloves garlic
    1 tablespoon olive oil (I’ve subbed 1 T avocado for paleo friends)
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to your taste)
    3 tablespoons lemon juice
    pepper (white or black, to taste)
    1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
    kalamata olives to garnish

    Squeeze handfuls of grated cucumber over bowl to remove as much juice as possible. Retain juice and place squeezed cucumber in another bowl.

    Combine cashews, lemon juice, half the cucumber, garlic, oregano, salt, lemon juice and pepper in food processor or blender. Blend until really creamy, while adding 1-3 tablespoons of retained cucumber water until mixture is approximately the consistency of hummus.

    Put blender mixture in bowl. Stir in remaining cucumber and dill. Garnish with olive oil and olives (if you like). Serve with pita and any kind of crudité.

    I put the remaining cucumber water in a pitcher of flat water or occasionally mix it in mixed drinks. IMHO, it isn’t so good in sparkling water, which is my favorite water.

    • bearcatbanana said:

      I should add that if you can’t make hummus that is a texture to your liking in your blender or food processor, then this recipe won’t work either. Sorry.

      • MuddieMae said:

        I have suggestions if one is having trouble getting good hummus texture! One of those suggestions might be applicable to your recipe, too.

        Properly creamy hummus should have an emulsion of the oil and chickpeas. Just dumping everything in a bowl won’t create the emulsion. Mix the non-oil parts until smooth, and then add the oil slowly while the food processor is running.

        (The other suggestion is removing the chickpea skins, which is tedious but makes a big difference.)

        • UnsuckableButtercup said:

          If you’re not vegan, a tablespoon of commercial mayonnaise really helps the texture, although MuddieMae makes me wonder if it’s not the mayo per se but the emulsifiers added to it that help…

        • Flowery Hedgehog said:

          Warming the chickpeas before blending them also helps get the texture smoother. :) I warm them on the stove, but if you have a microwave that’ll work, too.

        • Another way to get the texture smooth and creamy is to cheat and not use chickpeas. I make mine using purple hull peas, which are a relative of black-eyed peas, but most field peas or cowpeas will do. Purple hull peas grow really well in our part of the world, and we try to do the locavore thing to the extent that we can. Can dig up my recipe if anyone’s interested.

  8. I’m currently reading Frankenstein for my sci-fi book club.

    Major conclusion so far: Frankenstein (the inventor) was an arsehole. If he’d been more considerate, or shown more common sense, there would be no plot.

    (It also manages to pass the Bechtel test with no prob even though the famous characters are male.)

    • JenniferP said:

      One of the coolest artthings I have put in my eyes in recent times is the Danny Boyle-directed stage adaptation of Frankenstein, with Benedict Cumberbatch & Johnny Lee Miller alternating roles of the Creature & the Doctor every night. (I didn’t travel to London, they did National Theatre Live broadcasts in a local movie theatre here). There is so, so much awesome to be had in that story, and it made me re-read the book right afterward.

      Your conclusions about the arsiness of Dr. Frankenstein are correct.

      • d00d, that production was so, so, so good. I saw Monsterbatch and Millerstein; which did you see? I got so excited that afterward it took me half an hour to find my car in the parking garage, no lie. A security guard drove me around AT TOP SPEED while I hit the panic button on my key fob. Adventures!

        • JenniferP said:

          Commander Logic and I saw both, which was a privilege. Cumberbatch played the monster like a patient recovering from a brain trauma, trying to remember how to work. Miller played the monster like a child learning to do things for the first time. Cumberbatch really shone as the doctor – the line where he describes the food in Scotland as “unforgettable” stands out to me, and I slightly preferred Miller’s creature, but am mostly happy about the way the two stagings talked to one another in this crazy meta conversation.

      • I live in London – but the production sold out before I heard about it.

        (I wonder if it’s available on dvd?)

        I still have big reservations about living there, but the arts scene is definitely amazing. I go to the theatre a lot, both to the big name companies and the tiny shows in a railway arch. Scary amounts of talent in the latter.

        • thegirlfrommarz said:

          I was lucky enough to see it at the National Theatre with Monster Lee Miller and Cumberstein. The production didn’t *totally* work overall for me, but I LOVED the moment with the train appearing out of the darkness – very much in keeping with Boyle’s Olympic opening ceremony. And of course the acting was amazing.

    • Amanda said:

      Mary Shelley’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was one of the most outspoken early feminists of her era (late 18th century). She wrote a book called A Vindication of the Rights of Women that’s a foundational text.

      Totally with you on Dr. Frankenstein, seriously, dude, get over yourself. The book itself holds up way better than you’d expect, though!

      • Lots of awesome going around.

        There are also entertaining traces of their radical sympathies.

      • I am actually related to Mary Shelley :D Unfortunately it is via her husband (a great-great-something on my maternal grandfather’s side…) so I’m not related to Mary Wollstonecraft :(

    • Pterinochilus murinus said:

      The monster wasn’t much better. For example, here’s an email he sent Captain Awkward: “I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself will not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.”

      • Yeah, very icky.

        But he had no real chance, with no education or guidance, and hated on sight by everyone (very non-pc).

        Victor F was a full grown adult with no ability to consider the likely result of his actions or to plan for obvious contingencies, but makes up for it by blaming his creation for his own failure.

        • Pterinochilus murinus said:

          Oh, I totally agree that Frankenstein was worse and had way less excuse, I just wanted to post that quotation here, because it stuck in my mind when I read the book, and it does sound a lot like a particular kind of entitled dude. Like his next move if Frankenstein did make him a Bride would have been to stare at her creepily for a few minutes, then spit “I bet you’re not a real gamer.”

        • Victor is also not very smart. Like, he actually starts building lady!monster, but then is all WHAT IF THEY HAVE BABIES, and so then he tears her up entirely. Dude, you are building this lady!monster from scratch, you could just make her not able to have babies.

          …I have read Frankenstein for like four different classes and each time I just hated Victor more and more.

  9. Amy Hawkins said:

    There are several “love it or hate it” ingredients in here, but if you love these ingredients, MAKE THIS. They are delicious together and it comes together really quickly. If you’re iffy about the tuna but love everything else, TRY IT. It’s really good.

    Vaguely Greek-ish Tuna Pasta!

    1) Start boiling a box of pasta, preferably something “grabby” like rigatoni or shells to trap all the delicious ingredients below.

    2) Prepare the following:
    a clove or 2 of garlic, chopped very finely
    about a third of a red onion, chopped semi finely
    one pkg (or generous large handful) of FRESH basil, chopped
    one smallish jar of kalamata olives, sliced
    6-8oz feta cheese, crumbled

    3) When the pasta is ready, drain it and crack open a can of tuna packed in olive oil (NOT vegetable oil). If you can’t find it, substitute well drained tuna + enough olive oil to coat your pasta. Option 1 will result in better flavor. I use 2 cans of tuna for 1 pound of pasta.

    4) Stir the tuna into the pasta until the pasta is lightly coated with the oil. Dump in your ingredients from step 2. Add some red pepper flakes if you like it hot!

    NOTES: If you, like me, tend to automatically double or quadruple the garlic in all recipes, don’t do that here! It stays raw, so a little goes a long way!

    There should be no need to add salt to the final product – the tuna, olives and feta should add enough on their own.

    • JenniferP said:

      Spaghetti al tonno is one of my winter staples, so I will definitely try this!

      My version, adapted from The Silver Spoon Cookbook:

      2 cloves of garlic, chopped
      some olive oil
      1 can of tuna packed in olive oil
      1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
      crushed red pepper, chopped fresh basil OR fresh parsley to taste
      1/2 lb of spaghetti cooked all dente
      Serves 2 for dinner with 1 portion of leftovers

      Optional: 1 mashed up anchovy thrown in at the end, whatever olives you have in the house, pitted & sliced

      Heat olive oil in pan, add garlic, sautee until tender, make sure you don’t burn it
      Throw in tuna and mash it all up
      Add tomatoes, cook until it boils
      Throw in fistful of chopped basil or parsley and mix together
      Stir in anchovy and/or olives if you’re using
      Mix with pasta, shake some crushed red pepper on top

    • Anonymus said:

      thank you for the note not to quadruple the garlic! That’s something I definitely am in the habit of doing. This recipe looks good. Next time I want a treat I will buy some feta and see about making this.

    • Ooh, that sounds marvelous! I’m on a big canned tuna kick right now, but tuna salad sandwiches and cheesey tuna melts are getting a little old.

      I wonder if one could leave out the garlic and increase the onion a bit, if one was not terribly fond of garlic?

  10. duaecat said:

    This is my go-to fridge mix Greek Salad.

    2-3 cans chick peas drained and rinsed
    1 1/2 cup orzo, cooked (the 1.5 c is dry measurement)
    2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
    1 jar sliced Kalamata olives
    1 lb. crumbled feta cheese
    4 tbsp. lemon juice
    1/4 c red wine vinegar
    1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
    1 tsp oregano
    1 tsp parsley

    Mix everything together in a large bowl and eat as-is. It’s even better the next day when the flavors mingle and the orzo soaks up the liquid. The original recipe was for half of this, so it halves just fine!

    And http://www.food.com/recipe/chickpea-burger-338863 is a base veggie burger for me. I tend to add in everything without measuring too closely, then adjust. If it’s dry, I add in more egg, I typically up the spices. Instead of frying one at a time, I line my cookie sheet with parchment paper and make patties on it, then bake them. I’m tempted next time to try adding in chopped kalamata olives for some “chocolate chips” in my chickpea cookies.

  11. j_l said:

    This is my standby delicious chocolate cake for parties etc: http://thepassionatecook.typepad.com/thepassionatecook/2004/05/seriously_rich_.html

    I usually skip the ganache frosting and I’ve never tried the chocolate curls on top but it’s still delicious without them! The recipe makes for a LOT of ganache, more than I could fit on the cake the one time I tried, so the ingredients for that could be halved.

  12. My Thing these days is the Larabar. It turns out that these days, I am seriously protein powered. Time for Larabar! They’re awesome! They’re made of FoodTM and taste seriously good and surprisingly like what’s on the label, like how can something that’s mostly dates taste like peanut butter cookie I ASK YOU.

    Also, egg mcmuffins. I mean, mcdonalds, okay, fast food, I know, everyone is supposed to sneer, but I don’t actually have the technology at home to consistently cook an egg in that shape! It’s steamed or something, not fried, and it is a perfect breakfast food pellet.

    —–

    As for things I might make, I recommend everyone learn the magic that is the dutch baby! You need a pan you can put in the oven. Best is a cast iron frying pan but a glass pie tin works too, or a steel frying pan, or really anything round and oven safe.

    Preheat the oven to somewhere around 375. The temperature is forgiving. Some people start it low and then kick it up at the end. Some people keep it high all the way through. It’ll be fine.

    Stick some butter in your round thing and pop it in the oven. It must be hot! this is key!

    In your blender, or if you don’t have a blender, mix with a whisk, stuff in the following proportions. N is the number of eggs involved, and a 10-inch round thing seems happiest at 3ish eggs’ worth. Ideally, your eggs and milk are room temperature. I never wait. Sometimes I heat up the milk in the microwave a bit, so the batter is closer to room temperature.

    N eggs
    N/4 cups flour
    N/4 cups milk
    N T sugar/honey for a sweet baby, less for a savory baby
    N/4 teaspoons of salt, give or take, more for savory. This is like “generous pinch”.
    A bit of melty butter, like a tablespoon or so.
    Other flavors as you prefer (cinnamon! rosemary!)

    Blend. Or whisk mightily.

    USING OVEN MITTS, SERIOUSLY, open your oven and make sure your round pan thing is hot, and tilt it around to spread the butter. Pour your batter into the pan and pop that pan right back into the oven.

    Bake for somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on temperature and how deep your egg mix is. THe edges will crawl up the sides, the center will poof up. THe edges will set but the center will probably fall. You want to pull it out before the edges burn, but after the center is set.

    You can also throw in yummy things when you pour in the batter, like cinnamon apples.

    FWIW, popovers and yorkshire pudding are the same basic thing except the ratios are N/2 instead of N/4 and the containers are different.

    • Amanda said:

      I think we might have the same palate – YES to both Larabars and Egg McMuffins (though I often make mine at home – you can actually get eggs in that shape by using a silicone egg mold, and getting a similar texture to the egg by starting the egg off in the pan with a teensy bit of butter, then turning off the heat when it starts to set, pouring a little bit of water in the pan, and covering the egg with a lid. I very much prefer the texture to a fried egg).

      I do a variation on the dutch baby where I simmer apples in butter + sugar + cinnamon + nutmeg in a cast iron pan, then pour the batter over them, then put the whole thing in the oven. It ends up being a slightly denser version, and the buttery mixture caramelizes a bit. My go-to weekend breakfast.

      • Do you love duck? I love duck. I get duckgasms from eating good duck. I haven’t learned to cook it yet, I am afraid of making myself sad by making bad duck.

        For a long time my Default Dinner went like this:

        Get pan. Chop onion, (and carrot and celery if present), dump into pan, start it cooking down. Dump in spoonful of chopped garlic from a jar. Cut up frozen meat because I forgot to defrost it and dump it in.

        Investigate kitchen for other vegetative matter. If it’s starchy, add water to pan when it goes in.* If not, put in when meat is just about done.

        Investigate kitchen for appropriate spices or herbs. Spike is a great mix.

        Investigate kitchen for appropriate flavorant to make a sauce-like thing. Fruit juice, soy sauce, whatever I have that seems to go with whatever is currently in the pan.

        Add flavored dry things and flavored liquids and probably some water, cook down, thicken if necessary, cook off water if necessary.

        Investigate kitchen for a substrate because (oops!) forgot to put on rice or something ahead of time. Couscous takes five minutes in the microwave, or just eat it because hungry.

        One of the best was chicken with cherries and almonds over fresh baby spinach, which wilted nicely. The sauce was red wine and OJ. It was fantastic, until the wine gave me a migraine.

        *I have now learned about “par-boiling potato”. I recommend it.

        • manybellsdown said:

          Duck is not that bad! I am a pretty bad and lazy cook, and I’ve made duck a few times. I use a thin boning knife to pierce the skin without stabbing into the meat, so the fat will drain out. It’s really not as scary as it sounded the first time I tried it.

    • My family makes a similar thing to that Dutch baby, except we call it “oven pancake” and it’s made in a 13×9 pan (family of five people, so.). It is one of my favorite meals! I second the deliciousness that is that meal!

      • UnsuckableButtercup said:

        Goodness, yes. It’s so easy and good, but everyone thinks you’re Escoffier when you serve it. “It puffs! Tell me, what house were you in at Hogwarts Culinary?”

    • I worked at maccas in Australia as a teenager. The eggs are cooked on a hot plate/grill, in egg rings – they have a contraption that has six egg rings joined together with a handle. It has a lid so you don’t have to flip the eggs. The result is fried egg on one side and poached on the other. You can do the same at home by putting a lid on the frypan.

