Slippery When Immortal.

I woke with a giddy anticipation of today’s post.

It’s release day for this beauty…
Elizabeth Hunter is on my “perma-read” list. Meaning that anything she writes, I’ll read. If she were to suddenly decide to take up writing limericks for condom wrappers sold exclusively at Whole Fooods, I’d quickly find a use for prophylactics. (In spite of my married, barren state!)

trojanrhyme

–Elizabeth Hunter did not write that.  I’m sorry, World.

When I first received an ARC of The Scarlet DeepI was wound tighter than a pair of skinny jeans after a trip to the County Fair. (mmm, deep-fried butter…) I couldn’t wait to tear into it. *metaphorically speaking,* I was on my ipad. Also, I realize that that’s not quite the proper use of the word “metaphorically,” but I am owning it.

I promptly decided a few things: one, I was not cooking on that day. Not once. Spending time smearing the paste of the crushed bodies of  heat-tanned legumes on bacteria-enhanced wheat products was about all I was willing to do. There was much delivery sushi that day. And two, I needed more coffee. Like, lots more.

You get me, Lorelei.

What’s the book about?

On the waves of the North Atlantic, a poison spreads, sapping the life from humans and striking madness into immortals.

Patrick Murphy, the immortal leader of Dublin, has been trying to stem the tide of Elixir washing into his territory, but nothing seems to stop the vampire drug. While others in the immortal world work to cure the creeping insanity that Elixir threatens, Murphy has been invited to London to join a summit of leaders hoping to discover who is shipping the drug. If Murphy and his allies can cut off the supply, they might be able to halt the spread long enough for a treatment to be found for the humans and vampires infected.

Anne O’Dea, Murphy’s former lover, retreated from public life over one hundred years ago to help immortals in need… and to heal her own broken heart. Though powerful connections keep her insulated from the violence of vampire politics, even Anne is starting to feel the effects of Elixir on her isolated world. The human blood supply has been tainted, and with Anne’s unique needs, even those closest to her might be in danger. Not just from infection, but Anne’s escalating bloodlust.

When Anne and Murphy are both called to London, they’re forced to confront a connection as immortal as they are. As they search for a traitor among allies, they must also come to terms with their past. Behind the safe facade of politics, old hungers still burn, even as an ancient power threatens the fate of the Elemental World.

Was it everything I hoped?

And more. There comes a time in most vampire novels when the world building and storytelling are put aside for inane minutiae which typically serves to bulk-up word count and make a book seem more highfalutin than it actually manages. I like to call it the “smells like/tastes like game.” Because, it always seems to be inordinately related to how things smell and taste in vampy books.

Such as:

He smells like a combination of a warmed Werther’s Original straight from my Grampappy’s pocket, and my impending orgasm.

Again, no author wrote this exact description, but damn if there aren’t hundreds upon hundreds of them lurking in books. THIS wouldn’t exist if that wasn’t the case. Yes, EH does pen a bit about smell and taste, because they’re essential sensory notions to everyone, especially vampires. However, the narrative doesn’t ever feel fit to be bogged down by grocery aisles worth of taste sensations.

I’m not certain why this is the first thing that popped out in my brain as important, but it did.

On from that, the characters in this installment are ones we’ve met in previous Elemental World books. Murphy, the vamp many of us took as just a sexy, splenetic mob boss with deep pockets and even deeper bitterness; and Anne, the mild-mannered but firm vampire psychologist who helped Brigid move beyond the crippling emotional problems weighing her down. In The Scarlet Deep we are finally taken behind the curtain on their past, and the motivations behind the coldness we witnessed from them in the other books.

The reader is given intimate knowledge of just how intelligent and manipulative Murphy can be when he invites the leader of Belfast, Anne’s sister, to a gathering of important immortals–somewhat in politesse, somewhat mala fide–knowing she’d send Anne in her stead. He is singularly determined to recapture her heart, and will use all avenues at his disposal. The machinations occurring around this development lead me to believe that Elizabeth Hunter could have a bright future in espionage or preschool instruction. (I’m certain the level of societal manipulation is equivalent.)

The story is one that never lets up. The entirety of the two hundred and something pages are so full of story and webbed interminglings of past and future plot lines that the idea of even placing it down for a moment seems interminably long an absence from such a book. However, it never becomes overwhelming. The reader is never confused as to which storyline is which, and it is never unclear whom is the main focus of this installment. The book IS Murphy and Anne, but without their friends and supporting characters, the picture of them would be much less cemented.

