Amazon is Out of its Hive.

Hold onto your collective asses; it’s my summer “must read” list of 2014.

Must read books for summer.

I’m not going to do what Amazon is doing, and suggest “beach reads,” that should be titled “books if you like to sob so hard in public that your nose becomes a fire extinguisher of mucous, and your eyes are so red you look like you’ve been binge drinking moonshine laced with snake venom.”

Really, The Fault in Our Stars is a beach read? Do you know what sand does to swollen mucous membranes? IT DOESN’T TICKLE. I know this because I once made the mistake of reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry at the beach. Over a period of two days I went from a sort of deep ache, to full-blown ugly-cry, sobbing so hard that the straps of my swim suit fell from my shoulders. Being NY, people came over just to see which book could evoke such a public fantod! They, like all masochistic New Yorkers were desperate to read it.

yep. we’re assholes like that.

THE LIST!

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From the blurb:
Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?
From the blurb:
An immigrant boy whose family is struggling to assimilate. A middle-aged housewife coping with an imploding marriage and a troubled son. A social worker at home in the darker corners of Las Vegas. A wounded soldier recovering from an injury he can’t remember getting. By the time we realize how these voices will connect, the impossible and perhaps the unbearable has already happened. We Are Called to Rise is a boomtown tale, in which the lives of people from different backgrounds and experiences collide in a stunning coincidence. When presented the opportunity to sink into despair, these characters rise. Through acts of remarkable charity and bravery, they rescue themselves.
Impulsive high school senior Monroe Baker is on probation for a recent crime, but strives to stay out of trouble by working as a flapper at her father’s Roaring 20′s dinner show theater. When she cuts herself on one of the spent bullets from her father’s gangster memorabilia collection, she unwittingly awakens Bonnie Parker’s spirit, who begins speaking to Monroe from inside her head.

Later that evening, Monroe shows the slugs to Jack, a boy she meets at a party. He unknowingly becomes infected by Clyde, who soon commits a crime using Jack’s body. The teens learn that they have less than twenty-four hours to ditch the criminals or they’ll share their bodies with the deadly outlaws indefinitely.
 
For years, English anthropologist Andrew Bankson has been alone in the field studying the Kiona tribe of Papua, New Guinea. Haunted by the memory of his brother’s public suicide, and increasingly infuriated with and isolated by his research, Bankson is on the verge of killing himself when a chance meeting with colleagues, the controversial and consummate Nell Stone and her wry Australian husband Fen, pulls him back from the brink. Nell and Fen have just finished their studies of the bloodthirsty Mumbanyo and, in spite of Nell’s ill health, the couple is ravenous for another new discovery. Together with Bankson they set out to uncover the Tam, a local tribe with an almost mythic existence. As the trio settle with the tribe in their paradisiacal surroundings, inspiration flows and mutual affections swell. In the midst of this new, unchartered territory, Nell, Bankson, and Fen must learn not only to adapt to their invigorating present, but to also confront their complicated and haunted pasts.
It’s Stephen King. It’s worth a read. No blurb needed.
Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
Augusta and Owen have moved to the country, and live a quiet, and rather solitary life, Gus as a painter, Owen as a writer. They have left behind the city, and its associations to a troubled past, devoting their days to each other and their art. But beneath the surface of this tranquil existence lies the heavy truth of Gus’s past betrayal, an affair that ended, but that quietly haunts Owen, Gus and their marriage.

When Alison Hemmings, a beautiful British divorcée, moves in next door, Gus, feeling lonely and isolated, finds herself drawn to Alison, and as their relationship deepens, the lives of the three neighbors become more and more tightly intertwined. With the arrival of Alison’s daughter Nora, the emotions among them grow so intense that even the slightest misstep has the potential to do irrevocable harm to them all.
Therese Walsh’s poignant and mesmerizing novel is a moving tale of family, love, and the power of stories. After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz are figuring out how to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia, who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights, is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to say her final goodbyes and lay their mother’s spirit to rest.

Though they see things very differently, Jazz is forced by her sense of duty to help Olivia reach her goal. Bitter and frustrated by the attention heaped on her sunny sister whose world is so unique, Jazz is even more upset when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches on to a worldly train-hopper. Though Hobbs warns Olivia that he’s a thief who shouldn’t be trusted, he agrees to help with their journey. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, and they will finally be forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.
Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.

