The Gay Revolution: A Must Read

A few years ago, I had the great honor of meeting writer and activist Lillian Faderman at a talk she was giving about the struggles of gay rights from the mid twentieth century to the landmark Obergefell versus Hodges decision of 2015. She would also be signing copies of her new work, The Gay Revolution, which … Read more…

Adoring Assigned Reading: Books You May Have Missed.

I woke up this morning with a total ladyboner for life. I mean, It’s NOT going to be 90+degrees fahrenheit, my kids’s fevers broke, I had JUSTENOUGH soy milk for my coffee, and I haves new audiobook to listen to. (written like a Boov, because I don’t fucking have to watch Home today, because I’m getting out of the fucking house and off the sofa like my ass is on fire.)

Frank gets my enthusiasm. My “spark.”

I will lift heavy things. I will drink iced coffee served to me by a stranger. I will smile at random passersby in the least creepy (possibly most creepy) manner, ever.

I was also excited because it is THIS DAY!!!!

adoring assigned readingYAYYAYAYA!!

In honor of the removal of my atrabilious mood, I’m doing one of my FAVORITES!!

Persuasion

OH, Wentworth. Wenty. My love. You are right on time for this blogger. Right.On.Time.

I sort of just want to write: READ AUSTEN. READ ALL OF IT. IT’S MORDANT SATIRE!! MAKING FUN OF THE 1% SINCE THE REGENCY ERA. I will not. At least again. Instead, I will tell you why you need to read…

I don’t even need to link it. Buy it anywhere. Get it from the library. Barnes and Noble. ANY BOOKSTORE EVER.

But, why, why should you read this juicy little gem of feminist awesome?

A: because, feminism.

B: Because Jane Austen wrote books nigh on 200 years ago, and she thumbed her nose at all of the things of which she was born into. She understood that the trappings of wealth and common practices surrounding the commodification of a woman’s maidenhood was an absurdity that should be skewered. She also understood that finding a connection with another person on a level beyond that of “he’ll keep me in satin dresses” is the key to actual happiness. That it is our personalities and inclinations which make us a match for someone else, not our pursestrings.

The love between Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot in Persuasion is the most beautiful “second chance” romance of its kind. Here he is, a seaman in the Queen’s navy, and she, a well-bred blue blood, yet they love each other fiercely. However, Anne is young–nineteen–and impressionable, and breaks off their relationship believing she needs to make a more advantageous match when she is advised to do so.

You can see where this is going.

WENTY STILL LOVES HER. SHE STILL LOVES HIM. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS (OR WHICHEVER MONARCH APPEARED ON THE POUND IN 1817.)

Oh man.

square in the feels.

 It’s ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY A FIVE-STAR READ. Like, five-star first gear. no pages yet colored on or torn out. Brand new.

Whatever do I dare pair with this?!?!?!

It’s also regency(ish). But it’s MODERN! Just a few years old.

The Blurb:

First love is like the measles—a hot rash one is stronger for surviving. 
Good English families all have a house in the country with a deer park, a trout stream, and an army of gardeners. They should have a son and if it can be managed, he should be handsome. Cleverness isn’t important. Daughters in limited quantities are fine so long as they are pretty. Bastards are inconvenient and best ignored. It’s not a big problem, unless you are one.
Unfortunately, Sophy is.
Sick of her outcast role, she escapes her father’s house, only to fall from her horse during a spring storm. Injured, soaked, and shivering, she stumbles to a stranger’s door—Tom, a blunt edged merchant from a family of vulgar upstarts. Mistaking Sophy for the genuine article, he takes her in.
Sophy can’t resist twisting the truth. Soon she’s caught in her own snare—and it might just be a noose.

Why I loved it.

I really thought this book would just be an “ok” way to spend an afternoon. I was content to sit and read it much like one is content to watch a Full House marathon on TBS, or a t-ball tourney. That is to say–I was very “meh” about it.

Until I began reading.

All at once I was knocked sideways by the particular care taken to the dialogue, and the challenging nature of the prose. Who is this Jaima Fixen broad, and why have I never heard of her?!!? The book’s editing is flawless, the story composed delicately and precisely, and the romance is a steady, slow, growing burn. I liken it very much to Austen or Bronte, insomuch as it’s not “guy and girl or possibly two or more guys and a girl start banging it out halfway through the book, someone is an asshole, but don’t worry–they’ll get over it in time for a HEA.” It’s more “Let us slowly but confidently mark time and reason, building suspense and hope for a seemingly impossible couple to defy the odds and become a pair.”

