Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In the Kitchen—Cowgirl Pizza

A vegan version of cowboy pizza. This recipe does not include a pizza crust recipe, because I have yet to find a truly good crust recipe and luckily the co-op sells a pre-made whole-grain crust. If you have a good pizza crust recipe, feel free to use it, and please share. J

Cowgirl Pizza

1 large pizza crust
½ c pizza sauce (see recipe below)
½ package of Daiya mozzarella-style shreds
1 Italian Field Roast
1 mushroom, halved and sliced
8 black olives, halved
¼ c. chopped red onion
2 T. chopped picked jalapeno
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Put crust on baking sheet. Smear pizza sauce on crust. Sprinkle on most of the Daiya cheese.  Evenly distribute toppings over pizza, then sprinkle on the last of the Daiya cheese.
3. Pop in the oven; cook ten minutes or until crust is golden brown, cheese is melty, and toppings are cooked.

Pizza Sauce

This make more than is required for a single pizza, but I like to stick the extra in the freezer for future pizzas or whenever I need a quick pasta sauce.
1 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T apple juice concentrate
¼ t each of garlic powder, basil, and oregano
salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together. I like to put them in a jar and give them a good shake.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Great Outdoors—Idler’s Rest Part 2

A week ago I returned to Idler’s Rest for a hike. As I drove out on Mountain View Road, I sang along to Beethoven’s “little symphony in F” on the radio and noticed the leaves on the trees turning. This was the first time I’d noticed the leaves changing color here in Idaho this year; I remembered the brown leaves in Portland from the week before, and thought about how many of the leaves in Idaho in autumn become a luminous yellow I’ve never seen on the west coast.

Once at Idler’s Rest, I turned toward the orchard section, and soon found a tree which to my delight held tiny vermillion plums. I hadn’t known Idler’s Rest had plum trees. I circled the tree, trying to find a way to grab the fruit from the high branches, noticing multiple mounds of bear poop on the ground pocked with plum stones. I then spotted slighty larger yellow plums, not yet ripe, and further on, a tree with puplish plums in one long swath of a branch. I stood on fallen trunks, reaching and jumping, but still couldn’t get to the plums. One plum, the diameter of a quarter, fell to the ground, like the tree was teasing me. The plum was perfectly sweet, warm from the sun. I grabbed a forked branch, stood on a log, and by hitting and shaking the branches out of my reach with the stick was able to drop many plums to the ground. I gathered the fruit off the ground in a bag I had been smart enough to bring (thinking of apples), and continued on my way.

I next came to a tree that was covered in tiny dimpled red plums; they looked like cherries. These ones were low enough to pick, and confused, I bit in to one, to find tart yellow plum flesh. A chipmunk sat in a branch just barely out of my reach above me, watching as I gathered plums. These tart ones could go in a crisp, I thought.

Singing the Playground hum to alert bears of my presence, I moved out of the trees and into the grassy section of Idler’s Rest. Finally I found one of the apple trees. The apples were yellow-green with a blush of red, but full of holes, misshapen, with big black spots. Thinking of apple butter, I climbed up into the tree sticking apples in my pockets. I found one apple in good condition, and bit into it. It was just the right amount of sweet and tart. I ate it, looking out over the grassy fields, listening to crickets and feeling the afternoon heat, then finished gathering apples and moved on.

Two silhouettes of horses stood behind a fence at the edge of Idler’s Rest. In front of that was a dense copse of trees featuring oblong purple plums, similar to Italian prunes. But they were too sour, and I let them stay, wondering if they’d sweeten before the cold came.

My bag full of fruit, I proceeded to the forested section of Idler’s Rest to finish my hike, thinking of Mabon, joyful at my scavenged harvest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

In the Kitchen—Greek Scramble

Right now I'm loving Greek Scramble for breakfast. Creamy and salty and tangy, with a bit of citrus and sweet from lemon zest and tomatoes. I use small orange tomatoes from my garden. With a watermelon smoothie* and a slice of garlic bread**, this is a satisfying summer breakfast (yes, it is still summer!). This makes breakfast for one, but is easily doubled.


