Get Series(ous). #12

This get series(ous) is entirely someone else’s fault. I won’t name names or point fingers, but I will give clues.


and this:

Who should read this series?

Today’s Get Series(ous). is for readers who want to fall over laughing in public places. This reader loves PNR, but he or she is freaking tired of the “fated mate” bullshit. No one smells someone once and immediately decides they must do the deed and be bonded forever, and that’s perfectly ok because, fate, right? Not dubious consent at all!!

No, this person wants the build. Two people meet, they may or may not like each other at first, they fight it, there’s a tug-and-pull, the inevitable tug-and-rub, and then a tugging at the strings of the heart.

This person probably likes Anchorman and Drunk History. 

When asked “Team Jacob or Team Edward?” he or she responds: “fuck them, I’m Team Scott Howard.

They have gone to more than one karaoke bar, and know all the words to either:


They like romance and the, you know,

But they’re in it for the story.

He or she prefers the tenth and eleventh Doctors to the ninth or twelfth. (sidenote: why is “twelfth” so fucking impossible to spell? I feel as though, phonetically, it’s “twelth.”)

He or she probably likes to bake, and probably use a lot of butter or vegan buttery substitute.

So, what’s the series?

The Pride series by Shelly Laurenston!

From the first book:

Christmas Pride

How come all the good-looking ones are insane?
That’s what runs through NYPD cop Desiree “Dez” MacDermot’s mind the minute she hooks up again with her childhood buddy, Mace Llewellyn. It isn’t just the way he stares at her with those too-sexy gold eyes―as if he could devour her on the spot. Or the six-four, built-like-a-Navy Seal bod-o-death. It isn’t even that he sniffs her neck and purrs, making her entire body tingle. It’s more about that disconcerting, shifting-from-man-to-lion thing that unhinges her…and makes her want more.

Mace likes making Dez crazy. In fact, he likes her any way he can get her―in bed, on the desk, here, now, again. Together, they’d always been trouble, but Dez has no idea just how good trouble can feel…

Shaw’s Tail

Brendon Shaw, hotel owner and lion shifter, has seen better days. He’s been beaten, had a gun to the back of his head, and had to be rescued by a Pack of shape-shifting wolves. He didn’t think he’d survive the night, much less find the woman of his dreams. And he never thought the woman of his dreams would have a Tennessee accent and wear cowboy boots. Once he sets his sights on her, the predator in him is ready to pounce and never let go.

Ronnie Lee Reed is ready to change her life, and New York City is the place where any girl―even one who runs with a Pack―can redefine herself. First order of business: find a mate, settle down, and stop using men for sex. Even big, gorgeous, lion-shifting, oh-my-what-big-um-paws-you-have men. Then again…

Why I love it:

Honestly? It makes me laugh. Every page makes me laugh. The characters are warm and hilarious, and over the top in their antics. Imagine a bunch of actors or comediennes hang out all of the time, and they may or may not sometimes become wolves, polar bears, or polarcats. Resembling the saber tooths of yore.

The entire ensemble makes me smile.

This is a series of books to read to really escape. Leave your shit at the door, and fall into their packs.

Gwen and Lock

They’re campy and wonderful, and exactly what The Doctor ordered. Maybe she could write a royal spin-off series?

The characters genuinely seem to love one another, and it makes the reader love them as well. Shelly Laurenston’s characters are some of the funniest and big-hearted characters in PNR. Readers become attached to their antics and their dialogue from page one of book one, and are well attached even nine books later.

Four Star Series.

The Recipe Inspired by the Series?

It was a no-brainer. In the installment The Mane Squeeze, the grizzly-shifter, Lachlan, is obsessed with honey buns. I am also. But some vegans don’t eat honey, and it can be $$$ to use in large quantities. But DATES? They’re very much LIKE honey, and a bag of dried dates is around $2.50. Less if you buy in bulk.

Also, this recipe is THE EASIEST RECIPE EVER. It requires no more skill than opening a tube and turning on a food processor. It’s that easy. Did you know Pillsbury Grands Crescent Rolls are vegan? They are. There are FIVE ingredients in this recipe. FIVE.

