Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Spouted Kitchen & Bowl+Spoon

Sara Forte’s Sprouted Kitchen features healthy food, which is beautifully photographed and the food actually tastes good.  Oh, by the way, there is a price to pay.  Not a money price, no, but something just as precious….your blood. Wait, no, it’s your time.  

Want to make some of the best veggie burgers you have ever eaten?  You can, but you should have started them yesterday.  You might be able to make them for dinner if you start making them as you chew your last bite of your lunch. This story really happened: I was going to make the burgers for Sunday dinner but I made some homemade powerbars first.  (That was a mistake). Then I started the burgers, but it was getting so late I had to make sandwiches for dinner.  Essentially, I had to make base camp and go for the summit the next day.  I wanted to cry.  Admittedly, I may have had low-blood sugar, PMS or was exhausted—possibly all three. Anyway, on Monday I almost cried again because I realized these were delicious.  And that was bittersweet because I realized that I needed to make them again. Argggh.

Bowl+Spoon is the Sprouted Kitchen's follow up book. Sara is a blogger so "the Sprouted Kitchen" is her brand, I haven't been on it lately because they had a baby and it's 60% baby...I'm like I CAME HERE FOR FOOD NOT BABY.  Bowl+Spoon is kind of dumb name for a cookbook.  Food+Mouth? Now this came out right during the whole everything's a bowl thing. You want to hate them don't you? So precious, California hipster, millennials, mostly vegetarian, pics of a pretty young family eating outside like they don't have occasional diarrhea like the rest of us. Is there anything else I tell you that can make you a hater? Well, jokes on you because this is delicious too. Damn you millennial hipster! If you like grains + greens and delicious sauces pick this one up.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

All Our Wrong Todays

This is book equivalent of Starship's We Built this City....just because some people liked that song doesn't mean it was meant for human ears. No. This is a spectacular example of the kind of stuff you would get in a creative writing class the first semester in your MFA program. He needed a trusted adviser to tell him, "Elan, this draft makes makes you seem like a arrogant buffoon. Or baboon, whatever, I'm an adjunct and I'm late for my shift at The Gap so I don't have time for this nonsense."

This is a time travel book that is about 20% time travel plot and 80% sexual politics. You know what I want in a time travel book? 100% time travel plot and 0% sexual politics. Our first narrator is an ultra-whiny young adult in the future we should be in....I'm going to call it the non-Kanye 2016. In his 2016 there really are hover cars, world peace and advanced technology. He travels in time, does the classic "made a mistake altering the future" and that is why we have a Kayne world. We aren't supposed to have Kayne at all. Apparently we can't avoid the rampant narcissism ether way.

I did learn a new writer's word just now.  It's called lamp-shading. This is when a writer admits that it may be difficult for the reader to willfully suspend their disbelief.  In All Our Wrong Todays our narrator not only mentions that time travel seems improbable but also he says things like "well, I'm not very good at writing." He also says, "I might be a little sexist." I guess we are supposed to give him a pass because he admits these things? Ah, hells, no. For our protagonist to say he's a little sexist is like Bill Gates whispering to Melinda in the middle of the night... "Hey, Melinda, Melinda....I think I might be rich."

The women aren't treated well in this book. Our narrator has four distinct personalities, one or two of which are rapists. One "less evil" personality got a girl pregnant (her fault) so she kills herself (of course). I eye-rolled so much during this book that my contacts almost flew out of my head. Our narrator tries to redeem himself in the end but I'm like...I don't like you, I don't like anything about you, you sir, are a jerk. There are people that enjoyed this book but I couldn't get past the misogyny and weird writing style. If you like it, ok, enjoy your Kanye universe because I'm opting out.

I don't think you are reading this book but you are going to have some kind of fabulous drink. Bloomsbury Fizz: 1&1/4 ounces Gin, 1/3 ounce lemon juice, 1/3 ounce simple syrup, 1/4 ounce raspberry puree, one egg white, mix all the ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a fresh raspberry or two. You can omit the egg white if you are afraid of it (my mom was a total freak about salmonella when I was a kid and I was deprived of raw cookie dough--note to self--bring this up in therapy next month) but it won't have the proper fizz froth.  If you make two drinks one egg white is plenty for both drinks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Dark Matter

What if Dolph Lundgren had chosen to do his Fulbright scholarship at MIT in chemical engineering instead of moving to NYC with Grace Jones? Have you ever thought about that? Maybe we would have a cure for cancer but not Showdown in Little Tokyo? Before you answer that, remember Drogo from Rocky IV is the one that says..."I will break you." So, I mean, I think the answer is pretty clear.

