seven layer seafood salad

The Scandinavian and The Slav SLAY.

I’m sunburned from festivities this weekend. I’m tired from figuring out how to muster up the motivation to take my kids to school for two more days, and I’m worried about the world being run by an angry lying q-tip, and and angry lying Cheeto. But it was PRIDE!!, and I love love. And I’m … Read more…

Mixed Mollusk Marriage

I felt as though I was waiting all the days forever for this novel.

So, when Grace Draven emailed me and said “wanna read it?” I thought about driving all the way across the country to kiss her full on the mouth.

I thought that might be awkward–and she lives in the South. It’s already hot there. I do not do heat. And wet. It’s wet where she lives. She likes her city like she likes her sex scenes, apparently. I, however, like my cities like I like my villains–or my soul–cold and dark.

But, lucky for the readers, Grace Draven likes her books like she likes real, married sex: fast paced, a bit terrifying, and full of worry about who may come around the corner at any time.

And, unlike real, married sex, her books always have a great finish.

Have I made enough awkward metaphors? At what point do I reach saturation?

Either way, this book lost me my manicure, and then all my nails. I couldn’t stop reading. I stayed up ALL night the night she sent it to me. I slept a whopping two hours before I had to get up and, like, not live in Saggara.

The novel is an edge-of-your-seat fantasy, a beautiful romance, and it hits on some really contemporary topics.

But first, let me give you the blurb:

In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis has unleashed a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness and on the brink of war. His human wife Ildiko must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to secure his throne.

Three enemy kingdoms must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king must raise an army of the dead to defeat an army of the damned.

A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

Give it to me straight.

I already told you I loved it, and I told you how great it is, but I also want to tell you why I found it hard to read.

Ildiko and Brishen are an interracial/interspecies relationship. This is a topic I know a lot about, but that’s not why it was difficult. What made it a sort of aching read for me was two-fold:

One: Ildiko is confident, that is never her issue, but she’s suddenly placed in this spot where her husband is elevated into a position where she feels insecure about her own. Anyone who has been in a relationship with someone with a significant difference in income or perceived importance can relate–especially those in the creative fields and/or stay at home moms. It’s difficult to remain grounded in one’s own worth when one begins to see their spouse through the lens of external pressure and achievement. It’s easy to measure raises and rank, and find oneself lacking in comparison, however untrue a comparison that it might be.

Two: a big one. Brishen and Ildiko always knew that they could never have children together. This isn’t easy for any couple, but combined with the outside pressure of their situation, it’s oppressive. I’ve dealt with infertility personally, and this really cut me to the quick. Ms Draven gets it. She just, gets it. The pain. The anger. The despair and resignation, and that fucking hope. That hope you just can’t shake. It doesn’t matter if your wife is Gauri and you are Kai, or if you’re human and your ovaries think they should rattle off like grenades once a year, and your uterus is doing its damndest to invade border territories and start a war. There is a particular scene that gutted me. It’s true and beautiful and crushing. At one point Brishen tells Ildiko:

Eidolon

And there are days, nights, weeks where this is all you have. It’s hard to read, and it also feels strangely necessary. Cathartic.

More than the struggles, more than the action, more than the status, this book is about love making things better. Their love is unique, and I was able to ask Ms Draven about it, here is what she had to say:

Me:Ildiko and Brishen are obviously fantasy, but the comparison could be made to current modern day prejudices toward interracial couples (such as the current Old Navy ad controversy) and in Radiance/Eidolon, it engenders a real empathy for their specific plight, which could possibly correlate to building empathy in the readers, was this intentional, or happy accident?

GD:Happy accident. I think people in general fear what they consider different, and that can be any number of things on multiple levels–from the physical to the cultural and societal. I just went with that basic idea when building their relationship and others’ reactions to it.

That. Exactly that.

I have always believed that fantasy can be a great genre to work out real life issues. Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, and Octavia Butler come to mind immediately. These are authors whose novels are taught in English classes the world over (yes, they teach English Lit classes in France!!) as a means of opening a dialogue and opening minds. Fantasy romance is often cast aside in favor of war and political themes. Eidolon is the perfect example of why this is so short-sighted. Romances make the reader examine parts of their own psyche that a war narrative will not. It’s important, pedagogically speaking, to examine the psyche as a whole, not just the “proper” pieces of it.

In summary:

Eidolon will make you feel every feeling. All of them. It will also make you think, and satisfy your mind in ways you weren’t expecting.

Five stars.

Review: Eidolon by @GraceDraven Recipe: Avocado-Caesar Deviled Eggs. YUM Click To Tweet

And now?

Recipe, Please!