1 t olive oil
2 eggs
1 t lemon zest
4 kalamata olives, halved
4 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
about a square inch of feta, preferably goat feta
1 T chopped parsley

1. Heat a small frying pan on medium. Add olive oil.
2. Crack eggs into a small bowl. Add about a teaspoon of water and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk. Add remaining ingredients, crumbling in cheese. Stir.
3. Pour egg business into pan. Stir and flip until eggs are cooked to your liking. Should just take a minute or two.
4. Enjoy!

*Watermelon smoothies are apparently popular in Greece. They are super simple: just put watermelon in the blender.

**A quick way to make garlic bread: toast whatever bread you have on hand, spread with butter or margarine, spread with crushed garlic. You can buy crushed garlic in a jar, and it is basically a delicious sweet paste.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Manifesto Monday—Jack Kerouac

I have been thinking about manifestos lately, and when I found one by Jack Kerouac in the Playground last week, it came to me that I should have Manifesto Monday here on Jujubes and Aspirins. I've read a number of writing manifestos, as well as art manifestos, and even made my own.

There's Havi's Declaration of Independence/Dammit List. Cake is a breakfast food, dammit. There can be culinary manifestos. Blog manifestos. Life manifestos.

So I hope these manifestos get you thinking about your own personal philosophy, whether it's a writing philosophy or gardening philosophy or general life philosophy. And if you write a manifesto, or have a Dammit statement, maybe you'd like to share in the comments. Maybe I'll redo my writing manifesto and bring it into the present. But for today, here's Kerouac.

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You’re a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sundry Sunday—Vlog of Nehalem Bay State Park

A week ago I drove to Oregon for a Rally (Rally!). But before Rallying in Portland, I spent a night camping in Nehalem Bay State Park. It was a little over a year ago that I arrived at the Atlantic Ocean after a pilgrimage across Spain, and I've decided that once a year I need to ceremoniously dunk myself in the ocean. 

Ever since Rhiannon was in Tajikistan some years ago, I've been making vlogs for my best friends in order to keep in touch, sort of video postcards. So here is the first of two videos about my "pilgrimage" to Oregon.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

On the Bookshelf—Review of Drink Slay Love

Drink Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst
Young Adult

Just out today, Drink Slay Love answers that question we've all been wondering: What happens when a unicorn stabs a vampire?

Teen Pearl has always been a vampire, born into a violent and proud family of bloodsuckers. But after an encounter with a unicorn (her family doesn't believe her, by the way, because of course unicorns don't exist) strange things begin to happen. Pearl can go out in the sun.

Keen to utilize Pearl's new talent, her family sends her on a secret mission to infiltrate a human high school, to lure as many young humans as she can to be a feast for the vampire king at the upcoming Fealty Ceremony hosted by Pearl's family.

But other things are happening to Pearl besides a sudden partiality to sunlight. She's beginning to feel emotions, like empathy, having thoughts and feelings no self-respecting vampire has. Could Pearl be developing a soul?

This novel has elements of Stephanie Meyer, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, and Carrie Jones, with occasional ironic self-awareness at the vampire genre. The dialogue is funny, even sometimes hinting at John Green in style and wittiness. Two side characters, a pair of nerdy high schoolers who fancy themselves vampire slayers, steal the show in my opinion, though Pearl underestimates them as amiable idiots, sometimes referring to them as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, sometimes Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. The unicorn character is a pleasant ironic twist.

Still, this novel sometimes goes over the top trying to be witty, and in the wide array of paranormal teen novels with a bit of romance, doesn't do much to stand out or push the limits of the genre. If you are a vampire-lovin' teen, definitely read this book. If you enjoy paranormal YA, you'll probably enjoy this book as well. If you're anybody else, your life won't be the worse for having missed this book.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In the Garden—Autumn Spinach

Woke up at 5:45, sun not yet risen. Getting ready for a week in Oregon, beginning with a night camping at Nehalem Bay. Bustling about, drinking tea, putting last-minute items in my bag, writing a blog post for next week, making watermelon quinoa and salsa for camping*, washing dishes. And planting spinach.

Quickly, after the sun has risen, pressing seeds 1/2 inch deep into bare patches of dirt around my strawberries, sunflower, tomatoes. I'm taking advantage of the cooler late summer/early fall weather to get in one last crop.