Vegan Honey Buns

Get Series(ous). 12! Recipe: #vegan honey buns EASY! Under 30 mins start to finish! #getseriesous Click To Tweet

vegan honey buns

vegan honey buns vegan honey buns vegan honey buns

EASY Vegan Honey Buns

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: bake breakfast bread dessert side snack vegan kosher nut-free

Ingredients (8 rolls)

  • 1 tube Pillsbury Grands Crescent Rolls
  • 8 oz dried, pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp vegan buttery spread, soft


preheat oven to 375F

roll out the crescent rolls on a floured surface

pinch together triangles so that you have ONE big rectangle

spread 1/2 cup of butter evenly over the surface

for the filling

heat milk until just under scalding

place dates in blender or food processor (pro is easier)

add milk and cinnamon

blend or process until smooth

spread over croissant dough

roll up

cut in half, half, and half again, 8 pieces

place in greased, small pie tin

bake for 15 minutes

top with tin foil

bake 5 more minutes

remove and spread 2 tbsp more buttery spread on top of buns


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Top 10 Books for Badass Bitches.

Ronda Rousey

Awesome, right?

In case you don’t know who she is, she is the UFC bantamweight champion and current Espy holder of Fighter of the Year.  She’s also received a crap ton of twitter trolling and nasties in the press because she fails to be definable. She is a kick-ass judo fighter, an outspoken feminist, and–a “girly girl.” She’s often seen on the red carpet or in magazines in full hair and makeup, looking as much like a top Hollywood actress as a cage fighter, and that dichotomy seems to piss off the establishment.

(note: the establishment looks a lot like this, only you should imagine roughly 100% more dudes who live in their parents’s basement who have strong relationships with the dominant muscles in their forearms.)

He-Man Woman Haters Club GOP 2016


The establishment likes well-defined labels and categories in which they can place women. (Human incubator, tax write-off, focus for unspent rage, bagel bites baker.) Women like Rousey defy their carefully constructed gender binaries, and her ability to commodify that unique talent, has placed her in the unenviable position as a lightning rod for their ire.

The comments I read on twitter set a fire ablaze beneath me. It’s 2015, and the GOP is talking about SHUTTING DOWN THE GOVERNMENT to defund family planning/female independence services. More women are hassled on twitter Redditors are creating new misogynistic subreddits faster than Reddit can collapse them.

What the fuck?

Thankfully, there is a movement. A movement toward body acceptance, professional mentoring, the “ungendering” of toys; of committing to raising our girls so that they are not caught up in the same cycles we are strung up in now. The movement is  also teaching our boys that women are more than pretty baby makers. We’re fierce, intelligent creatures with whom ONE DOES NOT FUCK.

I’m doing my part. I’m educating my children that women are just as capable, intelligent, and willful as men. But that’s not always enough.

It takes a village–and sometimes–a library.

I made a list. It’s all essential reading in my opinion, and it swells my soul with pride for the double ecks chromosome bearers.

The Top 10 Books for Badass Bitches.

top ten books for badass bitches


In no particular order:

You may think this post wouldn’t get a recipe. Guess what? My MawMaw is A #1 badass bitch in my opinion, and bitch can bake.

So can I.

Top 10 Books for Badass Bitches. #books #booklists #amreading Click To Tweet

Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Napoleon

*it has crispy bits. You’re welcome.

vegan peanut butter cup napoleon


Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Napoleon

by Cat Bowen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Keywords: bake vegan mousse


    for the mousse

    • the separated cream from one can of full-fat, no emulsifiers added, coconut milk. (refrigerate over night, pour off liquid.)
    • 3/4 cup of Jif Natural Peanut Butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder

    for the layers

    • 12-15 round vegan wonton skins
    • cooking spray


    • vegan peanut butter cups for topping.


    for the layers

    preheat oven to 375F

    spray both sides of the wonton skins lightly with cooking spray

    arrange in a single layer on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet

    bake 5 minutes or until edges are brown and crisp

    for the mousse

    whip the coconut cream in a mixer on high

    slowly add in peanut butter and vanilla

    sift in the cocoa powder a bit at a time, mix well

    add sugar LAST, mix lightly


    place a wonton on a plate

    spoon or pipe 3-4 tbsp of mousse per layer, repeat.

    top with pb cup.


    ALTERNATIVELY, keep components separate and mousse refrigerated until time to put together.

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    Breaking Badass.

