Friday Faves are an Internet fashion I’m particularly fond of, so this will be a regular feature for me. A few years ago I started a habit of beginning each journal entry (when I wrote in my journal, which was by no means every day) with something I loved and/or was grateful for, as an effort to pull myself out of or stave off bouts of depression. I haven’t touched my journal since my mother’s death, although I mean to resume the habit soon, but the habit of focusing on things I love, even the most trivial, has helped me work through the anxiety attacks I’ve been struggling with over the last year. Also, anyone who knows me knows my compulsion to rabbit on about any current enthusiasm I’m possessed by. Friday Faves posts will be a means of channeling that.
This week’s Friday Fave is the novel Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. This was one of the two best novels I read last year (I’ll discuss the other sometime soon). When I was a teenager I would be so enraptured by some books that I would start them over again as soon as I’d finished them. My last year as an undergraduate beat that out of me—having to get through the likes of Pamela, Joseph Andrews, The Latecomers, and all the attendant critical essays in the space of a week didn’t leave much time for re-reading anything. This novel brought that habit back to me; I read it straight through twice, and bought the audiobook (which was unfortunately a poor performance). I’ve re-read it again since. If you have any liking for fantasy at all, I can’t recommend this enough. It seems to have been marketed as a YA novel, which I can’t really understand; not that I wouldn’t recommend it to an older teen, but in no way did it strike me as a specifically teen-oriented book—it is just that the narrator is a girl in her late teens. (I would question giving it to anyone younger than maybe 16, but then I’m not in charge of anyone’s child, and knowing my own history it’s the sort of thing I was reading by 11 years old.)
In Stores Now: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik
I eat greens-based salads all year round, but I’ve always reserved cold salads such as tabbouleh for the Spring and Summer–as far as I’m concerned they must contain fresh tomatoes, and tomatoes grown over the winter in hothouses are pale, scentless, and tasteless. But now it is Spring (at least where I am), and the tomatoes are starting to have some flavour again, so I made tabbouleh for lunch–bulgar wheat, feta, garlic-stuffed green olives (courtesy of Trader Joe’s, I do not have the patience to do such things myself), red bell peppers, tomatoes, and a Meyer lemon Greek vinaigrette left over from a different salad. It was yummy.
Happy International Women’s Day! Unhappily I haven’t had time to write a longer post, but by way of celebrating, here are two of my favourite feminist web comics:
I made a carrot cake. It was epic, at least for me. I’ve done one cake that involved more effort, a coconut cake with a complicated icing, but I’m quite proud of this one anyway. I grated the carrots by hand and everything.
I used this recipe (http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015523-dorie-greenspans-carrot-cake
) with a few alterations. I don’t have three cake pans of the required size—I only own two cake tins of any sort, and knowing me disaster would ensue if I had tried to take one of the cakes out, clean the pan up, and cook the third layer separately. It would have come out too thin, or burnt, or something. I have a genius for such cock-ups. I also used half fancy olive oil and half canola, instead of all canola oil, and switched out one of the cups of white sugar for brown sugar. I strongly recommend the olive oil (find a good one with an intense flavour—Trader Joe’s Sicilian Olive Oil is a decent price), as it gave a nice depth of flavour to the sweetness.
The bake took exactly as long as instructed, for once. They did sink a little in the middle, but not enough to make me regret using two pans rather than three. This could have been the result of my switching things out in the recipe, but the same thing seems to have happened to the cake in the original illustration, so it could just be how heavy the batter is with all the raisins and carrots and whatnot. (Possibly? This is where it would help to be a better chemist.) I had to trim a little from the sides when they were cooled, but there was no spilling over the edge of the pan, which is what I was most concerned about.
The final product came out pretty much exactly as I was hoping for—I don’t think I’ll ever buy a carrot cake again. Next time I’ll work on avoiding the sinkage, and get a better picture where you can see the icing between the layers (it is there, just as it should be, but is completely obscured by cake crumbs in the last picture).
Hi! I quit my job for this.
Okay. Not just for this. But I went from security to Who Knows because I had one of those moments where you realize this is the only life you get. What was I doing, futzing about with writing for an hour here or there? Who was I kidding? I’ve been making up stories since I could talk. It’s what I love.
Writing — and food. Eating it, making it, talking about it, eyeing it lovingly at farmers’ markets, thinking about how its cultivation and distribution is at the heart of a sustainable future for humanity. But mostly eating it.
Because we both love reading and writing and food and reading and writing about food, my dear friend Ashley and I decided to start a blog that would be a home for all that. She’s much better read than I am. I take many, many more useless macro shots of fresh produce. So you see we both have our place in the order of things.
What an extraordinary piece of luck to be at this point in life, to be able to do this, to have this space. Thank you for sharing it, even if just for a little while. Come back soon.
As a first post this will leave something to be desired, but we thought it best to bite the bullet and get this out there. This will be a place for writing about writing; writing about food; for pictures of food, and probably also of kittens; and for working through our offline writing, and occasionally, our lives. Some sweet, some bitter, and hopefully much to savor.
Welcome to Salt Sweet Bitter.