Ok, so Brishen lost his eye, and his sweaty tea bag of a mum sent him the shriveled eye as a gift. Gross, right? So, of COURSE, I had to make eggs for this, because, we all know that a boiled egg bottom looks like an eyeball. I also made it Caesar-style because:

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
(read the book and you’ll see how this applies, though, sometimes the good lives in the bones of other men, and the evil sails strongest.)
avocado caesar deviled eggs

avocado caesar deviled eggs

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: appetizer salad side snack

Ingredients (12 egg halves)

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled and halved
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 anchovy or a DAB of anchovy paste
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

optional

  • freshly grated parm and paprika for garnish

Instructions

OMG THIS IS SO EASY.

take the yolks from the halved eggs

put in food pro

add all the other ingredients

puree

pipe evenly into the egg halves

top with parm and paprika.

dive in.

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Watch/Wear/Eat/Read Part 2.

Last year, I did a really popular post, where I combined a Netflix pick, with an outfit, a recipe, and a book!

I thought I’d bring it back with all new books and outfits!

First up!

Watch:

 

Season 2 is INSANE. I may re-watch the entire thing this week. I’m obsessed.

Wear:

Daredevil Season 2

 


Coast necktie blouse
$57 – johnlewis.com

J Brand mid-rise jeans
$290 – graziashop.com

Tamara Mellon strappy boots
$430 – stylebop.com

Chloé genuine leather purse
$1,855 – selfridges.com

Chunky jewelry
$220 – wolfandbadger.com

Sarah Magid earrings jewelry
$255 – veryexclusive.co.uk
EAT:

 

Grilled Tempeh Summer Rolls

READ:

A complicated superhero. A city in trouble. A book worth reading. (Also, an upcoming Get Series(ous).)

NEXT!

WATCH:

Everyone who watches this show loves it. Everyone.

WEAR:

 

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

 


TIBI pleated trousers
shop.harpersbazaar.com

Adidas metallic shoes
$125 – office.co.uk

Mini rucksack
$33 – yoins.com

EAT:
Nutella Fluffernutter Cookie Pie
NUTELLA FLUFFERNUTTER COOKIE PIE.
Because if your mind is still childlike, your tastebuds are probably the same.
READ:
If this isn’t perfect for Kimmy, (and all of us) I don’t know what is.
WATCH:
WEAR:
 
E.T.

 


J Crew j crew top
$105 – jcrew.com

Topshop high waisted short shorts
$41 – topshop.com

Adidas Originals black lace up shoes
$125 – harveynichols.com

Lili Radu chain purse
$560 – bloomingdales.com

Repossi hinged earrings
therealreal.com

EAT:
Garlic Lemon Green Beans Almondine

READ:

Two words: space pirates.

These posts are quickly turning into my favorite. I love collecting all of the outfits, and dreaming of looking put together. As it stands, I’m in stretchy pants and a tank top without a bra. BUT! I have hope.

Watch/Wear/Eat/Read Part 2. #streamteam with @Netflix Click To Tweet
Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.
Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.

Je Suis Prest. *for real.

So I imagine that most of my readers are fairly chomping at the bit for the season premiere of Outlander this Saturday, right? I mean, most of us have read the series, and probably LOVED the series. And,

OMG THE DRESSES!!

Can you even? Blah blah blah, men in kilts. blah blah blah. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DRESSES.

Let’s be honest, Claire is the star of the show. She’s the star of the books, really, I mean, until Voyager. But Caitriona Balfe and her amazing alabaster skin, the miles of porcelain that seems to live between her chin and the really rather deep cleavage of these dresses makes me swoon something fierce. And turn a few shades of green. I’m as pale as she, but my skin looks like a freckled Scottish beach compared to her creamy complexion.

ALRIGHT, I’LL PUT IT ON. Will it help?

So in anticipation of this bumroll and cage of awesome. I’m introducing you scamps to a book about the history of the time that all this shit went down.

Ok, much to all of our chagrin, Claire Fraser isn’t really waltzing through standing stones and announcing her presence on the other side like so much diva fabulousness,

but the battle of Culloden was quite real, I assure you, and it was just as deadly as it was described.

The blood stained earth remains, standing guard to the memories of the tragically doomed uprising of the poor, hungry Scots determined to hang onto whatever scrapes of freedom to which they still clung.

The book is…

 

The blurb:

Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, was the last of the great Scottish chiefs – and the last nobleman executed for treason. Determined to seek his fortune with the exiled Jacobite king in France, Fraser acted as a spy for both the Stuarts and the Hanoverians; claimed to be both Protestant and Roman Catholic.

In July 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie launched his last attempt to seize back the throne, supported by Fraser and his clans. They were defeated at Culloden. Fraser was found hiding in a tree.

This swashbuckling spy story recreates an extraordinary period of history in its retelling of Fraser’s life. He is surely one of Scotland’s most notorious and romantic figures, a cunning and ambitious soldier who died a martyr for his country and an independent Scotland.