In fact…GASP(!!!) No one bangs anyone in this book. It’s like a professional kitchen it is so clean. But it doesn’t suffer for a lack of sexual interludes. If anything, it makes the small gestures of affection between the two MCs even more fraught with tension and fragility, like Piastro Oliv strings for a violin, the sound or feel is bright and rich, full of precious things, but it’s so tenuous at first, difficult to play, until one masters their instrument.

The conclusion is all the more satisfying for the difficulty in reaching it.

Four Stars. (one star removed because I couldn’t easily place the time until it was spelled out.)

So, what would I make to go with these books?

NOTHING. IT’S REGENCY ERA BRITTANIA. EW.

So I made toasted pasta. Austen and the like are ALWAYS EATING TOAST. But seriously, you don’t need a recipe for that. But toasted pasta? It’s one of those easy, delicious, and unexpected things–much like Fairchild. 

I implore you to make this with whole wheat pasta. The flavors are nuttier and bolder than with white flour or semolina pasta, not to mention the protein and fiber content. The recipe calls for Earth Balance buttery spread, but you know by now from reading my blog, you could use traditional butter. A good improvement on this dish, albeit an expensive one is to use truffle butter. If you do so, eliminate the red pepper flakes. You can also add grated parm, bottarga, or even feta or goat cheese atop this delight.

Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Book Review: Persuasion v. Fairchild. Recipe: Delicious toasted pasta aglio e oglio. #amreading… Click To Tweet


Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio Toasted Pasta Aglio e Olio

Toasted Pasta Aglio E Oglio

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Keywords: appetizer entree side snack vegan vegetarian nut-free soy-free

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 8 oz whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp evoo
  • 1 tbsp butter or earth balance buttery spread
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked red pepper
  • fresh black pepper to taste
  • vegetable or chicken stock, depending on dryness of pasta between 2 and four cups.

Instructions

in a DRY skillet on medium-high, break the DRY pasta in half and toast it until most are a rich, golden brown

reduce heat to medium

add the oil and garlic on medium heat until garlic is translucent.

toss pasta

add a cup of the stock and stir until stock is absorbed

add salt and another 1/2 cup of stock until that is absorbed

continue until pasta is al dente

finish with butter, pepper, and red pepper flake.

serve IMMEDIATELY.

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Re-Reading the Classics.

Today, I’m kicking it old school. I know that I said for the first edition of..

adoring assigned reading

that I would be doing The Picture of Dorian Gray, however, the recipe I want to do for that book takes HOURS in the oven, and since it’s hotter than the proverbial mother fucker outside, that’s a big NO.

(aside: my use of “the proverbial” sort of bugs me. I think it’s overused. However, we do have a sort of proverbial mother fucker in Oedipus, that scallywag, so it’s ok. Also, probably a Lannister has had improper relations with their primary life-giver at some point…)

ANYWHOOOO, I ended up making waffles. Those were first invented in 1842/43 in Belgium, and spread across Europe like wildfire. So I went with that time. (Yes, TPoDG would also be that time–semantics–hush.)

I want to introduce you to a lovely, gripping, SHORT book you’ve probably never heard of or read. It’s FREEEEEE on Kindle and Smash and iBooks and Scribd….etc etc etc. Your library probably doesn’t have it.

 

It’s so under-appreciated that no one has ever given it a groovy cover!

The Haunted Chamber

There is a reason I’m not a graphic designer, people.

Anywhoooooo, I’m TERRIBLE AWFUL HORRIBLE at writing book summaries. But, since the author was unaware that Goodreads and blurbs would be a thing, and there isn’t a fucking blurb to be had, I’ll try it. Bear with me.

Picture it: England, sometime in the 1870s ish. There is this Baronet, Adrian Dynecourt, and he returns home after a long journey abroad. He immediately begins to entertain guests, as you do, and welcomes first his very-favorite heiress, Miss Florence Delmaine. Unfortunately, she is chaperoned by her widow cousin Dora the backstabbing turtlelover. Even more unfortunately, Sir Adrian’s cousin, Arthur the conniving assbasket also shows up. Thankfully, Adrian is a fellow who is stout of character and can put up with many shitshows all at once.