    Honesty time.

    Lately, I’ve been struggling. A few weeks ago, one of my closest friends succumbed to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She was truly a beautiful soul, and losing her sort of sent my brain into a tailspin of doubts. She was very young–in her early thirties–and beyond simply mourning her passing, it also slapped me upside the head.

    Here I am, healthy and hale, (for the most part) and I am wasting my life.

    Yes, I have beautiful children, family, and friends, etc, but I avoid doing so, so much, because I am terrified to do so. I am an extroverted introvert–meaning–I can work a room. I can chat and mingle and make small talk with whomever, rather gregariously so, but really, I just want to be at home, away from everyone, where I only need to talk to those in my most inner of inner circles, and keep my interactions with others completely under my control.

    I’m great on social media because it doesn’t require a bra or people.

    I’m great with the vague notion of interaction.

    I can live in my headspace of dirty jokes and words on pages and not be bothered with reality.

    That doesn’t sustain me. It’s not making me happy. I am incomplete.

    We are all of us, incomplete, but I feel like the marionette unfinished by the toymaker, and placed on a shelf. I’ve got all of the working parts, but nothing guiding the strings.

    Right now, I have six–SIX–completed novels which I’m terrified to finish the edits on and publish. (I have decided to self-publish, as I’ve dealt with the big houses in academia, and it’s a lot of rigamarole I wish not to deal with in my creative life.) I can’t even gather the ovaries to send it to my

    or The Professor to read it. My cousin is a freaking NYT Bestselling author, and has basically begged to read another–(because, nepotism, and I make a killer martini) and I just haven’t been able to stomach the idea. Read my scholarship? Fine. My book reviews? Great. These little memoir-y bits on B2B? Acceptable. But sweet fuck. Read my fiction? You may as well open my brain and read the gray matter like tea leaves.

    And I’ve fallen woefully behind on pimping my blog. I suppose I’ve always viewed this little space on the internets as a happy destination for me to share my love of food, books, and fitness, not caring about traffic or who read it. That just doesn’t seem good enough anymore. I’m not content with letting this blog drip slowly into complete anonymity. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words, hundreds of recipes, featured a MILLION .GIFS THAT THE MASSES NEED TO SEE RIGHT MEOW.

    I cracked. I splintered. I needed and need help.

    I’ve done the UNTHINKABLE for me. I picked up a–gasp–self-help book. Because books, unlike my shrink, don’t expect me to talk about my feelings with anyone else but myself.

    Also, like social media, no bra required.

    it’s groping Lucy and Ethyl all damned day.

    I started and stopped a bunch of them. Tony Robbins, while he may be everyone’s guru, is not for me. Same with Stephen Covey, Wayne Dyer, and Deepak Chopra. I am unmotivated by rich, middle-aged men, it would seem. Though, I understand how many find solace and inspiration in their words.

    I am, Tom! Gah! Didn’t we talk about this last night? 😉

    Apparently, I am only swayed by self-help books which are laced with profanity, don’t take themselves too seriously, and may read a bit like being thrown in a room with a bunch of ninjas, slicing you with their “improvement” swords.

    Apparently, my self-help needs violence.

    Walter White as me, talking to, well, me.

    What’s the book?


    Jen Sincero’s approach is at once funny and insightful, bawdy, and beautifully, beautifully, brazen. She doesn’t mince words or expurgate that which may be uncomfortable from her pages. It’s a raw and real self-help book that reads like a conversation with a friend.

    To me, You’re a Badass felt foundational. It digs into why it is the reader isn’t where they want to be, and provides a reasonable approach to breaking down the cage holding them in place, while not just offering their idea of a skeleton key for the lock.

    Deciding means jumping in all the way, doing


    It was a kick in the ass.

    I needed that kick in the ass.

    Now it’s time for an action plan. I still have NO idea what that looks like, but I have a better grip–I think–on the why of it. Why I stand in my own way, why I am terrified to let people read my stories, why I don’t SEO/Pimp/share B2B with more readers.

    I was an insecure child. I was an even more insecure teen. I am an incredibly insecure adult. I don’t trust much of my own work aside from my scholarship. Not my writing, not my acting, and not my living, to be completely honest. I trust my Hobbit hole in *The Library, and my research. I trust my palate and my taste in books. I even trust my teaching. Somewhere along the way, I began to distrust my creativity, and unfortunately, that has always been the muscle that pumps my heart the hardest. (Ok, research may be on-par with creativity.)

