Getting Ready For Spring:

Spring can often be a dead-zone for books, it’s notquite summer, it’s notquite cozy reading weather, it’s cleaning and pollen, but let me tell you, this spring? It’s ON.

With so many choices, I thought I’d tell you what I’M planning on reading.

Spring Into a Good Book 10 Must-Read Books for Spring

Confession: I’ve already read this. It was AMAZING!!! But here’s the blurb:

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

I will read anything Louise Erdrich writes. She and Sherman Alexie are arguably the most prolific Native American writers today, and their work is frequently challenging to stereotypes White America hold sacred. Thank G-d, amirite?

Louise Erdrich, the author of the National Book Award-winning The Round House and the Pulitzer Prize nominee The Plague of Doves wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in indigenous culture.

I have very little working knowledge of Margaret Cavendish, but her life seems endlessly fascinating, and I do love a fictionalization of true history.

Margaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when “being a writer” was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen’s attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England: at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was “Mad Madge,” an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London—a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution—and the last for another two hundred years.

Margaret the First is very much a contemporary novel set in the past, rather than “historical fiction.” Written with lucid precision and sharp cuts through narrative time, it is a gorgeous and wholly new narrative approach to imagining the life of a historical woman.

Reading this one RIGHT NOW.

A vampire’s grudges don’t stay dead long…

Merit is one of Chicago’s most skilled vampire warriors; these days, she doesn’t scare easily. But she and Master vampire Ethan have made a new and powerful enemy, and he won’t give up until he owns the Windy City.

With his last plan thwarted, he’s more determined than ever to watch Cadogan burn. Ethan has put the House’s vampires on high alert, but their enemy will stop at nothing, including pitting vampire against vampire…

In this deadly game of cat-and-mouse, the stakes are life or death—and winning might mean sacrificing everything…

[bctt tweet=”Ten Must-Read Books for Spring and Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables to warm you for the remainder of winter!”]

I’m obsessed with ALL things Mercy Thompson. Although, her tits get bigger every cover, her brain never gets any smaller, nor do her adversaries.

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

I LOVED Archer’s Voice, and this one looks to have the same “aw shucks, right in the feely bone” quality to it.

Holden Scott is the prince of professional football. At least he was before he lost it all . . . or more to the point, before he threw it all away. Now he’s out of a job, out of the public’s good graces, and perhaps just a little out of his mind. So when a friend offers up his remote lodge in the wilds of Colorado, giving Holden some time away to get his life back on track, he can hardly say no. The last thing he expects is to see a beautiful girl in the woods—one wearing a white, lace dress who appears in the moonlight, and leaves no footprints behind. Is she a dream? A ghost? A product of his muddled imagination? Or something entirely different?
Midnight Lily is the haunting love story of two lost souls reaching for each other in the dark. A tale of healing, acceptance, and the worlds we create to protect our own hearts. It is a story of being lost, of being found, and of being in the place between.

Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive series was a real win for me. Light, funny, and a quick read, I’m hoping this falls in the same vein.

The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that comes with her.

Lydia Green doesn’t know whether to burn down the church or sit and cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it’s with his best man is another thing all together. She narrowly escapes tying the knot and meets Vaughan only hours later.

Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessman she thought she’d marry. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and unsettled. But she already tried Mr. Right and discovered he’s all wrong-maybe it’s time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.

SERIAL and The Making of a Murderer has me in the true crime fits. I’m just extending that with this one.

In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London’s infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. At the time the concept of a serial killer was unthinkable, but the murders continued, the killer became more brazen, and the citizens’ panic reached a fever pitch.

Before it was all over, at least a dozen men would be arrested in connection with the murders, and the crimes would expose what a newspaper described as “the most extensive and profound scandal ever known in Austin.” And yes, when Jack the Ripper began his attacks in 1888, London police investigators did wonder if the killer from Austin had crossed the ocean to terrorize their own city.

 

One of my favorite shows in book form? YOU BETCHA.

n 1996 Amy Goodman started a radio show called Democracy Now! to focus on the issues that are underreported or ignored by mainstream news coverage. Shortly after September 11, 2001, they were broadcasting on television every weekday. Today it is the only public media in the US that airs simultaneously on satellite and cable television, radio, and the Internet. Now Amy and her journalist brother, David, share stories of the progressive heroes—the whistleblowers, the organizers, the protestors—who have brought about remarkable, often invisible change over the last two decades in seismic ways.