      And for a healthy, edible egg ring – slice a capsicum and use that! (I grew up eating ‘army eggs’ that used slices of bread in a similar way).

      http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2012/03/cook-eggs-in-capsicum-or-onion-rings-for-a-simple-clever-breakfast-treat/

  13. What a great idea! Good vegan cakes aren’t always easy to find, so here’s my offering – the family gingerbread recipe: http://elinorofkentdale.wordpress.com/recipes/sweet/cakes/gingerbread/ This is most deliciously dark and sticky, and if you love ginger it doesn’t hurt to tip a bit more in. I’ve got some other recipes posted on the site as well, so do feel free to go digging around for them.

    I have just finished “Time Will Tell” by Donald Greig, which is a mystery novel set in the world of early music. It’s an excellent read, and there’s even a good feminist point deftly made. You don’t have to know anything about early music to enjoy it; both the plot and the humour should be accessible to anyone (and it’s extremely funny in places). A great first novel, and I look forward to his next.

    • JenniferP said:

      I think this book is right up my alley, thank you!

  14. lilaeden said:

    The easiest treat I can think of is five ingredients – 1 lb bag of powdered sugar, 2 sticks melted butter, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs and 12 oz bag chocolate chips. Combine the first 4 and press into a 13 x 9 pan, then spread melted chocolate over it evenly. Cut after 10-15 minutes in the fridge into bars and chill again until chocolate is set.

    So delicious, they kill at parties.

    • annecara said:

      I am saving this recipe and making it for sure. It sounds AMAZING.

    • bearcatbanana said:

      Do you melt the peanut butter? Just wondering how you get it combined.

      • lilaeden said:

        You shouldn’t need to, it just takes a little elbow grease. :) I never have but I bet you could! You can also add the sugar last and hold back on it a little if it seems too dry. The mixture should press into a pan very easily and shouldn’t be very sticky. I’ve had good luck with it and used to make these in college when I only had a microwave to cook with.

    • annecara said:

      I am already planning on making this. It sounds delicious.

  15. I just finished reading A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, which really makes you think of how stories can touch readers, even for small audiences. It’s about an account of a Japanese nun written by her great-granddaughter and how it washes up on the Pacific Northwest only to be found by a writer herself. It’s touching and powerful and heartfelt.

    I have a recipe for my mom’s scallion pancakes, which goes as follows:

    1 part hot water to 3 parts flour
    1 bunch of finely chopped scallions
    Vegetable oil
    Salt

    Knead the hot water into the flour until the dough is smooth (one way to tell is if your hands are relatively clean and not covered in dough goop after a while). Cover with a towel and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

    Separate dough into sections. Roll each one out on a floured board in a circle, dab some oil and salt on, and sprinkle scallions down in a line. Then roll up the circle (like a crepe), coil it into a spiral, and roll it into a circle again.

    Lightly oil a frying pan and fry each side over medium heat for 3 minutes. Serve hot.

    • bearcatbanana said:

      This sounds delicious and simple. Will try.

    • Whoa, I’m going to read that Ruth Ozeki book as soon as I can find it! I loved My Year of Meats and never knew she had other novels. Thanks for mentioning it. =)

      • No problem! I got it for the Kindle, but I’m sure there’s plenty hardcover copies to be found. :) (She also has All Over Creation, which was out in 2003 or so, but I didn’t find it as good as My Year of Meats and A Tale for the Time Being.)

        Also, CA, are we limited to submitting just one post for recipes? I realized with others linking their favorites that there are quite a few I’d like to share from great bloggers, if that’s all right with you.

        • JenniferP said:

          Just for manageability, maybe keep it to 3? If this thread is a success we will do this again sometime. Thanks for asking!

        • Katie said:

          I can’t reply to your most-nested comment for some reason, but Maangchi!! I just discovered her blog and it makes cooking all of the Korean staples so much less daunting for me. I grew up with my mom making things that were very influenced by Korean flavors, but not necessarily textbook, and the traditional dishes always seemed really hard. Now I am excited to start in on them!

  16. I’ve been sucked into Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy; I finished Feed earlier this week and have just started Deadline. I think if someone had said to me “hey Mo, read this zombies-and-blogs book” I would have rolled my eyes at them but enough people whose opinions I respect have been talking it up that I gave it a try and have been completely sucked into this world. I’m just into the second book but would still recommend the series without reservation, especially if you can go into it without plot spoilers.

    Also, now I understand that frequent CA commenter Kellis Amberlee’s name is SUPER CREEPY! I saw that yesterday and had a freakout moment.

    • That is a totally brilliant pseudonym, I agree.

      The plot twist in the first book is genuinely shocking.

    • I love these books. Also the trilogy of Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, by Scott Westerfield, though there is a very problematic bit in Pretties that I’m hoping to see acknowledged in Specials.

  17. H.Regalis said:

    Pretty Good Tomato Soup

    -1 can of condensed tomato soup (or equivalent amount of homemade kind)
    -Some kimchi
    -Brie or other semi-solid-at-room-temperature cheese

    Heat up the soup. When it’s hot enough, turn off the heat and stir in some kimchi, wait a bit, and then add some brie. Cover it for a few minutes to let the cheese melt, then add any herbs/spices you like (I like basil and black pepper), stir it again to mix everything, and eat. Really good with grilled cheese, especially if you like to dunk your sandwich in the soup.

    • griffykate said:

      Cheese sandwich dunked in tomato soup is one of my favourite things ever, and I love how simple this sounds. I will be making and nomming this tomorrow for sure! :D

  18. Beth B said:

    My favorite easy soup. It takes 2-3 hours, but nearly all of that is simmering time; the actual work involved is pretty minimal, and all clustered at the beginning. It’s gluten-free, vegetarian, and can be made vegan very easily.

    Ingredients:

    1 qt broth (I use veggie)
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
    1 small onion or half a larger onion, diced small
    a bunch of garlic, minced (to taste, but I use at least 5-6 cloves)
    oil or butter of some sort
    1 TBSP or so of tomato paste
    optional: half a cup or so of rice
    optional: chopped spinach, kale, or other leafy green
    optional: crumbled feta cheese, queso fresco, or parmesan/romano/etc
    optional: lemon juice or lemon olive oil

    Directions:

    In a medium saucepan, saute the diced onion in the oil or butter for a few minutes, until it’s starting to get soft. (I use this time to open cans and rinse the chickpeas.) Add the garlic, chickpeas, and tomato paste. Stir everything around for another minute or so.

    Pour in the can of tomatoes and the broth. Stir everything together. Put a cover on the saucepan, and turn the heat down to very low.

    Walk away. This is the important part! You need to let this cook for at least two hours for the flavor to really work its way all through the chickpeas. You shouldn’t even need to stir it, although you can if you want to smell how delicious it’s getting.

    If you skip all the optional additions, YOU’RE DONE. Eat and enjoy! Personally, I find that it’s much better if you sprinkle some cheese on top and squirt some lemon olive oil onto it.

    If you want to make it even more substantial, add a handful or so of rice 30-40 minutes before you plan to eat it. This will thicken it to more of a stew, so add some more broth or hot water too if you want it to stay soupier. If you want more leafy greens, toss in chopped spinach or another leafy green 5-10 minutes before you want to eat it, and stir it around. You can also use frozen greens.

  19. pogo said:

    I’ve been rolling sliced vegetables and avocado in rice paper wraps a lot lately. No recipe required! Cut your food-things up, cook them or don’t, roll it up without breaking the wet sheet of rice, try not to forget about the other two sheets you have deteriorating in warm water that will be falling apart by the time you finish the first wrap (you get better at that part).

    I especially like rice paper wraps of eggplant cooked in black-bean-garlic-sauce (from a jar) http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/product/lkk-black-bean-garlic-sauce-8-oz

  20. Caity said:

    I am reading Pricing Beauty, a great book by Ashley Mears. It’s an examination of the fashion modeling industry, but written from a sociological perspective by a then-graduate student for her dissertation. She actually worked as a model for two and a half years while doing her research, and the insights she makes are great and not at all the sort of well-trod ground you’d expect.

    Mears digs up a lot of interesting things – like information about how the economics of modeling work, or exactly how a “look” becomes successful. I’d recommend it, even if you’re not a big fashion person. I’m certainly not, but the book really grabbed me nonetheless. It was actually assigned reading for a course, but we only read some of it and I liked it so much that I just kept going.

    • annecara said:

      Pricing Beauty! That book was such a great read. I’d never thought about the literal financial cost of modeling before.

    • Elsajeni said:

      I’ll piggyback off of this to share my favorite of their recipes, Bacon-Cheddar-Chive Scones. (The one change I make is, I only cut the circle into 6 wedges, not 8 — the dough is always very crumbly when I make it, even if I add more cream, and I feel like making the scones a little fatter keeps them from crumbling to bits.)

  21. egl said:

    Recently finished, and loved, Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks. (Note, quite a bit of violence and disturbing imagery.)

  22. Fellow Connie Willis fan here! I just finished rereading Blackout and All Clear for the, um, fourth time in two years. I don’t really have time to re-read things (I’m a librarian, and my to-read-really-soon-I-mean-it-this-time stack numbers in the hundreds) but gosh, those books. I notice something new each time I read them … and they always end up making me cry.

    • JenniferP said:

      Blackout & All Clear had me weeping on public transit more than once. Sir Godfrey! I can’t even talk about it. I just read The Domesday Book, only To Say Nothing of the Dog left for me in the Oxford Time Travel stuff.

      • (Sorry for the double comment! Feel free to delete.)

        I’m still absolutely convinced that there has to be SOMETHING more to Sir Godfrey than meets the eye. I’m crossing my fingers for a book featuring him … it could happen, right? *hopes*

        To Say Nothing of the Dog is a delightful change of pace after the sadness of Domesday Book. Hope you enjoy it. :)

      • manybellsdown said:

        Ditto Connie Willis! I was like “ooh I have books to recommend!!” and then I got down to the bottom and saw you were already onto her. If you weren’t planning to already, try Passage. I. Love. That. Book. I’d avoid public transit though, I think it was even weepier (for me).

        Another one I think a lot of Awkward people might like: “Among Others” by Jo Walton. And, uh, also with the crying at the end of that one.

        Like I said, I’m not much of a cook, but here’s the recipe my husband likes to the most incredible gluten-free cheesy bread you will ever eat: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_brazilian_cheese_bread/

        • Among Others! I read that book and was like YES, THESE ARE MY PEOPLE.

        • Katie said:

          Yesssss to Among Others!!! It was amazing.

        • UnsuckableButtercup said:

          I can vouch for the amazingness of Brazilian cheese bread… but only once it’s all gone. It’s not polite to speak with your mouth full.

          • manybellsdown said:

            Mmmf morph blurf?

        • aaq said:

          Victory for a recipe that doesn’t make too much! I’ve only ever found it with something insane like 3 pounds of cheese and epic amounts of tapioca.

          Fun fact about Brazilian cheesy bread: they have it in Bolivia too (which is where I got a teensy bit addicted…) where it isn’t called cheesy bread but rather “cuñapé” which isn’t *technically* dirty, but does make me giggle every time I say it.

      • As far as I am concerned, TSnotDog is a perfect book. I love that Connie Willis writes research the way that I experience it — lots of wrong turns, confusion, and dead ends with the occasional deeply satisfying insight.

  23. Bunny said:

    Going to share my mum’s pork and chorizo paella dish, here.

    No quantities, because I was only taught how to cook by eye – can use a recipe with amounts, but have no idea of measurements when it comes to any of the dishes I cook regularly, so feel free to vary ingredients as much as you like!

    Onions
    Garlic
    Tomatoes
    red peppers (the big, sweet kind)
    mushrooms
    whatever cheap cuts of pork you can get hold of – just nothing too fatty, because it’ll make the dish gristly otherwise. Short ribs and chunks of stewing meat on the bone work particularly well, if you’re comfortable eating meat off of bones. If you don’t like pork, chicken thighs make a great alternative.
    Chorizo sausage
    rice – paella rice is the ideal but I find it tastes lovely with basmati, which is cheaper anyway
    olive oil – pomace is fine, no need to spend out on extra virgin
    some dried parsley, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, pimento, tiny bit of saffron and a couple of bay leaves. Or, if you can get it, a sachet or two of paella spice mix and some bay leaves and parsley. It’s cheaper to get the mix, but it’s not available everywhere
    vegetable stock – don’t worry if you just have stock cubes or can’t afford fresh stock – I can’t either and the cubes work just fine! Just dissolve in boiling water.

    Finely chop the onions, garlic and tomatoes. Chop the chorizo into cubes, and roughly cut up the pork or chicken. Roughly cut up the peppers and quarter the mushrooms.

    If you don’t have a paella pan, just use a large, flat frying pan (skillet? I think in US parlance?). Drizzle the pan lightly with oil and place over a high heat. Once the pan is hot, toss in the onion, garlic and tomato and cook, moving about in the pan, until it starts to form a rough, mushy paste.

    Scrape the paste to the edge of the pan and add a little more oil. Toss in the meat and sprinkle over with a little of the spice mix, then let the meat brown off (keep the tomato paste at the edges and add a little more oil to it to stop it from burning). Once the meat is browned, add the vegetables and stir the entire lot together, including the paste, then cook for 5-10 minutes.

    Add the rice, however much you’d normally serve per person, dry, to the pan. Pour in just enough stock to barely cover the rice. Add the spices and bay leaves. Check every few minutes, adding more stock and then just water whenever the rice has absorbed most of what’s there, and stirring just enough to keep the rice from burning at the bottom. When the rice is almost done, let it cook off until the last of the liquid is absorbed.

    I serve it with a big, leafy, herby green salad and crusty bread, with olive oil on the side for dipping, but have it however takes your fancy.

  24. thegirlfrommarz said:

    Lately I have been in a prawns, tomato and chilli pasta mood, so have been making this a lot:

    http://jamieshomecookingskills.com/recipe.php?title=italian-spaghetti-with-prawns

    If you can’t find a dried chilli (or, in my case, be bothered to make one yourself), then I’ve experimented and worked out that 1/4 tsp of chilli flakes gives it a kick without being unbearably hot (for 1-2 people – rest of the quantities cut down too).

    My favourite cake at the moment is also incredibly easy to bake. It’s from here:

    http://m.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2012/oct/09/paul-hollywood-great-british-bake-off

    Grandma Edna’s apple crusty recipe
    Ingredients
    225g self raising flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    225g sugar (I used caster)
    Sprinkle of demerara sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp almond essence
    140g butter (melted)
    400g apples (I used cooking, peeled and sliced)

    Method
    Put the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.

    Beat the eggs and almond essence together, and stir this, along with melted butter, into the bowl.