    I’m really and truly grateful that I found this book when I did. I needed it.

    Four stars.

    (one star removed for referencing “The Laws of Attraction,” which, however valid, reminds me too much of The Secret, and a dude who kept hitting on me at a bar in the Village telling me all about it. He actually said “Good things are coming for me. Can I make you come for me?” WHAT THE FUCK?!?! Thanks, creepy guy at NYU bar, for giving me fodder for a lifetime over one pickup line.)

    *blogger’s note: “The Library” is capitalized because, Libraries, mother truckers.

    What recipe goes with self-help books?

    Obviously a carrot cake, because you’re just deluding yourself when you say “it’s healthy.” Just admit you like carrot cake for fuckssake.

    It’s vegan, but really, even if it wasn’t, I’d have made it vegan anyway. Sometimes eggs and carrots get gummy, whereas banana and carrots do not. Also, I used olive oil because I think it gives a sharp depth to the carrots that butter does not. It’s floral and herbaceous. It just works.

    Vegan Carrot Cake

    Vegan Carrot Cake vegan carrot cake

    Are you a badass? Review: You Are a Badass by @JenSincero and Recipe: Vegan Carrot Cake. #amreading #ambaking #vegan Click To Tweet

    vegan carrot cake

    Vegan Carrot Cake

    by Cat Bowen

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook Time: 35 minutes

    Keywords: bake side snack dessert vegan vegetarian cake

    Ingredients (1 bundt cake)

      for the cake

      • 7 oz by weight shredded carrot
      • 1 mashed large banana
      • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 cup non-dairy milk of your choice. I like vanilla cashew milk in this.
      • 1 cup brown or coconut sugar or half coconut sugar half maple syrup
      • 2 cups AP flour
      • 1 cup chopped nuts–I like black walnuts in this, toasted.
      • 2 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
      • 1/4 tsp allspice
      • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
      • 1 tbsp baking powder

      for the glaze

      • 2 cups icing sugar
      • 4 tbsp vanilla soy milk
      • 1 tsp vanilla extract
      • shredded coconut for topping.


      preheat the oven to 350F

      in a large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients (including carrots)

      stir well

      set aside 1/4 cup flour

      sift in flour, powder, and spices

      toss walnuts in the flour and stir lightly into batter.

      pour into a greased bundt pan

      place on the center of the center rack

      bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

      let cool completely.

      for the glaze

      whisk together ingredients and drizzle over cooled cake

      top with coconut.

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      Magic Mushrooms.

      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.

      moving on….

      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.

      The Brush of Black Wings

      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.

      The Brush of Black Wings by Grace DravenTo 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.

      Ready? Ready.

      mushroom miso soba noodles mushroom miso soba noodles

       REVIEW: The Brush of Black Wings by @GraceDraven and RECIPE: Mushroom Miso Soba Noodles #review #vegan #books Click To Tweet mushroom miso soba noodles

      Mushroom Miso Soba Noodles

      by Cat Bowen

      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.

        the noodles

        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.

        again, toss.

        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

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        Pi and Pie.

        My posts are WAY backed up right now. Why, you ask? First: it’s been 9348769348576 degrees in NYC, and I am not turning on my fucking oven.

        Also, I’m tits-deep in a research project that’s giving me the fits. Let’s put it this way, if T-Swift is a nightmare dressed like a daydream, I’m a nightmare dressed like the community director at Shady Pines…and I forgot my bra.

        But. I FINALLY made a vegan pie that I’m really happy with. (Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition, but “I finally made a pie with which I am really happy.” sounded like it had a case of the assholes.) First, I wanted to make a shoofly pie, but GAH! too hot to boil molasses. Then, I tried to veganize dreamsicle pie. Don’t do that. Just, don’t. Today’s pie is exceptional, but you just need to wait until you read my book review–as you do.

        Tuesday was a GREAT release day. Why, you ask? This little gem was released.

        How much do you love that cover?!?!