My thoughts:

This book is a well told and dense text full of unexpected bits of information about a man who is nearly forgotten by history. We are always regaled with the tales of the martyrs who lead their men to victory, but hardly ever are we given insight to those who lost more than just their breath.

This is the story of a struggling Scotland, rising up against an un-defeatable enemy, the odds overwhelmingly in favor of the Brits, fighting until the life shed from their bodies and into the eternal earth beneath them. In Fraser’s words you can almost hear the echoes of battle cries from the parched throats of the starving soldiers, screaming in Gaelic and the soul-wrenching language of the dying. You shout with their small victories and sob in their loss. It’s a tough read because the situation was that of hard places and rocks and distant hopes where never the twain shall meet.

More than that, it’s the story of a now silent hero who deserves the years of history and praise he’s missed. For all of his intrigue and double dealings; for all of his valor and heart, and for Scotland.

You are remembered, Simon Fraser.

And now?

Recipe, Please!

Obviously, it had to be Scottish.

Cranachan is an oat and whisky dessert tossed with cream and fruit. It’s smoky and sweet and wonderful.

It is not, however, healthy.

It’s toasted in butter and served with whipped double cream and whisky. It’s really a delight.

My recipe is very almost nearly as delightful. It’s full of protein and makes not only a great dessert, but also a great breakfast.

Healthy Cranachan and The Last Highlander Click To Tweet

Healthy Cranachan Healthy Cranachan healthy cranachan

Healthy Cranachan

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: bake vegan vegetarian dairy-free gluten-free kosher tofu

Ingredients

  • 2 cups scottish oats
  • 1/2 block silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp whisky
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • cooking spray

to add in

  • chopped fruit
  • coconut milk or yogurt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F

This is simple, add all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and beat it for a few minutes.

pour into a 9″-13″ greased pan

bake for 15 minutes

let cool

crumble over fruit and yogurt.

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Knocked Up and Sideways: Ridiculous Tropes in Romance.

I read a LOT of romance novels. Between blogging about them, sharing in online communities that revolve around them, and desiring a break from the general decrepitude of the world around us, I sort of swim amongst them daily, letting their completely improbable plots wash away the stain of political rhetoric and real-life tediums that typically blanket my skin in a tight, itchy wool. They’re an escape. They’re candy and Ativan. They’re a warm bagel with dripping butter.

And sometimes, they’re a confetti cream cheese filled tie-dye bagel that looks like a good idea at the time, but something you immediately regret after the first bite.

Lately, there has been a rash of whatthefuck? romance sub-genres to pop-up and confuse the ever-loving fuck out of readers, and inexplicably titillate others.

Some of them seem tame-ish. Some of them? Well, some of them make my eyes cry tears of no.

Knocked Up and Sideways

1st trope:

“I’m in love with a ghost!!”

Spoiler! The answer is NO! *at least in this movie.

This is a tame trope. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy dies tragically. Girl gets to bone ghost…or something similar. The ending…there’s the mess. It’s not like a vamp novel where THEY ARE QUITE LITERALLY UNDEAD. Sure, it’s kinda messy with all the biting and the sunburns, but it’s not like they’re DEAD dead. They’re lowercase dead. Diet dead, if you will. But screwing a specter for all of forever? tricky. Very tricky. TRICKY OR TREATY, AMIRITE? wait. treaty sounds very political. Meh. I’m going with it.

I’ve liked some of these. They really require the author to think outside the box. HP Mallory, JR Ward, and Kresley Cole have all done it with a fair amount of success. It can be really interesting or fun depending on how it’s written. But sometimes? It’s a real head-scratcher.

Next trope:

This one is also pretty tame as far as “offensive or weird” goes, but it’s irritating all the same.

These books are ALL ABOUT GETTING PREGNANT OR GETTING SOMEONE PREGNANT JUST AFTER MEETING THEM ON-PURPOSE. Gah, I am shouting a LOT. I don’t get it. It’s all “I am gonna put my baby in her.” Or, “I’m going to totally fuck him while I’m fertile even though I just met him 49 seconds ago. I’m just a GREAT judge of biker character.” OR, “I’m going to war, I’m going to coat her womb with my baby batter.”–that one is an actual line I pulled from a book. The amount of why, or the amount of “HEARD OF PLAN B, LADIES??!!” Is strong. Plan B. It’s a thing. Walgreens sells it w/o a prescription. Planned Parenthood has it. Get it. Use it. Jumping up and down and a thorough cleaning won’t cut it. PLAN.FUCKING.B.

NEXT!!

