Hello everybody. I've decided it makes more sense to have internet access once a week for a few hours than to have it for one single week a month (followed by three weeks without), so here I am.
It's spring here, spring and fall being the only seasons when the local landscape attains much beauty in my opinion. The trees (such as they are--small, skinny, forlorn desert trees) are in flower or in bud and the weather warm but not yet hot. I'm not at all an outdoorsy person but
I haven't been up to much that's specifically fannish; for example I haven't yet seen the latest POI and, based on the episode description at Wikipedia, I'm not at all sure I want to. And it's hard to feel connected to fandom without, well, being connected to the internet enough for regular interaction. Probably what I'm enjoying most right now is The Thrilling Adventure Hour
, which I've been unable to convert any of you to and which is coming to an end in a few months anyway. Rather against my will I've lost interest in Welcome to Night Vale
; I started to get bored as soon as things returned to business as usual after the Strex arc, because it began to seem like the show is running out of ideas and trying to milk events (e.g. Carlos in the other universe) for as looooooooooong as possible.
Recommendations for good movies, books, and TV shows are always welcome.
I'm reading a lot, though fairly randomly based on whatever is available at my small local library. I read a collection of M. F. K. Fisher's writing, which was interesting in the way of someone who's a good storyteller but whose anecdotes one suspects of considerable mental rewriting and editing, perhaps not all of it conscious. Her specifically food-related pieces often irked me a bit, because while she explicitly disclaims food snobbery and avoids some of the old snobberies of her time (such as treating classical French cooking and its many sauces as the only cooking that matters), from the perspective of 75 years on it's easy to see how she's establishing new food snobberies that are still with us. As I've talked about a bit here occasionally and as other people have discussed much better elsewhere on the internet, fresh and local is all very well if fresh local food is reliably available where you live, and your finances and other life factors allow you to buy and prepare it. But it's not possible for everyone. (What US food culture needs right now, I think, is not another "farm to table" cookbook but something about how to make decent meals with what's available in an average supermarket.) There's a strain of puritanism, too, in Fisher's disdain for sweets and embellishments, and sometimes the puritanism becomes hypocritical. There's one essay in which she rants against the overuse of salt and presents a grilled steak recipe not "tainted" by salt--but which involves marinating the meat in a large quantity of soy sauce and then using oyster sauce to finish it. Fisher even notes that the soy sauce might seem like a sop to salt addicts, but it's not, she insists, it just makes the meat more delicious. Which, yes, that is what salt does.
Despite my objections, I have felt Fisher's ghostly presence hovering around me for the last week, mostly disapproving of what I cook and eat. And it's had an effect. I've found myself wanting to eat a lot more vegetables, which is not a bad thing, and the craving has been at least doubled by my perusal of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Jerusalem: A Cookbook
, which I also got from the library. I want to cook almost every recipe in it, especially the beautiful vegetable dishes. Alas it's not a great time of year for vegetables, and in any case I have to rely on what's in the supermarket, but sometimes tasty things can happen even with ordinary supermarket veggies. Yesterday I topped a hot toasted sesame bagel with some cream cheese, some thinly sliced green onion, and some thinly sliced cucumber. It was delicious. (More on food in a minute.)
In other reading, I picked up a copy of Kate Williams' The Storms of War
from the library despite knowing it would probably be terrible. ( It did not disappoint. )
Returning to the happier subject of food, I recently played around with this bagel recipe
, adapting it to a period of refrigeration and a slow, overnight rise to develop flavor. By which I mean I cut the yeast down to half a teaspoon, refrigerated the dough for about 7 hours while I went to work, then took it out of the fridge, did a few stretch-and-folds
rather than kneading, and let it rise overnight. It rose and rose and ROSE, so I might cut the yeast down some more next time, but the bagels were the tastiest I've made yet. I've since found a bagel recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice
specifically designed for an overnight rise, so I plan to try that the next time I make bagels.
I got a book about high-altitude baking from the library which has good tips and some delicious sounding recipes. I've never in my life tried to bake a proper cake with layers and such, but I can't stop thinking about the Orange Sponge Layer Cake with Tangerine Mousse, and I've promised it to myself as a birthday treat come September. I hate to bake things that I can't freeze and use gradually, but I'll make an exception in this case, I think, and gorge myself on cake and take the leftovers to work.
So how have you
been? Please do link me to things you've posted that I missed.