It is clear to every guest at Adrian’s months-long houseparty raver, that he’s way into Flo.

Dora the explora-ho thinks this is a bad match. Flo could make it rain for centuries and lasso herself a duke, and here she is, interested in a mere Baronet, who has but decades worth of stripper-monies in his coffers. Dora is pretty sure Adrian would be far better suited to, say, a widow of reasonable fortune with an ass to grab.

Well, wouldn’t you just know it? Arthur the alphadick, having little ability to even make a mist at a scantily-clad lady or gent, is desirous of an opportunity to to increase his worth and elevate his station. He’s a smooth talker, and convinces Dora the horror to help him split Adrian and Florence up, while leading Florence right into Artie the asscandle’s arms.

But this isn’t as easy as say, fleecing the aristocracy, or convincing scared, racist old, white people that Fox News is actually news, because Adrian and Florence remain pulled to one another…

The Haunted Chamber

That doesn’t stop Arthur the Awful and Dora the Double Agent from trying….Will karma kick them in the stones?

Probably.

READ IT. MEOW.

Imagine if Jane Austen had a decidedly darker personality–or a bitchy twin. That, my lovelies, is Margaret Wolfe Hungerford. Unappreciated, and mostly forgotten, she’s worth a read.

Also, I DEMAND DAVINA PORTER NARRATE THIS AT ONCE. (pretty sure she answers to no woman.)

So, what book could I possibly have chosen as this great tome’s contemporary companion? Hmmmm????

Ze blurb:

She thought the best love affairs only happened in books…

Traumatized by the deaths of her parents three years ago, Natalie Hewitt lives an introverted life, taking college classes during the day and working as a barista in a coffee shop at night. A passionate reader, she uses the writing of the world-famous and reclusive novelist Rafael Melendez Mendón to assuage her grief. His words are her refuge, his characters better company than anyone she could meet in real life… until Julian Kovač walks into the café one summer evening. He is a handsome, quiet young man and Natalie feels an instant connection.

But Julian has a secret that is both the most wonderful revelation Natalie could possibly imagine…and the very thing that could tear them apart.

My argument for reading after Maggie’s book. (I think Ms Hungerford and I would’ve just gotten on like gangbusters, so I’ll call her Maggie. Mags, if we’re drinking.)

Orphans with income! Intrigue! Smart ladies and gents and the people who want them TO NOT KNOCK BOOTS, EVER.

Emma’s writing is fun and concise, and she’s not given to over-long descriptions, or crowding the main characters’s lives with nonsense. Her sense of timing in this book is impeccable, with just enough romance and suspense to keep you extremely interested without developing an ulcer.

It has the same sort of “we REALLY need to be honest with one another in order for the shit not to hit the fan” feeling of The Haunted Chamber, and it works really well.

The recipe?

Vegan Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

To de-vegan, use regular buttermilk, eggs instead of flax eggs, and melted butter in place of coconut oil.

vegan buttermilk chocolate chip waffles

Great classic books and its contemporary companion, also? WAFFLES. #vegan #books Click To Tweet

vegan buttermilk chocolate chip waffles

Vegan Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes (5 min/waffle)

Keywords: bake vegan

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups AP flour
  • .5 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk plus 1 tbsp lemon juice, set aside for 10 minutes
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp flax meal with 6 tbsp water, set aside for ten minutes
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 overripe banana, mashed
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

mash the banana in a large bowl with the coconut oil

add in the flax and water, stir

add in the milk and lemon mixture, stir

stir in oats

sift in flour

add chips and baking powder

stir in chips

if it’s too dry, add a bit more milk

if it’s too wet, add a bit more flour

That’s the weird thing about vegan baking, sometimes batters act differently in different circumstances.

pour into greased waffle iron set to high and scoop enough in to cover 2/3 of it. close and bake.

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Auralgasms #6

Auralgasms.

 

This week’s auralgasm, I’m featuring a narrator who is so ridiculously prolific (almost 600 listings on Audible) I had a difficult time deciding how and when to feature him.

