Thursday, November 20, 2014

This and that and a fried rice recipe

I went to World Fantasy Convention last week. It was awesome. Just a bunch of like-minded people hanging out and talking about geeky stuff. (And for someone who doesn't really have writerly/readerly friends, that was pretty cool.) There was some major bar-hitting (seriously, what is even the point of after-dinner panels), but I skipped out on this because a) I am not a writing professional and as such this is not the once-a-year opportunity to see my friends, b) I am actually quite comfortable passing time by myself, and there was plenty to keep me occupied (um, the dealer's room. um, my friggin' notebook, I'm a writer.), and c) I was staying with a friend down in DC so any large chunks of free time were spent with him.

Some other things:
1. Caitlin R. Kiernan is fucking awesome, and I shall be reading everything of hers.
2. The only book I hoped to find was The Black Fire Concerto by Mike Allen, and I FOUND IT.
3. The most useful bit of advice came not from a panel, but from a random dude who sat next to me and we started chatting. He was there as a fan, and he said the worst mistake he made as a writer was thinking he could jump right into a novel. He couldn't. So, he got over his aversion to short stories, and started writing them, instead.
      a. The most important thing I need to learn right now is how to finish something. This is timely advice.
      b. I hate short stories. I read novels. I am having trouble finishing my novel (and all my novels). Perhaps there is something to this.
      c. Hey, there was a fantastic dealer's room with plenty of short story collections for about $3 each. I came home with six.
      d. I am now working on my first short story since college. We shall see how this goes. it's fanfiction, because I figure the easiest way to finish something is to remove as many unknown variables as possible. I promise there will not be bagel sex.

Gravelly Point Park. Watch planes take off and land at Reagan Airport, right over top of you! This was awesome.

Graffiti in Crystal City.

What I'm cooking this week

my outrageously kickass fried rice (not that I'm bragging or anything) It fucking rocks. My own recipe! (below)
black bean brownies - With my first attempt, I started with dried beans and cooked until firm, and this made the brownies really dry (the almond meal didn't help either). If you start with dried beans, cook until soft (or use canned--I prefer dry). I am going to try this recipe next.
my usual hummus - I just discovered a new cookbook: Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon, and there are a ton of new hummus recipes I want to try. Also, this whole cookbook is great.
hearty black bean quesadillas - these are especially good for breakfast
fall kale salad - It's kind of an amalgamation of these two recipes
island beans and rice - from Vegan Eats World (one of my favorite cookbooks ever: so many great international recipes! It doesn't matter if you're vegan or not, just use the recipe as a base and add meat if you want). Spiced beans and coconut rice! (Can you tell I'm on a bean kick?)
naan bread

I also need to find a better way to organize my recipe book (it's a binder that I love and want to keep using, but I have to constantly battle my hatred for binders in general). And I'm looking for some good recipe cards so I can pass around recipes for holiday gifts.

Fried Rice

1 batch oven brown rice, chilled completely (at least five hours)
1 lb ground sausage (mild Italian) - get the highest quality sausage you can find, it matters
2 cloves garlic and 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2-3 large carrots, 2 bell peppers, 1 chile pepper, 2 big handfuls green beans or asparagus, all chopped small
5 eggs, scrambled with soy sauce
soy sauce, sesame oil (required!), and fish sauce (looking for a replacement for the fish sauce.... any ideas? Shit's nasty. I want to try ground seaweed. I've also heard pineapple juice, but I don't want to make everything sweet.)

Oven brown rice (the best method - from America's Test Kitchen)
3 cups uncooked brown rice
4 2/3 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
- Bake at 375 in 9 x 13 dish covered tightly with two layers of tin foil. Bake 1 hour.

1. Cook eggs with sesame oil in large (read: huge if you have it) nonstick skillet (or wok). Set aside.
2. Cook sausage, breaking into small pieces. Set aside.
3. Heat sesame oil, stir fry garlic and ginger. Add veggies and saute. Set aside.
- The trick is to cook the vegetables in a way that doesn't allow anything to get soggy. Carrots first, then peppers and green beans. If using asparagus, cook separately and only put back in at the very end, to keep crisp
4. Heat sesame oil, add rice a bit at a time. Fry until everything is hot and toasted. Drizzle with low sodium soy sauce, more sesame oil, and lightly (!) with fish sauce.
5. Add everything else back to skillet to heat through.

What I'm reading

Kushiel's Dart - Jacqueline Carey
The Stand - Stephen King
The Black Fire Concerto - Mike Allen

Openly Straight - Bill Konigsberg
The Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. Kiernan
The Red Tree - Caitlin R. Kiernan
Ascension - Jacqueline Koyanagi
The Gunslinger - Stephen King