But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.

What begins as an unusual and challenging investigation will become a terrifying race-against-time to save America from oblivion. Pilgrim will have to make a journey from a public beheading in Mecca to a deserted ruins on the Turkish coast via a Nazi death camp in Alsace and the barren wilderness of the Hindu Kush in search of the faceless man who would commit an appalling act of mass murder in the name of his God.
When the gutted body of a businessman is discovered in the Icelandic embassy in Berlin, Iceland’s best detectives are sent to Germany to investigate the crime. The stab wounds and the murder weapon—an elegant hunting knife—suggest a ritualistic killing. But the only suspects present in the sleek modern office building were some of the island nation’s cultural elite, including Jón the Sun Poet and ceramics artist Lúdvík Bjarnason. The victim is someone few would miss, and investigators Birkir and Gunnar, joined by forensics expert Anna Thórdardóttir, wager they have an open-and-shut case on their hands. What they find is anything but: The crime reeks of premeditation and vengeance, and leads the team into a sordid tale of international child abuse, arson, and retribution.
 On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

It’s going to be a good summer, I can tell.

Apart from reading, which I am sure to do every day, I’m really looking forward to getting the man into the water to teach him how to row. It’s a wonderful warm-weather sport, and sculling down a river at daybreak is one of my all-time favorite things to do. For more information, or to find a row club in your area, check here.

Rowing not only burns an INSANE 700 calories per hour, it also engages nearly every muscle in your body, leaving it feeling pleasantly spent. Fair warning: watch what you wear. I once spent a several mile row with a split-seat and had no idea. Stretch is best. Unless you like everyone seeing your ass.

I’ll also be making EVERY DESSERT EVER with delicious and seasonal ingredients.

like this one.

Spicy-Sweet Peach and Cornbread Cobbler.

This recipe uses something I almost never use….A MIX. Yes, a MIX. I know, shudder, right? In this case, the mix is simply better. There must be some devil-juju-mystic shit going down in the self-rising cornmeal mix, because it’s awesome. Use it.

This recipe makes a metric fuckton of cobbler. If, say, your family is from West Virginia, and eats cobbler like it’s their damned job, make the whole recipe…and add ice cream. If you’re normal. Halve it, and use a 9″-9″ square or 10″ round pan.

I also do not peel the peaches. I love the rich, pink color the skin adds.

spicy-sweet peach and cornbread cobbler 14448218765_e1a7118d8a_z 14448219785_d356b92fb6_z

 

 

Spicy-Sweet Peach and Cornbread Cobbler

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 1 hour

Keywords: bake dessert side snack

Ingredients (serves 12-16)

    for the topping

    • 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
    • 4 tbsp bacon fat or butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • corn from 2 ears
    • 1 cup milk

    for the peaches

    • 4 pounds sliced, fresh peaches
    • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup sifted flour
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/2 stick ice cold butter, chopped into small cubes

    Instructions

    preheat oven to 375F

    grease 13″-9″ pan

    toss peaches with spices, flour, sugar, vanilla, and butter

    evenly spread in pan

    mix together cornmeal mix ingredients and pour evenly over peaches

    bake until brown and bubbly–about an hour

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    Pinning with Dick Biggler

    Okey dokey, this is going to sound like a totally awful #humblebrag, and for that I am truly sorry. However, I have a question/observation. Recently, a few lists about Pinterest on various book/PR-type websites have listed me as a “power pinner” for my books board. I think it’s based on the number of re-pins and speed at which my following has accumulated. but still…..

    First: My query. Who in the fresh f decided to coin the term “power pinner?” I love alliteration as far as literary devices go, but “power pinner” feels like the proper term for some unsavory porn specialization. Like, “hey, who can we get for this scene in the butterfly room? Oh! we’ll get Dick Biggler, he’s a power-pinner!” (incidentally, Dick Biggler would also be an excellent name for a tomcat.)

