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.

    Magic STD Hands

    I once had this really terrible therapist. He looked like a cross between Lavar Burton and Dora’s cousin, Diego. He also had a cat who was always perched on his desk, in the file box, unmoving. I honestly thought that thing was stuffed until I once saw it look up at me, find me lacking, and put its head back down. ANYWAY…He once told me to make a list of things that make me happy every morning to allay my dark periods. He actually used these words “you may find that it keeps them from returning at all!”

    I know what works and what doesn’t for my inner turmoil. Time works. Solitude helps. Running and baking are good. Reading is awesome. I could Little Engine the hell out of my mood, and it would come to nothing.  I could be days dwelling in the craggy darkness of my mind’s interior, only to wake up de profundis, on the adret side, ready to conquer the day and go for a run. My reason for therapy is to work through the deeper issues that created the dark periods to begin with. *other than the chemicals in my brain that run amok. Therapy is like mederma, only in my brain.

    I’m not one for mincing words. When the shrink told me he thought it could act as some sort of prophylactic barrier over my brain. I blurted “what the fuck?” He’d obviously been playing sudoku on the pad in front of him during our previous sessions. Maybe he was drawing funny faces. Grocery lists? His happy list? (I imagine his happy list includes playing sudoku and counting money.) 

    At the same time, my brain is given toward inappropriately-timed vivid imaginings. As I was explaining to him that I’ve tried all manner of positive thought previously, including gratitude lists, my subconscious mind took over. He kept saying that my mind is like clay, and the thoughts are like hands, and I just need to give more strength to the positive hands.

    Of course, in my brain, positive hands are electrically charged and also carriers of STDs. I don’t want electric gonorrhea hands molding my clay.

    When I got home, the man asked me how my therapy went. I said “THAT QUACK WANTS TO MOLD ME WITH ELECTRIC STD FINGERS!!” The man just shook his head while saying “so, not a fit, then?” OBVIOUSLY.

    While he was obviously not the therapist for me, and should (given his ailurophilia) perhaps think about a career in pet psychic/psychiatry. I think lists like these do have a place. Especially in goal-setting, and dream realization.

    When I’m up, when my mind is filled with flowers and unicorns,(my unicorn’s name is Ollie, and he poops skittles.) and the worst of the beasts are caged, I find lists incredibly helpful. The *happy list* had an unexpected consequence. I realized that so much of the shit I do on a daily basis was absent. My list looked (somewhat–no order) like this:

    • hang with my bits
    • acting class
    • singing
    • reading
    • music-y stuff
    • running/swimming
    • increasing weights on barbells
    • cooking
    • writing
    • hanging with friends
    • learning
    • having a clean house
    • spending time with the man

    After this, I realized that most of these require me to do so much other stuff to keep them afloat, but some crap? Some crap can GO! When I think of it that way, it’s a relief. Stuff I don’t need to do, or am obligated to, which doesn’t improve my or my family’s life? AU REVOIR!

    Though, I’m pretty sure a judgmental cat-in-a-box would definitely be on my happy list. Think of all of the meme possibilities.

    Until then, I cook.

    Dill-icious Chickpea Salad

    This salad is mostly about the chickpeas, and the dressing. The veggies are totally up to you. I’ve written down which I love, but let your mind go crazy. You could even add cubed feta, or shrimp, or diced tofu or grilled chicken! If you go with my recipe, I suggest letting it marinate for a few hours before you eat it. It REALLY punches up the flavor

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    Dill-icious Chickpea Salad

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: (depends on ingredients)

    Keywords: no bake appetizer salad entree side snack July 4th summer spring

    Ingredients (giant bowl o’salad.)

    • 1 cup chickpeas (I prefer home-soaked and cooked, but canned, rinsed, and drained are also fine)
    • 1 cup each of chopped
    • pepper
    • red cabbage
    • green cabbage
    • cucumber
    • hearts of palm
    • 1/2 cup chopped red onion

    for the dressing

    • 1/2 cup chopped dill
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • juice of one half of one lemon
    • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp white pepper

    Instructions

    stir together all veggies, lightly salt and set aside

    whisk together dressing ingredients

    pour over vegetables

    stir

    let marinate a few hours or overnight.

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