Dark Matter is a sci-fi book of what-ifs.  What if I hadn't married my spouse, taken that job, gone the that school, taken that route to work?  Definitely, a first world problem. I doubt if some poor guy in Bangladesh living in tin shack collecting honey from trees in tiger country is thinking...."You know, I wonder if should have taken that movie role...but you know....I just didn't think a movie about a boy wizard would be that successful."

There is a little theoretical physics, specifically quantum mechanics, in this book which is the nice thing about theory--we don't know....I mean, it could happen.  There is one logical flaw that was a bit irritating but necessary for the plot I suppose, but this book doesn't overwhelm you with science or give you math problems like The Martian AND not one boob joke in this book. Not one. So this was not written for precocious 14 year old boys. This book is pretty short, and a bit of a page turner and it is soon to be movie (Blake Crouch is a screenwriter anyway).  I liked it I thought it was entertaining but I know someone who thought it was meh, and I thought...that's a reasonable view too.  

Ok this cocktail has nothing to do with the book, but it's spring and I want to drink this so why not? Tequila Honeysuckle: 2 ounces blanco tequila, 3/4 ounce honey syrup (this is just simple syrup but with honey instead of sugar) and 3/4 ounce lime juice. Combine in a shaker with ice, shake and strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lime slice.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ghost Talkers

Life is stressful enough so maybe you want a mystery that has a supernatural element but maybe you don't want any heavy lifting? I'm not going to judge you. They say you should try to get out of your "bubble" these days. Lately, I've been like, I've heard your viewpoints and it's making me want more of a bubble. I'm ready for a "boy in plastic bubble John Travolta" type of existence. Give me a never exhausting supply of coffee and books and I'm all set. Plus I can fart with impunity.

Ghost Talkers is a lot like a Maisie Dobbs' mystery but with magic. I think the Masie Dobbs series is a little more sophisticated and this is more action-based. It's nothing special but if its a chilly spring day and you want to get away for a while with a cup of coffee and a cookie, it's better than a kick in the teeth. What an endorsement!

I guess you could say this is a female empowerment book but also not really. Our protagonist, Ginger, is constantly getting harassed by men (on "our side" of the war) or they are just outright trying to physically attack her. She shoots one dude but she has to have a man take over her body via channeling so that she can actually pull the trigger. Crap. So that was disappointing. She is the hero but ... poop.

Ginger is an American but half British--something like that so why not drink an American Cup which is an American version of the Pimm's Cup?: 1&1/2 ounces of sweet vermouth, 1/2 ounce of gin, 1/2 ounce of bourbon, 2 dashes of orange bitters. Muddle a lemon orange and lime slice, shake the remaining ingredients and strain and pour into a Collin's glass (or any tall glass).  Top with the best ginger beer you can find.  I would bet this tastes good with that cookie I'm dreaming about.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Night Film

I've been watching a lot of 80's movies lately. That was before the actors got all ripped with personal trainers and on-site nutritionists. Both the men and women were as slim as sticks. Their diets must have been cigarettes dipped in liquid cocaine. Everyone wears high-waisted jeans which, even before the use of spandex, seemed particularly good for kicking. Bras were optional. It's been fun.

If you are Stanley Kubrick fan or a horror movie aficionado then Night Film will be a more enriching experience. Wow, that sounds super snobby. I've been watching William Defoe getting kicked in the nuts so take that advice with a grain of salt. This has been optioned to be a film but hasn't been made yet....or ever. Hey, the movie option paycheck gets cashed either way.

Marisha Pessl gets a lot of hype. I had an attitude about her first book: "let's hate this over-hyped book with some unusual writing conventions." But actually it was pretty compelling.  Night Film also has a "multi-media" arrangement, i.e. fake newspaper clippings, which honestly doesn't add a thing.  Let's get a young model to pose as a crime victim. Bad idea. But, don't let that stop you. As far as thrillers go, this one is much better than average, it's smarter. Not Godel, Escher Bach smarter, let's not go nuts here....just not for idiots. Luckily this skips the now trite supermodel pretty sociopath femme fatale. Can't the killer have a weird mole or a lazy eye at least?