    Second: My Observation, this means someone is out there, with a job they’re probably paid to do, trolling Pinterest boards and twitter. Whoever that person is, should just buy a lotto ticket tonight, because they’re obviously effing lucky. Hey, the Powerball is sitting somewhere near the GDP of several small nations, you may as well.

    Moving on…because of this little space in the blogosphere, and my happy little Pinterest app on my iphone, (take it from my cold, dead hands, zombie steve jobs!!) I get many many many requests for book reviews/could you possibly add this book to a list?/can I get some pinterest love? requests nigh daily. I deny (politely) most requests.

    But every once in a while, I get someone who disagrees with a review I’ve done, or a book list I put out, etc. Never have I ever received so much flack for a book list as I did when I put up this one. Coincidentally, I’ve never received so much POSITIVE email for a list before, either! It’s a damned mystery!

    Top Ten Unconventional Romances

    Top Ten Unconventional Romances for your book club.jpg

    Oh dear me. The main book, the one by LH Cosway, a book I gave a RARE five stars to, is about a professional drag queen and the woman who falls in love with him, and how he falls in love with her. He’s straight, he just likes heels and can sing the dickens out of a Liza tune.(sidenote: the highest rating I typically give is 4, and it really means 3 and a halfish…but that isn’t an option.)

    People really think I’m out of my mind to recommend this book. This book with zero gratuitous violence or excessive vulgarity, and was penned by someone who can describe a woman more thoroughly than “she bites her fucking lip a lot.”

    On the other hand, a ton of people *20+ emails* LOVED this book. Got its quirkiness. Loved its humor.  This is why I make the lists–not everyone will agree, but people get intense discussing books. I LOVE that about you nerds.

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    Now for some lists!!

    What’s Open On My Kindle:

    Buffalo Calf Road Woman-Rosemary Agnito

    The story of a Cheyenne warrior woman. It’s boss.

    Bite Me-Shelly Laurenston

    It’s a shifter novel. It’s part of the series. It’s complete literary happy candy.

    (also a Vonnegut and an Austen…palate cleansers if a book sucks ass.)

    On Audio:

    Working my way through the Outlander series again…it takes a WHILE. Her newbie just came out yesterday. Oh, Jamie. You sexy Scot, you. To be honest, I got so caught up in it last night, I ran into a neighborhood I’ve never ventured into on previous runs, and found myself all kinds of lost. I also ran far longer, not given to the acedia of a sometimes tedious sport.

    On my nightstand:

    Euphoria by Lily King

    A love triangle between archaeologists. Someone is getting boned.

    (as well as a dozen others from my TBR)

    To the meat of the post…or no meat, as it were. THE RECIPE!

    Thai-Chili Chickpea Burgers!

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    It’s a vegetarian (no fish sauce) patty that is chock-full of yummy Thai flavors like lime, cilantro, basil, peanut, ginger, garlic, curry, and SRIRACHA. The patties are topped with a cilantro-cabbage slaw, making silly wastes of calories like mayo, a pointless endeavor.

    Thai Chili Chickpea Burgers

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 10 minutes

    Keywords: appetizer sandwich side vegetarian

    Ingredients (6 patties)

      For the Patty

      • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
      • 1/2 cup peanuts
      • 3/4 cup rolled oats
      • 1 egg
      • 1 tsp Thai green curry paste
      • 1 tsp sriracha
      • 1 tsp chopped ginger
      • 1 tsp chopped garlic
      • 1/4 cup basil leaves
      • 1/4 cup cilanto
      • 4 scallions–chopped and trimmed
      • zest of one lime
      • 2 tsp soy sauce
      • salt and pepper

      for the slaw

      • 1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
      • 1/2 cup cilantro
      • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
      • 2 tbsp lime juice
      • 1/2 tsp celery salt
      • pepper

      Instructions

      for the slaw

      combine all ingredients and set aside, let marinate at least 15 minutes

      for the patties

      in a food processor, pulse the peanuts to a near-flour like consistency

      add in remaining ingredients

      blend

      in a skillet, heat a few tbsp of oil on medium-high heat (I use a combo of coconut and sesame for flavor)

      using an ice cream scoop, scoop patty mix onto skillet

      using a cooking spray sprayed spatula, flatten into patties on the skillet

      cook 3 minutes, flip

      serve on toasted bun or english muffin with slaw and tomato or cucumber or both.

