Read This. Drink That.

Before I blog about ANYTHING, I’d like to say this….

USA!!!USA!!!!!USA!!!!!

WE WON! WE WON! (for 75% of Americans who have no clue of which I speak, it’s the fucking Women’s World Cup, and America BEAT THE PANTS off Australia.)

lil Jenna Marbles action.

Team XX USA (not because they’re X-Rated, but because, homogametic, mother fuckers!) looked at the koala-hugging Aussies, and thought to themselves…

And because they don’t really have any petroleum to share, and, apparently, this is a thing in Australia…we went for domination via their balls…of soccer.

The fuck?! Looks like something the scientist from South Park would create.

Moving on!!

I know I’ve told you about the superduperamazing book club I moderate with my oh so cool,

bloggif_55281d7b9fab5

Amy,  We Ran, We Read, We Rummed!  I haven’t? Oh, let me tell you about it!

It’s this fantastic book club full of people who are or want to be active, love to read, and DRINK. It’s basically heaven. There is a Goodreads page, mainly for voting, a tumblr for announcements, a Facebook page for discussion, and hashtag #ranreadrummed for various and sundry social media posts.

This month, we read The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.

The Blurb: 

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

*really long blurb, right?!

WORTH IT.

What I thought about the book:

A little of this..

when I read a quote like this…

“The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about one thing, he finds he has to start giving a shit about everything.”

A little like this…

When I read quotes like this…

The Storied LIfe of AJ Fikry

And a little like this….

at the end.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is all about balance. It’s life and death, sure. It’s penance and redemption, it’s acceptance and regret and validation. It’s hope. My G-d, is it ever hope. Hope in truly awful circumstances. Hope prevailing over gut-twisting, heart-wrenching pain and loss. Hope that is written with such authorial conviction that the pages practically bleed with it.

Gabrielle Zevin could’ve written 300 pages of maudlin introspection, given the premise, but what she did instead was to find rainbows where one would normally find rage. It’s not completely sunny, but it’s no settlement of storm clouds above Mount Doom, either.

The characters are people I’d want to befriend in real life. A surly, snobby bookseller, a happy and genuinely caring cop, a book publicist/seller who loves life and people, a little girl who is whip-smart and worth every word given to her in this book, and even the sad, but redeemable school teacher with a mountain sized chip on her shoulder. They’re just so, so much.

The twists and turns the book takes are wholly unexpected and they never feel like they’re written in just because Zevin needed something to propel the narrative forward.

It should be noted that the audiobook is narrated beautifully (and works with whispersync complete with discounted title price) by Scott Brick.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry is a beautiful story filled with hope and wonder, without becoming overly saccharine or too self-centered. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry captures the reader from page one and proceeds to tie their consciousness with bands of prose with which it holds the reader captive until the final characters of print.

Five hopeful stars.

The recipe inspired by the book:

Ok, so this recipe isn’t as much inspired by the book (as the cocktails in the book are bloody mary-ish in nature or wine) as it is a celebration of the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of We Ran, We Read, We Rummed!

So, of course, there’s RUM in it. Also, beer. Because the

PSMand I love beer.

Today? Piña Cerveza Colada!

This cocktail isn’t the sticky-sweet vaguely beerish beerita that is so common pretty much everywhere. This cocktail is rich with the bold flavor of Modelo, the tang of fresh pineapple, and the warm tropical loveliness of Malibu! Rimmed with a coconut flake and salt rim, it’s the perfect drink to serve friends at a cookout!

IMG_2741

IMG_2738

 

Pina Cerveza Colada

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: beverage

Ingredients (3 cocktails or 2 if you like M)

  • 1 can of Modelo
  • 3 oz Malibu (if you like less, add less!)
  • 2 cups chopped pineapple, RIPE
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • squeeze of lime

optional

  • flaked coconut and margarita salt for the rim
  • cherries as garnish

Instructions

blend half the Modelo with the rum, ice, and pineapple

pour into two or three glasses (rimmed or not)

top with remaining Modelo, stir gently with the straw

garnish!

drink responsibly (preferably at home, in your backyard, with no open flames, and no chances for public nudity.)

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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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Run By Fruiting

Over a month ago, I switched my diet to an entirely whole-foods, plant-based diet. I was not strict, had dairy at times, and just yesterday I had a piece of sashimi, I have not yet started truly scrutinizing labels, but there it is.