    Spread half in a greased cake tin, cover with apples, then cover with rest of mixture. Sprinkle demerara sugar on top.

    Bake at 150C for 1 hour 15 minutes or until nicely crusty. Mmmm.

  25. Pterinochilus murinus said:

    This house is full of bees.

    And after linking to that, I guess the only appropriate recipe I can recommend is Smitten Kitchen’s honey cake. Which I made last year, and it was wonderful, but WOW is that a lot of cake. A LOT of cake. Really. But it’s good, and it’ll freeze fine, so as long as you have enough tins to bake it, don’t be scared off.

    • GirlBob said:

      It’s winter here! Or almost winter, and feeling more winterish by the second. *huddles in blanket* And that soup sounds yuurrm.

  26. Lani said:

    My fave recipe is one I recently discovered, and it only takes three ingredients.

    Oreo Truffles

    Ingredients
    Oreo cookies
    8 oz cream cheese
    melted chocolate

    Directions
    Set the cream cheese out to warm up to room temperature. Take two and a half rows of the oreos out of the package and crush them into crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the cream cheese, then form the mixture into bite-size balls and place in the fridge for at least an hour. While they chill, set up a double boiler or stick your chocolate in the microwave or however you like to melt your chocolate. You can use any kind you like; I use milk chocolate because that’s what I like best, but it would taste great with white or dark chocolate or even mint chocolate. Dip the oreo balls in the chocolate and put back in the fridge to set.

    Once they’ve set, prepare for mouthgasms because these are AMAZING.

    • redpenreviews said:

      Oh gods, I love this recipe beyond reason. It’s *so good* and everyone snarfs them all up so quickly that I have to hide reserves in the back of the fridge if I want seconds. Do you have some secret trick to dipping them without having the coating come out lumpy? It’s the only bit that frustrates me and keeps me from making them for every potluck event, since they wind up sticky and weird or with little bare batches where I was gripping the edges, or squashy dents….rarr.

      My only spin on it is adding sprinkles just after the chocolate, with red/green for holiday parties and silver for “hey people, I made you some Death Stars. Out of awesome.” They only stick if the chocolate is still warm, so I tend to rope in an assistant for that bit, but the color just makes them look fun.

      And finally *agreed on mouthgasms* and I should really go to bed, because two in the morning is no time to make myself all squee-mad with wanting them and drooling in my mouth a bit. >.>

  27. Beth said:

    This is my go-to very easy to make cookie recipe that I always used to make a big batch of and bring cookies to work. Also, to accommodate the fact that some people wanted nuts in their cookies and some didn’t, I would make the batter without nuts and bake half the cookies, then add nuts to the rest of the batter and bake the rest of the cookies, making sure to carefully separate the cookies into separate tupperwares to bring to the office.

    Pumpkin Cookies

    Makes about 60

    1 cup oil
    3 cups sugar
    2 eggs — beaten
    3 teaspoons vanilla
    5 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    2 teaspoons nutmeg
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    1 teaspoon allspice
    1/4 teaspoon ginger
    1 3/4 teaspoons salt
    1 29-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
    1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

    Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Beat oil and sugar in mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt together. Add to sugar mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

    • Irene said:

      Reminds me of a story — I used to work in a very proper-spoken sort of office, and when a rather new co-worker announced that she had brought “male and female brownies” (i.e., with and without nuts) oh, boy, was it ever awkward.

  28. gaijinrei said:

    I am a student whose mother is Italian, so roughly 80% of my diet at the moment is pasta. Fortunately I have the superpower of hypersensitive taste buds, so I’ve gotten really good at making my own pasta sauce! Here are three of my favourites (handpicked for ease, speed and deliciousness):

    Classic carbonara: Beat eggs (one per person is a decent bet, although you can get away with a little less than that), add salt, pepper, parmesan, a little cream if you have it. Chop bacon/get pancetta. Fry in olive oil. Mix the cooked pasta with the egg mixture and add to the pan with the bacon; cook until the egg is set. Bacon can be left out or replaced with smoked salmon.

    Prawn and courgette: Slice courgette thinly; fry with prawns until the courgette is soft and a little mushy, which does not take long at all. Add a dash of cream, parmesan, salt, pepper.

    Courgette pesto: Cut courgette into batons. Sautee until softened; add salt and pepper and green pesto (about a quarter of a jar per courgette, depending on how big the courgettes are; I tend to just eyeball it). Add cream and parmesan. (The presence of cream and parmesan in all three of these recipes is pure coincidence, I swear.)

    Bonus fancy tuna recipe: Marinade tuna steaks in mirin, soy sauce and plum vinegar for at least 20 minutes. Lightly sear on each side. Serve with rice and/or salad.

    • aaq said:

      I know that pasta diet for pretty much the same reason…

      My current comfort recipe is basically carbonara without the bacon (bc I never have any and also effort). Cook pasta, mix eggs w/ romano and pepper, combine in pan to cook eggs, if they scramble no big because it’s a made up thing anyway.

  29. I’ve been using this recipe for peanutty noodles since fifth grade, and it’s awesome:

    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/peanutty-noodles-10000000223315/

    I tend to substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth, and soyaki instead of just soy sauce, but it’s easy to make and impresses everyone I’ve ever made it for. Works well with gluten-free noodles, too!

  30. hangtown said:

    I’ll be curious what you think of Swamplandia! I read it earlier this year and thought it had major, MAJOR problems.

    Right now I’m reading The Likeness and can’t put it down. I read her earlier In The Woods and loved it right till the end which was absolutely infuriating. A mystery is supposed to SOLVE THE MYSTERY and it didn’t. So I have my fingers crossed that this one won’t disappoint in a similar way.

    • JenniferP said:

      I think we have opposite taste in literature perhaps? I love Into the Woods for exactly the reason you don’t like it, I love The Likeness, and I am enjoying Swamplandia! very much so far. :)

      • hangtown said:

        That could be! I’m curious what you think happened, that wasn’t explained in the book – you can email me at crow@well.com, if you feel like it & don’t want to put possible spoilers here.

        About Swamplandia, there is a Big Thing that happens and the way it’s handled was a big WTF for me and other reviewers on GoodReads. Maybe it will feel differently for you.

    • manybellsdown said:

      I felt like that book was great up until halfway when she just gives up on half the mystery. There’s some interesting theories about it online though.

      Her most recent one I think was “Broken Harbor” and that one REALLY delivers on the creepy and the mystery.

      • hangtown said:

        Yup, I’ve read a lot of those theories. I guess I like my mysteries tied up nicely at the end. Thanks for the tip about Broken Harbor, I’ll look for it.

  31. Dante said:

    The World’s Greatest Lemon Cookies

    I grow lemons as houseplants and these cookies are what I make with the lemons. The people at work start agitating for them around November-ish when the lemons start to become ripe. However, you can make them with store-bought lemons and they are almost as good.

    You will need:

    a lemon
    if you use a store-bought lemon you will need extra lemon juice (or if you just don’t feel like squeezing the lemon) the total lemon juice you will need is 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    2 sticks unsalted butter (yes, it must be real butter and yes it must be unsalted) COLD
    2 eggs
    1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    a really strong mixer or a potato masher

    Preheat oven to 400 F.

    Zest the lemon into your mixing bowl. Squeeze the lemon and strain through a coffee filter (flatten filter, fold in quarters, open up to create a funnel – it’s just like chemistry class in school!)

    Add flour, granulated sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt to mixing bowl and combine. Cut butter (keep the butter COLD) into small chunks and add to bowl. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and eggs.

    Now mix. If you have a strong mixer, you can use that. Otherwise you will need to do it by hand because you are mixing cold butter and that makes the batter extremely stiff. A potato masher is required if doing it by hand, plus a lot of elbow grease. Note: do not overmix. Your batter is done when the butter is mostly incorporated but there are still a few small visible pieces. If using a mixer, it will start to clump into a ball around the mixing paddle just before it’s done. You’ll have to scrape it off the paddle. The batter should look moist but be really stiff and not totally homogenous.

    Put onto cookie sheet in rounded teaspoons and bake for 5-8 minutes. The edges will start to turn golden when they are done but the middle may still be very pale. When removing from the cookie sheet, they should be really soft and fall-apart but they will stiffen within a minute of coming out of the oven. Don’t overbake.

    In another bowl, combine powdered sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. This is the glaze. Add more powdered sugar if necessary to make it non-runny. Try the cookies before you glaze them – I don’t like them this way, but my parents gobble them. Then try them glazed. I think it’s a matter of taste.

    Yield: 4-5 dozen depending on how big you make your cookies
    Time: I have this down to a science and can knock them out in 45 minutes (including lemon-filtering time) but the first time I made them it took more like 90 minutes

    This sounds more complicated than it is.

    • I love almost all things lemon, including lemon cookies. Thank you so much for sharing this! Question for you: are these cookies a crisp cookie, or a soft cookie? If they are crisp, will a shorter cooking time make a soft cookie?

      • Dante said:

        It is NOT crisp. Also not chewy! The reason for using cold butter is that it makes the cookie flaky and tender and non-chewy (same as how you use cold butter for flaky croissants). If you use warm butter you wind up with a chewy and much inferior cookie.

        • Excellent, thank you so much! I like soft tender cookies. I can’t wait to make these.

          • Dante said:

            No problem! I love sharing my cookies. I’ve given the recipe to lots of people but nobody seems interested in making them (they would rather eat mine I reckon).

            This is adapted from a recipe I found on a box of generic no-brand butter of all places. Some of the best recipes come off those kinds of things. I once had a recipe for chocolate silk pie that was the best chocolate silk pie ever, that came off the package of a store-brand pie crust. Alas, it was lost in divorce/move, and I have never recaptured it.

          • That seems to be the way of things! My grandmother’s legendary pecan pie originally came from a package of baking powder, I believe, though she adapted it.

          • OH, Ms. Pris, can you post your grandmothers legendary pecan pie recipe? I would love that! (I couldn’t reply to the actual comment, so leaving request here)

          • Dante said:

            I would definitely second the request for pecan pie. :D

          • Unfortunately, I don’t have the recipe yet. My stepmom knows it and says she will pass it on to me, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’m so sorry! It really is a great pecan pie.

    • tirzahrene said:

      You grow lemons as houseplants? Please, is there any magic trick to this? I am starting to be able to keep houseplants alive and I think lemon trees would just be the bees’ knees.

      • Dante said:

        No magic trick, just a willingness to coddle them, and yet understand that they are trees and need to be treated as such.

        It’s … maybe a little complicated? Maybe more than is appropriate for this thread. How would you feel comfortable in taking this off-board, to email or something? I could write 20,000 words about my love of citrus trees in containers and I doubt anyone else wants to see that.

  32. jenniferroth260727580 said:

    Mostly guessing at amounts because I really just throw in whatever. This is my favorite shrimp recipe (of which I have many because I do dearly adore shrimp.)

    Rice:
    2 cups low sodium chicken broth
    1 cup Jasmati rice

    Shrimp:
    1 batch fresh basil
    1 bag of frozen, shell-on uncooked shrimp (I usually use large or jumbo size)
    3-4 large tomatoes
    1 head garlic
    2 packages baby bella mushrooms
    Olive Oil
    1 large juice orange (or lemon if preferred)
    1 bunch scallions

    Defrost shrimp in a large bowl of cold water (takes about 10-20 minutes.) When shrimp is defrosted, peel and discard shells. If preferred, you can use prepeeled or already cooked shrimp, but I find the texture tastes off. After defrosting and peeling, put shrimp on a paper towel and pat them dry.

    Chop garlic cloves. Cut up basil (I use scissors…you don’t need to worry about ‘bruising the leaves’ with this recipe.) Use zester on orange to get orange zest. Combine garlic, basil, orange zest, and shrimp in large bowl. Add enough olive oil to coat the shrimp. Squeeze the orange over the bowl, adding orange juice to taste. Stick the shrimp back in the fridge for now.

    Prepare rice according to package instructions. While rice is cooking, slice up the mushrooms into chunks and cook in a skillet. You can use olive oil, but I generally use butter. Remove cooked mushrooms from pan and set aside.

    Chop up and cook scallions, again in either olive oil or butter.

    Seed the tomatoes and chop them up. Set aside tomatoes for now.

    Here’s the creative part. You can cook up anything else you like…I’ve used green beans, green peppers, or shallots in addition to the basic recipe. Cook everything in the same pan and try not to burn it so you can deglaze later. I like to cook each ingredient one at a time so nothing gets overcooked/undercooked.

    When the rice is 5 minutes from done remove the shrimp from the fridge. Heat the skillet so that when a shrimp touches it the skillet sizzles. Remove each shrimp from the bowl and place in skillet, but first scrape off as much basil and garlic as possible and leave it in the bowl. Turn the shrimp as soon as it starts to curl. It’s done completely as soon as it turns pink…no more than 2 minutes per side. You really want it on and off the heat QUICK. Don’t overcrowd the pan…you may need to do several batches.

    Take the garlic and basil remaining in the bowl and pour it into the pan along with the remaining oil and orange juice. Cook at high heat until garlic is nice and golden and the basil is crispy, but be very careful not to burn. You’re almost flash frying it in the oil. Take out basil/garlic and set aside.

    Throw in the tomatoes and use their liquid to deglaze the pan. Boil it for a minute or two (since the oil had raw shrimp in it, you want to boil the marinade.)

    Done. I like to serve everything in separate bowls (shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, garlic/basil crispiness, scallions, etc.) so everyone can add as much or as little as each as they like. Serve over rice. This is a labor intensive recipe because everything is cooked separate, but you can save time by cooking things together and mixing it all together at the end.

    • Tired Caregiver said:

      Not sure why it posted with that name, but this is me.

  33. Kat said:

    Me and my boyfriend are pasta lovers who are also trying to be vegan, and this is our favorite staple meal. We make it at least once a week (minus the asparagus in fall/winter) and never, ever get tired of it. It’s slightly modified from a recipe by Chloe Coscarelli.

    PASTA & BEANS, LAZY VEGAN STYLE

    1 pound linguine
    1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped into bite-sized lengths
    2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    1 cup almond milk
    1/4 cup olive oil
    Juice of 1 lemon
    3-4 large garlic cloves (minced, if your food processor sucks like ours does)
    1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper
    dash salt
    3-4 tomatoes, chopped

    Bring a heavily salted, large pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the linguine. Set a timer for four minutes. When it rings, toss in the asparagus and let it cook another five. Immediately drain, and place back into the pot.

    Meanwhile, combine in a food processor 1 of the cans of beans, plus the almond milk, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices. Congratulations, you have creamy bean sauce! Mix that shit into the pasta, along with the tomatoes and the rest of the beans. BAM. Dinner in 15. Don’t you feel fancy looking at all of its beautiful colors? My parents have made this dish with dairy milk and say it’s still good, but I’d be concerned about the lemon juice curdling it.