Banging things that are never fully human. Weres and Vamps, fae and whatnot aside. They might have strange features or whatnot, but they’re HUMANOID. Not weird DNA experiments gone wrong, or you know, GIANT TERRESTRIAL OR EQUINE EXINCT CREATURES, or part-bull all the time. They’re not cavemen or sasquatch or Donald Trump. AND ALL OF THOSE THINGS HAVE BEEN IN A ROMANCE NOVEL. *ok, maybe not Trump, because even head in the clouds/gutter romance novelists know when they’re pushing too far.

If it’s on American Horror Story, it SHOULD NOT BE IN A ROMANCE NOVEL.

YET, IT IS.

I feel like being mounted by a minotaur means that your head is on his wall.

That doesn’t even look like a real T-Rex.

That doesn’t even look like a real unicorn.

Unicorns only ride OTHER UNICORNS. And, judging by this book cover, they ride on the horn. *just for my PSM.

I don’t understand this subgenre at all. I will admit to reading and LIKING Laurann Dohner’s New Species series. I only stopped buying them because I refuse to give one more dollar to Ellora’s Cave publishing company. But those LIs, even though they have somewhat different facial features, they.are.people. PEOPLE.

THE NEXT TROPE IS JUST AS BAD.

Let’s talk about MPREG, shall we? What is MPREG, you ask? Oh, that would be MALE PREGNANCY. And not trans-man pregnancy. A genetically male dude with a dick getting knocked up by another genetically male dude with a dick.

They give birth, and it’s as horrifying as you think. They BREASTFEED. THIS ALL HAPPENS OMYGAH IS THIS REAL LIFE PEOPLE WRITING THIS SHIT?! This trope bothers me for a few reasons, 1.) It’s primarily written by and for women, yet comes across very anti-woman. Like Michelle Malkin level women hating women. 2.) HOW DO YOU TELL?! If you don’t get a period, what goes awry? This part is never explained particularly well. 3.)This is a romance, fine. Do an M/M, M/F, MMF, MMM, FFF, TFM, basically anything you want. I’ll read and probably enjoy it. But here’s the thing, for all of history women have had essentially one card they can play, and this strips that of any importance whatsoever. It makes women meaningless. Unimportant. It makes us exactly what men have been trying to paint us as for centuries. FUCK THAT. 3.) It trivializes and makes so twee and trite what a FUCKING GATDAM AMAZING MIRACLE PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH AND FEEDING A HUMAN FROM YOUR BODY is. And there is SCORES of this shit. Scores. I read one in anticipation of this post, and I almost threw my ipad. GAH! But I made you a graphic. Just for you. Yes, you, you scamp.

tommyHyo24SURE

Now Vampy McPreggleston exists in the world. You may thank me later. I know you’re blown away with my photoshop skills.

 The next sub-genre is so fucking annoying I have a difficult time expressing my feelings about how annoying they are because I start to sound like a republican candidate for president. I just feel a lot about them, ok?

This is a sub-genre of a sub-genre. I will call it “I was hired to kill her, but I decided to fuck her instead, but I still plan on killing her, and I think I’m in love with her! OH THE RESPONSIBILITY!” That is a very bad name for a genre. It’s mostly to do with a hitman or a navy seal or a vampire hunter or something. Either way, there’s suspense, there’s sex, and someone is definitely screwing and falling for someone they are definitely still supposed to kill or incarcerate forever. I’ll admit, I’ve liked a few of these as well. Mostly the supernatural ones. “I’m a demon, she’s an angel” or “I’m a vampire, and she’s Buffy..” Those sorts. But the “I’m a Navy Seal and he’s a Caribbean drug lord with a really decent heart?” Not into it. nope. not buying it.

The next one is way out of left field, but makes me smile.

Of course, it’s Amish erotica. Because I’m hot for buttons?

Ok, more likely I am all for subverting oppressively patriarchal and insular religious sects with lax forms of punishment issued internally within the community.

They can raise a barn, and they can also pitch a tent in man’s trousers. HEY-O!

OK! I’m over 10000000 words. (or just 1k, but, close enough.) ON TO!!!!

A pregnant Tom Hiddleston? WHAT!? A Dinosaur went where? Too many tamarind grapefruit fizzes. Click To Tweet

Recipe, Please! You need booze after reading this post.

The Tamarind Grapefruit Fizz.

tamarind grapefruit fizz tamarind grapefruit fizz tamarind grapefruit fizz

Tamarind Grapefruit Fizz

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Keywords: beverage

Ingredients (2 cocktails)

  • 4 oz good tequila
  • 1 oz citron liqueur (grand marnier or the like)
  • 3 oz ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 3 oz tamarind soda (Jarritos)
  • lemon twist
  • candied ginger sprinkle (really finely chopped candied ginger)

Instructions

shake all of the ingredients save the soda with ice

strain over 2 rocks glasses filled with ice

top with soda, ginger, and a lime or lemon wheel/wedge.

DRINK RESPONSIBLY.

(do it at home so no one notices when you take your bra off at the table.)

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