And Murphy and Anne. OH, Patrick Murphy and Anne. The way they love. The simple honesty of affection and the heartbreaking threads of distrust which sews this story along its arc, creates a soul-binding romance in which the reader becomes so involved, they could be swept away utterly. Everyone knows what it’s like to have their trust feel misplaced, and the knowledge of that makes the outcome all the more rewarding for it. It answers the question: “Can one ever truly regain trust when it’s broken?”

In the end, they have to fight for it. Fighting not each other, but themselves, and also they have to fight for each other. All in all, I believe that Elizabeth Hunter’s books will become as immortal as the characters within them.

scarletdeep

Five “fist to the feels” stars.

Someone hold me….

twist my arm.

And yes, I did get this book as a free ARC. BUTTTTT, it should be known I also BOUGHT IT. I really want to picture authors who send out ARCs, and the reviewer really loves the book, to sit back like this…

So, what recipe could go with such a wonderful book? WELLLLLL, NOT the truffles I originally planned, because, humidity. SO, in the book, Anne requests chocolate and wine. I can DO chocolate and wine. It’s also 93467498567 degrees, so I want to do chocolate and wine on ice cream. Therefore, I give you,

Cabernet Hot Fudge Sauce

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Cabernet Hot Fudge Sauce

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes cooling time

Keywords: dessert vegan

Ingredients (1 1/3 cups)

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cabernet or other dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp earth balance buttery spread or actual butter

Instructions

stir all ingredients in a saucepan on medium until smooth,

cook five more minutes,

let cool 10 minutes,

pour into pourable jar

let cool a few more minutes

pour all over some ice cream, your wife, a cracker…

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Orange is the New Blackberry Vinaigrette

Over the last few weeks, I’ve paced myself. I’ve been running (watching) a very slow marathon, because I didn’t want to finish. It was very much like delayed sexual gratification, only, you know, solo (which I guess could be done, but WHY?), and without any sort of peculiar (to me) rope-tying incidents.  I found myself parceling out my viewings as I did with “Daredevil” and every TED talk that I may want to absorb. I spread the episodes out like legs on a prison bunk.

I think you know where I’m going here.

AHHHHHHH!!!!! THEY’RE BACK!!!

 

Thirteen episodes of “OMG” no, “really?” and “could that happen?” or “I know Ruby Rose must be the BEST way to discuss sexual identity and gender binaries at the moment, but really, I just want to know who does her brows and does she polish her skin with diamond dust, because, REALLY!”

Sure, watching 13 episodes over a couple of weeks may seem an otiose activity to many, (not people who read B2B, obvie. Because, we have, like, goals and shit. Most which involve combining books and Netflix reading/watching on the elliptical. You multi-tasking scamps, you!) but, to those who do….

I mostly wanted a reason to use that image. Also, my son, when at his teeny-tiny Buddhist class/Tai Chi class he heard the Dalai Lama speak, he thought it was Yoda. Unrelated, but adorable.

“Orange is the New Black” just keeps getting better every season. Part of me gets claustrophobic just watching it, but a part of me can’t help but wonder what I’d do in Piper’s position. (not THAT position, you dirty-minded scamps. I think we can all agree I’d be AWESOME at THAT position, regardless of my sexual orientation. ;))

I’m sure, if I found myself in prison, I’d be the worst inmate ever. I wouldn’t stop crying because, obvie, I WAS FRAMED!! I AM INNOCENT!! I’d hate not having my regular routine, and the lack of family–or dudes–would prove overwhelming.

One may think I’m arbitrarily hyper-sexualizing this show. I’m not. The physical connections in “Orange is the New Black” become essential to each of the characters. They are the corollary of the isolation and denial. The fascinating system of hierarchies, favors, and a-typical gender roles in the show are balanced with humor, humanity, and heart. The show is ever-interesting, and ever fresh.

What recipe could I possibly pair with it? I’m obviously NOT making prison food. But, I can play-on words like whoa.

Orange is the New Blackberry vinaigrette.

It’s tangy, it’s seasonal, it’s yum.

orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette

orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette orange is the new blackberry vinaigrette

 

 

Orange is the New Blackberry Vinaigrette

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: appetizer condiment

Ingredients (one jar.)

  • 1/3 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise (I use Hampton Creek Just Mayo)
  • 1/2 cup evoo
  • 1/4 cup loose basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey

Instructions

combine all ingredients and puree in a food processor.

store in an airtight jar.

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Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.
Though Netflix sponsored these posts, all opinions and recipes are my own.