    As for reading, I’ve been on a Catherynne Valente kick ever since trying the Orphan’s Tales earlier this year. I just finished Deathless and am super excited to get cracking on Silently and Very Fast, which has a really reasonable kindle price right now. Everything I’ve read by this woman has turned out to be top-notch.

  34. naty_neko said:

    I´m dying in here, hearing about so delicious recipes! I was alone for lunch today, so, sloppy joe for me! But i would love some cake. Anybody has a foolproof recipe for lemon pie?

      • naty_neko said:

        Please please please! I need some lemon pie!

        • UnsuckableButtercup said:

          I have a foolproof recipe for lemon *meringue* pie, but it’s not quite the same thing. I also have a great foolproof recipe for a whipped-cream based lemon tart, but that’s not quite the same thing either. But if you want either, I can post. And beg AGirlFromDownUnder to post her recipe, perhaps poking her with pillows until she confesses (didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition, did you?).

    • Dante said:

      Arizona Sunshine Lemon Pie

      1 lemon
      1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
      2 sticks melted butter
      4 eggs
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      unbaked pie shell

      Preheat oven to 350 F.

      Cut lemon into chunks and remove seeds. Put all ingredients (except pie shell) into blender (yes, rind and all with lemon) and blend about 3 minutes or until smooth and frothy. It will be liquid, like a shake or something.

      Put pie shell on cookie sheet and cover the edges with aluminum foil (cut foil into long strips and just press it against the edges of the pie shell). Pour filling into shell. Bake 40-50 minutes.

      If your lemon is really big, you may not want to use the whole thing, but the biggest lemon you find in a store is the right size.

  35. Aarron Halfmaine said:

    So far as books go, I’ve been re-reading King Solomon’s Mines, because it’s always fun. My recipe to share is the Cornish Pasty recipe that’s been busting our family’s stomachs for generations.
    I tend to make them in bulk when I’ve got an afternoon free, then freeze them before baking, so I’ll have easy fall-back meals for a good long while
    You’ll need:
    Flaky Pastry (Whilst it’s always better if you can make your own, frozen is more than good enough)
    Potatoes,onions,Swede, Carrots (Optional, purists have a tendency to object to them, they can substitute the swede in a pinch)
    Chuck Steak/any manner of steaky beef in a sliced up basis.
    egg

    start up by pre-heating the oven to 200 degrees celcius;
    Slice (Don’t Dice! You want to leave it chunky!) the potatoes, onions and swede, leave them in some bowls to dish out in a moment.
    Then, roll out your pastry and get it nice and flat, (not too thin! Don’t want it to tear!) then use a dinner plate to cut it into a circle.
    layer your veggies and your beef onto the pastry, placing them all in the centre, add a little salt and pepper to taste, and add a tablespoon of water.
    Then fold it over into a half-moon shape, and carefully crimp (fold teeny triangles along the sides, pushing the two halves together, like you’re stitching it) the edge around the sides.
    beat the egg, and use it to quickly glaze the surface of your pasty, then throw in the oven on a greased baking tray.
    bake for about 15-20 minutes at 200 degrees, then drop down to 180 for half an hour. It ought to look a golden brown before serving.
    Remove and serve.
    Note that the crimping takes a little practise to perfect, and the pastry might well tear on the first attempt or two.
    if you happen to be a veggie, or Beef ain’t your thing, you can sub in a lot of stuff for the beef (Chicken & bacon works well). Don’t make a fish pasty. Cornish people will laugh at you,

      • It’s a rutabaga.

      • aaronhalfmaine said:

        Aparrently they’re also known as a Ruabega. You can use Turnips as well. You’ll usually end up with a little bit of it left over, best use is to mash it with potatoes, it makes an awesome side-dish.

    • aaq said:

      When you freeze, do you thaw before baking or do you put it in frozen?

      • Aarron Halfmaine said:

        Thaw before baking. Don’t use a microwave for it, it does nasty things to the pastry.

  36. Katie said:

    I have been reading a bunch of stuff – just finished Jeannette Winterson’s memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? It was amazing. She has had an incredibly bleak life in many regards, but her prose is so craggy and unsentimental while drawing on a sort of mythic power. There is such clarity and lack of self-pity. Man, I loved that book.

    Also reading the delightful Genevieve series of the Warhammer books that Kim Newman, the noted fantasy/horror author, wrote as Jack Yeovil. They are great, bloody and vampire-filled and mostly set in a city that has more than a touch of Ankh-Morpork.

    About to read Daniel Dennett’s new book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, which he describes in the intro as being a compendium of useful framing devices for thinking about really hard concepts like free will and consciousness. Excited!

    • GirlBob said:

      Oof. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal. I read that book recently too. I love it. Have you read Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit? That’s her semi-fictionalized account of her childhood, which I read quite some years ago.

  37. I love to cook!

    I made this a few months ago, but it was so so good that I still think about it: http://wp.me/p3u3qF-2n

    Made this last week, it was very tasty and summery: http://wp.me/p3u3qF-5I

    And I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of “Some Like It Hot”, an evolutionary nutrition book. Which I will read while, I hope, sitting in a comfy chair in a brightly-lit room.

  38. irishup said:

    Homemade Rice-A-Roni (Vegan friendly alternative ingredients noted)

    Prep: 5-10min
    Cook: 15-20min

    1/2 c spaghetti broken into 1-2″ bits (angel hair & capellini also work, haven’t tried it yet with thicker pastas)
    2/3 c rice (I’ve used short, long, medium grain rices, all work)
    14 oz stock of choice, warmed is better
    2-3 Tbsp butter or evoo or nut oil. (I like the nut-oils flavors better than evoo. I’ve tried coconut and macadamia.)
    Ingredients of choice: mushrooms, chicken, peas, onions, & etc.
    Salt, pepper, spices to taste.

    1. Saute pasta in butter/oil until browned, over medium heat.
    2. Toss in rice, saute until the pearlish-transparency shows at the edges.
    3. Add in any other ingredients, saute until coated and mixed all together
    4. Add stock, cover, and simmer 15-20min, depending on the rice you used.

    Adding 1/4c cream, milk, or 2-3T flavored oil or butter at the end is a nice way to finish up the dish, especially if serving as the main meal.

    Vegan/vegetarian tip: you can up the savory/umami w/o using MSG with porcini powder or diced dried porcini mushrooms.

    Old Fashioned Lemon Chiffon Pie
    Prep 5-10min
    Stove cook: 10min
    Meringue: 10min
    Bake: 25min

    (sry! I’m not familiar with how this works with vegan egg alternatives.)

    1 c sugar, divided into 2/3 and 1/3
    4 eggs, separated – put whites in fridge after separating, lighly beat yolks and let them get to room temp.
    1 lemon, juiced and grated.
    1 tsp vanilla (optional)
    1 pinch to 1/4tsp cream of tartar (optional, esp if you don’t have cool copper bowl for whipping egg whites)

    Preheat oven to 325.

    1. In a double boiler, or bowl over water at simmer, whip together lemon juice, zest, & 2/3 sugar (and vanilla) until sugar disolves. Keep in double boiler for next step.
    2. Temper the beaten yolks by adding the heated lemon/sugar mix, 1-2T at a time, to the yolk, stirring immediately after you do. Do this 3-5 times, until the egg is warmed.
    3. Add egg mixture to mixture in double-boiler.
    4. Stir freqently (less than constantly, but a lot), unitl mix thickens & sticks to the back of a spatula / wooden spoon. ~7min. Remove from heat.
    5. In a large mixing bowl, whip cold egg whites until frothy.
    6. Add sugar, & CoT, whip on med-high until you get a meringue with nice, stiff peaks.
    7. Fold in lemon mixture until just blended into meringue.
    8. Pour into pie crust.
    9. Bake for 25min or until pie has risen and lightly browned on top.

    Any crust works, I like this quick crust:

    1.25c flour
    3T sugar
    .25 tsp salt
    .5c vege oil
    2-3T milk

    1. Put all the ingredients into the pie tin.
    2. Mix them all together until dough forms. I use a fork at first, then my hand.
    3. Spread the dough out across the bottom and sides of the tin.
    4. Fork some holes in the bottom and sides of crust
    5. Bake in oven at 375, 10min.

    Set aside for filling.
    This works great for savory things like quiche. Up the salt to .5tsp, reduce sugar to 1T.

  39. Oh goodness, this is uh-mazing! Now, I can’t pick just one recipe, it’s too hard!

    Apple sponge – Nan’s recipe
    4-5 Apples, cored, peeled and sliced into 5mm slices.
    1Tbs brown sugar
    Cinnamon
    Cardamon
    2 whole cloves

    1 Tbs Butter
    1/2 Cup sugar
    1 cup SR flour
    1 egg
    milk

    Preheat oven to 370F
    Cook (in stove or in microwave) apple, brown sugar, cloves and a sprinkle of cinnamon and cardamon until apple is soft. Transfer to oven safe dish. (6-7″ round pie dish or something, whatever is in your kitchen)

    Cream butter and sugar, add egg and mix in. Add flour and stir until combined. Add milk until mixture has the consistency of porridge. (not too runny but must be able to flow a little)

    Pour batter over hot apple.

    Bake until golden. Serves 4-6 depending on serving side, best served with ice cream.

    I love making this cake when I want to impress: http://www.whisk-kid.com/2011/02/think-chocolate-cake-with-vanilla.html

    I also love making pies out of leftover casseroles. For that you need a sheet of puff pastry and about 2 cups of casserole. preheat oven to 450F. Lay pastry in a buttered dish and add filling. fold corners of pastry into the middle and pinch together to seal.
    Put in oven and bake until starts to rise and turn golden, then turn oven down to 350F.
    bake for 30min. Make sure casserole filling is cold otherwise pastry will go soggy.

    • UnsuckableButtercup said:

      Casserole pies! What a fantastic idea!

      • It’s a great way to spruce up the leftovers and my housemates LOVE it!
        Basically anything with a pie filling-like texture can work; taco mince, stews, roast meat/vegetables with gravy.

        And for those GF peeps who can’t have pastry, stick the filling straight in the dish and top with mashed potato. Yuuuum!

  40. Oh this thread is my jam! Just finished reading the graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson and thought it was really cool. Some of the art is unbelievable and I think he captured a lot of the key emotions of adolescence that involve family dramas (growing apart from siblings/parents) and first loves.

    Recipes: I am in love with these cornmeal pancakes from the Pioneer Woman. I usually make 1/2 of this recipe to feed two people, and instead of making blackberry syrup I just serve them with butter and blackberry jam. NOMS. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2012/05/cornmeal-pancakes-with-blackberry-syrup/

    For a quick weeknight solo dinner I go with stuff that I always have in my fridge/pantry. This is vegetarian and could easily be vegan if you nixed the egg (but I like the egg).

    INGREDIENTS:
    1 cup quinoa
    1 cup veggie broth + 3/4 cup water
    1/2 14 oz can Trader Joe’s Cuban Style black beans (or any canned beans)
    1/2 14 oz can Trader Joe’s fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilis (or any canned tomatoes)
    1-2 Tbsp Trader Joe’s Salsa Authenica (or any salsa)
    1 egg
    oil or butter
    salt and pepper

    OPTIONAL GARNISH, IF I HAVE BEEN TO THE FARMER’S MARKET RECENTLY:
    1/2 avocado, diced
    handful of chopped cilantro

    Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer. Add to a medium saucepan with broth and water; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. While quinoa is simmering, open the canned beans and tomatoes, put the leftover canned stuff away, and prep the avocado and cilantro.

    After 10 minutes, mix the canned beans and tomatoes into the quinoa. Simmer 5 more minutes. (This timing allows some of the flavors from the tomatoes and beans to get into the quinoa, but keeps the canned veg from turning to mush!)

    During the last 5 minutes, heat up a skillet and oil/butter. Fry the egg to your desired doneness, seasoning with salt and pepper. (I usually do it over easy or over medium — I like some runny yolk.) If the egg is ready before the quinoa, remove from heat or else it’ll overcook.

    When quinoa is ready, scoop some into a bowl. Top with fried egg and a spoonful or two of salsa. Garnish with optional avocado and cilantro if you have it. Other possible additions include minced red onion, various cheeses if you’re non-vegan (crumbled queso fresco is good), or if you want to ruin the vegetarian aspect, some chorizo.

    Super tasty and ready in >20 minutes!

  41. UnsuckableButtercup said:

    Just finished re-reading _Snow Crash_. Love that book. The part with Fido turns me into a great sobbing mess. The rest of it is pure adrenaline, whether intellectual or helicopter-chase based.

    Next up on the “popcorn” sobriquet is _Insurgent_, Veronica Roth– the first book was great fun, and I don’t care that “real” bibliophiles hate first-person narrative.

    I’ve also had a heads up that the next issue of LCRW should be coming to my mailbox. And I’m re-reading Wittgenstein, because, you know, Wittgenstein.

    As for recipes, I’ve got several, but I’ve gained a reputation as a stellar cook by searching tastykitchen.com and hitting “sort by rating.” They’ve got a pretty good “special dietary needs” section, too. Trigger warning: it is an offshoot of the Pioneer Woman’s blog, a site so heteronormative as to make Ozzie and Harriet blush. Still, great source.

    My go-to for potlucks when I don’t have time is:

    Soak raspberries in sugar (er, a few tablespoons per pint), Chambord (to taste— not so much that it tastes like Robitussin, but don’t be too sparing, either), and a dash of rose water (use the cheap fake stuff you get in ethnic grocery stores; the “quality” stuff has definite overtones of hand lotion. I like McLas, which I buy at the Jamaican produce mart a couple of blocks west of the Howard el stop. Rogers Park Fruit Market, I think?). It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me— it’s AMAZING. Try it out at home the first time; otherwise, you run the risk of snarling at people who try to take it out of your hands.

    Say, anyone in Chicago interested in doing a C.A. meet-up/ potluck at a laundromat? I’m on the west side, near 2000 N/ 3500 W, but will travel. I’ve been in love with the idea of laundry parties since I read the Odyssey.

    • manybellsdown said:

      I have never heard that “real” bibliophiles hate first-person narratives. My 9000 books and dogeared copy of “Murder of Roger Ackroyd” would like a word with those people.

      • UnsuckableButtercup said:

        Oh, indeed. Usually, people who say that later go on to insist “real” bibliophiles don’t read fiction. It makes me so very glad to be imaginary. In my imaginary state of being, if you love books, you’re a bibliophile, and if you find reasons to look down on others for having a common interest but in a slightly different way, you’re kind of insecure.

        Now, me, I just achieved true Nerdvana— a neighbor left many narrow, solid-wood bookshelves behind, so I am enjoying the giddy and slightly surreal sensation of having more than enough shelf space for my books…

        • manybellsdown said:

          So jealous of your bookshelves. We never *quite* have enough. I’ve been trying to get ebooks just to catch up on shelf space.