This book looks back over the past twenty years of Democracy Now! and considers that as the courts and government abdicate their responsibilities, it has fallen to ordinary people to hold the powerful to account. Amy gives voice to these leaderful, not leaderless, movements: the countless charismatic leaders who are taking to the streets in Ferguson, Staten Island, Wall Street, and other places where people are rising up to demand justice. This is the guiding principle of Democracy Now!, which is front and center in this powerful, important work.

I think my son is going to lose his ever-loving shit over this.

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

Now, what goes with all these books? Well, it’s still technically winter, so…

How about some Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables?

creamy mashed roasted root vegetables creamy mashed roasted root vegetables creamy mashed roasted root vegetables

 

Creamy Roasted Mashed Root Vegetables

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour (mostly down time)

Keywords: vegan paleo low-carb

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 turnips chopped into 1/2 inch (a bit over a CM sq) cubes
  • 2 parsnips chopped similarly
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled, and chopped similarly
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off
  • 1 stick of butter or vegan substitute
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F

toss cubed vegetables in oil

spread on two cookie sheets in a single layer

wrap garlic in foil

roast until soft, about 30 minutes

IN A FOOD PROCESSOR

combine all cooked veg, and squeeze out roasted garlic cloves into food pro

add remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth.

LEAVE VENTED unless you like 3rd degree burns.

add additional salt as needed

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Type A (Positive) Personality.

One word: Venice.

It even sounds romantic. Italy in general holds a nigh universal appeal as the most romantic country on the planet. Ok, mostly. The piazzas, the slickly fashioned men with swooning women. Gelato. Pasta. Tiramisu. Wine. Risotto. Pizza. Truffles. Grappa. Blood.

wait, blood?

Um…

Um, Yes.

Ok, not like the bloodied hands of Brutus, or the the chill in the blood of a visitor to an ossuary in Milan, not even all the scenes in Italy in The Godfather. 

The drinking kind!!

Um…

Yeah!! Italy is OLD AS OLD GETS!! There’re bound to be many

interesting characters.

THANK G-D, AMIRITE? I am a very pale, introvert bookworm. I can only take so much daylight. I also have more ADHD than an entire elementary school, so I have energetic needs. 

And while I’m normally more of a fan of shifters, the exception to the rule exists a few places, most especially, in anything Elizabeth Hunter writes. AND I AM IN LOVE WITH TENZIN. She has freaking permafangs that don’t retract. She’s ittybitty and can kill an army of dudes. She flies. She is ruled by no one. She’s awkward and intrusive and full of piss and vinegar. Ok, not piss, she’s a vampire. Blood and vinegar. Salt and vinegar blood. She’ll make a new crisp flavor!

Which is why I’m so excited that today is the release day for this beauty:

I am singing the Benzin song I made up. It’s a great song. It is to the tune of “X-Gon Give it to Ya.” It fits. Just sub Tenz and Benz every other line for “X.”

The blurb:

All Ben Vecchio wanted was a quiet summer before his last semester of university. Was that too much to ask?

All Tenzin wanted was a cache of priceless medieval coins that had been missing for several hundred years.

And some company.

Phrases like “never again” don’t mean much when you’ve been a vampire for several thousand years. And promises made in the heat of anger don’t outweigh the lure of gold. Ben Vecchio thought he knew everything there was to know about the immortals of Italy. But when Tenzin tempts him into another adventure finding a cache of rare gold coins missing since the nineteenth century, he’ll discover that familiar places can hold the most delicious secrets. And possibly, the key to his future.

happy dance. Benzin song. Salt and Vinegar blood! or not that last one. I’m a vegan. It’s also almost Lent, so, Fridays are out for Carwyn. What does a Catholic vampire eat during Lent? TOO MANY QUESTIONS, BACK TO BENZIN.

A good, heathen vampire. Because I like my vampires like I like my moonshine–entirely lawless and probably poison.

Once again, Ms Hunter’s ability to spin worlds from the closely packed microfilaments of her abundant imagination stupefies the senses and tickles the tender parts of the reader’s intelligence. Elizabeth Hunter’s world-building is so uncommonly spectacular, it’s apparent she’s become a standard to which other writers must reckon by. She continually outdoes her previous installments, and Imitation and Alchemy maintains and expands on that trend. It’s not a romance, per se, but everything about it is romantic. The setting, the people, the nigh folkloric atmosphere of the prose and intelligence of characters is reminiscent of the great Gothic romances of the past. Only entirely more badass. With 100% more Monty Python references.