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      Reading, Rumming, Rehab

      I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone reading this blog just how much I like to read. It is, essentially, my favorite thing to do.  If you’ve ever watched any morning show, you know that they frequently ask ridiculous “would you rather” polls. Generally it’s something along the lines of “would you rather be beautiful or have the ability to speak seven languages while drinking rum on a lobster boat?” The answer will always be whichever makes the American population to appear most-shallow.

      *to be fair, I’d rather be beautiful than only be able to retain my polyglot capabilities while imbibing on a fishing vessel I have no desire to board.

      If I were asked if I’d rather do _____ or continue to be able to read an insane amount of books, I’d give up most anything for words on pages. Almost anything. I’m not crazy–all the time.

      To push myself to continue to interact with real people who don’t live in the fantasyland that is my imagination, and to get my ass off the corner of the sofa that I’ve claimed and noted for its perfect level of reading coziness, I made a new book club. We Ran, We Read, We Rummed is its name, and it’s on three platforms, goodreads, facebook, and on the twitter hashtag #ranreadrummed. We also have our very own tumblr RanREADRummed. Basically, we choose one book per month, read it, converse, encourage each other to get off our asses with fun workouts, and I make up a cocktail recipe/wine-beer pairing/sober sally drink.

      This month we’re reading:

      I’m about 2/3 into it, and liking it so far. It’s a historical, and of a time period I’ve not read much of previously. It is the story surrounding one young doctor’s daughter volunteering near the front of WWI. Once I’ve completed it, I’ll post a full review!

      This is this month’s workout!!

      workout

      Now for a review for a book I’ve recently finished. I’m a big fan of memoirs, I’ve read all sorts. From the journals of the founding fathers, to Audre Lorde, to ridiculous memoirs of comedians and everything in-between.

      This past weekend, I downloaded a new one to my kindle on a whim. Ham: Slices of a Life: Stories and Essays.–Sam Harris

      I was unfamiliar with the author until I googled his image and figured out through the incestuous community of theatre who I knew that knew him, etc.  He is a generation ahead of me in NYC, but there is always a bit of every group.

      Headed into the read, I planned to read an essay or so each day as is typical of my style when reading a collection of essays. When memoirs are penned as a series of stories/essays they can feel a bit like a bricolage of hastily-drawn together memories, rather than a cohesive story. I sat down on Saturday morning after going to the gym to read a bit. Three hours later I realized I’d near finished this book, hadn’t showered, and I was really thirsty. Where the fuck did the time go? At some point while reading, I realized I was highlighting a metric fuckton of passages that sparked my funny meter, and tweeting screenshots of pages to my platonic soul-mate, Amy.

      Sam Harris is BFFs with Liza Minelli. He knows umpteen other celebrities and isn’t afraid to name-drop or spill good secrets. He was stiffed by the Queen of Soul. (In the land of my birth, NEOh!)

      But most importantly, he’s a damned entertaining story teller. His writing is engaging and well-paced. You never reach a point where you’re tired of reading his words. The snippets of his life are succinct, funny, and sometimes painful. Growing up a gay kid in Oklahoma who eventually wins Star Search, is thrown into a whirlwind of exposure, and falls into alcohol abuse–things are going to get to a dark place. The amazing thing is, though he admits horrifying levels of sadness, and extremes of emotion, the book doesn’t emote in a manner that you worry he’ll not end up better for his struggles and his successes.

      Five Stars. (and honey, I do not give a fiver easily.)

      And now….this month’s cocktail.

      Strawberry-Cilantro Dark and Stormy

      strawberry-cilantro dark & stormy

      Strawberry-Cilantro Dark & Stormy

      by Cat Bowen

      Prep Time: 2 minutes

      Keywords: beverage

      Ingredients (2 cocktails)

      • 3 oz dark rum
      • 1/2 oz canton liqueur (optional: could also sub frangola or strawberry moonshine)
      • 6 oz ginger beer
      • 2 tsp superfine sugar
      • 1/4 cup loosely-packed cilantro leaves (more or less)
      • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries

      Instructions

      in the bottom of a shaker, muddle the berries, cilantro, and sugar

      add liqueurs and fill half-way with crushed ice

      shake well

      split between 2 glasses

      top with ginger beer

      stir

      serve immediately

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      Middle Children Drink More

      Let us have a wee chat, k? On Memorial Day, it was roughly seventeen degrees cooler in NYC than on the surface of the sun. Two days later, NYC landed somewhere in Nova Scotia, and I was once again wearing my leather jacket. The next day? I ran outside in long pants. By next Wednesday, I’ll be nearly nude on the beach again. Mother Nature is one fickle lady.