Quick anecdote about the narrator I’m featuring before I dive into my review of his reading, ok? Ok. He’s British–very proper BBC Britty, and so is one of my daughter’s favorite people in the entire world, her Guncle Will. Will is also very proper BBC Britty. (Not always, he’s from the midlands–and used to sound as such. Oxford, Cambridge, and Princeton snipped the country right the fuck out of his accent.)

Anyway–oddly enough, their actual speaking voices are eerily similar. So similar, in fact, that one evening, when I was cleaning the kitchen, and listening to Bleak House on my small speaker on the counter, my daughter popped-up out of bed at eleven at night expecting to see her Guncle Will bringing her a bubble tea and storytime–as is their custom. Now, she’s listening to the young reader’s version of Gulliver’s Travels on audio, and she insists it’s her Guncle Will and not…

Simon Vance

Simon Vance is one of those narrators (along with, perhaps, Dina Pearlman, Davina Porter, and John Lee) whose voice is heard so often, in so many instances, that one sort of accepts it as a piece of the collective consciousness of readers. However, Simon Vance is not simply mellifluous notes imposed on words to carry a tale–no–he is the sort of engaging chameleon who interferes with one’s daily life, because, the soul he gives his characters cleaves to one’s imagination like taffy on an apple.

Honestly, there isn’t a genre he hasn’t narrated. However, the books wherein I feel his artistry is most evident? The classics. I have converted more than one reader who has eschewed the great works of literati past in favor of the sole concentration of contemporary authors, by luring them with the promise of Simon Vance’s quietly explosive performances of Victorian or Edwardian literature.

Me:”You don’t like (insert name of any one of a gajillion books here)? That’s probably because you couldn’t scrape through the text. Here–listen to this.”

Them:”Ok, it turns out I do like (Dickens, Wilde, Wodehouse…).”

{insert a long conversation about whichever.}

Simon Vance brings the past to life in a way that breeds curiosity into whether or not the man is actually a time traveling actor, bridging worlds between the late 1800s in England, and my kitchen, at eleven at night, whilst I’m completing my day’s tidying up.

I think this is his car.

In fact, I’m so very confident in the universal appeal of Simon Vance’s narration, I’m introducing a new series on B2B which his narrating could be a huge factor in.

adoring assigned reading

 

The new series will feature books which may or may not have been assigned to us in High School or college, and which we inevitably cheated ourselves by utilizing Cliff’s notes or the like, and avoided reading them. I will pair each chosen book with a contemporary novel with similar themes or a contemporary author who is greatly inspired by the classical novel/author.

How does Simon Vance play (pun intended) into this? Many–and I mean many of the classics I’ll be exploring have been put to digital by Simon Vance, and even better, many are available in the extremely affordable whispersync pricing through Audible and Amazon.

The classic I’ll be writing about is The Picture of Dorian Gray  by Oscar Wilde, and the pair is Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.

Now for the recipe.

Ok, I’ll admit, I haven’t a bloody clue what foods Simon Vance may favor. Yes, I have asked narrators in the past for their favorites, but for this Auralgasms post I decided to go with the theme of British literature as opposed to narrating favorite. Why? Ok, the honest answer is that I’m obsessed with this current recipe, and I’m just going to (very possibly wrongly) assume that like all British people (because I’m American and I generalize the fuck out of people from other countries) Simon Vance likes curry. (Honestly–who doesn’t? Ok, I can think of several people, but I’m purposefully ignoring them.)

Curry is superduperpopular in the UK. India, a former piece of the British Empire, salted the country with its culinary influence and left a lasting impression. It’s available pretty much everywhere, in pretty much every incarnation.

here it is…

Creamy Coconut-Curry Almond Butter

It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s so godsdamned good with fig and date jam it’ll make you want to sexytime with a British colonist–bikram style.

creamy coconut-curry almond butter creamy coconut-curry almond butter

Great #Auralgasms and Creamy Coconut Curry Almond Butter #audiobook #vegan #FitFluential Click To Tweet

creamy coconut-curry almond butter creamy coconut-curry almond butter

 

Creamy Coconut-Curry Almond Butter

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: blender appetizer breakfast condiment sandwich side snack paleo vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (1 jar)

  • 2 cups roasted unsalted almonds (or really, any nuts)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, warmed to liquid form
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

devour with your face hole.

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