Archive for October, 2011

 

I am extremely pleased to announce next year will see the publication of my debut book, A PRETTY MOUTH.

Cameron C. Pierce, editor of Lazy Fascist press (a division of Eraserhead) and author of several novels, including Lost in Cat Brain Land, Ass Goblins of Auschwitz, and Cthulhu Comes to the Vampire Kingdom, is as awesome as tater tots. He and I had worked together briefly when he guest edited The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction #5, in which he reprinted my article about zombie klezmer band The Widow’s Bane. I thought he was incredibly talented, friendly, and fun to work with.

A few months back, he was also kind enough to read my humble account of the wretched Calipash family that was recently reprinted in The Book of Cthulhu, “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins.” He contacted me and asked if I had ever considered writing more stories about the Twins, as he felt his imprint would be an excellent venue for such a project.

Indeed, I had considered writing more—much more. But what I had to confess straightaway to Cameron was that “The Infernal History” was, regrettably, not entirely fiction. As I told him, the truth of the matter is that due to a series of strange circumstances, I alone possess the records chronicling the Calipash family’s dark and disturbing lineage. With “The Infernal History” I had tried to write a more elegant account of their crimes than the dry history bequeathed to me, as I thought the story might hold some small interest for the general public.

As I had done my Master’s degree on 18th century British literature and culture, I thought the events of “The Infernal History” would be the best place to begin documenting the unfortunate times when the loathsome family’s ancient curse induced the birth of sets of demoniacal twins, much to the displeasure of all who came into contact with them. Given the record’s reception, I believe I was correct in this assumption—and furthermore, I am deeply pleased (and indebted to Cameron) to now be able to bring more of this family’s unusual history to light.

A PRETTY MOUTH will feature an exclusive account of the incident where the 2nd Earl of Rochester, John Wilmot, encountered the Ivybridge family whilst he was still in school at Wadham College, Oxford, as well as four other vignettes, including the original “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins.” The narratives I have agreed to recount are as follows:

“A Pretty Mouth”
“The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins”
“Hour of the Tortoise”
“The Marine Vivarium of Gabriel Prideaux”
“Damnatio Memoriae”

A PRETTY MOUTH will be available in the Fall of 2012.

There’s a really neat interview with Ross Lockhart, the fine gentleman who edited The Book of Cthulhu, up on Omnivoracious! Go check it out.

These semi-confessional accounts of horror, terror, and the unknown inspired by Lovecraft are…. oddly inspirational and life-affirming. It’s not just that nothing really makes you appreciate Something like life more than being chased by some oozy Shadowy Nothing through a dark forest strewn with odd ruins. A deeper impulse seemed at work, too, in many, many of the stories. Why, there was even what appeared to be useful advice for the modern reader!

Could it be that the lessons taught by Lovecraft were less mechanistic and existential, less hideous and ritualistic, than I had thought? I had to get to the bottom of this strange phenomenon—by interviewing the editor…

Fun times! Thanks to Jeff VanderMeer, and to Ross, of course!.

I forgot when I promised more MoFo posting that MileHiCon was this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so my MoFoExtravaganza will be next week. So anyways, yes I will be at MileHiCon, hanging out, entering the costume contest, being on panels, and doing a reading. Here’s a brief rundown of what I’m doing (aka where I will definitely be; I’ll be “around” for the whole thing:

Friday at 3: I’ll be on the “Shifting POV” panel in Chasm Creek B

Friday at 4: Jesse’s doing a reading in Wind River B

Saturday at 3: I’m on the panel “The Future of the Short Story” in Mesa Verde A (so I need to go figure out the future of the short story—brb).

Sunday at 3: I’m on the panel “Suspension of Disbelief” in Mesa Verde A

Sunday at 4: I’ll be doing a reading from “The Infernal History of the Ivybridge Twins” in Mesa Verde C

Otherwise, I dunno. I am going to wear my costume Saturday night and maybe enter the contest, there’s some sort of Dark Wizard’s Ball, and also a Bat’leth tournament. I’d like to see wtf that is, for sure!

I know I’m behind on VeganMoFo posting, but first I need to mention that an older and much-beloved story of mine, “How John Wilmot Contracted Syphilis,” is now up on Lacuna: A Journal of Historical Fiction. There’s also a brief Q&A with me on writing historical fiction, whereupon I make reference to how this piece grew out of a failed novel project. Said novel project involved time travel, S&M, famous dogs from Greek mythology, and John Wilmot, Aphra Behn, and Bathsua Makin teaming up to fight an anti-Royalist demon. It, unsurprisingly, never really came together. I wrote this story as an exercise and ended up liking it more than the book, though, so it all worked out in the end!