    • Smashing Ginger said:

      _Insurgent_ is such a fun read! I’ve been trying to get lots of people to read it.

      • UnsuckableButtercup said:

        I blush to say that I read _Divergent_ on Grammar Girl’s recommendation. Perhaps you could hold them down an make them listen to Audible’s sample? It took a while for me to get used to the idea of audiobooks— right up until the point where I realized you don’t have to divide your attention as much when you cross a busy street when reading them.

        Not that I would ever do such a thing. Ahem.

    • Bunny said:

      And I just tried the same thing, but instead of decanting 4 earl grey teabags into the mix, I used my rosehip and hibiscus herbal tea.

      One word. YES.

  42. MuddieMae said:

    BF and I have been eating this salad practically every dinner for a while. Pretty cheap, easy, healthy, and modifiable. The main thing is my grandmother’s vinaigrette, which she brought back from the French countryside. My grandfather was stationed their in the 60s for a few years so she went over with my dad and his siblings.

    Salad dressing:
    2 parts red wine vinegar
    3 parts olive oil
    minced garlic (about 2 cloves per cup of dressing)

    If the garlic is old or sharp at all, let it sit in the vinegar for 15 minutes (the acid “cooks” it a little bit). Mix everything together and shake well. You can make extra and keep it in the fridge for a month, maybe more. It will separate and solidify, so thaw and then shake before serving.

    Salad (for 2 people):

    1 large or two small chicken breasts
    4ish cups chopped lettuce (we like equal parts romaine and red leaf)
    shredded carrots, approximately 1/2 cup
    10 or so grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
    1/4 cup of above salad dressing

    Best way to cook the chicken breast, IMO – heat a seasoned cast iron skillet until it’s medium hot. Pound the fat part of the chicken breast until it’s more evenly flat and salt/pepper one side. Put chicken breast in pan seasoned side down and salt/pepper exposed side. Cook, flipping occasionally, until done (how long depends on the thickness of the chicken). Let chicken rest a few minutes before cutting it (this keeps it more tender).

    Cut chicken into small chunks or strips. Toss with salad stuff and dressing. I’m personally fond of fresh ground pepper and flake salt as a finisher, but I love salt more than the average person.

    You can add pretty much any veggie to the salad you like. I don’t recommend adding cheese and it reacts badly with the dressing and the texture gets weird.

    If you need a bit more filling or you just love carbs as I do, some good French bread goes very well with the salad.

  43. This French Onion Chicken is the best dinner I’ve ever made:

    http://www.thekitchn.com/dinner-recipe-french-onion-chi-144744

    It takes a lot of time to cook, but the techniques are simple and the ingredients aren’t very expensive. Plus it’s gluten-free and nut-free for those with allergies.

    I just finished reading _Where Did You Go, Bernadette?_ by Maria Semple and adored it. It’s a pitch-perfect send up of Left Coast mores, literally laugh-out-loud funny but heart-warming at the same time.

    http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/756585911

  44. MuddieMae said:

    Oh, I have another one – a dip I’ve made for parties that absolutely kills. It’s vegetarian and can easily be cow’s milk free if you buy goat or sheep feta. The cheese melting is important so I’m not sure if you could sub vegan cheese.

    Feta & Oil Dip:

    1 cup olive oil
    1 medium shallot, sliced thin
    1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
    1 teaspoon lemon zest
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    8 oz feta, cubed

    Cook everything but the feta in a small saucepan on low heat until the shallots are soft (15-20) minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the feta. Cover and let rest at room temp for an hour before serving. Serve with french bread, pita, etc.

    The oil is delicious to dip bread in even after all of the cheese is gone. You can also play around with the spices and add pretty much anything you think would be interesting.

  45. accessdenied said:

    I made this soup for lunch today and it was quite good! http://www.gourmetgaming.co.uk/post/29511213782/request-the-legend-of-zelda-the-wind-waker The recipe calls for parsnips, but if you don’t like parsnips (or just don’t have them around) it also works very well with 2-3 medium potatoes.

    and here’s one of my favorite recipes:

    Spanish Bean Soup

    Olive oil
    1 clove garlic
    1 small-medium onion
    1-2 potatoes
    1 can of garbanzo beans
    1 carton of chicken or vegetable stock
    Paprika
    Cumin
    Turmeric
    Several pepperonis (optional)

    Peel and chop the onion and potatoes into small chunks and mince the garlic. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pot on the stove and fry the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the onion, potatoes, and garbanzo beans. Add the whole carton of stock and the pepperonis if applicable. I like spicy pepperoni because it adds more flavor, but I’ve literally used extra pepperoni picked off of leftover pizza before and it’s just as good. Bring the soup to a low boil and put in the spices. I don’t really measure anything, but in general there should be more paprika than cumin and more cumin than turmeric. Taste the broth often and add more spices as needed. Let it cook on medium for at least 20 minutes.

    I’m a poor pseudovegetarian college student, so most of my recipes are “throw some shit in a pot and let it sit while I do homework.” I eat a lot of soup.

  46. MamaCheshire said:

    Awesome Medieval French Vegan Split Pea Soup, or my redaction of Menagier’s “Soup of Old Peas”:

    You need two pots to cook this in, plus a frying pan. It is VERY HELPFUL if one of the two has a steamer/pasta insert, but probably not absolutely necessary.

    In the non-insert pot: measure out your split peas, and add twice as much water.

    In the insert pot: put one medium quartered onion for every pound or so of dry split peas, and cover with LOTS of water.

    Let all this simmer for ~45 minutes, until the split peas soak up the water and start getting mushy. Then, take the onions out of the pot, and add water from the onion-pot to the soup. Keep doing this until you get the consistency you want, which can take a while.

    Meanwhile, rinse the onions in cold water so they get cool enough to handle. Dice them up, fry them in a little oil of your choice (I use olive oil unless told this is a problem for someone), and when they get nice and translucent and JUST start to brown, dump the contents of the frying pan (oil included) into the main soup pot. Salt and/or pepper may be added to taste, but I prefer to let each individual diner do that.

    Serve and enjoy!

  47. accessdenied said:

    aaaand now for books!

    One of my favorite books is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (and the rest of the trilogy as well). It’s about a boy growing up in a group of human settlers on another planet, where something in the air makes it so everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts. To date, it’s the only series that’s made me cry multiple times.

    I also love Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, especially Monstrous Regiment.

  48. OTWF said:

    Today, I finished The Good Body by Eve Ensler. It’s amaaaaaaazing. Written after The Vagina Monologues, all about Eve’s struggle with her insecurities with her body. In her style, she gathered stories from women all over the world who had different feelings about their bodies. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone, and it’s a quick read. Not a big book at all.

    Recipes! I was in charge of the vegetable side at a dinner party the other night, so I chose this broccoli with a simple garlic sauce. It went over well. http://angsarap.net/2013/04/24/broccoli-with-garlic-sauce/
    It calls for chicken stock, but you could easily use vegetable stock – I would have, if I’d had it on hand. I might suggest roasting the garlic ahead of time instead of sauteeing it. The sesame oil is also probably optional, but adds a good depth.

    And I never fail to recommend anything from Joy the Baker. http://joythebaker.com/ Mostly sweets, but a fair bit of other things, too.

    • cuntessvonfingerbang said:

      Wow, that sounds amaaaaaazing! I’ve been looking for a nice summery dessert to make for my mother’s birthday (she’s not really one for big decadent cakes) and this looks perfect.

  49. Drew said:

    I found this recipe on Facebook and tried it and it actually works. Yeah, I was amazed, too.

    ICE CREAM BREAD!

    Take 2 cups (or 1 pint) of softened ice cream. Mix in 1.5 cups of self-rising flour. You’ll get a sticky and probably kind of cold dough. Pour into a greased bread pan. Bake for 45 minutes on 350F/180C. If you are the patient sort, let it cool before tuckering in.

    I tried this with blackberry ice cream and the result was not as fluffy as I’d hoped (operator error — I didn’t let the ice cream soften enough) but it tasted great and smelled even better. My kitchen smelled like blackberry cobbler for days.

    • Moi said:

      Oh. Oh my. This recipe combines two of my favourite things in the universe. (The problem I foresee is actually keeping the ice cream to bake with, but whatevs. :))

    • OTWF said:

      ..I find myself wondering what would happen with cookie dough ice cream. I think I must do this for the next party I go to.

  50. Moi said:

    Right now I’m reading /Children of the Mind/ by Orson Scott Card, because I am, apparently, biologically incapable of not finishing a series no matter how problematic the series and characters become, or how personally icky I find the author’s politics. (I read /Ender’s Game/ before finding out about the latter and was by then hooked on the book).

    Don’t remember where I came across this article, but thought it would be appreciated here — a list of works by women Science Fiction authors: http://forbookssake.net/2013/05/08/top-women-science-fiction-writers/

    I’ve also been picking away at /Roost/, by Ali Bryan. Not the sort of book I usually pick up, but any author who made a name for herself with an essay called “Asshole Homemaker” is my kind of author. Also, from my neck of Canada. :)

    • aaq said:

      I feel your OSC pain. I read the series (and the Bean offshoot for a bit) in middle school, went to book signings, etc. before I was even paying attention to that kind of thing. I desperately want to see the movie buuuuuuuut…..

      ANYWAY. Thanks for the women science fiction writers link! Looking at those now. :)

      • Moi said:

        I am very glad I didn’t learn about the politics until after I’d read /Ender/. Of course, now that I know his politics, I’m also very glad that I bought that book (and the successive three books) from used bookstores, bc though i generally try to support publishers, ain’t no way I’m giving him royalties, but that book left me in a book haze for days. It’s pretty rare that I get that truly satisfying kind of book hangover.

        Ursula LeGuin’s /The Left Hand of Darkness/ always reliably does it for me too, so if you’re looking for good sf by female authors, she is one to try! She’s reccyd at that link, too, but /Left Hand of Darkness/ is my favourite of all her books I’ve read.

        • Moi said:

          Holy super run-on sentences, Batman! Heh, it’s late here, sorry.

    • OTWF said:

      I feel for you on author squick. Happened to me with Orson Scott Card, and I was also a fan of Piers Anthony as a kid. >.<

      • UnsuckableButtercup said:

        “Also a fan of Piers Anthony as a kid…”

        I am not alone! Oh, please, someone get me started on _A Spell for Chameleon_. And living in a society where one picks that up as a twelve-year-old and doesn’t realize how totally not cool on how many levels it was. I mean, quite aside from the obvious cheap shots about the obsession with panties, etc. in his later books…

        • Dante said:

          I parted ways with Piers Anthony when I read And Eternity and came across the part where he lays out the idea that men who aren’t rapists are heroes for resisting the overwhelming urge to rape. I just laid the book down right there and couldn’t finish it, and have never read another word by him.

          • manybellsdown said:

            Which was so aggravating because I thought the rest of “And Eternity” was really good! But yeah, his underage panty obsession had gotten realllllly weird even before that point.

          • UnsuckableButtercup said:

            The Spell for Chameleon says that. Not in so many words, but in the sense of, “Oh, who could blame a guy for raping her? She’s really beautiful! And vacuously stupid to the point of being childlike and a major hazard to everyone around her. Besides, since she is literally retarded, how can it possibly be hurtful to her, if it doesn’t hurt her chances of marriage?” Really. Out-and-out. And one of the major theses of the book is that, if a woman is intelligent, that makes her ugly to men, to the point where actual genius is comparable to major deformity (and how endearing is that, to opine that majorly deformed people cannot possibly be attractive?)

            I was too dim and too exposed to various degrees of silliness from other aspects of my culture to say, “Wait, how’s that again?”, and got turned off by his squick-making self of self-righteous entitlement and artistic laziness before I ever gave a thought to his politics… (Look, sorry if you’re reading this, Mr. Jacob, but I hope you’ll forgive me for not picking up your work to see if you’ve grown up unless I get a major indication of this from someone I trust.)

          • Dante said:

            I honestly don’t remember And Eternity all that well because that one scene just overwhelmed me and drowned out everything else about the book. The rest of the series, however, was yes, pretty good (a great concept at a minimum). He’s an imaginative writer. It’s just too bad that he has this astoundingly offensive opinion of sex and the bad judgment to write a treatise on it into one of his books.

      • Moi said:

        It’s strange how it feels so deeply, personally /disappointing/ when an author you adore turns out to be a not very nice person. Ive never read Piers Anthony, but there are a few authors I can’t pick up any more because of Reasons.

        • manybellsdown said:

          Unfortunately, for me that’s Neil Gaiman. Not for his writing, but for personal Reasons.

          • Oh, I feel you. His writing is go amazing, and yet his personal views are…ick.

          • Xenophile said:

            Crap, now I’m scared to ask/google. I’m working my way through Sandman and really want to continue liking it, but…

          • manybellsdown said:

            @Xeno, don’t worry, it’s not something you’d stumble across on Google. When I said “personal” I meant specific to me.

        • JenniferP said:

          I totally understand that disappointment, but if I only liked media by people who were good people, or who I would like, or who I agreed with, or who my friends thought were good people, or that was 100% free of problematic tropes, or where every character was likeable, etc. I’d have nothing to watch or read.

          The question on the floor is “What are you reading/have you read recently that you love?

          People can love books you don’t love and enjoy authors you don’t enjoy, just like they can eat things that you don’t eat. Let’s all keep the “Ick!” reactions at other people’s taste out of this thread, thanks.

      • Piers Anthony, seriously. As a kid who liked wordplay, I loved the Xanth series. But when I tried to come back as an adult to that series, or his Incarnations of Immortality books, I couldn’t even get through a couple chapters before some major-league BS made me put them right back down. :(

  51. aaq said:

    Not something I make often but….

    I just realized/found out that my grandmother’s insanely good chocolate cake is basically the recipe on the hershey’s cocoa box (or here: https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184) replacing the water with coffee. So now whenever I lose the file with the recipe….

    If you’ve never made this recipe before, it’s completely, utterly, idiot-proof and immune to the troubles of multiplying and guesstimation (are there stories? why yes, yes there are). I’ve never done substitutions, but probably any and all would work.

    I cook a lot. Like all the time. I can’t think of how or what I make…. >.<

    I'm mostly here for the books though. I just graduated from grad school and am looking forward to joining my people, the book lovers, once more. Seriously, I've read an entire textbook called "Logistic Regression" in the past few months, but nothing else….

    • UnsuckableButtercup said:

      Just be careful! About once every two decades, the recipe on the back of the box changes! It’s just like Bill Murray warned the mayor about in Ghostbusters.

      • aaq said:

        Yes, but it’s often in response to ingredients changing slightly*! The recipe on the back now has slightly different amounts of flour and sugar than hers, but it works marginally better (because seriously, most forgiving cake recipe of all time…).