        The Blurb:

        Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might share the same devastatingly handsome face, but where Beau is outgoing and sociable, Duane is broody and reserved. This is why Jessica James, recent college graduate and perpetual level headed good girl, has been in naïve and unhealthy infatuation with Beau Winston for most of her life. His friendly smiles make her tongue-tied and weak-kneed, and she’s never been able to move beyond her childhood crush. Whereas Duane and Jessica have always been adversaries. She can’t stand him, and she’s pretty sure he can’t stand the sight of her…
        But after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself in a massive confusion kerfuffle. Jessica James has spent her whole life paralyzed by the fantasy of Beau and her assumptions of Duane’s disdain; therefore she’s unprepared for the reality that is Duane’s insatiable interest, as well as his hot hands and hot mouth and hotter looks. Not helping Jessica’s muddled mind and good girl sensibilities, Duane seems to have gotten himself in trouble with the local biker gang, the Iron Order.
        Certainly, Beau’s magic spell is broken. Yet when Jessica finds herself drawn to the man who was always her adversary, now more dangerous than ever, how much of her level-headed heart is she willing to risk?

        My thoughty thought thought thoughts.

        To be honest, in the beginning of the book, there’s a scene. It starts the book and sets the tone. When I began to read it, I had a Revenge of the Nerds rape scene flashback, and I thought:

        I was worried I was going to fall in instant hate with the protagonist because of it, and never review the book, and get really uncomfortable when friends ask me what I thought about it.

        I did my duty and diligently kept reading. It turns out my foison of worry was all for naught. It was definitely not at all like the Funhouse rape scene in Revenge, however much it felt as though it was headed in that direction.

        I let loose with a very large exhale, and took a deep pulling drink of my martini at that point.

        crisis averted.

        (Yes, I drink martinis, and yes, I’m actually a 70 year old man.)

        or I’m Emma Thompson who DGAF what you think.

        The rest of the story went by SO FAST. I have no idea how long it was, because I didn’t breathe, didn’t blink, switched to tea, (I have a pitcher in the fridge–easy peasy) and did not remove my body from the living room until I finished.

        *reviewer’s note: Goodreads says it’s 400 pages. Since it felt like 15, I’m going to go with Goodreads is once again, full of shite.

        As with many of Penny Reid’s books, it’s very funny and witty, smart too, for sure, but also, has a cooky element of suspense to it. Like a 1970s Hell’s Angel or Mob movie, but starring Emma Stone and Hermione Granger. (Yes, HERMIONE, not Emma Watson, though she could totally hang in a Penny Reid book.)

        This suspense fuels the engine, and the romance pumps the pistons. (Or pumps like a piston, if you know what I mean.)

        The dialogue is smart, a bit like a Gilmore Girls or perhaps something Sorkin-esque, but with 100% more women and sensitivity. It just has that fast back-and-forth feel to it. It feels as though the characters are as much the dialogue as they are their own history and story. The reader gets to know so much about them just by what they say, and not everything is left up to internal dialoguing and any sort of omniscient narration. It’s refreshing.

        (It would also serve a television series quite well. Easily adaptable for screen.)

        But the characters, Oh my, the characters.

        There is a tenderness in the protagonist, Duane, that makes the reader fall head over teakettle for the ginger-bearded hottie within the first thirty pages. He’s had a rough go of things lately, and never really had the easiest or best life to begin with. However, he’s really made himself something into which he can be proud, and his sexy-smart-cocky-sweet attitude he has, makes the reader swoon wildly.

        Jessica? The MC? She’s the type of girl everyone should have in their life. A dreamer. A wandering soul. However, she is whip smart, and doesn’t once compromise herself or her dreams. If the manic pixie dream girl and Chien-Shiung Wu were combined in an contraption not unlike that in The Fly, you’d get Jessica James.

        Truth or Beard

        Although, my favorite character was of the four-legged variety, and goes by the name Sir Edmund Hillary. He’s a homicidal house cat on a mission to destroy us all, and I love him for it. Cats. They’re tiny predators. If they could, they’d eat you.

        evil tiki cat

        That’s actually my friend Danielle’s cat, Tiki. He’s terrifying, right?

        Now that I have your attention again…

        Standing witness to Jessica and Duane navigating the waters of fresh, young love with all the barbs and bruises which accompany the sparks and swooning, was truly a pleasure. There was never more than 10-15 pages between those “tingle in the chest” feelings you get when you read a really touching romance, and yet, it never veered even remotely close to the territory of saccharine or complete implausibility.

        Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

        With Truth or Beard, Penny Reid has absolutely cemented herself in the Pantheon of the best and funniest romance authors of our time. Nora Roberts, Jane Green, Jennifer Weiner, Rainbow Rowell, and now, Penny Reid. Truly exceptional.

        Four and a half extra awesome stars.

        (half star revoked for scaring the shit out of me in the first 15 pages. I’ll never recover those heartbeats.)

        SO! What did I make? Obviously pie. I told you that earlier. Pay attention! 😉

        Pie is all over this book. TBH, it’s all over the South in general. My wedding reception was actually a PIE reception. Southerners love their pie, and my MawMaw certainly passed that love along to me.

        While this pie has thyme in it, which is a departure from tradition, it adds a warm herbaceous quality which I have come to adore.

        Southern Strawberry Stone Fruit and Thyme Pie

        (yes, it’s vegan. No. It doesn’t have to be. Just use real butter. I am not judging your life.)

        Southern Strawberry Stone Fruit and Thyme Pie

        Pi and Pie. Southern Strawberry, Stone Fruit and Thyme Pie to go with Truth or Beard by @reidromance #vegan #books #pie #allyouneedispie Click To Tweet

        Southern Strawberry Stone Fruit and Thyme Pie Southern Strawberry Stone Fruit and Thyme Pie

        Note: ONLY use FRESH thyme in this recipe. If you leave out the thyme, you’ll still have a DAMN GOOD PIE, if you use dried, IT WILL TASTE LIKE JAMAICAN CHUTNEY WITHOUT THE HEAT. (if you’re into that, cook the filling separate, use the dried thyme, add cayenne, and cook the fuck out of it. Use it to top chicken or SEITAN.  You know.)

        Southern Strawberry Stone Fruit and Thyme Pie

        by Cat Bowen

        Prep Time: 1 hour

        Cook Time: 40 minutes

        Keywords: bake dessert vegan pie

        Ingredients (1 pie)

          for the crust

          • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold VEGAN BUTTER STICKS! (I use earth balance)
          • 3 cups UNBLEACHED all-purpose flour
          • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
          • 1 tablespoon sugar
          • 1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening (I use organic spectrum, it’s vegan and buttery.)
          • 6 to 10 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

          for the filling

          • 3/4 lb strawberries chopped and quartered
          • 3 lb stone fruit, NOT peeled, but sliced
          • 4 tbsp flour
          • 1 tbsp corn starch
          • 4 tbsp COLD CHOPPED “BUTTER” sticks (1/2″ dice)
          • 1/3 cup brown sugar
          • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
          • 1/4 tsp allspice
          • 1 sprig of fresh thyme. JUST the leaves

          for browning the crust

          • You can use a traditional egg wash of 1 egg and 2 tbsp water or
          • 4 tbsp vanilla soy milk and 1 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup or HFCS
          • I like to add a bit of coarse sugar to the crust.


          Preheat the oven to 425F

          Honestly, I am not the best with crust, but This guy makes it look easy.

          I just pulse all the ingredients in the food pro. You could also use his recipe for crust. It’s good. It’s not my all-time fave, but it’s really good.

          the recipe I gave you is for TWO rounds of crust. (to fit a 9″ dish!)

          for the filling

          slice the stone fruit as similarly as possible. I used white peaches, nectarines, and red plums. Gorgeous and delicious.

          quarter or halve the strawberries–depending on size.

          You could also toss in any other berries hanging out in your fridge. My MawMaw would.

          toss the spices with the flour in a separate bowl

          add the thyme, toss

          toss with berries and fruit, coating all

          add sugar, toss again–LIGHTLY (or it will get all seepy!)


          roll one of your pie rounds into a sprayed or greased pie tin

          fill the shell with the fruit mix, spreading as evenly as possible

          sprinkle the butter cubes across the top of the fruit mix

          add the top crust (as lattice like I did, or just roll it the hell on.)

          crimp the crust (with your fingers or a fork–matters not.)

          brush with wash of choice

          bake for approximately 40 minutes. After the first 20, cover the crust LOOSELY with foil to prevent further browning.

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