Archive for December, 2013

2013 was a strange year. I didn’t expect to have a book come out; instead, after being contacted by Egaeus Press, I wrote a weighty novella (“Rumbullion”) and subsequently held Rumbullion and Other Liminal Libations in my hands this last October.

I thought I hadn’t published much, but looking back over this year, I had a story in the Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, a porny piece in Geek Love, a great, raunchy anthology that seemed to go largely unnoticed for various unfortunate/silly reasons, a zombie story in Zombies: Shambling Through the Ages, a mummy story in the beautiful anthology The Book of the Dead, and a tale of Chinese vampires and illegal betting in Schemers, which is (apparently) out. Also, “Herbert West in Love” was reprinted in the last ever volume of Icarus. I already have a few pieces scheduled to come out next year, so all in all, I’m pleased.

I also began and have subsequently written a substantial chunk of a new novel, something I have not done since 2010. Over the last three years I wrote and published plenty of short stories, and two novellas around 45k (“A Pretty Mouth” in A Pretty Mouth, and “Rumbullion” in Rumbullion). But the last time I set out to write anything weightier was a long time ago. I’m very happy with it so far, and hope to continue to be so…

In terms of things I read, which is also something (writerly) I finally read Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy, and the subsequent volumes. Damn. So good! I think The Heroes was my favorite, but it’s difficult to pick. The First Law books were so smartly constructed, they really blew me away. In terms of other books I enjoyed, standouts ambling through a lot of Wodehouse, Astoria by S.P. Miskowski, both books out from Lemony Snicket’s latest series All The Wrong Questions, Diary of a Young Girl (which I’d never read), Showdown in Oakland, and the comics from Avatar: The Last Airbender, which were by and large better-paced and written than most of the third season. Oh, and  a friend got me American-Born Chinese by the same author (Gene Luen Yang) for Christmas, I devoured that already. It’s hard to remember everything I read… I need to get better about keeping track of such things. But I won’t.

Overall, I’d have to say that 2013 was a good year!

In England, I had the most perfect scones. Stop the presses, I know—great scones? In England? Do tell. But really, as a vegan, finding real vegan scones anywhere can be challenging, as typically they are just full of butter and cream. Thankfully, there are vegan versions of butter and cream readily available to the home baker!

Anyways, these aforementioned perfect scones were at a little cafe called Infinity (they also have a health food store). Moist, dense enough that you could brain an ox with one, not too sweet, with plenty of rich sultanas (American translation: golden raisins). They were so, so good. Thus, upon my return, I 2013-11-22 15.19.02vowed to recreate these perfect scones, as Americans tend to think scones are muffin tops. They are not. Real scones are pastry, which, ugh, I know. Contemplating making pastry always gives me Olympic Gymnast Face, but scones are actually pretty easy. Trust me, if I can make these, you can.

My recipe is adapted from this one here, and yes, you need a kitchen scale. Also, instead of sultanas, because American raisins are often bizarrely enormous, I sought out currants. They’re so tiny, they distribute really well.

I promise, pastry-fearing people: you will find yourself eating marvelous scones in no time if you just take a deep breath and plunge ahead with confidence. Go for it! Serve with this butter because damn it’s good. Also jam.

Perfect Vegan Currant Scones

(makes 8 scones)

Ingredients:

300g of self-raising flour OR 300g of AP flour with 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt mixed in (but still use the baking powder and salt listed below)

50g whole wheat flour

A pinch of salt

One tsp. of baking powder

85g of vegan margarine such as Earth Balance

3 Tbs. of caster sugar

One tsp. of vanilla extract

A good squeeze of lemon juice

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

175ml of soy(a) creamer. Not soy(a) milk.

85g of dried currants

1 lemon’s worth of grated zest

 

Make the Scones:

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F.

In a measuring cup, measure out your soy creamer, then add your lemon juice, ACV, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Mix well, then set aside.

Sift your flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the Earth Balance until the mixture looks crumbly. Don’t overwork the dough, which means work quickly so your margarine doesn’t melt. Mix in currants, then form a well in the center of your crumbly flour mixture, then add your wet ingredients. Mix by hand in the bowl, quickly, until it keeps together.

Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured board and work it lightly it until everything is mixed in. Then pat it into a disk, about 1 inch thick, or slightly thicker.

Use a biscuit cutter and into eight thick rounds. You’ll have to cut them, put on a baking sheet, reform the dough, and cut again a few times. Bake for 12-17 minutes, but check the bottoms at twelve. When they’re golden brown on the bottom, they’re done!