Lacuna is edited by Megan Arkenberg, who was one of my favorite writers even before she accepted my story for publication, so I was seriously honored when she took this piece for her ‘zine. You can check out some of her work at Fantasy Magazine: Recently, we published her “Lessons from a Clockwork Queen” and way back in February we put up one of my very favorite short stories we’ve ever published at Fantasy over the years, ever, “The Celebrated Carousel of the Margravine of Blois.” That story is pretty much the best thing ever. When I think of writers who inspire me, Megan’s at the top of the list!

But! Enough about me. Here’s today’s VeganMoFo Post: Thoughts on Delicious Sandwiches:

Sandwiches are one of my favorite things to eat. They’re so versatile, so easy to reinvent endlessly, so wonderful when paired with sides. They can be fancy or plain, traditional or unique, easy or complex. Always delicious!

The sandwich above, for example, is just the Chili-Lime Tofu from Appetite for Reduction (buy the book! But the tofus above are basically slices of tofu (not pressed), coated in a mixture of lime zest, chili powder, salt, minced garlic and baked until tender and tasty) on a baguette with low-fat vegenaise and an easy slaw I made out of bagged tri-color slaw, dressed with more vegenaise, lime juice, salt, pepper, a little chili power and thinned out with a tablespoon of soymilk. The side pictured is cubed kabocha squash tossed with more chili powder and salt, then roasted until crunchy. Spray it every once in a while with cooking spray to get that crunch! So good. It’s like southern

But other sandwiches I love include the Vietnamese French Dip from Veganomicon, po’boys made from tofus coated in cornmeal and oven-baked, and always the easy-peasy “dump bbq sauce on tofu or seitan, put on a bun with some slaw, and devour.” So good! You can make most famous sandwiches vegan, too, I’ve done awesome Philly Cheesesteaks (watch out—cats love to steal those!), Arby’s-style cheddar-sauce coated roast beef (Raech made those, actually), and I dunno, a million other things.

Woo! OK, so “Sandwiches” isn’t the most inspired MoFo post, but on Wednesday I plan (if all goes well with dinner tonight) to talk about calorie counting, cooking take-out style food for one, and what a healthy day looks like for an active semi-athletic vegan. Maybe not that much more interesting, but I’m trying here! Next week will be more inspired, likely, as I’m co-hosting a Halloween party, turning 30, and having some dear friends coming into town to celebrate several exciting things, and thus will be eating probably ten billion pounds of interesting foods!

Also, next Monday I’ll be announcing something so exciting I can’t even. Woo!

Decided to have a feast tonight. Now I am too full. Too full even to blog. Pictures!

First course: vegan calamaris with spicy garlic marinara and garlic-lemon, um, maybe it’s called aioli?:

 

 

Next, we had pesto fettucini and garlic bread. Pesto recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance. Check out the classy-as-fuck napkins and napkin rings I busted out for the occasion (thanks, Mom!):

 

Later tonight we’re going to get down on champagne and some chocolate, but I’m already too drunk to be blogging. Use your imagination, suckers!

Super-proud of today’s entry for VeganMoFo: The Vegan Month of Food!

For whatever reason this year I’ve really been on a pumpkin kick, so when I woke up on Saturday and the weather was a gross-out of cold rain and chill wind, I made some pumpkin scones.

The scones were just the basic scone recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, but with a 1:1 swap of pumpkin puree for the oil, and 2 tbs of flax seed meal added to the dough. Then I spiced it up with some cinnamon and nutmeg and other cold-weather “sweetening spices,” put some brown sugar on top, and baked them. Super good! They’re not too sweet, and completely perfect on a wet morning with a cup of tea. Also, they are a mere 115 calories apiece!

But that left me with a partial can of pumpkin, so I decided to go nuts and make some pumpkin ice cream. OH GOD. Let’s today start with the picture, mmkay?

 (pictured here with some of raechel’s spice cake)

Uh, yeah. It was delicious. Maybe my second favorite flavor after the salted caramel I made a while back! So here’s the recipe. Sadly, you do need an ice cream maker unless you’re one of those folks who will do all that stuff to make ice cream without one.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

1 c soy creamer (the plain kind)

2 c soy milk (or your favorite nondairy milk, hazelnut would likely be delicious!)