Auralgasms #7

Happy National Audiobook Month!! Also? HAPPY PRIDE!! Oh wait, wrong Pride… In honor of PRIDE, a hopefully positive SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, and the closing of National Audiobook month, I’m featuring my all-time favorite LGBT audiobooks! Honestly, they’re just good as hell books. Gay/straight/asexual matters not. The story or the memoir or the short stories … Read more…

Get Series(ous). #11

I will admit, my adoration of the trilogy featured in today’s Get Series(ous). is nearing on pathological. I have waxed on about it in post after post. There isn’t much to be said about it that I haven’t said already. I’ve recommended it on wine blogs and told you to buy it for loved ones.

So, who should read this series?

This series is perfect for that strangely cerebral friend who is always talking about what people did five hundred years ago. Or, perhaps, you have a friend who happens to hold a grad degree or two, but has stacks and stacks of romance novels in their closet.

QUIT JUDGING ME!! PROFESSORS NEED LOVE, TOO.

Where did THAT come from?! Sheesh!

This reader’s tastes, could run toward the more literary or historical, but they’re burned out on the genre. They need something new, but they also need it to be close enough to lit fic as to keep them comfortable.

This reader is completely ok with allowing their space to become a tatterdemalion hovel because they’ve just been impaled with the cynosure of magic that is this series. Dusting and tidying up seems a silly sport when major world dealings are afoot.

Put simply, this series is for a reader who reads. 

So, what’s the series?

 

The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness.

The Blurb:

The All Souls Trilogy follows the story of Diana Bishop, a historian and reluctant witch, as she solves the mystery of Ashmole 782, falls in love with a mysterious vampire named Matthew Clairmont, and learns how powerful it can be to accept who you are.

*It is so much more.

Why I love it:

So many reasons–reasons I have stated in many previous posts. The books are completely rich and luxe prose-filled tapestries woven of intricate plot lines, historical intrigue, and chest-blooming romance. The magic and otherness of the tomes is the over-the-top agglutinant which binds the warp and weft ad infinitum.

The characters are humble or meek or narcissistic or insane, and the reader cares what happens to them.

HOLD ON

This is a book wherein one finds portals to other places in the mind, places yet unexplored. Harkness, Gaiman, Pratchett, Moore, Hunter–authors in this class seem to have some sort of space machine into a chronosynclastic infundibulum of the imagination. Deborah Harkness’s machine, just so happens to pop-up in Elizabethan England on the odd time out.

If one is absolutely looking to escape from reality, there is nary a better place to shuffle off to than the world created by Deborah Harkness inside the pages of The All Souls Trilogy.

The recipe inspired by the series.

Ok, so in this series, they eat a lot of nuts and raw meat. They also eat meat pies and other things I don’t want to put in my mouth. However, the one thing they imbibe IN ABUNDANCE is?…..

wine.

And because I followed Deborah Harkness’s wine blog (bring it baaaaaaackkk, please!) long before I read her books, I decided to play on that.

What did I come up with?

Rasberries and Champagne Glazed Donut (although, beignet avec une framboise et champagne glaçure sounds fancier.)

raspberry and champagne glazed donuts raspberry and champagne glazed donuts raspberry and champagne glazed donuts raspberry and champagne glazed donuts

 

Raspberry and Champagne Glazed Donuts

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes plus 2 hours rise t

Keywords: fry breakfast bread side snack dessert vegan

Ingredients (1 dozen donuts)

  • 1 batch of prepared sweet dough, I use this recipe
  • 1/2 pint of red raspberries
  • 1 cup dry sparkling wine
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • insides of one vanilla bean
  • oil for frying. I use a canola/coconut blend.

Instructions

prepare the dough as instructed for bread, while it’s rising

combine raspberries and champagne in a saucepan

bring to a slow boil on medium and mash berries with the back of the spoon

cook on low and reduce by more than half

remove from heat and add vanilla bean

set aside for 20 minutes

strain over a bowl for 1 hour

while this is straining, roll out dough on floured surface and cut out donuts in your preferred shape

heat oil to 325F

drop each donut in and fry 2 minutes/side or until it’s puffy and golden

set aside on a paper towel lined plate or on a cookie cooling rack to cool COMPLETELY

once the berry mixture is strained and cool, whisk in the powdered sugar

dunk each donut

devour.

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Auralgasms #5

Auralgasms.

 

It is no secret that I have mostly reserved my audiobook enjoyment to works of fiction. There is just something about layered voices telling a gripping tale that fills me with a pregnancy of want. Simply put–tell me a story.

ready for my bedtime story. get to it.

