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.

mushroom

 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… 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

    Garnish

    • chopped cilantro
    • chopped scallion
    • additional wakame flakes
    • hot sauce
    • soft-boiled egg (optional.)

    Instructions

    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

    plate.

    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… 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.

      Instructions

      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!)

      AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE!

      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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      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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      All That Glitters is Gibbons

      When I began blogging, I had gurlpages. Do you remember that? If you’re under 27, I guarantee you do not. It was like Angelfire, but with 100% more glitter gifs.

      por ejemplo…

      I loved my little blog there. It was super emo. I was a teen girl with severe anxiety, hardcore depression, and a fierce need to fit in…somewhere. I wrote poetry, bitched about transitioning from a fundamentalist Christian school in the most dangerous city in Ohio, to a Mennonite school in Amish Country, Ohio, where I knew no one, and hated every minute.

      (Aside: there is no help for the Fundie school. I mean, if Marilyn Manson devotes a significant portion of his autobio to its destruction of his confidence….?? It is probably still absolutely awful. However, I think, had I started at the peace-loving Mennonite school, I could’ve really enjoyed it. There were even gay students!!GASP!!)

      Later, I blogged on Typepad and Blogspot, always looking for my little place to write. Then, when I was pregnant with the Peanut, I started Breakfast to Bed. It was a mess. I had no direction. It took me years to become comfortable with focusing on my life/fitness/books all while sharing my food. In the beginning? GAH! I wish the internet would swallow those posts and take them to the internet subspace on the superhighway. Like Tron, or The Matrix or whatever that weird 90’s movie with Keanu-as-automaton was. The posts should go there.

      However, along with the time of B2B’s incunabulum, I met some really awesome bloggers. TaraStephanie and I all had babies around the same time. We met on twitter, and quickly became friends. One day, Stephanie says to me “You’ve GOT to read Brittany’s blog–you’ll love her.” So I read it. And I did. I really did.

      I ended up following her on Twitter, and GAH! She followed back! That was huge for me.

      I started reading her archives, and had her blog bookmarked in my feedburner RSS feed.

      She writes about topics that few bloggers dare to discuss. Masturbation, the sometimes tiresome life of a mother, money problems, self-esteem, the “bed death” that most marriages go through at some point. She makes no apologies, and must have a lady carriage made of pure brass, because that broad is BOLD.

      Then, three years ago, she gave an amazing TED talk. Things seem to have really snowballed since then. You cannot blink without seeing her mentioned, or someone quoting her, or a link to her byline.

      Most recently, she wrote a book. A very good book.

       

      I know, I know. OMGSOMANY bloggers have written books at this point. Some are awesome, some aren’t. I feel like, many times, the voice of the blogger is somehow lost in the medium. It no longer feels as if they wrote the book. Fat Girl Walking reads just like a selection of BrittanyHerself.com‘s juiciest and most incredibly intimate posts.

      It’s as if Brittany Gibbons opens her soul, and just sprays each and every page with the sparkling residue of herself. She tells stories about her grandmother, her college life, her bankruptcy, her determination to succeed afterward. It’s harrowing and uplifting.

      Fat Girl Walking

      She puts it all out there. Everything.

      She’s never afraid to tell the stories, even those of her sometimes irrational behavior. She accepts this part of her as it is just that–a part of her. It’s not what defines her, but what makes her human. Sometimes we all act like lunatics, because we are all a *little* crazy. Fat Girl Walking is told with such unabashed bravery that it compels the reader to take a step back from their own lives, and question where it is in that life they need to show a little more mettle.

      middle finger

      Brittany Gibbons is a brilliant writer with an aptitude for storytelling that will no doubt continue to evolve and flourish throughout her career. I have every confidence that Brittany Gibbons’s work will quoted and studied alongside those such as Nora Ephron, Joan Didion, and Patricia Volk.

      Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin, Every Inch of It,

      Four and a half sparkling soul stars.

      So? What recipe could possibly go with such a book? Well, Brittany Gibbons is from my land of Ohio, and as such deserves a popular Ohio “salad.” And I veganized it because I can. It has been verified by non-vegans to taste as good OR BETTER than the original.