Why not drink a Blood Orange cocktail to go with this horror themed mystery? Vibrant Sunrise: 1/3 of a blood orange muddled, 2 oz of a London dry gin, 1 oz. lemon juice, 1 oz. lime juice, dash of agave syrup, (they want a cayenne and salt for rimming the glass--proceed with caution), muddle the blood orange in a shaker with the gin, juices and agave and ice. Shake and pour over ice and garnish with a blood orange wheel.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

When the universe was created there was only NyQuil. Then DayQuil. They both love each other but they are enemies. They have children called 'Enedryl, Zicam and my favorite, 'Tussin. This is close enough to the mythology in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.


The world worships DayQuil (I mean you have to go back to work sometime) but our hero is both scared of but secretly falls for NyQuil.  Duh, we all love NyQuil the best, even if that's reckless. He might be bad for us. When you love NyQuil you do crazy things like email your boss in Esperanza or buying three pounds of goji berries on the Internet.

I didn't really enjoy this book.  The mortals in this book are pretty despicable and then our hero Yiene...I just can't relate.  She makes decisions solely based on her id.  She has a "temper" and there is some really crappy sex scenes/romance with a "bad boy." (could be someone that tried to kill her 100 pages previously) but it's fine. Everything is fine. So exciting. Sigh. I guess it's a spoiler to tell you she has sex with NyQuil.....which everyone knows you are SUPPOSED to quit after seven days.

I think having a god for a boyfriend would be problematic. I mean, he probably still farts in his sleep and will make you drop what you are doing because he can't find his me-damn socks! Anyway, this book wasn't my thing. I have heard her more recent series is better but I'm too dubious to give her a second chance, there being a lot of fantasy out there to read and all.

Hey if you haven't guessed it I was sick when I read this. I did make this is amazing cocktail right before I got sick. Cognac French 75 (which I made with Brandy) 1 and 1/2 ounces cognac or brandy, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice.  Put these in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake and strain into a martini glass.  Top with champagne (I used prosecco).  Super yummy.

Monday, February 13, 2017

River of Doubt

I think it's safe to say that Theodore Roosevelt was our "toughest" President.  I don't mean his military or economic policies no, I mean the man got shot during a campaign speech and finished it bleeding through his shirt. No big deal. What the actual Eff.  Maniac.  He liked having wilderness adventures when he felt stressed. When he tried to run as a third party candidate in 1912 he lost.  So what to do...what to do....I know, go on a Amazon river adventure that was insanely dangerous. Good plan.

I'm good now on Amazon adventures. (I read The Lost City of Z about 5 years ago).  I have learned most everything in the Amazon can kill you and probably will. Parasites, bot-flies, piranhas, rotten feet, rapids, indigenous people who will kill you (but might not bother that day), alligators and snakes. Plus malaria and those crazy frogs.  It may be worse than Australia. Pretty much you're going to die.  It's still spooky there. Do you want dengue fever? No, well, it's too late you've got it now. The only thing that won't kill you are these cute little sloths.

By the way, Roosevelt's party would have eaten this little guy if they could see them. But in the wild sloths are covered with green algae which makes them camouflaged. Anyway, they had some scary adventures and people died.  River of Doubt is well researched and written, even if there are parts that a little slow.  At one point I had to tell myself to PADDLE PADDLE to get through to the next part.

Still, I can't see any of our ex-Presidents doing something like this adventure.  Even "nice-guy" Jimmy Carter: "I've looked at a lot of these monkeys with lust.  I've committed adultery in my heart many many times." George W Bush, "Mission Accomplished." Um, sir we haven't even left the Dallas Ft. Worth airport. No, they don't make um like Theodore Roosevelt anymore. (psst...I'm glad he wasn't my Dad though...maniac).

There was a couple of bottles of scotch on the trip which had to be rationed.  Why not read this book with a Smoking Pistol (seems appropriate) from Imbibe Magazine:  3/4 oz scotch, 3/4 oz. sweet vermouth, 1/2 oz. Rye, 1/4 ounce Armagnac,  a bar-spoon of Benedictine,  2 dashes of Peychaud's Bitters, 1 dash of Angostura bitters.  Put these ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until chilled. Twist a lemon peel over the top of the drink and discard.  Be glad you don't have malaria.