        *Not always the case and occasionally changes are epic fails (Bisquick’s change to the drop biscuit recipe, for instance. Hopefully it was a typo)

        • UnsuckableButtercup said:

          Bisquick was one of the ones that made me weep! Their chicken and dumplings recipe used to be for a nice, full-fledged chicken fricassee. Now it involves throwing chicken into some Campbell’s cream of chicken soup.

    • MamaCheshire said:

      Hahaha I feel that pain. Hierarchical Linear Modeling here. :)

  52. The Mama said:

    “Husk” by Corey Redekop. Do it. Fun, sad, holy-crap-I-just-spat-out-my-tea funny.

  53. Some days, I literally get out of bed because I have goat cheese in my fridge. So obviously, since I like chicken, and I love goat cheese, and I love bacon, and I FUCKING LOVE tomatoes, this recipe is about as close to ambrosia as I will ever need. It’s chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon, and baked in the oven with tomatoes and rosemary, served over argula. PERFECT.

    As for books, I am getting towards the end of James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, a truly excellent biography of a very cool lady who wrote science fiction and lots of letters in the male persona named James Tiptree. Highly recommended!

  54. aaq said:

    Ha ha! I have remembered a recipe for challah! Which is absolutely someone else’s family recipe, but I digress.

    For 2 loaves (or 1 big loaf):

    1 pack of yeast
    1 cup of warm water
    An amount of sugar – the recipe says 1/2 cup, which isn’t all that sweet. I often up it without anything going wrong. If you wanted to go more savory, you could go down.
    1/2 cup oil
    2 eggs
    1 tbsp of salt
    Some vanilla (optional if savory)
    4-6 cups of flour

    (If multiplying, keep do a straight multiplication of everything ESPECIALLY the salt, except for less flour…)

    Mix water, yeast, and sugar for 15 minutes.
    Add everything but the flour and stir.
    Add flour bit by bit. If you are a kneader and finish adding flour on the table, well, honestly, do your thing. If you are not, hopefully you’re using a mixer. Add flour until all the dough pulls off the sides cleanly and let it go for a while.

    Bake for 20-ish minutes at 325. I did these in a convection oven, so they may need to go longer. I’m told this does well in a bread machine.

    I’ve just realized that I haven’t bought fiction since I used the young adult section, and the number of choices is overwhelming. Also, I committed to the lifestyle choice of fanfiction, so there’s that.

    • Moi said:

      “Also, I committed to the lifestyle choice of fanfiction, so there’s that.”

      Hah! Perfect phrasing, and definitely something that I will use to reassure myself when my ever-expanding to-read list goes untouched for yet another summer while I plough through a truly staggering number of fics. I worked on fanfiction as part of my graduate studie, so used to justify it as “research,” even years after I graduated. I will adopt this phrase from now on!

      • aaq said:

        So my parents declared me too old for fic when I was about 16 (little did they know exactly what I’d been reading and how I was a bit young for some of it…). Now it’s always, “Why are you always on the computer? You always used to read!” I’m still reading. Constantly. Even when I shouldn’t be. You just wouldn’t approve.

        • Dante said:

          How can you be too old for fic? Fic is just like books, except it’s free and the quality is more variable. I’ve read some fabulous fic and some really bad books.

    • Alex said:

      Just wanna append this to your lovely challah recipe:

      This YouTube video shows two ways to form the challah bread. One method makes an attractive spiral shape, and the other (my favorite :D) shows how to easily weave (not braid!) an intricate, round loaf.

      • Alex said:

        Oh no! Sorry for embedding the video. I didn’t mean for that to happen >.<

        • JenniferP said:

          Not a problem! Only a problem if it autoplayed.

      • aaq said:

        Whoops! I knew I meant to say something about making the loaves, but I was half asleep. Half the time we said “Screw it” and made loaf shaped loaves, so braiding totally optional, but always pretty!

        Also, egg wash helps make the loaves look less anemic, but isn’t necessary. If you want to do something like add raisins, you can just stuff some in while braiding the loaves between the strands, dry no rehydrating, and it turns out fine. You can also put them in the dough I’m sure, but we never ended up thinking that far ahead.

    • aaq said:

      Dear self, get it together. Also, let it raise and all that stuff post flour.

      Having found the actual recipe, it says 2 tsp salt and 4-5 c flour. I just added salt til it tasted right. I was also usually making 10-20 recipes at once…. Don’t do 20 recipes at once. Just trust me on this. That is a 25+ lb of flour situation.

    • cuntessvonfingerbang said:

      “I’ve just realized that I haven’t bought fiction since I used the young adult section, and the number of choices is overwhelming.”

      Oh man, ditto! I really appreciate Zadie Smith and Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood, but mostly when I read a book I want something that makes me happier and less stressed out/sad about the world around me. I love Terry Fallis for that, and I can never turn down a good old Rex Stout mystery, but there are just so many mediocre adult fiction authors out there that I have trouble sifting through all the bad and depressing novels to find things that actually hold my interest and improve my mood.

  55. saponista said:

    Yay! my first comment!

    I’ve been working on this recipe for a bit, and got raves on it during a local cooking competition. My family is crazy for it, even the picky tweener who usually has to be arm wrestled to eat her veg.

    Fresh Kale Salad
    ————–
    1 lb fresh kale
    1/4 c dried currants -or- golden raisins
    2 T tawny port + 5 T white basalmic vinegar
    -or- 7 T red wine (I prefer Syrah)
    1/4 c chopped nuts, toasted (I prefer walnuts but my mom insists on pecans and my sister on pignoli, which aren’t really nuts but work well in this recipe)
    ..
    2 T white basalmic vinegar (worth hunting for, but regular red basalmic is OK too)
    1 T walnut oil (or any light oil)
    1/2 t salt
    1 t lemon juice
    1 t honey or 1T agave syrup

    Put currants or raisins in a small bowl and add port/vinegar (or wine). Cover and set aside to macerate.
    Toast the nuts and set aside. (I think the extra effort of toasting is worth it but my sister in law doesn’t bother.)
    Wash kale leaves, slice out central ribs (discard or save for atock) and chop leaves coarsely. Put in a largeish bowl or gallon zip-lock bag.
    Mix vinegar, lemon juice, oil, salt, and sweetener (I shake together in a small jar).
    Pour dressing on chopped kale leaves. Stir to coat (or shake the bag around). Set aside at room temp for 30 mins or in the fridge for up to 2 hours. The acid in the dressing will break down the kale just enough to make it approximately the texture of fresh spinach.
    When you’re ready to serve, drain the currants or raisins and toss them with the dressed kale leaves and toasted nuts.

    This will keep in the fridge for a few days, but the kale will continue to break down and eventually lose its crunchiness. Still tastes good!

  56. A Hedgehog said:

    I firmly believe that this is the best oatmeal-raisin cookie recipe out there. Bonus points: it’s vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, most other common allergens free. (I usually skip the protein powder; a bunch of the other ingredients look weird if you aren’t used to them but if you buy them you’ll be set for vegan gluten-free baking for a while.)

  57. MHM said:

    I’m reading about 5 books at once, because that’s what I do! First, Gone Girl, I’m almost done, no spoilers please! So far, not great literary value, but I can’t stop. A beach read. Second, a novel called 419 by Will Ferguson, about email scams, Nigeria, and the like. Also a mystery but the topic is fresh. Third, the Steve Jobs biography. Been reading it for a year. His personality, well, ya. A well written book, but I dislike how he treated people, as per the author’s description. Fourth, the Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt. Beautiful, and the characters! But I lost steam midway and I’m taking a break. Fifth, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jennie Lawson, many people like this book, but it makes me cringe. After 10 pages, you’ll know if it’s for you.

    Next on the list, the latest by John Irving, he’s consistent and good. Also, I want to read the biographies by the ladies from Heart (80s hair!) and the one by Belinda Carlisle.

    And, I love my paperwhite kindle so much. Ebooks, not treebooks for me. Although 3 of the above are treebooks. I read ebooks faster.

    • manybellsdown said:

      I think Jenny is a love or hate type of thing. I’ve laugh-snorted so hard reading her that I’ve actually hurt myself. But not for everyone.

    • JenniferP said:

      Ha, I read Gone Girl over the course of a girl’s weekend, and almost everyone had read the book, and they could tell where I was in it by the “Omg!” faces I would make at certain parts. A fun read!

      I like Lawson’s blog but couldn’t make it even 10 pages into the book, it’s totally not for me! Commander Logic liked it, though, and many others.

  58. Monika said:

    I rarely cook but I make an awesome quiche. The recipe is easy but time consuming.

    1. Line a quiche tin with frozen short crust pastry and then chill in the fridge for an hour or two (if you need to seal joins milk or egg work well)
    2. Blind bake then chill again
    3. Scatter filling of your choice (there are many options here but one I like is bacon, onion, fresh basil and sundried tomatoes – it also works without the bacon for vegetarians – for something a little special frying the bacon and/or onion in butter before scattering works a treat)
    4. Make a mix of egg and milk as if you were making scrambled eggs
    5. Pour the egg mix in gently
    6. Scatter cheese over the top
    7. Bake FOREVER until golden brown or just until set (I like mine well done which is why the baking stage always seems to take a long time)

    Sadly I don’t read much these days. Some mental health issues mean I lack the attention span I used to have and I just don’t enjoy books the way I once did. I do still read my favourite author though – Jim Butcher. Most especially his urban fantasy detective series Harry Dresden.

    Now I want both quiche and a new release! Damn you Captain Awkward!

  59. Anonymus said:

    Rice Dish or Sometimes Soup

    I’ve been eating a lot of this lately. It’s pretty cheap (costs less than a dollar to make a huge portion of it) and tastes different each time.

    Method:
    Take some vegetables, chop them up, and put them in a pot with water and a few handfuls of rice. Add some spices. Boil it for a while. It’s done when the rice is soft.

    You can use any vegetables you have on hand and you like. Here’s what I always put in:

    4 cloves of garlic
    1 onion
    1 potato

    here’s what I put in if I have them:

    1 stalk of celery / 1 large slice of celeriac
    1 capsicum / pepper
    1 carrot
    1 can of beans (sometimes white beans, sometimes lentils, sometimes kidney)
    1 can of corn

    you can put other vegetables in if you like.

    Spices: salt and pepper and one of the following

    garam masala

    OR

    curry and dill

    OR

    curry and tumeric

    OR

    paprika, chili powder

    OR

    basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary

    OR

    1 tablespoon of honey (or sugar) and a teaspoon of mustard. It produces a very subtle honey mustard flavour.

    just use whatever you have on hand, in any combination that you like, adding a little bit at a time and taste testing as you go.

    If you want soup, keep adding water. If you want a rice dish, don’t add too much water.

  60. Angela said:

    I make a summer salad that always gets lots of follow-up recipe requests. I got it from my best friend’s grandma, Betty, but everyone now thinks it is my thing? It is kind of wonderful, so I guess I can take the credit (especially with folks who wouldn’t know Grandma Betty if she knocked them on the head with some of her fabulous shoes).

    A whole bunch of baby spinach leaves
    A handful of sliced strawberries (and/or blueberries, or whatever is convenient)
    Some crumbled feta cheese
    sliced or slivered almonds (always better toasted)

    and then top with the dressing:
    1/2 cup of sugar
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    pinch of paprika

    Whisk until the sugar is (mostly) dissolved, then keep whisking while you stream in about 1/8 cup of good olive oil. Dress immediately, or be prepared to whisk again before serving…it’s a lot of sugar, so it doesn’t really incorporate 100%, and that’s okay. I think Grandma Betty’s recipe called for poppy seeds as well, but I generally don’t have those on hand, so I’ve never included them. If you have some, go for it!

  61. I keep tinkering with the cooking time and exact amounts on this, but it turns out well pretty much every time.

    Lazy Alfredo Sauce
    ~Sautee minced/diced garlic to taste in half a stick of butter (margarine if you absolutely must, but fair warning it had a nasty aftertaste the only time I tried).
    ~Add a pint of cream, dash of salt and pepper, Italian spices to taste (I use a mix of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, hint of sage, walloping majority of oregano), and stir over medium-low heat until the butter no longer pools on top and it’s all the same smooth texture, thickened up a bit (about twenty minutes, give or take a bit based on exact temperature).
    ~Add…a few handfuls, probably about two cups, give or take to taste, of mixed parmesan and asiago cheese, grated very fine for smooth melting. Stir until the sauce is completely smooth over the lowest possible heat, just enough to keep it warm.

    Serve over pasta or as dipping sauce for bread; I’m partial to it over angel hair. It doesn’t reheat terribly well, sad to say, but it makes the BEST tipsy-snack eaten in congealed spoonfuls (don’t make that face, it’s amazing).

    Right now I’m reading Angelology and already regretting my decision. x.x Best recommendation offhand is The Rook, which I want to reread already in a bad way. I just got a friend to buy it and have been duly chastened for keeping her up half the night reading three-quarters of it at a go. I had no idea that magical-bureaucracy mystery was a genre I wanted, but I do now.

  62. Amy F. said:

    I present to you all: The Easiest Appetizer Of All Time.

    Ingredients: 1 brick cream cheese (softened), 1 can chili (any kind, including homemade if you are into that), shredded cheddar and/or pepperjack cheese.

    Just press the brick of cream cheese into the bottom of a baking dish and spread it around until it’s a uniform depth. Pour the chili on top, sprinkle cheese on top of that, and bake at 350 until the cheese is bubbly and the dip is warmed through (10-15 minutes). Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos.

    Seriously SO GOOD, and an excellent way to use up leftover chili.

    Also, for reading, I am making my way through 100 Years of Solitude. I’m doing a project where I re-read books that I read in high school, to see if I still have the same feelings about them. So far I love 100YoS even more than I did in HS, which was a lot.

    • temporarily anon said:

      Every time I reread 100YoS it gets better.

  63. Ah man, I wish I had my step-mom’s recipe for frozen broccoli casserole, that stuff is amazing. But instead, my step-mom’s sister-in-law’s recipe for chicken with curry and lime and coconut milk, which also works for tofu.

    1 1/2lbs skinless boneless thighs cut into 2″ pieces
    (Or tofu, same dimensions! I use firm or extra firm.)
    3tbsp (vegetable or whatever’s preferable) Oil
    3tbsp good quality curry powder (pref. Madras style? ’tis handwritten.)
    1cp unsweetened coconut milk
    1/4tsp salt
    2tbsp lime juice

    Heat oil in large frying pan
    Add chicken/tofu, season with curry
    Cook on high heat, stirring occasionally until chicken begins to brown, approximately four minutes (takes significantly longer for tofu – maybe ten-twelve)
    Reduce heat to medium and stir in coconut milk
    Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture begins to thicken, about four minutes longer
    Season with salt and stir in lime juice
    Cook for one more minute, then serve.
    (It’s generally awesome over rice.)