1 c brown sugar

1 c pumpkin puree (I used canned, but go ‘head and make fresh!)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4. tsp. mace

1/4 tsp. nutmeg (fresh ground is best)

1/4 c room temperature vegan cream cheese

1 tbs. cornstarch

3 graham crackers, broken into chocolate-chip sized chunks

To make the base: Reserve 1/4 cup soymilk, whisk together with cornstarch. Set aside. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and spices until it forms a runny-but-goopusy texture. I just used a fork to do this. You want to make sure to do this step because sometimes the cream cheese will form lumps in your base if you just add it straight; incorporating it with the sugar provides a smoother finished product.

In a medium sauce pot on medium heat, combine the goopus and pumpkin with a whisk, and then keep whisking as you pour in your soy milk/soy creamer mixture. Keep beating the mixture until it’s rich and golden and vaguely frothy. When it starts to steam, add your cornstarch slurry (keep whisking!). Let this come to a simmer and simmer it for maybe 5 minutes, until you can’t taste cornstarch any more.

Then transfer it to a bowl and let it cool on the counter and then let it chill–completely–in the fridge. Then add it to your ice cream maker as per manufacturer’s instructions. When mostly frozen, add in the graham cracker bits so they can incorporate. Then pack it into a tupperware and let it harden in the freezer for a few hours. Voila!

When it gets cool, and if, like today, I’m feeling a bit under the weather, this is my go-to recipe for instant comfort! It’ll get your stuffy nose running with lots of garlic, soothe your troubled tummy with some grated ginger, or warm you up with spicy siracha. Yum! Nourishing, simple, and delicious, this soup is good even if you’re not sniffly.

Udon Soup (Serves 2 hungry people or 3 with a side)

6 oz udon noodles, cooked according to package directions and rinsed with cool water (essential—do not forget!!)

8 cups water

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I like to press them)

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated

1 shallot, sliced thinly

2 cubes beef-flavor bouillon cubes

2 tbs siracha

2 tbs soy sauce

1 box vacuum-packed tofu, extra-firm, cubed

1 bag frozen spinach

cilantro

green onions

After preparing the noodles and rinsing them until they’re cool (all brands are different!), put 8 cups water, pressed garlic, grated ginger, shallot, bouillon cubes, siracha, soy sauce, and cubed tofu into the same pot and bring slowly to a boil. Once it’s hot, add the white parts of your chopped green onions and the frozen spinach, and let come to a boil again. Toss in the cilantro and most of the green parts of the chopped onions just before serving. (Reserve a few onions to sprinkle on top, for prettiness’ sake.)

To serve, put 1/3 of the noodles into a deep soup bowl, and ladle over the top the broth plus a bunch of the tofu cubes. Sprinkle with onions. You’re done! Eat with chopsticks and slurp the broth straight from the bowl. Also, serve with lots of extra siracha. It’s good for what ails you!

Perfectly Delicious Kabocha Squash

1/2 kabocha squash, peeled and cubed

1 tsp. Shichimi Togarashi

1/2 tsp. salt

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss kabocha squash with spices and salt, dump on a baking sheet prepped with cooking spray. Spray the squash, too. Roast for 30 minutes, occasionally taking the squash out, stirring, and coating anew with cooking spray. Pieces will be all dark brown and crunchy on the outside, and perfectly melty-sweet on the inside, when done. Enjoy!

My girl Raechel and I went in on an ice cream maker this summer, and have been making all kinds of crazy things! Pineapple upside down cake ice cream, salted caramel ice cream, strawberry oreo ice cream … just about everything you could imagine. But we’ve also made a bunch of sorbet, and this Triple Ginger Chocolate Sorbet was particularly delicious.

 

 

 

 

Triple Ginger Chocolate Sorbet (serves 4)

1 c sugar

1/2 c cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. salt

1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, grated well

2 c water

1/4 c freshly-brewed strong coffee

1/4 c candied ginger, chopped very fine

In a saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, ginger powder, grated ginger, and salt. Pour in 2 cups water and the coffee. Cook over low heat until the ingredients are dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until very cold.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker using the manufacturer’s directions; in the last five minutes, dump in the candied ginger and churn until incorporated. Place soft-frozen sorbet in a plastic container and freeze for 1 hour or overnight, until firm enough to scoop.