      I give you…

      Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad. It’s a salad because we say so.

      Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad

      Midwest is Best. rvw of Fat Girl Walking by @BrittanyHerself and Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad.… Click To Tweet

      Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad

       

      Vegan Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad

      by Cat Bowen

      Prep Time: 10-15 minutes, more if you don

      Cook Time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours in fri

      Keywords: side appetizer dessert vegan

      Ingredients (16 bars)

        for the strawberry jel fililng

        for the whipped cream

        • You can ABSOLUTELY use 1 8oz package vegan cream cheese (tofutti), softened and and whipped with 4-6 oz coconut cream and 1 cup confectioners sugar, whipped together until smooth, however, I used coconut whipped cream.
        • the separated fat of 3 cans of full fat coconut milk
        • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
        • 2.5 ml or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

        for the pretzel bottom

        • 2 cups crushed pretzels
        • 1/4 cup melted coconut butter

        Instructions

        Preheat oven to 400F

        stir together coconut butter and pretzels and press into the bottom of a 9″ or 10″ square pan

        bake 8-10 minutes or until you can smell them toast and they’re a darker brown

        remove from oven and cool completely

        boil together the juice and water and stir in the jel.

        stir in strawberries.

        pour over crust evenly

        let cool in fridge completely

        if you are making the cream cheese topping, whip the ingredients together on high until fluffy and spreadable–may take more coconut milk. ONLY USE A SOY CREAM CHEESE. It doesn’t break like the others.

        If you are making the coconut cream whipped cream follow these instructions

        top the jel with the cream

        chill in the freezer for fifteen minutes

        slice and serve.

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        Slippery When Immortal.

        I woke with a giddy anticipation of today’s post.

        It’s release day for this beauty…
        Elizabeth Hunter is on my “perma-read” list. Meaning that anything she writes, I’ll read. If she were to suddenly decide to take up writing limericks for condom wrappers sold exclusively at Whole Fooods, I’d quickly find a use for prophylactics. (In spite of my married, barren state!)

        trojanrhyme

        –Elizabeth Hunter did not write that.  I’m sorry, World.

        When I first received an ARC of The Scarlet DeepI was wound tighter than a pair of skinny jeans after a trip to the County Fair. (mmm, deep-fried butter…) I couldn’t wait to tear into it. *metaphorically speaking,* I was on my ipad. Also, I realize that that’s not quite the proper use of the word “metaphorically,” but I am owning it.

        I promptly decided a few things: one, I was not cooking on that day. Not once. Spending time smearing the paste of the crushed bodies of  heat-tanned legumes on bacteria-enhanced wheat products was about all I was willing to do. There was much delivery sushi that day. And two, I needed more coffee. Like, lots more.

        You get me, Lorelei.

        What’s the book about?

        On the waves of the North Atlantic, a poison spreads, sapping the life from humans and striking madness into immortals.

        Patrick Murphy, the immortal leader of Dublin, has been trying to stem the tide of Elixir washing into his territory, but nothing seems to stop the vampire drug. While others in the immortal world work to cure the creeping insanity that Elixir threatens, Murphy has been invited to London to join a summit of leaders hoping to discover who is shipping the drug. If Murphy and his allies can cut off the supply, they might be able to halt the spread long enough for a treatment to be found for the humans and vampires infected.

        Anne O’Dea, Murphy’s former lover, retreated from public life over one hundred years ago to help immortals in need… and to heal her own broken heart. Though powerful connections keep her insulated from the violence of vampire politics, even Anne is starting to feel the effects of Elixir on her isolated world. The human blood supply has been tainted, and with Anne’s unique needs, even those closest to her might be in danger. Not just from infection, but Anne’s escalating bloodlust.

        When Anne and Murphy are both called to London, they’re forced to confront a connection as immortal as they are. As they search for a traitor among allies, they must also come to terms with their past. Behind the safe facade of politics, old hungers still burn, even as an ancient power threatens the fate of the Elemental World.

        Was it everything I hoped?