    (I feel vaguely guilty for replying to this post because MadGastronomer is awesome and I miss her on Slacktivist, and I am just awful at emails, I swear I went back and edited the draft of that response about once a day for two weeks, and then life happened and by the time I looked at it again it was like “…man, now it’s just awkward I’ll just slink away,” but, er, I am sorry I never replied to the email and every time I see your name on threads I go “Yay!” a little.)

  64. Badger Rose said:

    Here’s a favorite of mine that’s great for making a quick pasta dish on the fly, if you wind up with unexpected guests or just have a ‘the cupboard is bare’ moment. It’s made entirely with things that are shelf-stable, so you can buy a few cans or jars of stuff and have them ready should they be needed. It also takes no more than about 20 minutes (depending on how long it takes a pot of pasta water to boil for you).

    To serve four, use:

    * 1 lb pasta. Interesting shapes like shells or rotelli are nice, but anything will work, including garden-variety spaghetti. Works just fine if your pasta is whole-wheat.
    * 2 cans diced or crushed tomatoes. I like low-sodium just because I prefer to adjust the salt myself, but anything will work. (You can also use one can if you like your pasta drier; I like mine swimming in sauce.)
    * At least one of, and ideally two or more of, the following:
    * can or jar of olives, any kind you like
    * tin of anchovies or sardines
    * jar of roasted bell peppers
    * jar of pickled peppers (I like Mama Lil’s Kick Butt Goathorn, but any will do)
    * garlic, either fresh and minced or chopped
    * If you have it, fresh parsley or parmesan (or both) is nice. If not, no worries
    * You do, however, need salt (at least a tiny pinch) and pepper (but red pepper flavkes, togarichi, a smidge of Sriarhcha, etc., will do)

    Cook the pasta according to package directions, in well-salted water.

    While the pasta is cooking, warm up the tomatoes in a pan big enough to hold them. (I usually drain the tomatoes, but keep the liquid. Often I like to add it back to the sauce if it’s looking too dry. If it seems just fine, though, I keep the juice and use it to supplement veggie stock.

    Doctor them with your other ingredients, as follows:

    * If you have olives, pit and coarsely chop them and add to the sauce. I like a good handful–say, a quarter cup or more–but you should adjust depending on how much you like olives, and how potent your olives are.
    * If you have anchovies or sardines, mash them with the back of a spoon, ideally with some of the oil they were packed in, to make a paste. (If you are lucky enough to have salt-packed tinned anchovies or sardines, thoroughly rinse off the salt and do same.) Anchovies are more potent than sardines, so I’d go with one or two fillets. I do two to four times that much with actual bitty sardines. Add the mashed fish and its oil to the sauce.
    * If you have jarred roasted peppers, cut them into bite-size bits (I like ribbons, other people like checkerboard dice) and toss them into the tomatoes.
    * If you have pickled peppers, treat them the same as you would roasted peppers, but add a skosh of brine too.
    * If you have garlic, mince it fairly but not stupidly fine and chuck it in.

    Stir. Cook. Stir. The liquid should be bubbling gently away. If it is not, turn it up a bit. If it is. Turn it down a bit. You neither want to boil the heck out of it nor to coddle it in a jacuzzi.

    After about five minutes, it will start to smell amazing. Taste. Adjust with salt and pepper (whatever you have, including Srarichi). It might be necessary to adjust with a wee bit of olive oil or pickle juice as well. Or a dab of tomato paste. Or a smooch of anchovy. No worries. Keep cooking.

    When the pasta is done, drain, but not thoroughly. Let some of the water stick to the pasta. Toss it vigorously in with the tomato sauce. Let sit, quite hot with all the pasta, and let it get to know itself. There may be some growing pains and neighborly kerfuffles as the olives meet the anchovies or the parsley comes to terms with the goat-horn peppers. Pay then no mind.

    When it has had five minutes to achieve detente, put it in bowls. If your diet, your budget, and your fridge can spare them, sprinkle parmesan and parsley over the top, and swirl with a bit of olive oil. And if not… don’t.

    Great with bread, or really, anything else that will sop up the sauce.

    A big handful of garlic added to this at the sauce stage is perfectly wonderful, as are a handful of bay scallops to poach in the sauce. But neither of those things are pantry staples or shelf-stable, so they do not quite meet the original impetus of the dish.

    • Badger Rose said:

      Whoops — last line was meant to be ‘a big handful of basil.’ Although garlic, thinly sliced, would be delightful too. Or rosemary or thyme. Or lengths of asparagus. Or lemon zest and a slug of meyer lemon juice. Or shredded chicken, or beef. Or a good handful of sauteed spinach. Or rings of calamari. Or nestle a wee trout in there and let it steam through. Or …this is really a difficult dish to really screw up, is what I”m saying.

  65. TheJackdaw said:

    No recipes but book-wise have just finished Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. It’s a murder mystery set in Communist Russia and now I’m having trouble stopping myself from buying ALL THE BOOKS on Russian history. The atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia had me clenching my fists with tension!

    • temporarily anon said:

      Have you read the Master and Margarita? It’s settings are Stalinist Moscow and biblical Jerusalem and it is hysterical magical realism about mystery! and intrigue!

      For you, or anyone else who’s interested, I would highly, highly recommend seeking out the Penguin edition translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, it has helpful historical footnotes and is also much more readable than the other translations I’ve tried.

      Pevear & Volokhonsky’s Russian lit translations in general are incredible and it seems like they’re slowing working their way through almost the whole canon. If faced with the choice between paying a couple extra dollars for one of their editions vs. a cheaper old edition, I would definitely spend the money.

      • TheJackdaw said:

        Ah, no Kindle version for that translation but I will take your advice and get the Penguin edition in physical form because it sounds awesome! Thank you :D

    • GrouchyABD said:

      I’m a PhD student in Soviet history and I did my fields in everything from 1700 on, so if you want recommendations for academic but enjoyable, I can provide them! I think Amazon might have once suggested Child 44, good to know it’s worth reading.

      If you’re at all interested in the tsarist period, Boris Akunin has a detective series set then (he’s Russian and the translations are pretty good). Fortunately, I can still read historical fiction about Russia lo these many years into grad school.

      • TheJackdaw said:

        The Akunin series sounds very cool! I would definitely take recs for academic but enjoyable if you have them, thank you! Tom Rob Smith mentions The Gulag Archipelago and Stalin: The Court Of The Red Tsar in his afterword and I’ve had them open on tabs in my browser for about a week but haven’t taken the plunge yet lol

  66. griffykate said:

    Well, this is timely. A good friend of mine has a birthday today, and she is having a pudding party. Everyone has to bring a pudding, dessert or cake of some kind. (One guest has a special dispensation to bring a cheese board and crackers, just so there is something savoury for those who feel they need it.) I am bringing a trifle, and I shall now share Griffy Dad’s easy recipe for teetotal trifle, which I have been helping him make every Christmas ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

    1 Swiss Roll (plain/vanilla, not chocolate)
    1 Tin of Fruit Cocktail in Juice/Syrup
    1 Pack of Strawberry or Raspberry Jelly (North Americans: Jell-O)
    3/4 Pint of Custard
    1 Sachet of Dream Topping (a whipped cream substitute)
    1/4 Pint of Milk
    1 Cadburys Flake Bar

    1) Make up the jelly according to the packet intsuctions, replacing some of the water with the syrup/juice from the tin of fruit cocktail. Set aside so it can cool a little.

    2) Cut the swiss roll into slices and place them at the bottom of a deep bowl. Empty the drained fruit cocktail on top and spread out reasonably flat. Find the few rare cherry pieces and space them out evenly, so everyone gets an equal chance of having one!

    3) Pour the cooled liquid jelly into the trifle bowl and put in the fridge overnight to set.

    4) Pour the custard into the bowl and spread out flat. Return to fridge for 2 hours. (If you are making it from packet mix, use less milk/water than usual to make it thick so it will set firm, and let the custard cool before pouring it into the trifle bowl.)

    5) Half hour before serving, make up the dream topping with the milk, according to the packet instructions. Spread on top and pat all over with a fork to make peaks. Return to fridge to set firm.

    6) Just before serving, crumble the chocolate flake and sprinkle on top.

    Remember to cheer when the first spoonful comes out with that glorious slurpy sucking noise, and don’t forget to crow about it if you get a cherry piece. Now that’s a Griffy Christmas!

    • Lani said:

      Oh goodness yummy yummy trifle! I learned to make trifle when I was living in Australia (though the recipes I have are definitely not teetotal, heh) and I love it. This is great; it’ll be a good recipe to serve to everyone who can’t/doesn’t want to consume alcohol as well! Thank you!

  67. This thread is awesome!

    Ludicrously simple and awesome tomato soup

    For one person:
    3/4 big tomatoes (they don’t need to be fancy – cheap ones work just fine!)
    1 onion
    A few cloves of garlic, depending on taste
    Butter
    Olive oil
    Salt/pepper
    Marmite
    Stock powder
    Soy sauce

    Pop the tomatoes in a roasting tin with the garlic (whole) and slosh on some oil. Put them in a really hot oven to roast for about 30 minutes, or until they have started to go squishy and lovely.

    Finely chop the onion and fry it very slowly in butter. You really want to avoid colouring them, so slowly and at a low temperature is key here.

    Once your tomatoes and garlic are done, boil up some water. Dump everything from the roasting tin into the pan with the onions, and then add water until you get about the right quantity. Add a teaspoon or so of stock, a teaspoon of Marmite and a splash of soy sauce. Cook for about 20 minutes at a simmer.

    I tend to blend and pass this soup through a sieve, but you can also just have at it with a potato masher if you prefer.

    This is seriously good, and deceptively easy.

    • Badger Rose said:

      Oooh, that does sound lovely and easy!

  68. I have the shortest attention span, so I pretty much never make anything with more than five ingredients. My four-ingredient cheesecake is AWESOME though.

    1 x packet of chocolate biscuits, crushed up. Melt a couple of spoonfuls of butter and squish into your cheesecake dish/pan/whatever.
    300g white chocolate, melted over hot water.
    Stir in 600g mascapone until you’ve got an emulsion.
    Pour onto the top of the biscuit base.
    Refrigerate until cool.
    Eat.

  69. Here’s my shrimp taco recipe. In fact, I think I’ll make it tonight:

    INGREDIENTS
    two and a half pounds shrimp
    fucketonne garlic
    five medium hotte green peppers
    one fucken hotte habanero pepper
    shittetonne chopped cilantro
    one cup dry white wine
    hugeasse splash corenwijn (or bourbon or rye)
    juice of one lime
    olive oil
    milk
    salt to taste
    tortillas (our usual is Nixtamal)
    avocado
    savoy cabbage
    queso fresco
    limes

    Peel, clean, and halve the shrimp if they are big.

    Stem, seed, and dice the peppers. I only used half of the habanero, but it could have taken the whole thing if you like it really fucken hotte.

    Sautee the garlic (large dice) and peppers in a generous amount of olive oil, until the garlic is turning golden.

    Add the shrimp, turn up the heat, and sautee until they are cooked on the outside. Add the corenwijn (and take a bigge fucken swigge for yourself!) and wine, and continue to cook for a few minutes until the alcohol is burned off and the shrimps are done. At this point you have a delicious shrimp dish, that you can serve in tacos (as we did) or on pasta or rice.

    If you are serving in tacos, remove the shrimp from the sauce, add a nice splash of milk or cream as thickener, and reduce it down quite a bit, put the shrimp back in, add the cilantro and lime juice, cook for just about one minute to reheat the shrimp, and then you’re done. If you are serving on pasta or rice, then just add the cilantro and lime juice without reducing, cook for one minute to soften the cilantro, and then it’s ready.

    Heat the tortillas, put some cabbage on them, then the shrimp.

    Then garnish with the avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, and squeezes of lime.

    Pictures are here:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/physioprof/2012/06/30/shrimp-tacos/

  70. Skydancing said:

    A few weeks ago I was fishing the internet for a good healthy muffin recipe and caught this one: http://www.farmgirlfare.com/2007/02/back-into-bran-muffins.html. I’ve made four batches so far, that’s how much I love them! And there are many suggested variations in the original post and comments (one commenter posted a vegan and gluten-free version as well).

    As a bonus, I also found a beer bread recipe on the Farmgirl Fare site – http://www.farmgirlfare.com/2005/11/beyond-easy-beer-bread.html – that produces a loaf of crusty, dense, moist, savoury yumminess (the last beer bread recipe I tried came out dry, and was basically crumbs the day after baking – what a waste of a beer). Again, the recipe and comments provide so many options. I made mine using half whole-wheat flour, a honey brown lager, and my favourite roasted garlic & herb dip mix as seasoning – deliciousness!

    I have no book recommendations right now, having lately become a Netflix addict, but thanks to other commenters I have a list of books and authors to explore :)

  71. Hannah said:

    Swamplandia is such a good book! It made me seriously cringe, but still a good book.
    Right now I’m obsessively reading and rereading Zoo Story.

    For the cream cheese lovers among us: Cream Cheese Rollup Cookies!

    http://joandsue.blogspot.ca/2012/06/chocolate-chip-cream-cheese-cookies.html

    Ingredients:
    1 package of cream cheese
    1 can of crescent rolls (apparently you can get seamless versions of these, but I’ve never seen them)
    1/4 cup sugar
    2 tsp vanilla
    1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

    1. Spread out the package of crescent rolls so that they form a rectangle. If you couldn’t find the seamless type just overlap the seams and pinch them together.
    2. Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. (Don’t use an electric whisk on un-softened cream cheese unless you want your kitchen coated with vanilla-suger globs of cream cheese)
    3. Spread the mixture over all of the crescent roll rectangle. Then sprinkle the chocolate chips on.
    4. Roll the rectangle into a log and secure the shape with cling wrap. Toss into the freezer for about 2 hours. (This is for ease of cutting later. Mine was only in for about 40 minutes, but it turned out fine.)
    5. Take log of yummyness out and use a slicing motion to cut off disks about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. Put them on a baking sheet. (I used aluminum foil instead of parchment paper and the turned out fine)
    6. Bake on 350 for about 10-15 minutes. They should be just about golden brown when you take them out.
    7. Enjoy the deliciousness. They are good strait out of the over or microwaved later on if they get cold.

  72. LSG said:

    I just wanted to thank everyone for this thread! I’m not a good instinctive cook AT ALL, and it’s one of the big life skills I’m trying to develop this year. I’m so excited to try your recipes, and these books!

  73. Kaz said:

    I am too lazy to dig up other recipes, but here’s one that has CHANGED MY LIFE and is super-amazingly-easy to make and I know by heart because I make it so much:

    No-Knead Bread

    Ingredients:
    3 cups white flour (you can substitute whole-wheat for part if you want)
    1.5 cups water
    1 to 1.5 teaspoons salt
    1/4 teaspoon yeast

    Stir the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until you get a sticky dough – you don’t have to knead it. Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature for 18-24 hours (or less depending on your climate; for me room temperature is around 20 C).

