Have you ever wanted to throw something out the window just to watch the whole thing shatter and die?
That’s how I feel about Clash of Clans right now. I want to go all Office Space on the ipad, and dance around it as I set fire to it, sing chants–possibly in costume–and cackle loudly.
kill it with fire.
Ok, so that was apropos of NOTHING, but I needed to get that off my chest. The Captain keeps hijacking my apple tv to play it on the “big screen,” and I’m about to pelt him with bananas or applesauce, or something.
Two weeks ago, I teased The Brush of Black Wings by one of my favorite authors, Grace Draven, while reviewing its predecessor Master of Crows. We laughed, we drank, it was better than the last day of school and the first day of school all rolled into one, right? Of course right.
Well, after waiting FOREVER for one of my favorite ingredients to come in at the grocers, I can finally review the fuck out of it.
First, let me say this: Grace Draven writes fantasy romance with such skill and confidence, that I am consistently marveled by the depth of her imagination, and the quality of her prose. At times it feels as though Grace Draven is channeling her writing through some long-forgotten Chaucerian or Marie de France tale, given voice through distinctly modern language. It’s shocking in its complexity and addictive qualities.
The Brush of Black Wings is no different. Decidedly shorter, and more fantasy than romance, it feels like a departure from her previous books, while remaining utterly engaged in her genre. There is quite a bit of action, with less action than Master of Crows–but it suffers not at all for the lack of it. In this installment, Silhara of Neith and Martise (now also of Neith) are married and living at the ruined keep. He’s still sexy, she still drives him into the fits with her blunt sexiness.
They are living their lives as simply as The Master of Crows and his wife can possibly live, until their servant-friend, Gurn decides he wants fancy mushrooms.
Martise the ever awesome, goes to collect the mushrooms like some damned truffle sniffing pig. It’s cold, her fingers are freezing, and then SHE FALLS INTO ANOTHER DIMENSION.
All is not lost, but man alive are there some tough scrapes for her in this gray place! Silhara is properly terrified and rage-beast as fuck about this predicament, and does his magey-magic to go forth and retrieve his wife! (Go back and retrieve? Sideways? It’s a place out of time, so he basically needs a magical cross between the Wonkavator and the standing stones of Outlander.)
Silhara: “Charlie, I feel you. I just do.”
The beauty of the relationship between Silhara and Martise is that Grace Draven uses their magic as a metaphor for a strong marriage. It’s not one person doing all the heavy lifting and sacrifice. Playing up one another’s strengths, and sharing sacrifice, is the only way to create a lasting union. The communication between the magic of the pair is open and fulfilling–just as it (communication) is in ANY good marriage.
The book concludes with some foreshadowing to the next installment which I found delightfully intriguing, and the epilogue gave me the brain tingles. Not like syphilis, that would be bad brain tingling.
To me, this novella felt like a delicious appetizer which served to whet my appetite for the main course in a most delectable way. Like French Onion soup before a plate full of mashed potatoes. (now I want both.) I plan on re-reading this several times before the next book is released.
Five magical mushrooms.
Of COURSE I had to do a mushroom recipe. This one is delicious and satisfying, and LOOKS really difficult and impressive. It’s easy peasy. I swear.
Mushroom Miso Soba Noodles
It’s not a soup, but it’s reminiscent of the miso soup or miso ramen you get at Japanese restaurants. It’s the perfect summer dish because it can be served hot or cold, and you DO NOT HAVE TO TURN ON THE OVEN. Also, it calls for dried shiitake mushrooms. I prefer bulk, flat packed, dried shrooms, but really, ANY dried mushrooms will work. Also, I specify Wakame flakes, but Korean dried seaweed flakes will also work. The one thing I’m REALLY going to stress to you is to use UNSALTED stock. Miso, soy sauce, wakame, and even tofu can be heavily salted, and you don’t want to burn your tongue on the salinity of the dish.
Mushroom Miso Soba Noodles
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Keywords: stir-fry entree side snack vegan vegetarian
Ingredients (4-6 servings)
for the sauce
- 2 cups UNSALTED stock. (I used veg, you could use chicken or veg)
- 3 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 tbsp WHITE miso
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Mirin
- 1/4 cup wakame flakes
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp rayu or sriracha or ONE thai chili, stemmed, ribbed, and seeded.
- 12 oz fresh soba noodles
for the noodles
- 12 oz FRESH or frozen and thawed soba noodles. (buckwheat or white–matters not.)
- 1, 12 oz block of extra-firm tofu, cubed into 1″ cubes or 12 oz stemmed and de-veined shrimp (or combo)
- 2 big red bell peppers, sliced into ribbons
- 6-8 oz halved and cleaned baby bok choy or Shanghai choy, lightly steamed. (2-4 minutes) barring that–broccoli or Napa
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp Mirin
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- chopped cilantro
- chopped scallion
- additional wakame flakes
- hot sauce
- soft-boiled egg (optional.)
the base sauce
In a saucepan, combine the sesame oil, mirin, miso, sriracha, and stock and bring it to a simmer, stirring slowly
add wakame and mushrooms, turn to low, let simmer 30 minutes
pull out mushrooms and slice.
in a WOK or really big fecking skillet, heat the oils until rippling
add ginger and garlic
stir in bell pepper and tofu/shrimp–toss and cook until either warmed or cooked through
add in noodles, stock, Mirin, and soy sauce and toss
add in remaining ingredients, toss
add mushrooms back to stock and pour over noodle mix.
cook until tender
If serving cold, you may wish to add a bit of soy sauce or Yuzu to the noodles as you eat them,
garnish and eat