kindkit: Sherlock Holmes, with overlaid computer screen text: no access (Sherlock: no access)
[personal profile] kindkit
1) Payday, which means I have bought another week's internet access. Please do link me to anything interesting I missed!

2) Recent reading:

Molly Lefebure, Murder on the Home Front. This is a republication of Lefebure's 1955 memoir Evidence for the Crown, and deals with her work from 1941-1945 as secretary to forensic pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson. It's an interesting look at British life (and death) during the war years, though I was torn between enjoying Lefebure's lack of pious platitudes and finding her sometimes quite callous. And be warned that her opinions can be unpleasantly reactionary even for the 1950s. In particular she shows a jaw-dropping lack of compassion for a murdered fifteen-year-old girl; the girl was sexually active, so in Lefebure's view the man who strangled her to death wasn't terribly blameworthy. Most of the book is free from this sort of thing, but there were times when I disliked Lefebure intensely.

M. J. McGrath, The Bone Seeker. A mystery novel set among the Inuit of the Canadian high arctic. The mystery is nothing special (I knew who did it less than halfway through, and I usually can't figure out mysteries), but the setting and cultural stuff are more compelling. McGrath does seem a little inclined to overemphasize the things non-Inuit are likely to find most alien about Inuit culture, though. There's a lot of eating of raw meat and animal heads in the book, for example; this makes me suspicious in particular because McGrath is not herself Inuit, but white British.

Neil Clarke, ed., Upgraded. An anthology, by the editor of the Clarkesworld sff website, of stories about cyborgs. It's a mixed bag, as all anthologies are, and I haven't finished it yet, but there are some good stories that aren't the usual run of cyberpunk.

3) Cooking:

Now that I'm feeling better, the urge to cook and bake has come back. Today I baked a Hungarian Chocolate Walnut Roll from Marcel Desaulniers' I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas, which I picked up super cheap on post-Christmas clearance at work. I had some difficulty with the recipe, because the chocolate filling ends up super runny if you add all 6 tablespoons of milk. A lot of it oozed out onto the counter, especially as I tried to roll up the roll, and then more oozed out during baking, resulting in a roll surrounded by a thin layer of caramelized sugar and chocolate. There's still plenty of chocolate in the roll, but if I make this again I will use less milk in the filling or omit it entirely, as I don't think it's necessary. I might do it more like a cinnamon roll: spread the dough with a little butter, than sprinkle with sugar--perhaps 3/4 cup rather than the whole cup the recipe calls for--and the chocolate and nuts.

Anyway, I couldn't bear to throw away the extra raw filling that escaped from the dough as I was rolling it, so I made up a small batch of lightly sweetened shortbread dough, pre-baked it for about ten minutes, then spread the extra filling over the top and baked for about 20 minutes. That turned out fine, so now I have a batch of toffee shortbread cookies as well as the roll. I am drowning in chocolate, pity me!

Also recently I made popovers, which for some reason I'd never made before. Perhaps because they have such a 1950s air to them? But they are easy and extremely good. Popovers, for the unfamiliar, are made from a batter of flour, milk, eggs, and butter, and then baked in a muffin tin, in which they rise gloriously high and become crisp on the outside and hollow inside, with a soft interior. They're sort of like little Yorkshire puddings only not as rich. I highly recommend giving them a try if you bake at all. Recipe from The Joy of Cooking, for 8 large popovers:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease eight cups of a standard-sized muffin tin (note: I have a nonstick muffin tin and I found that greasing it was not necessary).

Whisk the flour and salt together in a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the butter and milk, then whisk in the eggs. (I added the milk to the pan of melted butter and let it warm up a bit, then added the eggs. Joy says to have all your ingredients at room temperature at the start, but this is easier.) Pour the milk mixture over the flour and briefly stir/whisk until only a few lumps remain.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full with the batter, and fill the empty cups 1/3 full of water so the pan doesn't scorch. Bake for 15 minutes at 450, then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes, until well-browned and crusty. Do not open the oven door until 5 minutes or less before the end of the cooking time or they may collapse. When they're done, turn them out onto a rack and pierce the side of each one with a sharp knife to let steam escape. You can eat them right away or, if you want them extra crunchy, put them back into the turned-off but still hot oven for a while.