You could probably make this Quadruple Ginger Chocolate Sorbet by putting in a shot of that Canton ginger liqueur, but I didn’t have any and it’s plenty gingery like this!

Today I’m headed to Florida to hang out with my family for a few days. Likely it will be too hot to enjoy a nice steamy pot of chili, but in Colorado and many other places it is certainly chili weather!

Recently, Mr. Nathan Crowder mentioned on his twitter feed that he was going to make a batch of pumpkin chili. What! I was immediately curious, and he was generous enough to share his recipe with me. It looked pretty veganizable, so I decided to try my hand, and oh my god oh my god this is my new go-to chili recipe. It’s also calorically reasonable for a large bowl of autumn goodness, coming in at a mere 251 calories per serving, with only 5.5 grams of fat. It also has 10 grams of fiber per serving, and 10 grams of protein. Nutritionally sound!

I elected to replace the ground turkey with Soyrizo, a vegan chorizo product available at most grocery stores these days, and definitely natural grocers. The rest was pretty 1:1, except I bulked up the flavoring elements. This is always a good idea when you veganize recipes: meat tends to add flavors to food, so with vegan stuff, you often have add in additional flavors for the same richness.

The original can be found here. Mine’s below!

Pumpkin Chili, Vegan Style! (serves 6)

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil

1 large chopped onion

1 large chopped red bell pepper

6 clove garlic

6 oz soyrizo (1/2 package)

1 (14.5 oz) cans peeled and diced fire roasted tomatoes w/green chilis

1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

1 (15.25 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 fresh green chiles (4 oz) or 1 4 oz can diced green chile

1 can whole kernel corn

Spice Blend:

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon whole cumin

1 teaspoon whole coriander

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon thyme

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a decently-large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers (chiles and red), and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Add spice blend, sauté for a minute or until fragrant. Add soyrizo, cook until browned.

Add everything else on the ingredient list, plus (after dumping in the tomato sauce) fill the can ¾ of the way with water and add that, too. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or longer. I did mine for about an hour as I got a wild hare to make cornbread and thus it cooked for a million years and tasted delicious!

The chili is pictured with a slice of the scallion cornbread from Appetite for Reduction!

Today is October 1st, which means it’s the first day of VeganMoFo: the Vegan Month of Food! Woo!

My “theme” this year will be Health & Happiness, so I figured a delicious, vegan, low-fat muffin recipe rich in Vitamin A and fiber would be a healthy, happy kick-off.

I know when I started doing low-fat baking it seemed intimidating, but it’s actually really easy. Part of the trick is knowing what can easily be made low-fat (or no-fat!) so you don’t get frustrated by failed first attempts. Yeasted breads are definitely delicious without added oil, and so are most quick breads, like muffins, scones, and things like banana or zucchini loaves.

You do have to account for the reduced liquid volume with low-fat baking, but the substitutes are many and easily available. My personal favorite is tried-and-true applesauce, it’s cheap, and if you get the unsweetened kind, it doesn’t add a lot of sugar. You can also use prune paste or mashed banana. I do a 1:1 ratio, most of the time, so if your recipe calls for half a cup of oil, use a half cup of applesauce.

It is good to keep in mind that with lower-fat baking, muffin- and scone-tops won’t usually get as crisp (though I have found adding in a few tablespoons of flax seed meal can help with that) and the shelf life of just about everything will be reduced. Muffins baked with applesauce will go hard much faster, but if you make room in the fridge for a tupperware, that’s easily dealt with.

As for the vegan aspect of low-fat baking, it’s pretty easy to “veganize” most simple baking (and not-so-simple baking, too!), but there’s also a wealth of recipes already on the internet. Vegans love to take traditional recipes and make them vegan so if you have a favorite muffin, make sure to check to see if anyone’s done your homework for you! For example, this recipe for Cranberry Orange Muffins was based off one from the Fanny Farmer cookbook.

This recipe I adapted from one by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, of Vegan with a Vengeance, Veganomicon, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World fame. The original can be found here.

The Best (Lower Fat!) Pumpkin Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup pureed pumpkin (Fresh or from a can; do not use  pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tbs flax meal
2 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a twelve-muffin tin.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk, applesauce, flaxseed, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

They’re amazing! Whip up a batch and enjoy yourself on a chill fall morning.

Tea and Muffins!

Cheers!