However, in the last month, I’ve been absurdly busy with my personal scholarship, and desirous of the words held in the books I wanted to re-read, but my time was limited. My recent conversion to a fully plant-based diet made me want to read the books that held this conviction in my mind.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

In Defense of Food

Salt Sugar Fat

So I decided to throw caution to the wind, and listen to a non-fiction audiobook. I’ve done it before and enjoyed it, with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and The Devil in the White City, but those books are so…gah…not typical–different–almost fiction in the manner in which they’re told. I never really placed those in the same category as other non-fic books.

When I purchased the books I wanted to re-read on audible/scribd, I paid no attention to the narrator. For me, this is akin to Sarah Jessica Parker just “throwing something on” to go to a premiere. I’m fucking picky with my narrators. A bad narrator can RUIN a book for me. I’ll either stop the story and never pick it up again, or I’ll switch to the words on pages version so fast it’ll make your head spin.

The first book I queued up was Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It’s an old favorite of mine. I’ve read and re-read it several times over. It’s one of those books that is the perfect sort of splint for your backbone. It is the gird for my plant-based loins. It answers a simple question: “If I can eat virtually anything, what should I eat?” That’s a BFD.

I downloaded the book and went about preparing dinner. (because, meta-life, yo.) I quietly chopped vegetables as I the words soothed me.

About fifteen minutes into my dinner preparation and reading/listening, I thought to myself homeboy sounds just like Leto Atreideswtf?! Sure enough, scrolling through my library, separated by narrator, I realize HOMEBOY IS LETO ATREIDES. That moment led me to scroll through, and realize he’s also Larson’s narrator, and Moss’s, and damn it all to hell, he’s the narrator of the book I’ve been putting off, (which was hugely and highly rec’d to me by a close friend) The Doll Maker

BTW, I’ve started The Doll Maker, and it’s scaring the fuck out of me–as expected. THANKS FOR THAT.

Who is the narrator?

Scott Brick.

He’s won a few audies, and racked up a fuckton of articles on sites like Audiofile, and the WSJ.

But the real reason to listen to him?

BECAUSE YOU WANT HIM TO READ TO YOU. This is the prevailing theme in my auralgasms posts. Do you want this narrator to read to you, and why?

Obviously, the answer (for me) is yes, or he’d not be featured, but it’s for very specific reasons. To me, Scott Brick’s style of narration harkens back to the golden age of radio. That of Orson Welles and “The War of the Worlds.”  It’s fantastical melodrama. It’s gripping and damn fun. When he narrates nonfic, it’s relaxed and easy to listen to. Even with challenging subject matter–it’s easy to listen to.

I am truly enjoying listening to a book about how we’ve been completely fucked sideways by the tenets of capitalism; and about how big agri-business does not give a single fuck that they put profit above everything–even sick children.  Sure, I’m getting fist-smashingly angry all over again, but not at the narrator or the author–at fucking Cargill and General Mills.

His voice is alarmingly disarming. You just kind of sit back and say, “well, huh. how about that?” Then you keep listening. You’re absolutely compelled to keep listening.

When I was doing research into his narrating life, so that I could design a recipe for this post, I found out something interesting: his partner is THE FUCKING BLENDER GIRL. I mean, I’m a food blogger, of COURSE I follow the blender girl. More than that, he’s FUCKING PLANT-BASED. GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! KISMET! It was totally the universe telling me to write this post! 

The recipe was easy to think about after that. I give you the recipe inspired by this narrator:

Cuban Chickpea and Plantain Burgers

(ok, he’s not Cuban, but still…)

 

 

Cuban Chickpea and Plantain Veggie Burgers

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: bake entree sandwich gluten-free kosher vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (9 patties)

  • 1 very ripe plantain
  • 1, 15.5 oz can chickpeas-drained
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • juice of half of a lime
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4-1 cup binder of your choice–breadcrumbs, tortilla crumbs, coconut flour, dry puffed amaranth–ground, etc etc etc

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350

puree plantain with spices in a food processor

add remaining ingredients and pulse until just a bit smoother than very chunky slowly add in binder of your choice, until it looks like you could form it into balls

form into baseball sized balls

flatten into 3/4″ thick patties

place on cookie sheet lined with parchment

bake for 10-15 minutes

serve as you would a traditional burger or in a lettuce wrap

to freeze leftover patties, wrap first in plastic wrap, and then foil, and then place in a ziptop bag.

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