      On top of that, my subconscious keeps sending me hints that I’m either very hungry or very overfed. I had a dream the other night that the man ate the remainder of my chocolate pb fudge core Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and I stabbed him with the handle of the ice cream scooper. When I woke up, I was still SO MAD. I turned over in bed, shook his shoulders, and in a daze, yelled at him for taking my precious. Get this. He looks at me….clears the sleep from his eyes, and my hands from his collar bones, and says “I was hungry.”

      THAT ASSHAT ACTUALLY ATE MY ICE CREAM AND MY SUBCONSCIOUS KNEW IT. I HAVE PSYCHIC ICE CREAM RADAR!!!! I may not be able to find jewelry or a missing child, but if you take my sugar, my brain will know it. Your collar bones will pay the price. I wish it were as simple as my finding an ice cream that the man doesn’t like…no dice. That man will eat any ice cream that can be consumed. If Bertie Bott made every-flavor custard? He’d gladly taste test that mess.

      Time to make me a scoop-shank.

      For now, every time I see him get near the freezer, I remind him that I may act as the hand of G-d if he chooses to get near my frozen confection. I’m the middle child. I don’t share well. (go ahead and ignore me, mother. I get this brownie all to myself as my siblings fight amongst themselves. MWAHAHA!!) The man is the oldest. Soooooo entitled.

      I’m going to scoop out a container and fill it with dog food, stick it back in the freezer and see if he notices. Ok. Maybe not. I kiss that mouth. BLECH.

      Now to something I gladly put in my mouth.

      Ironside Cellars was nice enough to send me a bottle of 2012 Cabernet. I decided to go seasonal-crazy with it. What’s better in May than lamb? NOTHING.

      The cab really brings out the rich, gamey flavor of the lamb without overpowering its more delicate notes. It really makes it sizzle. For the picture, I didn’t “pull” the lamb. For serving, I did. I let it cook an hour longer and then pulled the meat apart with forks to give it a texture like roast beef or pulled pork. It’s not pretty, but it is so insanely delicious.

      I served it over polenta, but it would be equally good with gnocchi or over pasta.

      Cabernet-Braised Lamb (using 2012 Ironside Cellars Cabernet)

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      Cabernet Braised Lamb

      by Cat Bowen

      Prep Time: 10 minutes

      Cook Time: 3 hours

      Keywords: braise entree Italian spring

      Ingredients (serves 4-6)

      • 3-4 lb leg of lamb, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat
      • 1/3 cup olive oil
      • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
      • 1/2 of a 500ml bottle of  Ironside Cellars cabernet
      • 2 cups chopped tomatoes in juice
      • 4 stems fresh rosemary
      • 1 tsp dry thyme
      • 1 tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dry oregano
      • 1 tbsp kosher salt
      • 2 tsp black pepper
      • bunch of fresh parsley

      Instructions

      In a large, heavy bottomed pot

      heat oil on medium

      brown garlic (2-3 minutes)

      strain out garlic, set aside

      salt meat thoroughly

      turn oil to medium high

      brown lamb on each side for 2-3 minutes

      add in remaining ingredients

      add back in garlic

      bring to a boil

      boil 2 minutes

      turn down to lowest setting

      cook for 3+ hours or until meat falls apart.

      remove rosemary stems

      use two forks and pull apart the meat and off the bone

      serve over pasta, polenta, gnocci, or risotto

      top with chopped parsley

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      So It Goes

      Ok. I get that ipads are fun and convenient ways of ignoring your children, but I sometimes feel like my kids are missing something. I will grant you that they’re mostly missing out on things like “risk of death” by sitting in the rear-facing station wagon seat without seatbelts, but it was a fun place to sit. 