You can make cheese popovers by filling the muffin cups 1/3 full, adding a morsel of cheese to each, and then filling the rest of the way. JoC doesn't specify, but I'll bet you could also make sweet popovers by adding a little sugar to the dough and then splitting the hot popovers and filling with ice cream, for a lazy person's profiteroles.

The popover recipe got me perusing the rest of Joy of Cooking, where I examined a recipe for homemade croissants and found myself imagining that this might be fun. A vigorous application of reality-based thinking has quashed that, I hope. I'm not so brilliant even at rolling out easy doughs like piecrust or the brioche dough for the chocolate walnut roll, so attempting croissants would more likely end in tears than in deliciousness.

In cooking rather than baking news, I recently made an elementary but important discovery: if you roast bite-size pieces of winter squash in a bit of oil, like you would roast potatoes, they are extremely tasty, with a more concentrated, less watery flavor than if you bake squash halves in foil as I have done for years. This does involve peeling the squash, but butternut squash are not only the tastiest but the easiest to peel, luckily. Though I did break my vegetable peeler on a recalcitrant squash and had to buy a new one.

4) All my recent attempts at writing have ended with a whimper, so how about a writing-related meme? 40 questions, grabbed from [personal profile] lilliburlero under the cut:

1. Describe your comfort zone—a typical you-fic.
2. Is there a trope you’ve yet to try your hand at, but really want to?
3. Is there a trope you wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole?
4. How many fic ideas are you nurturing right now? Care to share one of them?
5. Share one of your strengths.
6. Share one of your weaknesses.
7. Share a snippet from one of your favorite pieces of prose you’ve written and explain why you’re proud of it.
8. Share a snippet from one of your favorite dialogue scenes you’ve written and explain why you're proud of it.
9. Which fic has been the hardest to write?
10. Which fic has been the easiest to write?
11. Is writing your passion or just a fun hobby?
12. Is there an episode above all others that inspires you just a little bit more?
13. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever come across?
14. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever come across?
15. If you could choose one of your fics to be filmed, which would you choose?
16. If you only could write one pairing for the rest of your life, which pairing would it be?
17. Do you write your story from start to finish, or do you write the scenes out of order?
18. Do you use any tools, like worksheets or outlines?
19. Stephen King once said that his muse is a man who lives in the basement. Do you have a muse?
20. Describe your perfect writing conditions.
21. How many times do you usually revise your fic/chapter before posting?
22. Choose a passage from one of your earlier fics and edit it into your current writing style.
23. If you were to revise one of your older fics from start to finish, which would it be and why?
24. Have you ever deleted one of your published fics?
25. What do you look for in a beta?
26. Do you beta yourself? If so, what kind of beta are you?
27. How do you feel about collaborations?
28. Share three of your favorite fic writers and why you like them so much.
29. If you could write the sequel (or prequel) to any fic out there not written by yourself, which would you choose?
30. Do you accept prompts?
31. Do you take liberties with canon or are you very strict about your fic being canon compliant?
32. How do you feel about smut?
33. How do you feel about crack?
34. What are your thoughts on non-con and dub-con?
35. Would you ever kill off a canon character?
36. Which is your favorite site to post fic?
37. Talk about your current wips.
38. Talk about a review that made your day.
39. Do you ever get rude reviews and how do you deal with them?
40. Write an alternative ending to [insert fic title] (or just the summary of one).

Date: 2015-03-07 10:03 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I had never heard of popovers but they sound very tasty!

Writing meme: I pick 31, as I'm very interested in how you define "canon"!

Date: 2015-03-07 01:16 pm (UTC)
lilliburlero: a picture of a pie with the words you deserve pie beneath it (pie)
From: [personal profile] lilliburlero
May I take 13 please?

Damn, I meant 14. (I'm really interested in crappy writing advice for some reason!)
Edited (mistake corrected) Date: 2015-03-07 02:21 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-03-07 06:33 pm (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
My latest culinary discovery (of sorts) is that if you parboil some potatoes (as for roast potatoes) and then put them in a roasting tin with oil, cubed butternut squash, onions, carrots if you want, spice as takes your fancy roast for fifty minutes as for roast potatoes, adding chopped up peppers and tomatoes and halloumi about twenty five minutes before the end, you get a tasty meal.


kindkit: A late-Victorian futuristic zeppelin. (Default)

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