        And more. There comes a time in most vampire novels when the world building and storytelling are put aside for inane minutiae which typically serves to bulk-up word count and make a book seem more highfalutin than it actually manages. I like to call it the “smells like/tastes like game.” Because, it always seems to be inordinately related to how things smell and taste in vampy books.

        Such as:

        He smells like a combination of a warmed Werther’s Original straight from my Grampappy’s pocket, and my impending orgasm.

        Again, no author wrote this exact description, but damn if there aren’t hundreds upon hundreds of them lurking in books. THIS wouldn’t exist if that wasn’t the case. Yes, EH does pen a bit about smell and taste, because they’re essential sensory notions to everyone, especially vampires. However, the narrative doesn’t ever feel fit to be bogged down by grocery aisles worth of taste sensations.

        I’m not certain why this is the first thing that popped out in my brain as important, but it did.

        On from that, the characters in this installment are ones we’ve met in previous Elemental World books. Murphy, the vamp many of us took as just a sexy, splenetic mob boss with deep pockets and even deeper bitterness; and Anne, the mild-mannered but firm vampire psychologist who helped Brigid move beyond the crippling emotional problems weighing her down. In The Scarlet Deep we are finally taken behind the curtain on their past, and the motivations behind the coldness we witnessed from them in the other books.

        The reader is given intimate knowledge of just how intelligent and manipulative Murphy can be when he invites the leader of Belfast, Anne’s sister, to a gathering of important immortals–somewhat in politesse, somewhat mala fide–knowing she’d send Anne in her stead. He is singularly determined to recapture her heart, and will use all avenues at his disposal. The machinations occurring around this development lead me to believe that Elizabeth Hunter could have a bright future in espionage or preschool instruction. (I’m certain the level of societal manipulation is equivalent.)

        The story is one that never lets up. The entirety of the two hundred and something pages are so full of story and webbed interminglings of past and future plot lines that the idea of even placing it down for a moment seems interminably long an absence from such a book. However, it never becomes overwhelming. The reader is never confused as to which storyline is which, and it is never unclear whom is the main focus of this installment. The book IS Murphy and Anne, but without their friends and supporting characters, the picture of them would be much less cemented.

        And Murphy and Anne. OH, Patrick Murphy and Anne. The way they love. The simple honesty of affection and the heartbreaking threads of distrust which sews this story along its arc, creates a soul-binding romance in which the reader becomes so involved, they could be swept away utterly. Everyone knows what it’s like to have their trust feel misplaced, and the knowledge of that makes the outcome all the more rewarding for it. It answers the question: “Can one ever truly regain trust when it’s broken?”

        In the end, they have to fight for it. Fighting not each other, but themselves, and also they have to fight for each other. All in all, I believe that Elizabeth Hunter’s books will become as immortal as the characters within them.

        scarletdeep

        Five “fist to the feels” stars.

        Someone hold me….

        twist my arm.

        And yes, I did get this book as a free ARC. BUTTTTT, it should be known I also BOUGHT IT. I really want to picture authors who send out ARCs, and the reviewer really loves the book, to sit back like this…

        So, what recipe could go with such a wonderful book? WELLLLLL, NOT the truffles I originally planned, because, humidity. SO, in the book, Anne requests chocolate and wine. I can DO chocolate and wine. It’s also 93467498567 degrees, so I want to do chocolate and wine on ice cream. Therefore, I give you,

        Cabernet Hot Fudge Sauce

        IMG_3073

        Cabernet Hot Fudge sauce because, wine and vampires and The Scarlet Deep by @E__Hunter #books #vegan… Click To Tweet

        IMG_3076 IMG_3078

        Cabernet Hot Fudge Sauce

        by Cat Bowen

        Prep Time: 10 minutes

        Cook Time: 20 minutes cooling time

        Keywords: dessert vegan

        Ingredients (1 1/3 cups)

        • 2/3 cup sugar
        • 2/3 cup cabernet or other dry red wine
        • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
        • 4 tbsp earth balance buttery spread or actual butter

        Instructions

        stir all ingredients in a saucepan on medium until smooth,

        cook five more minutes,

        let cool 10 minutes,

        pour into pourable jar

        let cool a few more minutes

        pour all over some ice cream, your wife, a cracker…

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