I love watching Ben and Tenzin’s comlex relationship construct itself into something more. It’s challenging to all of my expectations of what a possible *or not* HEA might look like for them, and it whets my appetite for the next installment like that first beer at the pub. I love how Tenzin manages to pull Ben into the most insane schemes. I love how Ben doesn’t take a bit of her shit without giving it back. He’s not scared of her, even if he should be. They’re like this:

Ok, bad example. Let’s try again:

Imitation and Alchemy is an astonishing fantasy-filled adventure topped to the brim with intelligence, suspense, and delicious, yet morally questionable decisions.

Five stars.

Imitation and Alchemy by Elizabeth Hunter review.

Amazon • Kobo

[bctt tweet=”Review of Imitation and Alchemy by @E__Hunter and Recipe for Cauliflower Risi e Bisi on Reader/Eater. #amreading #paleo”]

For the recipe?

It’s Venice (sometimes) bitch. Gotta be Risi e Bisi. Only better. Cauliflower Risi e Bisi. Not so risi, then. SCREW YOUR EXPECTATIONS! It’s a Venetian dish typically made with rice and peas. Mine uses riced cauliflower for a new flavor exploration and fewer carbs. It’s so good.

delicious cauliflower risi e bisi

 

 

Cauliflower Risi e Bisi

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: saute gluten-free low-carb paleo vegan vegetarian

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large or 2 small heads of cauliflower, chopped into a fine dice.
  • 1 leek, topped, tailed, and chopped
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 1 tbsp butter or earth balance spread
  • 1 cup cubed and cooked pancetta or 1 cup chopped and sauteed porcini mushrooms (saute in a bit of oil without salt on HIGH until browned) (about a large fist full, my UK friends. Or a cuppa.)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

DO NOT PRE STEAM YOUR VEG

heat fats on stove on medium high

stir in leeks and cauliflower

cook 5 minutes

lower heat to medium low and add garlic

stir

slowly add stock, a little bit at a time until absorbed

stir in mushrooms or pancetta

salt and pepper to taste

stir in peas and remove from heat.

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The Marathon That Wasn’t.

Well, it’s Wednesday. Today is the day I was planning on my Boston Marathon recap. Instead, I’m sitting under a pile of warm blankets, sipping water, and waiting for my next transfusion/infusion appointment. But let’s go back to Friday. On Friday night, I was really quite anxious. I couldn’t put my finger on the issue. … Read more

Winging it.

Marathon training is kicking my ass. Not because I can’t do the running (I can), or that the Yassos make me want to puke on some days (they do), or even because running sixty miles a week takes approximately forever (it does); It’s kicking my ass because the weather in NYC has been ten levels of dreck for five months. More than once, I’ve been running 10 or more miles on the treadmill wanting to be almost anywhere else. The stress of that, combined with the stress of school, and add on top of that–my agent JUST text me not ten minutes ago:

“Um hey, can you record a commercial for me tomorrow? Oh yeah, BTW…it’s in French.”

Sure. needtorunneedtorunneedtorunborntorunborntorunbrucespringsteenjerseywhat?

I’ve been running 6x/week, and on average, only 3 of those days each week have been outdoors. I’ve done LONG runs indoors because of ice, snow, cold, wind, or just plain weather-related crapsicles. When I’m outdoors, I can pump to my music, or to my audiobooks, and just feel my run. Indoors? Well, indoors I need all of the distractions. I’ve been running mostly at my Crossfit box once it’s closed for the day. Luckily, my zen Navajo spirit running guide and the Viking own the box, so I can pretty much go in whenever. Also? Zen Navajo had a giant tv installed just for me and the Highlander. Our ADHD DEMANDS IT. We marathon Netflix shows while we train for the Boston Marathon (because we loves, and because cable is a giant ripoff!).

Sure, sometimes we fight like children over what we should watch, “NO, Highlander, I DO NOT WANT TO WATCH FISHTANK KINGS!! Jeez, why is that even a show?”

I will absolutely watch this fish tank…as it is shoveled into my face.

Because I have an exceptional ability to whine, and I know too many secrets, I usually end up getting my way. Usually.

So for this month’s Netflix recommendations I have decided to present them in .gifs and memes. Because I can.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I feel this way about life…and Sweet Valley High. 

 

And now I’ll just post this to remind us all why Peaky Blinders is such a good idea.

Oh, that was shallow of me. To be fair, I DO watch this at a Crossfit Box surrounded by half-naked man gods. CUT ME SOME SLACK. (it’s not like I’ve lost my love of the Fassbender)

*from Centurion

And now some food.

Perfect to eat while “marathoning.”