*I've made two batches of watermelon quinoa, two batches of watermelon salsa, one watermelon smoothie, and brought slices to a potluck. But my watermelon is still not finished. So this morning I deseeded the rest of it and put a big bag in the freezer to use in future smoothies. And this was the smallest watermelon at the farmer's market!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

In the Kitchen—Hemingway Feast

Although this week is extremely busy—the Hemingway Festival and getting ready for a week-long trip to Oregon on top of my usual day job and grad work—this morning I am happy. The sun is warm and bright; I pick tomatoes; I reserve a campsite on the Pacific Ocean for Saturday night; and I make myself a delicious breakfast. I start with banana mousse I made a few days ago, a vegan sugar-free recipe I'm working on. Then coffee, strong, with just a hint of oat milk. And what my gentleman friend calls a college omelette—vegetables scrambled in with the eggs. Eggs, lemon zest, small sweet orange tomatoes from my garden, parsley, kalamata olives, local goat-milk feta.

As I eat my omelette, in turns light and citrusy, tangy, creamy, I think over the Hemingway Feast I waited tables at last night. My grad program puts on the Hemingway Festival every year. I've served at the last three feasts—one of the festival events—each eight courses of incredible food. I love being in the kitchen watching the chefs—Nick from the Black Cypress or Eric from Gnosh—watching as the chop and garnish, smiling to myself as they yell and swear in the heat and stress of the night, sometimes asking about ingredients or helping add a garnish, planning to try my hand at the food when I get home. As I sip my coffee this morning, I think about Eric's butternut squash mousse on plantain chips from last year's. I compare last's year's quail with this year. I remember last year's cigar-infused custard for dessert, then this year's citrus snow with blackberries and elderberries, just the right amount of sweet and tart, the perfect light dessert after such a large rich meal.

I try to remember what we had at my first feast in 2010, but all I remember is the cinnamon-maple-cayenne yams which I've since made at home many times, and how I snuck a bite of bone marrow off the plate of the festival director in order to satisfy my life goal of literally sucking the marrow out of life.

The theme of this year's feast was scavenging in the wilderness, a hunting trip a la Hemingway. You stumble upon an orchard, and so the first course is wild plums with edible flowers and a coarse-mustard vinaigrette. You fish in the river and catch a salmon. You shoot a quail, and so one of the courses is quail stuffed with farroto, a risotto made from the local red wheat berry farro. We started each coarse by dropping a scroll on a table, with a quote from Hemingway that hinted at the food to come. I remember how excited everyone was when we dropped a scroll with the famous quote from "Big Two-Hearted River", where the main character eats spaghetti mixed with a can of beans, and then we brought out bowls of pasta fagioli.

I think of how for the final course last night we dropped platter after platter of buffalo on the tables—onion-braised buffalo shank, bone marrow, ribs, buffalo tartar with pickled chive blossoms. I think of how I leaned toward a table of guests and said, "Imagine you're Hemingway, and you've just shot a buffalo, hit the jackpot, and now you've got this entire buffalo to eat, bones and meat and all." I remember standing around the counter in the kitchen, all us servers and cooks eating buffalo with our fingers, picking caramelized onions out of a pan. I remember how we all toasted to a successful night by drinking tequila out of silver egg cups and gravy bowls.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In the Kitchen—Watermelon Quinoa Salad

A week ago I bought the smallest watermelon I could find at the farmer's market. It was about twenty pounds. So now the daunting task of using the whole fruit before it goes bad. I'm experimenting with watermelon salsa recipes; I brought slices of it to a potluck; I'll probably try making a simple smoothie I hear is popular in Greece: tossing watermelon in a food processor or blender, blending, then serving on the rocks with a mint garnish.

I have also made a dish inspired by tabbouleh, a watermelon and quinoa salad. The watermelon adds a light sweetness; the lemon gives a wonderful citrus zip. As opposed to traditional tabbouleh, this salad is both gluten and wheat free and more friendly to those who are lactose intolerant, since it uses goat cheese rather than cow's milk.

Watermelon Quinoa Salad

1 c. water
1/2 c. quinoa
1 1/2 c. watermelon
2/3 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
1 T. plus 1 t. olive oil
2 t. finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 ounces chevre
1/4 t. salt

1. Rinse the quinoa. Put quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn burner to lowest heat. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Once cooked, let cool.
2. Toss all ingredients minus chevre in a bowl. Crumble the chevre and gently fold in.