And–dear G-d do I feel better. I’m not anti-meat. But, BUT, I know the way most Westernized societies consume animal products, and the quality of products they consume, is not sustainable.  It’s also unkind. I don’t want to be unkind. Not to the animals, not to the planet.

I was a vegetarian for ten years, I did it all wrong. I ate a fast-food diet of fries and junk. I ate a fuckton of processed foods. Macaroni and Cheese, canned soups, bottled salad dressing. I gained weight, looked like crap, broke out all of the time. My hormones were INSANE. My PCOS went off the charts. My endometriosis was insanely painful. Again, hormones.

The last few months, I was eating a lot more meat. I was convincing myself that I needed more meat because I was preparing for the Boston Marathon, and damnit, I needed meat, right? Sure, I was feeling more sluggish, but HEY! Training for a marathon, here! Completely normal to feel tired! About three weeks before the marathon, ovary pain kept me up all night. It’s happened before, I know what’s going on when it does.

About a week before Boston, I had one of the worst lady months of my life. Severe pain, nausea, migraines, shaking instability, weakness. I started feeling really, really bad (passing-out, bad) about 3 days before Marathon Monday, so I went to get some blood work done.  My hemoglobin was so low I needed to get a blood transfusion. My hematocrit was pathetic.

Or in my lady basket. Whatevs.

I couldn’t run. I was depressed. My PCOS had robbed me of the chance by deciding that April was cyst-rupture month.

Enter Rebekah Borucki and Danielle Diamond. *at once, a meditative three-way. 😉 They were starting a vegetarian challenge the very day I was supposed to run the Boston Marathon. It felt like as good a time as any. As good an idea as any. So I joined the #XenBliss challenge, and I am so glad I did.

In the group, there was a lot of talk about going completely vegan. While I’m about 90% vegan, I don’t foresee myself being 100% vegan. Occasional sustainable sushi, vegetarian-rennet based cheese, and humanely raised eggs/milk will probably remain in very small ways in my diet. Mostly in baking, let’s be honest.

While I previously watched many documentaries and read a lot of literature on the benefits of a plant-based diet, I never took it seriously for me. I mean, I didn’t eat much meat to begin with. I wasn’t being so bad on the environment–on myself.

40 days meat-free has me re-thinking my thinking. And I’m back to Michael Pollan’s famous quote “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Also, plantain chips are from G-d, and serve as proof that he loves us.

How’s my health now?

I’m back at the gym. My doctor is superduper impressed, and I feel AMAZING.

So I re-watched some documentaries, watched some new ones, read some new literature, and I’m educating myself. I’m not a nutritionist, and this is entirely anecdotal, but the environmental impacts are real, and I really want my kids to have a great earth to grow up in.

Plus, my favorite vampire was a vegetarian.

Just to let you guys in on what I’ve been watching, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites that are available to stream on Netflix.

For the recipe to go with this overly-preachy post? A salad that you WGAF that it’s vegan, because it tastes like a miracle.

Tex-Mex Mango Bean Salad.

Tex-Mex Mango Bean Salad Tex-Mex Mango Bean Salad Tex-Mex Mango Bean Salad

Tex-Mex Mango Bean Salad

Tex-Mex Mango Bean Salad

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: marinate/chill/6 hours

Keywords: vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (serves 8-12)

  • 1 can rinsed kidney beans
  • 1 can rinsed chickpeas
  • 1 cup frozen, thawed peas
  • 2 avocados, cubed
  • 2 mangos, cubed
  • 5 scallions, chopped (the whole thing, save the root)
  • 5 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped

for the dressing

  • juice of one lime
  • 3 tbsp recaito
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil (or more evoo)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce of your choice

Instructions

whisk together dressing ingredients in the bottom of a large bowl

add all remaining chopped veg and beans to the bowl

toss and marinate in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight.

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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.

The Lies Our Elders Tell Us…and Waffles.

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I’ve not been able to work out for a FREAKING MONTH, and it’s driving me batshit insane. I’ve become somewhat more of a fidgety mess. Most things in my life have suffered for my lack of movement. Being on the *insertsportsingacronymforhealthrelatedbenchinghere* list, has taken its toll. … Read more…