Spicy Satay Chicken Wings

spicy satay chicken wings spicy satay chicken wings spicy satay chicken wings

Spicy Satay Chicken Wings (Baked)

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: overnight marinate

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: bake appetizer entree side snack

Ingredients (2 dozen wings)

  • 2 dozen wings

for the marinade

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • the juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tbsp sambal
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp black vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese Five Spice

for the sauce

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha

Instructions

add marinade ingredients and wings to a bag,

marinate in the refrigerator, in a dish, overnight

preheat oven to 450F

mix together sauce ingredients

place wings on a cooling rack on a cookie sheet

bake 15-20 minutes, or until the center of the wing reaches 165F

toss in sauce

serve with scallions and cilantro

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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.

Red Tent Regrets.

Ok, let’s be honest with each other, shall we?

Yesterday was meant to be my long-run day. However, it was roughly 1 degree Kelvin outside. (about the same temperature as Santa’s balls) Also, PMS. My body wracked with cramps like an evil Clydesdale had kicked me in the lady region, paired with the aforementioned Santa balls weather, I made cookies and drank wine. I also indulged in a roast beef sandwich, and retail therapy.

Note to mothers: if you’re residing in your red tent, and have zero patience, this is not the best time to go to the Disney Store. I bought my daughter a Merida bow-and-arrows set. This, admittedly, was not my best parenting decision. Also, she appears to be a natural shot, unless she wasn’t aiming for my head just now.

damn it.

Today shall be my many-miled day. I’m almost 100%, but not quite, so I’m not going to push it. I have two fistfuls of Midol, and chocolate chip cookies. I’m as prepared as I can be. Anyone who lives with Endometriosis (in my case, it’s joined by PCOS) knows just how painful it can be. It’s honestly crippling–sometimes narcotic worthy–pain. I do the best I can, and just endure. The way one endures calculus–or bagpipe music.

 

(ok, I actually like bagpipe music. tell anyone, and I’ll deny it.)

With my tent in mind, here is my schedule for the remainder of the week:

Today (Tues) 18 miles and foam rolling                                                                               Wednesday-6 miles and Crossfit                                                                                               Thursday-SW (Yassos FTW) and yoga                                                                                           Friday-10 miles and Cross-training                                                                                           Saturday-8 miles and rolling                                                                                                       Sunday-Crossfit

It’s less milage than I’d usually run this far in the game, but it cannot be helped. As it stands right now, I’m going to be forced to listen to Taylor Swift and then Kanye and then Beck and then Kanye again, just to be angry enough to force myself to do my speedwork. I also may need to give in and take my #3 Tylenol (or stronger) at night to ward off the worst of the pain so I may sleep. Or at least curb the pain enough that it doesn’t cause me to lose my lunch at mile 10–which is a thing that happens.

I’m curious about other marathon runners who have similar issues. How has it affected your training? Do you “give in” and take the narcotics? I realize most runners are leery of any pain killer that doesn’t come from fermented hops, malt, and barley.

I’m still working on the best solution. If I find a good one, I’ll let you know. And for the love of Pete, don’t tell me you rub ylang ylang essential oils over your baby maker and then chant for it to go away, because then, well, then I’ll just assume you’re batshit crazy, k?

I may be in a bit of a mood. So I guess it’s good I made cookies. Cookies help.

I made INSANELY delicious chocolate chip cookies. Different enough to be distinct, familiar enough to be crave-worthy, and fecking delicious. Salted, toasted almonds, browned butter toasted oats, dark chocolate chips, and all dark-brown sugar. INSANE.

Better than a Bakery Nutty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

[bctt tweet=”Browned Butter and Almond Chocolate Oat Drops & Run Pain #FitFluential “]

Better than a Bakery Nutty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies Better than a Bakery Nutty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies Better than a Bakery Nutty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Better than a Bakery Nutty Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: bake snack dessert cookie

Ingredients (3 dozen)

  • 7 tbsp softened butter
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted almonds
  • 1, 12oz bag of your favorite chocolate chips (I like dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • coarse sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F

in a saucepan or skillet, bring 3 tbsp butter to brown over medium heat

add in oats and toast until they begin to smell nutty

add in nuts and toast 2-3 more minutes

let cool

in a mixer on medium, cream together softened butter and sugar

add in vanilla and eggs

slowly add in the oat mixture

add the baking powder

sift in the flour

stir in chips

cover dough with plastic wrap

chill for one hour in the refrigerator

using a 2 tbsp scoop

scoop onto a lined baking sheet 2″ apart

dust with a bit of coarse salt

bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown

let chill on baking sheet 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack

store in an airtight container up to 3 days

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