    Preheat your oven to 230 degrees C. Put the dough into a greased rectangular bread tin (I use a pure silicone one that means I can forgo the grease) and cover with aluminium foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then take the foil off and bake for another 20 minutes/until nicely brown. Take it out, let cool aaand you have delicious delicious bread omnomnom bread.

    This recipe is an adaptation of this bread recipe on Steamy Kitchen; I upped the rising time for northerly climates, upped the salt amount for taste and easier scaling and generally simplified a bit. (They bake the bread in a preheated cast iron pot and do some loaf shaping that I’ve never managed to get to work; a rectangular bread tin works perfectly well and is much much less faff).

    One thing you can do for a somewhat fluffier loaf is shift the dough into the bread tin and cover with foil around 2 hours before you bake it, but it works fine like this too.

  74. datdamwuf said:

    I have like 20 tabs open with recipes and books, thank you Awkward Army!!

    This recipe is totally re-worked from one my Mom would make using Lipton Onion soup mix. It’s not fancy, just simple, my go to comfort food.

    Beef Stroganoff
    Not the Russian kind, who knows what this really is…

    Ingredients:
    1-2 lbs Top strip sirloin cut in bite sized strips
    6-10 Fresh mushrooms sliced
    1 Medium shallot diced or minced
    2 Cloves garlic chopped
    1 Small onion or half an onion diced or minced

    1 Cup Veal or beef stock & red wine
    16 oz Sour Cream (Breakstone)

    To taste, Thyme should be your main flavor, it is perfect with the sour cream:
    Thyme
    Parsley
    Paprika
    Salt & Pepper
    Butter & Olive Oil

    8 oz Wide egg noodles

    Directions:
    Lightly flour (salt&pepper) beef strips, brown in butter and olive oil in a large skillet.

    In a large pot where you will simmer everything:

    Sauté the mushrooms in butter with garlic and the parsley, (letting the shrooms get browned increases their wonders) set aside

    In the same pot sauté the shallot, onions and garlic

    Put the mushrooms and meat in the pot, add rest of spices, stock and wine ( may need extra to barely cover meat).

    Simmer very low 45 minutes to an hour, add a bit more Thyme approx. 10 minutes before the end of cooking.

    Remove the meat and mix in the sour cream until smooth, return meat to pot and allow to heat through without bubbling for 10 or so minutes.

    Cook your egg noodles – I generally dump them in the pot to mix, you can spoon the meat sauce over them if you like.

    • datdamwuf said:

      Correction! the recipe uses “top sirloin” not “strip sirloin”, you can also use top round/london broil but it will need to simmer longer for tenderness and won’t have the same deep meaty flavor

  75. STH said:

    I’m making this, one of my favorites, for dinner tonight: http://chickensintheroad.com/cooking/real-tex-mex-cheese-enchiladas/. I loves me some Tex-Mex and my partner doesn’t, so I’m making this while he’s out on a 200k bike ride today. Lots of good recipes on that site, though they are meat- and cheese-heavy.

    I’m reading “Raw Spirit” by Iain Banks about his adventures traveling around Scotland and tasting whisky. Fun and funny, even if you aren’t particularly interested in Scotch. My honey bought it for me in preparation for our trip to the UK this summer and the book makes me really excited to go!

  76. Lani said:

    Ooh ooh! Recipes and books, two of my favorite things, how can I resist?!

    I recently finished reading a book of Tanith Lee’s short stories. It’s an out of print collection (got it at a used book store) but the collection itself is titled “The Gorgon.” I love Tanith Lee but she’s so prolific that a lot of her stuff is kind of hit or miss. There were some stories in “The Gorgon” that I loved, and some I did not. They were all beautifully written, and many of them were suitably Lee creepy and disturbing. My favorite out of the book was “The Hunting of Death: The Unicorn” which had a lot of undertones that also made it into her Unicorn Trilogy. Those books are Black Unicorn, Gold Unicorn, and Red Unicorn, and I quite reccommend those.

    One of my go-to recipes is a delicious avocado salso which is always a huge hit at parties, and is vegan, gluten free, and dairy free, hooray!

    1 avocado, diced
    1 small cucumber, diced (use half a large one, if you can only get big ones)
    1 red chilli, finely diced
    1/4 th a red onion, finely diced
    Juice from 1 lime
    Big pinch of sea salt
    Big handful cilantro/coriander leaves
    Glug of olive oil

    Mix all the ingredients together and serve with chips. OMNOMNOMNOM. The recipe is extremely forgiving, and doubles/triples very nicely too if you want to make a huge amount.

    • manybellsdown said:

      Tanith Lee was one of my favorites! “The Birthgrave” was my favorite novel for years. I also have her collection of fairytales “Red as Blood”

  77. Lizzie said:

    My sister has a food blog, A Purist’s Pantry, dedicated to food for people with multiple dietary restrictions. There’s plenty of dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, sucrose-free and vegan stuff. Note for Americans, some of the food terms are different; in particular, “pumpkin” means any hard orange-fleshed squash (so “butternut pumpkin” means “butternut squash”). I think the rest should be pretty easy to figure out. I’ve tried making her satay sauce/dip and I 100% recommend it, it’s incredible. Makes a great dip for parties. :) Some of her other recipes (risotto, vegetarian lasagne) is stuff we ate a lot of growing up, so I feel I can recommend it even though I haven’t made it from her recipe!

  78. Charlotte said:

    Fabulous new novel I just read — The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. Here are the opening lines:
    “Today is Christmas Eve.
    Today is my birthday.
    Today I am fifteen.
    Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
    Neither of them were beloved.”

    • JenniferP said:

      That’s a good hook right there. Adding it to the list!

  79. Lizzie said:

    But unlike my sister I eat pretty much everything, especially if it’s bad for me. :D Here’s a chocolate cake I made just the other day; it’s an old standby. Pretty easy, always good.

    ========================================================
    Chocolate Mud Cake
    This is a dense, moist chocolate cake. It is not the sort of fluffy, weak wisp-of-a-cake you can buy in a store. It’s heavy enough to decorate very well, so if you want to make a novelty cake that tastes as good as it looks, this is a good choice.

    Ingredients:
    350 grams (12.35 oz) dark chocolate pieces
    225 grams (2 sticks) butter
    600 ml (2 1/2 cups) water
    3 eggs
    400 grams (14.1 oz, or just under 2 cups) castor sugar (i.e. regular granulated sugar in the USA)
    400 grams (14.1 oz, or about 3 1/4 cups)* self raising flour (or use all-purpose flour and add 5 1/3 tsp baking powder)
    Pinch of salt

    Method:
    0. Preheat oven to 170C/325F.
    1. In a saucepan over low heat, heat chocolate, butter and water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. I always do this first, even before prepping the pan, because of the cooling time.
    2. Grease the corners and line a 23cm/9″ round cake tin with baking paper (parchment paper in the USA). Note: this cake mixture is quite runny, use a solid cake tin not a springform tin. Unless you’re using a larger tin, I recommend doing a high paper collar for the tin, because this recipe will rise a LOT in the oven (and then settle down while it’s cooling).
    3. Lightly beat eggs. Gradually whisk eggs into cooled chocolate mixture.
    4. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, salt (and baking powder if using), then whisk in the chocolate mixture; continue beating until smooth and well blended.
    5. Pour mixture into cake tin. The original recipe said to bake for 45 minutes but I’ve found it takes much longer, more like 80+ minutes. It’s done when it doesn’t wobble when you try to move it, and when a skewer (or knife, chopstick, whatever you have handy) inserted into the centre comes out clean (or with cooked crumbs on it).
    6. Turn cake onto wire rack to cool.
    ========================================================

  80. panda flannel said:

    I just finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. So good. So much crying. The 20th century history of the Dominican Republic explained largely through Lord of the Rings metaphors.

    The recipe I’m known for in my circle of friends is my maple-glazed tempeh; I would like to think that it is a good introduction to tempeh for those who are not aficionados already. It’s good on EVERYTHING – in salads, as vegetarian taco filling, as a breakfast side (it is heaven paired with sweet potatoes and grits), on sandwiches, so on.

    You’ll need:

    As much tempeh as you want to eat
    Maple syrup (the real stuff, pref. grade B)
    Dijon mustard
    Soy sauce or tamari
    Oil (I like to use coconut, but any neutral-tasting oil sub will do. Just don’t use olive, sesame, or anything else super strong.)

    Cut your tempeh into the prep configuration appropriate to your meal – strips for serving as a side or on a sandwich, chunks for salads, diced for taco filling, etc.

    Heat a couple tablespoons oil in a frying pan.

    When hot, toss the tempeh in and let it cook for a couple minutes until it starts to get golden brown.

    While the tempeh is cooking: in coffee cup or similar, whisk together about 1/4 cup of maple syrup, a tablespoon or so of tamari/soy sauce, and about a teaspoon of dijon mustard. Stir heartily so it all emulsifies into a beautiful goo.

    Stir or flip the tempeh, then pour your glaze all over it. If you’re cooking chunks, stir heartily so they’re coated. If they’re strips, do your best to get them coated on both sides.

    Let cook for another couple minutes until everything is golden and the tempeh starts to get slightly crispy and smells delicious.

    My favorite salad: spinach, maple-glaze tempeh, cotija or another salty cheese like feta, avocado and walnuts. Top with balsamic vinaigrette. Makes for a delicious main-course salad that sticks to your ribs.

  81. I am reading The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. I’m in fucking love with it. Even though it’s about taxes! And boredom! I’d put money on it being the least boring thing ever written about taxes and boredom.

    Really easy chicken curry:

    Fry chopped onions, garlic, ginger, chili, tomato, with spices (whatever you fancy – ground coriander, turmeric, cumin…) in a saucepan until everything is soft.

    Blend with a stick blender. Add a little bit of sour cream or yoghurt, if you like. Blend again.

    Put back on the heat until it’s bubbling. Stir in diced chicken/turkey thigh meat and poach until it’s just cooked through. Tip in some frozen peas. Heat through.

    Bob’s your uncle.

    Vegetarians can substitute other things for the chicken – eggplant! Chickpeas! Paneer cheese (make your own if you’ve got some cheesecloth and a few hours’ notice for it to sit)!

    (This thread has made me unbelievably hungry.)

  82. DameB said:

    I won’t tell you what I’m reading because it’s bad-to-mediocre and mildly embarrassing. But I will share my favorite way to prepare greens. It’s really good — even people who don’t like vegetables like my greens.

    1. Prepare your greens. Tender greens (swiss chard) need to be washed and chopped. Sturdy greens (collards) should be stemmed, chopped, and blanched in salted water for 7 minutes. Then dunked into ice water. That’s a lot of work. Just buy chard.

    2. Add fat to your big skillet and put it on medium high. I like olive oil, usually, but if I’m indulgent, I fry bacon and use bacon fat.

    3. If you like onions, add onions and saute until starting to brown. Cook books will tell you this is five minutes. They LIE, the bastards. This is 20 minutes, minimum. I skip this step often.

    4. Add the wet greens, still wet and dripping, to the hot fat. It’s going to spatter. It’s cool. Don’t panic. Just toss with tongs for a few minutes until it all wilts down and is coated in yummy fat. (Did you know that you can’t digest the vitamins and minerals in vegetables without fat? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.) This is a good time to add a generous pinch of salt, too.

    5. Add minced garlic. Don’t skip this step. Cook for about 30 seconds.

    6. This is the MOST IMPORTANT step. Add a splash of vinegar. I like chive blossom vinegar or pomegranate vinegar, but anything except balsamic is good. (Balsamic is too sweet.) Toss to coat. Taste. Adjust seasoning — I like LOTS of pepper with this.

    Serve. There will be lots of liquid.

    To make into a complete dinner: After step #6, make some divots in you pan of greens, and lower the heat to medium low. Crack eggs into each of the divots (two for each person) and slap a lid on and let the eggs poach in the liquid for a while. Once they are done, serve the whole mess over whole wheat toast or quinoa. Complete meal.

  83. Here’s the recipe for our Revolution Pie, the apple pies we’re baking and giving away across the USA (coming to Chicago May 29th, btw).

    Premade pie crust or make like so –

    2 cups flour + 2 tablespoons sugar + 1 teaspoon salt, whisk energetically. Chop 1 and 1/2 stick of butter and work in with fingers. Add 6 tablespoons of ice cold water and work in with fingers, adding more ice water if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide crust in 2 and refrigerate for a few hours. Overnight is best.

    Next, peel, core and slice 5ish apples per pie. We use half Granny Smith and half sweet red apples of any variety. Coat with 1/4 cup of sugar per pie’s worth of apples, let sit for a few hours.

    When pie crust is good and cold, and the apples have given up most of their juice, you are ready. Roll out the pie crust and put in 2 pans. Drain juice from apples, place a layer of apples in each crust, and dust with seasoning mix (1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg). Continue adding apples and seasoning mix until you’ve used all the apples.

    Bake your 2 pies for 30 minutes at 350 F. Remove, cover with crumb top (1/2 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup oatmeal, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, chopped with pastry cutter). Bake for 30 more minutes at 350. Cool and serve to a dozen or so of your favorite people.

    • JenniferP said:

      Tell us more about this Chicago May 29 thing!

      • Sure thing! We’re actually still looking for a host, perhaps in the suburbs, who will let us park our truck/house in their driveway and bake pies. Then Wednesday, 6 pm, we’ll be in a park, giving away our pies and also stickers. Anyone who wants to bring a pie or another dish to share is welcome, actually everyone is welcome, but we will probably only make 6 – 12 pies. They’re all apple and also made with wheat, sorry gluten-free people :(

        If any Awkwardeers would like to host or have park recommendations, please let us know!

    • JenniferP said:

      That is so up my alley! Thank you for sharing it.

  84. Featherless Biped said:

    Yay! I’ve really enjoyed Lucy Wood’s first book of short stories, Diving Belles. Full of Cornish fairytale creatures. Not much plot, but such excellent atmosphere you don’t care.

    Also really loved Bride of Ice, a book of translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poetry. Translator Elaine Feinstein makes excellent use of form.

    Another memorably good recent read is The Clean House and other Plays, by Sarah Ruhl; I particularly loved “Late: A Cowboy Song”, which is dedicated to Anette Fausto-Sterling.

    This is unfortunately not vegetarian, but I make an awesome pho. You boil an oxtail for 2 hours, toss in a star anise and a cinnamon stick, and boil it for 30 minutes more. While that’s going on, prepare some bowls, putting in flat rice noodles, thin-sliced lean beef (raw), fresh basil, green onions, and mung bean sprouts. Ladle the boiling water over the bowls, add the juice from 1/4 lime + 1 teaspoon fish sauce to each, and serve immediately. The boiling water cooks the beef!

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