      I will even give you that films like Frozen, and How to Train Your Dragon, were pretty awesome. But, I suppose, because I was watching them as a parent of children instead of as a child, my rose-colored glasses have been tinged with a bit of sepia. My childhood is preserved in the hibernaculum of my mind, preserved with the moss of youthful simplicity. I have no such greenhouse from which to view the current.

      I’ve turned into my parents. My parents would wax poetic about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Mary Poppins, while I begged off to watch The Muppets and Jem. Upon reflection, I’ve noticed that my parents favorite childhood movies have become some of mine and my children’s as well. While I don’t think I’ll ever love Little House on the Prarie, as it makes me stabby, and The Wizard of Oz still retains its collection of terrifying winged primates, I can sing “Hush-a-bye Mountain” at the drop of a hat.

      I thought to myself, “time to indoctrinate my children to appreciate the classics!” I played The Strokes and Johnny Cash to them in the womb, gave them sushi as soon as it was feasible they wouldn’t choke on it, and I recite to them random, popular quotes from great books.

      The Captain will finish most of them with a resigned expression on his face. My favorite right now is:”ATTENTION!! BILLY PILGRIM HAS COME UNSTUCK IN TIME!!” The kids roll their eyes at me. So it goes.

      In the end, I did the only reasonable thing to do under the circumstances. I filled the Peanut and the Captain’s Netflix watchlist with The Muppet Take Manhattan, The Aristocats, and Jem. 

      Of course, my kids pissed and moaned a bit about the lack of digital animation, but then…THEN they realized the magic of the muppet. Fozzie is the new/old Seth Rogen, Kermit with amnesia is genius, and Miss Piggy still kicks all of the ass. And with the new Jem movie on the horizon, it’s only fair they have a base for comparison.

      Don’t pretend you didn’t sing along. I wonder if my mom still has my Jem costume. It.was.awesome. I was the perfect “office girl/rockstar.” By the way, why in the hell did they still have day jobs? Did they have the world’s shittiest recording contract? Didn’t their dad own it? IS HE A KARDASHIAN?!?!?

      I loved Jem, but I always wanted a guitar motorcycle like The Misfits rode in the show. Jem and the Holograms never had such interesting transportation.  Granted, they were dirty, underhanded, mean-girl bitchfaces, but they may have had a soft spot…somewhere…like where their heads met their necks.

      And now, the rest of the story…

      I know at least three of you come here for the recipes…I have one. Worry not.

      Crostini with sausage, ricotta, and blackberry, wine, and rosemary honey.

      At first, I thought of a fig-wine honey reduction, but decided to go completely seasonal with my ingredients. Everything is fresh and wonderful, and it makes for the perfect crostini. You can use either sweet or hot sausage in this recipe, but I prefer the bold flavor of hot sausage.  I prefer to use local ingredients. Berries from the farmer’s market, Faicco’s Italian Sausage, ricotta from Salvatore’s, and bread from whichever local bakery I walk by that day. Who’s the best local purveyor where you live? start there.

      It’s insanely good. Try it.

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      The actual recipe itself is easy, just grill slices of Italian bread, top with salted ricotta, sausage slices, and this reduction..The reduction is also AMAZING on steak OR chicken. I was standing over it, just dunking sausage into it when I ran out of crostini. All of the noises, ever described in a romance novel, to explain the sounds of ecstasy, I made them while eating this. (gutteral moan, breath out on a whisper, a cry from the back of my throat…) you get the picture.

      Cabernet, Blackberry, and Rosemary Honey Reduction

      by Cat Bowen

      Prep Time: 5 minutes

      Cook Time: 15 ish minutes

      Keywords: condiment gluten-free dairy-free kosher

      Ingredients

      • 1 pint fresh blackberries, mashed roughly with a fork
      • 1/4 cup good cabernet
      • 1/3 cup honey
      • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
      • pinch of kosher salt

      Instructions

      combine all ingredients on stove

      bring to boil on medium

      reduce to simmer

      simmer ten minutes

      pull out rosemary stem.

      serve

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      While Netflix compensates me for this post, all opinions, even bad ones, are my own.