Monthly Archives: May 2011

Girl Drama

So last night Evan finally became cognizant of the fact that I am in the process of writing a story, and he can’t see it. It is, I informed him, a girl story, and it would ruin my fun in writing to have a bunch of boys criticizing it as I wrote it. It amuses me to write it, so I am; I don’t guess that it would amuse them, so I’m not sharing it with them at the moment.

Needless to say, the only thing Evan heard was “girl story” and he proceeded to get all worked up that I was writing a romance, which (spoiler alert) it is not! And, equally needless to say, I did a poor job of attempting to defend myself, including saying such things as “if it was a boy story there would be more violence, and since it’s a girl story, it’s more touchy-feely.” By which I MEANT it was centered more around emotions than actions, but of course, saying something is touchy-feely is a horrible way to defend yourself from accusations you’re writing a romance.

Justin, at least, understood, very sagely explaining that it was a girl drama, and that you can write ANYTHING to be a girl drama; it just depends on how you write it.

“Even a StarCraft documentary?” Evan squawked.

Oh, yes, definitely, Justin assured him.

This required great thought. Finally he came up with:

“Even if it’s a silent film on human cannibalism??”

“Yes, even that,” says Justin.

“Really?” says I, having difficulty imagining it.

“Of course; all the old movies were silent. You just have to greatly exaggerate the emotions.”

Evan and just looked at each other. I think we both learned something last night. I learned you can make a girl drama out of a story based on human cannibalism. Evan learned I was writing a romance.

*Sigh.*

(It really isn’t a romance!)

3 Random Cookbook Reviews

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten. I heard various people through the grapevine rave about Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, so I thought I should check one out to see what all the fuss was about. Bottom line? A first! I’ve just been put-down by a cookbook! (It’s not so much hurtful as much as I kinda want a chance to return some of the disgust. Freely receive and freely give, right??) On the first, it should have been subtitled “How to cook very expensive food, mostly so that you can impress your friends.” and then, beneath that, “and obviously you need to because you have very low self-esteem and aren’t too sure about the friendship of your friends, and besides, if I were you, I would need to drink at every meal too.” The whole attitude of the cookbook was really starting to grate on me, and it was kind of summed up in this quote: “It’s really a challenge to take something pedestrian from the grocery store and make it really delicious.”

If we were to turn “snark” off, I would say that this is cookbook that assumes you have a large income, a strong inclination toward good appearances, and a ‘sophisticated’ palate. Not a pedestrian one. In other words, yes, I think this pretty much classifies as a snob cookbook. (Okay, so maybe my snark doesn’t really have an “off” setting, just “low.” Or “lower,” anyway.) And that’s okay–I carry around plenty of snobbery myself–like I’m a snob about bread, for instance; store bought pre-packaged stuff is just gross. But you should know what you’re getting if you look into this cookbook.

I did find two recipes I wanted to copy out of it. One was for granola bars, and the other was for strawberry jam. Although I am going to leave the Grand Marnier out of the jam, since I am pedestrian, and I haven’t been converted to using champagne vinegar in cucumber salad, and I’m not going to make truffled filet of beef sandwiches. Even if it would “make my friends swoon.” You can, though!

Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann was an interesting book. I think that probably it should come instead of a manual with any slow cooker. I don’t have a slow cooker; I think I would need a slow cooker roughly the size of a small watercraft in order to have it be an effective means of feeding my current crowd. I like that they are honest that certain types of cookers work better for certain types of recipes, and that they are diverse. There’s, like, 34 different recipes for grain porridge. Some cookbooks would be all like, “. . . annnnd, you do can do this with lots of other grains, too. The end.” Some of us are looking at cookbooks because we’re short on inspiration, so it’s nice to get so much of it.

I bet you a fairly large chunk of money that you would never make all the recipes in here (most people, for instance, aren’t cooking rabbit). But it is a “real” cookbook, with real ingredients (not a lot of reliance on processed foods, but also not a lot of reliance on trips to specialty stores), to make real food when you really need to use a slow cooker.

I think. Not having a slow-cooker, I couldn’t test any recipes out of it. But it made me want to go out a slow cooker, and I figured that was probably a pretty good review of the cookbook right there.

The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook is a classic cookbook; by “classic,” I mean that you give it to new brides so that when their mother-in-law comes to visit and they feel the need to impress they can go straight to this cookbook and look up how to make Eggs Sardou for breakfast. Or, if she’s really new to this domesticated business, how to make scrambled eggs. And–how to fold the napkins, to boot.

It’s a frank, down to earth, no nonsense approach to traditional American—whatever that means, since American cooking is a blend of a multitude of cuisines. New England Boiled Dinner, Homemade pasta noodles, fried oyster po’ boys, Kung Pao chicken, and Huevos Rancheros with Chiles all comfortably appear in this book. You won’t find modern trendy selling points plastered all over the place (just 2 1/2 ingredients and 13.75 minutes to make! Only 0.3 grams of trans fat and NEGATIVE carbs!!), but you will find almost any answer to almost any cooking question. Including, very matter of factly, how to scale a fish.

There is nothing particularly exciting! in this cookbook, but you would probably keep going back to it, over and over and over throughout this years. This is the kind of cookbook where you know it’s been properly broken in when it falls open to “the good recipes” and has the splatters and stains to prove just how very often it was worth consulting.

Your pulse is in the waves, the tides. . .the weather is Your breath, Your sighs. . .

We say You are above every power. . .but we see so little power in this world, we don’t even know what that means.

The unstoppable forces of nature–yes, that we can understand. No one harnesses a tornado.

But King of kings? What does that mean? We have no respect for wordly powers–they are figureheads. The are self-important. They are brutal or their rule is impotent. What does it even mean to be cared for by someone in a position of power?

A priest, to intercede? We don’t understand. We see empty, powerless forms, we see scandals. We don’t see a holy mediator between Almighty God and fragile man. We don’t even know what it means to prophecy. It sounds like something that should go on a late night paranormal activity TV show, not a way to seek God’s will. We think of cults and horrible things when we hear that word.

A shepherd, then, who tends his flock. But we, we have veal barns. Caring for your animals is such a quaint thing, out-moded, practical only as far as a hobby–for those who are naive and romantic. Certainly nothing you’d lay your life down for. How absurd.

Well. . .like a master. Like a servant looks to his master, the head of the house, for the provision of his needs. How do you mean? Like, at work, when we know they will squeeze us to get blood out of stones, and demand more for less all the time? No one cares for us there. How do mean, like the head of a household? No one is home.

Like a father his children. . .but how many do not even know their fathers? Needs become institutionalized.

Like a bridegroom his bride. . .but no one believes love is forever. You hope it will last, but you’ll probably go through several spouses. . .marry for money; it’s easier.

All our analogies are breaking down. We don’t understand what it means to be loved and cared for. We don’t know what authority means, we don’t know what protection means. “Rescue” is something that only happens in fairy tales. People just look after themselves, that’s all. . .

God says He loves us, and we don’t even understand what He’s saying. It’s a foreign word, one we don’t understand. That He would die for us–what do you mean? It’s a parable–a joke–a myth. Even fairytales struggle to have someone die for someone else. It just isn’t realistic

We’re so confused.

We could almost believe in an all powerful evil being, because evil we understand. But an all-powerful good being, loving being? It sounds like nonsense. What is good? What is love?

Love makes the oceans pulse, but we cannot comprehend it.